The History Of Polk County
Submitted by 3-25-2004
The Standard, Cedartown, GA
July 10, 1924
By Rev. Wm. J. DeBardeleben, of Atlanta
Polk County, one of the richest and most beautiful sections of North
Georgia, was formerly a part of Paulding with headquarters at Van Wert. Its birth dates back to April 1, 1852, at which time Cedartown was made the county site, with Stephen A. Borders as first Ordinary.
The population of this county, now given at 20,050, is in no danger of
suffering a decrease from the simple fact that this section boasts the
lowest death rate in the state. High altitude, abundance of substantial food and pure water are some of the reasons given for longevity of the<
inhabitants. As an evidence of this, Cedartown, 900 feet above the sea
level, has a water supply from a natural spring that furnishes a volume of 8,000,000 gallons every 24 hours.
The soil of Polk county is specially adapted to apples, peaches, plums and other fruit. Besides favorable conditions for the growing of cotton, corn, potatoes and other farm products, it is especially suited to dairying, stock raising and poultry. An additional advantage is the fact that no farm in the county is over six miles from the railroad.
Ten thousand bales of cotton are marketed annually through the county seat. Morgan Valley, which is noted for its beautiful scenery, is one of the most fertile spots in the State of Georgia.
The mines of Cedartown produce 4,100 tons per month. Its industries have
over 1,000 employes, with an annual pay roll of approximately $1,000,000.
There is located here a branch of the United State Finishing Company, a New England plant, valued at $6,000,000. The management of this concern is so well pleased with its success in this locality that it is now doubling its capacity, and will soon be turning out a million yards of cloth each month. The parent plant of this branch last year dyed and finished enough yard-wide cloth to go six times around the earth.
In addition to the numerous mines and manufacturing enterprises of
Cedartown, there are several others in different parts of the county. The
most important of these are the Aragon Cotton Mills, the Southern States
Portland Cement Company, Georgia. Stone & Cement Company, and the Rockmart Brick & Slate Company. More than 1,200 men are given employment by these organizations, the pay roll amounting to more than $1,000,000 per annum.
The brick manufactured in Rockmart, make of crushed shale, are used
especially for paving and high-class building projects. The plant has 11
large kilns with a capacity of 30,000 paving bricks or 45,000 building brick per day. This concern has advance orders for more than twelve months ahead.
An evidence of the farsightedness and efficiency of Polk county captains of industry is furnished by the manner in which they are blasting these
mountains of rock and making of them the greatest commodity in the world for the building of highways and skyscrapers. The output of one of the cement plants is approximately 400,000 barrels of cement yearly; 50,000 tons of coal and 160,000 tons of raw material are required in making cement.
A trip through one of these cement plants, witnessing the process from the time the rock is blasted out of the mountain till it is sacked and ready for shipment, is a most thrilling experience. Its manufacture is described by one of the officials in the following manner: "Portland cement, a name given it by an Englishman on account of its resemblance to stone quarried on the Island of Portland, England, is made of lime, silica and alumina. These ingredients are secured from different combinations of materials, such as limestone, clay, shale, marl and blast furnace slag. From quarry to pit these materials are transported to the mill, where they are reduced to fine powder with much heavy grinding machinery. In the process they must be correctly proportioned and thoroughly mixed so that the mixture is chemically exact. The powdered raw material then goes to the kilns for burning. These kilns are huge steel cylinders lined with fire brick.
"Coming from the kilns in the shape of white-hot clinkers consisting of
glass-hard balls ranging in size from a small marble to a walnut, this
material is sent to coolers and storage piles. Later it is ground with a
small amount of gypsum, added to regulate the rate hardening. In this final grinding the hard clinker is reduced to a powder finer than flour. Standard specifications demand that it be fine enough to shake through a sieve having 40,000 holes to a square inch, a sieve finer than silk."
There are 39 Schools in the county, 13 of which are colored. Over 5,000
children have been enrolled, while preparations are now being made to
accommodate more. Besides the high schools of Cedartown, which are valued at more than $200,000, there is one near the city limits known as the Benedict School. This plant is valued at $6,000. There is also a $4,000 school at Aragon, which is doing a wonderful work in the interest of the employes of the cotton mills.
This, in addition to the splendid plant at Rockmart and other sections, is prophetic of the great intellectual advantages that are promised to the future citizens of the county. An item worthy of mention, and which should be of interest to every citizen and school board in the state, is the fact that William Janes, the Superintendent of Education, has a complete alphabetical roll of every scholar, white and colored, in his jurisdiction. In this manner he is enabled to keep tabs both on the individual and also the work of the various institutions throughout the bounds of the county.
More valuable to the citizens of Georgia and of the South than all the
various industries of Polk county are her institutions of learning. Among
these, none have contributed more effectively than old Piedmont Institute. Of this institution, Col. R. W. Everett, formerly Representative from the Seventh District of Georgia in the United States Congress, said: "In 1890 there was erected, principally by the citizens of Rockmart and adjacent country, but under the auspices of the M. E. Church, South, an imposing and substantial school building, known as Piedmont Institute, that has done more for the moral, social, intellectual uplift of Rockmart than all other influence combined-- the churches not excepted, for Piedmont has been both church and school."
From this school have gone some of Georgia's useful citizens. Among these
are to be found such men as Judge Fred Branson, of Oklahoma; Col. W. W.
Mundy, of Cedartown, one of our State Senators; Prof. Walter Jones, of
Macon, and Dr. C. E. Waits, one of Atlanta's leading specialists.
Among the ministers of the North Georgia Conference that have gone from
Piedmont Institute are Revs. Lee Allgood and Irby Henderson, pastors of
prominent Atlanta churches; Rev. Thos. A. Branson of Washington, and Rev. G. G. Venable of Monroe, the latter having at one time served as president. These and hundreds of others are products of this institution, who are carrying out the injunction of the Master in their ministry of preaching, teaching and healing.
Old Van Wert, the original county site, contains many points of historic
interest. It is said to have received its name from one of the three men who captured Benedict Arnold. Mr. E.C. Kingsbery, a citizen of Rockmart, has in his possession the original plat and map of the town of Van Wert. He has also a paper showing the advertisement of the sale of town lots, which took place Sept. 5 and 6, 1837. There were 91 original lots, ranging in price from $212 to $299. The first lot was sold to John A. Jones for $80.
Van Wert has the credit of establishing waterworks long before the people of Atlanta had ceased to draw from wells or visit the nearby springs. It is also of interest to know that these works were installed without the use of a single iron pipe. Huge logs, bored out in the center, fastened together on the outside, and coupled to smaller ones for installation in the houses, furnished the necessary conduits.
It was here that the illustrious Sam P. Jones first served as pastor. The
house in which his children were born is still standing. The parsonage he
built, which served as the house for the Methodist preacher of Rockmart has since been replaced by a more modern and commodious dwelling near the
Methodist church. The old Van Wert church, in which this spiritual giant
first began his labors, stands as a silent sentinel for those who sleep in the adjoining cemetery, where so many sacred memories thrill the soul no one can enter without removing his hat and feeding that he is treading on holy ground.
Such sanctuaries, scattered throughout Georgia, call the tourist to check
his roaring automobile and pause for an hour, while recollections fill the mind with the heroic lives and deeds of our forefathers--the pioneers who at tremendous sacrifice made Georgia the imperial commonwealth which all her true citizens love with a fervent patriotism also akin to piety.
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