Rabun County, Georgia Genealogy
- 1 County Courthouse
- 2 History
- 3 Places/Localities
- 4 Resources
- 5 Societies and Libraries
- 6 Web Sites
- 7 References
1819--Rabun County was created 21 December 1819 from Cherokee Indian lands. County seat: Clayton 
Rabun County has not had any boundary changes but when researching this county for ancestors you might consider the following. Rabun in located where South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia meet. The geography of the Eastern part of the county is such that many times its residants went to North or South Carolina to conduct business. Records can be found in all three states. When Rabun County was settled, many of the new residants merely crossed the river from South Carolina to the new county and state. They would go back across the river to visit family members and friends. The town in South Carolina was closer than the town in Georgia to purchase supplies. When the Civil War started many men from Rabun County enlisted in South Carolina with their relatives. The geography of the area rather than lines drawn for states determined where events took place and where records were kept.
Rabun County is located in the Northeastern corner of Georgia. It is a mountain community and very rural. Its towns are small and friendly. The mountains are covered with forests, there are rivers and streams, and several lakes.
- Clay County, North Carolina
- Habersham County, Georgia
- Jackson County, North Carolina
- Macon County, North Carolina
- Oconee County, South Carolina
- Towns County, South Carolina
There are many family and small church cemeteries in Rabun County. The Historical Society has tried to find all cemeteries in the county and has a record of the graves in each cemetery.
In 1997 and 1998, Bill and Elaine English visited many of the burial grounds in Rabun County and placed surveys online through the USGenWeb Archives for Rabun County (http://www.usgwarchives.net/ga/rabun/cemetery.html). Since then, other researchers have contributed information for other cemeteries.
Land records in Rabun County are incomplete. Many of the land transactions were not recorded at the county seat. Land was traded between family members and neighbors for generations without official records being kept. In 1911, Congress passed the Weeks Law which authorized the purchase of timbered land on a large scale. Some of this land was located in Rabun County, Georgia. Officials were sent into Rabun County in 1912 to start purchasing land. Proposals of sale were secured and surveyors were sent to locate lands on which options had been secured. Their reports were turned over to title examiners who had to pass on the deeds before the lands could be purchased. The titles to most of the lands were so poor that proceedings of condemnation were taken before the Federal Court before good titles could be obtained. A Federal Court was established in Clayton for that purpose.
The condemnation process required that an attempt be made to locate all parties who might have an interest in or claim to the land in question. Advertisements were placed in the local paper listing the descendants of the last clear land owner in order to find anyone who might have claim to the land. Sometimes this was the first land owner when the county was created. Therefore every known descendant was listed down to the time the land was condemed. Over 6,000 names arranged in up to six generations of family genealogies are listed in these court cases. The data this process produced in invaluable to the researcher. Information was accumulated that has not been found in any other records to date. Both the maiden and married names of many female family members can be found. The addresses of those who had moved away also offer possible migration locations for family members. The exact method by which the names were compiled is not known. It is likely they were acquired in many ways, including deeds, newspaper advertisements, personal interviews, and other public records available at the time.
The original court case files are located at the National Archives, East Point, Georgia. The original land acqusition files are located at the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest Office, Gainesville, Georgia. These groups of records have not been organized or microfilmed. In 2001, Susan Lewis Koyle published Genealogy Extracted from Forest Service Court Cases in Rabun County, Georgia that gives the genealogies in many of these cases and has a name index. This book is located in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. It is available for purchase through Heritage Books, Inc.
Sketches of Rabun County History by Andrew Jackson Ritchie. Located in Family History Library in Salt Lake.
Rabun County Georgia and its people, vol. 1 & 2 , 1992.
A Pictorial History of Rabun County by Cuba and Archie McKay, 2003.
Marriages were first recorded in Rabun County in 1820, and are maintained by the Probate Court at the Courthouse in Clayton.
The first five marriage books have been microfilmed. Digitized versions of the microfilm copies of those volumes is available online, for free, through Georgia's Virtual Vault in the "Marriage Records from Microfilm" database.
The first three marriage books, covering the years 1820 - 1884, have been transcribed and placed freely online through the Rabun Co., GAGenWeb Archives. Some of the names were transcribed incorrectly, and so the original records should always be referenced. A book-length compilation of Rabun County's marriage records, as transcribed from official marriage records held by the Probate Court, for the years 1820 through the 1940s, is now underway.
The Georgia Department of Archives and History holds original marriage licenses for the years 1896 to 1920.
There are also for-pay resources available, including:
- 1885-1886 Marriages from Newspapers Georgia Pioneers ($)
Many men in Rabun County joined units in South and North Carolina.
