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The area surrounding the town of Atlanta (Indiana) was originally settled by General Michael Shields (born in Ireland in 1793). Old man Shields had served somewhere out east until he and his wife settled in Hamilton County in 1834. Shields is considered the father of Atlanta (an honorary title) since it was his land that included the town boundaries.
Within a couple of years, Shields built a trading post on the western part of his land and laid out a town he called Shieldsville (go figure). The trading post served the area's few white settlers and the Miami Indians. Shieldsville obtained a post office, pretty much a prerequisite for being a town in those days, and Gen. Shields became its first postmaster.
About ten years later, Andrew Tucker bought some real estate from Shields and laid out a town he named Buena Vista (though not the Disney version). Within another eight years, the IP&C Railroad (Indianapolis Peru and Chicago Railroad) came through Buena Vista. Buena Vista would survive, while Shieldsville would not. There's no proof, but we're thinking Shields didn't have the best relationship with Tucker after the man stole his town.
As was the case in early America, Buena Vista found itself in need of a new name, since there was already a larger community in Indiana by that name which had a post office. In order to acquire a post office (since Shieldsville was defunct) the town had to be renamed. In 1885, the town was renamed Atlanta. Some say that this was due to the beauty of the southern city by the same name and the influence of the men returning from the Civil War. The town was incorporated in 1900.
During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Atlanta was a regular boom town. During that time, natural gas was discovered in the area, leading to the success of two tin-plate factories and the Kitchen Queen Flour and Grist Mill. Plus, there was an ice plant, washing machine factory, tar mill, brick yard, three livery barns, tomato canning factory, saw mills, saloons, bakeries, groceries, hotels, a bank, a wooden barrel factory for Standard Oil, a moving picture house, a stage show, and an undertaker, all employing close to 2000 employees around 1900. It was the happening place.
But in the 1930's the gas wells failed and it was cheaper for the factories to relocate rather than to use different fuel. The town had as many as 1,800 residents up to that time. About the same time, the railroads also skipped town, costing many more jobs.
Today, Atlanta is a quiet, friendly town. Its claim to fame is the annual New Earth Festival, which began in 1973, held on the fourth weekend in September. With over 600 vendors displaying fine art, crafts, antiques, food and more, this charming small town draws crowds of more than 80,000 people.
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