When we reach back in time to look at the city of Douglasville’s history, we have to go back to the days when a tall chestnut tree stood on the ridge west of where the Old Courthouse Museum sits in downtown Douglasville today.
The chestnut tree stood close to the intersection of two Indian trails. Natives had stripped the tree of its bark to make it more identifiable and later white settlers would begin to call the place Skint Chestnut and use the tree as a geographical landmark as well.
Soon a man by the name of Young Vansant came to own most of the land along the ridge which then was part of Campbell County.
Once Douglas County broke away from Campbell County in 1870, a county seat was needed. Folks in the new county were divided. Some preferred the community of Chapel Hill, others wanted the center of Douglas County, and a third group lobbied for Skint Chestnut to be the county seat.
The matter should have been decided in a simple election, but ended up being drug out for four years with the Georgia Supreme Court finally ordering a second election. The men who wanted Skint Chestnut as the county seat didn't stop their work. During the four year period Young Vansant donated 40 acres along the ridge for the town. Land lots were laid out and a small structure was built to serve as a temporary courthouse.
Skint Chestnut was the winner following the second election and the name was changed to Douglasville when the Georgia General Assembly formally established the town on February 25, 1875.
The formal formation of Douglasville coincided with the period when New South ideals were gaining momentum across the South, so business and political leaders had a unique opportunity to set up each facet of the town to fit the New South image and philosophy, which reshaped villages into railroad towns. In the case of Douglasville, the town’s leaders had the opportunity to build a New South town from the ground up and they worked diligently to include all the ingredients necessary for a thriving New South town, the railroad, a cotton mill, a hotel, bank, and a commercial district.
Today, the town’s founding fathers would be pleased. Douglasville has entered the 21st century as a vibrant and flourishing community.
Written by Lisa Cooper