June 21, 2022
As I stated in the Fact or Fiction section of Southern Duty, “If historical evidence is produced that conflicts significantly with this writing, I will consider a revision.” While doing some research at the Funk Heritage Center in Waleska, Georgia, I found records from the Georgia Land Lottery that included the people whose names were drawn for each of the lots. I discovered that none of the characters mentioned in my book obtained a lot through the lottery.
In his book, Modern Cronies, Professor Kenneth Wheeler, describes how William Grisham created a real estate registry. A Milledgeville newspaper, the Federal Union, issued a series of pamphlets, each called “Gold and Land Lottery Register”. Grisham purchased every pamphlet for $5 and used a needle and thread to bind them into a catalog containing thousands of successful winners, where they lived, and the numbers of the lots, which could then be located on a map. With this information, he would have been able to purchase choice lots for himself, broker deals for others and, as postmaster in the area, he would have had frequent visitors interested consulting his valuable catalog.
So, I have produced Edition 2 of Southern Duty that describes how Grisham purchased his lot (#166) from “Thomas Miles’s orphans”. He then brokered the sale of adjacent lot (#167) for Joseph Donaldson, knowing of Joseph’s industrious nature and experience with operating a ferry (which they needed to span the Etowah River) and his legal knowledge to serve as Judge of the Inferior Court of the newly formed Cherokee County. Grisham also convinced J.P. Brooke to relocate from the Sixes area to another lot adjacent to his (#194). Brooke was well-respected for maintaining law and order during the turbulent gold rush years, and was named one of the first sheriffs of Cherokee County.
Grishams’ goal was to build a town that would serve as the County Seat, so he seems to have been the king-maker by finding people with the necessary skills, attracting them with high profile jobs, and convincing them to donate parcels of their properties to form the townsite for Canton.