By Thomas Paterson
Ball Ground is a small, hard-working community in the North-East region of Cherokee County. Named after the popular game played by the Cherokee people, Ball Ground is an interesting community with a rich history. Today, we’ll explore that history to see how this town became a nationally recognized historic landmark.
In 1755, The Cherokee and Muscogee Creek people were at war with one another over territory in North Georgia. The Cherokee defeated the Muscogee at the Battle of Taliwa and won the rights of the land they fought on. From 1755 to the late 1830s, the Cherokee lived and thrived in this area. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 then forcibly displaced the Cherokee off the land. European settlers later migrated between the 1850s-60s.
Ball Ground was officially recognized in the U.S. Census as a city in 1883. At that time, the town was mostly farmland with a sparse population of 297. That same year, the Louisville & Nashville Railroad extended their rail line through Ball Ground to connect to the quarry yards in Pickens County. When the Railroad company decided to build a depot, families like the Carpenters, the Byers, P.H. Lyon, F.M. Waldrup, A.M.F. Hawkins, and Ancil Bearden donated their land hoping the town could grow its population and economy.
Over the 20th century, marble became the dominant industry in Ball Ground. Three major companies - Consumers Monument Co., the Roberts Marble Co., and the Ball Ground Monument Co. - all operated and employed a fair share of the town’s workers. The marble came from a large quarry in Tate, Georgia and was brought to Ball Ground to be finished and carved for buildings and monuments. Additionally, the town was home to a Coca-Cola bottling plan, Hasco sewing manufacturing, and other manufacturing businesses.
Today, the City of Ball Ground boasts a population of 2,189 people. It was incorporated to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 2017 for the city’s Italianate architecture and Queen Anne style homes and neighborhoods. The oldest house in Ball Ground, the Alfred W. Robert's house, constructed in 1855, was also added to the NRHP in 2017. It’s still the only house in Cherokee County listed on the NRHP.
Ball Ground is an example of a town living with its history while growing its population and economy. Many of the town’s stores and restaurants in the Central Business District (CBD) date back to the 1900s to 1930s. Marble is seen in many of the buildings in this area, including the former Coca-Cola bottling plant and Ball Ground Pharmacy. The city of Ball Ground is just one example of how places can still cherish their history while changing to meet the demands of a growing population.