Forsyth County, Georgia
|Forsyth County, Georgia|
Location in the state of Georgia
Georgia's location in the U.S.
|Founded||December 3, 1831|
|Named for||John Forsyth|
247.37 sq mi (641 km²)
225.80 sq mi (585 km²)
21.57 sq mi (56 km²), 8.72%
783.5/sq mi (300/km²)
|Congressional districts||7th, 9th|
|Time zone||Eastern: UTC-5/-4|
Forsyth County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. The county seat is Cumming, Georgia. Forsyth County is a part of the Atlanta metropolitan area. As of the 2010 census, the population was 175,511.
Forsyth County has been one of the fastest growing areas in the United States in terms of percentage of growth for several years during the 2000s. The population growth was caused by the county's proximity to Atlanta and its appeal as a commuter area for people working in the Atlanta area. The influx of high earning professionals increased the average income to a point where Forbes.com named it as the 13th wealthiest county in the United States in terms of median household income for 2008. At near $84,872 it is also the wealthiest county in the state of Georgia, and currently is the 30th wealthiest county in the nation.
Forsyth County gained national media attention in the 1980s because of a series of civil rights demonstrations and counter demonstrations that began as an attempt to show that the county had moved past a history of extreme racism. The county also received national media attention because of Lake Lanier, which forms the eastern border of the county, and the scarcity of water resources during a drought that threatened water supplies for the metro Atlanta area and, downstream, areas of Alabama and Florida.
Forsyth County was partitioned in 1832 from a section of the Cherokee County territory along with nine other counties in the area. The territory was formed a year earlier in response to the discovery of gold in the surrounding area in 1829. The land had been settled by the Cherokee Nation who were relocated during the trail of tears.
Forsyth County was named for John Forsyth, Governor of Georgia from 1827–1829 and Secretary of State under Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. For many years, much of the area was set aside for agriculture and as a result was fairly poor. During the 1950s with the introduction of the poultry industry the county saw a steady economic growth and also saw the planning stages of Georgia State Route 400. Georgia 400 was first opened in 1971 and was eventually extended through the county and northward. Expansions have taken place to support the population boom as the county became a bedroom community for Atlanta.
Today, Forsyth County maintains a large percentage of new homeowners. Due to rapid suburban sprawl and skyrocketing housing prices in neighboring Fulton County, a large number of affluent professionals have moved into the county. Over 60% of the current population either lived elsewhere or had not been born yet in 1987.
In 2008 Forsyth County had been in the top ten fastest growing counties of the United States for several years. Many new subdivisions with elegant houses have been constructed, several around world class golf courses. The county's nearness to Atlanta and the Blue Ridge mountains and bordering 37,000-acre (150 km2) Lake Sidney Lanier has attracted many of the Metro area's new residents. The growth is tempered by water availability and the efforts of several county organizations to make sure growth is planned and sustains the high quality of life in the area.
Forsyth County is also the home of "Real Housewives of Atlanta" reality star Nene Leakes and Kim Zolciak.
According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 247.37 square miles (640.7 km2), of which 225.80 square miles (584.8 km2) (or 91.28%) is land and 21.57 square miles (55.9 km2) (or 8.72%) is water.
- State Route 9
- State Route 20
- State Route 53
- State Route 141
- State Route 306
- State Route 369
- State Route 371
- State Route 400
- Dawson County to the north, across a line of latitude
- Hall County to the east, across Lake Lanier (former thalwegs of Chattahoochee River, up into Chestatee River)
- Gwinnett County to the southeast, across Chattahoochee River and Buford Dam
- Fulton County (formerly Milton County until 1932) to the southwest, across an irregular line (not following a ridge or stream), and a line of longitude
- Cherokee County to the west-northwest, across the same line of longitude
Cities and towns
- Gainesville, Georgia (also part of Hall County)
- Suwanee, Georgia (also part of Gwinnett and Fulton counties, unincorporated)
- Johns Creek, Georgia (majority in Fulton County, incorporated in 2006)
- Alpharetta, Georgia (majority in Fulton County)
National protected areas
As of the census of 2000, there were 98,407 people, 34,565 households, and 28,101 families residing in the county. The population density was 436 people per square mile (168/km²). There were 36,505 housing units at an average density of 162 per square mile (62/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 95.05% White, 0.70% Black, 0.25% Native American, 0.80% Asian, 2.01% Pacific Islander, 2.27% from other races, and 0.93% from two or more races. 2.57% of the population were Hispanic of any race. 21.7% were of American, 14.1% English, 13.0% Irish, and 11.8% German ancestry.
