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The Man Who Helped Build Atlanta

By Phineas Upham

Hannibal Kimball was instrumental in post Civil-War reconstruction. He was born Oxford County, Maine to family of Methodist wheel-wrights. The fifth boy of 10 children, he had the good fortune of being born to a highly regarded wheel-wright named Peter Kimball. The family lived in relative modesty, and he stayed in the carriage business until after the Civil War. The business prospered for most of that time, but the Civil War had a depressing effect on many local economies. Individuals and businesses couldn’t pay loans they’d taken out to function, because customers couldn’t pay prices for goods. The Kimball family business was a casualty of the times.

His next move was to Colorado. There he became an agent for a mining company, a job that helped him rebuild his fortune. He found a business partner by the name of George Pullman, and they formed the Pullman’s Company of sleeping car lines. Eventually, life took him to Atlanta.

There, he took on the task of convincing the constitutional convention of Georgia to relocate the state capital. At the time, Georgia’s capital was Milledgeville, but Kimball saw promise in a budding city named Atlanta. He bought an abandoned opera house there and built Atlanta’s first capitol building. The project was finished in just 4 months, and leased to the city. The Georgia Legislature purchased the building the next year and made Atlanta the permanent capital.

Kimball was heavily involved in civic affairs and development for Atlanta after the relocation. He helped build the city’s first sewer system and helped found an annual agricultural faire to build interest in the city.

About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or Facebook page.

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