History of Barrow County

An Historical Perspective

On July 7, 1914, Barrow County was formed by an act of the Georgia Legislature. The act provided for 168 square miles to be taken from parts of Gwinnett, Walton and Jackson Counties. It is named for David Crenshaw Barrow, a former chancellor of the University of Georgia who lived until 1929. Barrow is one of the youngest counties in the State of Georgia.

The 2010 census showed a population in Barrow County at 70,169. This represents a growth rate of over 50% for the past ten years.  Barrow County’s growth has consistently ranked in the Top 5 fastest growing counties in the State, and one of the Top 20 fastest growing counties in the US.

Barrow County’s relatively small size still holds six communities.  The county seat is the City of Winder.  Named for railroad man John Winder, who helped bring prosperity with the rail lines to the former Jug Tavern, Winder has grown from a former mill town, once known as “The Work Clothing Capital of the World” to a bustling community with and old-town feel, and new-community looks.

The City of Auburn is Barrow County’s second largest community.  Located in Barrow County’s western end, Auburn has been a growing town welcoming to new residents – especially those looking for more land, more space, and more house, as they gravitate away from the Metro Atlanta area.

The City of Statham, located on Barrow County’s eastern side, sits in an advantageous location, as it is close to the City of Athens, with the University of Georgia, and all the advantages it offers, while still keeping an arm’s length away.  Industrial equipment manufacturer Catapillar sits less than 10 miles from Statham.  Even closer is The Georgia Club, a live-work-play community offering a varied set of amenities for the discriminating homeowner.

The fast-growing town of Braselton lies within four counties, including Barrow.  The iconic Chateau Élan Winery, Resort and Conference Center is the centerpiece for Braselton inside of Barrow County, as it presents innumerable activities for residents and visitors alike.  Interstate 85 bisects Braselton, allowing for easy transportation access to Atlanta, Charlotte, and beyond.

The Town of Bethlehem fills with visitors every year, as they bring Christmas cards to the Bethlehem Post Office, to be hand-stamped and mailed the world over.  Bethlehem also offers a variety of housing options, and its location close to Ga. Hwy. 316 allows for quick access towards both Athens and Atlanta.

The town of Carl, sitting adjacent to the City of Auburn features the beautiful Carl House, a Antebellum home turned into a showplace that’s perfect for weddings, receptions, and parties.

 Links to Barrow County municipalities’ websites:

Winder – www.cityofwinder.com

Auburn – www.cityofauburn-ga.org

Statham  – www.cityofstatham.com

Bethlehem – www.bethlehemga.org

Braselton – www.braselton.net


An Historic Timeline

1786 – The area was inhabited by the Indians long before the white men settled in this area. The Creek Indians came first and named the area Snodon. White men traded beads and gay colored cloth to the Indians in exchange for land along the Mulberry River

1794 – Lon Draper erected a log cabin on the area referred to as Black Gum Hollow which was originally known as the Indian Village Snodon. It later became known as the “ Jug” based on the shape of the cleared land and eventually became Jug Tavern.

1819 – Truman Smith’s mill on Marbury Creek was the first post office and justice of the peace court for what is now the present Bethlehem. Originally in Walton County, the town was named from the Bethlehem Methodist Church (est. 1796). The name was suggested by a popular gospel songwriter and publisher, Judson L. Moore, who lived in the area. Bethlehem has many biblical theme named streets that are still in existence.

1887 – The Gainesville, Jefferson and Southern (later Gainesville Midland Railway) established rail lines with stops at Bethlehem, Jug Tavern (Winder), and Mulberry (Auburn).

1892 – The town of Auburn was created and was named after the red clay in the area that was used as dye in clothing. Auburn was a popular boarding house for “drummers” or salesmen who came into the area once a year to sell merchandise.

1892 – The town of Statham was named after a couple that owned a country store and post office in the area. At one time called Barber’s Creek and then Delay, the Statham’s were a generous couple with an large area of land and fair number of tenant homes that would give widows and orphans of the Civil War rent free living following the war.

