The History of Gilmer County
Hernando DeSoto, the Cherokee Indian Nation, and the Trail of Tears all have left their marks on Gilmer County. Since those people and events nearly 200 years ago, Gilmer County has seen secession and restoration to the Union, two World Wars and the Great Depression. Apples and tourists have come to Gilmer County’s mountains and valleys. Through it all, the mountains and rivers have remained virtually unchanged, providing a sense of permanence and eternal beauty.

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History of Gilmer

Gilmer County: 439 square miles of breath-taking beauty, located 84.5 degrees West Longitude by 34.5 degrees North Latitude, began as a section of the loosely defined Spanish territory known as Florida.

The Cherokee Indians were the first known settlers of the area. It is believed that the original white settlers were the followers of the explorer, DeSoto, who is thought to have passed through Gilmer County during his initial expeditions. Georgia’s 84th county was named in honor of George Rockingham Gilmer, a State legislator, member of Congress and Georgia Governor.

The present-day city of Ellijay (the name means “New Ground Place”) is one of the few areas to retain the same name through time and is located on the exact site of an original Indian settlement. The names of the many communities and rivers of Gilmer County are echoes of the rich Cherokee past. The Cherokee inhabited the area until their enforced removal in 1838 at which time they were made to embark upon the infamous “Trail of Tears” to Oklahoma.


The county was created from original Cherokee County on December 3, 1832, and in 1856, a portion of Union County. At present, the county is bounded on the north by Fannin County, to the east by Fannin and Dawson Counties, to the west by Murray and gilmer Counties, and on the south by Pickens County.

Ellijay, located on the west bank of the Ellijay River, was designated the seat of the county government in 1834. Within the community, the Ellijay and Cartecay Rivers come together to form the Coosawattee River. There are a number of towns within our county such as Mountaintown, Boardtown, Cartecay, Cherry Log and others that have been population centers since early settlement days.

The fascinating heritage of Gilmer County resonates throughout our daily lives as we strive to preserve and honor our past, celebrate a vibrant present and look towards a bright future.

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