Publisher and writer Robert Grier was born in Wilkes County, Georgia on January 9, 1780. Growing up in frontier Georgia, Grier did not have a formal education - but he did have access to his father’s extensive library, where he read voraciously. An amateur astronomer and accomplished mathematician, Grier put his knowledge to good use by publishing an almanac predicting sunrises and sunsets, lunar eclipses and phases, plus general weather trends. So accurate and popular was his almanac that it became an annual publication until Grier’s death, at which point another publisher took the reigns, and then another. Grier’s Almanac has now been published annually for almost two hundred years, and its sales have exceeded two million.
While the almanac is Robert Grier’s lasting claim to fame, he did play another important role in Georgia history. His sister, Margaret, died three months after the birth of her son in 1812. Grier and his family assumed a considerable role in raising the child, especially after his father died in 1826. The boy always felt close to his uncle, and like the young Robert, enjoyed reading in his grandfather’s library. Georgia can thank the Griers for doing such a fine job of raising their orphaned nephew, for he became one of the most distinguished and intellectual figures in Georgia and southern history - Alexander Hamilton Stephens. While serving in Congress in the 1840s, Stephens, at the prompting of his knowledgeable uncle, proposed legislation to establish a national weather bureau. Stephens ultimately went on to serve as vice-president of the Confederate States of America. Grier, meanwhile, became wealthy from his almanac publishing and purchased a home in Butts County, Georgia, where he lived out the remainder of his years. He died and was buried there on May 4, 1848.