Finding Your Folks: The rise and fall of Campbell County, Part 2

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

Last week we ran part one of Anne Westbrook Green's excellent story of old Campbell county and its merger into Fulton in 1932. Some of Anne's information came from an old newspaper article, possibly from The Atlanta Journal or The Atlanta Constitution, date unknown, written by Winifred Lee Moore entitled "Memories of Old Campbellton," referring to the first county seat which was replaced by Fairburn in 1870. Anne continues with information from the article, with a warning that she can't vouch for the accuracy of statements made therein, saying …

The author names Judge Walter T. Colquitt and his young secretary, Benjamin Camp as among the early settlers of 1826. They selected a home site beside the river. In the 1930s this site was known as Rivertown but had earlier been called Pumpkintown and Cross Anchor Ferry. Judge Colquitt wanted his settlement to become the county seat but Campbellton, a clearing some six miles up the river was selected when the landowner, a Mr. Irvin, donated free building lots. The county was organized Dec. 20, 1828 and the first grand jury was convened April 20, 1829 under the charge of Judge Colquitt. 

The settlers of Campbellton were from eastern Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. Augusta was the nearest market. Twice yearly the planters hauled cotton to Augusta by wagon and returned with articles not made at home, shoes and hats, imported furniture, pictures, wall paper, carpets, books and sundries. 

Every able-bodied man was subject to militia duty under a system organized into district with quarterly musters. General W.U. Anderson of Newnan was the ranking officer. 

A Mistress Teale sold persimmon, beer and ginger cakes from a pushcart and was subject to pranks of small boys who waited until her face was turned to push her cart into the river. Target shooting, tomahawk throwing, jumping, boxing, wrestling, foot and horse racing were sports enjoyed by the populace. Evening entertainments included dancing and fiddling contests. 

According to the article, the young men of the town attended various “seats of learning," but only the “West Point Military Academy” was named. Girls studied at such institutions as Salem in North Carolina and the Woman's College in Greenville, S.C., and the “College Temple in Newnan.” 

In 1836, the state legislature in session at Milledgeville passed a measure to build a State Road and an amendment providing that the terminus should be near the Chattahoochee at some point between Campbellton and Gainesville.  Campbellton made no effort to gain that terminus nor did it work to become a center of commerce, manufacturing or learning. The Atlanta and West Point railroad was routed through Fairburn and that “straggling village” was incorporated in 1854. Campbellton did not recognize that Fairburn had become a rival. Palmetto was incorporated the same year. Its name derived from a company of South Carolina soldiers who camped there while en route to the Mexican War. 

Prominent names in Campbellton were Austell, Beavers, Brooks, Black, Brock, Butt, Bullard, Camp, Cantrell, Garrett, Gartrell, Gorman, Glover, Howard, Hornsby, Holleman, Latham, McClure and Wilson.

During the “War Between the States” men of the county marched to the front as the “Campbellton Blues.” Their colonel was Dr. Thomas C. Glover. Col. Glover was killed at Winchester, Va., in September 1864. Captain William Butt also lost his life on a Virginia battlefield. Many others died there as well.

Colonel Glover's widow, Mrs. Elizabeth Camp Glover, is credited with organizing the first Confederate Veterans Reunion. This endeavor is described in the words of the author: “After a mere handful had returned, war worn and weary, and had made the first steps in establishing order out of chaos, Mrs. Elizabeth Camp Glover called together the survivors of her husband's regiment to meet in Campbellton courthouse upon a day in July 1865, to recount their experiences.  All were anxious to hear how their loved ones had fallen. A basket dinner was carried and the dinner afforded such gratification that it was unanimously voted to repeat the occasion the next year. This meeting of the survivors of the Twenty-first Georgia Regiment was the beginning of the great soldier's reunions.” 

Captain Butt's widow, the former Lou Beavers, tried to support her small daughters by teaching piano, organ and guitar. Unfortunately, “life was too hard for art to flourish.” Mrs. Butt then went to teach at the Female College in Gainesville which by the time the article was published was known as Brenau. Her descendants went on to teach at a music school in Atlanta.

According to the writer, Winifred Lee Moore, the move of the county seat to Fairburn in 1870, characterized by some as the work of the “carpetbagger legislature,” began the decline of Campbellton. The former courthouse stood “dark and silent” for two decades “until it was mercifully dismantled.” Campbell County lived on for over a half century after the move of the seat of government. The severe economic conditions of the Great Depression precipitated its ultimate consolidation into Fulton County …

(Details of the merger were in last week's article.) I sincerely appreciate Anne's taking the time to write such an interesting and informative article for us. I would like to add that the original old Campbell County Courthouse, used when Fairburn was the county seat, is still standing in Fairburn, and is leased by the Old Campbell County Historical Society. The courthouse is the site of the society's museum and research room and serves as a place for its meetings held the third Sunday of each month.

If you'd like to correspond with Anne about her article, you may email her at, or you may send comments to me at the newspaper.

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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