The following is a collection of transcripted articles from the Cedartown Standard Newspaper. The articles were published throughout 1875 and 1876.  This newspaper was printed for the citizens of Polk County, Georgia, and they were the publications attempt to memorialize the origin of the county and founding citizens of that part of Georgia.

The articles are extremely useful in our understanding of the trials faced by the early settlers of Polk County. They contain very fascinating, first-hand accounts of the original Indian inhabitants, the strife between the Pony Club and the Slicks, and other wonderful accounts of founding families, such as the Witchers, Priors, and Youngs. I have bolded the Witcher name in these articles. Also, there is a very interesting, first-hand account of the famous 1833, Leonid meteor storm. 

I have taken the time to provide this series of article, because of the important contemporary information they contain for the Witcher family researcher.

I did not transcribe these articles. That tedious service was accomplished by the gallant efforts of Debra Tumlin and Frances Shiflett Hicks. Their wonderful work is contained in eleven different locations on the net.

The scope of my effort has been to accumulate and memorize their work on this page, for the purpose of other assisting researchers, and to preserve the efforts of Debra Tumlin and Frances Shiflett Hicks, lest the work be lost. I have taken the liberty of annotating with relevant Witcher family information, as well as insert additional paragraphs, to ease the reader. I have not corrected spelling.

Click here to visit the website containing images of the original documents from this newspaper and the eleven different transcriptions.

Enjoy. W. 


CEDARTOWN, GA, JUNE 5, 1875 – April 8, 1876

Early History of Polk County


Faithfully transcribed as printed by Debra Tumlin

[June 5, 1875]

Polk county was formed from the west end of Paulding county, and Paulding from what was known as the Cherokee purchase, and organized while the natives, or Cherokee Indians were among us.

Cedartown and Clean-town were the two rival cities in the county. Cedartown was the name given to it by the Indians, from the great quantity of cedar that grew around it and in the valley, and was noted as a general council ground, green (?) dance and ball play.

Cleantown was also named by the Indians, in the language the most stinking and filthy name they could think of, in order, as they said, to suit the class and character of the people who lived around it. The white people, though, modestly called it Cleantown. [Cleantown is now called Van Wert, Georgia.]

Cedar Valley, during the summer and fall of 1832, was settled by a few scattering white families, generally respectable and honest, and a great number of poor, degraded Indians, reduced to poverty, they said, by the “Pony Club,” who had stolen all their horses, cows, hogs and money, and they would frequently track up their horses and cows, and be afraid to claim them, as the Pony Club were cruel to persons hunting stolen property, and would frequently lynch an Indian for no other crime than claiming his own property.

A large majority of the settlers of Cleantown, or Euharley valley at that time, were members of the Pony Club, with some good, honest, respectable citizens among them. But this class was generally forced to keep dark, or say nothing as to the acts or doings of the Club. In fact it was dangerous for a citizen of Cedar Valley to come out and openly oppose the Club.

They were a set of men who had fled from justice from the States, and had banded themselves together for the express purpose of thieving, with a regular set of by-laws, said to be similar to those of Murrell. They had the Indians perfectly submissive, but the better class of the whites, as they would move in, were disposed to resist their conduct.

The good people were finally forced to form what was known as the “Slick Company,” for the protection of persons and property (missing sentence or sentences)

[there is a portion of the article missing] them for stealing a horse or anything else on a certain day, he would frequently get two or three witness from Alabama or some other place, to come over and swear that he was in Alabama or Tennessee on the same day the horse was stolen, and the result was, a bill of costs to pay and the thief set free; hence the necessity for the Slick Company.

When a citizen of Cedar Valley lost a horse, he would summon his Slick Company and track up his horse, and when overtaken, they would take both thief they would take both thief and horse over into Floyd county or Alabama, and give him from thirty-nine to sixty-six lashes on his bare back, and he would frequently confess or reveal the fact of all the horses and cattle that had been stolen for months previous, where traded and by whom stolen.

In the fall, or winter, of 1832, thirty head of fat hogs had been stolen from a pea field in Vann’s Valley, from the old man West, familiarly known as Cherokee West, while the men folks were attending an Indian council above Rome. They were followed to Villa Ricca, but the hogs had been killed and sold out to the miners.

Zeke and John, sons of Cherokee West, who were in pursuit, learned the names of the parties who stole the hogs, and they were both large, portly young men, who feared neither God, man nor devil, finally caught one or two of the thieves, and gave each sixty-six lashes or their bare backs, and marked in the same mark of the stolen hogs. The thieves then left this country, and I don’t suppose they ever returned.

The law had been extended over the Cherokee purchase, embracing ten counties, and but one Sheriff and Clerk for this large territory. These officers resided in Cherokee county, near Canton, at which place the Court was held, and all other legal business transacted for the whole purchase, consequently the good people of this valley were forced to take the law into their own hands to protect themselves and property. [John Witcher was elected a Justice of Peace in 1832, for Cherokee County. My memory is that first court was held in his house. So, this may indicate that John Witcher lived near Canton in 1832, w.]

Nearly every week during the winters of 1832 and 1833 scouts would come from Cleantown to Cedartown , with the threat that every man in Cedar valley who was a member of the Slick Company who did not leave the county in three days, would be either hung, shot or whipped. I had forgotten to mention that a great many low, degraded Indians were engaged with the Pony Club, more as guides or “lackey boys,” to do their low work. The pure, full blood Indians, unadulterated by the whites, were honest, and denounced stealing or anything dishonest.