There were 34,565 households out of which 41.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 71.90% were married couples living together, 6.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.70% were non-families. 14.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.83 and the average family size was 3.12.
The age distribution was 27.90% under the age of 18, 6.10% from 18 to 24, 37.10% from 25 to 44, 21.80% from 45 to 64, and 7.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 102.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.60 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $68,890, and the median income for a family was $74,003 (these figures had risen to $84,815 and $91,658 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $50,862 versus $32,112 for females. The per capita income for the county was $29,114. About 3.90% of families and 5.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.60% of those under age 18 and 10.20% of those age 65 or over.
Forsyth County is served by Forsyth County Schools. FCS serves close to 36,000 students and is the largest employer in the county with over 4,100 full-time employees and 1,500 substitutes. Out of 180 school districts, FCS is the ninth largest school system in Georgia. FCS is home to 35 schools – twenty elementary, nine middle, five high schools, as well as the Academies for Creative Education (A.C.E) that houses two schools, Forsyth Academy (a charter non-traditional high school)/Academy @ Night and iAchieve Virtual Academy, FCS' 6–12 online school, and one program, Gateway Academy (the alternative program for middle and high school students).
The nineteen elementary schools include Big Creek Elementary School, Brookwood Elementary School, Chattahoochee Elementary School, Chestatee Elementary School, Coal Mountain Elementary School, Cumming Elementary School, Daves Creek Elementary School, Haw Creek Elementary School, Johns Creek Elementary School, Kelly Mill Elementary School, Mashburn Elementary School, Matt Elementary School, Midway Elementary School, Sawnee Elementary School, Settles Bridge Elementary School, Sharon Elementary School, Shiloh Point Elementary School, Silver City Elementary School, Vickery Creek Elementary School, and Whitlow Elementary School. The nine middle schools include Lakeside Middle School, Liberty Middle School, Little Mill Middle School, North Forsyth Middle School, Otwell Middle School, Piney Grove Middle School, Riverwatch Middle School, South Forsyth Middle School, and Vickery Creek Middle School. The five high schools include Forsyth Central High School, Lambert High School, North Forsyth High School, South Forsyth High School, and West Forsyth High School.
Lake Lanier, a 37,000-acre (150 km2) lake created and maintained by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, is enjoyed by many residents and non-residents alike. Fishing, boating, tubing, wake boarding, and water skiing are common activities on the lake.
Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Department maintains over 15 parks in the county. Most notable are Sawnee Mountain Preserve, Central Park, Fowler Park, Poole's Mill Covered Bridge and the Big Creek Greenway. The Cumming Fairgrounds host many events throughout the year including a rodeo, The Cumming Country Fair, and a farmers' market. There is also the annual 4 July Steam Engine Parade.
Civil Rights Incidents
Race Issues of 1912
The changing dynamics between white and black citizens after the Civil War caused problems all over the southern United States. The north Georgia area also experienced racial tensions culminating in violence. Examples of which were the Atlanta Race Riot of 1906 which left over 20 dead and the racial problems in Forsyth County.
