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History of Johns Creek  

"The area known today as Johns Creek, Georgia, was once a meeting ground between the rival Cherokee and Creek People. Inspired by the Chattahoochee River that acted as a boundary for their tribal nations, they agreed to make the Johns Creek area a "sacred place" where all tribal families could feel safe during their peace talks."
Tom Blue Wolf
(Creek descendent,
Founder, EarthKeepers)
Newtown High School students, circa 1930
Newtown School students, circa 1930,
courtesy of Roswell Historical Society

Johns Creek's past began in the early 19th century in the trading posts along the Chattahoochee River in what was then Cherokee Indian territory.

Through the years, the trading posts grew slowly into crossroads communities where pioneer families – Rogers, McGinnis, Findley, Buice, Cowart, Medlock and others – gathered to visit and sell their crops. (Today, reminders of those early farming families are still with us as we travel along streets and bridges named after them.)

By 1820, the community of Sheltonville (now known as Shakerag) was a ferry crossing site with the McGinnis Ferry and Rogers Ferry carrying people and livestock across the river for a small fee. Further south on the river, the Nesbit Ferry did the same near another crossroads community known as Newtown.

In the 1820s, the discovery of gold in the foothills of Northeast Georgia inside the Cherokee Nation – approximately 45 miles north of today's Johns Creek – led to America's first Gold Rush, the eventual takeover of the Nation by the US Government in 1830 and the subsequent forced flight ("Trail of Tears") of Cherokee Indians to Oklahoma and other areas of the west.

Cherokee Indian family, early 1800's
Cherokee Indian Family

A few Cherokees remained, the most famous being Sarah Cordery (1785-1842), the half-blood Cherokee wife of pioneer John Rogers (1774-1851), and their 12 children, including William Rogers (1805-1870), who fought for Cherokee rights during the last years of the Nation's existence in Georgia.

John Rogers was a respected, influential plantation owner, Indian countryman and colleague of President Andrew Jackson. Rogers' 1804 home – today, a private residence in Johns Creek – was an overnight stopover for Jackson. Much later, the home was also visited by famed journalist Will Rogers, the great, great nephew of John Rogers.

Seal of the Cherokee Nation, 1839In 1831, much of the land in the former Cherokee Nation north of the Chattahoochee was joined into one big county called Cherokee. When Milton County was formed in 1858, the Johns Creek area was folded into it. Finally, in the 1930s during the Depression, Milton County was dissolved and all its land was absorbed into Fulton County.

By that time, four main crossroad communities had developed into the social, educational and business centers of this rural, unincorporated northeast Fulton County: Ocee, Newtown, Shakerag and Warsaw.

For the next 50 years, these communities helped bring a sense of identity to the largely undeveloped and under-populated area, as the nearby cities of Roswell, Alpharetta, Duluth and Suwanee and adjoining Forsyth and Gwinnett counties continued to grow and develop.

Damaged oil painting of James McGinnis
Damaged oil of
James McGinnis

In 1981, the founders of Technology Park/Atlanta (a technology business park established in 1970 by Georgia Institute of Technology graduates who wanted Atlanta to be a high-tech research center) bought 1,700 acres of rural land along McGinnis Ferry Road and Medlock Bridge Road/GA 141 to build a second campus/master planned community.

Spotting tiny Johns Creek on an old map, they named their mixed use community Technology Park/Johns Creek. It was the first reference to Johns Creek as a place and it grew over the years to become the home of 200 companies – many of them Fortune 500 firms – with nearly 11,000 people spread over 6 million square feet of office, retail and industrial space.

A sizable amount of the white collar, professional population that migrated to Metro Atlanta in the 80s and 90s for its low cost of living and high employment base settled in the Johns Creek community.

By 2000, a grassroots movement to incorporate the Johns Creek area into a city was slowly developing. It was only one of three main communities north of the Chattahoochee in Metro Atlanta that was not incorporated by that time. (Today all of Fulton County north of the Chattahoochee River is incorporated.)William Rogers headstone, 1805-1870

Following Sandy Springs' successful incorporation in 2005, a legislative campaign was begun to incorporate the Johns Creek community. House Bill 1321 was passed, signed by Governor Sonny Perdue in March 2006 and approved by the residents of northeast Fulton in a July 2006 voter referendum.

In November 2006, the City's first elected officials were voted into office, with the City of Johns Creek becoming official December 1, 2006.

Sources:
  • Caroline Dillman, Days Gone By, p. 155
  • James C. Flanigan, History of Gwinnett County 1818-1943, p. 278-281
  • Olin Jackson, North Georgia Journal, Spring 1988, p. 18-22
  • Don L. Shadburn, Georgia Statesmen: The Distinguished Rogers Family
  • Tom Blue Wolfe, Y'falla Band, Star Clan of the Eastern Lower Muscogee Creek Nation

Contact

  • Call Center: 678-512-3200

Resources


Related Links external site, will open in another window

Creek Indian from Georgia
Georgia Creek Indian

portion of Trail of Tears map
Portion of Trail of Tears map

Historic Autrey Mill
Autrey Mill
Jim Turner's cotton field, mid-1940's
Mid-1940's cotton field