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The first European settlers began moving into the area that is now De Kalb County in the early 1820s.

A majority of the early settlers were farmers or skilled tradesmen of English, Scottish, and Irish ancestry.

These neighborhoods offered residents larger lots with the houses set farther back from the street, as well as spaces for a garage and driveway.

In these new suburbs, the focus of family activities changed from the front-porch society of the nineteenth-century to residences oriented toward private back yards, large enough for gardening, gathering, and play.

It was in this established wealthy neighborhood in 1889 that the Decatur Female Academy was founded.

As with most cities, the commercial and residential development of Decatur grew outward from the city commercial center.During the mid- to late-1880s, in addition to providing legal and administrative services to the county government, the city also began to provide goods and services to the public, becoming the commercial center for De Kalb County.Small businesses, commercial, and retail enterprises began to be established in buildings mostly clustered around the Square.Remaining in this area today are the historic neighborhoods of Mc Donough-Adams-Kings Highway, Agnes Scott College, and South Candler.Though the railroad lines had a minimal effect on Decatur’s early development, the trolleys and later, the automobile, had dramatic impacts on residential growth patterns.

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