As but few of the younger people in this country ever saw an Indian, I will give a short description of the Cherokee Indian. The men were generally tall, large boned and well formed, with black eyes, coarse, black, hair, high cheek bones, large mouth and thick lips, and generally walk straight and erect, and are of a red or copper color. 

They are fickle and impetuous; very kind to their friends, but vindictive and cruel to their enemies. Their dress consists of moccasins, made of deer skin, and leggin’s of the same, which reaches to the upper part of the thigh; an apron or breast cloth passes between their legs, and attached to a belt around their loins, and commonly a blue hunting shirt covers the upper part of the body, and a large red handkerchief tied around the head. Thus rigged, with a few drinks of whisky added, and its “big Ingin me!” The women are generally short, with fine feminine features, well shaped faces, with some expression of mildness. The perform most of the hard labor, while the men lie up in their idleness and have two or three wives to wait on them.

The legislature of 1832 passed an act to organize each of the ten counties comprising the Cherokee purchase, and the election for county officers of Paulding county came off on the first Monday in march, 1833. The contest was first, as to where the election should be held, Cleantown or Cedartown, Every effort and all sorts of tricks were resorted to on both sides, but orders were finally issued for the election to be held at Cedartown. In a short time a large number of distinguished names were before the people as candidates for the various offices, and the old feuds appeared to die down as the canvas progressed. Cedartown and Cleantown passed and repassed until election day. Everybody entitled to vote in the county was in Cedartown at the election, and every man had his rifle or shot gun with him, and handed in his vote with gun in hand. The election passed of quietly till late in the afternoon.

(CONTINUED NEXT WEEK) [June 12, 1875]

They had counted out a sufficient number of votes to ascertain who was elected, and a very prominent candidate of the Cleantown persuasion, for Judge of the Inferior Court was decided to be elected. He and his friends were rejoicing in a big way when suddenly all was sad -- Slicks are coming.

Men commenced running, hiding, and dashing in every direction and in a short time, Captain Cunningham and Lieutenant Mayha charged over the yard fence horseback, with sixty Alabama Slicks, and formed in line before the door of the house in which the election was held, and Captain Cunningham called aloud for this prominent Cleantown candidate to come out of his house.

At this time about a hundred guns were cocked and presented. Slicks and all others were in madness. Officers were hollowing “I command the peace, don’t shoot.” Captain Cunningham continued calling for him to come out. Someone told him he was just elected Judge. The Captain replied that he had come over to ___ him, at the same time took a large __ rope from his saddle, and ordered the Judge to cross his lands. The Judge drew his pistol and said the first man who laid hands on him he would shoot a ball through.

The Captain followed him up, rope in hand, the Judge backing, until he got in the corner of the fence, and said if he had taken any man’s property he had the money to pay for it. One of the Alabama Slicks said that was what they came for, you or your money, and further said, “when I track my cows and horse to your house, you threatened to shoot me if I didn’t leave, and now, sir, nothing will satisfy me but you or the money.” 

The matter was finally compromised, the Judge paying fifty dollars, all the money he had, and gave his note and security for the balance. At this time the most of the Cleantown gentry had left or had hid in the bushes. The Slicks retired for camping, and the crowd left, and by dark every thing was still and quiet, except a few who had been drunk and asleep. They retired to some Indian hut for quarters for the night.

Great excitement for some time after the election as to who was responsible or guilty of sending for the Slicks on so important a day as the election, and that some one had to be whipped, hung or shot, or leave the country.

E. R. Forsyth was elected Clerk Superior Court, Elisha Brooks Clerk Inferior Court; Isaiah C. York and Wm. S. Houge Sheriffs, Woodson Hubbard, J. G. Deritt, James Cleghorn, John Lawrence and James Johnson were elected Judges Inferior Court. Cedar Valley got many of the offices, and several prominent men were candidates. This valley at that time possessed more wealth and intelligence than any other portion of the county. A short biographical sketch of some of the prominent citizens at that time would not be out of place here.

Captain John Witcher was one of the most prominent men in the valley; was one of the Justices of the Inferior Court of the Cherokee purchase; had commanded a company at Norfolk, VA in 1812 and a company of Paulding volunteers in 1835 during the war with the Creek Indians, and also a company of State troops in 1838 in the removal of the Cherokee Indians. A man of great courage and resentment; a truly good man to his friends, but thunder and lightning to his enemies. He owned considerable Negro property, land __ and was an old style Virginia gentleman, and a Democrat of the old Clark school. [Click here to read an essay relating to John and Lacy Witcher]

Lacy Witcher was one among the (missing phrase) Cherokee Purchase--a man of great firmness, integrity and honor and Christian piety. Owned several slaves, land, and other property. A good citizen and an old line Democrat. He had several sons--Henry, John, Daniel, and Lacy--all hardy, robust fellows and made all the other boys in the neighborhood “june” around when they got mad, but good, honest, clever boys to their friends.

John McBride was also a person of note in the valley. He was extremely clever and accommodating to the Slicks and equally so to the Pony Club. They would occasionally stop with him overnight and always had some news from Cleantown, advising certain parties in the valley not to go to Cleantown -- that it would be certain death. He was a good, clever man, but opposed to whipping rogues for stealing. He was also a good judge of corn whiskey and used it freely. He owned several (missing word) Negroes and other property. He was elected to the legislature in 1833 and left this country in 1834 or 1835 was an old line whig, of the Troup school.

