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Ben Hill County Historical Markers

Fitzgerald The Colony City

  • Source: David Seibert
  • Marker: Fitzgerald The Colony City
  • Location: US 129 at Central Avenue, Fitzgerald


Founded at Swan in 1895 by Mr. Philander H. Fitzgerald, lawyer, veteran and publisher of the AMERICAN TRIBUNE of Indianapolis, as a soldiers’ colony in the South. Fitzgerald was settled by Union veterans who, tired of Northern winters, flocked from 38 states and 2 territories to this benign and fertile land which, only 30 years before, had been deep in enemy territory.

In the early 90’s, devastating droughts had impoverished the farmers of the Mid-West and Georgians had sent trainloads of food to relieve their plight. Impressed, Mr. Fitzgerald conceived his plan and formed the American Tribune Soldiers’ Colony Company (non-profit). Despite offers from neighboring states, the Company chose this site, acquired 50,0000 acres of land, and laid out a town.

By December, 5,000 colonists had arrived. The next fall , the schools opened with 501 pupils, the first in Georgia to offer free tuition and texts and a nine-month term. On Dec. 2, 1896, Fitzgerald was incoporated and elected officials took charge.

With principal streets named to honor great leaders of both armies, and with Confederate veterans joining their former enemies in this unique community endeavor, Fitzgerald has symbolized through the years an enduring unity born of that unfailing respect which brave men hold for each other.