12 May 2015

The Naming of Atlanta (Tombstone Tuesday)

Plainly put, Atlanta was built on the railroad. Lucian Lamar Knight, in Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials and Legends, says it this way:
...[T]he chief factors in Atlanta's phenomenal growth are the railway lines which converge at her civic center, there forming a web of steel, from the bi-focal points of which they radiate in every direction.
In an effort to connect railroad lines within the state, a point seven miles east of the Chattahoochee River was picked as a spot "best suited for running branch lines to various towns within the State." This point was called Terminus, defined as "an end point on a transportation line or the town in which it is located."

A man named Hardy Ivy was the first person to purchase a tract of land and build a shanty, before the town was surveyed, in 1836. It wasn't until 1842, when a new track was tested -- and considered a success, that the town began to really come to life with the building of new stores and churches.

Wilson Lumpkin, an ex-Governor of the state, was at this time one of the commissioners appointed to supervise the building of the Western & Atlantic Railroad. Lumpkin helped re-survey the land, fixed a site for the depot, and negotiated enough property for terminal facilities. Many wanted to rename the town after Lumpkin in appreciation for the prominent part he played in laying off several land lots. He refused, so people circumvented his protest a bit by renaming the town after his youngest daughter, Martha.

In This Spot Set Apart By The City Is Buried
Martha Lumpkin Compton
August 25, 1827 - February 13, 1917
Wife Of Thomas M. Compton
Daughter Of Governor Wilson Lumpkin
And His Wife Annis Hopson Lumpkin
In Honor Of This Lady, Atlanta Was
Once Named Marthasville

Oakland Cemetery at Atlanta, Georgia

(Associated Press)
DECATUR, GA, Feb 13 -- Mrs. Martha Lumpkin Compton, after whom the city of Atlanta was twice named died at her home here tonight at the age of 90 years. In 1844 the village now called Atlanta, was named Marthasville in her honor. Four years later it was named Atlanta after the nickname of "Atalanta," which Mrs. Compton's father, Governor Wilson Lumpkin had given her. [Montgomery Advertiser (Alabama), 14 February 1917]

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