Larkin Powell, James Smith, __ Vaughn, Alexander Carroll, John Killian and several other families can’t now recollect, were plain, honest, good citizens living in the valley in 1832 and Ballenger Grayley is perhaps the first settler, and one among the best citizens. It was good old Ballenger 41 years ago, and he still holds his own, and if he lives a thousand years longer, it will continue to be “good old Ballenger.”

Truman Walthall occupied rather a prominent position at that time. Was a one-horse lawyer, had so opposition, and had a good practice. He was a candidate for the senate in 1833, but was defeated; was elected to the senate in 1835 and in 1835 and 1836; he returned to Butts county in 1838, and died __. He was a Clarke Democrat.

Lt. H. Walthall was then a “goslin” boy, too big to play with children and too little to be noticed by men. Had but little practical sense and less experience, was never 50 miles from home til he came to the valley. He very soon attached himself to a Slick company, with A. Witcher [AJ or Ambrose], son of Capt. Witcher [John Witcher], who we now call “Uncle Jack.” He was rare bird then, never failing to do his whole duty. They were soon called into active service by the Alabama Slicks and made a dash on Cedartown. They caught one fellow an brought him over to Cedartown and placed a guard over him until next day. He was a jolly, lively fellow. After taking a few drinks of corn whisky, he sang all the Pony Club and Murrel songs he knew.

He told of all the horses and cows that had been stolen for years, and said it was perfectly right to steal everything the Cherokee Indians had; that they had no right here--that they should have gone to Arkansas long ago, and that they already had pay for their lands. He said he didn’t think he should be abused for doing what he conceived to be right. Next day was very cold and __. He was taken over to Floyd county on Cedar creek, near where Hanie’s mill now stands. His shirt was taken off and sixty-six lashes laid on his back, on and over some old gashes where he had been whipped before, in East Tennessee, he said, by a drunken crowd, while he was very drunk himself, for no offense. He followed the crowd back to Cedartown and remained until his back got better. I learned he left the country soon afterwards. He claimed to be a Jackson man.

Woodson Hubbard and John Brooks, two good, honest, and respectable citizens, lived near the head of Euharley valley. Hubbard was somewhat of a politician, of the old Whig school, and a very popular man, was elected Judge of the Inferior Court in March, 1833, and to the senate in the fall of the same year, and several times thereafter--in fact he held some important office up to the time of his death.

(TO BE CONTINUED) [June 19, 1875]

(missing paragraph -- too blurry to read) ........ an Indian Chief who resided in an old dilapidated two story log building on the hill above the big spring, was a man of a good, strong, natural mind, and a good, honest heart; was highly respected by Indians and whites. He was always counseling the Indians to honor and respect the good, honest, white man, and be honest themselves.

He had two lovely wives, one of which had several likely children. The other was barren, but was truly a devoted wife, and where he went she would go, always by his side, ready to administer to his wants -- bring water to him, hold and take care of his whisky, while drinking sit by him and over him while drunk, cold or hot, sleet or snow. She would build up fires around him in cold weather, while drunk, to keep him warm. She was a wife in the true sense of the term. He was honestly opposed to leaving the land of his birth, and remained here till forced off by the bayonet in 1838. He served in the war of 1812 under General Jackson and was at the battle of the “Horse Shoe.” A great many more ? Indians lived in the valley at that time. It would take too much time and space to give a history of them all.

A murder was committed in the valley, near the big spring, in the spring of 1833. John Killian killed a man by the name of Prior, a citizen of Carroll county, who was there hunting stolen property. Killian had been whipped by the Slicks, and two or three of his brothers in law, the Rathorfords had all been desperately whipped.

The difficulty between them was in relation to them all being whipped. They were both drinking. The particulars of the evidence I don’t now remember. Killian stood his trial and was sentenced to five years imprisonment in the penitentiary by his Honor, Judge Hooper, at the first court held in the new county of Paulding in the fall. After the march election, the Pony Club became more desperate, and at the same time were jubilant.

They were certain the[y] held the balance of power, and could turn the election upon whom they pleased. They would go to the Democrats and say, “you stand up to us, we can elect you -- we have a special use for you -- we intend to rule the country; no man shall have an office unless we say so.” They would go to the Whigs and tell them the same thing. They said “this country must be purged -- Cedar Valley shall never have an office; the Slicks and all their friends shall leave the country; we will place the county cite (Van Wert) at Cleantown and we will mob every Slick that comes to the polls; it is our town.” And they did mob several persons.

Cedar valley at length got bad off for a town -- it was to be mobbed if they went to Van Wert, and in the spring of 1834 they sent a petition to the Governor, setting forth the facts, and he promptly responded and sent up a company of United States troops and they made a dash on Cleantown, and oh Jerusalem! what squandering and hiding with the men, and yelling and squalling among the women. “The wicked fleeth when no man pursueth.” and every man that felt that he had been connected with the Pony club fled to the mountain, sold their lands and other valuables, signed up deeds while in the mountains and left, went where the “woodbine twineth.” The result of their leaving was a Democratic victory in 1834 and Wilson Lumpkin, who was then Governor and a Democrat, was charged by the Whigs of using his office for political ends.

