Rabun County, Georgia Genealogy

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Template:Georgia-stub United States  > Georgia > Rabun County

County Courthouse


Parent County

1819--Rabun County was created 21 December 1819 from Cherokee Indian lands. County seat: Clayton [1]

Boundary Changes

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.  It's towns are small and friendly. The mountains are covered with forests, there are rivers and streams, and several lakes.


Populated Places

Neighboring Counties



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. There is a book that was published in 2001 that gives the genealogies in many of these cases and has a name index, "Genealogy Extracted from Forest Service Court Cases in Rabun County, Georgia", by Susan Lewis Koyle.  This book is located in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

Local Histories

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.



Civil War - 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.

Dawn Watson has transcribed the surviving pre-1900 issues of these early newspapers and plans to publish them in a volume to be called Rabun County, Georgia, Newspapers, 1894 - 1899, which is expected to be released by spring 2012.



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

Vital Records

Societies and Libraries 

Rabun County Historical Society

Mailing Address:

PO Box 921

Clayton, Georgia 30525

Street Address:

81 N. Church Street

Clayton, Georgia 30525

Web Sites


  1. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).