Census of 1880: Was It Important? How Were the Results Reported?

February 10, 2020

Joy Odom did a wonderful and comprehensive job of explaining how Dade County came to be and what the 1850 census could tell us about our county’s beginnings. Census stories are very relevant as shortly we will be given the opportunity to be counted again.


Having been given the opportunity to see the sample of the latest census, several things were interesting to me. 1) It will take a citizen about 10 minutes to complete the form; 2) it will give future genealogists less information than any census ever has; 3) it will take longer to read the directions than to fill out the form.  Of note is the fact that this is the first time that citizens will file their forms online. That will cause much worry for some, but our county government is working to make arrangements for that to be easy for citizens. 


While working on a project at the library, I stumbled across the article reproduced below in the Dade County Gazette of July 28, 1881. It had been copied from the Chattanooga Daily Times. I lapped the numbers up like a pup that was thirsty. 1880 (and the rest of the decade) is of special import in our history as it was the period of time that Dade County had the most industrial development ever. The dollar amount (if modified for inflation) gained by investors has not been repeated even though it was 140 years ago. Of course, that is mostly because the laborers were prisoners who had been leased for $40 per year.


Note that in this census, Dade County is almost equal in size with Catoosa County. The abbreviation GMD stands for Georgia Militia District. If you are knowledgeable of today’s voting districts, then you may recognize that Trenton is still # 960.  North Dade district is still #974 and Rising Fawn is #1038. Georgia Militia Districts are never really gone even though many of ours have become obsolete because of changes in our local government.


 The town of Rising Fawn was more than three times larger than the town of Trenton.  It had the Iron Works which was part of Joe Brown’s Dade County empire. It had railroad access which did not include a winding and scary ride up Sand Mountain. Cole City was a bustling enterprise and if you add in the numbers from Egypt and Sligo, it had more folks living and working there than did Rising Fawn. Also it should be noted that while it was small Morganville was listed as a town of its own. It did have the benefit of a railroad stop in Morganville.


Please enjoy the article as retyped.  Note the interesting spelling of some places and see if you can determine where some of the places are located by the names listed.   



Retyped from The Chattanooga Daily Times (as reprinted in The Dade County Gazette)


The Census of the Population of Dade, Walker and Catoosa Counties


The population of our neighboring counties in Georgia, as shown by the census bulletin [is] highly satisfactory. The report gives Dade County a citizenship of 4,702 souls; Walker County can now boast of 11,056 inhabitants, while Catoosa is reported entitled to a citizenship of 4,739.




The county of Dade is a little west of South of Chattanooga and adjoining Hamilton County.  Dade is the smallest county in the state, and has a population 4,702. The county is good and productive. At Rising Fawn is located an extensive iron manufactory, which was sold a few days since for $250,000. The Gazette is published every week at Rising Fawn and enlightens the world on Dade’s advantages. What is commonly known as Joe Brown’s coal mines are also located in this county, which can be said to be small in size, few in population, but mighty in resources.  The following is a tabulated statement of the county’s inhabitants for each Georgia militia district. 


The next Historical Society business meeting will be held on Saturday, February 29 at 10:30 in the History room of the Dade County Public Library.  Please join us if you are interested.


We have begun planning the next Cemetery Walk and we solicit folks who interested in acting or in just helping to prepare for this event.  This year we will feature Sarah’s Chapel. Our walk is scheduled for April 26. 


More details will be forthcoming.  A Genealogy Workshop is planned for March 31.  Join us.


Meanwhile, here is a calendar of the society's planned events this year.


Dade County Historical Society       

2020 Calendar of Activities


Jan13     Planning by Officers and

    Executive Committee


Feb 4     Planning Cemetery Walk 1pm

Feb 29   Business Meeting 10:30 am Sat


Mar         Cemetery Committee work

Mar         McMahan Book work continues

Mar 31  Genealogy Workshop 6-8pm Tue


Apr 25     Cemetery Walk       


May 16    Business Meeting 10:30am Sat


Jun 10     New Echota Field Trip


Aug 8      Business Meeting 10:30

Aug 8      Genealogy Workshop 11:30-1:30  


Oct           Book ready for publication

Oct           Wreaths Across America plans

Oct 3       Genealogy SWAP (Forester)


Nov 7       Business Meeting 10:30 AM Sat

Nov 5       Genealogy Workshop 6-8 Tues


Dec 19     Wreath Laying at National Cemetery


Join us for a busy year of fun.

Dues are $10 per year.


Contact us on Facebook at

Dade County Historical Society of

Trenton, Georgia


All meetings and workshops are held

At the Dade County Public Library


--Donna M. Street


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