Georgia Bar Journal
GSB Vol. 13, NO. 2, Pg. 34.
The Old Lumpkin County Courthouse at Dahlonega: The Grand Old Courthouses of Georgia
GSB JournalVol. 13, NO. 2October 2007The Old Lumpkin County Courthouse at Dahlonega: The Grand Old Courthouses of GeorgiaWilber W. CaldwellThe old 1836 courthouse at Dahlonega is today one of only seven antebellum brick court buildings still standing in Georgia. With its graceful but unsophisticated Federal style details, it is the finest standing example of the perva sive brick vernacular courthouse style that once covered the Georgia upcountry.
In 1828, the discovery of gold in the wild mountain country of north Georgia added urgency to an already ugly dispute between the Cherokee Indians and the state of Georgia. Despite the fact that the state had no legal claim to the vast tract then known as "The Cherokee Nation," settlers began to pour into the region in search of El Dorado. A period of land grabbing ensued, and despite the fact that Federal authorities strongly opposed the settlement of Cherokee land, the State of Georgia proceeded to annex all of north Georgia. Long before a treaty was signed in 1835 and the Cherokee were packed away to Oklahoma in 1838, the state Legislature had created the enormous Cherokee County, held a Land Lottery to distribute its lands, chartered The Western and Atlantic Railroad to run through the middle of the area, and divided the vast tract into 10 new counties. One of these was Lumpkin County.
In Lumpkin County, the extraordinarily rapid growth of towns like Auraria and Dahlonega attests to the intensity of Georgia's "gold rush." In the summer of 1832, two cabins were built at the future site of the city of Auraria in Lumpkin County. By November of that year, the place had a population of 500 according to Lumpkin County historian Andrew Cain. Nile's Register, published in Baltimore in May 1833, offers a contemporary description of this boom town less than a year after its founding, listing over 100 dwellings, 18 or 20 stores, 12 or 15 lawyers, and a population of around 1,000.
The more centrally located village of Dahlonega was settled at about the same time. Following an early dispute over the legality of the title to property in and around Auraria, Dahlonega became the county seat and a temporary log courthouse was built there in 1832. In 1836...