Tucker’s History Predates the Civil War

In the early 1800s a tall young man from Scotland named Greenville Henderson made his way from the battles of the Indian Wars to his Georgia home. As a reward for his valiant services, the governor of Georgia gave Henderson 3,000 acres of land in what is now known as the Tucker area.

This land, valued at 50 cents an acre, roughly encompassed from east to west the area from Tucker to below Northlake Festival Shopping Center on LaVista Road and north of Henderson Mill Road south to Lawrenceville Highway (U.S. 29). Settling on this tract of land, Henderson operated large apple and peach orchards, corn fields, and a prosperous whiskey and brandy making business. He shipped finished product to Savannah by wagon train in exchange for window glass, salt, sugar, coffee and building brick brought to the Atlantic seaport by boat.

Before the Civil War, Henderson built the historic grist mill on Henderson Mill Creek at the intersection of Midvale Road and Henderson Mill Road. Near the mill was the old frame Henderson Post Office. Mail was brought by horse and buggy from Decatur for people in the Tucker area. The post office was abandoned in 1895 and the mill demolished in 1911. Henderson’s home was on a sloping hillside overlooking the grist mill is now the site of St. Bedes Church.

In 1861, the Civil War swept the countryside. Seven of Henderson’s sons left to fight in the Confederate Army. Two never returned.

On a hot day in 1864 word came to the Tucker area that the Union Army was advancing on the area. The army of Tennessee under the command of Gen. James McPherson decided to come to the Southeast to cut off the Georgia railroad near Stone Mountain where Atlanta would be isolated from the east. The Federals 15th Army Corps under the command of Maj. Gen. John Logan crossed the Chattahoochee River at Roswell and detoured to Browning’s Courthouse in Tucker to give support to Garrard’s Army in the destruction of the railroad. This courthouse was recently moved to the grounds of the Tucker Recreation Center on LaVista Road. Garrard’s soldiers headed toward Stone Mountain long Fellowship Road on July 18, 1864.

Confederate soldiers under the command of Gen. Joseph Wheeler fought hard to stop the march. The Federal troops reached Stone Mountain and destroyed a two-mile section of the Georgia Railroad tracks, several culverts and the water tank. Approximately 150 of the Confederate soldiers who were killed in defending the railroad are buried in a small cemetery near the mountain.

Meanwhile, the mission at Stone Mountain accomplished, Logan’s Federal troops withdrew from Browning’s Courthouse in Tucker to Henderson Mill the evening of July 18 to camp near a water supply. Early the next morning Logan’s troops joined Blair’s Army Corps near Midway Baptist Church (the small church across from Northlake Mall on Henderson Mill Road) and marched toward Decatur to fight in the Battle of Atlanta.

In 1869, four years after the war, Greenville Henderson died. He is buried in a small cemetery off Henderson Mill Road near the intersection of Midvale Road. Buried with him are about 30 relatives including his wife, Nancy, who died in 1892 at the Age of 102.

Growth was steady in the area after 1892 when the Georgia, Carolina and Northern built the railroad through the center of what is now called Tucker. The first business in Tucker was a saloon and horse race track on Fellowship Road. The area had been known as Browning’s District until 1907 when the Seaboard Line Railway acquired the railroad and surveyed the unincorporated town of Tucker and named the town after an Officer of the company, Capt. Tucker.

This information was provided by Mark Henderson and his daughter, Marsha Pittard.

Matthew LeeHistory

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