Continued [June 26, 1875] BY ONE OF THE FIRST SETTLERS

Upon the map of a large county like Paulding originally was, you need not expect to see a distinct exhibition of every hill, dale, and valley. An attempt at such ___ would defeat the design of geographical distinctness. The most interesting and prominent objects only can be sketched, and if this is performed with judgment and accuracy, every reasonable expectation is satisfied. so upon the map of Polk county, which is the object of this communication, which is to [b]e held up to public view, and to be criticized by those who know as much and perhaps more, than the writer. You must only look for the most prominent incidents.

I would be glad to give the name, character, and political status of every prominent man from 1832 to this date, but it would take a longer life and better mind to scan everything; in fact but about five or six persons live in this county now who were here as far back as 1833. I have no one to assist me in getting up information, and rely solely on my memory, and I was quite young at that time.

I must not forget an old scar worn veteran who fought, bled, and died in the trying days of the Pony Club, Jonathan Long, who done gallant service. He was good on a chase, and never failed to bark when he treed, while many other men were good in a chase, but failed to bark. He treed an old fox in the shape of a Wright, and caught him, but he was very hard to handle. They had it up and down, over and under, buckle and tongue, and finally the other foxes pitched on him, all going for Jonathan, over the head and eyes, back and front, and the result was, Jonathan came out only second best and badly hurt. Nothing daunted, he was soon up and ready for another chance. He was ready to denounce wrong and defend the right, contending strictly for his own rights, but no more. In politics he was then called a Democrat, but unless he thought a man a gentleman, and he treated him all right, he never got his vote. I most leave Jonathan for the present, but will have something more to say.

I am compelled to make this communication short for the want of a proper recollection of dates and circumstances.

A great change has taken place -- the Pony Club has left, good men are coming in, and everything has assumed a new shape - but one difficulty in the country, the Indians. Will get up something better next week.

Continued [July 3, 1875]

Several nice families moved up in the fall of 1833. Seaborn Whatley, Peter Grinnell, Hampton Whatley and several others of less note. Hampton Whatley was a young, sprightly Baptist preacher. who settled at the Bunn place. He organized, or constituted the Cedartown Baptist church, in an old school house near where Mr. Monroe now lives, with very few members, but it grew up rapidly and prospered under his care and management.

In 1834, the Legislature of Georgia appropriated eight hundred dollars to each of the ten counties of the Cherokee country, to build an Academy [Lacy and John Witcher were appointed trustees for the Paulding County Academy, w]. That money was drawn by Paulding county and an academy was built at Brook’s spring, near Mr. Cobb’s.

The church was moved to the academy, and in 1836, Hampton Whatley remaining its pastor until 1836, where he moved to Cave Spring, and Rev. Wm. Wood, of Jacksonville, Ala. was called as pastor of the church and teacher at the academy. (I had forgotten that Rev. Mr. Coadry was called to this place in 1836, a very good man and fine preacher).

Mr. Wood remained as teacher and preacher at the academy until the fall or winter of 1838. Mr. Wood was truly a very good, pious man, highly respected by all who knew him, and much beloved by his brethren and his name will ever occupy an honored place in the hearts of those who knew him. Mr. Whatley and Mr. Coadry were both equally highly respected, and beloved by all who knew them. They were both fine preachers and ornaments to the Baptist church.

I must not forget to mention that the Methodists had circuit preaching occasionally in the same school house in 1833 and 1834, and perhaps they had a church organized.

The Indians also had a church at the Buck-eye spring, on Mr. Bunn’s place. They had meeting, or preaching nearly every Sunday. Some few white persons would frequently attend their meetings. When the regular accredited missionaries would come down with their linguist, the whites would generally attend.

About this time the missionaries were ordered out of the nation by the government and the Indian meetings and churches generally went down and the last two or three years of their stay among us they quit holding meetings and nearly all of them give over to ___ and ___. The time was drawing near they would have to leave the country. They became more careless and indolent, losing their energy and self respect. their rulers insisting that they remain in the country until the government forced them away at the point of the bayonet, thinking it would strengthen their claim against the government for extra pay for their lands.

Some amusing things took place occasionally in those times. Every few weeks some fellow would come by from Coosa River with his wife and children, telling our people that the Indians had rose and killed all the whites in Turkeytown, and were coming on through the country indiscriminately slaying women and children, and that every body had better leave. Wagons and carts would be in good demand for several days moving to Carroll county. Some would take their families to the mountains of nights and the men would congregate at some point and lie on their guns all night. Others would pay no attention to these reports. They would consult Housebug, __, who would tell them that he would drink all the white man’s blood that was shed by the Indians -- that it was all lies, and to pay no attention to it.

A big story of this kind came in Cedartown by some fellow from Alabama. He reported the Indians as coming to and from Alabama, killing every body. A man by the name of Oliver listened to this bloody story, which very much alarmed him. He remarked, “Well, I intend to have this evening.” He started for home and three or four fellows tied red handkerchiefs around their heads and went round and got before him, when he broke to run, and they all fired off their guns. The last thing they saw of him was he was going through the piney woods at a powerful speed.

A little after dark, he brought up at John Brooks, on the head of Enharley creeks. He told them that the Indians had killed all the whites in Alabama and that he saw a thousand in Cedar Valley, and that they had shot a hundred guns on him, and had chased him several miles, and he knew that Salina and all the children were killed--Lord have mercy upon us! Fix up all of you -- they will be here directly -- let’s get in the mountains. Mr. Brooks, being a little “ticklish” anyway, gathered up his family and they all lay in the mountains this night. Oliver cautioned to pray all night for the Lord to have mercy on Salina and the children.

