Founding and Establishment of Monroe County

 

On May 25, 1821, the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Georgia in General Assembly met, enacted "An act to dispose of and distribute the lands lately acquired by the United States for the use of Georgia, of the Creek Nation of I ndians, by a Treaty made and concluded at the Indian Springs, on the eighth day of January, Eighteen Hundred and Twenty-one; and to add the reserve at Fort Hawkins to the county of Jones. This land was divided into five counties: Dooly, Houston, Monroe, Fayette and Henry. The boundaries of Monroe County were defined as follows: "All that part of said territory lying between the last mentioned line and a line commencing at the seven islands on the Ocmulgee River, and running due west forty miles, thence due south to the Flint River, shall form one other county, to be called Monroe." Section two of this act provided that each of the counties be surveyed and divided into districts nine miles square, as near as practicable, and these districts be subdivided into square tracts, each containing two hundred two and one half acres. The total area of Monroe County encompassed a total of  7,773.759 acres, divided into fifteen districts which were sub-divided into 3,903 land lots, of which 185 were fractional.

Section II of the legislative act provided for disposition of the land as follows: U After the surveying is completed and returns made thereof, his excellency the Governor shall cause tickets to be made out, whereby all the numbers of lots in the different districts intended to be drawn for shall be represented, which tickets shall be put into a wheel and constitute prizes. This established the land lottery system whereby Monroe County was distributed. Those eligible to draw lots were described in this same section: every male, white person of eighteen years of age and upwards, being a citizen of the United States at least three years, and inhabitant of this State three years immediately preceding the passage of this act, including such as have been absent on lawful business, shall be entitled to one draw; every male person of like description, having a wife or legitimate male child or children under the age of eighteen years, or unmarried female child or children shall have two draws; all widows, with like residence, shall be entitled to one draw; all families of orphans, resident as aforesaid, under the age of twenty-one years, except such as may be entitled to their own right to a draw or draws, whose father is dead, shall have one draw; all families of orphans consisting of more than two, who have neither father nor mother living, shall have two draws; all widows, of like residence, whose husbands were killed or died in the service of the country in the late wars against Great Britain or the Indians, shall be entitled to a draw exclusive of that otherwise allowed by this act to widows; all orphans who meet the same provisos shall be entitled to a draw exclusive of that otherwise allowed to orphans by this act.

 

Section 16 provides that five commissioners shall be appointed by joint ballot of the Legislature to superintend the drawing of the lottery and that upon three weeks notice by the Governor, the drawing should proceed as follows: "names of persons entitled to draws, together with other designating remarks of residence, etc., to be placed on tickets as nearly similar as possible, which shall be deposited in one wheel, and the prizes on tickets of the like description shall be deposited in another wheel; from each wheel as nearly at the same time as may be, a ticket shall be drawn and delivered to the superintending managers, and so on until the whole number of prizes are drawn out; and said managers shall make due and particular entry of the names so drawn out and the prizes corresponding therewith."

Section 20 provides that all fortunate drawers shall be entitled to receive grants for the land, conveying fee simple title, on paying the sum of nineteen dollars for each tract drawn and granted. This fee was charged until November, 1823; then, until December, 1826, the charge was reduced to twelve dollars; in December, 1827, to ten dollars; December, 1830, eight dollars; December, 1831, six dollars; and then, until December, 1837, five dollars.

On December 24, 1821, the General Assembly passed an act to organize the five counties laid out above and appointed commissioners for each county. Those named in Monroe Neudygate (usley, James Norris, George Cabiness, John Cornton, John C. Willis, Henry Conder, and Henry Jimmerson.

Monroe was settled almost exclusively by Georgia people who came from adjacent counties. They were small land owners with few slaves, if any. They were yeomen with the finer qualities of typical Southern yeomen magnified and the poorer qualities at a minimum. There were a few rich planters with larger slave holdings who came into the county to make it their residence very soon after the territory opened. This is

revealed in tax digests, deeds, and wills of the county. One writer, J. Harris Chappel, says of the type of culture developed in this county, "Here they implanted the high civilization to which they had been accustomed, and in this new soil it flourished like the green bay tree. Farmers still made their provisions and supplies at home-fortunes were made rapidly

from 1820-1840 may be called the money making period par excellence in Georgia history."Another writer states that in 1827 the county had a dense population of the very best character with the smallest possible admixture of bad or inferior elements. Among the early settlers were O. Woodward, B. Rogers, P. Lacy, Rev. O. Rogers, Job Taylor, T. Harper, A. Ponder, Mr. Lester, Williamson Mims, John Brown, E. Brown, A. Chapman, A. Lockett, A. Redding, Thomas Hollond, Simon Brooks, Thos. Dewberry, Josiah Horton, A. Davis, Joseph Dunn, Moses Dumas, Benj. Dumas, D. Ponder, Thos. Battle, E. Jackson, A. Chapell, W. P. Henry, Wilkins Hunt, Andrew West, Rev. G. Christian, Dr. Brown, Dr. E. E_ Jones, David McDade, Dr. Law, Geo. W. Gordon. Robert McGough, a soldier of the War of 1812, came to Monroe from Jones, with the first band of immigrants and blazed a trail through the forest to a place on Tobesofkee Creek, where he built his home. In 1821, Elbridge C. Cabiness, then a youth of nineteen, moved to Monroe County to teach. The list also includes Andrew West; Dr. B.F. Chambliss; Andrew Zellner; Thomas Redding; Isaac Smith, a minister of the gospel and a soldier in the first war for independence; Dr. James Thweatt, a surgeon in the war of 1812; Alexander Parker, a soldier in the I ndian wars; Davis Smith; John Moore; Ivy Brooks; Dr. Daniel B. Searcy, a noted physician and a man of large means; Samuel Barron; Thomas Hollis; John C. Anderson; Hardy lassiter; William Rowe; William Glenn; Henry W. Walton; the Sharps; the Willinghams; the Worshams and other well known families.

 

Return to Contents