Walnut Grove and the Young Family

An Archival Study of Walnut Grove and the Young Family
A directed study under the supervision of Dr. Terry Powis at Kennesaw State University
By: Jennifer Billingsley


The Walnut Grove Plantation is situated near the confluence of the Etowah River and Pettit Creek in Cartersville, an area rich with history. The history of Walnut Grove is far-reaching into the past, beginning in the 1800s with the arrival of the family of Robert Maxwell Young from Spartanburg, South Carolina. As a location for the Kennesaw State University Archaeology Field School taught by Dr. Terry Powis, some basic knowledge about the property and family has previously been compiled with a focus on the Civil War, the possible role of the Walnut Grove property during the war, and Pierce Manning Butler Young, a son of Robert M. Young, who was a Major General in the Confederate Army. Although we have some details pertaining to the Young family and Walnut Grove, there are still many gaps in the information, such as when the property was purchased, why the Young’s chose to move to Cartersville, the location of buildings that previously stood on the property, and how the property was passed down through the generations. This research seeks to find those missing pieces of information through letters, deeds, property maps, and factual documentation about the lives of the entire family and their home of Walnut Grove. This research seeks to use that information to bring to life the history of Robert M. and Caroline Young and their descendants through nearly 200 years, as well as their home of Walnut Grove that has been passed down through generations to their great- great-grandchildren today.





My research consisted of online resources such as Ancestry.com, accessing public records at the Bartow County tax assessor’s office, research shared by the Etowah Valley Historical Society and the Bartow History Museum, historical books, and research at Walnut Grove Plantation.  The majority of the family lineage was researched through the use of Ancestry.com, an online heritage resource, with confirmation from the census records.  Beginning with what was known, the names of Robert Maxwell Young, Elizabeth Caroline Jones and the Walnut Grove house, as well as the origin point of Spartanburg, South Carolina, it was possible to trace the family history to the descendants currently living in Cartersville (Figure 1).

            Reading through the large collection of personal correspondence provided by the Etowah Valley Historical Society and the Bartow History Museum was beneficial in narrowing down specific events and occurrences in the daily lives of the Young family.  Many of the letters detailed Robert Young’s search for property through Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, while others focused more on the details of daily life for the Young family, such as his role as a doctor, and schooling for the children.  Every piece of new information was vetted for authenticity, by validating where the information came from, and cross-checking the facts through online resources and historically accurate books such as History of Bartow County, Georgia, and The Confederate Soldier in the Civil War.  Detailed accountings of Civil War generals and maps showing troop movements were compared to determine the validity of troops occupying land at the Walnut Grove Plantation.

            The lineage from Robert Maxwell and Elizabeth Caroline Young to John L. Cummings III was successfully documented with accompanying dates (Figure 1).  Maps and first-hand accounts place the path of the Union army within an area of two miles or less of the Walnut Grove property during the Civil War (Figure 2).  Recorded deeds, legal documentation, and the will of Robert Young have established the passage of the Walnut Grove property through the hands of family members to present day.  Census records, personal correspondence, and legal documentation established Robert Young as one of few practicing doctors in the area, and a household that included approximately 11 enslaved Africans in 1860.  Correspondence from the Youngs document their desire to seek a home in a more lucrative area close to a river.  Photographs of the home in the 1800s and 1900s provide a comparison for the house as it stands today (Figure 3).


A Brief Synopsis

Robert Maxwell Young and Elizabeth Caroline Jones married in 1826 in Spartanburg, SC.  Following an exhaustive search by Robert, his father-in-law, and friends, the Youngs found property in what was Cherokee and then Cass County, Georgia.  They moved their four children Robert, George, Louisa, and Pierce, in the 1830s to Cartersville, Georgia.  The Young family built their home from lumber and bricks, materials both purchased and found on the property, and they named their home Walnut Grove due to the abundance of black walnut trees.  Robert was one of very few doctors in the area, and Elizabeth taught their children, took care of the peacocks, and ran the household.  Two of their sons and their daughter married, and all three of the sons fought for the Confederate Army.  When times became difficult after the devastation of the war, the Youngs turned to farming to survive.  Pierce went on to become the first Democratic congressman of Georgia after the war.  Additionally, P.M.B. Young represented Georgia in multiple Democratic Conventions, as a commissioner to the Paris Exposition, and was appointed consul general to Russia, as well as minister to Guatemala and Honduras.  The daughter, Louisa, married Thomas Jones, Jr., and they had 5 children.  Their daughter, Louise married J. C. Milner, and had 3 children.  Their daughter Ella married a man named John Cummings, and they had a son named John “Skip” Cummings Jr.  The home is currently held in trust for the son of John “Skip” Cummings Jr., John L Cummings III.


Here is where their story begins

Robert Maxwell Young was born June 5, 1798, one of 13 children born to William Young and Mary Solomons in Greenville, SC.  His future bride, Elizabeth Caroline Jones, was born November 28, 1808, one of 11 children born to George Washington Jones, Jr. and Elizabeth Caroline Mills in Laurens County, SC.  Robert pursued a medical degree and graduated medical school in 1821.  Robert and Caroline, as she often went by her middle name, married in 1826 and lived in Spartanburg, SC.  Though newly married, the couple were already planning for their future home, and contacted a builder for a quote to build a brick house (Figure 4).  Unfortunately, life as a doctor in Spartanburg, SC was not very lucrative, and the couple decided to look for new land further south. During the 1830s in the south, land was being auctioned or sold in the land lottery.  Robert began an exhaustive search, with friends, and also with his father-in-law, focusing their search in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.  There are numerous letters written in Robert’s hand to his wife, Caroline, telling of his travels.  Several letters, spanning three years, mention various accountings in the Southeast:  February 13, 1833 from Marion, Alabama he speaks of the weather and difficulty in searching for property; April 9, 1834, he describes visiting his family in Decatur, GA; and October 24, 1835 visiting his family in Lawrenceville, GA.  Correspondence by Robert to Caroline in November 20, 1835 from Columbus, Mississippi, he writes of a business arrangement to purchase land:

“Mr. Henry, Mr. Bobo, and myself, have entered into a large company to purchase land.  There are about one hundred men belonging to the concern.  Each of us have put in $500, and agree to sell the land which we purchase for cash in a few days.  We do not expect to realize a great profit from this operation, but have no doubt but it was the best step that we could have taken” (R. M. Young, personal correspondence, November 20, 1835).   

