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Taking a look back at Barrow's 1st century

POSTED: July 20, 2014 12:00 p.m.
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Barrow County has already begun its celebration of its centennial.

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Barrow County is one of the newer counties in an old state.

It was created from two counties founded nearly 100 years prior (Gwinnett and Walton), and one even older (Jackson, 1796).

Its state of origin is older still, with Georgia being one of the original 13 colonies to declare independence from Britain during the American Revolution.

In other words, the history of many of the places and people from Barrow extend well before the history of the county itself. Still, much has happened in 100 years to shape the county that exists in the modern day.

Barrow actually has fewer cities than it did when it was formed, but a lot more people.

Just 13,188 citizens were counted in the 1920 census – the first to include Barrow. In 2010 the census counted 69,367 residents, with well over 70,000 estimated for the current day.

In between those dates, the town of Russell, founded in 1902, was abolished (in 2003).

As the county has grown, the people, where they shop and where they work have all changed.

The textile warehouses that used to dot downtown Winder are empty, but new businesses are popping up all the time further south along the Highway 316 corridor closer to Bethlehem.

The county has also become more diverse, both ethnically and economically.

But not everything has changed.

Statham resident Ed Wall said his town isn’t all that much different than when he was growing up, and many areas in the county are still covered in farms and old chicken houses.

But growth has indelibly changed the county, for better or worse, and for many residents, the key now is to grow in the right direction.

The school system is accommodating the growth with new schools, like the soon-to-be-opened Sims Academy of Innovation and Technology, and the downtowns of Winder and Braselton have both recently finished with new streetscape projects.

But the link to the past is still there. That may be most clearly stated in the Barrow County historic courthouse in downtown Winder, which is once again, like in the early days, a hub of activity for county employees.

The Barrow County News took a look back at the past in a 40-page magazine in Sunday's print edition, which includes interviews with a number of people who have seen a decent bit of the county’s history – if not all 100 years.

Also, starting with the next issue, the BCN will publish a story each week on various stories in the county over the years.

It turns out there’s way more history, even in 100 years, than 40 pages can cover.



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