1893 – The town of Winder was incorporated and changed from Jug Tavern to Winder after the railroad builder, John Winder, who donated right of way for a rail line to be built through the town. The town of Winder sat in three different counties at the time.

1897 – A.H. O’Neal, the town’s first manufacturer, began making soft drinks under the name of Winder Bottling works. Two of his products were named Red Rock Gingerale and Beerwine. Later on, in the early 1900’s, the town flourished with new industry. The Winder Foundry, Bell Overall Plant, Smith Hardware and the First National Bank were a few of the new companies that were located in Winder.

1902 – The City of Russell was chartered by the legislature and named after Richard B. Russell, who moved from the city limits of Winder to the north side of the Seaboard Railroad. He utilized the train service to Atlanta while serving in the Georgia Legislature. Dr. Alexander B. Russell held the position of Mayor of the town for 40 years. In the late 1990’s the town was dissolved under the new house bill that required towns to provide certain services. It was dissolved into the unincorporated area of Barrow County.

1905 – The first automobile was purchased by W.B. McCants who took it on a test drive to Tallulah Falls that took him just over seven hours to complete.

1906 – The Town of Carl was officially named by the Georgia Legislature from Lawson to Carl in honor of a baby boy born to the Pates, a prominent couple who owned a general store and barber shop in the area. Prior to that time, it was named Dillard’s Cross Roads and then Lawson before finally becoming Carl.

1914 – Barrow County was formed from parts of Gwinnett, Walton and Jackson Counties. Barrow County was the first county sought to be formed by a municipality (City of Winder). This was due to the complexity of handling legal matters amongst three different counties. It was also the first county named after a living Georgian, Chancellor John Barrow, University of Georgia.

1917 – War World I was declared and Barrow County adopted the slogan “Every Family a fighting Family”. Preston Williams, Thomas Wages and W.M. Sellers were the first three Barrow Countians to entrain for Camp Gordon in Atlanta.

1929 – The area’s first airport opened on land near the current Lions Club.

1931– Two thousand loyal supporters watched Barrow County resident Richard B. Russell, Jr. inaugurated as governor of Georgia. He was the youngest chief executive in the State’s history (and still remains the youngest).

1947– The Winder Chamber of Commerce was organized.

1950 – Ground was broken for Winder-Barrow Hospital on land owned by the Nancy Hill Williams family.

1960 – The Winder telephone exchange serving 2700 customers converted to the dial system. In 1969 it improved to the direct long-distance dialing system.

1969 – The Silver Comet made it’s last run over the Seaboard Airline tracks. Johns-Manville located a fiberglass manufacturing facility in Winder.

1971 – The Holly Hill Mall shopping center, owned by J. W. Maynard opened in Winder.

1972 – The Winder-Barrow High School Auditorium and adjoining classrooms were destroyed by fire

1976 – A large part of a block in downtown Winder fell in a fire that gutted the Belk’s Department Store.

1980 – The decade of the 80’s saw several restaurants opening on Highway 29 in Winder. McDonald’s restaurant opened first followed in the next several years by Burger King, Arby’s, Captain D’s, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Golden Corral (to name just a few). Prior to that time the Dairy Queen ruled as the local hangout for a soda and a hamburger.

1987 – Chateau Élan Winery opened to tours and wine tasting. A resort hotel later followed along with an award winning golf course, a spa, a tennis center and beautiful upscale homes.

1991 – The new extension of Georgia Highway 316 was christened by State and local officials, who formed a parade and drove the length of the roadway. The dedication site was held on the Gwinnett-Barrow County line.

1995 – A National protest ensued when the Chamber of Commerce failed to support a bid by the Somalian Olympic team to train in Winder at Fort Yargo for the Atlanta Olympics

2000 – An era of new industrial development began with the location of a business park on Georgia Highway 316. Duckhead Apparel became the anchor tenant in the park.  Chico’s FAS took over Duckhead’s facility in 2005, and now utilizes three facilities for all their warehousing. Following in the next several years were, Yokohoma Tire, Progress Container, Anderson Merchandisers and Price Industries.

Some of this information in this historic timeline was taken from “Beadland To Barrow” by C. Fred Ingram.