Before the fall of 1912 Forsyth County had a typical mix of races for the surrounding area. The 1910 census showed 10,847 white, 658 black, and 440 mulatto citizens, making the number of black citizens at just over 5% of the population. The trouble began in Forsyth County in September 1912 when Ellen Grice claimed that she was the victim of an attempted assault and rape by two black men; the attempted assault occurred on Thursday night September 5, 1912 in her mother's home. On Saturday morning September 7, 1912 five black men were arrested in connection with the assault including Tony Howell, and Isaiah Pirkle. That same afternoon a number of black churches from around the county had gathered together for a barbecue which was being held just outside of town. At the gathering one of the local black preachers, Grant Smith, publicly questioned the character of the alleged victim. His comments enraged white citizens who then horse-whipped him. Smith was rescued by the police and locked in the courthouse for his own safety. Threats then emerged from groups of white and black citizens. Rumors spread that the blacks threatened to dynamite the town. White citizens, already enraged by Grant Smith, started to form a lynch mob of 500 men (in a town of just over 300) and talked of breaking into the jail and lynching blacks citizens being held there. The situation was so bad by 1:30 p.m. that the Sherriff deputized 25 men and phoned the Governor who called in 23 National Guardsmen from nearby Gainesville, Georgia.
The next day on Sunday September 8, 1912 in the nearby community of Oscarville near Brown’s Bridge on modern day HWY 369, Mae Crow (18 years old) was walking to her aunt's house in the afternoon when she was assaulted by Earnest Cox, a 16 year old black teenager who worked as a hired hand at a neighbor’s farm. Dragging her into the woods and bashing her head on with a rock, Cox raped the young woman. Cox heard his friends walking home from church on the nearby road and left Crow who he presumed dead in the woods and told his friends what happened. Oscar Daniel (17), Trussie (Jane) Daniel (21), and her live-in boyfriend Rob Edwards (24) were all brought to the scene. Mae Crow was thought to be dead and left in the woods half naked in a pool of blood. She was not found until the next morning, Monday September 9. It is claimed that the badly injured Crow regaining consciousness for only a brief period was able to name Cox as her assailant but there is no record of this in any newspaper. At the scene a small round hand mirror was found belonging to Cox and connecting him to the crime. Cox was arrested later that morning, at which point he confessed. Because of the trouble just two days ago in Cumming, he was first taken to the jail in Gainesville when a lynch mob began gathering in Gainesville, Cox was moved to a jail in Atlanta.
The next day On Tuesday morning Ernest Cox’s friends that he brought to the scene were arrested in connection with the Mae Crow assault: Oscar Daniel, and Rob Edwards were taken for possible rape charges, and Trussie Daniel was held for not reporting the crime and as an accomplice, Ed Collins, a black neighbor, was held as a witness. Ignoring the potential of provoking a lynch mob, they were detained in the small Cumming jail. The Atlanta Journal newspaper reported that Sheriff Reid drove through a mob of 2,000 people who attempted to stop the cars in order to lynch the black suspects. Within a couple hours the mob swelled to 4,000 people and stormed the jail. Sheriff Reid had left leaving his deputy Mitchell Lummus alone to protect the prisoners. Deputy Lummus had hid the other prisoners, but Rob Edwards was shot by the mob while still in his cell. They then mutilated his body with a tire iron, dragged his dead body around the square behind a wagon, and then hanged him from a telephone pole at the intersection of Main Street and Tribble Gap Road (the northwest corner of the Square). 
Crow died two weeks later on Monday, September 23, 1912 from pneumonia as a result of being left all night in the cool night air and being almost nude when found. She had turned 19 just one week before. Oscar Daniel and Earnest Knox were indicted for rape and murder on Monday September 30. Trussie Daniel and Ed Collins were both charged as accomplices.
All five trials (including Tony Howell for the Ellen Grice case) were set for Thursday October 3 in Cumming; the county seat of Forsyth County. The prisoners were escorted by four companies of the state militia by train to Buford, Ga from which they walked the remaining 14 miles (23 km).
