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This Day in Georgia History

July 23, 1810

Nelson Tift Born

Businessman, politician, and publisher Nelson Tift was born in Groton, Conn. At age 20, he moved to Charleston, S.C., and by 1835 he was operating a business in Augusta, Ga. The next year, he opened a warehouse on the Flint River at a site which would develop into the town of Albany, thus earning him credit as the founder of Albany. During the years 1841 to 1852, Tift represented Albany several times in the Georgia General Assembly. Prior to the Civil War, he published the Albany Patriot for eleven years and served as a railroad executive. Though he opposed secession, during the Civil War he helped supply war-time needs of the Confederacy, including constructing several Confederate ironclads. After the war, he served one term (1868-69) as a member of Congress. Thereafter, he continued to promote the economic and industrial development of southwest Georgia. The year before his 1891 death, the new town of Tifton was created and named in his honor. In 1905, the Georgia legislature also named a new county in his honor. [There is some confusion as to whether Tifton is named for Nelson Tift or his nephew Henry Harding Tift, who actually founded the town. It seems clear that he younger Tift wanted the new town named Lena. One source says that local inhabitants preferred to call the settlement, “Tift’s town,” which was shortened to Tifton. Several other sources, however, say that H.H. Tift agreed to the town name of Tifton to honor his uncle.]