The city of Adairsville was named for the Adairs, early Scotch settlers who settled among the Cherokees. Three Adair brothers came to America prior to the Revolutionary War, two of which migrated south and the other returning to England. Both John and Edward Adair married Cherokee wives. John established his home in northern Georgia and Edward in the Pendleton District of South Carolina. About 5 miles north of the present Adairsville site was Oothcalooga village. According to historians, the descendents of John Adair were residents of that village. The name, Oothcalooga, was taken from the Indian name of the stream that runs through the valley.
After the Cherokees left, a little settlement was established about 2 miles north of the present town. Hodge & Bailey had a store there in 1837 and it fronted a large section of cleared land. During the building of the Western & Atlantic Railroad, Governor Towns intended Adairsville to be the terminus of the road. Machine shops were built on the site where the present town grew, taking the name of the above village. Adairsville was then exactly halfway between what is now Atlanta and Chattanooga. The town’s depot was completed in 1847 and still stands today. Adairsville grew quickly as mills, stores, blacksmith shops and hotels opened around the town square. Adairsville was incorporated on February 8, 1854, with D. A. Crawford, Joseph L. Neel, H. G. Lawrence, A. C. Trimble and John W. Parrott appointed as town commissioners. There were amendments to the town charter in August, 1872; October, 1887; December, 1901; and August, 1907. The public school system was established in 1909.
During the Civil War both Confederate and Union forces travelled routes paralleling the railroad, as each considered it their main supply line. Action first came to Adairsville on April 12, 1862 in the form of “The Great Locomotive Chase”. The locomotive engine, “General”, stolen by Union raiders around six that morning from Big Shanty, pulled onto a sidetrack in Adairsville in the late morning in order to allow the southbound freight train pulled by the locomotive “Texas” to pass. Meantime, pursuers, now on foot, were racing towards Adairsville hoping to stop the southbound “Texas”, which they did. The “Texas” backed into Adairsville and unloaded all its cars before proceeding ahead in reverse in pursuit of the General. The City of Adairsville celebrates “The Great Locomotive Chase” each year with a weekend festival in October. Early on the morning of March 17, 1864 the Confederate Army, under Joseph Johnston’s command, arrived in Adairsville in full retreat of the advancing Union Army commanded by William T. Sherman. Skirmishes were frequent in and around the town, until the complete evacuation of Confederate forces on May 18.
Following the war, Adairsville’s existence depended not only on the railroad, but on agriculture and local manufacturers such as the J.M. Veach and Company mill which processed over 1.5 million pounds of grain in 1880 alone. The Oothcalooga Cotton Mills, established in 1872, operated for twelve years employing 70 people. East of town was the Mosteller Mill operation established in 1859, producing lumber, wool, cornmeal and flour. The old Dixie Highway (now U. S. Highway 41), built between 1915 and 1927, passes through Adairsville and extends from Florida to Michigan. This highway was a catalyst for the Chenille rug textile industry established in the 1940’s. Interstate 75, completed on December 21, 1977 also proved important for both tourism and public access.
Today, Adairsville boasts a revitalized downtown with numerous period houses lining the streets. Adairsville is also known for Barnsley Gardens, which is now a luxory resort located to the southwest on Barnsley Gardens Road. The home was built in the 1840’s by Godfrey Barnsley of Savannah for his wife Julia. The reinforced ruins of the main house still remain and are surrounded by magnificent gardens.
Source:History of Bartow County, Georgia, Formerly Cass by Lucy Josephine Cunyus; Bartow County Georgia, Heritage Book, Vol. II, Compiled by Bartow County Genealogical Society, Page 71