Like many Gwinnett towns, the town of Suwanee dates back to when the railroad was constructed through that section of Gwinnett County in 1871.
Suwanee Old Town was an Indian Village on the Chattahoochee near Suwanee Creek. It got its name from the Shawnee tribe who settled there in the late 1700's, but the village itself is believed to be several hundred years old.
Shortly after the completion of the railroad and depot the town was incorporated. Businesses and homes were erected, a school established, and Methodist and Baptist churches formed. The area was settled by the families of Brown, Brogdon, Strickland, Armstrong, Douglas, Verner, Baxter, and others. James Brown was the first postmaster and tax collector.
Suwanee Methodist Church began with worship services held in the school building. In 1876 the church as organized with 34 members, and the first building was erected in 1879 or 80. Heavy wind caused such damage to the building in 1909, it was decided to replace the building on a new site. The existing building, on a hill overlooking the town, was completed in 1910 at a cost of $2,000.
The early ministers, each serving for one to two years, were: M. H. Eakes, Joseph Carr, J. R. Smith, W. P. Smith, W. S. Bradley, J. H. Mashburn, K. Reed, J. R. King, H. M. Newton, J. T. Curtis, B. E. L. Timmons, George Quillian, M. H. Edwards, W. B. Ledbetter, J. L. Moon, W. A. Parks, T. H. Timmons, T. J. Warlick, W. L. Singleton, F. G. Golden, W. W. Gaines, W. E. McBreyer, S. H. Braswell, F. R. Smith, J W. Stipe, and H. E. Scott.
Although said to have begun before the Civil War, the first records of the Suwanee First Baptist Church are of it's organization in 1886 by H. W. Rhodes, J. H. Braziel, Mose Martin, C. B. Pool and J. L. R. Barrett. The name was changed in 1949 from Suwanee Town Baptist Church to Suwanee First Baptist Church.
In 1881 a railroad was constructed from Lawrenceville to Suwanee, connecting there with the Southern Railroad.
The Rhodes Hotel was built in 1876. School teachers would travel by train from Atlanta and stay in the hotel during the week, returning home to Atlanta every weekend. The stately Victorian frame house is now a private residence.
John B. Brogdon was one of the town's successful merchants. Others well known businessmen were J.W. Beaty, Emory S. Brogdon, Clayton Turner, William Wilson, M.T. Verner, Mack Wheeler, and G.W. Little.
Suwanee today is a quaint little town straddling the railroad tracks, near the crossroads of Buford Highway (Highway 23) and Suwanee Dam Road. A few of the old stores are still standing and have been converted to antique shops. New storefront buildings are under construction (December 1999) in the old style of the 1880s. Many lovely old homes still exist, and the Methodist Church and small cemetery still overlooks the town. The Baptist Church has been replaced by a modern building.
There is one road called Cemetery Road which ends in newly graded land. I don't know what happened to the cemetery, but I'll try to find out.
Views of Suwanee
Suwanee Methodist Church
Suwanee Main Street- a work in progress
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
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