A brief capsule of a long and colorful history
By Larry Salmon
Armuchee () was for a time a part of the Chatoogee () District of the Cherokee () Nation.1 In 1832, however, the Georgia Legislature made this area a part of Floyd County, Georgia as a matter of law.2 Thereafter, in defiance of the United States Supreme Court, 2.1 it became exclusively a part of Georgia as a matter of fact by military might. Government troops forced the Cherokees to travel the "Trail of Tears"3, or more literally "The Trail Where We Cried" (). Over the Trail of Tears in 1838 the Cherokees were removed to the Arkansas and Oklahoma Territory.3.1
Nevertheless, for a time Cherokees and Europeans lived in Floyd County as neighbors and some even as business partners.4 During this time of coexistence some of the more picturesque names of residents along the Armuchee Creek were the Cherokees, Double Head, Goard, and Gut Sticker.5
During the War Between the States a locally significant battle was fought at Farmers Bridge, Armuchee Creek 6 near the New Armuchee Baptist Cemetery. On May 15, 1864 Captain William Lokey’s Company G of the 12th Alabama Battalion Partisan Rangers dug in with no more than 50 men to defend the bridge against the advance of 3,000 Union cavalrymen under Colonel Robert H. G. Minty. The outcome of the battle was not in doubt. Captain Lokey was among the 10 Confederates killed and buried near the top of the cemetery at the site of the battle. Historian Gilbert R. Smith identified the Confederate unit and those killed as well as the location of the graves. Suitable markers and a plaque commemorating the battle were unveiled at a ceremony in November, 1998. 6.5
Armuchee in its’ metropolitan downtown area had its’ railroad, the Rome and Northern,7 and the Armuchee Station was on Depot Street near the present site of New Armuchee Baptist Church; the community had a telephone exchange,8 and during World War I a pants factory, and later a wooden keg factory.9 Among the commercial establishments, besides Floyd County’s first automobile wrecker service,10 were automobile garages, filling stations, pool rooms, barber shops, groceries, meat markets, general merchandise stores, grist mills, laundries, and a tea garden.11 The remnants of the dam of Armuchee’s pre-1900 electric power generating plant remain on Armuchee Creek just below the "Iron Bridge" on Little Texas Valley Road.12 Many residents in the early to mid 1940’s remember that one of the vicinity’s first butane gas companies was located in Armuchee. Today, in downtown we have a fire station at the intersection of Little Texas Valley Road and Depot Street and in the former Militia District Courthouse there is an electronic circuit board manufacturer; further north is a doctor's office. In (Lower) Armuchee we have a glove manufacturing plant, sporting goods stores, automobile garage, grocery and meat market, filling stations and restaurants and a computer store, a doctor's office, and an airport with a 6,000 foot runway and an instrument landing system.. On the airport site there is a counter top and cabinet manufacturer... no railroad though. In (Upper) Armuchee there is Mohawk Carpet Mill and a counter top and cabinet manufacturer. Also, at the old Armuchee Consolidated School site, there are manufacturing operations.
Around 1910 the fraternal needs of Armuchee society were met by a lodge building which housed both a Masonic Lodge and an International Order of Odd Fellows Lodge.13 Sometimes in the 1920’s entertainment was provided to the community by the Todd Auction Company Band14 (with some slight change in personnel also known as the Armuchee String Band).14.1 One of the members of the band was young Kasper "Stranger" Malone. In February of 1999 a spry and alert 89-year-old Stranger Malone played a number of instruments again for a delighted Armuchee audience.14.2 In March 1999, Stranger was the subject of a feature article in the Rome News Tribune. 14.3
Currently, for more than two decades, each year on Labor Day weekend we have the Armuchee Blue Grass Festival;14.4 for the last several years the festival has been held at the Armuchee Saddle Club on Georgia Highway 140 between downtown and Image Carpet Mill.
During the 1930’s a Civilian Conservation Corps encampment was located behind the present day Armuchee Elementary School on property owned by Berry Schools. The road to the entrance to the CCC Camp remains visible to a traveler on the Scenic Road today. The CCC was a federal government answer to unemployment during the Great Depression, and numerous public works projects were undertaken by members of the corps.
Until the late 1940’s local baseball teams played the teams of surrounding communities in an ample field behind Rosemont (Scoggin’s Store) on the Old Summerville Road across from the former Armuchee Courthouse. 15
Of course, another form of entertainment in the 1940’s were the Saturday night fights many times involving the locals on one side and folks from a certain neighboring county on the other.15.1 One of the more unusual subjects of these fights came to light just after WW II; after a few libations often a veteran of one branch of the military would patiently explain to a veteran of another branch how the former branch was responsible for winning the war. After some disagreement the vets would commence to have their own war. Many times, purely out of a spirit of community involvement, several other vets would join in the melee, and it would be World War II Armuchee style.15.2
Few water parks today have the purely swimming amenities of the Yarborough swimming hole on Armuchee Creek. There the natural slope of the creek bed forms a gradually deepening pool from an island in the center of the creek to depths sufficient to allow diving from swings attached to trees and from the cliffs on the south side of the creek. The swimming hole was reached from downtown by cutting through the pasture behind Rosemont. There are numerous survivors of excursions to "Yarboroughs" who are alive today; some are even reasonsbly competent.15.3
The schools in Armuchee have been located at various sites. The first location known to the author was directly across Little Texas Valley Road from the Living Water Ministries (formerly the Methodist Church). The site was approximately 100 yards from the road, and the school’s hand powered water pump and its’ cement base remain today. The next school location was on U. S. Highway 27 just south of the intersection of Highway 27 with Georgia Highway 156. There were two separate sets of school buildings constructed at different times at this location with the student body moving into the later structure in 1956. The present high school building on U. S. Highway 27 adjacent to Northwoods subdivision was first occupied in 1982, and the Armuchee Elementary School opened in 1996. It is located on U. S. Highway 27 north of the high school. The Armuchee Middle School at the intersection of Floyd Springs Road and Georgia Highway 140 opened in 2002.
