Dunwoody was once considered to include the area where the city of Dunwoody is today, which is in DeKalb County, and the area between Dunwoody Club Drive and the Chattahoochee River, which is in Fulton County. Many who live in this corridor still think of themselves to be part of Dunwoody, although officially their property is part of Sandy Springs.
Prior to 1822, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs were part of Henry County. With the 1821 Land Lottery, many new settlers were moving in and a new county seemed crucial. An act of the General Assembly directed that the new DeKalb County be formed from parts of Henry County, Gwinnett County and Fayette County. What is now Dunwoody and Sandy Springs became part of DeKalb County.
The western half of Fulton County was formed in 1853; however the strip below the Chattahoochee remained part of DeKalb County. Then, in 1857, the area north of the Chattahoochee River which includes Alpharetta, became Milton County. The area south of the Chattahoochee River which includes land on both sides of Spalding Drive was added to Milton County in 1859. The 1860 census records of families such as the DeLong family, is evidence that they lived in Milton County.
Around 1930, when the Great Depression had taken its toll on Milton County, instead of returning to DeKalb County, this land became part of Fulton County. Dunwoody historian Jim Perkins’ theory is that DeKalb did not particularly want this stretch of wilderness with its rough terrain and a history of floods.
“Fulton County was accustomed to the river, which had always been its western boundary.”
The first county name, Henry, was in honor of Patrick Henry. DeKalb County was named for Baron Johann de Kalb of Germany, who fought valiantly in the Revolutionary War and died in battle at Camden, S.C. Milton County is named for Georgia’s first Secretary of State, John Milton.
Fulton County seems to have two theories for the name. The first theory is that the county is named for Robert Fulton, known for steam powered transportation. However, it is now deemed more likely that the county was named for Hamilton Fulton, surveyor of the Western and Atlantic Railroad.
To review, this portion of what is now Sandy Springs has been a part of Henry County, DeKalb County, Milton County, and now Fulton County. Who wouldn’t want to lay claim to this stretch of rolling hills and beautiful trees bordered by the Chattahoochee River?
Other sources cited include: The Writings of Jim Perkins, by Jim Perkins and compiled by Bill Drury; Atlanta and Environs, by Franklin Garrett.