Lumpkin County History
Lumpkin County was officially established in 1832. Named in honor of Wilson Lumpkin, who served in both state houses, as governor, and the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. The County was carved out of what were then Cherokee, Hall, and Habersham counties.
Settlement & Mining
Spanish settlers were known to have mined the area in the 1730s before being expelled by English settlers who cut off their supply routes from Florida. In 1828, gold deposits were “discovered” in large amounts in the area, although mining had already been underway in neighboring counties to great extent. Men and materials poured into the area as word of the bountiful supply of gold deposits spread. The Cherokee were soon forced out of the area completely.
A nearby hub nicknamed “Licklog,” for the use of salt licks there for cattle soon replaced Auraria, the original center of the “rush.” Licklog soon became Dahlonega, the white settlers interpretation of the Cherokee name “Ta-lo-Ne-Ga,” meaning (valuable) yellow.
In 1836, the Old Courthouse was built in the center of Dahlonega and is today the oldest public building in North Georgia. In 1838, the U.S. government opened one of the first Federal Branch Mints in Dahlonega. More than $6 million in gold coins were minted at the site that was later to become the University of North Georgia’s Price Memorial Hall (the original mint building was burned to the foundation in 1878). The university was one of the first Federal Land Grant colleges and is to this day one of the premier military institutions in the nation.
From 1828 to 1848, more than $36 million in gold was produced from greater Lumpkin County, but by 1849 discoveries in California and the stories of the riches there, drew away a majority of the miners from the county, seeking fortunes elsewhere. Today the County is experiencing a “gold rush” of another sort, with tourism bolstering the local economy and making the service industry a primary source of local revenue.