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Valdosta, Georgia

HistoryEdit Valdosta was incorporated on December 7, 1860, at which time the county government was moved from nearby Troupville.[9] Citizens of Troupville relocated when the Gulf and Atlantic Railroad was built four miles (about 6 km) away. On July 4, 1860, the engine known as Satilla Number Three pulled the first train into Valdosta on the Gulf and Atlantic Railway. Troupville, now virtually abandoned, had been named after Governor George Troup, for whom Troup County, Georgia, was also named. Valdosta was named after Troup's estate, Val d'Osta (occasionally the Valdosta spelling was used as well), which itself was named after the Valle d'Aosta in Italy. The name Aosta (Latin: Augusta), refers to EmperorAugustus. Thus, the name Valdosta can be interpreted literally as meaning "Valley of Augustus' City". Originally, a long-standing rumor held that the city's name meant "vale of beauty."[10] The land around Valdosta is flat. After the American Civil War, over one hundred African Americans, families of farmers, craftsmen, and laborers, emigrated from Lowndes County to Arithington, Liberia, Africa, in 1871 and 1872, looking for a better life. This was made possible with the support of theAmerican Colonization Society. The first group, which left in 1871, was led by Jefferson Bracewell, and the second group was led by Aaron Miller.[11] Old Lowndes County Courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is located in the heart of downtown Valdosta. In November 1902, the Harris Nickel-Plate Circus' prize elephant, Gypsy, went on a rampage and killed her trainer James O'Rourke. After terrorizing the town for a couple of hours, she ran off to Cherry Creek, north of Valdosta. Gypsy was chased by Police Chief Calvin Dampier and a posse. Gypsy was killed by a shot from a Krag-Jørgensen rifle and buried on site; James O'Rourke was buried in Sunset Hill Cemetery in Valdosta.[12][13] A major incident of racial unrest in Lowndes County occurred May 1918. Sidney Johnson, a black man and farm worker who felt that he had been mistreated repeatedly by his white farmer boss Hampton Smith, murdered Smith by gun shot and injured his wife. Subsequently, this sparked a lynch mob to be formed in Valdosta, which lasted from May 17 to May 24. It resulted in the lynchings of a least 13 African Americans, including pregnant twenty-one-year-old Mary Turner. Sidney Johnson was apprehended during a shoot out on 22 May 1918 in a house on South Troupe Street in Valdosta. Following his death, a crowd of over 700, castrated him and then dragged his body down Patterson Street and taken all the way to Morven, Georgia. Following the violence over 500 African Americans fled from Lowndes County and Brooks County in fear. The lynching spree of May 1918 in Lowndes County was part of a large trend of organized violence towards African Americans after War World One that culminated in Red Summer (1919). By 1922 local chapters of the Ku Klux Klan were holding rallies openly in Valdosta.[14] The Old Lowndes County Courthouse as it appeared around the early 1900s. The county's former courthouse was built around 1905 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was the county's seventh courthouse. The first courthouse was built in 1828 at Franklinville, the original county seat. In 1834 another courthouse was built at the new county seat of Troupville. It was replaced by a new courthouse in 1842. The 1842 structure was destroyed by a fire set by William B. Crawford in June 1858. The first courthouse at Valdosta was built in the 1860s and was a wooden structure that burned down in 1869. Another wooden structure was rebuilt in its place. It too was replaced in 1875 by a new two-story brick building. In 1900, county commissioners decided that a larger structure was needed and in 1905, the seventh courthouse was built. It is the structure that is locally referred to as the old courthouse. In August and September 2010, the county government moved to a brand new judicial complex.[15] The Lowndes County Courthouse is widely acknowledged as one of the most beautiful county courthouses in Georgia. It is a historical site for many to visit and view. The courthouse is also useful for meeting, public display, and other attractions. Today it is used for many events, meetings and political purposes.[16][17] Valdosta was once the center of long-staple cotton growing in the United States until theboll weevil finally killed the crop in 1917 and agriculture turned to tobacco and pine timber. The Valdosta Daily Times has twice reported that the world's second Coca-Cola bottling plant was at one time located in Valdosta.[18][19] The local economy received an important boost when Interstate 75 was routed and built through the area. Many vacationers on their way to Florida found Valdosta a convenient "last stop" on their way to Walt Disney World and the Orlando area, especially those coming from the Midwest and Ontario, Canada.[citation needed] The First Baptist Church was built in 1899 A high school oratory contest once held in Valdosta was notable for the second place winner, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. President George W. Bush received his National Guard flight training at Valdosta's Moody Air Force Base in November 1968. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Monthly Labor Review, the first automated teller machine (ATM) was installed at C&S Bank in Valdosta.[20] Valdosta was named one of 2003's "Top 100 U.S. Small Towns" by Site Selectionmagazine.[21] In 2010 Valdosta was named one of the "Best Small Places For Business And Careers" by Forbes.[22] In 1910, Fortune magazine named Valdosta the richest city in America by per capita income.[23]

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