Oscar and Ernest were described at the trial by a reporter in the Atlanta Constitution newspaper October 4, 1912 “Knox, the rapist is a barefooted country negro, who wears only two garments, a pair of blue overalls and a faded blue shirt. He is the low-browed gorilla type of negro, and his attitude was absolutely brutish throughout the trial today. He is about 23 years old. Oscar Daniel is somewhat younger, and a shade more human looking; but he, also belongs to the barefooted, fiendish looking type.”
The Tony Howell was postponed due to the lack of evidence. Tony had an alibi with Isaiah Pirkle as a witness. The case would later be dismissed and never go to trial.
The cases against Ed Collins and Trussie Daniel were also dropped when Trussie changed her story and suddenly agreed to testify against her brother in a plea deal. She testified that after Ernest took them to the scene of the crime that Ernest, her brother Oscar, and her live-in boyfriend Rob all took turns raping Crow all night as she watched and held a lantern for them during the night. Then Ernest Cox trial went smoothly with a confession, evidence, and multiple witnesses. The all white jury deliberated 16 minutes and returned a guilt verdict. With no confession or evidence linking Oscar the crime his sister’s alone testimony secured his conviction. The all white jury deliberated for 46 minutes until they returned a guilty verdict at 9:45 p.m. On the following day Friday October 4 both teenagers were sentenced to a private hanging to be held on October 25. By state law it was required to be private and viewed only by the victim’s family, a minister, and the law officers.
When it came time for the hangings, gallows were built in the field of Dr. Ansel Strickland, located just off the square in Cumming. A fence was erected around the gallows but citizens burned the fence the night before the execution. A crowd of between 5,000 and 8,000 gathered to watch the executions—a large group considering the entire population was only around 12,000.
In the months to come an estimated 98% of blacks living in Forsyth County left. A small group of men called, “Night Riders” were credited with terrorizing black citizens threatening them to leave in twenty-four hours or be killed. If they didn’t leave shots were fired into their houses, or livestock was killed. Some white residents worked to stop it, but the fear was too strong. The anti-black cleansing spread across all Northern Georgia until the same results took place in surrounding counties as well.
In the 1910 Census over 1,000 black and mixed race people lived in Forsyth County with about 9,000 whites. By the 1920 Census only 30 non-whites were living in Forsyth county. Some sold their property, others didn’t. The renters just left. Those that abandoned their property lost it and by state law neighbors could legally own the property after paying tax on it for seven years. In the 2010 Census Forsyth County was still 85% white.
The Ku Klux Klan would not exist for another three years. When it was restarted Sheriff Reid and several members of the jurors were known members. Both Judge Morris and defense attorney Fred Morris were present at the lynching of Leo Frank three years later.
Ernest Knox and Oscar Daniel would be some of the youngest people ever executed by the state of Georgia. It would not be until 1978 until there would be a law in Georgia preventing the execution of anyone committing a crime below the age of 17.
Marches and demonstrations of 1980s
More ethnically diverse citizens have begun in recent years to immigrate to the county, particularly in the affluent southern portion. However, the racial tension continued to be a part of the county's image into the early 1990s. This was infamously punctuated on January 17, 1987 by a march by civil rights activists in Cumming, and a counterdemonstration by a branch of the Ku Klux Klan, most of whom were not residents of the county, as well as others who objected to the march. According to a story published in the New York Times on January 18, four marchers were slightly injured by stones and bottles that were thrown at them. Eight people from the counter-demonstration, all white, were arrested. The charges included trespassing and carrying concealed weapons.
Originally, the march was going to be led by Forsyth resident Charles A. Blackburn. Blackburn wanted to dispel the racist image of Forsyth County, where he owned and operated a private school (The Blackburn Learning Center). Blackburn cancelled his plans after he received threatening phone calls. Other whites in nearby counties, as well as State Representative J.E. McKinney of Atlanta and Hosea Williams, who was on the Atlanta City Council, took up the march plans instead. The following week, January 24, approximately 20,000 civil rights activists marched in Cumming. This occurrence produced no violence, despite the presence of over 5,000 counter-demonstrators, summoned by the Forsyth County Defense League, largely due to the presence of about 2,000 peace officers and national guardsmen. Forsyth County paid $670,000 for police overtime during the political demonstration. There was considerable public outrage at the costs, particularly since most of the demonstrators on both sides were from outside the county. An interview with Forsyth County Sheriff Wesley Walraven, previous to the second march, is available in A Turn in the South by VS Naipaul.
