DeKalb County, a large urban county and a center for education in the Atlanta metropolitan area, was the home county for Atlanta until 1853, when Fulton County was established. DeKalb was created in 1822 from portions of Henry, Gwinnett, and Fayette counties. These lands were opened for settlement after the Indian Springs Treaty of 1821 removed the Creek and Cherokee Indians from the area. Named for Baron Johann DeKalb, a hero of the Revolutionary War (1775-83), DeKalb County was settled by new arrivals from Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina on land
In 1823 the state legislature chose a land lot for the county seat, which was named Decatur for Commodore Stephen Decatur, a naval hero from the War of 1812 (1812-15). Situated on a knoll, a natural watershed where two Indian trails crossed, Decatur quickly established itself with a log cabin courthouse on the square. It remains the location of the county government, having held off a challenge from the city of Stone Mountain in 1896.
During the Civil War (1861-65) much of the Battle of Atlanta took place in DeKalb County, particularly along the railroad heading west toward Atlanta. Troops were entrenched around Decatur's square, and supply wagons
During the first half of the twentieth century, DeKalb's economy was chiefly agrarian. The county was once known for its granite quarries and dairy farms; in the 1940s and 1950s it was the leading producer of dairy products in the Southeast. DeKalb's lush farmland disappeared in the 1960s, as it became an urban county with more miles of interstate than any other county in Georgia.
DeKalb County's population
DeKalb is also home to nine colleges and other postsecondary institutions: Agnes Scott College, Columbia Theological Seminary, DeVry University, Emory University, Georgia Piedmont Technical College, Georgia Perimeter State College, Luther Rice Seminary, the Atlanta campus of Mercer University, and Oglethorpe University.
Sue Ellen Owens, DeKalb Historical Society
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.