- Ledford, Karen Ann Thompson. These Men Wore Grey Genealogical, Military, and Interment Records of Confederate Soldiers. (Toccoa, Georgia : K.T. Ledford, c1998-c2001), 7 Volumes. Each volume contains bibliographical references and full-name index. Contents: v. 1. Franklin County -- v. 2. Habersham County --v. 3. Stephens County -- v. 4. Rabun County --v. 5. White County -- v. 6. Banks County -- v. 7. Jackson County. Book found at FHL 975.8 V3L and Other Libraries.
Early newspapers published in Rabun County, or for the benefit of its citizens:
- The Clayton Argus, published in 1894 by R. E. A. Hamby.
- The Tallulah Falls Spray, published from 1896 to 1898 by J. B. Young and Walter Hunnicutt. In early 1898, Mr. Hunnicutt turned the paper over to T. A. Robinson.
- The Clayton Tribune, first published in January 1898 by J. A. Reynolds.
- The Clayton Telegraph, published in 1898 by A. B. Sams.
- Echoes from Tallulah Falls, published in 1899 and possibly into 1900 by Walter Hunnicutt and William Berrie.
Of those periodicals, there are few extant issues. Only two issues survive for the Argus, and those are available on microfilm through the University of Georgia's newspaper project. A good portion of issues are extant for the Spray from 1897 and into the early part of 1898, but only one issue has been microfilmed; the remainder are available as a bound volume from the Rabun County Historical Society. Issues of the Tribune are available from 1899 (the first half of the year through the Historical Society, and the last on microfilm, although not all issues for that year are extant), 1902, 1903, and 1905. No issues are known to survive for either Echoes or the Telegraph. L. P. Cross' article on early newspapers as published in Sketches of Rabun County History by Ritchie contains some errors which have been corrected here by verification through the newspapers themselves.
A compilation of Rabun County's early newspapers was published in May 2012, Rabun County, Georgia, Newspapers, 1894 - 1899, covering extant issues of newspapers published in Rabun County during that time period.
There are many free resources available online to assist researchers in finding estate records for their ancestors, including:
- Testator Index: Minutes 1826 - 1839
- Testator Index: Wills, Inventories and Appraisements, 1838 - 1859
- Testator and Guardianship Index: Official Bonds, 1849 - 1866
- Testator Index: Minutes, Inventory & Appraisement, 1850 - 1860
- Testator Index: Minutes of the Ordinary, 1860 - 1868
- Testator Index: Will Book B, 1862 - 1888
- Testator Index: Records of Letters of Administration and Guardianship & Wills, 1870 - 1888
- Testator Index: Administrators, Estates, Guardians & Trustees, Wills, 1878
- Testator Index: Will Book C, 1881 - 1929
- Testator Index: Will Book D, 1932 - 1959
- Wills, 1857-1867 (digital images). Se list of testators. Georgia Pioneers
- Index to Wills 1857-1867 Georgia Pioneers ($)
- Index to Wils 1863-1888 Georgia Pioneers ($)
- Index to Wills 1885-1930 Georgia Pioneers ($)
- Index to Letters of Administration, Guardianships, Wills, 1891-1900 Georgia Pioneers ($)
- Index to Administrators Bonds, Guardians Bonds, 1869-1912 Georgia Pioneers ($)
Extant tax records for Rabun County begin in 1836, but are largely incomplete until about 1872. The Georgia Department of Archives and History houses tax digests (or copies of) from that year up until the 1960s. More modern tax records may be found at the Tax Assessor's office in Clayton. The Rabun County Historical Society also has various tax digests, including two volumes from the 1930s and 1960s respectively.
The 1836 tax digest is held at the Georgia Department of Archives and History. The 1861 and 1862 tax digests are located in the Probate Court at the county courthouse in Clayton. The Probate Court also has road tax records from 1909 through about 1919.
An index to the 1836 tax digest for Rabun County is located online: http://www.usgennet.org/usa/region/southeast/garabun/tax/1836.html
An abstract of the 1861 tax digest for Rabun County is located online: http://www.usgennet.org/usa/region/southeast/garabun/tax/1861.html
A transcription of the 1909 road tax record for Rabun County is located online: http://www.usgennet.org/usa/region/southeast/garabun/tax/1909.html
Societies and Libraries
Rabun County Historical Society. Mailing Address: PO Box 921, Clayton, Georgia 30525. Street Address: 81 N. Church Street, Clayton, Georgia 30525.
Family History Centers
- USGenWeb project. May have maps, name indexes, history or other information for this county. Select the state, then the county.
- Rabun Co., GAGenWeb
- Family History Library Catalog
- Rabun County, Georgia Genealogy and Family History (Linkpendium)
- Georgia Pioneers Georgia Pioneers ($)
- The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).