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For north Georgian farmers in 1870, the cost of traveling over rough paths from farm to market by mule and wagon was prohibitive. Local farm households produced most of their own food, clothing and other essential needs. When the railroads were built, the cost of transporting goods fell sharply. Local farmers shifted from subsistence farming to cash crop production, sold their crops in Gainesville, and bought inexpensive goods at local stores. Many poor farmers abandoned rural life, moving their families to Gainesville where better paying jobs were available in shops and factories. As the automobile replaced the railroad, automobile owners moved out of central Gainesville to homes in the suburbs and drove their cars from home to store or work place.

 

Mule and Wagon To Automobile explores 150 years of transportation and social change in Hall County and the city of Gainesville. Why were European settlers able to displace the original Cherokee inhabitants in north Georgia? Why did Hall County farmers shift from subsistence to cash crop agriculture after 1880? Why did Gainesville grow from a small town in 1870 to substantial city in 1910? Why do farm families have more children than city dwellers? How did Gainesville’s population react to the 1964 Civil Rights Act?

 

All these and more revealed in this impressive compendium of the late 1800s written by Thomas H. Rasmussen.