 A follow-up letter to his wife nine days later, Robert confirms that he, Mr. Bobo, and Mr. Henry purchased land totaling 10,000 acres in Columbus, Mississippi, and planned to hold onto the property for one to three years, then sell it for profit.  With his business concluded for the time being, he states that he will begin the 15-17 day travel home to Spartanburg, SC (R.M. Young, personal correspondence, November 29, 1835).    Robert mentions in a letter to Caroline November 10, 1835, that he is looking specifically for large property near a river, and he focused his search with that in mind.  Traveling by horse was time consuming and difficult, and he often found that by the time he arrived in an area, the best lands had previously been claimed.  He wrote often to his wife E. Caroline during his travels, but as she was not an avid writer, many of his letters told of his despair in not receiving a response:

“Our fare is intolerably bad, and proving worse every day.  The number of persons here is so great, and increasing daily, that I have some doubts whether the tavern keepers will be able to hold out in furnishing a plentiful provisions for them.  I hope and trust that we shall be able to leave this in a few days.  I never was more completely tired of a place in my life.  I have been strangely neglected or have been peculiarly unfortunate in receiving letters since I arrived here.  Mr. Henry, & Bobo get letters almost every mail.  I am almost ashamed to go to the post office.  I have enquired so often & been disappointed in receiving letters that I have almost lost the fond belief that I am remembered at Spartanburg.  But this is a painful reflection give my love to George, Robert, Louisa & believe me your affectionate husband.” (R.M. Young, personal correspondence, November 20, 1835).


  When Caroline did write to Robert and to various members of her family in White Oak, Rutherford, NC, she spoke of their children Robert, George, Louisa, and Pierce.  Included in her correspondence were details of daily life.  In one letter she tells her husband of a mishap of Louisa’s, when a chair fell and hit her in the eye. In another letter, dated February 22, 1838 from her family’s home at White Oak, she speaks of their youngest, Pierce, taking his first steps, “Little Pierce has just commenced to walking and is in better health than I have ever seen him” (Figure 6).  She continues on to tell of her concern for Robert’s safety, “… while you are in that country”, and states, “….I have no doubt but the practice of the rail road will be very profitable to you, if you should get the appointment alone.” (E.C. Young, personal communication, February 22, 1838).     

Though the exact details of the land purchase are unclear, Robert and Caroline became the owners of 50 acres of land in what was Cherokee County, Georgia.  The accounting of how that 50 acres of land became a grand estate amongst boxwoods, hickory nut and stately walnut trees was later written following an interview with three of the Young’s granddaughters, by Francis Elizabeth Adair, whose family lived nearby and founded Adairsville, once an Indian settlement called Oothcalooga village.  Adair describes the area as, “….a sloping knoll on the banks of the Petits Creek three miles southwest of C’ville near the Etowah River….” (F.E. Adair, personal notes, date unknown).  She goes on to describe Robert’s initial arrival, “….in a caravan of covered wagons arrived here and took up his abode in the story and a ½ log hut of an Indian Chief….on the banks of Pettit’s Creek.”  She writes of his being the only physician between Cartersville and Rome, which made his medical practice very lucrative while he also oversaw the work by the enslaved Africans to clear 50 acres of growth near the river, where they then planted cotton.  After clearing land and planting, Young turned his attention to the building of his home, the completion of which would allow his wife and four young children, Robert, George, Louisa, and Pierce, to join him in Georgia.  He is said to have hired twenty-five Irishmen for the approximately two-year undertaking of building the colonial red brick house with a balcony over the front porch of which he had dreamed.  Robert insisted all of the building materials be made from resources located on the property.  The lumber for the home was made mostly from the walnut trees, and clay for the bricks was gathered from the banks of the creek.  Wooden pegs and square nails made of iron crafted in the blacksmith shop were used in assembling the structure.  The bricks were dried in a kiln on the grounds, and lime was burnt and used as mortar between the homemade bricks.  Much of the furniture was made from their walnut trees, by a man named Vital, who unfortunately drowned in the Etowah River during his employment.  After two years of work, the stately home of “Walnut Grove” was complete and named for the abundance of walnut trees used in the building and surrounding the home.

Other structures erected on the property alongside the home were a stable, barn, carriage house, and smoke house, all of which remain standing today (Figure 5).  Once built, but no longer present were log cabins to house the approximately 13-28 enslaved Africans that were with the Young’s at Walnut Grove prior to the Civil War.  The cabins were built in rows, with one family per cabin, numbering eight or more cabins.  There was a woman who “weaved” and made cloth for clothing.  One of the African women, “Aunt Satirah” was a nanny, and lived to be 100 years old, before she was laid to rest nearby. 

Dated in 1838, a letter from Thomas Hamilton to Robert speaks of tending to a patient of Young’s while he is away, treating the boy “Billy” for cataracts, and of the return of a runaway.  Mr. Hamilton speaks of the state of the crops at Walnut Grove, stating, “The crops of wheat and oats had languished much, are reviving and now promise a pretty fair crop except in such wheat as has been injured by late frosts” (Thomas Hamilton, personal correspondence, April 29, 1838).  A relative of Caroline’s, Georgianna Jones, writes from Greenville to Caroline that she is happy to hear Caroline is “….pleased with your new home” (Georgianna Jones, personal correspondence, February 8, 1839), and in 1843 in a letter from Caroline to her brother, Caroline mentions living in a log cabin, and in a seemingly homesick letter from Louisa in Greenville, to her brother Robert, she says, “I am very anxious to see you all and would give all to be this night in Georgia in our old log house with you all” (Louisa J. Young, personal correspondence, February 14, 1846).  Robert wrote to Caroline’s brother, Thomas, in 1846 that:

“….my family have, part of them, been very ill, Caroline and Pierce both have had severe spells of fever, and both relapsed, they are better now I am happy to inform you, both up and recouping quite fast.  I have done a very heavy practice this season, & I hope it is about closed, this is the first day for the last 60 that I have not had frequent calls, this day not one.  I have been uncommonly successful, I have not lost one patient that I have treated.  I have treated over 100 cases of fever….” (R. Young, personal correspondence, September 27, 1846).

