Our History: Streets and Places—Hows and Whys
Every Now and Then is a column featuring a little piece of Douglas County history.
Editor's note: Lisa Cooper's newest work can be found at douglascountyhistory.blogspot.com.
When I first moved to Douglas County more than two decades ago, I was lost. I had only been in the area a couple of times and was very unfamiliar with the streets. One thing I did notice is Douglas County and Douglasville are like any other American locals regarding street and place names. Names are often determined to honor certain people, landmarks, or types of businesses or organizations like Church Street. Sometimes old Native American names are used or even geographic locations are referred to like Mason Creek Road.
Our community is no different.
Today we tend to refer to areas of our community in terms of subdivision names. I might tell a friend, "Oh, you know—out there by Bear Creek Estates" or "Just down the road from Sweetwater Bluffs" or "Close to Midway Estates." But if we had been living in Douglas County in her earliest days we would have made far different references to communities that existed at that time—places like Red Hill, Morristown, Yeager, Maroney and Dark Corner would be landmarks.
Yeager and Maroney are somewhat familiar to me in that there are roads named for both, but Dark Corner? It sounds very ominous. When I located that name in some old records I instantly thought of a shady dark spot in the road perhaps where thieves might overtake an uninformed traveler. I was wrong.
Dark Corner was located between Winston and Douglasville. Historical sources state the area was named for a Cherokee leader known simply as The Dark. His claim to fame included developing the first toll road into Cherokee lands. That's all I know—so far. I'll keep digging.
Salt Springs still exists as a community but is no longer known by that name. The name Salt Springs was given by Native Americans who regularly witnessed deer at the site licking the salt from rocks along the creek. Later the place became known as Bowden Springs where a hotel flourished, and the waters were advertised as having curative powers. In 1918, the name of this place was changed formally to Lithia Springs. Sound familiar?
Names of communities aren't the only identifiers on the maps that have changed over time. Various roads have morphed as well for many reasons.
Rose Avenue was originally referred to as Cemetery Street. When you think about it the name made sense since the road bisected the downtown cemetery, but a few ladies in town thought Rose Avenue was a nicer sounding name, so the town fathers not wanting to upset the ladies put the change into effect.
Old tax maps indicate Fairburn Road was also referred to as Sawtell Road or Austell Ferry Road in days gone by. General Alfred Austell, the founder of Atlanta National Bank, took over the Austell Ferry that crossed between Douglas and South Fulton County that had previously been known as Gorman's Ferry.
One of the oldest roads in Douglas County, Five-Knotch Road, dates back to early frontier days. Early settlers used an axe to make five cuts in trees at even distances. This was a method of marking trails and early roads copied from Native Americans.
Now Chicago Avenue has always been a mystery to me. I mean—Chicago? Here in the deep south why a road would be named after a city in the far north? More than one historical source indicates the road was named in 1887 because two Chicago transplants, C.C. Post and his wife, moved to town and took up residence on the street we know as Chicago Avenue today. Simple, right?
Prior to 1950, Douglas County residents used Wedge Alley to move between Price and Club streets. The East-West alleyway was so narrow that in the early days wagons would lock wheels as they tried to pass each other hence the name Wedge Alley.
In the earliest days of Douglasville, Church Street was known as Factory Street. A mill was located where the law firm Hartley, Rowe and Fowler is located today. Unfortuntely, it burned one week after opening, and suddenly it seemed a little strange to continue to call the street Factory Street. You guessed it—the location of the First Baptist Church of Douglasville at that time prompted the name change.
And what of Campbellton Street? Well, that was just a way for the city fathers to honor our "mother county"—Campbell County and their original county seat, Campbellton.