Gwinnett history book in second printing

Previously out of print, Elliott Brack's 850-page history, "Gwinnett: A Little Above Atlanta," is now available again. Since its original publication, the book was declared the winner of the 2010 Award of Excellence for documenting Georgia history by the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board. It is also the winner of the Gwinnett Historical Society's Whitworth-Flanigan Award for 2011 for preserving the history of Gwinnett County.

The book includes 143 demographic and historic tables, with more than 4,000 names in the index, and 10,000 names in the appendix.

Two versions of the book are available. The hardback edition is priced at $75, while a softback edition is $40. Books are available at:

  • Atlanta History Center, Atlanta
  • Books for Less, Buford
  • Gwinnett Historical Society, Lawrenceville
  • Parsons Gifts and Cards, Duluth
  • Vargas and Harbin Gallery, Norcross

You can also order books through the Internet. To do that, go to to place your order. For mail orders, there is a $5 shipping and handling fee. Purchases are also subject to the 6 percent Georgia sales tax.

Gwinnett: A Little Above Atlanta




"Having an interest in Gwinnett County history, particularly since 1950, Elliott Brack's book, Gwinnett: A Little Above Atlanta, is a must have.

"Informative and enlightening, it gives the origin and development of the all the major governmental agencies and a picture of the business community as well a highlighting those persons who made it happen. Elliott's book, containing little known facts and long forgotten stories, explaining the phenomenal growth of one of the fastest growing counties in the nation will be read and quoted for years to come."

-- Lawrenceville attorney Jones Webb

Groundbreaking of Buford Dam

It was March 1, 1950, that groundbreaking for the dam took place. Fittingly, it was also the 59th birthday of the guy who had pushed so hard for the day, Mayor William Hartsfield. He, as temporary chairman of ceremonies, had arranged the program and sent out notices for people to come to a high bluff on the Gwinnett side, overlooking the Chattahoochee. Soon this location would be the site of the Operations Building for the project.

The day was cold, damp and windy on the hilltop above the river, with long topcoats a good idea. The dirt road was muddy from rain the night before. A caravan of cars drove and slid, some into ditches, from Buford to the location. An estimated 5,000 people were present.

The North Georgia College Band was there, and Mayor Hartsfield played the master of ceremonies. (In his remarks, the mayor mentioned navigation "first to Columbus, and eventually Atlanta." For him, it was a dream is hard to extinguish.) The Rev. J. Thornton Williams, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Buford, gave the invocation.

Recognized were two Congressmen, Gov. Herman Talmadge, the keynote speaker, and Corps of Engineer officials. Afterward, 12 people manned shovels, with almost everyone wearing a hat, as was the custom of the day; they turned the dirt to signal the start of the project.

Following the groundbreaking, the dignitaries adjourned to a luncheon hosted by the Buford Kiwanis Club at a new school building. Mayor Hartsfield may have been surprised when he was presented with a cake marking his 59th birthday.

Thus began work on the lake.

Dean King

There's more. There's so much more history about Gwinnett, though not all could be included because of a lack of time and space. Some of the stories are more vignettes, though they don't fit into a neat package. These are just small snippets that paint their own pictures of the way life once was in Gwinnett. We wanted to include them, and hope you enjoy these tidbits.

Take for instance, Dean King of Loganville, a marvel if there ever was one. He had many talents, and was pleased to show them off, for instance, on an ancient 56 inch "high-wheeler" bicycle to the delight of crowds, all decked out handsomely, sometimes in an Uncle Sam outfit. He rode several times at Disneyworld, and at local parades in the Atlanta area.

In addition, Mr. King was also an aviation advocate, who learned to fly his own plane in 1956, and had a relatively-short, 1,410 foot take-off strip behind his home in Loganville, which he dubbed "LOX----Loganville International Airport." It was within the city limits behind his home on the western edge of the city on O.J. Floyd Road. Watching him take off in his 1958 Piper-Tri Pacer on that short strip, a narrow, grassed strip between tall pecan trees, was a sight, as he taxied under a pecan tree to get in position to take off. He said in 1993: " I can usually get off the ground in 700 feet if I am alone, depending on the wind. It is the only airport I know where you take off and land under a tree." But landing was even more difficult as he neared the tall trees, and braked to a halt behind his house. The house had been built by his father-in-law, John W. Garrett, a former Loganville mayor who operated a store in Loganville, and built the first brick house in town in 1920, out of yellow brick.

Mr. King was a retired wedding and aerial photographer, who was a Naval photographer in World War II. He got permission from Mr. Garrett to build the air strip. He also has landed routinely on a 1,600 air strip off Lake Burton in North Georgia. "It's on top of the mountain," he adds. He had several slogans taped to the instrument panel of his airplane: "Airplanes make fling much easier," and "We fly to places other airlines don't."

Sometimes Mr. King's neighbors would see him rev up the airplane engine, taxi a few yards, then turn around and rev the engine again. About to take off? Mr. King's told his neighbors later: "No, I was blowing pecans off the trees." Afterward, he picked up three bushels of pecans, maintaining he "scared the pecans off."

Mr. King had an early interest in flying. Lawrenceville Attorney Jones Webb has a letter in his files to Mr. King from none other than Orville Wright, to whom Mr. King had written for some technical materials on flying. Mr. Wright, who had a simple "Dayton, Ohio" for an address when he wrote back to Mr. King in 1917, signing it "very truly yours," in a neat Spencerian signature that is quite legible.

Mr. King was a distinctive character. At his death at age 81, in 1996, the mayor of Loganville said he was the city's ambassador of good will. We remember him fondly. There are many more people who gave Gwinnett part of its vibrancy.



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