The demonstration is thought to have been the largest civil rights demonstration in the U.S. since about 1970. The unexpected turnout of some 6,000 counter-demonstrators, sixty-six of whom were arrested for "parading-without-a-permit," turned out to be the largest outpouring opposed to the Civil Rights Bill since the Sixties. The counter-demonstration was called by The Nationalist Movement, newly organized in Cumming, by Mark Watts, a local plumber. The original march had been triggered by an often repeated statement that Forsyth was "a county that warned black visitors not to 'let the sun go down on your head.' " New Georgia Encyclopedia. Marchers arrived on buses from all over the country and formed a caravan from Atlanta, under the watchful eye of National Guard troops on freeway overpasses along the nearly hour-long bus route. When marchers arrived, they discovered that most of the Cumming residents had already left town for the day, and some had boarded up their windows because they feared violence. Marchers wound slowly through streets lined by hundreds of armed National Guards, many of them black. At least two-thirds of the 20,000 civil rights marchers were white, according to eyewitnesses. Forsyth county subsequently charged large fees for parade permits until the practice was overturned in Forsyth County, Georgia v. The Nationalist Movement (505 U.S. 123) in the Supreme Court of the United States on June 19, 1992.
Notes and references
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- United States Census Bureau. "2010 Census Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
- Christie, Les (2006-04-16). "100 fastest growing counties". CNNMoney.com. CNN. Retrieved 2009-12-07.
- Bernstein, Robert (2009-04-19). "US Census Press Release". US Census. Retrieved 2009-12-07.[dead link]
- "Population Estimates". US Census. 2005-04-14. Retrieved 2009-12-07.
- "Highest-income counties in the United States". Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 2009-12-03. Retrieved 2009-12-07.
- "http://www.cbsatlanta.com/georgianews/21887379/detail.html". CBS Atlanta (Associated Press). 2009-12-07.
- "About Georgia Counties". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2009-12-04.[dead link]
- Shadburn, Don (1981). Pioneer History of Forsyth County Georgia. Roswell, Georgia: WH Wolfe Associates.
- "Census 2000 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Counties". United States Census. Retrieved 2011-02-13.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Forsyth County, Georgia – Fact Sheet – American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2009-12-04.
- "Winter Brochure". Forsyth County Government. Retrieved 2009-12-08.
- "Sawnee Mountain Preserve". Retrieved 2009-12-08.
- "Cumming Farigrounds". Retrieved 2009-12-08.
- "4th of July Parade". Retrieved 2009-12-08.
- Jaspin, Elliot (2007-03-05). Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America. New York, New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-03636-3.
- Bramblett, Annette (2002-10-01). Forsyth County: History Stories, The Making of America Series. Mt. Pleasant, South Caronlina: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-2386-6.
- Parrish, Donna. "Forsyth County Ga History and Records". Retrieved 2009-12-05.
- Parrish, Donna. "September 1912 Calendar". Retrieved 2009-12-05.
- Webb, Brenda; Donna Parrish. "1912 September and October". Retrieved 2009-12-05.
- “Negro Lynched by Mob in Cumming”, Marietta Journal and Courier, September 13, 1912, pg.2
- Forsyth County Georgia, Business and Government Directory with local news and information.
- Forsyth County Government, County Government Portal
- Forsyth County Georgia, County History.
- History and Records, Forsyth County, GA
- Forsyth County School System
- Forsyth County News, Your "Hometown Paper" Since 1908
- Forsyth Herald
- Video of Annual Steam Engine Parade 60 Minute DVD of parade with many antique steam engines.
- John Forsyth, Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
|Cherokee County||Hall County|
|Fulton County||Gwinnett County|