            Robert continues in his letter that their sons Robert and George are off at a good school, 15 miles away, and they will be sending Louisa to school soon, possibly to Mont Peleiar, one of the earliest in the state to admit girls.  Robert writes,

“I am doing every thing in my power to get Robert in at West Point, he is very desirous to go.  He will make a good scholar if he has the opportunity.  George is somewhat disposed to study medicine, he might make a good doctor, but he has a hard dislike to hard study.  He is, however studying pretty well, but he loves farming far better.  I don’t know how we are to get Pierce educated, his Mother can’t spare him nor can he spare his Mother, I expect that I shall have to board them both out for it seems that we never can have a school in the neighborhood.”

Within various correspondence was also discovered an unsigned note addressed to Dr. Young, dating to August 24, 1846, confirming that school fees for George and Robert will be paid by bacon, ham, lard, flour, and cornmeal.  By 1850, George was 22 years of age, and had completed his medical degree becoming a physician despite his love of farming.  Walnut Grove grew to encompass 800 acres of land, with 500 acres considered “improved land”, and the crops were wheat, rye, corn, and oats.  Between the ages of 13 and 14, the youngest child, Pierce, left home to attend Georgia Military Institute in Marietta, GA. He graduated in 1856, briefly studying law, before being appointed to the United States Military Academy and attending West Point in New York in 1857. During that time, his older brother, Robert Butler, married Josephine Florida Hill in Walton, Georgia, January, 12, 1853. 

            While at West Point, Pierce writes home to his family about his growing difficulties being a southern student in a northern school when tensions are rising, and his concerns about a coming war between the north and south.  In one letter, he writes that he will stay as long as possible at the school, though he fears he will be forced to leave soon before difficulties become more severe.  While national tensions were rising, Louisa married Thomas Foster Jones, Jr. September 11, 1860 (Figure 7), and her brother George married Virginia Lamar and moved to nearby Resaca in 1860.  In January 1861, Georgia’s secession from the Union brought Pierce home just two months before graduating, believing it to be the safest course, and desiring to join the Confederate Army (Figure 8).  In a letter from George to his father in March of 1861, George advised Robert that it would possibly be in the family’s best interest to find somewhere safe away from Walnut Grove due to concerns of war and movements of the armies, and to leave the overseer, Jim Honnon in charge. Robert Butler, George, and Pierce joined different regiments in the Confederate Army in 1861.  George became a surgeon in the 14th regiment, and Pierce was appointed Second Lieutenant in the artillery, then promoted to First Lieutenant.  In July, Pierce was appointed as adjunct to “Cobb’s Legion” and in September was promoted to Major, then to Lieutenant Colonel in November in command of the cavalry of the legion.  George made his way to West Virginia with his regiment, but was killed in battle September 20, 1861, leaving behind his wife, Virginia, and four children: Sarah “Carrie” Caroline, George William, Jr., “Bud”, and Lafayette Lamar.  Robert Butler was a part of Nelson’s 10th Texas Infantry Regiment.  The regiment was captured at Arkansas Post in 1863, their first major battle, then exchanged three months later before they were joined with two additional regiments to Patrick Cleburne.  The regiment fought at Chickamauga and Ringgold Gap before once again becoming independent and fighting in the Atlanta Campaign, then at Franklin in 1864.  On November 30, 1864, Colonel Robert Butler died of wounds received in battle at the battle of Franklin, Tennessee.  Robert left behind his wife Josephine, and two daughters Maddie and Ida. 

Pierce continued on with the Confederate Army, recognized for “remarkable gallantry” and promoted to Colonel, before participating in the Gettysburg campaign as cavalry operations.  In August of 1863, Pierce was wounded when he took a ball to the chest, but the ball did not penetrate the chest.  He spent his recovery in Richmond, then was promoted to Brigadier General in October. In December of the same year, he was promoted to Major General while he was actively engaged in the 1865 campaign in the Carolinas.  In a letter Louisa wrote from Walnut Grove to her husband Tom, she told him, “….there is a prospect of our soon being rid of all the refugees” referring to several families that were boarding with them, she also mentions her brother Robert is “….suffering intensely from the heart” and fears he will die soon (Louisa Y. Jones, personal correspondence, May 28, 1863).  Following Pierce’s wounding, there was another letter from “Lula” (Louisa) to her husband Tom in which she tells him the nature of Pierce’s injury and his convalescence in Richmond.  

During the years of the Civil War, both Union and Confederate troops relied heavily on the utilization of the railroads to move troops, munitions, and supplies.  Therefore, the few rail lines in existence at that time were of great importance to both sides.  Troop movements could often be tracked by proximity to active lines, one of the most prominent being the Western and Atlantic Railroad, founded in December of 1836, running from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Marietta, Georgia for a total of 119 miles, with line and name changes at both the north and south ends.  During the war, an extension was added from the Cooper’s Furnace Ironworks, across the Etowah River to the Etowah station (Figure 9).  This railroad was made famous during the Great Locomotive Chase in April of 1862, during which it crossed the Etowah River several miles to the east of the Young property (Figure 10). The extension of the railroad was destroyed during the war and was not rebuilt.  Due to the proximity of the rail line and nearby waters of the Etowah River and Pettit Creek, it has been suggested that troop movements likely crossed the Young property  or possibly remained there for a time.  In a hand drawn map of pencil, blue ink, and red ink, of the Etowah River spanning from Rome to Cartersville, showing possible river crossings and difficult terrain, Pettit Creek is clearly marked near to Rowland’s Ferry (Figure 11).  Also marked is what appears to be troop movements, showing passage close to, or through, the Young property.  Maps of the movements of the Union Army, the Army of the Ohio, reflect paths crossing the Etowah River to the east of the Young property, but within approximately two miles.  An accounting of Lieutenant-General Joseph Wheeler of Georgia from the pages of “The Confederate Soldier in the Civil War”, from May 24, 1864, 7AM,  “Not knowing the force guarding the train (at Cass Station)….I attacked with Kelly’s division, using one regiment to guard its right flank on the Kingston Road.”  He continues, recounting the details of burning the enemy’s wagons, and the enemy becoming frightened enough to, “….burn a considerable train below Cass Station, and also similarly, destroyed a quantity of commissary stores recently brought to that point for transportation.” (La Bree, et al., p. 264).  Wheeler details how he ordered the Eighth Texas and Second Tennessee to meet a rapidly advancing opposing force, and they drove them back, capturing more than 100 prisoners in the process.  “I had previously detached a regiment to cut the railroad, and having, from the prisoners, citizens and personal observation, learned all regarding the enemy, I withdrew quietly toward the river, crossing with my prisoners, wagons, mules, horses, etc.” (La Bree, et al., p. 265).

