Following the Revolutionary War, what is now Bartow was known as Wood's Fort. It was named for a log fortification built by Solomon Wood against attacks from the Creek Nation. The land on which Wood settled was partial payment for his services as commander of all Georgia troops who fought in the Revolutionary War. The fort featured a bell, which was used to signal danger.
In 1860, residents changed the town's name to Bartow to honor Savannah native Francis Bartow, who died during the Civil War's First Battle of Manassas. The town was a constant source of supplies for the Confederate soldiers until the arrival of General William Tecumseh Sherman's troops, who swept through the area on their mission to destroy crops, houses, and rail lines between Atlanta and Savannah.
Following the Civil War, locals repaired the town's bridges and rails, and Bartow truly began to grow. For a time, the growth centered on the south side of Williamson Swamp Creek. Stores, offices for a dentist and a doctor, and the first churches built there. But, the importance of the railroad stop served as a magnet to draw people to the north side of the creek. By 1920 Bartow owned its own electric power plant and had a fine school, an opera house for concerts and silent movies, a hotel, an indoor roller skating rink, and three department stores. Business was so good that the depot at Stop Number 11 became the major freight stop between Macon and Savannah.