Robert Young
Robert YOUNG
1760 - 1854

Trailblazer of the Peach Tree Trail

"Though most people are unaware of it today, the grid work of streets and
highways of Atlanta owe their existence to a simple pioneer who staved off
Indian attacks to map out the first trail to Fort Peachtree.

The community of Flowery Branch in Hall County, located between Gainesville and Buford, was described as a very pretty town in an early Gainesville city directory.  It was first incorporated in September of 1874, but was home to the Cherokee Indians centuries before this.  Approximately two miles from this spot - while the Cherokees still resided in the area - a family by the name of Young settled and built a home.  Indeed, Robert Young carved not only a home from the north Georgia wilderness, but also a large spot for himself in the history of our state.  Young was the son of Stephen and Diana Tucker Young.  He and his brother, John, came to Georgia at the time the state, through treaties, was rapidly acquiring land from the Indians.  Robert was married in Franklin County, Georgia, to Celia Strickland, daughter of Jacob and Priscilla Strickland.  The Youngs became the parents of thirteen children.  On his 1,600 acres of land, Robert built a large two-story log home which had twelve rooms.  The chimney, pillars, and flagstone walks were made of sandstone, cut from a quarry on the farm.  The imposing structure shortly became known as "Youngs Tavern" and was frequented by visitors ranging from penniless pioneers to future president of the nation.  Today across the road from Young's Tavern (which today has long since vanished) the family cemetery survives.  It is located on the Atlanta Highway - also called Peachtree Road - a very significant circumstance which I will explain shortly.  Robert and his wife, "Selah" (Celia), his mother, Diana (who died at the age of 108), and other family members are interred there.  A few years ago, I corresponded with Atlanta historian Franklin Garrett, and learned that for many years, he had been recording headstones in burial plots within a 25-mile radius of Atlanta.  Mr. Garrett had, however, made an exception with the Young cemetery, visiting and recording its information because it was so historic.  Not far from the cemetery and Young's Tavern, a stockade - Fort Daniel - had been erected in 1813 for the protection of settlers from Indian uprisings.  It was located at Hog Mountain and was defended by troops of the 25th Regiment, Georgia Militia, along with a number of volunteer soldiers.  As a result of its proximity to this fort and its accommodations, Young's Tavern was a place where travelers frequently stopped for lodging.  According to folklore, Gen. Andrew Jackson and his staff lodged at the tavern at least on two occasions - once when the famed Indian fighter's troops were marching to Fort Early in South Georgia on the old Federal Road to quell an Indian uprising there.  On another occasion, Jackson was on his way to South Carolina to meet with President James Monroe to confer with him about the Monroe Doctrine.  While enroute to this meeting, Gen. Jackson again overnighted at Young's Tavern, and upon his departure the following morning - as the story goes - he offered to pay for his lodging.  Robert Young reportedly declined to accept any payment, and Gen. Jackson, in appreciation, presented his gracious host with a silver snuff box.  The keepsake reportedly has been handed down through the years, and is still in the possession of Young family members today.  Because of its location near Fort Daniel, and the subsequent guests it attracted, Young's Tavern represented a significant portion of the historic nature of the Young family.  It, however, by no means was the most important aspect.  Long before it was Atlanta, there was a Standing Peachtree locality where another fort had been built for protection against Indian uprisings.  The structure - aptly named Fort Peachtree - earned its moniker from a large peach tree at the site.  The fort (a reproduction of which has been rebuilt at the site today) occupied the crest of a commanding eminence northeast of the confluence of the Chattahooche River and Peachtree Creek.  Quite naturally, a road was needed to connect Standing Peachtree with Fort Daniel at Hog Mountain.  Three citizens, all of whom were stock raisers and familiar with the country, were employed to mark out and construct the route.  These three people were Robert Young of Young's Tavern, and William Nesbit and Isham Williams of Gwinnet County.  The road builders proceeded with their task, according to Franklin Garrett in his now popular book Atlanta and Environs, by making a trail leading from the white settlement at Hog Mountain to the site of what is known today as Buckhead.  The route they identified was originally Peachtree Road, a thoroughfare which, as most Georgians know, is quite well-known today.  According to accounts of the task, Augustin Young, son of Robert, and Hiram Williams, another lad, drove a cart.  Robert Young and Isham Williams generally served as supervisors of the project and as armed pickets, constantly on the lookout for raiding Indians.   According to Garrett, '"Robert Young was described as a character whose like is seldom seen, and whose like will seldom be seen again...He had no book knowledge except the great book of nature...He was true to his word and his integrity was never questioned. He always wore his hair tied up in a queue, which he prized most highly, and of which he was proud to the day of his death."'  In 1937, as a result of the historic nature of his life-long accomplishments, the Georgia Historical Commission placed a plaque at the former site of Young's Tavern.  It reads: '"Jackson at Young's Tavern...Andrew Jackson, his staff and two companies of militia, spent a night on their way to the Seminole Campaign in 1818.  General Jackson followed the road through Monticello and Hawkinsville, while the main body of troops went to South Georgia by way of Alabama.  This was on the Federal Road, first vehicular way in Northwest Georgia, opened in 1805..."'  Even earlier than the above plaque, however - and unknown to many Georgians today - another more significant plaque was placed at another historic landmark.  In 1935, the Joseph Habersham Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) of Atlanta, placed a bronze tablet upon the front of the old Sears-Roebuck building on Ponce de Leon Avenue in Atlanta.  As many fans of the old semi-pro Atlanta '"Crackers"' baseball team well remember, it was (and still is today) across the street from Old Ponce de Leon Ball Park.  The plaque read: '"This tablet commemorates the spot formerly Ponce de Leon Spring where Robert Young, a Revolutionary Soldier of Cherokee, now Hall County first traded with the Creek Indians and built the Peachtree Trail from Atlanta to Flowers Branch."'  If Robert Young could only witness today the results of his road-building efforts, he undoubtedly would be unable to believe what he has wrought.  For from his efforts, and with the help of others, the voluminous criss-crossing streets of Atlanta have grown to their current massive proportions today."

Source: "North Georgia Journal Winter 1994," by Sybil McRay (emphasis mine)

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