Chatsworth, Ga – Once the Heart of the Cherokee Nation

Chatsworth is in Murray County.   The town is the county seat of Murray County.  According to a popular legend, the town received its name after a road sign with the word “Chatsworth” fell off a passing freight train nearby. Someone put the sign on a post, and the name stuck.  The town was incorporated in 1906.

The town has several blocks of buildings most are empty.  The railroad tracks have been removed behind the depot, it is now the home of the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society. The courthouse sits in the center of town it was built in 1916.

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CHATSWORTH DEPOT CIRCA 1905

Chief Vann House State Historic Site – 82 Highway 225 N – Located 3 miles west of Chatsworth at the intersection of Highways 225 and 52-A

Historical marker in front of the house reads:  Built of locally made brick in 1804, this house, the finest in the Cherokee Nation, was the home a Town Chief, James Vann, son of a Scotch trader, Clement Vann, and his wife, a Cherokee chieftain’s daughter. Around his home were several of his business ventures and many acres of land tilled by his slaves. Sponsor of Spring Place Mission, shrewd, amiable but violent, James Vann shot his brother-in-law in 1808 and, in accordance with tribal law, was killed by relatives in 1809. His son, Joseph (Rich Joe) Vann (1798-1844), inherited this estate. Increasing the wealth and influence of the Vanns. When expelled in early 1834, Joseph Vann fled to Tennessee and settled, finally at Webbers Falls, Oklahoma. Racing his steamboat The Lucy Walker on the Ohio river, he died when the overheated boiler exploded near Louisville, Kentucky, in October, 1844. A tempting prize to white men, the Vann House was the scene of a bloody battle between rival claimants in 1834. Deteriorating since, it was purchased in 1952 by a group of public-spirited citizens of Atlanta, Chatsworth and Dalton, and deeded to the Georgia Historical Commission. Restored to its original grandeur, it is a monument to the culture of the Cherokees.

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STORE AND ENTRY INTO HISTORIC SITE

Springplace Mission – Spring Place School, which traces its origins to the Moravian mission, is the oldest educational facility in northwest Georgia. The school, sponsored by Chief James Vann, was established by the Moravians in 1801 when the Cherokee Nation still held North Georgia — long before Murray County existed. Thousands of people have benefited from instruction received at the succeeding schools in this historic town, once the county seat of Murray County.  There are several plaques at the historic site.

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The historic marker reads:  Southward from this spot stood this famous mission, founded in 1801 by Moravian Brethren from Salem, N.C.  The first school among the Cherokees, this mission continued until 1833, and added much to their remarkable advancement. Here were taught many leaders of the Cherokee Nation. One was Elias Boudinot, later editor of the “the Cherokee Phoenix.” The work begun here was not abandoned with the forced removal of the Cherokees, but was transferred to New Springplace, in Oklahoma.

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Fort Mountain State Park – between Chatsworth and Ellijay on Hwy 52.  Hikers can explore a stone fire tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and an ancient rock wall which stand on the highest point of the mountain. The mysterious 855-foot-long wall is thought to have been built by early Indians as fortification against more hostile Indians or for ancient ceremonies.   There is also a 17-acre swimming beach, campsites and cottages.  The park is 3,712 acres.