|History Of Macon|
The city of Babylon inspired Macon’s planners to create a city with multitudes of parks and spacious avenues. When James Webb, the appointed surveyor laid out the downtown streets of Macon in 1832, he gave future generations the gift of wide streets and parks. The planners designated 250 acres for Central City Park and citizens were required by ordinances to plant shade trees in their front yards.
Beautiful and shady still today, Macon lies on the site of the Ocmulgee Old Fields. Cultivated long before the Norman Conquest, the fields were home to the Creeks and their predecessors for as long as 12,000 years before the white man arrived. The area, situated on the Fall Line where the Piedmont region meets the flat Coastal Plains, has been, since before written history, an ideal location for communities to thrive.
From the earliest known Paleo-Indian cultures, through the Woodland, the Early Mississippian, the Late Mississippian to the best known Historic Creek Indian culture, the fields and forests around Macon and what is now the Ocmulgee National Monument were hunted and farmed. Funeral and temple mounds were built. Now open to the public, the Ocmulgee National Monument, run by the National Park Service, is a fascinating look into the lives of the original caretakers of our area.
In 1806, after the Creeks ceded their lands east of the Ocmulgee River, President Thomas Jefferson had a trading post established as a peacekeeper and trading site. Named for the Indian agent and statesman Benjamin Hawkins, a replica stands today on a hill in East Macon.
In 1822 the Georgia legislature created Bibb County, named for William Wyatt Bibb, a U.S. Senator. Macon, named in honor of Nathaniel Macon, a North Carolina patriot and statesman, was the county seat.
The cotton crop became the mainstay of Macon's early economy. The city thrived due to its location on the Ocmulgee. Cotton boats, stage coaches, and later, in 1843, a railroad all brought prosperity to Macon.
In the first half of the 19th century, Macon's first newspaper, the Georgia Messenger, began publication. The Macon Telegraph began publication in 1926 and has continued publication without fail ever since.
The first college in the world for women, Georgia Female College, was chartered in Macon in 1836. Now Wesleyan College, the campus is located on Forsyth Road. In 1990 Wesleyan celebrated the 150th anniversary of the first baccalaureate degree awarded to a woman. The Adelphian Society, now Alpha Delta Pi, the first secret society for women, was founded at Wesleyan College in 1851. In 1852, the Philomathean Society, now Phi Mu Fraternity, was founded. Both societies now have a parlor in the Cannonball House in downtown Macon.
Mercer University, established at Penfield, Georgia in 1833, came to Macon in 1871 to continue the legacy of high academic excellence. Mercer University, a private, Baptist-affiliated, co-ed university, offers bachelor to doctorate degrees in schools of liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, engineering, theology, and business, and has become a highly respected institution of higher learning in the South.
Early congregations founded in Macon included Christ Episcopal, First Presbyterian, Mulberry Methodist, and First Baptist Churches. St. Joseph's Catholic Church was established in 1841 and shortly afterwards the Beth Israel Congregation was founded. Church buildings were erected later. The earliest of these are Christ Episcopal Church, built in 1852, and First Presbyterian Church, built in 1858.
During the Civil War, Macon was spared by Sherman on his march to the sea. The state capital of Milledgeville had been sacked, and Maconites prepared for attack. Sherman, however, feared that Confederate forces had united and were preparing an attack of their own. He bypassed Macon in his haste to reach the sea.
In the very same war, a cannonball shot by Federal troops under General George Stoneman flew across the Ocmulgee River, careened off a porch column and landed at the foot of a flight of stairs in a newly built Greek Revival mansion. The cannonball still sits at the landing, and the house, the Cannonball House, is now a museum open to the public.
The title of capital was given back to Milledgeville in December of 1865. Throughout the era of Reconstruction and into the twentieth Century, Macon grew into a town built on an agricultural base. As a prospering town in Middle Georgia, it began to serve as a transportation hub for the entire state.
Lake Jackson was created in 1910 to meet the new need for power. This was essential to an expanding city. After World War I, Macon experienced a burst in development fueled by the boll weevil, a drought, and the land’s consequential crop failure.
From 1924 to 1926, the Huff Daland Dusters operated in Macon. Meanwhile, the federal government encouraged the city to build a local airport. In September of 1926, as the airport was being completed, the first airmail flight was scheduled to land. It was unable to touch ground because of a dispute between county and city officials, so a crowd gathered to watch as the pilot flew his plane as low as he possibly could, dropping a bag full of mail into the postmaster’s arms. In 1941, the operation formerly recognized as the Huff Daland Dusters became known as Delta Air Lines.
During the 1950’s, a number of musicians, mostly black, came to Macon to showcase their original musical talents. Among these great musicians came the names Otis Redding, Leana Horne, James Brown, “Little Richard” Penniman, and later on, the Allman Brothers. Macon had a profound effect on music throughout the entire nation. As a matter of fact, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame is located in downtown Macon.
In 1962 the Georgia State Board of Education and the Bibb County Board of Education, working in a joint effort, officially established Macon Area Vocational-Technical School. The first students were accepted in 1966 with the first classes graduating in August 1967. In July 6, 2000, as part of the Education Reform Act, Macon Technical Institute’s name was changed to Central Georgia Technical College to more accurately identify the college’s quality education and the vast region its campuses cover.
Macon Junior College was chartered in 1965 to serve the rapidly growing mid-state area. In 1968, the college opened with 1,110 students, the largest charter class for an institution of higher education in the state's history. The college formally became Macon State College in 1997.
In 1994, the brunt of Alberto hit Middle Georgia during hurricane season. Macon’s water treatment plant, located on the banks of the Ocmulgee River, was flooded and more than 160,000 citizens went without treated water for up to 19 days. The Ocmulgee crested at 35.4 feet, setting a record for the river’s water level.