19th century

August 27, 1893

Georgia Hurricane of 1893

A hurricane with the same destructive force as Katrina hit the Georgia coast on this day in 1893. Known as the “Sea Island Storm,” it killed nearly 2,000 people. The hurricane first hit the coast, passing over Georgia’s Sea Islands, before churning its way north 100 miles with a 16–foot storm surge. The hurricane made […]

August 15, 1864

First Black Soldiers in Combat in Georgia

It was the first time that African-American soldiers fought in the Civil War in Georgia. On this day in 1864, the 14th United States Colored Troops, mostly former slaves, fought off a Confederate cavalry attack near Dalton. Later, the 44th U.S. Colored troops were protecting the railroad through Dalton. Confederate General John Bell Hood attacked, […]

August 16, 1888

John Stith Pemberton

He created the pause that refreshes. John Stith Pemberton was born in Knoxville, Georgia in 1831 and grew up in Rome. In 1850, he graduated from a College of Herbal Medicine in Macon and then went to pharmacy school in Philadelphia. Returning to Georgia, Pemberton set up shop as a druggist in Columbus. During the […]

August 22, 1864

Slave Insurrection in Quitman

Georgians, like all Americans, were deeply divided by the Civil War. On August 22, 1864, four men were executed in Brooks County for conspiring to plot a slave insurrection. The conspirators were a local white man, John Vickery, and three slaves: Nelson, George and Sam. They planned to seize weapons, secure the county seat, Quitman, […]

August 5, 1889

Conrad Aiken

A childhood tragedy would haunt poet and author Conrad Aiken all of his life, and provide the psychological foundation for much of his writing. Perhaps Georgia’s most famous poet, Aiken was born in Savannah. When he was only 11 years old, his father killed his mother and then committed suicide. Later, Aiken attended Harvard and […]

August 6, 1887

Woolfolk Murders

Five years before Lizzie Borden and her axe became famous, nine members of the Woolfolk family were killed with an axe at their home near Macon in Georgia’s first mass murder. Richard Woolfolk, his wife Mattie, their six children, and a visiting relative, were all slaughtered as they slept. Suspicion immediately fell on Tom Woolfolk, […]

August 8, 1899

William Yates Atkinson

Not many governors had to prove their courage by facing down a lynch mob. William Yates Atkinson did. The two-term governor was one of Georgia’s most progressive voices in an era known more for racial demagogues. Born in 1854 in Oakland, Ga., Atkinson practiced law in Newnan in 1893, he became one of Georgia’s youngest […]

August 1, 1866

John Ross

He was known as the Cherokee Moses, the man who fought against the removal of Cherokee Indians from north Georgia. Though Chief John Ross was only one-eighth Cherokee, he grew up steeped in Cherokee culture. He was born in 1790 at Turkey Town, on the Coosa River, near present–day Center, Alabama. As a young man, […]

July 21, 1861

Francis Bartow

Francis Bartow had it all—a law career, a senator for a father-in-law, wealth in plantations and slaves, political rank and military ambitions. But he risked it all on the battlefield and became the first high-ranking Georgian to be killed in the Civil War. Bartow was born in 1816 in Savannah. His marriage to the daughter […]

July 22, 1864

Battle of Atlanta

General William Sherman and his army were set to take Atlanta in July, 1864. General Joseph Johnston’s Confederate army had fought them since May. But they could only slow Sherman down, not stop him. The citizens of the Confederacy’s major railroad hub were justifiably worried. So was Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Fearing Atlanta would fall […]