Editor's note: Lisa Cooper is writes about Douglas County and Georgia history. More of her posts can be found at http://douglascountryhistory.blogspot.com.
Today ,when most people living in the Paulding, Cobb, and Douglas County area mention they are heading to Hiram, they are referring to the long strip of box stores and chain restaurants along Highway 278 that have sprung up in recent years.
They aren't wrong. Those businesses...Walmart, Target, Kirklands, Jim n Nicks BBQ, Longhorn's, etc....are all located in Hiram, but the original "town" part of Hiram is located a little south of that and is found along Highway 92.
Folks zoom by the old part of Hiram...the original town site....since the main road doesn't actually go through. It's easy to zoom by as you have your sights set on your destination along Highway 278.
I've done that for years.
Every time I blew by the site sitting down in a little depression by the railroad tracks I thought....gee, I really should drive through there and see what the old town part of Hiram has to offer, but I never felt I had enough time.
The few old buildings...the old church with the rounded brick walls looked interesting enough, but for some reason we tend to zoom by those interesting areas that are the closest to us and instead focus on history that is far away when we happen to have the time to investigate....when we happen to be on vacation or something.
Shame on me....shame on you if you are guilty of that as well.
I decided to drive through the old town part of Hiram and give it a good look-see, and have decided it's a nice little destination for a good lunch at The Olive Tree Restaurant, and then explore the antique stores located there.
The area hasn't always been known as Hiram, however. Going back to the 1830s the area soon became known as Gray's Mill. After I came home I accessed the city of Hiram's website for their history.
The history section is based on a book by Kathryn Bookout called Hiram, the Little Town by the Tracks.
An apt title, right?
Ms. Bookout owns Main Street Antiques found there along the tracks. Her book can be purchased there.
Gray's Mill referred to a mill located a little above where the old town site sits today, and was owned by Garrett Gray. Like many settlers to the western area of Georgia his roots began in South Carolina.
Garrett Gray was the son of Isaac Gray, a Revolutionary War soldier and was born on September 23, 1801. The Gray family moved to Georgia in 1825 settling in Franklin County. There Garrett Gray eventually met up with Jane Jenkins. Jane had been orphaned as a small child and raised by her older brother. They had moved to Franklin County in 1825.
Garrett Gray and Jane Jenkins married January 1, 1828. They farmed in Franklin County until 1835 when they moved to Paulding County. Gray became well known and prominent because of several contributions to the area.
According to the history listed at the city of Hiram's website regarding Garrett Gray:
*He had a contract to deliver the first locomotive on the first Georgia railroad.
*He built the first cotton gin in Paulding County around 1836.
*He served as state representative for the area which for a time was Cobb County and then Paulding in the Georgia General Assembly.
*There was even talk for a time about Gray running for Governor of Georgia.
When the Civil War broke out Garret Gray enlisted as a private with Company D of the First Regiment Georgia Calvary in 1862. He was released later to due to his age.
Gray also built a grist mill near the town site where other settlers could get their wheat and corn ground.
Gray's obituary from the Paulding News Era dated April 29, 1887 reads...."Died, Mr. Garrett Gray, an old and very highly respected citizen of this county died yesterday and was interred at the old family burial ground."
Gray's son, William Jackson Gray is mentioned in an edition of Memoirs of Georgia which verifies most of the information here, but it does need to be remembered that most of those entries were submitted by the gentlemen themselves.
At the time of Gray's death the name of Gray's Mill had not been in use as the formal name of the area for a few years. In 1881, a post office designation was given to the area and the name Hiram began to be used. Hiram was used because of Hiram Baggett, a man who lived in the area and served as the first postmaster.
At that time it was very common for areas to take on the name of the postmaster. Some areas even changed names over time as the postmasters changed. Hiram did not. The town incorporated in 1891, and the name Hiram became legal.
The wording to the original Hiram town charter can be found here.
Hiram Baggett was born in 1846 and was eventually married to Julia Ward. During the Civil War, he served in the 2nd Company F, First Confederate Regiment of the Volunteer Infantry of Tennessee. After the war Baggett moved to the area then known as Gray's Mill not knowing that his name would be given to the town that would eventually spread beyond the few frame buildings along the railroad tracks.