A Brief History of Heard County...

 

 

 

Created in 1830 from territory originally belonging to Carroll, Coweta and Troup Counties, Heard County began as part of Georgia's westward expansion.
Heard County was named for Stephen Heard, one of Georgia's most active patriots during the Revolutionary War. Heard, a Virginia native and friend of George Washington, served as Chairman of the Executive Council of Georgia in 1780-81, an office which later became known as governor.

 

The county seat of Franklin, situated on a bluff overlooking the Chattahoochee River, was the earliest and largest community to develop in Heard County. Originally incorporated as a town in 1831, Franklin's population grew to an approximate 300 by 1908 when it was incorporated as a city.

 

Franklin, named in honor of Benjamin Franklin, appears to have stolen it's name from West Point, for the name had already been used to designate the village in lower Troup County where the Chattahoochee River meets the Alabama line. It was not until Franklin was incorporated by the legislature that West Point surrendered the name, thus showing deference to a town which had the added prestige of being a county seat.

 

The early settlers who came to Heard County in the 1830's represented a fair cross section of the people of Middle Georgia from whence most arrived. For the most part, they were small farmers seeking the advantages of the cheap virgin soil of the county's land which was awarded to them in the state's land lotteries of that era. These farmers predominantly occupied lands t the east of the river and the fertile bottom lands on the west side of the river. Much of the county's early settling occurred on the eastern side of the river, probably because of the close proximity to Creek Indian Villages on the west just over the Alabama line.

 

When the first census was taken in 1840, 5,329 citizens resided in Heard County. The county's population steadily increased during the next 60 years to its highest level of 11,189 in 1910. From 1920 to 1960, the census showed a relatively high downward trend and then from 1960 on, a steady upswing occurred bringing the county to its 1990 census figure of 8,628. With count to date being just a little under 12,000.

 

In 1909, the Atlanta Coca-Cola Bottling Company opened a plant bottling "the real thing" in Franklin.

 

The plant, located on the square, was destroyed by fire in 1931 and never rebuilt. Memorabilia such as bottles and bottle openers bearing the company's name are scarce and eagerly sought by Heard County collectors.

 

Heard County's economy has historically been based on agriculture. Located at the southernmost end of the Appalachia Mountains, Heard County's rocky soil proved unsuitable for large scale farming and the economy of the county remained one of subsistence farming. After the Civil War, cotton became an important cash crop and the years from 1870-1910 were relatively prosperous. The prosperity and growth of this period was, however, curtailed by the absence of railroad transportation in the county.

 

As was the case in counties throughout Georgia, Heard County's cotton-based economy peaked around 1910, as did its population. The drop in the cotton market and the boll weevil took their tolls and farmers began moving out of the county. With this change, forestry became an important land use in the county in the 1930's and remains so today with over 160,000 of the county's 192,640 acres devoted to this lucrative enterprise.

 

In addition, other agricultural activities such as beef cattle and poultry production, along with a diverse collection of manufacturing and power generation facilities, are the principle mainstays of the county's economy.