OUT OF STATE COUNTIES
Georgia was the last of the original thirteen colonies established and the charter set up some rather nebulous boundaries. The boundaries have been drastically changed. Other-wise we would have town names like Little Rock, Ft. Worth, Phoenix and Los Angeles on a state map of considerable width. When the western boundary shifted from the “South Seas” to the Mississippi River, Georgia still had a lot of room for growth so the legislature went about the business of setting up counties. In 1784, Houston County, located on the Tennessee River at Muscle Shoals (now Alabama) was established. This was all tied in with the giant scheme of establishing the State of Franklin, which was promoted by William Blount and John Sevier. County commissioners were appointed with power to lay out and grant land, but none was ever granted. In 17 86 the first, Houston County, was dissolved and the State of Franklin soon followed that path.
The legislature was not content with one unattached county, so in 1785, Bourbon County was established near the juncture of the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers just north of present day Jackson, Mississippi. The boundaries were located, county officials were appointed but the land office was never actually opened. Due to the pressure from the Spanish in Natchez and an opportunity to make a little profit, the legislature abolished Bourbon (the county, not the branch water mixture) and sold ensuing actions led the infamous Yazoo Land Fraud and the landmark Supreme Court case Fletcher v. Peck.
Georgia was the last state to cede her western lands in 1802 and then only in exchange for a promise by the federal government to remove all Indians from her lands. The eastern and northern boundaries were open to question then, and still are today.
The settlers in an area near the North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia boundaries found that they were not attached to any state. A group from the headwaters of the French Broad River near the present Hendersonville, North Carolina, petitioned the General Assembly, “to do and for us as in their Wisdom think best.” What the legislature thought best was to establish a new county. Thus Walton County was created and was represented in the Georgia legislature from 1804 to 1811. Andrew Ellicott’s survey in 1811 located the northern boundary along the 35 degree parallel of north latitude and declared Walton County (in North Carolina) out of bounds. This ended Georgia’s tendency to establish extra-boundary counties. The reader might want to check the latitude of Copperhill and Chattanooga, Tennessee, but that is another story.
(Used by permission History of Dade County Georgia, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, 1981.)