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Lemuel Grant: Wikis


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L.P. Grant

Born 1817
Died 1893

Lemuel Pratt Grant (1817–1893) was an American engineer and businessman.

He was Atlanta's quintessential railroad man as well as a major landowner and civic leader. In railroads he served as a laborer, chief engineer, speculator and executive all over the South. As part of his speculation, he owned enormous tracts of land in strategic areas. For example, at one point he owned more than 600 acres (2.4 km²) in what is now Atlanta. He designed and built Atlanta's defenses during the American Civil War and afterwards became an important civic leader: donating the land for Grant Park, Atlanta's first large park, and serving as councilman and on various boards and committees.


Early career

Born in Frankfort, Maine, he came south in the 1840s to work on the Georgia Railroad where he started as a laborer. By 1844 he was buying large tracts of Atlanta real estate, mainly in the Third Ward. He and John T. Grant worked for Augusta, Georgia-based Fannin, Grant & Co which contracted to build all or parts of the Georgia, the Central, the Macon & Western, the Western & Atlantic and the Atlanta & West Point Railroads. Soon after he worked under engineer J. Edgar Thomson as a rod man assisting in surveying where he worked closely then with a man who would become a lifelong friend and business associate, Richard Peters. As rod men, their two Massachusetts-born apprentices also had big futures: Sidney Root and Joseph Winship. After completion of the Georgia in 1845, Grant became its Chief Engineer and in March 1849, he began location surveys for the northern terminus of the Atlanta & West Point. This ended up in what is now Atlanta's East Point neighborhood and served as the junction between the A&WP and the Macon & Western Railroads.


On January 27, 1852 he founded the Atlanta Bank with John Mims, William Ezzard, Clark Howell, Sr., Jonathan Norcross, Richard Peters, Joseph Winship and N.L. Angier. They were warned of Chicagoan George Smith who was planning on flooding Mid-West banks with Georgia currency so avoided that scandal but eventually went broke and their charter was revoked in 1856. Grant would try banking again in the 1870s.

Heading West

In 1853, he and John T. Grant headed to New Orleans to work on the Cotton Belt Railroad then the Jackson and Great Northern Railroad. In 1857, Fannin, Grant & Co became contractors to the Southern Pacific Railroad to link Marshall, Texas to the West Coast and the next year Lemuel P. Grant was named president of Southern Pacific. Back in Atlanta in 1860, he and Richard Peters pushed a Georgia Western Railroad against Jonathan Norcross's Air Line.

During the War

The beginning of the war saw Grant still in Louisiana. In February 1861, Fannin, Grant & Co sold out to the Southern Pacific and Grant returned to Atlanta. After the Vicksburg Campaign, Confederate Chief of the Engineer Bureau, Jeremy F. Gilmer, contacted him to survey possible enemy crossings of the Chattahoochee River and defensive works were begun in August, 1863. Grant explained that fortification of Atlanta would be as difficult as that of Richmond, Virginia. He planned a series of 17 redoubts forming a 10 mile (16 km) circle over a mile (1.6 km) out from the center of town. Bounded on the North on high ground present location of the Fox Theatre, the West by Ashby St, the South by McDonough Dr and the East by Grant Park. Gilmer inspected the completed work in December 1863. Because of how the Battle of Atlanta unfolded, these fortifications were never really put to the test.

After the War

The most important shopping area in town was Broad St and Market St which were separated by the railroads and a wooden bridge had been built to span the distance; when it burned, Grant designed and built a new one which was completed in July 1865. He was superintendent of the Western & Atlantic and Atlanta & West Point Railroads. In June 1867, he was on the first committee to name streets in Atlanta with Winship and former mayor William Ezzard. In 1870, he was part of the committee to lure Oglethorpe University to Atlanta from Midway. In 1873, he organized the Bank of the State of Georgia. Throughout the 1870s he represented the Third Ward in council and served on the Atlanta Board of Education and in the 1880s he served as water commissioner. In 1882 he donated roughly 100 acres (0.40 km2) in Land Lot 43 for a park, later named in his honor, and the deed was issued May 17, 1883. In 1884, he chartered Westview Cemetery with former mayor James W. English where he was buried. He died in 1893, a highly respected founding father of Atlanta.


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