The land which is now Spalding County was claimed in the 1540’s by Spaniards as part of Florida. Then, in 1629, England declared the land part of South Carolina. Not until 1764 was this area an official part of the colony called Georgia. Led by Chief McIntosh, the Creek Indians ceded all land between the Flint and Ocmulgee Rivers and north to the Chattahoochee River on January 8, 1821, in the First Treaty of Indian Springs.
A new treaty
Two years later, the treaty was declared invalid because of rumors of bribery and coercion. Chief McIntosh signed another treaty with the white man and was subsequently executed by a faction of the tribe opposed to giving away lands. Although no Creek settlements existed in Spalding, the familiar McIntosh Road was an important trail leading to Indian Springs, a meeting place for Indians. The Springs’ highly sulfured waters were thought to have healing powers.
More counties were created
After the treaty, five counties were created by the Georgia General Assembly: Monroe, Henry, Fayette, Houston and Dooly. The next year, Pike County was carved from Monroe and Henry. Not until December 20, 1851, was Spalding County founded. It was created from parts of Pike, Henry, and Fayette counties.
Early leaders were desperate to settle the newly acquired land, so it was given away in a lottery system. Winners almost always used their 202.5 acre lots for farming, especially cotton. The only way to transport goods to Macon, the nearest market, was by wagon. Better transportation was a necessity. The solution to the problem was tracks, rails and locomotion.
The Monroe Railroad
The Railroad, owned by General Lewis Lawrence Griffin, received authority to build a line from Macon to Forsyth in 1833. More charters were granted to other companies. Tracks were planned to connect Macon to Savannah, Augusta to Madison and Chattanooga to a tiny town called Terminus.
A New Vision
General Griffin envisioned a town that would prosper at the crossings of a North-South line and a tract running East-West. After determining where these railroads would meet, he bought 800 acres in Pike County from Bartholomew Still. Griffin made a plan for the new town which included wide roadways, plots for six churches, two schools, parade grounds, and a cemetery. William Leak bought the first acre on June 8, 1840 for the tremendous sum of $1000.00. In 1842, the first steam engine came through town.
The railroad attracted cotton growers who supported merchants in town. Soon, professional people were settling in a place which was wilderness only a few years before. Griffin was officially incorporated on December 28, 1843. That same year, Marthasville (once Terminus) was incorporated, and in two years would be renamed Atlanta.
Tough Times & Expansion
The Depression of 1843 halted the Monroe Railroad’s construction. Plans of an East-West line to connect in Griffin were forgotten.
After the Monroe Railroad was sold under court order, the Georgia Railroad’s line was extended to Atlanta, not Griffin, as the General had hoped. In 1855, a fire destroyed an entire block on the east side of Hill Street. But also in that year, the town emerged from the depression, cotton flourished once again, and business and population boomed.