Continued [July 10, 1875]

The Cedartown Baptist Church remained at the old academy until the new and present church was built in 1852-3.

I must go back to 1833. Ephraim Mabry and Henry Peek, afterwards prominent citizens, moved to the valley in the fall of 1833. Mabry was truly a good and worthy man. he joined our slick company and done good service -- was a Clark Democrat, and the husband of the amiable Mrs. Mabry who resides near Cedartown. Henry Peek was quite an old man, a revolutionary soldier, and at that time near seventy years of age, and drawing a pension from the government, but was a sprightly as a boy and as vicious as an __. 
He spent his opinion freely to any and every body and was as independent as a wood sawyer. He was a good judge of corn whisky, and used as much of it as he pleased, and when and where he pleased. With all his peculiarities he was a good, honest man and much respected. He died in 1840 or 41.

Many good citizens resided on Tallapoosa river -- Wyatt Williams, Nathan Gahn, Wm. Philpot, Joe Hobbs, Galamore, Renfroe, Witcher, Wm. Hogue, John Y. Algood, Wilkerson. And on Euharloe was J.C. York, J.C. Derott, Carnes, and others, and on Pumpkin Vine was Bryson, Broughton, Box, Adier, McBrayer, Colium, Lawrence, Parlier; and on Raccoon creek was E.R. Forsyth, Hartville, Lee, Buck, Hicks. Those are some who were here at the organization of the county, and some of them are here yet.

I must not forget to tell of the great phenomenon of the falling stars in October, 1833, of which I was an eye witness.

I and three other gentlemen slept that night in a little Indian hut. One was a Methodist preacher, one a Baptist, and the other a very wicked drinking man.

I and the __ slept on the same bed.

A little before day my bed fellow got up and went to the door, and yelled out “Lord of mercy, the whole world is one fire; everything will be burned up in ten minutes.” Up jumped the preacher with a loud groan, followed by the Baptist. On getting to the door, the preacher commenced, “Lord have mercy upon us.” He was soon down upon his knees, praying the most __ prayer for his Lord to help and stay. His hand __ . He had suddenly caught so many unprepared, followed up by the Baptist brother, “grant it, Lord send it, Lord help; help us now!” 

As to myself, I was not frightened much. I sat up in bed and looked out through a crack and saw a thousand torches and blazes passing and repassing in every direction. I fell down in bed and covered up head and arms, and even then got so cold that I had an old fashioned buck ague. I thought I would not see myself burn up, but a great lump came up in my throat, and it continued to grow larger and larger, and at last a Negro woman, who saw the falling stars, screamed out at the top of her voice, “Oh, Miss Katie, the world is on fire -- we are all burning up, oh, Lord, what shall I do?”

I thought her clothes were in a blaze. About this time you ought to have seen me come out of that bed. I ran over preacher and Baptist. Had I stayed in bed a minute longer, I believe that I would have bursted wide open. I thought the fool Negro had ran through the blaze and her clothes had caught on fire, and she would run in the house and there would be a general conflagration. I belted out of the house and thought to myself, “I will bow my neck and die like a man.” 

I didn’t preach nor pray, but I am sure I done some mighty good thinking. I ran in a stupid posture when I first came out of the house, fearing that a blaze might strike me, and I was afraid to look. The whole clements were in a __ with blazes and torches of fire. A little fright finally wore off and I could look at things as they __. The preacher and the Baptist that I __ ran over were up and at the __. By this time the fright was about over and we began to conjecture as to the result of this awful phenomenon.

The preacher was quite an old man, and could come to no definite conclusion. He did have several scriptional interpretations, but nothing satisfactory. He suggested war and famine; that God, in his wisdom, had warned people in many ways for their __. I think he was truly a __ man, and I never shall forget words of consolation in a time of this fearful excitement. [click here to read more about this fearful sight.]

This winds up all the important matters up to December, 1883.

Continued [July 24, 1875]

In the early part of the year 1834 was the most gloomy time with the people of Cedar valley. The time had expired for the Cherokee Indians to leave the country, and they had failed or refused to go. In the change, or election of their chief, they had got a new hearing before Congress, as to their treaty with the government, and it was uncertain as to when they would leave, and the Pony Club claimed to rule the country with an iron rod in all elections, and the future was truly gloomy, and a great many citizens moved back to the old counties.

About this time Asa prior brought out some Negroes and located near the big spring, and soon commenced building cabbins and houses, and also the saw and grist mill the Oppert now owns.

Asa Prior [click here to read about this man] was a man peculiar to himself, but in the main a good, honest man. He attended strictly in person to his own business, and toiled from early in the morning until late at night. Never particular as to the adornment of his person, plain clothing in common with his workmen was his custom. He was gentle and kind in his intercourse with all men, but stern enough when his personal honor required it. He was a man whose whole soul would sicken under a sense of personal dishonor.

He was elected to the legislature in 1838 or 39, and made a good, plain unassuming member. He belonged to the old Whig party, and heartily supported the principles of his party while a member of the house. He was about sixty-five years old when he left Polk county for Texas in 1853 or 54, and died soon after he landed in Texas. He had, by close attention to business, accumulated a considerable amount of this world’s goods; in fact he was called a rich man before he left the county, but he had lived nearly to man’s appointed time, and beyond man’s common lot; but when the summons came he breathed forth his gentle spirit to God who gave it.

