Marietta is in Cobb County, which is one of the fastest growing urban areas in the United States. The residential, business, industrial growth, military occupation, architectural transformation, and economic prosperity define its history. For several years, developments in these aspects of the region played a significant role in transforming the political, economic, and social life of the region as it does in every society. The transformations were the manifestation of the changing landscape of the business environment and the social expectations of residents with regards to changes that took place in their environment. A unique relationship existed between Marietta and Kennesaw largely because they held religious and social gatherings in Kennesaw. Members of the communities would gather for different functions such as baptisms, get-togethers or recreation. These activities played a significant role in reinforcing the social fabric of the residents and how the region grew to be a small urban center in Cobb County.
Early Marietta was mainly occupied by the Cherokee Indians in around 1830, and the conflicts between the Europeans and the Native Americans affected its stability. Residents lived in the scattered farm communities and the village, and a few years after the war, a section of the Cherokees remained after the federal troops moved their tribes to Oklahoma for resettlement (White and Emily 9). By then, the Europeans had come to the region to settle following the discovery of gold and the demand for land, and this paved way for several legal and social conflicts among the residents. In 1835, the Cherokee leadership signed a treaty of the New Echota with the commissioners of the Unites States (Glover et al. 10). In the treaty, the Cherokees would cede their lands east of Mississippi, including Georgia and join the Cherokees in the west (Glover et al. 10). This led to several protests from the Cherokee people because the treaty would leave them homeless without any source of income to sustain themselves. Nonetheless, the authorities proceeded with the implementation of the treaty following its ratification by the Senate. By 1838, most of the Cherokees had been removed from what is currently Oklahoma forcefully (Glover et al.10). The settlers acquired the land through land lottery or encroaching. They took over land much faster because they had the backing of the government, and they also had the instruments of power to remove the natives from their land forcefully.
Additionally, when it comes to settlement, it is worthwhile noting that Rufus Putnam, the brother of Israel, was responsible for choosing the site and laying out the first settlement, which is the present day Marietta, Ohio (Tucker 559). Rufus served in the French and Indian war and the Revolution, and he was also a member of the Massachusetts legislature that organized the group of Revolutionary soldiers to form a settlement in Ohio in 1787. This was possible because he managed to secure a tract of land from Congress between Ohio and the Muskingum rivers and laid out the first settlement in Marietta (Hubach 30). The site was named Marietta after Marie Antoinette, in recognition of France’s aid in the Revolution (Tucker 559). Later on, he would move with his family to Marietta where he helped in founding more schools and serving as a trustee in for the new Ohio University (Tucker 559). The region also managed to attract other settlers with time because of the economic activities.
Other than land grabbing, Marietta was characterized by the presence of slaves. Cobb County was not a slave hub, but 381 slaves were recorded in 1838, and this number grew to 3500 in 1860 (Glover et al. 9). The significant increase in the number of slaves was an indication of the growing demand for cheap labor among the European landlords in the region. With the availability of gold and land for exploitation, the capitalists would take advantage of the laborers’ labor to maximize on production. The region produced cotton, but grains, vegetables and fruits, and wool were the main cash crops (Glover et al. 9). The entrepreneurs in this region promoted, prolonged, and profited from slavery because they influenced the economic stability of the region. Particularly, the need for slave labor increased because the white farmers set out to exploit the cotton industry (Glover et al. 10). The slaves were mostly of Africans, although there were others from the minority communities as well. After 1865, the census classifications involved classifying the African Americans and ‘People of color’ into two groups (Glover et al. 10). Specifically, they included the mulatto, which denoted a mixture of African and European and black which referred to people of African descent (Glover et al. 10). For most of the census records, they represented the researcher’s perceptions about the people because there was no formal recognition on how to structure the report, and slavery was still the norm (Lassiter 10). Consequently, the diversity of the African people never had historical records about their social statistics or demography.
Civil War in Marietta
The civil wars in Marietta began in 1862 when twenty-two union spies raided the northern region to destroy the railroad tracks and bridges between Cobb County and Chattanooga (Abendschein et al. 8). It was also an opportunity for their slaves to fight for the abolishment of slavery in the Southern region. As evidenced by the capitalists’ motivation to exploit the unlimited availability of cheap labor, the railroad tracks were designed to improve the connection between the regions for easy transfer of produce between the different states. In the middle of the civil war when the retreating Union forces burnt the second bridge, a third one was constructed in its place and served up to 1896 when a hurricane destroyed it (Abendschein et al. 8). During this time, major manufacturing industries would develop various products such as silk, lace, wagons, industrial laundry equipment, stove, cast iron pipe fittings, portable air compressor, clothes, and commercial cast iron (Abendschein et al. 8). These conflicts were manifestations of the economic discrimination that the residents were fighting against. Destroying the railroad tracks meant that businesses would not proceed as usual, and that the residents would not benefit from the commercial activities of the railroads. Without connection, the capitalists would be unable to conduct their businesses effectively, and the disruption of businesses meant the closure of markets because of insecurity or low sales. As a result of the war, most of the city’s buildings were used as hospitals for people who had been wounded. The economic stability of the region was badly affected to the extent that most of the buildings remained unoccupied for decades largely because there were no viable economic opportunities that could revive the place.
