Cass… I mean Bartow

Adjacent to Reinhardt’s Cherokee County (a name, as mentioned, that has been ironic since 1838) is Bartow County, my county of residence. The flag below is on display in my kid’s school. I thought it was an interesting appearance of the Canadian pale in the United States. The central device features a rendition of the old county courthouse in Cartersville. It’s a shame that it’s not in color, because the dome (like the dome of the Georgia State Capitol and the steeple of Price Memorial Hall at the University of North Georgia) is covered with fine Georgia gold. This courthouse is not much used these days (they’ve built a large modern one to the west), but it does house a great To-Kill-A-Mockingbird style courtroom that is sometimes used for filming movies. But pay attention to the typography: Bartow County, Georgia, 1861, formerly Cass Co. 1832:

Give them points for honesty: they could have pretended that it was always called Bartow County from its founding in 1832. As it stands, the sharp-eyed observer will notice that the name changed in the fateful year of 1861. What could possibly have prompted this? Well, you probably won’t be surprised to discover that Lewis Cass, by that point President Buchanan’s Secretary of State, revealed himself to be a unionist and actually resigned his post over Buchanan’s failure to secure federal interests in the South and to mobilize troops against secessionists. So the locals renamed the county in honor of Francis S. Bartow, Confederate politician and the first Confederate brigade commander killed in action. And Bartow it has remained ever since.

(Of course, they named the county after Lewis Cass in the first place because he had supported Cherokee removal! Not to worry, there is still a Cassville [the former county seat, which was burned by Sherman when he came through], so he has not suffered a complete damnatio memoriae.)