Friday, July 30, 2010

TAYLOR- Houston CO., GA

Houston County (pronounced "how-stun") is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. It was created on May 15, 1821, as one of five huge counties, later reduced in the formation of Bibb, Crawford, Pike, Macon and Peach counties.

Houston County, in central Georgia just south of Macon, was created on May 15, 1821, through a treaty with the Creek Indians. Named for Governor John Houstoun, the spelling of the county later evolved to "Houston." The pronunciation, however, remains to this day "howston." Perry, the county seat, was incorporated in 1824. Warner Robins, the largest city, was incorporated in 1943, when a major military base was established nearby during World War II (1941-45). Centerville was incorporated in 1958.

Houston County was carved from the wilderness by an act of the state legislature as one of five huge counties.

The geographic center of the county was given the name Wattsville, which was later changed to Perry. Land was lost to the formation of Bibb, Crawford, DeKalb, and Pike counties. Later, more land was lost to Macon and Peach counties. Early settlers, mostly winners of the land lottery of 1821, came from the Georgia coast and from the Carolinas and Virginia to grow corn, wheat, potatoes, and garden vegetables in the rich sandy loam that makes up most of the county. Proximity to the Ocmulgee River made the exporting of cotton and the importing of manufactured goods a reality. Log cabins gave way to sturdy white farmhouses and plantations. Many of the settlements previously mentioned appeared and flourished as the railroad came, later in the nineteenth century.

Town of ELKO
The district around Elko, called the Old Thirteenth Georgia Military District, had been devoted mainly to cotton farming since Houston County was established in the 1820s. By spring 1888 the Georgia Southern and Florida Railroad (or GS&F) completed a line through Houston County. In the southern part of the county, the railroad passed near two older farm communities called Hickory Grove and Spoonville. The GS&F Railroad sold land lots for a new town with a railroad depot, and the community was first called "Elko" in 1889. The town of Elko was incorporated in 1891 with an elected mayor-council government.

The railroad depot was the center of business and social life in Elko, and crowds greeted the daily trains that ran from Macon, Georgia through Valdosta, Georgia to Palatka, Florida. Regular passenger service began in March 1890, and the line was acquired by the Southern Railway in 1895. Because of the railroad, Elko residents could go shopping in Macon and return home the same evening, or they could travel overnight to Florida and visit the resorts at St. Augustine.

In 1900 the town's population was estimated at 500. A newspaper, The Elkonian, appeared in 1899, and the Bank of Elko was founded in 1900.

The boll weevil blight had a devastating effect on the town's commerce. The Bank of Elko soon liquidated its assets and closed, followed by many other businesses in Elko. Local farmers switched to peach crops, and Elko citizens built a peach packing shed, but the town never recovered its former prosperity. In 1915 or afterward, a fire caused by cinders from a locomotive smokestack burned down Elko's remaining stores. Scheduled passenger service to Elko ended in 1930.

The town's last mayor was Joe Norton "Nick" Buff. In the latter half of the twentieth century only Paul Davis' general store, which doubled as the town's post office, remained open in Elko.

Origin of the name
The origin of the name "Elko" is obscure, but it is believed to have been bestowed by the GS&F railroad company in 1889.[1] Other railroad towns named "Elko" exist in the American states of Nevada and South Carolina.

Present-day Elko
With the demise of railroad passenger service, Elko became more isolated in the latter half of the twentieth century than it had been in the 1890s, and the population declined. Elko's residential district, with its Victorian houses shaded by oak and pecan trees, attracts some residents who commute to nearby cities. As an unincorporated town, Elko is governed by the Houston County Board of Commissioners and protected by county sheriff's patrols and a volunteer fire department. The town's churches hold monthly services, with some residents attending more than one church on alternating Sundays.


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