Martin Sparks also came in about this time with some Negroes and located on the place now owned by Mr. Bunn. He was a man of considerable means, and a man possessed of fine business qualities; had served as Sheriff of Morgan county a number of years, and perhaps had been elected to the legislature a term or two. He was a man of fine practical sense and had fine talents for making money and holding on to it. He also was an old line Whig, and a good, orderly member of the Baptist church. I knew but little of his peculiarities, as he died the next winter after he moved out in the spring. He was between fifty and sixty years old when he died. His son Thomas was about grown when he died, and was the only heir. He then took possession of everything, and remained on the place until 1860 or 1861, when he sold out to Mr. M. H. Bunn and went West.

Continued [August 7, 1875]

The people of the valley during the winter and spring of 1834 made considerable preparations for farming. They felt no interest in the county affairs, none of them had been elected to office, and county site being located at Cleantown, (Van Wert).

The spring term of the Superior Court was coming on at the new court house, and his Honor, O. H. Kinyan, was to preside as Judge, and I think our common J. W. H. Underwood was solicitor-general. Warrants had been issued against several persons in the valley, and they had been shying round to evade arrest.

Several citizens of the valley were on the jury, and nearly all in the valley were afraid to go to Van Wert, but all who had business went, and we had, to our surprise, quite a calm time. The name of Judge Kinyan on the bench made the pony club tremble. Our valley friends not prossed nearly all the cases against them, and friendship appeared to be gaining ground.

Court passed off and no one was killed or maimed; but the first Sheriff’s sale day after court a good many from the valley went over, and by the time they got off their horses they were attacked by a host of the pony club, with pistols and knives. It was then that our old friend, Ballenger Gravley, threw off his coat and told the pony club to lay down their weapons and he would whip all of them, one at a time, a fair fist fight. A great many pistols were drawn and presented, but no one killed or hurt. Friend Gravley’s proposition was not accepted, but it had a great deal to do in quashing the difficulty.

Things now began to brighten up in the valley. 

Walthall had set up a little store where the Baptist church now stands, with a post office and justice court ground, muster ground, &c. 
Lacy Witcher and Hiram Wright were acting justices of the peace, and our old friend Gravley was elected Captain of the Cedartown District, and was a good drill officer. He was fresh from the South Carolina nullification drill, and boasted that he was a John C. Calhoun nullifier. On his first drill day he did not perform so well, on account of his taking more “groceries” than he was able to carry successfully--the ground appeared to rise up to his head more than usual. His Lieutenants rendered valuable service at that time and one of the posse struck Tom __gan with his gun, and they __ for a fist fight. Jack struck him three or four licks that nearly brought him to his knees. The balance of the crowd tripped him up, kicked him and punched him with their guns, and beat him terribly. The Sheriff finally got them off of him, when they __ mounted their horses and left, without arresting anyone.

I must not get ahead of May day the grandest time with the Cherokee Indians. The whites called it “Terrapin-shell Dance.” 

The Indians would congregate from every part of the nation. I have seen two or three thousand at this dance. It was managed, or supervised by the women while the green corn dance was managed by the men. I have forgotten why they celebrated this day, but was in relation to the first ripe fruit.

Four or five of the oldest women would take four terrapin shells, fill them nearly full of small gravel and tie two to each leg. The other women would form a large ring. The four would walk around inside of the ring and sing a song at the top of their voices, until they went round about twice; they would then stop singing and commence jumping up and down to rattle their shells, the noise of which was equal to a half dozen railroad enjines; you couldn’t hear it thunder the noise was so deafening. Two rounds and then the whole crowd would sing to the top of their voice, and so continued for a day and night.

The men would generally stand around outside of the ring, apparently greatly interested. Some of them would sing, and sometimes would give command for certain __ or songs. The women would __ in front, dressed in primp and __ giving animation to the occasion. It was truly a novel sight. After 183_ the Indians became demoralized and gave up these large celebrations.

Continued [August 21, 1875]

The summer and fall of 1834 were rather remarkable for the happening of important incidents.

The Pony Club was run off from the country; the Democrats were all elected at the fall election; friendship, goodwill, passing and repassing with Cedartown and Cleantown; all parts of the county came together for honesty and good government, each for his respective party--Whig or Democrat.

The valley was full of land buyers, and large number of good citizens moved into the county that fall and winter.

Among them were John Kearley, who settled near where Alexander Brooks now lives; Wilson Whatly, who settled where Mr. Teawick now lives; John Pollard, who settled near Mr. Young’s; R. W. Pollard, who settled on Tallapoosa, and Augustus Young [click here to read an essay relating to this man and his connection with the Witcher family] who remained on the place he settled until his death.

But few men in the county but what knew Augustus Young. To know him was to respect him. Perhaps no man in the county knew him better than myself; he was my neighbor and friend, both morally and politically. He, like myself, was a native Georgian. He removed from Dekalb county in the fall of 1834, and accumulated a considerable property, which was distributed among his children with discrete judgment.

His love of right and devotion to principle was never questioned. Conceding to all men the full measure of what was their due, he was also punctual in the exaction of what was due to himself. In all those more intimate relations which bound him to his friends, kindred and his servants, he was al that friendship could ask, or affection and kindness claim. While in that higher and more solemn relations which he bore to the author of this all, he was exact in all those duties __. 

