Waleska, Georgia

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Waleska is a city in Cherokee County, Georgia, United States. The population was 616 at the 2000 census.



The first white settlement in the Waleska area began in the early 1830s. Among these first pioneer settlers were the Reinhardt, Heard and Rhyne families, who moved into the region looking for fresh, fertile farm land. At first, these settlers lived among the Cherokee population already established in the area, but by 1838 all of the Cherokee had been forced westward to Oklahoma in the U.S. Government relocation movement known as the Trail of Tears.

Early settler Lewis W. Reinhardt established a church in 1834 in the settlement known as Reinhardt Chapel and befriended many of the native Cherokee population. When the Trail of Tears forced the movement of Warluskee, the daughter of a local Cherokee Chief and friend of Reinhardt’s, westward, he named this settlement in her honor.

By the early 1850s, the Sharp family had moved into the area from Walhalla, South Carolina. In 1856, John J. A. Sharp and his brother, White Sharp, opened a store, cotton gin and tobacco factory in Waleska. A post office was soon added to their store, officially putting "Walesca," as it was known originally, on the map. This spelling, however, was subsequently changed to the current “Waleska” in order to prevent confusion with another town that was already established at the time.

In 1883, son of Waleska founder, former Civil War Captain and Atlanta lawyer Augustus M. Reinhardt, along with his brother-in-law, former Civil War Lieutenant-Colonel John J. A. Sharp, founded Reinhardt Academy in Waleska for the impoverished children of Cherokee County. This school eventually became Reinhardt University.

Even though Waleska had been settled by white pioneers and farmers for well over 50 years, it wasn’t until 1889 that the city was officially incorporated by the State of Georgia

While industry in Waleska’s past has included tobacco farming, manufacturing, some mineral development, lumbering and agriculture, which are both still active in the area, the chief “industry” of the town is and has always been Reinhardt University. Waleska has become almost exclusively known as a college town.



Waleska is located at 34°19′5″N 84°33′11″W / 34.31806°N 84.55306°W / 34.31806; -84.55306 (34.317968, -84.552951)[5].

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