August 2019
News & Updates from the Milton Historical Society
Milton's History with Horses
Part 1: From Gold Rush to Shakerag
by Jeff Dufresne
Milton has a unique history with horses. When gold was discovered in North Georgia in 1829, horses were used to create about 500 mines in 37 different counties. After the Georgia gold rush failed to pan out, agriculture was the area's primary industry. Specifically, cotton, corn, wheat, oats, potatoes, hay, and peaches were grown on family farms. At the time, horses were working animals generally used for farming, transportation, communication, and commerce.

Early Years: The area presently known as North Fulton County became a stopover for pioneers traveling between mountain communities to the railroad terminus - later named Atlanta. The time spent traveling was every bit the issue that it is today. In fact, Milton County came about 'to allow a man to get to the court house in one day's ride by horse.' It was quite customary to see a countryman returning from the Atlanta market, fast asleep, slumped forward over his saddle bag while his horse plodded his own way home.

By 1858, this area became a thriving commercial center with gristmills, sawmills, cotton gins, post office, and a general store or two. This area became the link (via ferry service) between the hill farmers in the north to markets south in Atlanta. In the Spring and Fall, local farmers on horseback would drive their livestock, potatoes, apples, and honey to Atlanta. They would return home with clothing, tools, and other 'big-city' items.

Milton County: On March 23, 1858, Milton County was officially created. This new county was named after John Milton, Georgia's first secretary of state. At inception, Milton County's population was about 4,000 people. Milton County covered 147 square miles, and Alpharetta was designated as the county seat. Milton County encompassed the present day cities of Milton, Johns Creek, Mountain Park, as well as parts of Roswell and Sandy Springs.
From its humble beginning, the newly created Milton County faced adversity. Within three years, the American Civil War broke out. Although there was no fighting in Milton County, a total of 1.5 million horses were killed during the war...more than double the number of human casualties. The only thing worse than being a soldier from Milton during the Civil War was being a horse!

Hard Times: Milton County remained an agricultural economy for the next 60 years. Cotton farmers in the area were always at the mercy of fluctuating cotton prices, rainfall, and later the dreaded boll weevil. This small beetle feeds on cotton buds and flowers. It infested all U.S. cotton-growing areas by the late 1920s, adversely affecting the industry and workers in the South.

While the boll weevil devastated the Southern economy, the stock market crashed in 1929. The Great Depression further reduced the demand for horses in the area. By 1930, the average size of a farm in Georgia was 86 acres, down from 430 acres in 1860. Georgia cotton production, which peaked in 1910, fell to almost nothing by 1945. Nearly destitute, Milton County merged into Fulton County in 1932.
New Opportunities: At the time of the merger, Milton County's population had grown to 6,730 residents, which was almost double the population in 1860. Shortly after merging, former Milton County residents received more benefits than were expected, in terms of improved roads, new and better school buildings, and better equipped teachers. After World War II, new Ford, General Motors, and Lockheed plants offered more employment opportunities. With more discretionary money, horseback riding was becoming a popular recreational activity and competitive sport. After decades of hard work in the fields, the horse was becoming a status symbol!

Horse lovers found that Georgia's temperate climate allowed for year round outdoor training. Temperatures are good; Milton summers are not as hot as South Florida. The northeast has severe winters and upkeep can be more expensive. Rolling terrain and nice pastures are good for horses, and grass grows well here. In the 1960s, local farmers with a riding ring would host one-day shows for saddle clubs, 4-H shows, Western shows, and/or other multi-disciplined events. These mom-and-pop shows are gone now.

Equestrian Organizations: In 1968, Wills Park was created in response to the community's need for an equestrian facility. Located in Alpharetta, the one-ring Wills Park Equestrian Center soon became a haven for horse enthusiasts and was known as the 'horse capital of the South.' Today Wills Park hosts over 50 horse shows a year, including jumping competitions and championship rodeos.

Shakerag is the oldest recognized hunt in Georgia, and was located on the eastern edge of the former Milton County (near McGinnis Ferry and Medlock Bridge roads). This hunter group just celebrated its 75th anniversary, and like many equestrian organizations, Shakerag Hounds is passionate about land conservation. Those who enjoy this sport typically have a great love of the outdoors.

Note: Milton's History with Horses will continue in the next Society newsletter as Part 2: Making an Equestrian Community. Jeff Dufresne of the Milton Historical Society will present a lecture on the topic on Tuesday, October 22nd from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Milton Library.
When : Friday, August 23 from
10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Where : Atlanta Marriott Alpharetta
5750 Windward Parkway Alpharetta 30005
Alpharetta Business Expo
Meet your neighbors at the sixth annual Alpharetta Business Association's Expo.

Visit the Milton Historical Society's booth!
The expo features over 80 exhibitors and has more than 900 attendees. Look for a special 'Technology Showcase' for some of the area's newest tech start-ups. Food vendors will include a selection of the best of Alpharetta eats! Admission is free.