Away from that, Marietta suffered three destructive fires on Marietta Street, Lloyd Street, and Alabama Street during the civil war. The warehouse on Alabama street was set ablaze, and its spread to the neighboring industries caused a massive loss to the neighborhood. The situation was made even worse by the fact that the Confederate General John Hood, who was a commander of the Atlanta Campaign, ordered that all the materials used during the war be destroyed by fire (Link 15). The officers would watch the buildings burn, but they had to prevent the fires from spreading to other regions in the town. Nonetheless, it became difficult to contain the fire, and it soon spread to other building causing a lot of destruction. Afterwards, most of the houses would be used as barracks for conducting the various activities during the war. Additionally, the army commandeered all the buildings to be used for other purposes during the war. During this time, life went on as usual, but the citizens were confined to the town with limited activities under the martial law (Link 29). The churches and the houses provided shelter for wounded Union victims. The Union also opened fire from six batteries from Marietta, Peachtree, and William Roads in front of the Medical College. In all these cases, the firemen would watch as the buildings razed down to prevent them from spreading to other regions only for them to burn more than they expected because the fire was uncontainable. They also looted buildings and stole from them, leaving the owners with massive losses. Besides, there were more than 100 buildings left in ruins, making the region completely inhabitable. It was not until 1865 when the railroad tracks were hastily prepared to facilitate food supply and communication in the city (Link 29).
Prosperity in Post-war Marietta
Following the destruction of Marietta by the civil war and the fire, the region blossomed into life slowly afterwards. Businesses began to crop up, and people slowly moved into the region. It took time for Marietta to regain its lost glory after the war in 1860 to the 1900s. Rebuilding and reconstruction took time because poverty and hunger were widespread. Hunger was chronic to the extent that the Cobb residents would walk for over 20 miles to Atlanta to access grains and meat (Glover et al. 45). From an economic perspective, the fact that the residents had to walk long distances for basic commodities such as food implied that they hardly got time to invest in economic activities, and even if they did, they would be too tired to be productive. Nonetheless, they managed to slowly build homes, businesses, restored the government functions, and managed to cope with the retribution of construction (Glover et al. 45). It was a testament to the economic resilience of the town. By 1870, Marietta managed to resurrect the charter of Marietta and Northern Georgia Railway that had been conceived in 1854 and was extended to Murphy North Carolina (Cadwell 118). Improved connections implied faster transport and facilitation of communication. Thus, businesses would improve because it was easier to connect the towns with the regions of production. By the late 1850s, Marietta had a population of 2500 with one of the largest flour mills in the state, a chair factory, paper mill, planning mill, and a tannery (Cadwell 118). The revival of these industries meant that there were opportunities for capital accumulation, which increased the employment opportunities. More importantly, when the residents are economically empowered, it implies that they have the purchasing power to afford what they need, and they create more opportunities for entrepreneurship. Industrialization gradually overtook agriculture as the main economic activity.
Despite the fact that the streets were still littered with war debris, new buildings arose among the ruins in the town square, and businesses began to spring up by the late 1860s. It also created new opportunities for revenue creation for the government, and they used the money to restore the image of the town by planting trees in the park and construction repairs also commenced. In the 1870s, the county rebuilt the courthouse and jail, more store sprung up, and there was also focus on building the mills (Paden and Joe 45). The availability of social amenities meant that the residents could take part in several recreational activities that were either economic or social. For instance, in 1865, the residents built a private girls school followed by a boys’ school later on (Glover et al. 45). The sprouting of these institutions meant that there was the need for dispersing knowledge that they could use in improving their lives at the personal and community levels. The availability of these services also meant that the residents could tailor their social lives around different causes, and by the new century, Marietta was on the verge of a complete revival. New buildings were almost everywhere in the city square such as the Brumby Chair Company and the Glover Machine Works, which were the hub of economic activities in the county (Glover et al. 45). The installation of electricity increased availability of water and telephone connectivity significantly enhanced their wellbeing. The availability of such facilities and services were important for the ease of business, thus creating economic opportunities for all the members of the community on different social levels. The human traffic meant that money would exchange hands at a high rate, and it would increase employment opportunities.
The Aircraft Industry and Marietta’s Recovery
Despite the economic comeback, Marietta experienced slow population growth, especially during the Depression of the 1930s, but the World War II and the arrival of the aircraft industry in the 1940s spurred its economic growth (Paden and Joe 69). Cobb’s economy mainly relied on agriculture until the 1940s when there were more manufactured goods than agricultural produce. The development of the aircraft industry and the shipbuilding complex reduced the scourge of unemployment and replaced it with several job opportunities. Human traffic increased in the county between the 1940s and 1950s given that the postwar boom in housing, manufacturing, and business marketed the county in its environments (Lorence 213). The historic buildings in the country dating from the 1870s to the 1890s around the town square have been refurbished, and the fine antebellum houses provide important tourist attractions (Paden and Joe 69). They flock the region to enjoy the scenery, the popular restaurants, and the quaint shops (Paden and Joe 69). The development of the aircraft industry was also facilitated by the mobilization for war and the expansion of military installations throughout the state, which boosted the wartime operations. As thousands of people burgeoned into Cobb County, there were several business attractions that sprung up to boost the economy of the region. In 1941, the construction of the Rickenbaker Field south of Marietta adjoining the Bell Aircraft Plant employed approximately 28,000 people to the extent that the local population being able to supply only a small section of the labor (Staff et al. 89). Additionally, the new population meant that there had to be more construction projects to cater for their housing needs. A high human traffic, increased economic opportunities, and availability of public social amenities brought about increased tourism activities and more investments for industry and housing into the 1970s and 1990s.
Evidently, Marietta’s growth was largely inspired by the unlimited availability of economic opportunities from the time it was a small urban center. From the time the Europeans took over the land from the Cherokee, the region took on an agricultural identity as its main form of economic activity which would have to suffer the challenges of conflicts because of economic discrimination. Eventually, the conflicts brought the county to its knees when the army burned down the entire region, including the city square, thus stalling business operations. The rebuilding and reconstruction of Marietta took time with the most important recovery being the impact of the aircraft industry. The industry opened several employment and business opportunities, which would boost tourism and the real estate industry in the county.
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