I am curious to know more about the influx of population to Wise County in the 1880s and 1890s. My understanding is that the county's population increased rapidly in the 1880s and continued to grow, even through the depression of the 1890s.
The elaborate 1896 courthouse suggests that the county's leaders had a grand vision for the region--although the voters certainly disagreed--even in the middle of the depression. (Before the 1930's, the term "Great Depression" referred to the period from 1893 to 1899).
My THOMAS cousins arrived rather late, between 1895 and 1898, but seemed to do alright--probably better than some who stayed behind in Georgia. I've noticed other families came to Wise County from the northern counties of Georgia and Alabama during that period, as well. Economic conditions in Southern Appalachia were certainly an incentive to leave, but I'm wondering why they happened to choose Wise County as their destination.
What were the factors that attracted settlers to Wise County in the 1880s and '90s? Was it simply cheap land?
Then, why did the population decline after 1900? Did the next generation leave to seek employment in the cities or was it something else? Interestingly, the population remained relatively steady during the 1930s, suggesting that Wise County was less affected by the Dust Bowl than places farther west.