Basketball has been a part of the sports program of the high school much longer than has football. Even so, the first Armuchee Indian football team took the field in 1951, and being first is about the most flattering thing to be said about that team.16
Churches have nearly always been a part of life in downtown Armuchee. The Midway Primitive Baptist Church, which was founded in 1897,16.1 is located on U.S. Highway 27 just south of Georgia Highway 140. Further south is the present site of New Armuchee Baptist Church. Still further south on Highway 27 is the Armuchee Church of God and the Mount Berry United Methodist Church. Originally, New Armuchee Baptist was located adjacent to the present Living Water Ministries on Little Texas Valley Road.
The Methodist congregation was organized and built their church in 1900 a few months before the Baptists. It was first named Shiloh Methodist Episcopal Church.16.2, 18.2 The First Baptist Church of Armuchee was also organized in 1900; the church was built in 1901, and the name was changed to New Armuchee Baptist Church in 1903.17 The present structure of the Baptist Church at the intersection of Depot Street and U.S. Highway 27 was completed and occupied in 1960.18
In July, 1999 it was announced that the Armuchee United Methodist Church was closing its doors on July 18, 1999 to reopen as the Mount Berry United Methodist Church. The congregation moved from the original location at 26 Little Texas Valley Road (between Old Summerville Road and US Highway 27) to a location on the south side of Armuchee Creek approximately ½ mile away on US Highway 27 south of the Armuchee Church of God. 18.1 In April 2002 the Methodist congregation sold its' church premises at Little Texas Valley Road and moved to temporary quarters at Mount Berry Square Mall. 18.2 Living Water Ministries of Rome, Inc. now occupies the former Methodist property. 18.3
In August of 2000 Mount Berry United Methodist Church received a deed to its' property on the south side of the creek. 18.4 The building was dedicated on September 28, 2003.
The meaning of Armuchee in the Cherokee language has long been a subject of comment. The sign at the entrance of Armuchee High School indicates that the word means, "Land of Beautiful Flowers". Others have said it means, "much water" or "much fish".19 Perhaps the real meaning was lost on the Trail of Tears.
"Just where is Armuchee and what size place is it"? This was the derisive question posed to a young witness of this community who was called to give evidence in a court of another state. The reply was, "Well sir, Armuchee is more a state of mind than a place".
Yes, indeed, a great part of Armuchee is a state of mind, a very wonderful state of mind. May it ever so remain.
Cherokee Pronounciation Key20
1. Past Times, Rome News Publishing Company, August, 1997, p. 4
2. All Roads to Rome, Aycock(1981), p.39
2.1. Worcester v. Georgia, 31 U.S. 515, 8 L. Ed. 483 (1832).
3. A History of Rome And Floyd County, Battey(1922), p. 488
3.1. Past Times, Rome News Publishing Company, August, 1997, p. 62 et. seq.
4. A History of Rome, Supra. p. 39
5. All Roads to Rome, Supra., p. 38
6. Historical Marker, North Side of Armuchee Creek at U. S. Highway 27 Bridge
6.5. North Georgia Journal, Spring 1999, The Graves at Farmer’s Bridge by Daniel M. Roper
7. All Roads to Rome, Supra. p. 335
8. Rome News Tribune, February 6, 1976, p. 8
9. Rome News Tribune, July 7, 1985
10. Senior Times, December, 1989, p. 3
11. undated 1930’s era Rome News Tribune clipping in possession of author
12. All Roads to Rome, Supra. p. 336
13. A Brief History of Floyd Springs Lodge No. 167 F&AM by Weldon Touchstone
14. Rome News Tribune, July 16, 1976, p. 11 and Rome and Floyd County, an Illustrated History, p. 189
14.1. Supra. Friday, January 28, 1977
14.2. Author’s eyewitness account
14.3. Rome News Tribune, Sunday, March 21, 1999, p. 4
14.4. Supra., September 4, 1998, p. 1
15. Author’s eyewitness account
16.1. Herman Yarborough’s report of his review of a copy of the Minutes of the Midway Primative Baptist Church.
16.2. Herman Yarborough’s report of the results of his research.
17. New Armuchee Baptist Church, Armuchee, Georgia, A Brief History 1900-1978, p. 7
18. Supra., p. 11
18.1 Rome News Tribune, Friday, July 9, 1999, p. 8b
18.2 Deed Book 1702, Page 45 of Floyd County Deed Records
18.4 Deed Book 1597, Page 851 of Floyd County Deed Records
19. Senior Times, Supra.
20. Cherokee Made Easy by Prentice Robinson, 1989,1992, pp. 6, 7
© 1998-2005 Larry Salmon, P. O. Box 7, Armuchee, Georgia 30105. Used by Armuchee.com with express permission.