One story is that Cartersville, Georgia was originally named for Farish Carter in 1846 as a jest. Col. Carter never lived here, but frequently traveled through visiting plantations he owned in different parts of the State. Originally from middle Georgia, he had acquired vast acreage in Northwest Georgia after the Cherokee removal in 1838.

The story of the naming of Cartersville is told in History of Barlow County, Georgia by Lucy Cunyus. (1933), at pp. 22-23:

“A little hamlet grew up where the railroad underpass is now below Cartersville, and was called ‘Birmingham’ by the Englishmen who came through this section in 1832.” Only one Englishman and his son remained to see this hamlet grow—David Lewis, who fought in the War of 1812 and is buried in the old Friendship cemetery, and one of his sons, Nathaniel Deery Lewis, b. in 1818 in Hereford, England…

One day Col. Farish Carter, who lived at Carter’s Quarters on the Tennessee road and traveled from there to Milledgeville frequently, stopped to see Mr. Lewis and jestingly suggested that he change the name of Birmingham to Cartersville for him. Mr. Lewis told Col. Carter he thought the town would grow further up the road and told him to tell the few settlers that were there about it. Col. Carter, still jesting, did so, and Cartersville became the name of the town which later was to become the county site and the largest in the county…”

Another story is that Cartersville was named for a Reverend Mr. Carter, a Georgia state legislator, who cast the deciding vote that resulted in the construction of the state owned W&A Railroad in 1836.

The town of Cartersville was originally incorporated in 1850 (Georgia Acts of 1949-50, p. 103). In 1872, the Georgia legislature reincorporated Cartersville, changing it from a Town to a City. “A bill to change the name to ‘Etowah City’ was protested by Mark A. Cooper, who claimed that there was already a renowned town by the name of Etowah and it had been a post office for 20 years.” Id., p. 24.

Both Etowah and Cartersville had been destroyed by Union forces under Gen. William T. Sherman in 1864. Cartersville was rebuilt, but Etowah was not. Sherman had also destroyed Cassville, the county seat of Bartow County, which was never rebuilt. By county wide referendum, Cartersville became the county seat of Bartow County in 1867.

Although Farish Carter was well known throughout the state of Georgia in the early to mid-1800’s, he really was never associated with Cartersville, other than the above stated “jest” of naming it for him. The Reverend Mr. Carter, whatever his name was, did not live here and is never known to have even visited Cartersville.

A few years after 1872, the City of Cartersville was providing utilities to its residents. From 1877 to 1892 water had been provided by a private company, Cartersville Water Works, which was bought by the City in 1892. Improvements were made and by 1929 the City operated a water system that had the capability of providing its citizens with 500,000 gallons per day from a spring near the Etowah River, with holding tanks and a reservoir having been added.

In 1888 the City granted a franchise to the Orient Illuminating Company to manufacture natural gas from coal and operate a distribution system. Some time prior to 1900, the City purchased the gas system and began manufacturing and distributing natural gas via its own system to residents.

By 1906 that new fangled electricity had been discovered. In that year the City erected an electric generator and plant. Soon Cartersville residents had electric lights and appliances.

Construction on a sewerage system for the City was begun in 1919 and completed within a year. By the year 1920 Cartersville residents and businesses were served by a fall compliment of utilities: water, gas, electricity and sewerage service, all owned and operated by the City of Cartersville.

David G. Archer
City of Cartersville
Sesquicentennial Celebration Chairman