In the late
The actual city of Walton County was laid out by the Lottery Act of 1818, was organized in 1819 and named in honor of George Walton, one of the three Georgians who signed the Declaration of Independence. Jack’s Creek edging the city limits is noted for a battle between white settlers and the Indians on September 21, 1787, when Elijah Clark, of Revolutionary fame, fought and defeated the Indians. The first court held in Walton County was at Cow Pens about three miles southeast of the present courthouse and Judge John M. Dooley from the northern district presided. Cow Pens is said to have gotten its name from its use by Richard Easley of Athens, GA.
Easley owned large herds of cattle and came into possession of lands surrounding the spot where Cow Pens is now located. He sent his herd there to graze, erecting sheds and pens for their protection and later building a log cabin for his herdsmen. Since Easley owned several grazing places, when speaking of this particular place, he would call it the “Cow Pens” and so it became commonly known by that name. Later the location of a county seat came into question and Walter J. Colquitt, a lawyer, and Dr. Thomas Moody took up their residence at Cow Pens, believing it would be the county seat and the name was consolidated into one word,
At the same time, a doctor by the name of Johnson and a lawyer, whose name is unknown, took up their residence at “Spring Place,” now the city of Monroe. They thought that the county seat would be located there. Elisha Betts, a Virginia gentleman, decided the issue of where to locate the county seat. Betts offered a gift of land for county buildings, private and public cemeteries, and six acres surrounding “Spring Place,” this being a public gathering place for citizens in the surrounding community. This benefactor also offered to give the hamlet the name “Monroe” in honor of James Monroe, fifth president of the United States and drop the name “Spring Place.” Betts offered every other lot from fifty acres immediately surrounding the village to be sold for the purpose of erecting county buildings. His offer was accepted and Monroe became known as the county seat of Walton County in 1820. Elisha Betts aided the erection of log and frame houses, stores and a tavern known as “Major Humphries Assembly Room,” which was used for public meetings, dancing and other forms of amusement.
His own two-story log house is said to have stood on the lot once occupied by Domino’s Pizza on Broad Street. A fire in 1857 swept the entire section fronting Broad Street between the streets now known as Spring and Washington. The Courthouse was the only building left standing. Following the fire, the first brick buildings were erected. Monroe did not make very rapid progress until after the “War Between the States,” but since that time it has grown and prospered. It is known as one of Georgia’s most civil-minded and cultured smaller cities. Monroe also proudly claims the honor of being the “City of Governors,” having furnished seven men to act as Governor of Georgia. Monroe also claims a native son who left Monroe for the West and later became Governor of Texas.