Lawrenceville's history is closely tied with the history of Gwinnett County itself. All of the business of the county was moved to this location in 1820, and a temporary courthouse was erected.
William Toweres was the surveyor who laid out the courthouse square, with the four streets bordering the square named for distinguished men, Pike, Perry, Clayton and Croghan (now spelled Grogan). The next four streets were named for trees, Oak, Chestnut, Sassagras and Pine. William Maltbie suggested the name for the town itself.
The original town commissioners were James Wardlaw, Hugh B. Greenwood, James McClure, John Gaddess, Sr., and Pascal Brooks, who had the authority to pass bylaws and regulations necessary to maintain the streets, springs and police. They were appointed to serve until the first election in January 1823.
After Lawrenceville was incorporated in 1821 the population began growing, and businesses relocated to the new county seat. In 1829 Lawrenceville had forty dwellings, ten stores, ten machine shops, three law offices, three doctors, one academy, one Methodist church, one Baptist church and one Presbyterian church.
Among the first lawyers in the town were Philip Alston, 1821; N. L. Hutchins, 1823; John G. Parks, 1823; E. W. Chester, 1825; and James C. Martin, 1829, who lost his life in the Creek Indian War.
Early physicians in Lawrenceville were Dr. Philo Hall, Dr. Bangs, Dr. Jesse Lowe, Dr. Wildman, Dr. John W. Maltbie and Dr. T. W. Alexander.
Edward Featherstone and Asahel R. Smith were among the first merchants in town.
In 1832 ten acres were set aside northwest of Lawrenceville for the Lawrenceville Academy. The trusteess were: William Maltbie, Elisha Winn, E. W. Chester, Thomas W. Alexander, Charles W. Rawson, John Mills, William Richardson, Richard Seay, Robert S. Adair and Isham Williams.
The Lawrenceville Female Seminary was incorporated by the General Assembly in 1837, and a two story brick building was erected by Daniel Killian in 1838 (now the Gwinnett History Museum).
In 1893 a public school system was created in the town, and a new building was erected. Mrs. Ronald Johnston was the first superintendent and Mr. Miller, Mr. Davis, and Mrs. Bessie Exum were the first teachers.
The Presbyterian Church of Fairview was organized August 9, 1823 by the Rev. Remembrance Chamberlain. The charter members were Mary A. Isley, Margaret Beattie, Mary Reid, Isabel Jackson, Catherine Montgomery, Phillip Isley, George M. Gresham, James M. Gresham, William Montgomery, James C. Reed, W. J. Russell, Samuel Reed, and Thomas Beattie.
The Lawrenceville Methodist Church was established around 1823 when Rev. W. J. Parks was appointed at the South Carolina Conference to serve the Gwinnett mission. It is not known when the first building was erected on the Old Cemetery lot. It was followed by a second building which was used from 1854 to 1891, when a larger building replaced it. It burned in 1902 and the brick building was erected.
Lawrenceville Baptist Church was organized May 2, 1840 of members who had split from the Redland Baptist Church over policy decisions. The charter members were James P. Simmons, A. Bloodworth, William Sanders, G. W. F. Lamkin, Sion Evans, S. Bloodworth, Alindima Lamkin, Mariam Pool, Katherin Evans, Mary L. Skelton, Cyntha Evans, and Emeline, a slave. Their first pastor was S. B. Churchill.
A building committee was appointed in 1850, consisting of Anthony W. Bates, Jno. J. Davis, and James P. Simmons, and the church was completed in 1854. Until the building was completed, the Baptists worshiped with the Presbyterians. In 1887 a new building was completed on South Clayton Street, and additions continued through the years.
Walnut Grove Baptist Church was organized in 1872 with seven charter members: Manaley Haslett, Mary McConnell, Hannah A. Bailey, William Haslett, J. C. McConnell, A. J. Abbott, and B. J. Bailey. The first building was erected in 1874, the second in 1885, and the third in 1959.
McKendree Methodist Church, located northwest of Lawrenceville, was organized in 1883 and named after Bishop McKendree. One acre of land was donated by Mrs. Martha Wellmaker and one by M. B. Montgomery, and the first meeting house was erected in 1884. The present church was built in 1884.
Sweetwater Primitive Baptist Church was organized on December 8, 1824 in the Wells school house by Tyre Landers and G. B. Waldrop. The following were charter members: Frances Landers, Clarissa Woodruff, Sara Morgan, Elizabeth Niblet, Precilla Woodruff, Mary Hedrick, Hannah Spradlin, Heziah Lawrence, Sarah Schamblee, Margaret Minchem, Cynthy Barnett, Editha McDaniel, Elley Davis, Nancy Hendrix, John Hendrix, Elizabeth Doneyhoo, James Donehoo, Thomas Mason, Prodence Wells, James Wells, Bodie Waldrop, Benjamin Waldrop, Alsey Waldrop.
The first building was erected in 1824 and replaced in 1909. The first minister of the church was James Hale, who served 16 years consecutively, and an additional 12 years two years later.
Located on Pleasant Hill Road between Duluth and Lawrenceville, near the corner of Cruse Road, the church today is used as Sweetwater Memorial Chapel. The cemetery is relatively well maintained, and several graves are decorated with small Confederate flags. The Eli Landers house is seen directly behind the cemetery.
Views of Lawrenceville
Sweetwater Primitive Baptist Church and Cemetery
Eli Landers Home Place
Old Gwinnett County Courthouse
Lawrenceville Female Seminary
Old Lawrenceville Church
Clayton Street from the Courthouse Square
This history is a work in progress. I will be adding more information and photographs, so be sure to check back frequently and reload or refresh!
History of Gwinnett County, 1818-1960, Volume II, by James C. Flanigan, copyright 1959
© 1999,2000 Pat Sabin- All Rights Reserved