Peters, Richard, 1810-1889

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Railroad official.

From the description of Richard Peters correspondence, 1844. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70980332

Richard Peters (1810-1889) was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, now part of Philadelphia. After serving an apprenticeship with architect William Strickland, Richard was offered a position by John Edgar Thomson on the Georgia Railroad as an assistant engineer in 1835. He first visited Atlanta (then called Marthasville) in 1844 and moved there permanently in 1846. In Atlanta, Peters was involved in railroad construction and management and real estate investment. Richard Peters married Mary Jane Thompson in 1848 and purchased 405 acres in what later became Midtown, Atlanta. He was an avid livestock breeder and horticulturalist and established a nursery in Atlanta in 1854. In 1871, he founded the Atlanta Street Railway Company, with George Adair, which built the first street railway in Atlanta. After the Kimball House was destroyed by fire, Peters lead the efforts to rebuild it and at the same time, began to subdivide his north Atlanta land. In 1887, he donated four acres of land to help found Georgia Institute of Technology. Upon his death in 1889, his son Edward C. Peters became trustee of the Peters estate. Edward was a civic and business leader, and in 1890 he formed the Peters Land Company. He is primarily associated with the proposed development of Peters Park. After Edward's death in 1937, the family home passed to his son Wimberly, and then to Wimberly's wife, Lucile, who lived in the house until her death in 1970.

From the description of Peters Family Papers, 1848-1965, undated. (Atlanta History Center). WorldCat record id: 742017165

Richard Peters was a civil engineer and scientific agriculturist. He was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, the son of Ralph Peters and Catherine Conyngham, farmers. His grandfather, Judge Richard Peters, was a revolutionary war leader, scientific agriculturist, and intimate of George Washington. In 1844 Peters first visited Marthasville, Georgia, the village at the end of the railroad line near the Chattahoochee, and recognized its potential for development. Having invested his earnings in the Georgia Railroad, he now began to invest in town lots in the village. To Peters, Marthasville was not a fitting name for a town with potential, and it was too long to write conveniently on his freight orders. In 1845 he changed it to Atlanta. Peters purchased from the Georgia Railroad a line of stagecoaches that ran from the end of the line southward to West Point and through Alabama to Mobile. He cast off the role of technocrat by resigning as superintendent (but remained as a director) of the Georgia Railroad. In order to boost the moral tone of the rowdy town, Peters, an Episcopalian, helped found St. Philip's Church (later Cathedral) in April 1847, one of the first in Atlanta, and later that year led the movement for more effective town government. He was also a director of the Macon and Western Branch Telegraph Company, which brought the first telegraph to Atlanta in 1849. Best known in his own time as an exponent of scientific agriculture, Peters took a major step toward his long-term agrarian reform effort in 1847 when he bought a plantation north of Atlanta in Gordon County. Instead of planting cotton, Peters conducted extensive experiments with grains, grasses, and sorghum. He imported the best breeds of livestock available, seeking strains that would survive the climate and diseases of the South while increasing production of meat, milk, and wool. The animals he bred were shipped to farms and ranches all over the United States. He was especially noted for his Jersey cattle and Angora goats. To promote better agriculture, he helped organize agricultural fairs. By 1850 he had formed a company that built the Atlanta Steam Mills, the largest flour mill in the cotton states. For firewood, he purchased two land lots (some 400 acres) north of the city limits that because of the population flow became prime urban real estate and the nucleus of his wealth. In 1855 he opened a nursery in Atlanta, Peters, Harden Company, to improve the quality of southern fruit. He imported 40,000 plants a year from abroad and, after experimentation, distributed the best varieties. Farm journals publicized his activities, and his careful records and unceasing experimentation paid incalculable dividends for agriculture. American National Biography Online. Retrieved 3/12/09.

From the description of Richard Peters signature, 18uu. (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 314766148

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Peters, Richard, 1810-1889. Richard Peters signature, 18uu.
creatorOf Peters, Richard, 1810-1889. Peters Family Papers, 1848-1965, undated. Atlanta History Center, Kenan Research Center / Cherokee Garden Library
referencedIn Amistad Schooner case collection, 1839-1968. Tulane University, Amistad Research Center
creatorOf Peters, Richard, 1810-1889. Richard Peters correspondence, 1844. Library of Congress
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Custis, Mrs. person
associatedWith Peters, Edward C., d. 1937 person
associatedWith Peters family. family
associatedWith Peters, Lucille Kuhrt, d. 1970. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Atlanta (Ga.)
Angora goat
Animal breeding
Business records
Capitalists and financiers
Christmas cards
Civil engineers
Condolence notes
Railroad officials


Birth 1810-11-10

Death 1889-02-06



Ark ID: w6sb6v75

SNAC ID: 50839370