The White County Courthouse is located at 59 South Main Street, Cleveland, GA 30528; phone: 7060865-2235.
The Cherokee Indians are considered to be the first inhabitants of the area known today as White County, Georgia. However, one source indicates that the Creek Indians relinquished the Helen/Robertstown/Nacoochee Valley area to the Cherokee Indians. Many of the Indian names still remain today. The Town Creek section of the County was named "Tesnatee" (meaning "Wild Turkey") by the Cherokee Indians. "Yonah" was an Indian word that means "bear." The "Chattahoochee River" was an Indian name that means "river of painted rocks." Nacoochee Valley was a prominent Cherokee Indian settlement. Indians were forcibly removed from the region around 1836. Claims have been made that Spaniards of the DeSoto expedition visited Nacoochee during May, 1540. However, these claims are basically unsubstantiated and disputed by consulted historical references.
Carolinians reportedly explored the area even before the founding of the Georgia Colony in 1733. However, the first Whites that settled in the area were sixty-one families, who originally came from Burke County and Rutherford County, North Carolina in 1822 or 1823 to Nacoochee Valley. These families spread across the County and their trades included carpentry, blacksmithing, masonry, farming, and preaching. The State of Georgia acquired the Nacoochee. Sautee and Helen areas in the Treaty of 1819 with the Cherokee Indians and used a "land lottery" to distribute the land and to hasten development. Present day White County was originally a part of the fourth land lottery in Georgia.
White County was originally a part of Habersham County, which was the fifty-eighth County and which was organized in 1818. At the time of Habersham County's creation, it contained today's Stephens and White Counties. White County was a part of Habersham County for thirty-nine years until its official creation on December 22,1857. The new County was named in honor of Col. White, a Georgia General Assembly member who achieved reconsideration and then approval of the incorporation bill at the same session it was introduced by William B. Shelton and failed. The County Seat, which prior to White County was known as Mt. Yonah, was named "Cleveland" in honor of General Benjamin Cleveland, a General of the Militia, State Representative, and State Senator of Habersham County.
The Town Creek section of White County was settled earlier than 1822 by the Oxford and Owensby families in the area of Tesnatee. The Tesnatee Baptist Church is located in that early settled section of the County.
In 1828, the finding of gold in the area of Dukes Creek provided the impetus for rapid growth in population. Prospectors from North Carolina moved to the County and soon made other gold discoveries on the Chattahoochee River, Bean Creek and in the Loudsville Community.