The area now known as Alpharetta was once Cherokee Indian Territory. When gold was discovered in 1828, in nearby Dahlonega, whites began moving into the Cherokee Nation in ever-increasing numbers. Finally in 1838, the last of the Cherokees were removed from their homeland in Georgia to a reservation in Oklahoma. Along the way, more than 4,000 Cherokees died on what became known as the Trail of Tears. The former Cherokee land was eventually divided into 12 counties, the last of which was Milton County. Milton was established by the legislature in 1858, and the new town of Alpharetta was created to serve as its county seat.
Just three years later, the Civil War began. At the Georgia Secession Convention in 1861, Milton and many of its neighboring counties voted to remain in the Union, but the wealthier more populous counties along the coast carried the secession vote. While no major battles were fought in Milton County, Union Army foragers stripped the local farms of their crops and livestock. Soldiers returning home from the war, found their family farms and businesses decimated. Schools were closed because the county could no longer afford to fund them. Many area children received much of their education at home or at church-run schools.
Gradually the local economy began to improve. In 1921, Milton High School opened in Alpharetta to serve students in grades one through 11. Because Milton was the only high school in the county, and few area students could afford to go to college, most young people married their high-school sweethearts. Alpharetta became the kind of community where everyone knew everyone else, and most folks were related to one another.
By the late 1920s, Milton County was again in financial trouble. The combined effects of the Great Depression and the boll weevil had bankrupt the county. Its citizens voted to dissolve the county and merge with Fulton County. On January 1, 1932, Milton County ceased to exist, and Alpharetta lost its status as a county seat. Prior to the merger, Milton County was actually larger than Fulton. In addition to Alpharetta, Milton County included all of the land that became the modern-day cities of Johns Creek and Milton, most of present-day Roswell, the northern portion of Sandy Springs, and the Fulton County portion of Mountain Park.
During World War II, the federal government encouraged local cotton farmers to switch to raising chickens, which could be fed to the soldiers. More and more local citizens began commuting to manufacturing jobs in nearby cities. The Lockheed Plant in Marietta and the General Motors Assembly Plant in Doraville were among the area's major employers. Throughout the 1950s and '60s, Alpharetta remained a small town, but that all changed with the opening of GA400 in the 1970s. Alpharetta quickly evolved from a small town into a thriving city. Today its population is approaching 70,000, and it is home to more than 700 high-tech businesses.
As of July 2020, the median home price in Alpharetta was $459,000. Upscale home buyers are attracted to the area by its highly rated public schools, excellent shopping, delicious restaurants, and plentiful parks and recreation venues. In 2014, Alpharetta opened its new City Hall, and over the next several years the mixed-use Alpharetta City Center was developed adjacent to it. The Alpha Loop, a bike and hiking trail, surrounds the revitalized downtown area and connects to the Big Creek Greenway. When the Loop is completed, Alpharetta residents will be able to bike from City Hall all the way to the Chattahoochee River. All in all, Alpharetta is an awesome place to live, work, shop, and play.
History of Milton Georgia
The city of Milton, Georgia, was officially Incorporated on December 1, 2006, following a referendum approved by 85 percent of local voters. This historic event capped an exciting but little-known history of an area once populated by Indian tribes and farmer settlers.
Milton occupies 38.5 square miles of formerly unincorporated Fulton County. Joe Lockwood was elected mayor of the new city and has been re-elected three times. As of 2020 Milton’s population is estimated to be approximately 40,000.
Prior to the arrival of European settlers, the area was occupied primarily by Creek Indian tribes who were subsequently dominated by the Cherokee Indians.
The area that was to become Milton County was within the confines of the Cherokee Nation. At its height it comprised about 120,000 square miles from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River. Cherokee society was very sophisticated. Traditionally based on a confederation of local villages, the Cherokee Nation created a centralized government in 1827 with a written constitution, bicameral legislature, a newspaper and other European-like institutions. The Georgia legislature created Cherokee County with 6,900 square miles of territory from land ceded to the state by the Cherokees in 1831.
The rapid increase in European settlers in the 18th century gradually led to friction between the settlers and Cherokees. In the 1820s, Georgia began efforts to remove the Cherokees from the state. Beginning In 1832, following passage of the Indian Removal Act by the U.S. Congress, Georgia claimed jurisdiction over the Cherokee homeland and offered Cherokee lands to white Georgians via lottery including the land that was to become Milton County. The Milton Historical Society possesses several original land lot deeds from the 1932 lottery. In 1838, Cherokees remaining in the area were rounded up and marched to Oklahoma in what became known as the Trail of Tears.
Milton County was officially created in 1857 from portions of several surrounding counties to reduce the distance residents had to travel to do business with the government. Alpharetta was designated to be the county seat. The county was named after John Milton, a Revolutionary War hero and Georgia’s first secretary of state.
The Civil War (1861-1865) had a major effect on Milton County. At least three Milton County infantry companies were created during the war, and the county suffered some 250 casualties. With large farm families as the norm and a population of only 4,000, the war had a lasting impact on family life and the economy.
Milton County was an agricultural area with cotton as its principal crop. However, boll-weevil infestations, droughts and the Great Depression destroyed its one-crop economy. In 1932, a nearly destitute Milton County with its population of 6,700, was merged into Fulton County bringing to the area paved roads, bridges, schools and increased economic opportunity.
The area continued to grow and prosper in the 20th century. Today the City of Milton is recognized as one of the state’s premier cities, noted for its excellent schools and blend of urban and rural way of life. It has consistently been ranked as one of the safest and best places to live in the state of Georgia.