T H E C I T Y O F D R E A M S
Before January 24, 1826, the land that is now Carroll County belonged to the Creek Indians, one of the so-called Five Civilized Tribes. More specifically, the local Indians were called the Lower Creeks because they were served by the south fork of a trail used by white traders. Politically organized and open to changes in culture and civilization brought by the Indian Agent Benjamin Hawkins, they were bitterly opposed by the Upper Creeks of Alabama, who zealously resisted change. In the Creek Indian War of 1813-14, General Andrew Jackson raised an army composed mostly of militia men and Lower Creek Indians to defeat the militant Upper Creeks.
Before dawn on April 30, a band of about 200 Upper Creek warriors, led by Menewa, set fire to his plantation home – Lockchau Talofau and killed McIntosh, afterwards looting or destroying all his property. Because of the controversy, the February treaty was declared void by the Senate, but another treaty, signed by only a few chiefs, relinquished the Creek lands on January 24, 1826.
The Creek Indians were ordered to give up the land by September 1, and in late 1826 surveying of the new land cession began. The act that created Carroll County was passed on December 11 and it was named for Maryland’s Charles Carroll, the last living signer of the Declaration of Independence. This 66th Georgia county enclosed in its original boundaries all of present-day Carroll County as well as the southern part of Haralson and Douglas counties and the part of Heard and Troup lying west of the Chattahoochee.
As was commonplace in those days, the land was distributed in a lottery held in the state capital at Milledgeville in 1827. Because of the public ferry at McIntosh’s home site, that one square mile area known as the “McIntosh Reserve” was withheld from the lottery. (Today, the McIntosh plantation site remains preserved as the “McIntosh Reserve” and is the location of the annual McIntosh Festival each October.)
The leader of Jackson’s Indian troops was one of this area’s most illustrious and affluent men, Chief William McIntosh. He was called “White Warrior” and was the son of a Scottish father and a Creek mother. Never knowing his white father, the younger McIntosh was reared as an Indian and rose through the ranks to be Speaker of the Lower Creek Nation, an office that brought him into association with five presidents: Jefferson, Jackson, Madison, Monroe and John Quincy Adams. He earned recognition as a plantation owner who also owned a tavern and operated a ferry. He was one of the few prominent Creek chiefs who understood the practicality of exchanging all Creek Indian lands in Georgia for land in the west. He was under extreme pressure from the United States government and from his white first cousin, Georgia Governor George M. Troup, to vacate the area to white settlers. Despite the fact that the Upper Creeks had vowed to kill anyone who signed away more land, Chief McIntosh and eight minor chiefs signed a treaty on February 12, 1825, relinquishing all the Creek lands in Georgia, with the government paying the Creeks a total of $400,000 for improvements on their ceded lands.
One winner who came to view the land he had drawn offered the lot to a Carrollton innkeeper for a night’s lodging; the innkeeper refused. On March 8, 1827, lot number 128, which would contain Carrollton’s public square, was surveyed by Ulysses Lewis, who noted that it was “second quality oak and hickory land.” In May, the first Carroll Inferior Court was convened on lot 115 near Sand Hill, and the place called “Old Carrollton” was briefly designated the county seat. On November 14, 1829, the county seat was moved to its present site, and on December 22, the legislature incorporated the town as Carrollton.