After the war, Pierce returned home to Walnut Grove, intending to become a farmer.  In 1868, he was elected to the US House of Representatives, where he served four terms as a Democrat, 1868-1875.  After a defeat for a fifth term, he was appointed in 1878 as a United States commissioner to the Paris Exposition.  After Paris, Pierce was appointed consul-general to St. Petersburg, Russia from 1885-1887, and then as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Guatemala and Honduras from 1893-1896. 

On January 9, 1872, Robert M. Young had his last will and testament drawn up, stating that he was, “….being of sound mind, but advanced in age and infirm in body….” Naming his only remaining son, Pierce as the executor of his will, and specifying him to hold in trust for Caroline, “…..my plantation lying in the forks of Pettits Creek and Etowah River containing 560 acres more or less….” (Last Will and Testament of Robert Maxwell Young, January 9, 1872).  Robert Maxwell Young passed away on January 13, 1880, at the age of 82 in Bartow County, the official cause listed as “paralysis”.  He was survived by his wife Caroline, son Pierce, daughter Louisa, and 12 grandchildren.  Robert’s wife, Caroline, followed him in death, four short years later, at the age of 78. 

In the years following his parents’ death, while Pierce was away for his appointed positions, he contracted to lease out portions of the property and buildings at Walnut Grove.  In October of 1885, one such contract between P.M.B. Young and James C. Waldrip outlined details for Young to rent a portion of the farm west of the watering place on the creek, south to the river, containing 200 acres, more or less.  The land was leased specifying it was for cultivating for one to three years.  Also included in the contract was a tenant house and outbuildings, west of the dwelling house with two acres and the portion of land from the old stables to the old cabins including the cabins amounting to three acres.  Pierce also included three rooms in the dwelling house for sleeping apartments and the large cellar under the east end of the dwelling.  The agreed upon payment would be $900.00 (Figure 12).   

In their lifetime, Louisa and Thomas raised six children before they passed at 70 and 67 years old, respectively: Caroline “Carrie”, Emily “Emmie”, Thomas Jr., Mary “Mamie”, Louisa “Loulie”, and Virginia “Ginnie”.  Loulie grew up and married James Christian Milner in 1902 at 29 years of age.  Loulie and James had five children: an infant son, Louise, James Jr., Ella, and Lula.  Sadly, only three of their children lived to adulthood, the infant son not surviving childbirth, and Lula who passed away before she was a year old.  Louisa passed at the age of 44, the same year as Lula, and James lived to 1940, passing at age 60.  Their daughter Ella married John L. Cummings, and from that marriage came John L. “Skip” Cummings, Jr., and Martha Jean.  Skip married, and the couple had two children, who will one day inherit the stately home of Walnut Grove. 

The elegance and history at Walnut Grove are apparent, at a single glimpse of the stately plantation home amongst the black walnut trees.  One can almost see the colorful plumage of the peacocks and hear their raucous greeting calls, alerting family that visitors have arrived, much as they did in the 1800s.  The Young family was one that knew adversity, happiness, challenges, and uncertainty. Yet, through it all the family persevered, survived, and thrived, just as their descendants continue to do today, inside the same walls built under the direction of Robert Maxwell Young over 183 years ago, and amongst the same black walnut trees that gave the stately manor house its moniker.  Although reliable information regarding Walnut Grove during and immediately following the Civil War is scarce, the simple fact is that the sturdiness of the Young family and the home they built have withstood the test of time, and the walls still have many stories to tell, for those who are willing to listen.   

Figure 1

Young Family Genealogy 

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 5

         Figure 6

Figure 7

Parents of P M B Young

 Figure 8

Figure 9

Figure 10

Figure 11

Figure 12

Land lease contract


This research would have not been possible without the advisement, resources and educational expertise of Dr. Terry Powis. Additionally, I would like to thank the Cummings family for providing knowledge pertaining to the family and property, and for letting KSU students dig on their private property for the past few years. I would also like to thank Joe Head of the Etowah Valley Historical Society and Trey Gaines of the Bartow History Museum for allowing me to use their collected research and for providing their expertise pertaining to the history of the area.

***All historical documentation, artifacts, and historical belongings reside at Kennesaw State University.  Walnut Grove remains a privately-owned home.
















Adairsville City Page




Year: 1880; Census Place: Little Rock, Pulaski, Arkansas; Roll: 54; Page: 287A; Enumeration   District: 142

U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

Original data: Find A Grave. Find A Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi.

Year: 1930; Census Place: Cartersville, Bartow, Georgia; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0023; FHL microfilm: 2340072

Year: 1940; Census Place: Cartersville, Bartow, Georgia; Roll: m-t0627-00638; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 8-8B


Census Records, Cass/Bartow County. 



Cunyus, Lucy Josephine.  2001.  History of Bartow County, Georgia Formerly Cass.  Greenville: Southern Historical Press.


Kurtz, Wilbur G. and Dave Joswick

 http://andrewsraid.com/routelrg.html, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18004436



La Bree, Ben, et al. 1895.  Confederate Soldier in the Civil War 1861-1865.  Louisville: Courier-Journal Printing Company.


Library of Congress.  https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3924r.cws00081/?r=0.617,0.326,0.513,0.338,0


United States Federal Census Bureau in accordance with the National Archives


Patriotism and Place: Community, Commemoration, and Confederate Identity in Civil War Bartow County

By Matthew Gramling

The namesake  of a community can provide profound insights into the communal identity of its early residents and their relationship to the landscape in which they lived. Place names often describe a topographical feature, signify a kinship relationship to a particular locale, or commemorate a person, place, or event which is seen as being particularly representative of a community’s character.[1] This has been especially true in the history of Bartow County and its former county seat of Cassville. Amidst the dramatic opening events of the Civil War, both county and town underwent a dynamic process of renaming.

