History & Heritage

Cut out of the Old Cherokee Nation East in 1832 along with nine other counties, Gilmer was named for the then Governor George Rockingham Gilmer.

The long history of the Muscogee Creek and Cherokee Indians all but ended with the removal of all Indians west of the Mississippi River in 1838. Only a few mixed-bloods remained on their diminished farmlands.

Migratory trails passed through Gilmer during the colonization of the territories and by the 1840’s a solid base of pioneering farmers set up home in these rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The mountainous terrain of the frontiers of this area grew crops of sorghum, cotton, corn, and wheat. Sheep and then cattle dotted the land.

Gilmer enjoys a rich history with colorful characters, bearing the bloodlines of the Scotch Irish.

Peaches, blueberries and the main staple of apples were cultivated to sustain the poverty stricken area after the two major world wars. Cotton went south and many families followed it, to towns that produced cotton fabrics in the mills, after wool became too expensive to produce.

Cooler temps and rain in the higher elevations of Gilmer were a draw during the hot months of summer. During the 19th century it was thought that mountain air was healthier. Many hotels lined the downtown streets amid the numerous shops. After the wars and the great depression they fell into disrepair.

Called a modern day “Mayberry” by travel writer William Schemmel in the 1990’s, the city of Ellijay is a very neighborly community. Drive along the many backroads and travel back to a time less stressed and full of small town atmosphere and nostalgia.