The  Elbert County, Georgia, Families [1]

By  Harold Graham

It is unlikely than  any county in our nation has contributed more to the population of  Newton County, Mississippi, than Elbert County, Georgia.

Elbert County,  Georgia was created in 1790 from Wilkes County with its county seat  as Elberton. An early map indicates the eastern boundary as the  Tugaloo River [2],  across from which was found Pendleton County, South Carolina. To the  north lay Franklin County, to the west Madison County and to the  south Oglethorpe and Wilkes counties. A later division would place  Hart County along its northern boundary.

 Elbert County, Georgia, 1846

In the early days  of the county cotton and tobacco were the major crops; however, the  native granite would eventually become the leading crop of the  county. Today, Elbert County is the leading producing of native  granite in the world, such to the extent that it is doubtful that  any modern cemetery in the United States fails to have at least some  piece of Elbert County real estate.

To begin a roll  call of surnames who migrated from Elbert County to Newton County:

Abney, Adams,  Alexander, Brown, Carter, Clark, Cleveland, Gaines, Galloway,  Hailey, Haley, Henton, James, Johnson, Johnston, Kimball/Kimbell,  Maxey, Maxwell, McClinton, McCullough, McElhenney, McMullan,  Robertson, Roebuck, Rowzee, Rucker, Taylor, Terrell, Thornton,  Wansley, Warren, and White [3]

Most of these  families settled in a six-mile-wide corridor beginning near the town  of Decatur and extending to Union. Over the course of time these  families would form the nucleus of the membership of two churches,  Mt. Zion Congregational Methodist Church and Rock Branch Baptist  Church.  Some of these families moved further westward after a few  years, but most stayed.

Most of these  families came to Newton County beginning about 1855 and ending with  the Civil War.

Their migration was  prompted by two circumstances. First, many early settlers to Newton  County moved westward to Texas and other states during the 1850s in  search of new land. This left vacant lands that accommodated the  migration of new settlers to Newton County.

The second  circumstance is best described by Milton McMullan, in reference to  his grandfather, Patrick McMullan, Jr.:

Patrick was a  farmer. Soon his sons would be approaching manhood and would want  their own farms. Patrick could see a problem. Population and land  prices in Elbert County were rising rapidly. It would be difficult  to acquire land. Patrick had heard of cheap land in Mississippi.  This was the answer to his problem. In 1857 he moved the entire  family to Mississippi. He bought a thousand acres of land north of  Decatur, the county seat of Newton County. With the help of his ten  slaves and the older boys help he cleared eight hundred acres,  leaving two hundred acres in woodland and a small creek. He built a  fine house and school and named it Mount Vernon. One hundred acres  of the plantation was planted in apple trees, the remaining seven  hundred would be planted in cotton. By the spring of 1861 the apple  trees were growing. [4]

In addition to  growing apples Patrick built a cider mill and sold the apple juice  to customers throughout the area as well as sending much of it back  to Elbert County because he knew they loved cider in his old  stomping grounds. He also built a store and started a post office  known as Mt. Vernon with one of his sons as postmaster. Mt. Vernon  Congregational Methodist Church was built through the efforts of  Patrick and his neighbors. Patrick was an avid promoter of the  economic prospects of Newton County, as reflected by the letters  that he wrote to his relatives back in Georgia.

The typical early  route from Georgia to central Mississippi was along the Fall Line  Trail. [5]

The migration to  Newton County was accomplished by wagon trains, as many as 60 wagons  at a time, we are told, which came overland to Newton County, a  journey that took several weeks. One of the guides was Thomas  Seaborn McMullan, a distant cousin of Patrick McMullan, Jr. One of  his clients was Mrs. Caroline Clark McClinton, a widow, who sought  to move to her relatives at Decatur. Thomas and Caroline fell in  love during the trip and were married in Alabama [6]. 

[1] Special  thanks to Ann Burkes and Terry Terrell Lange in the  preparation of this story.

[2] Merges with other streams to form Savannah River.

[3] Some of these family names (Adams, Brown, Johnson, McClinton,  and Thornton, for example) represent multiple sources of  origin and are not exclusive to Elbert County.

[4] Milton McMullan, My Grandfather, Patrick McMullan,  unpublished manuscript, n/d.

[5] Carrie Eldridge, An Atlas of Southern Trails to the  Mississippi, CDM Printing Inc., Huntington, West  Virginia, 1999.

[6] Albert Lawrence McMullan, McMullan  and Allied Families, ca. 1975.


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