2014 Essay 6
The Old Dahlonega Courthouse by Travis Colton White
Did you know that Dahlonega has some of the most unique landmarks in America? One that I think is unique and a famous place to visit is the old courthouse. It is still located on the square in the middle of Lumpkin County, Georgia. Some of the craziest stories you could ever imagine have happened in this courthouse over time. There were fights, marriages, and some say that a murder even occurred there. Ammunition was stored there and prisoners were restrained in the walls. It’s even taken bullets from numerous gun battles. Back when slaves were still used in the United States, the Lumpkin people used to buy and sell them at the Dahlonega Courthouse.Lumpkin County’s first courthouse was a small log house located just a few yards away from the present courthouse. It was said that it was constructed of split logs and pine poles. The size was around 18 by 32 feet and the cost was only about $149. Later on it was decided in 1834 that a bigger courthouse should be built. This was to be done in the middle of Dahlonega. A contract was given to John Humphries to build it, but he scammed the Dahlonega citizens out of their money and skipped town never to be heard from again. This caused the county to lose around $2500. Later a man by the name of Ephraim Clayton, who lived in Asheville, North Carolina, finally built the courthouse in 1836. To build the courthouse, he used bricks that came from Cane Creek. He also used the mortar made from the creek’s mud. It’s been said that the courthouse has gold in its structure. This is because Cane Creek was known to be gold rich. The final payment made to Ephraim Clayton in gold. It was a gold bullion.
Today the courthouse is no longer what the old courthouse used to be. During the early 1960’s, it was becoming too small to meet the community’s needs. It had to expand. A new courthouse was built and the original was abandoned. The original building stayed in the center of the square and was preserved as a historic structure. After being sandblasted and having some offices removed, the old building got a new look. On July 1st, 1967 it became the Dahlonega Gold Museum. Today, the Dahlonega Gold museum is a huge tourist attraction. It is visited by people from all over. It has many pictures of the old courthouse and some of the gold that has been mined from the area. The museum not only has gold but items that came from places like the old courthouse, goldmines, and people’s houses. There is actually one gold nugget in there that everyone should see. It weighs 5 ounces! This unique building is Georgia’s oldest surviving courthouse.
Cain, Andrew, “History of Lumpkin County for the First Hundred Years 1832-1932.” The Reprint Company, Publishers. 1979.
Dismukes, Anne Amerson. “Dahlonega: A Brief History.” The History Press. 2006.