When the county and county seat were established in 1832, it was decided that both should be named in honor of President Jackson’s Secretary of War Gen. Lewis Cass.[2] Cass was an esteemed Democratic politician from Michigan and a major proponent of Indian removal. As such, he was exceptionally popular among Georgians who were eager to seize Cherokee lands. The people of Cassville and Cass County would continue to hold Cass in high regard throughout the antebellum era. The editors of the Cassville Standard would routinely include letters, addresses, news, and approving editorials about Gen. Cass in their weekly issues. They even strongly endorsed a nomination of Cass as the Democratic candidate for the 1856 presidential election.[3]

Lewis Cass

With the outbreak of the secession crisis in the winter of 1860, Cass’ popularity would begin to wane. During his long political career, Cass had earned a reputation as a political moderate and advocate of sectional compromise.[4] But, he was also an ardent Unionist who dismissed secession as unconstitutional and believed that decisive action must be taken in order that the Union be preserved. Cass’s desire for decisive action would eventually lead him into conflict with President Buchanan in whose Cabinet he had been serving as Secretary of State. For weeks, Cass had tried to convince Buchanan to reinforce federal fortification in Charleston harbor. Cass believed that without reinforcements federal garrisons would not be able to withstand secessionist attempts to seize the forts. Buchanan refused Cass’ appeals and on December 18 Cass resigned in protest.[5]

As the secession crisis turned into open civil war, Cass would demonstrate his strong support for the Union cause. In a speech delivered before a Union meeting in Detroit just after the Confederate siege of Ft. Sumter, Cass expressed his desire “to do all I can to manifest the deep interest I feel in the restoration to peace and good order and submission to the law of every portion of this glorious Republic.”[6]

Such pro-Union statements did not engender Cass praise from Confederate supporters in Cass County. Therefore, in the fall of 1861, county leaders drafted legislation to provide the county and Cassville with new names which reflected their new identity as part of the fledgling Confederate nation. With the Confederate victory at the First Battle of Manassas on July 21, 1861, patriotic sentiment in Georgia was at high tide. Yet, this victory came at a price for Georgians who suffered their first high-ranking casualty of the Civil War–Col. Francis Stebbins Bartow.[7] Bartow had distinguished himself as a congressman in the Georgia General Assembly and was among the Georgia delegates sent to the Montgomery Convention of the Provisional Congress of Confederate States in February 1861.[8] He was also captain of Savannah’s elite Oglethorpe Light Infantry and when the Civil War began he volunteered their services to the Confederate war effort.[9] Bartow rushed his “Oglethorpes” to the front in Virginia where he was elected Colonel of the Eight Georgia Infantry Regiment.[10]

Francis Stebbins Bartow

By July 1861, he was commanding the Second Brigade of the Confederate Army of the Shenandoah which he would lead into battle at First Manassas.[11] On July 21, 1861, the Battle of First Manassas commenced.[12] After taking a meandering course to reinforce the Confederate line’s extreme left, Bartow’s Brigade engaged the Union enemy. As the battle raged, Bartow would have his horse shot out from under him and on several occasions he would have to take up the regimental banner to rally his troops after the color-bearer had been killed.[13]At a critical juncture in the battle, Bartow would fall after being shot through the heart while leading an assault on Capt. James B. Rickett’s Union battery.[14] As he lay dying, Bartow is reputed to have exhorted his troops stating, “They have killed me boys, but never give up the field.”[15] Bartow’s troops would heed this final order of their fallen commander and capture Rickett’s battery, thereby helping to secure a decisive Confederate victory over the Federal forces.

Never Give Up the Field by Don Troiani

After the battle, his body was recovered and prepared for transportation south for burial. Bartow’s death was mourned throughout the entire Confederacy. Upon receiving news of his passing, the Confederate Congress broke from their regular session to eulogize their fallen colleague.[16] Bartow’s casket also lay in the Confederate capitol at Richmond before being shipped to Savannah for burial in Laurel Grove Cemetery with the full military honors.[17] Additionally, he would be posthumuously breveted to the rank of brigadier general.  His naitive Georgia would feel his loss keenly and would go to considerable lengths to memorialize his sacrifice. Newspapers throughout the state would praise Bartow for his gallantry and leadership.[18] Several Georgia military companies would name themselves in his honor.[19] But, the greatest tribute he would receive was from the people of Cassville and Cass County who would commemorate Bartow’s memory by renaming their county and county seat in his honor.[20]

Francis S. Bartow Memorial at Forsyth Park in Savannah

The process of renaming would prove a unique episode in the history of Cass County. Two of the leading figures behind the drive for renaming the community were the Hon. Warren Akin and Hon. Samuel Sheats, who were serving as Cass County’s state representatives at the 1861 session of the Georgia General Assembly at the state capital of Milledgeville. On November 9, Sheats introduced a bill to the Georgia House of Representatives which would begin the transition. The bill proposed to change the name of Cass County to Bartow, and the name of Cassville to Francis.[21] This proposal was received with great applause by members of the House.[22] On November 13, the bill was taken up and amended at the suggestion of representatives Lester, Whittle, and Black.[23] Hon. Black amended the bill so as to substitute Bartowville for Francis as Cassville’s new name.[24] The amendment was approved and the bill was passed ‘with a rising vote’ and sent to the Georgia Senate.[25]

Hon. Warren Akin, Sr.

