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Thomasville: Playground of Northern Industrialists

After the Civil War, Northerners who profited from it looked for a place to enjoy themselves and invest their monies. The city of Thomasville in southwest Georgia provided the perfect playground. According to Tom Hill, curator of the Thomas County Museum of History, some Southerners turned up their noses at northern money, but Thomasville welcomed Yankee tourists and especially Yankee money. Chicago merchant Charles Lapham built an unusual three-storied mansion in Thomasville. With central gas lighting and indoor plumbing, it was and remains a showplace for visitors. Thomasville boasted luxury hotels and such amusements as grand balls and horse racing to attract rich tourists. Land was cheap, and Northerners bought plantations and turned them into hunting lodges. Jack Hadley, the great-grandson of a slave master and the grandson of a slave, was born at Pebble Hill Plantation. He acknowledges that the influx of Northerners to Thomasville benefited both blacks and whites. His grandfather was able to save enough money to purchase 250 acres of land and provide all of his children with property. Thomasville thrived after the war, but its glory days ended almost overnight. At the turn of the century a cure for malaria was discovered, and Florida became the new winter playground for the rich.


Teacher tip:
After the Civil War, Thomasville benefited from Northerners who invested in the city. Ask students to give examples from the Georgia Story that show the city continues to reap benefits from those investments.