Soon after the discovery of gold in the Cherokee Nation in 1828, Roswell King, former manager
The state distributed the Cherokee lands to eligible whites in the 1832 lottery, and pioneering settlers established crossroads stores, offered a variety of services, and farmed the land. Except for some Cherokees and a few African slaves, the population, called "the yeomanry," was rather socioeconomically and racially homogeneous. Most were Baptists or Methodists.
In the mid-1830s King returned and with his sons, Barrington and Ralph, built a textile mill complex that was incorporated in 1839 as the Roswell Manufacturing Company in Cobb County.
Textile Mill Town
The Kings and five other coastal families—the Bullochs, Dunwodys, Lewises, Pratts, and Smiths—built elegant mansions,
Roswell King died in 1844 at the age of seventy-nine and did not live to witness the incorporation of his namesake, the town of Roswell, in 1854. In 1853 Martha "Mittie" Bulloch and Theodore Roosevelt Sr., the parents of U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt, were married at Bulloch Hall, Mittie's childhood home in Roswell.
By 1860 the Roswell Manufacturing Company had tripled its capital and doubled the size of the mill complex and the number of employees. Producing cotton cloth, yarn, rope, and tenting, it was the largest cotton mill in north Georgia.
The Impact of War
When the Civil War (1861-65) began, Roswell claimed two cotton mills, a woolen factory (then called Ivey Mills, later Laurel Mills), a flouring mill, and a new factory store across from the town square.
In July 1864 Union general William T. Sherman's troops arrived in Roswell seeking a way to cross the Chattahoochee River and gain access to Atlanta. As part of the Atlanta campaign, Sherman approved the destruction of the mills and ordered the more than 400 mill workers, mostly women, to be charged with treason and sent to the North as prisoners. They and their children were taken by wagon to Marietta, imprisoned, and subsequently put on railroad boxcars with a few days' worth of rations. Several women and children died on the way as the train headed to Louisville, Kentucky, the final destination for some of the women. Many others were sent on to Indiana. The women's identities and fate remained virtually unknown until recent research produced more specific information and made it possible to locate a few of their descendants.
During the twelve days of the Union occupation of Roswell, several houses and other buildings were used for headquarters and hospitals, but little harm was done to them. After the war one of the cotton mills and the woolen factory were rebuilt. In 1882 a second cotton mill was built.
Roswell's New Image
During the late nineteenth century some rural families began to move into town,
Roswell's location on Georgia Highway 400 has attracted corporate headquarters, light industry, and high-tech businesses. Educational and cultural advantages, quality of life, and small-town ambiance have made Roswell a highly desirable place for families.
The 1970 population of 5,430 increased to 88,346 by 2010.
The home of former U.S. president Jimmy Carter's aunt,
Ernest E. DeVane, illus. Roswell: Historic Homes and Landmarks, text by Clarece Martin (Roswell, Ga.: Roswell Historical Society, 1974).
Caroline Matheny Dillman, Days Gone by in Alpharetta and Roswell, Georgia, vols. 1 and 2 (Roswell, Ga.: Chattahoochee Press, 1992, 1995).
Sherron D. Lawson, A Guide to the Historic Textile Mill Town of Roswell, Georgia (Roswell, Ga.: Roswell Historical Society, 1996).
Darlene M. Walsh, ed., Roswell: A Pictorial History, 2d ed. (Roswell, Ga.: Roswell Historical Society, 1994).
Caroline Matheny Dillman, Menlo Park, California
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.