Hall County, in northeast Georgia, was created in 1818 from Indian lands and named for Lyman Hall, signer of the Declaration of Independence and Georgia's governor from 1783 to 1784. Hall was the forty-fifth Georgia county to be created. Its seat of government, Gainesville, was incorporated in 1821.
Early settlers were largely Scots-Irish, English, and German stock from the Carolinas and Virginia, chiefly Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians. Few African Americans lived in this area of small farms. The discovery of gold north of Hall in 1828 attracted thousands of newcomers to the area. The passing of the gold rush in the 1830s saw the return to the small-farm grain and livestock agricultural economy.
The damming of the Chattahoochee River in the 1950s, flooding 38,000 acres, created Lake Lanier, which brings 10 million visitors each year to the area. Twenty-first-century Hall County is largely the product of Lake Lanier's influence.
Booming, service-centered Oakwood, on I-985, is the gateway on the busy pathway to Road Atlanta and Chateau Elan. Just south of Oakwood is Flowery Branch, home to a $20 million corporate and training complex of the professional football team the Atlanta Falcons. Lula, in the more mountainous northeastern part of Hall, is a heritage-minded community whose annual Railroad Days each spring are well attended. Another attraction is the fall festival of Mule Camp, named for Mule Camp Springs, where early travelers and traders gathered at a natural spring just south of Gainesville's city square to water their stock.
Hall County's Hispanics account for the most dramatic growth segment of the population. Employment, chiefly in poultry processing but also in construction and, more recently, commercial and professional occupations, continues to attract this significant immigrant influx. Spanish-language media and an impressive Hispanic culture infrastructure continue to grow as old-line churches, businesses, and services make progress in the transition to bilingual communications.
Hall County is northeast Georgia's center for banking, industry, health care, and culture. Public education is well served in the Gainesville and Hall County systems, and private education grows apace. Brenau University (including the Women's College), Riverside Military Academy, Gainesville State College, and Lanier Technical College provide excellent preparatory and postsecondary educational options. More than twenty arts-related organizations, most based in Gainesville, provide a wide array of cultural opportunities.
James Dorsey, The History of Hall County, vol. 1 (Gainesville, Ga: Magnolia Press, 1991).
Sybil McRay, comp. and ed., Pictorial History of Hall County to 1950 (Gainesville, Ga.: Hall County Library Committee, 1985).
Sybil McRay and James Dorsey, eds., Windows of Memory: The Hall County That Was, a Photographic History (Gainesville, Ga.: Hall County Historical Research Foundation, 1989).
William L. Norton, Historic Gainesville and Hall County: An Illustrated History (San Antonio, Tex.: Historical Publishing Network, 2001).
Gordon Sawyer, Gainesville: 1900 to 2000, Images of America Series (Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia, 1999).
Steve Gurr, Gainesville
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