The first Lookout Mountain settlers arrived shortly after the Cherokee Indian removal of 1838-1839. These pioneers had been too late for homesteading the good farmland in northwest Georgia. They now turned their attention to Lookout Mountain. With stubborn determination, they hacked their way through the mountain wilderness. They chopped logs and built primitive houses, cleared land for patch farming, and hunted the abundant wildlife for food. Among these early settlers where the families of Force, O'Rear, Crow, Jones, Smith, and Hammit. For years, not much changed in their lives. Times were hard. During the Civil War Federal troops were on the mountain. They dealt severely with settlers taking their animals and meager stores of food. Still these hearty souls managed to survive and remain on their homesteads.
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In the post Civil War era, more affluent settlers arrived. Among these was the Mason family from Bellefountain, Iowa. They were great community workers and generous with their resources. John Mason and his son Edward were the founders of Mentone. John was instrumental in the opening of the Vernon Gap and the new road from Valley Head to Menlo, Georgia in 1882. John and Edward bought the hardware for the covered bridge and the community did the work. Edward gave money for a church and a school. Moon Lake was the center of community activities. Alice, daughter of John, named the town Mentone and gave the land for Bankhead Cemetery. Mentone eventually became incorporated in 1936. Those opposed to incorporation feared the imposition of higher taxes and losing their independence. The threat of becoming part of nearby towns convinced a majority to support incorporation. Despite great progress in Mentone since its founding, the advice of John Mason still has a ring of truth. "Don't come here expecting to make a fortune, but if your fortune is made, Mentone offers the good life." Ernest Smith