Place:Forsyth, Georgia, United States

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Forsyth County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 175,511. The county seat is Cumming.

Forsyth County is included in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area.

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 $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 racial tension. 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.

Contents

History

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

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 was originally settled by the Mound Builders of the Mississippian culture, who built mound structures at nearby Etowah in Bartow County, and large communities along the Etowah River in neighboring Cherokee County. With the disappearance of the Mound Builders, members of the Cherokee Nation settled in the territory that would become Forsyth County. The Cherokee were subsequently 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 experienced a steady economic growth. Georgia State Route 400, which opened in 1971, and was eventually extended through the county and northward stimulated population growth 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 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.

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 Sheriff 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 Browns Bridge on modern day SR 369, Mae Crow (18 years old) was walking to her aunt's house in the afternoon when she was assaulted by Ernest Knox, 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, Knox raped the young woman. Knox 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 Knox 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 Knox and connecting him to the crime. Knox was arrested later that morning, at which point he confessed. Because of the trouble just two days earlier in Cumming, he was first taken to the jail in Gainesville when a lynch mob began gathering. Knox was then moved to a jail in Atlanta.

The following day, Ernest Knox’s friends, whom he had brought to the scene of the crime, 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 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 few hours, the mob increased to 4,000 people, who then stormed the jail. Sheriff Reid was not there at the time, having left deputy Mitchell Lummus alone to protect the prisoners. Deputy Lummus managed to hide the other prisoners, but Rob Edwards was shot and killed 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). The coroner's inquest, held on September 18, 1912 found the cause of death to be a gunshot.

Crow died two weeks later on Monday, September 23, 1912. The cause of death was listed as pneumonia, the result of being left all evening, nearly nude, in the cool night air. She had turned 19 just one week before. Oscar Daniel and Ernest 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 the Buford, Georgia station, and walked the remaining .

During the trial, Daniel and Knox were described by a reporter in October 4, 1912 edition of the Atlanta Constitution: “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 trial of Tony Howell was postponed due to the lack of evidence. Howell had an alibi, with Isaiah Pirkle as a witness. The case would never go to trial, and was eventually dismissed.

The cases against Ed Collins and Trussie Daniel were also dropped when Trussie changed her story and agreed to turn state's witness and testify against her brother as part of a plea bargain. She testified that after Knox took them to the scene of the crime that Knox, 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. The Ernest Knox trial went smoothly, with a confession, evidence, and multiple witnesses. The all white jury deliberated 16 minutes and returned a verdict of guilty. With no confession or other evidence linking Oscar Daniel to the crime, his sister’s 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 death by hanging, scheduled for October 25. State law prohibited public hangings. The scheduled execution, therefore, would be viewed only by the victim’s family, a minister, and the law officers.


In the 21 day period, between conviction and execution, 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 was burned the night before the execution. A crowd estimated at between 5,000 and 8,000 gathered to watch the executions, a large number, considering that the population of the county was around 12,000.[1]

In the following months, an estimated 98% of blacks living in Forsyth County left. A small group of men called “Night Riders” were said to terrorize black citizens, threatening them to leave in twenty-four hours or be killed. Those who resisted were subjected to further harassment, including shots fired into their homes, or livestock killed. Some white residents attempted to stop the Night Riders, but were unsuccessful. The anti-black campaign spread across all Northern Georgia, with similar results in many surrounding counties.

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 and sharecroppers just left. Those who abandoned property, and failed to continue paying property tax, eventually lost it. By State law, title to the property could be secured through a tax lien sale, which required, among other things, paying the delinquent property taxes for a period of seven years. In the 2010 Census Forsyth County was 85% white.

The Ku Klux Klan would not exist for another three years. When it was restarted, Sheriff Reid and several members of the jury were alleged to be members.

At age 16, Ernest Knox was among the youngest people executed by the state of Georgia (Oscar Daniel was 17). In 1978, state law was amended to prevent the execution of anyone, who at the time of committing a crime, was below the age of 17.

Marches and demonstrations of 1980s

More ethnically diverse citizens had 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 spectators and participants watched, as 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.

Timeline

Date Event Source
1832 County formed Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources
1832 Court records recorded Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources
1832 Land records recorded Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources
1832 Probate records recorded Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources
1833 Marriage records recorded Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources
1840 First census Source:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990
1860 No significant boundary changes after this year Source:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990

Population History

source: Source:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990
Census Year Population
1840 5,619
1850 8,850
1860 7,749
1870 7,983
1880 10,559
1890 11,155
1900 11,550
1910 11,940
1920 11,755
1930 10,624
1940 11,322
1950 11,005
1960 12,170
1970 16,928
1980 27,958
1990 44,083

Research Tips

External links

www.rootsweb.com/~gaforsyt/


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