Bird's eye view map of Fitzgerald, Georgia, published by T. M. Fowler in 1908. County Seat of Ben Hill County, the city of Fitzgerald, Georgia was created in 1895 by businessman and newspaper owner, Philander H. Fitzgerald, who established a colony of Civil War veterans in the piney woods of south Georgia.
Born in Greensburg, Indiana on February 4, 1848, Philander Fitzgerald grew up on his father's farm. Serving as a drummer boy in the Civil War, Fitzgerald studied law at Manchester College in Indianapolis after the war. Following college, he was appointed by the governor of Indiana to a position that relied upon him to settle property claims resulting from the Civil War. In 1882, Fitzgerald purchased the "Veteran Review" newspaper, re-naming it the "American Tribune" and raising its circulation to more than 25,000 per week. Through the newspaper, Fitzgerald was able to raise awareness and support for his dream of establishing a colony for Union veterans and their families to spend their last years in a pleasant climate. He established the "American Tribune Soldiers Colony" and sold stock through the Union. With help from Georgia's Governor Northen, the colony was able to purchase 50,000 acres. 2700 Union veterans and their families soon moved to Georgia to live side by side with Confederate veterans and their families, creating a colony of 9,000 residents known as "Shacktown", later named Fitzgerald, to honor their founder.
The town is full of Civil War references, including streets named for Union and Confederate generals. This map captures the town just one year before the Ben Hill County Court House was built.
Inset illustrations of the following businesses and sites appear in the upper and lower margins of the map:
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