His religious sentiments were peculiar to himself. He was a Universalian from principle, without faltering or doubting, to the day of his death. I was with him, and by his bedside many times during his sickness, and never heard one word fall from his lips that I could detect apart from his principles. I was with him all the day on which he died. Early at night he sat up in the chair and talked more fluent, and his mind seemed to be better than at any time during his sickness, but at the same time I could see indications of deep-seated trouble. His wife, a noble woman, was then a corpse in the house--had died that morning about daylight.

He was greatly troubled about is lonely condition, and the manner in which he had made his will, thinking that he would die first, and had impressed it upon her not to live with her children, but to keep house, as he had made ample means in his will for her comfort during her life. But now she was gone and he left alone.

Occasionally a tear would trickle down his cheek. He said he could not keep house; that he would have to do what he had charged his wife not to do; he would have to live with his children. 

He was anxious to have a small alteration in his will, and requested me to come over next morning and fix it up. I told him I would come over in a day or two. “No,” he said, “you must come soon in the morning, (Sunday), for I shall not live but a very short time.” I told him I thought he was better than I had seen him in a month, and that perhaps he would get well. “No, no, no,” shaking his head, “I am going to die very soon; I know it; I can see it; I feel it; and if you don’t come tomorrow you will not see me alive.”

About three o’clock in the evening he suddenly became a little hoarse, and remarked that it was a little singular, and that he had not taken cold, and would talk on awhile, and asked me what I thought of that hoarseness, looking wild out of his eyes. I told him I thought he would get over it directly. No, he said, it is not like anything I ever had before, but kept constantly talking about his affairs, requesting me to assist his son in winding up his estate, and not let the lawyers get hold of it, as though he was in a hurry to start on a long journey and was giving direction what to do while he was gone.

In the course of a half hour his hoarseness turned to a rattle, and every breath was a rattle in is throat, but kept constantly talking until about half hour before sundown, he became chilly and said he was cold, and had a hard chill. We put him to bed __all we could do we could not get him warm; but finally his chill wore off and after he got warm he became almost a raving maniac, and died about 9 o’clock that night.

Mr. Young was a large, fleshy man about six feet high, and his common weight was about two hundred and twenty five pounds, and was about sixty eight years old when he died. He never had the advantages of a polished education, and while I would claim for him the __ of a Clay or the discrimination of a Calhoun, yet in the various positions he held in life, we __ developed the true elements of moral greatness. His discreet judgment in all matters that he controlled or had knowledge of, could not be surpassed by any one.

His wife, who was a corpse at the same time, and only about fourteen hours between their death, was perhaps one of the noblest specimens of her sex. She was truly a kind and devoted wife, and possessed all the elements of a lady. In his long protracted sickness her devotion to him was __ -- would never suffer any other persons to wait on him; cold or hot she was always ready at his command. She was one or two years his senior, which would make her sixty nine or seventy.

{TO BE CONTINUED} [April 8, 1876]

Faithfully transcribed as printed by Frances Shiflett Hicks

Mr. Editor"--I have just been thinking that a history of Cedartown for the last thirty-five years, though imperfect, might be of interest to some of your readers.

     In the year 1841 I became acquainted with Cedartown, at which time it had but little except the name.  At that time the whole of what is now Cedartown, north of the Baptist church was owned by the late Asa Prior, and if I mistake not Mr. Prior was the only citizen.  He owned two dwellings, the one now occupied by Dr. Borders, and the other stood on or near the spot now occupied by Dr. Branch's residence.

    There was an old store house about where Mr. Featherston's stable now stands.  This house was vacant until the latter part of that year (1841), or some time the next year, when Mr. R.S. Simmoons put up a stock of goods in it.  At that time there was no railroad nearer that Madison, Ga., and consequently goods were very high.  Calico sold as high as forty cents per yard.  Factory thread $1 75 to $2 50 per bunch, according to No.  Salt $2 50 per bushel of 50 lbs.  But at that time bread and meat were plentiful and cheap.. Corn 15 to 20 cents per bushel; beef 1 1/2 to 3 cents per pound; pork 2 1/2 to 5 cents, often on time.

    Money was plentiful for a back-woods country; but at the same time some of it was very much depreciated.  A good deal of "City Council" and "Railroad" money afloat that was "below par," but was taken for goods by Mr. S. at par.

    The 5 and 10 cent piecesf were then being introduced, and were taken for goods at 6 1/4 and 12 1/2 cents, there being a good deal of money of these denomiuations in use and current at that time.

    We then had a horse mail from Van Wert, I think, to Cave Spring and back, once a week.  Postage in Cherokee Georgia, at that time, was very high, compared to present rates.  I have known as high as 43 3/4 cents paid for a single letter.  Mr. Simmons was post-master while he remained here.  I think he ledt here some time in the year 1844 and went to Cave Spring.  Mr. B. F.  Bigalow was the next merchant, who came the same year that Mr. S. left.  He remained (a part of the time Bigelow & Weaver) the sole merechant for perhaps eight or ten years.  In fact but few others tried it and all of tyhem short.

    I have heard that prior to the time of the commencement of this history, Mr. L. H. Walthall sold goods here, but of the particular kind, or of the prices, I have never been informed.  Perhaps he can tell, as he is still here.

