Originally occupied by Native American Indians, the Creek and Cherokee shared a great border, known as “The Great Indian Road”. Today that road is “Hightower Trail” and was used by white settlers after the American Revolution. John Holcomb was a blacksmith and the first settler in what is now known as Conyers.
With the growing interest as a trade route from Atlanta (then Marthasville) to Augusta, the railroad pressured John Holcomb to sell his land. He refused but was then persuaded by Dr. D.W. Conyers, who purchased his land for $700 and flipped it to the railroad. Thus, the town began as a watering post along the rail line. By 1854, Conyers was fully incorporated with nearly 400 residents.
In the late 1800s, this was a wild town with twelve saloons and five brothels. But there was also a reputable side of the town where one found established businesses, Conyers College, and good schools. As history goes, it is said the many churches in the area persuaded the brothels to move to Covington. This paved the way for growth in the downtown area.
In the 1950s, a Coca-Cola Bottling facility and Lithonia Lighting were some of the big players that moved into the area. Today, many industries support the economy. Those industries include Pratt Industries, Golden State Foods, Hill Phoenix, AT&T, Dart Inc., LioChem Inc., and more. There are also numerous small businesses and major retail stores such as Home Depot, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Belk, Target, and Walmart. Rockdale Medical Center and the public school system are also large employers in the area.
Historically, Conyers has been influenced by its churches. Many of these churches still provide services today, including the First United Methodist, First Presbyterian, First Baptist, Springfield Baptist, and more. In 1944, the Monastery of the Holy Spirit was established south of the city by Dom Frederic Dunne. And in the 1980s and 1990s, the area became a pilgrimage for many who came to visit Nancy Fowler, who claimed to have apparitions of the Virgin Mary.
The area has a history of horse ranches and was put into the spotlight again after providing a venue, the Georgia International Horse Park (GIHP), for the equestrian and mountain biking games during the 1996 Olympic Games. Since then, the GIHP continues to provide multi-use facilities hosting events that bring people from all around the world. There have been public events such as horse shows, festivals, dog shows, mountain biking races, obstacle and trail races, alpaca shows, and concerts.
Much of the history of Conyers is still visible and accessible to the public. There is the old jail near the courthouse and the black box theater in Olde Town. There is the Costley Mill for gatherings and events. And more history is being made as residents continue to find ways to live, work, and play in their own community.