Meanwhile in Cassville, a number of the town’s major institutions were closely following the House debate over the town’s new name and took  measures to reflect the proposed change. In particular, the Cassville Female College would temporarily rename itself  the Bartowville Female College to reflect the town’s new civic identity.[26]These changes would only last a few weeks. For when the bill was received by the Senate an alternative name would be proposed

On November 30th, the Senate took up the bill where it became apparent that not everyone in Cassville was happy with the name change. Just before Hon. D.R. Mitchell took up the bill for amendment, a communication by Hon. Akin and Sheats was read which stated they had addressed their constituents regarding the renaming process and found a significant portion of them were opposed to the change.[27] Whether this opposition was rooted in a residual Unionism among a portion of the Cass County populace is difficult to ascertain. However, Akin and Sheats made their case to their constituents “why no foot of soil in Georgia should, in their judgment, bear the name of Lewis Cass.”[28] They also stated that they would press the bill to its passage in opposition to the fairly expressed will of their people.”[29] Despite this communication, the bill was taken up for amendment with Mitchell proposing to substitute Manassa[s] for Bartowville.[30] The bill was passed and sent for final approval to the House, which passed it with no further amendment and a resolution was drafted requesting the Postmaster General of the Confederate States to change the name of the Cassville post office to Manassas.[31] The bill would finally be signed into law as an act on December 6th, 1861.[32] As part of its final form, the Act contained a preamble which provided a brief summary justifying the name changes of Cass County and Cassville. The preamble condemned Lewis Cass as an inveterate Unionist bent on subjugating the South by whatever means necessary, thereby becoming “unworthy of the honor conferred by the naming of said county.”[33] The preamble also commended Bartow who gallantly died for his country while bravely leading his men in battle on the “Manassas Plains.”[34] By renaming the community after Bartow, its leaders would hand down his name and cause his “memory to live ever green in the hearts of succeeding generations.”[35]

Cassville Courthouse Historic Marker

            Cassville would retain its new name of Manassas throughout the Civil War.[36] But with Union victory in April 1865, the Federal Postmaster General would have the name changed back to Cassville. Only Cass County’s new name commemorating Col. Bartow would survive the flames of war and the restoration of the Union.


End Notes/Footnotes 

[1]Some excellent local examples of these kinds of place names are Red Top Mountain, Pettit Creek, and Cartersville.

[2]Joseph B. Mahan, A History of Old Cassville (Cartersville: Etowah Valley Historical Society, 2006), 1.

[3]Thomas A. Burke and William T. Wofford, ed. “General Cass Nominated for President.” Cassville Standard, March 22,1855.

[4]Willard Carl Klunder, Lewis Cass and the Politics of Moderation (Kent: Kent State University Press, 1996), 307.

[5]Klunder, Lewis Cass, 305

[6]Proceedings in Congress Upon the Acceptance of the Statue of Lewis Cass Presented by the State of Michigan (Washington: Government Printing House, 1889), 91.

[7] Bartow was also the first Confederate brigade commander to be killed in the Civil War.

[8]W. T. Groce. “Francis S. Bartow (1816-1861).” New Georgia Encyclopedia. 09 September 2014. Web. 13 May 2020.

[9]Groce. “Francis S. Bartow.”

[10]Groce. “Francis S. Bartow.”

[11]Clement A. Evans, ed. Confederate Military History: A Library of Confederate States History Written by Distinguished Men of the South, Volume 6. (Honolulu: University of the Pacific, 2004), 64. The Second Brigade was composed of the Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Eleventh Georgia Regiments of Infantry.

[12]The Battle of First Manassas is also sometimes known as the Battle of First Bull Run.

[13]Warren Wilkinson and Steven E, Woodworth. A Scythe of Fire: A Civil War Story of the Eighth Georgia Infantry Regiment (New York: William Morrow, 2002), 84.

[14]Groce. “Francis S. Bartow.”

[15]Groce. “Francis S. Bartow.”

[16] Proceedings of the Congress on the Announcement of the Death of Col. Francis S. Bartow, of the Army of the Confederate States, and Late a Delegate in the Congress, from the State of Georgia (Richmond: Enquirer Book and Job Press, 1861), 4-5.

[17] Groce. “Francis S. Bartow.”

[18] “A Georgian at Bull Run/First Manassas,” The DLG B, accessed May 13, 2020.https://blog.dlg.galileo.usg.edu/?p=2416.

[19] Groce. “Francis S. Bartow.”

[20]Groce. “Francis S. Bartow.”

[21]R.M. Orme and Son, ed., “County Name Changed.” Southern Recorder, November 12, 1861.

[22] Orme and Son, ed., “County Name Changed.” Southern Recorder, November 12, 1861.

[23] Lester, of Cobb; Whittle, of Bibb; Black, of Floyd.

[24] Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Georgia at the Annual Session of the General Assembly Commenced at Milledgeville, November 6th, 1861. (Milledgeville: Boughton, Nisbet, & Barnes, State Printers, 1861), 54.

[25] Journal of the House of Representatives, 83.

[26]Minutes of the Georgia Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South Held at Atlanta, November 27-December 3 (Macon: Burke, Boykin & Co., 1861), 5.

[27]James W. Jones and William S. Jones, “Georgia Legislature.” Augusta Weekly Chronicle and  Sentinel, December 10, 1861.

[28] Jones, “Georgia Legislature.”

[29] Jones, “Georgia Legislature.”

[30] Journal of the Senate of the State of Georgia at the Annual Session of the General Assembly, Begun and Held at Milledgeville, the Seat of Government in 1861. (Milledgeville: Boughton, Nisbet, & Barnes, State Printers, 1861), 187.

[31] Journal of the House of Representatives,250.

[32] Acts of the General Assembly of the State of Georgia, passed in Milledgeville, at an annual session November and December 1861. Published by authority. (Milledgeville: Boughton, Nisbet, & Barnes, State Printers, 1861), 101.

[33] Acts of the General Assembly, 101

[34] Acts of the General Assembly, 101.

[35] Acts of the General Assembly, 101

[36] Some confusion would however persist about the town’s name among newspaper editors as evinced by the February 12, 1865 issue of the Columbus Times.

Cartersville’s COVID Chronicles

April 2020                         by  Debbie and Joe Head

The Show Will Go On

In 2020, Bartow County, along with the rest of the nation, added a chapter to our local heritage as the community navigated its way through the COVID-19 pandemic. This article is intended to provide a snapshot of the health data for the county and activities that seemed to demonstrate a variety of ways of coping with the pandemic and not to draw conclusions or outcomes. The period observed was from March 7 through April 30, 2020.

As the photograph of the Grand Theatre marquis states, “This is only an intermission, the show will go on,” says it best. This article is written as testimony of how Cartersville and Bartow County co-existed with COVID 19.

At the close of 2019, the world was first alerted of an obscure viral threat emerging from Wuhan, China. Early reports suppressed the potential of this virus becoming a pandemic, but by the end of January 2020 the reality of a global plague became real and dangerously present in Bartow County. The world was in an official pandemic. The first countries hardest hit were China, Italy, Spain and eventually the USA. No hemisphere was exempt from some degree of infection and death.