Click here for more information:

Milton Historical Society
2019 Tree Ornament

The Society's fundraiser again this year is the sale of a glass tree ornament, the second in an annual series. This year's ornament features the Reese House, which sits majestically at Crabapple Crossroads. The house is pictured on the front of the ornament and the reverse has a description taken from the Milton Historical Marker on the property.

The ornament is $15 and makes a wonderful gift. It will be sold at several retail locations including: Olde Blind Dog, Duke's Bar and Grill, Providence Bank, and at the Alpharetta Business Expo August 23. Also place your order by emailing [email protected] to arrange for pickup.

2019 Fall Programs

Tuesday September 17 - 6:30 p.m.
 The Mysterious Faroe Islands: History and Other Well-kept Secrets
Milton Library, 855 Mayfield Rd.
Speaker: Bob Meyers, MHS Vice President
Thursday September 26 - 12:00 p.m.
 Lunch and Learn
Fields Crossroads: a Milton Landmark
MHS Headquarters, 12670 Crabapple Rd., Suite 105
Speaker: Connie Mashburn, MHS Resident Historian
Tuesday October 22 - 6:30 p.m.
Milton's History with Horses:
Making an Equestrian Community
Milton Library, 855 Mayfield Rd.
Speaker: Jeff Dufresne, MHS Director

Tuesday November 19 - 6:30 p.m.
From Milton to the Moon
Milton Library, 855 Mayfield Rd.
Speaker: Byron Foster, MHS Director and Structural Engineer

Watch this space for information about our holiday open house!

Muse of the month!

history (n.) "relation of incidents" from Old French estoire: story, chronicle; from Latin historia "narrative of past events, account, tale, story," related to Greek " to see " and " to know ." From

When asked where Native American lands were now (after much territory loss), Lakota Leader Crazy Horse answered: "My lands are where my dead lie buried."
We would like to introduce you to our Board of Directors, so in each of our upcoming newsletters, we will profile several of them.
Jeff Dufresne, Director
Jeff grew up on a dairy farm in Massachusetts where he researched his own family ancestry dating back to their arrival on Boston's north shore in 1639. Jeff moved to Atlanta with his new bride, Josephine, for a career in real estate development and later, preservation. He has also served as executive director for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) whose mission is to promote the responsible use of the land. Jeff joined the board of the Milton Historical Society to help research, preserve, and promote the unique history of Milton.
James Farris, Director
James is a retired attorney, having handled cases in more than a third of Georgia's 159 counties, 12 states, and five foreign countries. James has served as the attorney for and on the Board of Directors of the Georgia March of Dimes Foundation, The Atlanta Pro Mozart Society, and served on the City of Milton's Historic Preservation Commission. He enjoys restoring his 1899 Victorian farmhouse on Freemanville Road, is a passionate antique car collector, and he is dedicated to
achieving the Society's mission to discover, preserve, and reveal the untold story of Milton.
Connie Mashburn, Resident Historian
Connie is a native of Alpharetta and Milton and is descended from several families who settled here in the 1830s. He authored Alpharetta, Old Milton County - the Early Years , and curated the City of Alpharetta's history museum. He is the Historian for the Milton Historical Society, and the City of Alpharetta. He serves on the Alpharetta Historical Preservation Commission.
Kevin Spear, Director
Kevin is retired after a career as a sales and client relations executive for several firms including PNC Bank, United Parcel Service, and PSCU Financial Services. He is actively involved in many civil and charitable organizations. He serves as the president of the Friends of the Milton Library and is on the Board of Trustees of West Virginia Wesleyan College. Kevin also is an Abraham Lincoln and Civil War scholar.
According to Connie, the Society's Resident Historian, the celebration took place on the spacious grounds of Crabapple Baptist Church, pictured here.
A Milton History Moment!
County Officials Entertained At Crabapple
North Fulton Herald July 16, 1948

Paving the Mayfield Road was recently completed, a distance of three miles. On July 8, everybody living on this road and at Crabapple entertained at a picnic dinner at Crabapple for those who had any part in the work from the convicts who did the manual labor to the County Manager
A. E. Fuller.
Submitted by Connie Mashburn
We Love our Founding Patrons!
Ron Wallace
Felton and Johnny Herbert
Adam Orkin
Pat Miller
Dawn and Keith Reed
Amy Christiansen
Kathy and Philip Beck
Jessica and Warren Cheely
Joe and Heather Killingsworth
Seth Chandlee
Curtis Mills
Mary Ann and Clarke Otten
Mark Amick
Joan Borzilleri
Jeff Dufresne
James Farris
Byron Foster
Kim Gauger
Bill Lusk
Connie Mashburn
Bob Meyers
Charlie Roberts
Kevin Spear
Karen Thurman