Early History

Local History

According to the DeKalb History Center, the original grantees of 202+ acre land lots in our area from the lottery of Creek Indian lands conducted by the state of Georgia in 1821 were the following: for land lot 60, Francis Cook; lot 61, William M. Peters; lot 50, Tunstall B. George; lot 51, Simon Harrel; 101, Jonathan Mulkey; and for 102, Eve Clay. These land lot numbers are still used in county assessor maps.


A fire in 1842 destroyed all land records which were located in the courthouse in Decatur. According to the map created by Dekalb historian Walter McCurdy in the year 2000, most of land in those lots in 1860 were owned by Mr. Ezekiel Mason. Research in county records is needed to track what happened after that but the following articles from the AJC historical records give some clues. Links are to images scanned from microfilm in the following database (accessible only via Emory University ID):ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Atlanta Constitution



  • 1844-94 History of Atlanta
    • "FIFTY YEARS AGO: How Atlanta has grown from a little North Georgia town -- Her wonderful career sketched -- First called Terminus and afterward Marthasville -- How Atlanta was selected -- The destruction of the city by General Sherman -- Its rehabilitation -- The Atlanta of today" by L L KNIGHT. May 2, 1894
    • Colorful historical overview of life in Atlanta and Decatur.
  • 1871, 1886 Flooding at Mason's Mill
    • "The flood gates ajar. Incidents picked up from the recent deluge. Its beleaguered cities -- Animals sailing down the river -- Strange articles unearthed -- A whole family drowned -- One county loses $1,000,000 -- On the Alabama river." Apr 11, 1886
    • "A singular circumstance occurred at Mrs. M.A. Mason's mill, in DeKalb county. A violent rain and hail storm occurred there in 1871. At that time Mr. Patrick Ray was at the mill grinding for Mr. Mason. Just before the rain and hail storm came on, Mrs. Ray placed in the spring branch [creek] a jar of butter, securely covered. The rain washed the jar and butter into the mill pond, where it has lain in the mud all these years that have intervened since then. The recent rains washed everything out of the pond except the bottom by breaking the rock portion of the dam, and the stone jar of butter was washed out and broken. Mr. William Ray being at the mill, remembered the circumstances of his mother having put the jar of butter in the spring branch and its having been washed in the pond. The butter was perfectly preserved."
  • 1879 Obituary for Ezekiel Mason
    • The Daily Constitution (1876-1881); Aug 28, 1879
    • "Mr. Ezekiel Mason, an aged and highly esteemed citizen of Decatur, died at his home yesterday morning. He was eighty years of age. For nearly forty years he had been an invalid, yet up to the time of his death was prompt in the performance of duty and wise in the management of his affairs. He was a man of wealth, integrity and influence and leaves a large family and a host of friends to mourn. Peace be with him."
  • 1881 Flood at bridge near Mason Mill
    • "The heavy rains last week did considerable damage in our county.... The bridge at Wallace mill, the bridge near the Mason mill on the road from Decatur to Doraville and the bridge on Peachtree creek, near John Williams's, known as the Carroll bridge were also washed away or badly damaged."
  • 1883 Cat adopts chickens at Mason's Mill
    • "At Mrs. M.E. Mason's mill, near Decatur, is a curiosity, the like of which we have heard of before, but never from credible witnesses till now. A hen belonging to Mrs. Buchanan, wife of Mrs. Mason's miller, which had just hatched out a brood of chickens, was killed by minks, leaving several orphan chicks scarcely able to walk. Mrs. Buchanan, having heard stories of cats caring for chickens, took the little orphans, three in number, and gave them to her old tabby cat. This motherly creature at once took charge of them and has been carrying and caring for them ever since, now about two weeks.... Anyone going to the mill and inquiring, we are informed, can see for himself its truth."
  • 1887 Fight at Mason's Mill
    • "Decatur, GA, March 20. - Mr. Ben Cash, son of Oliver P. Cash, of Brownings district, was knocked in the head this morning by Mr. Walker Maddox, near Mason's mill, about three miles from this place. It was first reported that Mr. Cash was dead, but it is since learned that he is still alive but is seriously wounded. Both parties are  young men and were raised in the same neighborhood, and we understand have heretofore been good friends."
