How Hemphill got its name

Northside Drive was first commissioned on top of Hemphill, which used to bend from its slanted orientation to go directly north. But the name of the road has nothing to do with growing hemp, a common crop from which to make rope, on a hill.

William Hemphill is a terrific Atlanta name from the past. According to Wikipedia, he attended the University of Georgia and fought in the Battle of Gettysburg where he suffered a serious head wound.

We don’t learn whether he was shot in the head, kicked in the head or any other details, but this certainly made him perfect for politics and the news business.

After the war, Hemphill became involved in the Atlanta Journal Newspaper, helped it to become profitable, and later became a city Councilman. In what is described as a close race, Hemphill defeated a Republican African American Mayoral candidate only remembered McKinley.

Hemphill Mayor in 1890

In those days, everybody in the south was a democrat, so this was a remarkable attempt at unseating the ‘old guard’ by McKinley. It’s a real shame that someone at Wikipedia does not have more information on McKinley, even if, at first, it might mostly be added to the Hemphill entry.

There is a Jacob McKinley buried in Oakland Cemetery, he was one of the most successful post slavery African Americans in Atlanta. Article here We can’t find proof that this is the same person. If you can run that down, this guy needs his own Wikipedia page.

Hemphill went on after Mayor to head up a Cotton States business group that held exhibitions, fixed prices and promoted southern cotton.

Hemphill was an engineer in college and received his degree from UGA in 1861. If someone in the archives could find more information on what disciplines within the field of engineering he studied, that would be fun to see added to his Wikipedia entry.

Another interesting Hemphill fact is that the Atlanta Waterworks around Howell Mill and Huff Road have Hemphill in their names for many features. Hemphill pump station, Hemphill pond and Hemphill Waste Treatment are just a few of the names around this facility.

Huff road predated William Hemphill by many years, so it is thought that because of his time in Atlanta City government, Hemphill and the Hemphill water works were dedicated to his name early in the 20th Century. William Hemphill died in 1902.

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