Rabun County, in northeast Georgia, is the state's forty-seventh county. Comprising 371 square miles, the county was created by the state legislature in 1819 from land ceded by the Cherokees and was named for Georgia governor William Rabun. In 1821 the legislature established the county seat, naming it Claytonsville in honor of judge Augustin Smith Clayton. The location of the seat changed in 1823, at the citizens' request, and the town's name was shortened to Clayton. The current county courthouse in Clayton was built in 1967; since then a second floor and other remodeling have been completed.
According to the 2010 U.S. census, Rabun County's population was 16,276, an increase from the 2000 population of 15,050.
In addition to Clayton, Rabun County's incorporated communities are Dillard, Mountain City, Sky Valley, Tiger, and part of Tallulah Falls.
Tiger, located three miles from Clayton, was incorporated in 1904. Although some sources state that Tiger was named after a Cherokee chief, Tiger Tail, the story is doubtful. Another conjecture, that its name and that of nearby Tiger Mountain came from the wildcats roaming the area, seems more likely. Tiger is home to the Rabun County High School.
The town of Tallulah Falls, incorporated in 1884, straddles the border between Rabun and Habersham counties, and most of its population is concentrated on the Rabun County side.
Places of Interest
The York House, north of Mountain City, is the state's oldest continuously operating bed-and-breakfast inn. Founded in 1896, the inn has welcomed such guests as Joel Chandler Harris and Walt Disney. It was placed on the register in 1982. Hoojah Branch Site, near Dillard, was listed in 1987 and appears to be an Indian mound site. The Tallulah Falls Train Depot
The Rabun Gap–Nacoochee School is a private school for grades six through twelve. It formed as a consolidation between two schools, the Nacoochee Institute in Sautee, founded in 1903 by the Presbyterian minister Joel Wade, and the Rabun Gap Industrial School, founded in 1905 by Andrew Jackson Ritchie, Rabun Gap's first college graduate. Both were farm schools, where children attended classes, grew and prepared their own food, and maintained the school buildings. In 1917 Ritchie initiated a "Farm Family Plan" by which whole families could work their way through school. A fire at the Rabun Gap school in 1926 occasioned the merging of the two schools into a larger one, for which Ritchie
With access to the Appalachian Trail, as well as five lakes and two rivers, Rabun County features much to attract those interested in the wilderness and outdoor recreation. The county is also home to three state parks: Black Rock Mountain State Park, Tallulah Gorge State Park, and Moccasin Creek State Park.
Among notable persons who have lived in Rabun County is the writer, editor, and social critic Lillian Smith.
Susan R. Boatright and Douglas C. Bachtel, eds., Georgia County Guide (Athens: Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, University of Georgia, annual).
Foxfire 10: Railroad Lore, Boardinghouses, Depression-Era Appalachia, Chair Making, Whirligigs, Snakes, Canes, and Gourd Art, ed. George P. Reynolds, Susan Walker, and Rabun County High School Students (New York: Doubleday, 1993).
John C. Inscoe, "Appalachian Otherness, Real and Perceived," New Georgia Guide (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996), 165-203.
Andrew Jackson Ritchie, Sketches of Rabun County History, 1819-1948 (n.p., 1948).
Elizabeth B. Cooksey, Savannah
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