Carroll County was established by an act of the state legislature on June 9, 1825. It was named for Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Maryland, the last living signer of the Declaration of Independence. At the time of its creation, Carroll County was the thirty-first of Georgia's thirty-two original counties. The original Carroll County was a very large triangular area extending from Alabama on the west to the Chattahoochee River on the east and south. The northern boundary of the county was the Cherokee Nation. Eventually parts of five other counties—Campbell (now defunct), Douglas, Haralson, Heard, and Troup—were taken from the original Carroll County.
The county seat was originally located at Old Carrollton, in the eastern part of the county near the community of Sand Hill. In 1829 the current site was selected, and the name Troupsville was suggested by the inhabitants. The legislature was controlled by opponents of former Georgia governor George Troup, however, and they gave the county seat the name Carrollton.
During its first few years Carroll County was truly frontier territory. A band of horse thieves called the Pony Club for a time dominated local affairs through both fear and control of local government. Honest citizens, known locally as "Slicks," were finally able to band together and drive the Pony Club out of the county.
In 1830 gold was discovered at Pine Mountain, a short distance north of the future site of Villa Rica. By 1832 several hundred men were employed annually in the mines, and mining contributed greatly to the local economy. By 1860, however, the gold had largely played out, and mining no longer plays a role in the economy of the county.
During the Civil War (1861-65) Carroll County sent more men into the Confederate army than any other county in the state except Chatham County (according to the records of salt rations distributed to soldiers' families), despite the strong Unionist leanings of many of the county's residents. Although there was no significant fighting in Carroll County, many soldiers never returned, dying from disease or wounds on battlefields as far away as Kentucky and Virginia. At home the war left many widows and orphans, and a lot of farms had fallen into disrepair.
The town of Bowdon early led the county in higher education. In 1857 the Georgia legislature chartered Bowdon College, which operated until 1936. In 1906 Carrollton became the site of the Fourth District A & M School. In 1933 the A & M became a junior college, called West Georgia College. In 1957 the institution attained senior college status and in 1996 became the State University of West Georgia. And in 2005 the name of the school changed once again, becoming the University of West Georgia.
A campus of West Georgia Technical College is located at Carrollton. This school began operation in 1968 as Carroll Technical Institute, and later became West Central Technical College. In July 2009 West Central Tech merged with West Georgia Tech. The college offers numerous certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs, making a large contribution to technical and adult education in Carroll and surrounding counties.
Carroll County has several incorporated towns within its boundaries—Bowdon, Carrollton, Mt. Zion, Roopville, Temple, Villa Rica, and Whitesburg. Most of the county is within an hour's drive of Atlanta and has been experiencing rapid growth. According to the 2010 U.S. census, the county population is 110,527, a significant increase over the 2000 population of 87,268.
Carroll County has
James C. Bonner, Georgia's Last Frontier: The Development of Carroll County (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1971).
Carroll County Heritage Book Committee, The Heritage of Carroll County, Georgia, 1826-2001 (Waynesville, N.C.: County Heritage, 2002).
Ben Griffith, At Home in Carrollton: A History Illustrated, 1827-1994 (Carrollton, Ga.: Carroll County Historical Society, 1995).
Myron Wade House, University of West Georgia
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.