  • 1891 Railroad construction
    • "AT THE VERY GATES: ONE THOUSAND MEN AT WORK IN DEKALB COUNTY. All the Ungraded Portion of the Georgia, Carolina and Northern Under Contract and Men at Work." Jul 3, 1891
    • "The grading is being done from near Major W.G. Houston's, about one mile from the Georgia railroad to the county line in the direction of Lawrenceville. From the county line to where the grading has already been completed, ten miles this side of Lawrenceville, every section is under contract and men are at work. Near Major Houston's the road branches, one line comes to the Georgia railroad five miles from Atlanta, and the other runs across to the belt line, striking the Richmond and Danville about two and a half miles from the city on the property of Mrs Mason, and crossing south Peachtree creek at Mason's mill. The line to the Georgia railroad right of way, it is said, will be the passenger, and the other the freight line."
  • 1896 Picnic at Mason's Mill
    • "The Kirkwood Baptist Sunday school and their friends gave a delightful picnic at Mason's mill in north Decatur Saturday. The picnic grounds are situated on Peachtree creek, and the boys had a fine time swimming, while the girls enjoyed themselves wading. Fishin was participated in and some very successful lands were made. Captain William Haygood, who was in command of a company of confederates during the war, gave those present a delightful talk on his many adventures and narrow escapes during the time when the south was doing all in her power to defend herself from the invading foes. A delightful dinner was spread before the hungry children, after which a series of interesting races was entered into by the boys. At sunset the merry crowd returned home after spending a most pleasant day."
  • 1907 Waterworks funded
    • February 24, 1907. "Waterworks for Decatur -- Progressive Georgia town to have water and sewers."
    • "The city of Decatur, one of Atlanta's most thriving suburban towns, will soon have fine waterworks and a sewerage system.  Last year the people voted for a bond issue of $44,000 for water and sewers and the officials are now ready to begin the laying of pipes. The cast iron pipe has already been purchased for April delivery and bids for construction are now wanted. Under favorable conditions the waterworks plant should be in operation within eight months. The water supply will be obtained from a fine creek about a mile and half from the town. The water is free from all contamination and is sufficient to supply the city for many years to come. ..."
  • 1907 Waterworks contract
    • March 17, 1907 "Atlanta firm gets contract -- Walton & Mangum will install Decatur waterworks machinery."
    • "At the called meeting of the town council of Decatur on Monday evening the contract was let to Walton & Mangum, at Atlanta, for the installation of the machinery for the waterworks, the building for the pumping plant and the laying of the pipe line at a cost of $10,000. The work is to be completed by October 1."
  • 1907 Death of Ezekiel Mason's widow 
    • Jun 27, 1907
    • "Mrs. Margaret A. Mason, widow of the late Ezekiel Mason, a pioneer citizen of DeKalb county, died at 1 o'clock on Wednesday at her home in Decatur. Mrs. Mason had lived in Decatur for the past fivty-five years, and she had a large circle of friends to mourn her death. She was 78 years old and is survived by her four children, Mrs. C.E. Randall, Miss Ether Mason, Mr. E.H. Mason and Mr. Thomas C. Mason. The funeral will take place this afternoon at 4 o'clock from the Presbyterian church at Decatur."
  • 1914 Waterworks Improvements
    • "August 8. Extensive improvements have been under way at the local pumping station of the waterworks for several weeks. The dam has been raised two feet, a new filter built, new and larger pipes installed from the reservoir to the filter and from the creek to the reservoir. The reservoir and coagulating basins have been enlarged and improved. Chief of Construction and Waterworks Nash has been directing the work."
  • 1915 Bond issue to improve waterworks
    • March 20, 1915. "$50,000 bond issue passed by Decatur. Fund to be spent to build new school, improve waterworks and extend the sewer system."
  • 1920 Bond issue for Waterworks
    • June 19. "Monday night at 8 o'clock, in the courthouse in Decatur, the citizens committee of one hundred meets to perfect plans for carrying both bond issues, $100,000, for the high school and $50,000 for waterworks, for the special election of June 30."
  • 1920 Bond issue okd for Waterworks
    • June 30. "Decatur votes solid for bonds."
  • 1921 Waterworks improvements
    • November 1. "P.P. Pilcher, city manager, is proceeding with improvements at the city waterworks according to plans suggested to him and approved by the commissioners. ... The improvements will furnish a water supply to meet all emergencies which may be foreseen for the next five years, will provide a storage capacity of 4,500,000 gallons above that now provided for."
