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1842 In 1837, surveyors and engineers had selected a site in the woods in DeKalb County for the southern terminus of a new railroad that would stretch northward to Chattanooga on the Tennessee River.
In the years that followed, a small settlement grew up around this site. Eventually, the community would become known as Atlanta – but initially it was known as Terminus and then as Marthasville. In June 1842, Willis and Sarah Carlisle moved to the small railroad town from Marietta. Sarah was expecting, and when it came time for the birth, they traveled to her parents' home in Marietta (as there were no doctors in Terminus). On Aug. 17, 1842, a daughter – Julia – was born. Three weeks later, the Carlisles returned home to Terminus. Though Julia was not actually born in the future site of Atlanta, she can claim to be its first baby.
1860 Until the the 1800s and the invention of flush toilets and sewer systems, residents of many European cities got rid of their wastes by throwing trash and pouring the contents of chamber pots from second floor windows into the streets.
On this day, the Atlanta City Council decided it would avoid this unsanitary practice and passed an ordinance prohibiting residents from throwing water, dirt, and trash from their windows and doors onto the dirt streets and wooden sidewalks below.
1903 Gov. Joseph Terrell signed an act creating the State Board of Health. The board had broad responsibility in the area of health, but it had a special responsibility to prevent the spread of contagious diseases and infections through quarantines and other measures.
1903 The Georgia General Assembly adopted a joint resolution condemning the practice of whipping women inmates in state prisons.
1905 Gov. Joseph Terrell signed acts creating four new Georgia counties.
1908 Gov. Hoke Smith signed an act prohibiting corporations doing business in Georgia, and their officers, from making contributing any corporate funds – directly or indirectly – to any campaign or for any other political purpose.
1908 The Georgia General Assembly adopted a joint resolution officially designating what would later be known as Georgia Tech as the State School of Technology.
The school had been created by an act of the General Assembly approved Oct. 13, 1885, as a branch of the University of Georgia. The new school was authorized a president and a "local Board of Trustees" that had "immediate control, supervision and management of said school, subject to the general Board of Trustees [of the University of Georgia] of which body they shall be ex-officio members." This semi-autonomous relationship until an act of 1919 expanded the powers of the local Board of Trustees over the school. In the depths of the Great Depression, Gov. Richard Russell succeeded in getting the General Assembly to reorganize state government. One of changes was to Executive Reorganization Act of 1931, which created a University System of Georgia "to consist of the University of Georgia and all of its branches." Under the act, Georgia Tech and other state colleges were still listed as branches of the University of Georgia. The reorganization act changed the name of the Trustees of the University of Georgia to Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. Prior to 1933, the General Assembly had appropriated money directly to each state college. That ended with an act passed in 1933 providing that all future appropriations would be made in a "lump sum" to the Board of Regents, which would then have the sole power to allocate funds among the various institutions in the University System of Georgia. No longer were Georgia Tech and other state colleges referred to as branches of the University of Georgia. Rather, each was an autonomous institution with its own president reporting directly to the State Board of Regents.
1908 The Georgia General Assembly adopted a joint resolution accepting title to the Confederate cemetery at Resaca from the Ladies' Memorial Association of Resaca, which formerly had assumed responsibility for the care and upkeep of the cemetery and the marking of the graves of 375 Confederate soldiers buried there. Since then, Resaca has been maintained as a state cemetery.
1915 Through the early morning hours, the lynch mob who had seized Leo Frank from Georgia State Prison in Milledgeville drove by back roads towards Marietta. Sometime early on the morning of the 17th, they reached the outskirts of Marietta. Here, at Frey's grove near Mary Phagan's girlhood home, the gang decided to hang Frank. Asserting his innocence to the very end, Frank's only request was that his wedding ring be returned to his wife (which it was several days later). The lynch mob then hanged Frank from a tree.
When word of the lynching spread, crowds gathered to see the body hanging from a tree. Photographs were taken, one of which later became a souvenir postcard. A few in the crowd threatened, and even began to inflict, violence to Frank's body, before former judge Newt Morris convinced them to stop. Frank's body was rushed to an undertaker in Atlanta, with a line of vehicles trailing behind. Although the undertaker tried to keep the body concealed, a large crowd soon gathered demanding to see it. After a rock was thrown through a window, officials agreed to let the public view Frank's body. Under police supervision, thousands of curious Atlanta-area residents filed by single file to view Frank's body -- including the city detective who had arrested Frank. That night Frank's body was quickly embalmed and placed on a train for New York, where the burial services were held in Brooklyn's Mount Carmel Cemetery. As a footnote to the lynching, no one was ever prosecuted for the murder of Leo Frank.
Frank's trial had been covered by reporters from around the county, and his lynching made national front-page news.
1920 Gov. Hugh Dorsey signed into law Georgia's first Workmen's Compensation Act providing benefits to workers injured or killed in the course of their employment.
1920 Gov. Hugh Dorsey signed a proposed constitutional amendment creating Lamar County from portions of Monroe and Pike counties. The county was named for former congressman, U.S. senator, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar. Because the maximum number of counties allowed by the state constitution – 145 – had already been exceeded, creation of any additional counties required a constitutional amendment.The amendment was ratified by state voters on Nov. 2, 1920, making Lamar Georgia's 160th county.
1997 St. Simons Island's Davis Love III won the 79th PGA Championship Tournament, finishing eleven strokes under par at this year's championship at Winged Foot Golf Club at Mamaroneck, New York. Winning the 1997 PGA marked Love's first major tournament victory.
Georgia towns and cities incorporated by acts approved on August 17:
1903 Barwick (Brooks and Thomas counties), Isabella (Worth County), Metter (Bulloch County), and Sand Hill (Carroll County)
1908 Between (Walton County), Blairsville (Union County), Cedar Grove (Laurens County), Chamblee (DeKalb County), Dixie (Brooks County), Gratis (Walton County), Primrose (Meriwether County), Rockledge (Laurens County), Union City (Campbell, now Fulton County), Vidette (Burke County), Williamson (Pike County), Williamsville (Walton County), and Woodbine (Camden County)
1909 Arcade (Jackson County) and Clayton (Rabun County)
1912 Pine Park (Grady County)
1925 Raleigh (Meriwether County)
Other acts affecting Georgia towns and cities approved on Aug. 17:
1907 Charters of Battle Hill (Fulton County), Culverton (Hancock County), and Edgewood (DeKalb County) repealed
1912 Charter of Herod (Terrell County) repealed contingent upon referendum
In Their Own Words on This Day. . .
1775 Georgia governor James Wright wrote once again to Lord Dartmouth, British secretary of state for the colonies, about the independence movement in Georgia:
Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Georgia: History written by Those who lived It (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1995), pp. 34-35.
1868 In a letter to Bishop Bahnson, school teacher Elizabeth Sterchi did not portray Atlanta in a flattering light:
Source: Franklin M. Garrett, Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1954), p. 792.
1879 Gertrude Thomas's family misfortunes continued well after Reconstruction, and the toll it took on her family life became more difficult. Though she tried to keep these despondent feelings from her journal, sometimes it was impossible, as this entry indicates:
Source: Virginia Ingraham Burr (ed.), The Secret Eye: The Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1848-1889 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990), p. 385.
1915 Former judge Newt Morris arrived at the site of Leo Frank's lynching outside of Marietta to find a frenzied crowd threatening to do even more violence to Frank's lifeless body. Morris' plea managed to calm the crowd:
Source: Atlanta Journal, Aug. 17, 1915.
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