History of Snellville
Snellville was named after Thomas Snell, an English immigrant from London who joined his two friends, James and Charles Sawyer, in Georgia. Thomas and James settled near a small farming community named New London and opened up a general store. The area surrounding New London consisted of a large and thick old growth chestnut-oak-hickory forest that was previously inhabited by Cherokee Indians. Snell and Sawyer’s Store became quite prosperous because local farmers could buy the essential goods they needed there instead of having to travel by wagon through the forest to Lawrenceville or Loganville.
Nobody seems to know when New London became Snellville but Snell and Sawyer’s Store certainly encouraged the idea by placing advertisements that listed them as being located in Snellville. Thomas Snell himself may have solidified the idea into reality when he opened Snellville’s first post office in 1885 and then served as the Snellville Postmaster. As new commerce began to develop around Snellville and more people built homes in the area, several churches were built to serve the small community. The Methodist Church and First Baptist Church were among the first to be built, followed by Mt. Zion Baptist Church and Raymond Hill Baptist Church. All four of these churches are still in existence in their original structures. Altogether, there are 14 churches in Snellville.
On August 20, 1923, the City of Snellville officially incorporated after receiving its charter from the State of Georgia. Snellville’s first mayor was Thomas Snell’s nephew, Gladston Snell. In the late 1920’s, Snellville’s city charter became inactive and it remained dormant for 12 years until it was reorganized in 1940. After one more period of charter dormancy during the 1940’s, Arthur Stancil became Mayor and helped to formalize a framework for the current city charter. Growth in Snellville remained slow until the 1960’s, when the development of homeowners associations created a haven for an influx of affluent working people from Atlanta who desired to live in a more rural area. Today, Snellville is a thriving community of people who work in Snellville or one of the nearby towns, or commute to Atlanta.