 The following is an informal graphic and snapshot of the daily impact the epidemic had on Cartersville and Bartow County. It is important to remember how this novel virus specifically unfolded and affected our community regarding daily life. Perhaps even more vital were the pace, number of cases, confirmed infections and deaths in relation to state and national morbidity comparisons. 

Cumulative and New cases over time.

It is imperative that local pandemic data be tracked and recorded even if only as an anecdotal reference for archival purposes. This work is intended as an informal attempt to document Bartow’s COVID 19 experience including data and narrative that describes the times as they unfolded.

The first diagnosed case of Bartow COVID-19 appeared at the Cartersville Medical Center around March 11 and was traced to a choir celebration held at the Church at Liberty Square on March 1 and March 8. Soon other cases surfaced from the same event. Even local state legislators were infected with the virus and were quarantined, one in a hospital; the other at home. Bartow jumped out early in the state’s statistics ranking in the top three counties regarding cases for the first month as reported to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Locals quickly realized that we were truly “in this together” if we were to avoid wide spread fatal consequences.  As a result, citizens willingly sheltered in, practiced social distancing, disinfected and took other precautions to overcome the spread.

The occurrence of new cases reported daily was a continual warning and metric with which local leaders made their decisions.  New cases reported in Bartow County are reflected in the chart below. Data reflected on a Saturday to Saturday basis over a 6-week period shows the number positive cases that were reported to the Georgia Department of Public Health.


As the county and state saw an increase in confirmed cases, medical officials began to recommend preventative measures to slow the spread of the virus. At first schools, churches and theaters were asked to voluntarily close. As the virus took a deeper hold, local officials and the governor announced further measures mandating the closure of non-essential businesses and insisting the public limit social contact, trips to stores and begin to self-quarantine. 

Watching for new positive cases in Bartow

Eventually, Governor Brian Kemp, Bartow county commissioner Steve Taylor and Cartersville city mayor Matt Santini announced a shut down for 30 days and extensions were possible as information from state and federal data were provided. The county issued a shelter-at-home recommendation around March 12. (The state’s shelter at home regulation began on April 3, was scheduled to last through April 30, with an extension to May 13 for seniors and those with comprised health issues.)

Social distancing (physical separation) of at least six feet became the standard between individuals. As the federal government and state officials debated best practices to suppress the virus, much confusion existed within the community on how to cope. The question about the efficacy of the public wearing facial coverings became a heated issue among health professionals and the laymen. Approved personal protective equipment (PPE) such as medical gowns, gloves and masks were in acute short supply. Officials did not want citizens rushing to buy up vital supplies that were critical to health care personnel.


 Soon local citizens began to feel the weight of the shutdown. Sheltering in became restrictive, boredom set in for many and cabin fever soon surfaced among all communities. Restaurants were closed to in-store dining; barbers and salons were closed; gyms, schools, churches and theaters closings were extended; and local businesses such as bakeries, banks, garages and grocery stores reduced hours. Stores often provided antibacterial hand sanitizers or wipes at the counters.  The price of gasoline plunged to historic lows as a result of a reduced need to drive and an unexpected crude oil dispute between Russia and the Middle East.

Bartow citizens soon began to respond and adjust lifestyles to accommodate the mandates and avoid possible infections. Senior citizens took the threat more seriously as they were at greater risk and lived in a self defined “protective bubble.”  Downtown traffic became noticeably thin throughout the day. People were discouraged from attending group events, funerals, weddings, parties or workout classes. Such events found alternative means to deliver programs via internet streaming content, drive by birthday celebrations or simply postponing the program.  The local museums offered virtual tours via YouTube and online art classes through Facebook Live.

Creative drive-bys for various occasions were often seen in neighborhood yards.

Drive by parades for all types of celebrations

Locals stepped up to the challenge and found alternatives to a former normal and began a new normal of living. Many people tackled delayed tasks at home and started cleaning out garages, closets, attics, storage buildings and doing yard work chores. Goodwill announced that they would be closing until further notice as they had accepted all the donations possible for their capacity.

Fast food drive-through models were adopted by unexpected businesses. Some full service restaurants made the decision to close, but others chose to offer call-in and delivery or carry out service to keep employees in place. Eateries without drive through facilities such as Bobby’s Burgers resorted to 1950’s Happy Days curb service hiring cooks, curb hops and taking orders at the car. Firehouse Subs cleared dining tables and posted signs to respect social distancing. Longhorn and Applebee’s restaurants set up curbside pickup stations.

Longhorn curbside pickup with safety measures   

All Star Barber Shop complies with regulations.




Empty shelves, curbside pick ups and take out are the new normal

Delivery services as Doordash and Instacart saw a spike in business by shopping at grocery stores such as Ingles and Publix and food delivery from restaurants. Grocery stores offered on-line ordering service with delivery, parking lot pick up and senior shopping hours. The Cartersville Country Club kept the golf course open and offered a daily menu for pick up to its membership.

Proud parents celebrated curbside “in-abstentia”  graduation tributes for the senior class of 2020.  While other parents reached back to pioneer days and learned to “home school” their children first hand around the kitchen table, but enjoying the convenience of modern technology.  Military fly overs saluted our health care professionals at the Cartersville Medical Center by Blue Angels and C 130’s.

Graduation yard signs and 2020 tribute portraits at CHS campus







C 130 flyover at Cartersville Medical Center

County Commissioner Steve Taylor and Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini paused to honor doctors, nurses and staff at the Cartersville Medical Center on May 12 for their courageous service during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Officials honor hospital medical staff







Covid test nasal swabs

Using a drive through model, Bartow County Health Department conducted COVID 19 tests at the Clarence Brown Conference Center.  

4 Way Lunch, Ross’s Diner and other family owned business shifted to serve pick up meals to go. 


Scott’s Walk-up BBQ served take out service throughout the quarantine.










School lunches were delivered during the shelter-in-place order

Public schools continued to provide the lunch program and bussed meals to the established bus stops for student pick up. Most churches such as Sam Jones Methodist, Crosspoint City and others began to deliver weekly sermons via on-line video on social media sites and their own websites. The practice of home – schooling rose in families as local schools were forced to offer on-line alternatives to the students.  Stories of teachers doing motivational drive-bys to student homes were posted on social media sites.

