We all know that Georgia boasts of her peaches – but did you know that the peach is not the official State tree? That would have probably made too much sense. The live oak is the official State tree. And to get this out of the way now, the official fish is the largemouth bass. I find it somewhat odd that George even has an official State fish, and a fresh water one at that. You see, while Georgia has the largest swamp in North America, every single lake in the State is man-made.
Here’s a surprise, the name “Okeefenokee” comes from a Cherokee word meaning “the trembling earth”. Makes you wonder just what Pogo has been up to out there.
Georgia was the last of the 13 original colonies to be officially formed and have her borders set. (I have arbitrarily decided that any State named Georgia must be female.) Originally much larger, Georgia’s original boundaries included much of the territory that now comprises Alabama and Mississippi. It would have probably included Louisiana, but that future State was infested by the French. And Florida was still marginally claimed by the Spanish (although the Natives had not yet thrown in the towel). Even having shed a lot of excess weight, Georgia is still the largest State East of the Mississippi River. Before you get too excited by Georgia’s relative size, it would still fit into Alaska just over 11 times. She is also second only to Texas in the number of counties included (159). Just to keep things interesting, two of those counties have a first and a last name: Ben Hill County and Jeff Davis County. I have not been able to determine how those two appear in an alphabetical list of the counties. Under B and J, or under H and D? I must admit, it’s not keeping me up at nights. Only one of the counties is named for a woman. Hart County was named after Nancy Hart, one of the many women that saw, and participated in, combat during the Revolutionary War.
Georgia was originally deeded to General James Oglethorpe in 1732 or 1733 by King George II (who spoke almost no English whatsoever). Georgia shares a common backstory with Australia, as she was also originally set up to be a penal colony and debtors’ prison. Oddly enough, slavery was initially illegal in the Colony of Georgia, it was not until after Georgia became a State that slavery was legalized.
Georgia became the fourth State to join the Union, and ratified the Constitution on January 2, 1788. She seceded and joined the Confederate States of America on January 19, 1861. Before any of you jump to the conclusion that the secession took place one day before Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President, back then the Inauguration was held in March (which I think was a much better idea, no conflict with the NFL post-season). After that little dust-up was over, Georgia was the last of the former Confederate States to be re-admitted to the Union, on July 15, 1870. I can just about guarantee you it rained. It always rains on July 15th.
There have been 5 different Capitols of Georgia: Savannah (1777-1785), Augusta (1786-1789), Louisville (1789-1807), Milledgeville (1807-1867), and Atlanta (1868 – date). Oh, and Atlanta was not always named Atlanta. It was previously called Atlantica-Pacifica, Terminus, and Marthaville. (“Marthaville”?)
The amusement park chain “Six Flags” started in Georgia and was so named after the six different flags that have flown over the area: England, Spain, Liberty, Georgia, Confederate States of America, and the United States of America.
In January 1785, the University of Georgia was chartered and thus Georgia became the first State to support a university with public funds. Georgia also claims that Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia was the first institution chartered to give degrees to women.
Thomasville, Georgia claims to be the rose capital of the world (I suspect Anaheim, California might object to that one). Cordele, Georgia claims to be the watermelon capital of the world. Gainesville, Georgia is the chicken capitol of the world. And it is true, the only place that Vidalia onions will grow is around Vidalia, Georgia.
Macon, Georgia has more cherry trees than any other city, including Washington, D.C.
I could go into more of the obvious things here, like Atlanta, Georgia is the birthplace of the one, true, Cola drink, Coca-Cola – but everyone knows about that. So here are a few things you probably didn’t know about our northern neighbor:
In Gainesville, Georgia it is illegal to eat chicken with a fork.
In Atlanta it is illegal to carry an ice cream cone in your back pocket. On Sunday.
If you live in Acworth, you are required, by law, to own a rake.
In Athens it is illegal to let livestock freely roam the streets.
It is illegal to tie a giraffe to a telephone pole in downtown Atlanta.
A man cannot give another man a piggy-back ride in Atlanta.
State-wide – you are not allowed to keep a donkey in a bathtub.
You may not poison rats without a permit in Dublin, Georgia.
Dublin also prohibits using a goldfish as a Bingo prize, whistling after 11 p.m., and wearing hoodies in public.
In Columbus, Georgia, it is illegal to decapitate a chicken on Sunday. You also cannot wear a hat inside a movie theatre, place a dead bird on your neighbor’s lawn, or tease an idiot.
But I think the oddest thing I learned about was The Lourdermilk Boarding House and Everything Elvis Museum in Cornelia, Georgia. The establishment has a wart that was removed from Mr. Presley’s wrist on display. Eww.