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Johnny Vardeman: A paper-fueled feud once burned between Dahlonega and Gainesville
Johnny Vardeman

Somewhat of a feud developed between Gainesville and Dahlonega in the years leading up to the 1920s and beyond, although it appeared to be among only a few citizens on either side.

Some in Dahlonega believed Gainesville was trying to undermine its progress at every turn. The foremost Gainesville critic was W.B. Townsend, the crotchety editor of the Dahlonega Nugget.

One of his complaints was mail service between Gainesville and Dahlonega. Delivery had been reduced from twice a day to once a day, and Townsend believed Gainesville was responsible. He suggested that another route be established between Brookton and Dahlonega, saying citizens of that area would be glad to fix the road between the two communities, pointing out that it would be only a 16-mile trip compared to 25 from Gainesville.

“Most of Gainesville don’t care if we get mail at all,” he groused. “They do not appreciate the trade that the city is getting from Dahlonega and Lumpkin County.” He went on to criticize Dahlonega merchants for trading with Gainesville rather than Athens or Atlanta, where he believed their business would be more appreciated.

Another issue was that some Dahlonegans believed Hall Countians had made some disparaging remarks about their community during a Chamber of Commerce meeting. Gainesville’s chamber responded with a letter to the Dahlonega newspaper declaring it knew nothing detrimental to Dahlonega being said in any meeting.

The Gainesville chamber wrote, “The citizens of Gainesville genuinely appreciate the good friendship and esteem of the city of Dahlonega and want you to know that it is our purpose as a Chamber of Commerce to cooperate in every way possible with the good people of Dahlonega.” It further suggested a meeting between Dahlonegans and Gainesvillians to iron out any misunderstanding between the two towns.

The back-and-forth continued off and on for years, but editor Townsend of the Nugget feigned optimism when the Gainesville Eagle had a new editor, F.D. Singleton. Singleton wrote that he planned to go to Dahlonega and tell the Nugget editor, “Most every person in Gainesville loves Dahlonega and her cultured people.” He went on to name some prominent Gainesvillians who had been raised in Lumpkin County: H.H. Perry, B.P Gailliard, O.J. Lilly and W.A. Charters among them.

Townsend, though, was reluctant to make peace. “There are a few down there,” he wrote, “that are all right. These parties would not stoop to any mean thing to do us wrong.” But then he began to recycle the grievances he claimed Dahlonegans had with Gainesville over the years.

He accused A.J. Warner, one of the principals with other citizens of Dahlonega and Gainesville in a proposed Gainesville-to-Dahlonega railroad, of abandoning the project, instead building a street railroad for Gainesville. He complained Gainesville had thwarted attempts to connect Dahlonega to Atlanta with a highway, instead sidetracking it for a route more favorable to Hall County.

The Dahlonega editor also blamed Gainesville for a picture postcard with Lumpkin County’s Cane Creek Falls on it, but labeled “near Gainesville.” A Gainesville reporter for an Atlanta paper also incorrectly wrote that Lumpkin’s pyrite mines were in western Hall County.

“Do you call this love? Townsend asked.

Whether or not this was a genuine rivalry between the two North Georgia towns, the colorful Dahlonega editor’s pokes and prods apparently continued occasionally until his death in 1934.

Rough travels to Dahlonega

Stagecoaches were the main mode of transportation between Gainesville and Dahlonega for decades. Individuals would ride the rough road on horses, often with buggies and even mules and wagon. It would take a while.

In 1921, a woman wrote that she had not been from Gainesville to Dahlonega in some time because she always dreaded the ride. This time, however, she was surprised she made the trip in an hour and 15 minutes. “I never expected to see such a fine road to Dahlonega,” she said.

Almost a whole century later, one can get from Gainesville to Dahlonega or vice versa in, say, 25 minutes or less on a good traffic day. And it’s still a scenic ride for the most part.

Watch for more local history in this column next Sunday.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. He can be reached at 2183 Pine Tree Circle NE, Gainesville; 770-532-2326;

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