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Cumming, GA

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Saturday, April 18, 2015    
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History of Cumming

The entire region of northwest Georgia was originally inhabited by Native American Indians belonging to the Creek and Cherokee tribes. After a series of small wars between the two tribes during the 1700’s, the Creeks were driven out of the area by the Cherokees who lived in peaceful coexistence with the European settlers in Georgia until gold was discovered in northern Georgia in 1828. The subsequent gold rush caused the State of Georgia to appropriate all the Cherokee Indian lands, expel the Native American Indians to areas west of Arkansas, and divide the land into counties. In 1831, Cherokee County was formed and then one year later in 1832, a portion of it became Forsyth County.

The town of Cumming was formed in 1833 from two 40-acre land lots that had been issued as part of a Georgia State Land Lottery in 1832. The two lots designated as Land Lot 1269 and Land Lot 1270 were purchased by a couple of Forsyth County Inferior Court Justices who realized that it was necessary to have a seat of government to conduct county business. The boundaries of the two lots ended at what is now Tolbert Street on the west side, Eastern Circle on the east side, Resthaven Street on the south side and at School Street on the North side.

Incorporating and naming the City of Cumming

In 1834 the post office was established and began delivering mail, the Justices of the Inferior Court divided the town land into smaller lots and they began selling them to people over the next several years, reserving one lot for the county courthouse. During that same year, the Georgia State Legislature incorporated the town of Cumming into the City of Cumming and made it the official government seat of Forsyth County. Cumming was named after Col. William Cumming, the son of Thomas Cumming and Ann Clay from Savannah. William Cumming was Captain of the Augusta Independent Blues in 1812, he was commissioned Major U.S.A. in 1813, and he was appointed Adjutant General of the Northern Army with the rank of Colonel in 1814. In 1818, he was appointed Quartermaster General of the Army by President James Monroe and in 1847 he was appointed Major General of the Army by President James K. Polk.

Boom times in Cumming changed to economic hard times

The 1830’s and 1840’s were boom economic times for Cumming as businesses met the demand for goods from Georgia’s gold miners. But the California Gold Rush of 1849 drew many miners away from the region and after the Civil War, most of Georgia declined into economic depression. Cotton had traditionally been Georgia’s #1 cash crop and the boll weevil infestation of 1917 devastated cotton production. At about that same time, some regrettable events plagued the City of Cumming. In 1912, the Governor of Georgia sent four companies of state militia into Cumming and declared martial law in order to prevent a riot by white residents after a racially charged rape had occurred. Unfortunately, the state militia was unable to prevent a month long campaign of terror that ensued as masked night riders forced almost all the African American residents to leave Forsyth County. From that time until the late 1980’s, population growth and economic growth in Cumming stagnated.

In January of 1987, another incident occurred in Cumming that drew nationwide attention. A small group of demonstrators was marching in Cumming to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when they were met by fierce opposition from the local Ku Klux Klan chapter who threw stones and broken glass bottles at the marchers. One week later, 20,000 people from all over the United States assembled in Cumming to hold a civil rights demonstration. This time they were welcomed by local civic and business leaders, but were still confronted by a smaller counterdemonstration of 1,000-2,000 people who were restrained from any further violence by a large contingent of police and National Guard troops. The media turned this event into one the largest civil rights demonstrations since the 1960’s and it marked the beginning of a significant period of change for Cumming.

The story of modern day Cumming really began in 1956

The modern day story of Cumming that began in 1956 really began in 1946 when the U.S. Congress authorized funds to build Buford Dam as part of a general plan to develop America’s waterways after the end of World War II. On February 1, 1956 the gates of Buford Dam’s intake structure were closed to begin the slow process of creating the reservoir that was eventually named Lake Sidney Lanier after a Georgian poet and musician who was born and raised in Macon before the Civil War. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was in charge of the Buford Dam project and they usually know what they are doing, but it is not known whether any planner or civil engineer had foreseen how beautiful Lake Lanier would eventually turn out to be. In 1962, the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority was created by the Georgia State Legislature to manage and develop Lake Lanier’s resources as a recreational venue for the citizens of Georgia, and it was the creation of this prime piece of man-made resort land that enabled Cumming to grow into a prospering city.

The story of Cumming developed further with the expansion of U.S. Route 19 (Georgia Route 400) leading from Atlanta to Cumming. As it became apparent to people how gorgeous the countryside around Lake Lanier is and the transportation routes became modernized, a rapid influx of new homebuyers occurred in Cumming, and that included a large number of affluent professionals and ethnic minorities who found themselves welcomed with a new kind of gracious Southern hospitality. In 2008, Forsyth County had been listed among the top ten fastest growing counties in America several years but growth is being tempered by the efforts of prominent civic organizations in order to assure that the unique beauty and character of Cumming remains essentially unchanged.

 

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