A history of Rome and Floyd County, Georgia
Now and then a queen pawns her jewels to advance the cause of civilization, and thus gives back part of what her admiring subjects have offered up. Similarly has a queen who wears no tiara or crown thrown herself into the breach and made possible the completion at this time of the History of Rome. Her rocking chair is "in soak" because she' believes the enterprise is worth while. If we will redeem the chair out of sales from the book, she will feel amply repaid, and can sit down again. It will be possible through a little unselfish sacrifice on the part of each and all of us.
One thousand copies of the book are included in the first binding. More than half of these have been mailed to subscribers who spoke for them in advance. Additional sheets have been printed so that other Romans may have copies who desire them. Extra copies will be bound in accordance with the demand, so that the total issue will be just what Romans, former Romans and a select company of "innocent bystanders" make it. The compiler hopes that many will avail themselves of the opportunity to invest, for the double reason that the book contains a wealth of material which everybody should have, and a subscription does just that much to advance the interests of the town and section. He does not urge any support in the expectation of making a profit, for he has put far more into it these two years than he can possibly get out, except in mental satisfaction. He wishes to sell the book not on personal or sentimental grounds, but on the basis of whatever value the purchaser may see in it. No doubt the edition will be quickly exhausted, because material has been included which is expected to stimulate a heavy demand outside of Rome. Then there will be no more copies, for the number is strictly limited.
The excuse for this work was found in the fact that the historians have systematically neglected the section known of old as "Cherokee Georgia." The compiler went back to his birthplace Oct. 21, 1920, to supply whatever of the deficiency he could, realizing that he had had no previous historical experience, but believing that the subject was worthy of a literary masterpiece. He found a fertile field in which to labor; the legend of DeSoto's visit in 1540, the Indian occupation and removal, the deeds of valor in war, the constructive enterprises following" the war's wake, all supplied an inspiration that was irresistible. On beginning his work, he saw the truth of the statement, "The South makes plenty of history, but writes very little of it." His task, therefore, consisted in laying a foundation as well as erecting a superstructure, and he realizes the imperfections that such conditions necessarily impose, and is fully conscious of his inability to handle the material as it deserves. He only hopes that the work may be considered from cover to cover, and thus criticized, rather than that any insignificant error of omission or commission may be allowed to obscure the whole in the estimation of the individual.
It is manifestly impossible here to devote much attention to the entire Northwest Georgia section. Floyd's sister counties will no doubt eventually write histories of their own. However, there are numerous references to happenings elsewhere which are connected with characters or events in Floyd, and in certain instances the material is quite general in its character and application.
Since the greater part of Rome's history existed in tradition and in scrap books and old records, it has been deemed advisable to go back as far as possible, and rescue the fragments of early Rome before they are lost in the dust of the past. The story of Rome's part in the removal of the Indians has never been adequately told, nor has the picture of conditions just before the Civil War been fully presented. The subject of Rome's part in the war of 1861-5 is all but ignored. The duty is manifestly to revert to the dim beginnings, to give "right-of-way" to the "old settlers," to suggest that the present generation keep newspapers and records liberally so our contemporary history may not suffer likewise.
So much material has been developed that the necessity of a second volume is apparent. Volume I contains half of the complete narrative, a great many pictures and a vast amount of miscellaneous data. Its faulty arrangement is due to the uncertainty, up to the last moment, over what was to be used. Volume II, which it is intended should be published when conditions are more favorable, will contain many additional pictures and such biographical sketches and miscellaneous items as could not be included in the first. These two volumes will in a measure tell the romantic tale.
The history started with a series of articles in the Rojne News, followed by "Rambles Around Rome." It has been augmented from many sources, and particularly from the files of the old Rome Courier, which" was the forerunner of Rome's daily newspaper, The Tribune-Herald. Both of these present-day newspapers have been unflagging friends of the history. In the collection of material, chiefly of a statistical nature, the most consistent individual has been Richard Venable Mitchell, of Rome. Mr. Mitchell, has worked with splendid spirit and without hope of reward; Romans are certain to appreciate the accurate data he gives, them in his lists of the natural resources of Floyd, and of the state, city and county officials, various important and interesting dates and a vast quantity of odd information. Mrs. Harriet Connor Stevens has contributed liberally of her time in order that some of the Cave Spring pioneers might be remembered. Miss Frances Long Harper has also helped substantially at Cave Spring. In forcing the history upon public attention, the most valiant supporters have been H. H. Shackelton, president of the Chamber of Commerce; Robt. H. Clagett, editor of the Rome News; W. S. Rowell, editor of the Tribune-Herald, and Lee J. Langley, writing for both papers.
Thanks are due Hooper Alexander, of Atlanta; W. R. L. Smith, of Norfolk. Va.; Mrs. Mabel Washbourne Anderson, of Pryor, Okla.; S. W. Ross, of Tahlequah, Okla.; Judge Henry C. Meigs, of Ft. Gibson, Okla., and C. F. Hanke, chief clerk of the Indian Office, Washington, D. C, for much of the Indian data. (The biographies of the Indian leaders are omitted for further investigation of conflicting material). Substantial assistance has been given by Miss Tommie Dora Barker, librarian of the Carnegie Library. Atlanta, and by Miss Carrie Williams, of the reference department: Mrs. Maud Barker Cobb, state librarian, the Capitol, Atlanta: Duncan Burnett, librarian of the library of the University of Georgia, Athens; Dr. Lucian L. Knight, director of the State Department of History, the Capitol, Atlanta, and Miss Ruth Blair, of the same department. Dr. Knight's valuable books have been consulted freely and credit generally given in each instance. Appreciation is likewise expressed herewith of aid rendered by the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and of the interest shown by Henderson L. Lanham, president of the Board of Education of the City of Rome, by Prof. B. F. Quigg, City Superintendent, and Prof. W. C. Rash, County Superintendent, in a plan for teaching local history in the public schools. While nothing definite has been done, the suggestion that a condensed school history be written out of the History of Rome is being considered, and already has the moral support of at least one large Eastern publishing house.
Table of Contents
I. The Spanish Cavaliers and Their Quest for Gold 17
II. John Sevier, John Floyd and the Indians 22
I. Rome's Establishment and Early Days 33
II. The Great Indian Meeting at Rome 43
III. John Howard Payne's Arrest by the Georgia Guard 53
IV. Aftermath of the Payne-Ross Affair 75
V. Growth from Village to Town 91
VI. Views and Events Leading Up to War 113
VII. Lincoln's Election Foretells Hostilities 125
I. Opening of the Civil War — First Manassas 137
II. A Rome Engine Chases the "General" 147
III. Activities of the Folks at Home 153
IV. Streight's Raiders Captured by Forrest 161
V. Sherman's Army Captures Rome 175
VI. Sherman's Movements as Told by Himself 181
VII. Extreme Desolation Pictured in Diary 197
VIII. Depredations of the Independent Scouts 205
Anecdotes and Reminiscences 211
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Many years before the English settled the first permanent colony in America at Jamestown, Va., in 1607, there existed a wild stretch of country at the southwestern end of the Appalachian Mountain chain, encompassing' what is now Rome and Floyd County, Ga., and which was inhabited only by tribes of Indians who lived in wigwams made of bark and skins, and huts of rough pine and oak finished in red clay mortar. The waters of this region, leaping through the mountain gorges in slender, silken streams, purled their way into the valleys and found outlets in the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico. They were alive with fish, especially the upland streams with trout, and it used to be said that had the Indian possessed a hat, in many places he could have scooped up a hatful at a time.