Finding Your Folks: The rise and fall of Campbell County, Part 1

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

Several times over the years I have mentioned that part of Fayette and Coweta's adjacent neighbor county to the north, Fulton County, was once known as Campbell County. In doing the genealogy columns, I always refer to this area as Campbell, since the name wasn't changed until 1932. Our study of families usually involves those who were in Georgia in the late 1700s and those who settled our immediate area and were here from the beginning, or in the early 1800s.

If you look at a present-day map of Fulton, you can almost see where Campbell was. It's a little "bulge" on the lower end. If you look at the northern end of the county, you will see another little "bulge" which formerly was Milton County. That area today is, roughly, the Alpharetta and Sandy Springs area. Our Campbell originally encompassed (south to north) an area roughly from Palmetto to Red Oak and (east to west) from the Bethany area of Fayette (where Rivers Road becomes Milam Road) to the western edge of today's Douglas County.

With the recent flurry of development on the south side west of Fairburn and Palmetto and the formation and recent independence of new towns on the north side of Atlanta, it is no secret that there have been rumblings of bringing back both Milton and Campbell County as separate entities again. I mentioned this in a column done several months ago and it caught the attention of Anne (Westbrook) Green who decided to look into the history aspect further.

Anne has contributed several articles on her south side ancestors over the years and, as usual, has done an excellent job here. I will present her article in two parts, so as not to lose any of the research and detail she has provided. Her history facts were taken from the Internet. Her merger facts were taken from a newspaper article, name unknown but thought to be the Atlanta Journal or Constitution, written by Winifred Lee Moore, and the actual Georgia Supreme Court decision regarding an objection to the merger. Here is Anne's article …

Campbell County, Georgia was created on Dec. 28, 1828, by an act of the General Assembly. The land comprising the county was formerly parts of Carroll, Coweta, Fayette, and DeKalb. The new county was named for Col. Duncan G. Campbell, one of the negotiators of the Treaty of Indian Springs by which the Creek Indians ceded a portion of the land which formed Campbell. The treaty was signed Feb. 12, 1825, by (the U.S.) Government. The original county seat was Campbellton (near the Chattahoochee River), but it was moved to Fairburn in 1870. Also in 1870, by an act of the legislature, Campbell lost land which was used to form Douglas County and gained other territory from Fayette County.

On Aug. 29, 1929 (slightly more than 100 years after the county's creation), the General Assembly passed an act providing for the merger of Campbell County into Fulton County, subject to voter approval referendums in each county. The referendums were favorable and the merger was effective Jan. 1, 1932. The law provided for a favorable vote of two-thirds of the votes cast in Campbell County and a majority of those cast in Fulton County.

One Fulton County voter and taxpayer was sufficiently dissatisfied with the result of the referendums to resort to legal action. Clarence Hines sued to enjoin the Fulton County Board of Commissioners of Roads and Revenues from putting the 1929 act into effect and to enjoin the Superior Court Clerk of Fulton County from receiving papers, documents and pleadings from the Campbell County Superior Court or from the Clerk of the City Court of Fairburn. Hines was represented by attorneys H.A. Allen, J. Ira Harrelson and George G. Finch. (Allen was a native of Campbell County who moved to and was reared in Fayette County after the untimely death of his father).

The defendants were represented by H.T. Patterson, C.N. Davie, Dorsey & Shelton, L.S. Camp and J.F. Kemp, all also of Atlanta. Fulton Superior Court Judge John D. Humphries denied the plaintiff's motion for an injunction and Hines appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court arguing that the Act of Aug. 29, 1929 violated the United States Constitution in several particulars and the Georgia Constitution in at least one. In a decision dated Dec. 16, 1931, the Supreme Court rejected the various arguments and affirmed the court below. The case of Hines v. Etheridge, et al is reported at 173 Ga. 870 and 162 S.E. 113.

Thus, with favorable outcomes in the two referendums and before the Georgia Supreme Court, the stage was set for consolidation. Prior to the merger, an Atlanta newspaper devoted an entire page to a reminiscence entitled “Memories of Old Campbellton” under the by-line of Winifred Lee Moore. The author describes the Campbellton of the early 1930s as a group of houses clustered about two churches; the gravestones in the Methodist churchyard served as reminders that Campbellton had once been a “busy, beautiful town of 1,200 souls.”

The article recalled that the original county, prior to the formation of Douglas, extended past the Chattahoochee River to Carroll County and included the burial place of the Indian princess Anawqua and surrounding fortifications.  The princess was ancestor to the warriors who roamed the hills and glades until the ceding treaty …

Next week: Part two of Anne's article and more of Winifred Moore's newspaper article about Campbellton and the Campbell County of long ago.

Stories about your families who lived on Atlanta's south side are always welcome. Send stories to or Mail to The Citizen, P.O. Drawer 1719, Fayetteville, GA 30214. All letters and e-mails I receive are subject to being used in the column.

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