Located at a natural rise in the topography, Douglasville was originally known as Skint Chestnut. The name derived from a large tree used by Native Americans as a landmark, which was stripped of its bark so as to be more conspicuous.
The Town of Douglasville was established by the Georgia General Assembly on February 25, 1875. The boundaries were as follows: The center shall be a point directly opposite the court house in said town, on the Georgia Western Railroad, thence running along the center of said road each way three-fourths of a mile, and extending one half mile each way from the center of said road, the form of said territory to be an oblong square.
An election was held on the first Saturday in March, 1875, and a mayor, treasurer, records (secretary), and marshall were chosen. Thus began the official history of Douglasville, today one of the most attractive, historic parts of the Atlanta metro area. As you might suspect, however, the real stories and history extend back much earlier than 1875.
Beginning before recorded history a variety of peoples called this area home, including the Mississippian, Woodland, Creek, and Cherokee Native Americans. In 1734, General Oglethorpe took Creek Native Americans to London as a publicity stunt for the new colony of Georgia. By 1800 the area was primarily settled by Lower Creek and Cherokee: the two groups' continued hostilities caused the U.S. Government to draw a boundary line separating them with the Cherokee on the north and the Creek on the south. It crossed the future railroad approximately one mile east of mid-town Douglasville.
Native American-White relationships had been strained for many years, with savage and abhorrent acts committed by both sides time and again. However, the beginning of the end of widespread Native American
settlements in Georgia occurred in July, 1829 when gold was discovered on Cherokee land. The wild influx of squatters strained the relationships beyond breaking.
Trail of Tears
President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act in 1830. It specified that all tribes east of the Mississippi cede all land to the government and vacate by 1836, but many of the Cherokees did not go. In the winter of 1838-39, thirteen thousand Cherokees were forcibly marched west under fearsome conditions. The infamous expulsion of the Cherokee resulted in the death of over 4,000 on the journey.
In 1828, Campbell County was created, with the seat of government being Campbellton on the Chattahoochee River. To reduce the size of the County (a trip to the county seat could take 2 days), the Legislature created Douglas County out of parts of Cobb, Campbell, and Carroll Counties in 1870. An election was held to choose officials and select the new county seat. Although the largest group of voters chose a location at the center of the county, the newly-elected leaders had their own view of the vote, and chose Skint Chestnut near the railroad right-of-way. After a 4-year wrangle, the State Supreme Court ordered that another election be held and the Skint Chestnut location was upheld.
Georgia Western Railroad
The Georgia Western Railroad had purchased and surveyed their right-of-way from Atlanta to Birmingham by 1860. The outbreak of war halted construction, and after bankruptcy and several ownership changes, the newly named Georgia Pacific Railway Company finally began construction in 1881. Regular service to Atlanta began May 15, 1882, and the road to Birmingham was completed in November 1883.
The core area of downtown Douglasville is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an historic district; an outstanding example of a turn-of-the-century southern railroad town. The majority of the buildings are one- and two-story brick structures dating from the mid-19th century into the early to mid-20th century. Most are of Victorian era commercial design set flush with the sidewalk. Styles of the buildings include Victorian with details of the Romanesque, Italiante, and Queen Anne periods. Many of the doorways and windows have Gothic arched openings and hooded windows. The dominant landscape feature is the railroad right-of-way running east-to-west through downtown.
While downtown continues to host a diversity of professional, retail, and government functions, the construction of Interstate 20 through Douglasville several miles to the south of downtown drew much of the retail shopping activity into corridors perpendicular to the interstate highway at the locations of exits for state highways 92 and 5. Arbor Place, a 4 million square foot regional mall at the intersection of Interstate 20 and Chapel Hill Road, will further diminish the central role of downtown in meeting residents' primary shopping needs, but creates wonderful opportunities for continued development as a location for specialty shops and restaurants.