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Adairsville • Cassville • Cartersville • Euharlee •
Kingston • Lake Allatoona • Summer Hill

10 N Public Square | Cartersville, Georgia
at “Pathways to Freedom” sculpture

As Cartersville emerged from the 1860s, the central town in war-ravaged Bartow County, a new social order also started to develop. In it, formerly enslaved African Americans began to take an active place in the young
community. They established businesses, built homes, worked, and socialized on the streets of downtown; claiming space alongside their white neighbors, although not yet sharing full legal equality.

In downtown Cartersville, a black business district developed on the north side of West Main Street, west of Erwin Street, primarily around land initially owned by black businessmen Jackson Burge, Ellis Patterson, and Henry Saxon. Here, in the area around what is now the intersection of Noble Street and Main Street, as well as along Conyers Alley – what was once a street connecting West Market Street (now Cherokee Street) and West Main that is now just a driveway – was the heart of the African American business community from the 1880s until the late 1920s.

After the abolition of slavery, which officially took effect on December 18, 1865 with the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment, formerly enslaved African Americans – as well as the rest of the South – were introduced to an entirely new post-war economy. By 1870, a majority of the recently freed African Americans, called freedmen, who lived in and around Cartersville continued to do jobs they had done during slavery: working as farm hands, day laborers, and – for women, especially – as domestic workers such as cleaners, cooks, laundresses, and seamstresses. As they began to collect wages for their work, the rise of the African American entrepreneur was born. The most prosperous freedpeople were those who practiced skilled trades, such as blacksmiths and barbers, occupational niches that were among the most lucrative professions for an ambitious black man in the late 1800s.

Once African Americans were able to engage in the formerly all-white economy, real estate investment began. This was particularly true of the skilled tradespeople who needed to invest in the tools of their trade: barbers and blacksmiths, as well as colliers (coal miners), brick masons, shoemakers, carpenters, and well diggers -- all of which required both capital and skilled labor. Some African American workers were able to accrue significant land holdings in Cartersville during that first quarter century after emancipation and, in so doing, established themselves as notable members of the Cartersville professional community.



African American

Heritage Trail

Bartow County, Ga

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