In the beginning, Polk County was part of the county known as Paulding. In the making of Polk County, two ranges of lots were taken from Floyd County and a portion of Haralson County was also added. The first permanent settlement of the area now included in Polk took place about 1832, at which time the State surveyed the land and opened it to entry by lottery. The early settlers were from the central and southern parts of Georgia and were mostly of English decent. The county of Polk was created in 1851. At a later date. part of its territory was cut off for the formation of Haralson County. The present white inhabitants are practically all English decent.
Originally, the town of Van Wert was named for Isaac Van Wert*, one of the captors of an English spy. Van Wert was county seat, but was moved to Cedartown in 1852 to better accommodate the inhabitants of the county. Some in the western part of the county had difficulty in getting to court and Cedartown was more centrally located.
*(Isaac Van Wert helped to capture Major Andre’, a British spy, who had received plans of the fort at West Point, N. Y., from Benedict Arnold. Benedict Arnold was not captured, but fought for the British during the remainder of the Revolutionary War. This note by Hugh Mills, Jr. September 14, 1955.)
THE TOWN: The town of Van Wert was laid off, a map made and lots sold in 1837. The first Postmaster of Van Wert was Mr. Henry Kingsberry, father of Mr. Emory Kingsberry, a Rockmart citizen. The mail was brought on horseback once a week by Mr. William McGinnis, who made a trip to Cartersville for the mail. The only modes of travel were horseback and, for long distances, stage coach.
Van Wert was the first town in Georgia to have water works. Cedar logs were bored out, put together to form a pipe line, and water was brought from springs far back in the mountains. The only person to have water put in his house was a Dr. Flanagan who bored a hole in one of the cedar logs, put in a smaller log and carried the water through the wall of his house into a wooden trough, or contained with a drain on the opposite side.
The first settlers of the territory later known as Van Wert were Wiley Barber, Henry Kingsberry, J. C. York, Burton Crabb, Dr. S. B. Pierce, Simpson and Joe Dodd. Other first settlers located on land later taken into the town of Rockmart were James F. Dever, Col. John A. Jones(father of Col. Seaborn Jones), Walsh Morgan, Joesph G. Blanche, A. S. McGregor, James Aldrich, Merriam Cope, S. J. Dean, Wiley Perry, William Wright, Crawford Wright, Churchill Mason, Heslip Reuch, Tom Campbell and others. The first charge of Sam P. Jones, noted evangelist, was Van Wert. At that time he served both Van Wert and Yorkville churches. The church where he preached is still standing.
The town of Rockmart was laid out and lots sold in 1871. The first merchant was W. Ferguson. The next store was owned by W. A. J. Whitehead.
William Academy was incorporated in the town of Van Wert under Act December 20th, 1838. Woodson Hubbard, James Nettles, Nash Stedham, Ed Morrison and Joel Flanagan were incorporated as trustees of the academy.
photo submitted by Barbara McBurnett Baines