    In the year 1842 a school was commenced in the "old Academy," as it is still known, by Col. B.T. Mosely, from Penfield, Ga.  Mr. Mosely taught in succession.  After which he taught near Mr. William Peek's for several years, This school was patronized by all the surrounding citizens who had children.  Many young men came from other counties.  Several followed Mr. M. for Green county, in order to avail themselves of his superior abilities as a teacher.  Mr. Mosely was not a fast man, but he had the reputation of being a thorough teacher.  He began with Webster's spelling book, and although he taught all the branches of an English education and the classics thoroughly, he did not neglect to teach the Spelling-book thoroughly, also.

    In 1842, and for several years after, there was but one church house, and bur one organized church (Baptist) that I remember in the whole valley.  The "old Academy" was the church then, and I think Rev. John Ho;mes, or Hampton Whatley, was the pastor in charge.  Cedartown then had no physician, except E. H. Richardson, Sr., who lived then where he does now.

    Then there was no lawyer, except John T. Colquitt, who though modest and unassuming, did sometime practice in the lower courts.
    About 1852 or '63 Polk county was made from Floyd, Paulding and Carroll and Cedartown became the county cite.  Since that time the populantin has gradually increased.  The town now has nine (Cherokee Iron Company's store not excluded) dry goods stores, four family groceries, two Drug stores, and one book stor, and in these stores are from one to five mail persons.  There are eight practicing physicians, and nine lawyers, with offices in town.  Two of the doctors and two of the lawyers are natives of the valley.  There are at present three churches for whites, and two for blacks.

    Before the was there were no colored churches, but the whites and blacks occupied the same house, and each church counted its white and colored members, but since the black  have been made "free and equal" they are not admitted in the white churches.

    A few of the citizens of thirty-five years ago, are still in the valley.  Some have gone to the far West, and they longed for the flesh pots of Cedar Valley.  Some have gone to the bourne from whence no traveler returnes.


CEDARTOWN, GA., June 12, 1876

PG. 2

[This transcription apparently begins mid-article. I have not located an image of the original, so for now, we only have the transcription of “PG. 2.”  This transcription appears to be a reprint of an earlier article in the “The Record.” w.]

uses intergrity and honor and Christian piety, owned several slaves, land and other property.  A good citizen and an old line Democrat.  He had several sons--Henry, John, Daniel and L???---all hardy, robust fellows, and made all the other boys in the neighborhood "jump" around when they got mad, but good, honest, clever boys to their friends.

    John McBride was also a person of note in the valley.  He was extremely clever and accommodating to the Slicks, and equally so to the Pony Club.  They would occasionally stop with him over night, and always had some news from Cleantown, advising certain parties in the valley not to go to Cleantown--that it would be certain death.  He was a good, clever man, but opposed to whipping regu?? for stealing.  He was also a good judge of corn whisky, and used it freely.  He owned several likely negroes and other property.  He was elected to the legislature in 1833, and left this country in 1834 or 1835--was an old line Whig, to the Troup school.

     Jorkin Powell, James Smith, Mr. Vanghan, Alexander Carrell, John Killian and several other families I can't now recollect, were plain, honest good citizens, living in the valley in 1832, and Ballenger Gravely is perhaps the first settler, and one among the best citizens.  It was good Ballenger 41 years ago, and he still hold his own, and if he lives a thousand years longer, it will continue to be "good-old Ballenger."

     Truman Walthall occupied rather a prominent position at that time.  Was a one-horse lawyer, had no opposition, and done a good practice,  He was a candidate for the senate in 1833, but was defeated: was elected to the senate in 1834, and again in 1835 and in 1836; he returned to Butts county in 1838, and died in '56.  He was a Clark Democrat.

     L.H. Walthall was then a big "g?????" boy, too big to play with children and too little to be noticed by the men. Had but little practical re???? and less experience; was never 50 miles from home til he came to the valley.  He very soon attached himself to a Slick company, with A.J. Witcher, who we now call "uncle Jack."  He was a rare bird ????, never faling to do his whole duty.. They were soon called into active service by the Alabama Slicks and made a dash to Cleantown,  

They caught ???????? and brought him over to Cedartown, and placed a guard over him ?????????????.  He was a jolly, lively fellow, ????????, taking a few drinks of corn whisky, he sang all the Pony Club and Murrel songs he knew.  He told all the horses and cows that had been stolen for years, and said it was perfectly right to steal everthing the Cherokee Indians had; that they had no right here--that they should have gone to Arkansas long ago, and they already had pay for their lands.  He said he didn't think he should be abused for doing when he concieved to be right.  Next day was very cold an sleety.  He was taken over to Floyd county on Cedar creek, near where H??????'s mill now stands.  His shirt was taken off and sixty lashes laid on his back, on and over some old gashes where he had been whipped before, in East Tennessee, he said, by a drunken crowd, while he was very drunk himself, for no offence.  He followed the crowd back to Cedartown and remained until his back got better.  I learned he left the country soon afterwards.  He claimed to be a Jackson man.

      Woodson Hubbard and John Brooks, two good, honest, and respectable citizens, lived near the head of Euharley valley.  Hubbard was somewhat of a politician, of the old Whig school, and a very popular man, was elected Judge of the Interior Court in March, 1833, and to the senate in the fall of the same year, and several times thereafter-in fact he held some important office up to the time of his


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History of Cedartown articles

written in 1875-1876

A Witcher Family Genealogy