  • 1921 Waterworks repair
    • December 15. "C.J. Trowbridge, constructing engineer, on diverting the overflow at the city waterworks, for the purpose of heightening and strengthening the old dam, discovered that the backwash had undermined the structure where the foundation was not laid on bed rock, that water was coming through and that it was and had been for an unknown period in danger of sudden collapse. Such hasty provision as was possible was made to safeguard against this danger, but until material can be shipped and put in place, it is stated that only continued good fortune will save the city from a complete shutoff of water supply, as this is delivered into reservoirs by gravity from the impounded water of the dam.... Decatur uses about 500,000 gallons of water daily, and the standpipe ha a capacity of 80,000 gallons. By improvements, now in progress, a reserve supply of 4,500,000 gallons will be provided. The present dame is 90 feet long and 13 feet high. This ill be raised to 17 feet, and lengthened to 115 feet. The structure will built of concrete, and anchored throughout to bedrock. Decatur's water supply comes from what is known as the Burnt Fork branch of Peachtree creek, about two and one half miles north of the city."
  • 1921 Waterworks repairs
    • December 23. "City manager P.P. Pilcher announced tonight that concrete to strengthen the dam at the city waterworks will be in place this Saturday night, and that when this has hardened the danger of the old dam turning over from undermining by the backwash will have been past."
  • 1922 Waterworks dam enlargement
    • February 4. "The concrete dam at the waterworks in Decatur, has been completed and the water shortage which has several times threatened to become acute has been solved for many years to come, according to a statement issued Saturday by P.P. PIlcher, city manager. 'The construction of the dam began last November,' said Mr. Pilcher, 'and was pushed to a completion in spite of unfavorable weather conditions, as well as considerable destructive criticisms from administration enemies.' The dam is capable of hurling back a head of water 17 feet high, and gives Decatur a 4,500,000 gallon capacity reservoir. Mr. Pilcher states that the dam is only part of the program for developing Decatur's waterworks. The plans have been carefully formed by the engineering department of the city, and have been approved by the state board of health. A new canal and various other enlargements have been tentatively approved by the commissioners, and are expected to be put under way at an early date, according to Mr. Pilcher. 'The water supply for Decatur is now sufficient to supply 15,000 people.'"
  • 1925 Clairmont Road constructed
    • December 19. "When the work on Clairmont road is completed... this highway will be graded and soiled from Decatur to the Milton [now Fulton] county line. This road is one of the main thoroughfares entering Decatur from the north and carries a large volume of traffic."
  • 1928 Waterworks offered as site for park 
    • October 20. "Park site suggested. Decatur leaders discuss plans for recreation center. The parks committee of the Decatur chamber of commerce and the civics committee of the Woman's club held a joint meeting on the reservation of property belonging to the city, on which is located the waterworks of Decatur, Saturday. Only a small portion of this tract of land is now utilized by the city in connection with its water supply, and the officials of Decatur have offered that portion of this property not now in use to the community as a park, provided the civic  bodies will develop and maintain it as such. ... The ladies of the civis committee served a delightful picnic lunch, after which an inspection of the property was made."
  • 1933 Muskrats in reservoir 
    • August 14. In Georgia's fields and streams. By H.A. Carter. "Muskrats are by no means rare around Atlanta. ... I have seen muskrats swimming in the reservoir of raw water at the Decatur water works."
  • 1935 Waterworks recommendations
    • July 3. "Improvements to the waterworks system of the city of Decatur were recommended last night by a citizens' committee and approved by a mass meeting for submission to the board fof city commissioners for action. ... The recommendations approved by the more than 250 residents at the mass meeting include raising of the level of the dam on Peachtree creek, covering of the present clear water wells and erection of a 500,000 gallon elevated tank. An additional recommendation made by the committee asked the commissioners to obtain additional schoolrooms in some of the buildings."
  • 1935 Decatur Garden Club at Waterworks Park 
    • September 2. "The garden division of the Decatur Woman's Club meets Tuesday at 3 o'clock at the waterworks parks...."
  • 1937 Wiener roast at Waterworks
    • October 16. "A group of Girls' High school students were hostesses at a wiener roast given at the Decatur waterworks last evening and were sponsored by Miss E. Wellington, Girls' High teacher."
  • 1938 Waterworks WPA funding
    • August 25. "Authorization for expenditure of $408,866.50 to consummate a Works Progress Administration program involving 18 projects in Georgia was announced yesterday....Projects approved included ... improvements to the waterworks system at Decatur...."
  • 1938 Wiener roast at Waterworks
    • September 17. "Gamma Phi Delta sorority will honor its rushees at a series of functions this weekend. A scavenger hunt was held... last evening. Later in the evening there was a wiener roast at the Decatur waterworks."