Where did the early settlers of Big Fork come from before moving to Arkansas? After 1820, a large westward expansion brought settlers to Arkansas. The Ouachita Mountains attracted many people from Northern Georgia. Land in western Arkansas was fairly easy to obtain. Sometimes a settler didn't have to pay taxes for five years on land he bought so that was an incentive.
Before moving to Arkansas, many of the Big Fork families lived in Georgia in the counties of Lumpkin, Habersham, White, Hall, Gilmer, Fannin, Cobb, Cass and Cherokee. When the Goss family first moved to Georgia about 1810, they settled in what was then Cherokee land in the north. They lived in what later became, in 1818, Hall and Habersham Counties. Other families such as the Dilbecks, Edwards, Turners, and Walkers came to Georgia probably sometime between 1819 and 1825. The Dilbecks lived in Gilmer Co. where they knew the Benjamin Goss family and the Turner family by at least 1834. The Bates family moved to Georgia into Cherokee Co. in 1834. The Abernathy family moved to Cass Co. (Bartow Co. today) by 1844.
Other Big Fork people from Georgia included the Head, Cox, Jeffery, Stover, Standridge, Bowen, Garmon, Putman, O'Barr, Smith, Rider, Vandevier, Abair. Shedd. Wehunt, Crawford, Fowler, Hendrix, Ellison, Fountain, Masters and Hooper families, and more. Most, if not all, of these people lived in more than one county of the northern part. Several of these families knew each other in Georgia before moving to Big Fork.
I received a letter from a Dilbeck relative in Dawson Co., Georgia. In her research, she said she found five Dilbecks that came to Georgia about the same time. One of these,David Dilbeck, father of John W. Dilbeck of Big Fork, born about 1788 in South Carolina, had land that was located near Amicalola Falls, located in what is now Dawson Co. but was once part of Gilmer Co. This beautiful falls is 729 feet and located in the Amicalola Falls State Park.
The Bates family moved to Georgia in 1834 and settled in Cherokee County, just west of Lumpkin Co. and south of Gilmer Co. Stephen Bates bought a farm here in 1835. Here they eventually met the Edwards, Ellisons, and Walkers. They also knew the Abernathy family who lived just over the line in Cass Co.
Some early families of Big Fork also came from Tennessee. Here are a few surnames of these: Cabler, Gann, Heath, Cheny Huddleston, Scott, North, Dempsey and more. A few other families came from Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina, and Mississippi. And some came from the north, such as the Fried family from Indiana. In the 1880 census, there was a William Baker, born in Ohio; a William Hosler, in the 1860 census, was born in England and had the occupation of miller. This is all just a small sample of the people who once lived in or near Big Fork and where they came from.
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