Bartow County courthouse in Cartersville
|Location: Cartersville |
Architectural Style: Neoclassical Revival
Designer: Kenneth McDonald and J.W. Golucke
At the time of Bartow County's creation in Dec. 1832, much of what originally was known as Cass County was occupied by Cherokee Indians, which delayed organizing the new county's government. In Dec. 1833, the legislature designated Cassville as county seat. What county officials initially used as a courthouse is not known, though at some point a courthouse was built. When Sherman's forces came through Bartow County in 1864, the courthouse and town were burned. In 1867, Bartow County voters approved a referendum to move the county seat to Cartersville. For six years, the county operated without a courthouse, but in 1873 a new courthouse was completed. Unfortunately, it was located so close to the railroad that court proceedings were interrupted when a train would pass through town. Still, the courthouse was used until a new one was built in 1902. [For early photos of the courthouse, see postcard 1
and postcard 2
.] This courthouse is still in use, but the growth of Bartow County in recent decades led county officials to build the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center in 1992 (see photo
). Frank Moore
was sole commissioner of Bartow County from 1980 until his death in 1991. The complex that bears his name now serves as the principal courthouse for Bartow County -- though some court sessions continue to be held in the old courthouse.
County Courthouse Historical Marker: Click here
Bartow County, originally known as Cass County, was created from Cherokee County on Dec. 3, 1832 by an act of the General Assembly (Ga. Laws 1832, p. 56). [Click here
for complete text of legislation.] According to the 1832 act :
. . . such parts of the twenty-first, twenty-second and twenty-third districts of the second section as lie west of the line herein-before designated, and the fourth, fifth, sixth, fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth districts of the third section, shall form and become one county, to be called Cass.
In way of background, by 1830, the Cherokee Nation consisted of most of northwest Georgia (see map
), plus adjoining areas in Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Even while Cherokee Indians remained on their homeland in Georgia, the General Assembly on Dec. 21, 1830 enacted legislation claiming "all the Territory within the limits of Georgia, and now in the occupancy of the Cherokee tribe of Indians; and all other unlocated lands within the limits of this State, claimed as Creek land" (Ga. Laws 1830, p. 127). The act also provided for surveying the Cherokee lands in Georgia; dividing them into sections, districts, and land lots; and authorizing a lottery to distribute the land. On Dec. 26, 1831, the legislature designated all land in Georgia that lay west of the Chattahoochee River and north of Carroll county as "Cherokee County" (see map
) and provided for its organization (Ga. Laws 1831, p. 74). However, the new county was not able to function as a county because of its size and the fact that Cherokee Indians still occupied portions of the land. On Dec. 3, 1832, the legislature added areas of Habersham and Hall counties to Cherokee County, and then divided the entire area into nine new counties -- Cass (later renamed Bartow), Cobb, Floyd, Forsyth, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Murray, Paulding, and Union -- plus a reconstituted and much smaller Cherokee County.
Portions of Cass County were used to created Gordon County in 1850 (Ga. Laws 1849-50, p. 124).
Georgia's 87th county originally was named for Pres. Andrew Jackson's Secretary of War, Gen. Lewis Cass of Michigan. Later, Cass's abolitionist and pro-Union views made him unpopular in Georgia. Following the death of Col. Francis Bartow
in the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run), the General Assembly changed the name of Cass County to Bartow County on Dec. 6, 1861 (Ga. Laws 1861, p. 101).
The 1832 act creating Cass County provided that the first justices of the inferior court were authorized to select a county seat and provide for erection of public buildings. What action the inferior court took is not known, but on Dec. 24, 1833, the General Assembly designated Cassville
as county seat and incorporated the town (Ga. Laws 1833, p. 318). An act of Nov. 24, 1857 provided for a referendum in June 1858 to move the county seat from Cassville (Ga. Laws 1857, p. 256). If a majority of voters favored removal, a second referendum would be held in August 1858 allowing voters to indicate their choice for a new county seat.
Presumably, the 1858 referendum left Cassville as county seat. Six years later, Sherman's forces burned Cassville, leaving Bartow County without a seat of government. Court sessions were moved to Cartersville, which prompted another effort to designate a new county seat.
An act of Nov. 12, 1866 directed that a referendum be held on the first Monday in January 1867 on the location of Bartow's county seat (Ga. Laws 1866, p. 36). That act noted in its preamble: "Whereas, the county site of Bartow county was entirely destroyed by the Federal army; and whereas, the former citizens of said town have declined an attempt to rebuild it; and whereas, the people of said county are desirous of locating the site at some point on the Western & Atlantic Railroad . . . ." This time voters chose Cartersville as the new county seat. Cartersville had been incorporated by an act of Feb. 1, 1850 (Ga. Laws 1849-50, p. 103). The town was named for Farish Carter
, one of Georgia's largest landowners before the Civil War and a frequent visitor to the settlement that would later bear his name.