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This Day in Georgia History

June 15, 1826

Bill Arp Born

For more on Bill Arp, see the Digital Library of Georgia.

Lawyer and Civil War-era humorist Charles Henry Smith (Bill Arp) was born in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He later attended the University of Georgia and studied law under a judge. In 1851, Smith moved to Rome, Georgia Thereafter, he served on the Rome city council and later as mayor. During the Civil War, he performed special judicial service for the Confederacy in Macon, after serving briefly as a soldier. Of his military career he said he “succeeded in killing about as many of them as they of me.” His political career also included a term in the Georgia Senate. Though an attorney, Smith became famous for a series of more than 2,000 humorous newspaper columns about life in the South by a backwoods philosopher known as Bill Arp. His columns, written in the form of letters, were eventually collected into six books; he also penned a textbook on Georgia history. Smith worked closely with Henry Grady while Grady edited a Rome newspaper, the two remained friends for life. By the time of his death on Aug. 24, 1903 in Cartersville, “Bill Arp” was one of the best known and loved writers in the South.