Actual Factual Cobb: How did the county's cities get these crazy names?

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Actual Factual Cobb: How did the county's cities get these crazy names?

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Powder Springs is just one of the few cities in Cobb County with an interesting backstory behind its name.  Courtesy of Powder Springs.

Howdy! This is a part of the hopefully regular column "Actual Factual Cobb," and thus is much better than the rest of the Internet. In this series, I — Ben Brasch — will keep rootin' for answers and tootin' news about Cobb County until the esteemed AJC fires me upon realizing how much of the newsroom's coffee budget is expended on me.

I answer your questions (except where lint comes from, because you don't want to know) about Cobb County no matter how small or large. I care about what y'all care about. Oh, and did you think I can't find stuff? OK, well here's a dog wearing sunglasses chilling out the window of a car on Spring Road in Smyrna I found online who is all "DEAL WITH IT."

Please send your questions via the submission form below, and I'll do my best to find out what's what. You can holler at me by sending an email to ben.brasch@ajc.com or contacting me on Twitter@ben_braschKeep it Cobby.

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Cobb County has six cities — sorry East Cobb — all of which have funky and layered histories, so I rolled up my sleeves and got to searching.

Here's what I found:

Acworth

A crucial water stop north of Atlanta in the construction of the Western and Atlantic Railroad in 1845 was the Northcutt Station, for which a road downtown is named. A railroad engineer named Joseph Gregg later came on through and named the station after his home town of Acworth, New Hampshire.

His lovely northern hometown was established in 1766 and appears to have a website designed shortly after that time period.

Austell

Alfred Austell was a merchant, organizer of the Atlanta National Bank and "became one of the country's largest cotton dealers," according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

He was a delegate to the Bank Convention of the Confederate States when Atlanta hosted the event in 1861.

Ol' Alfred (you can call him Al) was also such a driving force of railroad advancement in the area that the city was named after him.

A 1910 book of the city's history has an account of the railway system from that time: "The railroad facilities are unequalled by any place of its size in the south. There are eighteen trains daily, arriving and departing from six o'clock in the morning till twelve at night. Austell being a division terminal, transferring passengers and exchanging baggage, necessitates the stopping of each train from 10 minutes to half an hour. The depot is a handsome structure, a creditable building for a town many times its size.  It has every convenience and comfort for the proper handling of the great number of visitors and tourists daily coming to Austell."

Kennesaw

Buckle up!

The Creek Nation called Kennesaw Mountain home until the Cherokee showed up and snatched the land up.

The Cherokee term for Kennesaw Mountain was "Gahneesah" — which translates to "burial ground" or "place of the dead," according to a 2014 book by two Kennesaw State University professors. So when white folk kicked the Cherokee out and sent them on the Trail of Tears, they got a hold of the word "Gah-nee-sah" and mispronounced it into "Ken-nes-aw."

Marietta

Behind Thomas Willis Cobb, judge and U.S. senator, is a city named after his wife.

The Georgia Gazetteer reported in 1837 that Marietta was named after Cobb's wife Mary Moore, according to the city's history.

The state legislature recognized Marietta Dec. 19, 1834.

Powder Springs

The city incorporated as "Springville" in 1838 on the lands of two Cherokee leaders, Chief Nose and Chief Ana Kanasta (Sweetwater).

"Prospectors had found gold in the state ten years earlier, and so get-rich-quick hopefuls flocked to Springville to mine and pan more. Despite their efforts, the prospectors found little in the mines at Lost Mountain and off Brownsville Road," according to the state.

WOMP WOMP.

The water from all seven of those springs contains about 26 minerals, including ones that turn the surrounding sand black, like gunpowder, which gave folks the idea to name the city Gunpowder Springs. In 1859, the city name changed to Powder Springs.

Smyrna

The city is named after one of the seven churches from the Bible's Book of Revelations relating to Paul the Apostle and the seven centers of early Christianity, said the state.

Smyrna was incorporated in 1872, about 30 years after a railroad started running through Cobb.

And what about the whole darn county?!

Cobb County was named for Thomas Willis Cobb, U.S. Senator and a judge of the Superior Court of Georgia.

As for who he was, I'll let the epitaph on his Greene County grave do the talkin': "In his domestic circle he was fond and affectionate. As a friend he was ardent and devoted. As a man, honorable, generous, and sincere. As a statesman, independent, and inflexible. As a judge, pure, and incorruptible. Amiable in private, and useful in public life, his death was a deep affliction to his children, his friends, and his country. 'An honest man's the noblest work of God.' "

Not too shabby.

BONUS: Mableton

Mableton isn't a city, but that doesn't mean it isn't a lovely place. It's just one of the largest unincorporated communities in metro Atlanta.

Robert Mable, a native of Scotland who lived until 82, immigrated to Savannah. That's were he heard of the Georgia Gold Land Lottery of 1832, so Mable purchased 300 acres in the area that became Cobb County. He and his family lived in a log cabin until 1843 when he built a sawmill and started making a house. The Mable House was used by Federal troops during the Civil War as a field hospital, according to the House's website. Mrs. Mable cared for wounded soldiers, and in return they didn't burn down the place.

The Georgia Pacific Railroad received land from Mable and when it built a depot on the south side of the tracks west of Church Street, an engineer named the station "Mableton" to honor the family, which led to Mableton becaming a city in 1912.

WAIT, so it was a city?! Four years later, the citizens voted to unincorporate to avoid the raising taxes to pay for road repairs. Classic.

I, Ben Brasch, am a reporter with the AJC. To submit “Actual Factual Cobb” questions, contact me at ben.brasch@ajc.com or on Twitter@ben_brasch, or via the form below.

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