Traveling Around - Cartersville, Georgia - Bartow County History Museum
Nestled under the Church Street Bridge Overpass in downtown Cartersville, Georgia, is the Bartow History Museum. We tried to time our presence so that we could see the Hiistory Museum in the morning and proceed to another museum in the afternoon. There was enough to look at and digest at the History Museum that we almost screwed up our schedule.
The museum is housed in the building that was once the county court house. It was constructed in 1869 at 4 East Church Street in Cartersville. A new court house was opened in 1902 and the older structure has seen several businesses go through its doors from a grocery to a roller skating rink. It was vacant from 1983 until 2010. The museum had gone through several nearby structures and opened at this site in 2012.
Because of the construction of the bridge (long completed) access to the museum is a little tricky Rather than a GPS the museum website gives better driving directions.
We arrived shortly after 10 in the morning and generally had the museum to ourselves. Pat Taff of Guest Services met us in the ticket office/gift shop and welcomed us. She explained to us the various parts of the museum, taking time to make sure we understood the best manner to view the exhibits.
Currently the feature exhibit is about the Bridges of Bartow County. It features models and drawings and pictures of the construction of bridges in the county as well as articles about the need for them. The bridge across the Etowah River was built in 1835 and an interesting part of the bridges exhibit was the legal tolls that could be charged in 1835. They ran from 6 1/4 cents for a man on foot to 12 1/2 cents for a man on horseback. They included 3 cents for each head of cattle and 1 cent for each head of hogs, sheep, or goats. At that same time there was a ferry that had the same toll structure.
A major influence on Cartersville and on the museum was the American Textile Co (ATCO) mill that was opened near town in 1903. In addition to the mill, it constructed houses for the workers. In 1928 Goodyear bought the mill from ATCO and built 300 homes for the workers. The town had their own police force, churches, and school system. The schools graduated one Joe Harris whose family moved into Cartersville and established Harris Cement Products. Joe Harris became the 78th governor of the State of Georgia and governed from 1983-1991. The village of ATCO was incorporated into the town of Cartersville in December 1957 and in 2003 Goodyear discontinued operations. Parts of the plant were razed in 2009 and 2010.
Prior to the Civil War, the county seat was located in Cassville but much of that town was destroyed by Federal troops and the county seat was moved to Cartersville. One of the exhibits at the museum informs that Civil War pensions that were available to survivors. A statement of allegiance was required. Most times the pension depended upon the rank of the individual while in the military but, generally, if a combatant lost a finger he could receive $5 a month. A widow was eligible for a larger pension that was still miniscule.
On the second floor of the museum, the history of the county and of the town is illustrated by dioramas that begin just to the left of the elevator and continue around that floor.
Many of the dioramas are concerned with the tools of the era represented such as the pictured one with a pea sheller from the 1890's and a corn sheller from the 1920's.
The exhibits continue into the modern times and have one display of military uniforms that where the time frame runs to very modern.
Near the end of the time line exhibits is the exhibit concerning Joe Harris and the governorship. Perhaps we found it especially interesting because we had previously toured the home of an earlier governor - Jimmy Carter - who had gone on to national and international prominence.
We spent probably two hours or so in the museum and enjoyed it thoroughly. Information about hours and admission prices is available at the website - www.BartowHistoryMuseum.org.