Digitization of materials documenting the beginning of Peachtree City, Georgia are now available freely online

New online records that describe the history of Peachtree City, Georgia, one of the country’s most successful post-World War II “new towns,” are now available for researchers in the Digital Library of Georgia. The collection, Peachtree City: Plans, Politics, and People, “New Town” Beginnings and How the “New Town” Grew, is available at dlg.usg.edu/collection/frrls-pt_newtown and contains prospectuses, master plans, maps, conceptual drawings, newsletters, and administrative records dating from the 1950s to 2007.

Rebecca Watts, the librarian for the Joel Cowan History Room at Peachtree City Library, describes the importance of these resources: 

“These materials will provide land planners, city planners, and those interested in how a city like Peachtree City came to be, with insight on its beginnings and early history, when the city was devoted to slow growth in an effort to keep a balance between industry, residential, and community amenities.”

Ellen Ulken, the co-author of Peachtree City: Images of America (Arcadia Publishing, 2009) notes: “I found the city’s early newsletters invaluable for tracking down stories, photos of people, issues, and progress of the early 1970s…I feel certain that the next person to come along and write a history of Peachtree City will be glad if this material is available and findable online. The digital format would ensure a long life for these newsletters.”

Peachtree City promotional map [Map 2] peachtree-city.org/DocumentCenter/View/16664/ptc05

A later version of a larger 1974 Peachtree City, Georgia, promotional map (see peachtree-city.org/DocumentCenter/View/16684/ptc26), which highlights 24 named businesses, this map also prominently shows Lake McIntosh with a label indicating “under construction” rather than the more specific “opening in 1974” of the earlier map.

The lake was not completed until December 2012. Other notable changes to this map are that the “Ryland Model Home Park” is now shown east of Highway 74 on the south side of Highway 54 in the area of Hunter’s Glen subdivision (not named as such on the map). Also, the Information Center has moved to Aberdeen Center on the north side of Highway 54 near the center of town, not far from its previous location.

What had been “Peachtree City Realty” on the earlier map is now renamed “Garden Cities Reality [sic],” which was formed in December 1974.

Happen: Peachtree City updated newsletter for 1974 peachtree-city.org/DocumentCenter/View/16655/ptc04-74

Happen: Peachtree City updated newsletter. Volume 3, issue 1, January 1974. Appeal letter signed by leaders of both Kiwanis and Rotary clubs to support the school referendum. Peachtree City police: Haskell Barber, Chief, Bob Mathis, John Hay, Fred Cox, Orval Harris, Richard Andrews, J.B. Wright. Greg and Nancy Pearre purchase a 1973 Volkswagen bus to provide carpool service for Peachtree Citians to commute to Atlanta. Lutheran Church being organized.

About Peachtree City Library

The Peachtree City Library serves the residents of Peachtree City, Georgia with adult programs, children’s programs, and is a proud member of the PINES Library Consortium. Learn more at their web site, peachtree-city.org/125/Library.

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Sharing Columbus History in “Early Columbus Georgia” Facebook Group

Back at the end of April, during the early days of self-isolating (coronavirus pandemic), I was following a writer on a Facebook group called “Nostalgic Nawlins Memories.” Every day, this person, Derby Gisclair, posts a New Orleans-related photograph from the past – with a short commentary. As I was trying to think of something I could do to “help” during these trying times, I was inspired by Mr. Gisclair. I thought: I can write, I do genealogy, I love local history (Columbus, Georgia), and I like research (retired Columbus State University librarian). I got the idea to post something every day on the “Early Columbus Georgia” Facebook group I belong to. However, instead of using photographs, I realized I would use historic Columbus newspapers – available to all from the Georgia Historic Newspapers site. And that’s what I have done – starting on April 28, 2020, I began posting a “Today in Columbus History” piece on the Facebook group. 

May 1, 1856 – Ad for daguerreotypes by A.J. (Andrew Jackson) Riddle
May 1, 1856 – Ad for daguerreotypes by A.J. (Andrew Jackson) Riddle

 Every day I search the Georgia Historic Newspapers database for papers published on the date (month and day) I’m working with – no matter the year. I usually do a “Browse” search by “City” and randomly go through the titles; then I search the “Calendar” view. When I find an issue for the right date, I pull it up. 

 Usually, there are four pages. I have the best luck finding articles and ads on pages 3 and 4. Early nineteenthcentury Columbus newspapers basically had 4 pages. Page 1 would usually include a lot of ads and national news. Page 2 would usually be comprised of politics and reported news from other places. Pages 3 and 4 would have more local stuff – as well as ads and legal notices. 

 I try to find a piece that I know a little bit about. I have to remind myself I am just writing a short blurb – I’m not writing a paper for publication. I try not to spend over an hour on each piece – although sometimes I do. Footnotes are not required (although I do try to cite my sources – particularly for the pictures I use).  I also try to keep the commentary to one or two paragraphs. Sometimes I go over. And I usually include a couple of photos along with the newspaper clipping. 

 Subjects I have written about run the gamut: from sweet potato pudding recipes to the hiring of enslaved people to build a railroad, to picnics in the country, to the death of a little child.  I have used ads for sewing machines, fine silver, guano, and sheet music.  There is a lot to choose from! 

May 6, 1888 – Death of Mrs. Lucy McNorton due to ice cream poisoning
May 6, 1888 – Death of Mrs. Lucy McNorton due to ice cream poisoning

So far, the response to these posts has been good. I get a lot of “likes.” The number of comments may vary from five or six to forty!  There are many people in Columbus who have a much deeper and broader knowledge of Columbus history than I do. I love it when they add more to my short piece! 

I don’t know how long I’ll keep this up. It is time-consuming, but, nerd that I am, I enjoy it (the tedious research part).  Plus, what else do I have to do? Well, I could always be vacuuming or cleaning out closets or watching “Midsomer Murders” or talking on the phone or cooking up a fabulous dish or… 

–Callie McGinnis
former Dean of Libraries (now retired) 
Columbus State University

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