People began to sport homemade facial masks if they visited stores, banks, post offices, etc. Churches such as Ascension Episcopal and First Presbyterian offered daily drive by pick up meals for those in need. 

EVHS Member Judy Kilgore and daughter made 200 + masks.

Being homebound, people began to binge watch Netflix, Hulu and other streaming options. Many streaming services provided free programs to children and families including educational, physical activities, cooking and gardening advice to help keep viewers entertained.  As a substitute to personal face-to-face visiting, locals including senior citizens began to use Zoom, Skype and Facetime to connect with friends, families and conduct work meetings. Online tutorials offered locals tips on sanitizing goods, instructions on proper handwashing procedures and hygiene practices. Stores most often ran short of a few staple products that frequently included: toilet paper, ground beef, sanitizing wipes and bread. Many residents stepped up to sewing homemade masks and others volunteered to work in church soup kitchens or run errands for the elderly.

Locals tuned in faithfully (at least for the first couple of weeks) each afternoon to watch the president’s daily Coronavirus briefing. These briefings would last from one to two hours and covered details about the nation’s infections and deaths. Much of the coverage was focused on New York which became the COVID 19 national epicenter. The President and his advisors discussed the state’s needs for respirators, protective gear, beds, COVID testing, capacity and testing kits. Slowly his medical advisors, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx rose to the level of “folk heroes” as they fielded questions and brought some sanity to the crises. Their trusted voices clearly guided the nation and added confidence to how America should respond to the crisis.

Local radio and Atlanta TV stations aired special briefings. Sirius/XM satellite radio launched a 24/7 dedicated Coronavirus channel that show cased various experts, doctors, scientists and personalities that offered assessments, advice and commentary. 

Like other states and communities, locals began to lose jobs, unemployment claims spiked, small business owners closed down entirely or scraped by with reduced hours and services. Large chain stores such as Home Depot, grocery store chains, carpet mills, Anheiser Busch continued to operate, but smaller businesses such as downtown Cartersville clothing and home decorator boutiques, salons, diners and museums either entirely closed or attempted to migrate business to online options, phone calls, curb pickup and porch delivery.

Signs of the Covid-19 Quarantine

Many locals tried tirelessly to understand the data, charts and briefings in order to compare what was happening in Bartow and what may be coming. The media was centered around the pandemic and devoted the bulk of coverage to breaking news that dealt with how people were coping to flattening the metrics curve. Much attention was given to how individual states and governors were lobbying for medical resources to serve respective state populations. Governors pleaded for respirators, test kits, protective medical gear and field hospital bed space on a daily basis.  Many newscasters declared the virus as an invisible enemy and coined the President as a “War Time President” against an invisible enemy.

But ironically, the Cartersville Medical Center was not over run and the cases were managed most efficiently. A triage tent was set up in front of the hospital to deal with an anticipated on-slot of infections, but it really never happened. Due to a lack of need the tent was dismantled before the Governor announced a soft reopening of business on Friday, April 24.


 Not only did social media help keep us connected, but it revealed how quarantined time was used and enjoyed. Locals posted projects, hobbies, games, cooking and other pastimes that filled the day.

Examples of how people shared what their quarantine activities included are reflected below with screen shots from one Bartow County resident’s Facebook page with the names redacted.

Social Media helped people stay in touch

Summary Statistics

 The first death in Bartow County was reported on March 28.  That number has grown to 30 at the time of writing this report and represents 10 % of the number of positive cases while the average in the state of Georgia was at 4% of the cases reported. It seems Bartow in the early stages of COVID-19 was a super-spreader hot spot.  With mitigation measures, however, the county was able to slow down the spread.

Total deaths of Bartow County residents related to COVID-19

As of Wednesday, April 29, 2020, Bartow lost 30 individuals to this invisible enemy.  According to WSB-TV Atlanta television station at the 4/24/20 4:00 pm news report, 19 (63%) of the 30 deaths were nursing home or assisted living center residents.  To combat the continuation of the high incidents of death, the National Guard was called up to help Georgia and Bartow County with cleaning facilities and education of workers as needed.  (WSB-TV) (The Daily Tribune, April 30, 2020)


Data as of April 30, 2020 at 7 pm



COVID-19 Confirmed Cases:

Total No. Cases (%)

No. Total Cases (%)


26,264 (100%)

313 (100%)


5,190 (20%)

119 (38%)



30 (10%)


It is critical that we document and remember our local history for the benefit of future generations. This chronicle has been prepared as a real time reference for a quick look back when Bartow experienced its second pandemic and as a convenient measure for what may follow in coming months or years. Will we have a second COVID wave as with the Spanish flu, and if so, what have we learned?

NOTE: For a comparison to Bartow’s first pandemic see the article on Bartow’s 1918 Spanish Flu COVID-19 Not Bartow’s First Social Distancing Epidemic


Georgia Department of Public Health. Daily Status Reports:  https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report

Sasso, Michael & Newkirk, Margaret  April 24, 2020 Reopening a small corner of the U.S. in shadow of virus death   https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-24/georgia-county-steels-itself-to-reopen-despite-10-death-rate

Staff Report (2020, April 22) Feelings mixed on reopening of businesses. The Daily Tribune News

 Staff Report (2020, April 30) End nears for shelter-in-pace order, extension undecided. The Daily Tribune News.

Swift, J. (2020, April 19) Agencies present conflicting data on senior care COVID-19 deaths. The Daily Tribune News

 Swift, J. (2020, April 25) CMC CEO says hospital hit COVID-19 peak 2-3 weeks ago. The Daily Tribune News

 Swift, J. (2020, April 26)  Bartow’s COVID-19 death rate almost doubles national averages, but questions arise over figures.  The Daily Tribune News.

 Swift, J. (2020, April 26) The First Line, infectious disease specialist recounts confronting COVID-19.  The Daily Tribune News.

Swift, J. (2020, April 30) Department of Public Health official says COVID-19 spikes, waves remain possibilities. The Daily Tribune News.

 (2020, April 25) 4:00 p.m. WSB-TV Newscast

(2020, April 2) Governor Kemp issues shelter in place order. https://gov.georgia.gov/press-releases/2020-04-02/governor-kemp-issues-shelter-place-order