Neighborhood History

To truly appreciate where we live it is important know of its history. With help from Mr. Walter McCurdy and the DeKalb Historical Society, I investigated some history surrounding our neighborhood, Glenwood Estates. Due to a fire in 1842, which destroyed the courthouse, all land records were destroyed. Consequently there are more questions than answers about the earliest land ownership in the county.

The Creek Indians in the Indian Springs Treaty of 1821 ceded the lands that now are DeKalb County to the State of Georgia. The original DeKalb County was formed from Fayette to Henry Counties in 1822. DeKalb was divided into approximately 875 land lots, each containing 202.5 acres which were distributed via the Fourth Land Lottery. In 1853 DeKalb County was divided into two parts, the western portion becoming Fulton County.

Land Lot 247 of the 15th district encompasses our neighborhood including as far south as Sycamore Street, and as far North as Forkner. Tullie Choice, a former senator in the State of Georgia, is the first recorded owner of Land Lot 247 but faced a legal situation and the lot was sold 1842 in a Sheriff Foreclosure to Mr. Wooley. Wooley quickly turned around and sold it to John T. King, who then in 1847 sold the western portion of land lot 247 to Mr. Little and Mr. Adams. Mr. Little and Adams also bought parts of the land lots adjoining land lot 247, including parts of Land Lot 7, 8, & 49 of the 18th district. The lot exceeded 500 acres and extended from Sycamore up towards the North DeKalb Mall and the Hospital Area. They paid ten dollars an acre the highest recorded value paid for an acre up to that time.

The records then become unclear, but it seems that the Georgia Railroad Banking Company owned the western portion of Land Lot 247 and then later sold it to J.T. Glenn in 1869. It was common after the civil war for Northern Land Speculators, often referred to as carpetbaggers, to purchase land in the South at low prices due poverty in South resulting from devaluation of Confederate money.

Mr. Glenn's family were mostly from New York. He owned a residence in Fulton and later built a house on Sycamore. Mr. Glenn started developing his land early 1870s when he sold lots on Sycamore and Ponce de Leon. The Glenn/Pierce house at 174 Sycamore was built in 1874 and descendents of J.T. Glenn lived there as late as the 1980s. In an old map from the 1870, the area the neighborhood resides was labled Glenn's Woods. In 1909 the land was passed onto his children. In 1913 Glenn Estates sold a small portion of the land on Ponce de Leon to the City of Decatur for the Glenwood School built in 1914. This is the first recorded use of the word Glenwood.

In 1927, a Georgia, corporation named Glennwood Estates was formed to buy the land from Glennwood Estate the New York corporation and develop the portion south of the creek (Glendale, Pinecrest, Glendale Cir.). Glenwood Estates Corporation was composed of land developers CE Patillo, C.G. McGay, F.O. Watkins, and F.H. Roberts. By 1939 most of the original development was completed so they began building on the area north of the creek (Forkner and Mount Vernon). Interestingly, the original development contained a restrictive convenant that preserved the north side of the creek as forest but the pressure to develop it prevailed. However, many of the original trees on the lots were preserved, especially along the creek, contributing to the amazing canopy we currently enjoy. It remains a possibility that the trees bordering the creek have never been cut, which would classify it as a very rare virgin forest. The north portion sold slowly due to its inauspicious debut during WWII, however soon after the war this section was quickly completed.

Mr. Walter McCurdy and his cousin Ann Hughs were able to give me some interesting background about life in the neighborhood in the early 1930s and 40s. Their fathers, Julius and Walter, moved into the neighborhood in 1939 at 124 Pinecrest and 119 Glendale Circle. Mr. McCurdy (Walter) bought his house for $5700. As a young boy Walter Jr. used to have football games with other boys of the neighborhood on what is now Mount Vernon. Later when this area was developed, the boys from the south side of the creek would challenge those from the north side of the creek at the newly developed Glenlake Park. It turns out that the name of Glenlake came at the suggestion of Walter's father who thought the name should combine the names of the two neighborhoods it bordered. Glenwood and Great Lakes, hence Glenlake.

Mr. McCurdy also recalls an area of the neighborhood east of the lots on Glencircle that was commonly known as Dog Patch. The people living in this section were very poor and there was no electricity, floors, or running water.

Two interesting landmarks exist within land lot 247 on Forkner and Pinecrest. During the early 1900s, Forkner was actually Candler airfield and you will notice that pine trees planted on the former airfield land dominate this street. Pinecrest resides smack on top of Morse Hill which resided on the western portion of Land Lot 247 and was often referred to in the earlier deeds indicating land due east of Decatur.

This is just a small portion of the history of our neighborhood. There are many neighbors that lived here from the beginning and I hope to encourage a project with the Glenwood School to produce a more lengthy study of our wonderful neighborhood and neighbors.

By Neil Norton

Please consider joining the DeKalb Historical Society by calling them at 404-373-1088 or email at dhs@dekalbhistory.org. A $30 family membership entitles to you a quarterly newsletter and invitation to many interesting presentations.