April 28, 1787
1787 Commissioners from Georgia and South Carolina signed the Convention of Beaufort, resolving three outstanding boundary conflicts between the two states. One of principal reasons for the treaty was a dispute over whether the Keowee or Tugaloo river was to be considered in determining the headwaters of the Savannah River -- which served as the legal boundary between the two states. Both Georgia and South Carolina claimed the land between the two rivers and were issuing land grants in the disputed area. The treaty, however, established the Tugaloo River as the branch of the Savannah to be used in marking the boundary, but allowed Georgia land grants in the disputed area to stand.
April 28, 1883
1883 William Montague Browne died in Athens, Ga. Born July 7 1827, County Mayo, Ireland, he later fought with the British army in the Crimean War, after which he briefly served as a diplomat and newspaper editor. Immigrating to America, Browne would serve the Confederacy as an aide to President Jefferson Davis (with the rank of cavalry colonel) and interim Secretary of State (Feb.- Mar. 1862). He was assigned to Georgia to oversee the Confederate conscription law. In Nov. 1864, Browne assumed command of an infantry brigade to prepare for Savannah’s defense. After the war, Browne’s career included work as a lawyer, editor, writer, and professor.
April 28, 1894
1894 Politician, businessman, and philanthropist Young Loften Gerdine Harris died in Athens, Ga. Born in Elbert County sometime in 1812, Harris was admitted to the bar in 1834. Harris represented that county in the Georgia House in 1841. After moving to Athens, he served as justice of the inferior court of Clarke County for five years, and as a state representative for three terms. Harris was also a Clarke County representative to the constitutional convention of 1865. He had begun working with the Southern Mutual Insurance Company in 1849; by 1866 he was its president and would remain so for the rest of his life. Harris, a devout Methodist, gave generously to further the education of north Georgia’s youth. Two buildings at Emory were constructed through his donations. In 1887, a minister running a small institute for educating children in the Brasstown Valley of Towns County approached Harris for help in funding the school. So generous was Harris’s donation that the school and the town that grew up around it were named in his honor. When Harris died, he left a large cash donation and valuable stock to Young Harris College. Harris was buried in Athens’ Oconee Hills Cemetery.
April 28, 1910
1910 Military leader, businessman, and historian Edward Porter Alexander died in Savannah, Ga. Born May 26 1835, in Washington, Ga., he decided on a military career early in life, and attended West Point, finishing third in his class in 1857. His U.S. military service was cut short by the Civil War. Alexander, beginning as a captain in the engineering corps and later signal corps, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel as chief of ordnance for the Army of Northern Virginia. In Feb. 1864, Alexander was promoted to brigadier general and served at the battles of Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg (where he was wounded). After the war Alexander became a railroad executive after briefly teaching at the University of South Carolina. In 1892 he retired to a rice plantation in South Carolina, where began writing for various magazines on a wide variety of subjects. But it was his memoirs of the Civil War that people most wanted to hear, so in 1896, while arbitrating a boundary dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, he began his memoirs. He spent three years in Nicaragua; upon returning home he broadened his memoirs to include a critical analysis of the military strategies used in the Civil War. In 1907 Alexander’s Military Memoirs of a Confederate was published. His objective observations of so many major battles has been a bountiful source of information for historians. But many southerners did not care for the work, because it criticized some of the actions of men such as Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, who had become folk heroes in the South. Nevertheless Alexander’s Memoirs remains a very important contribution to the history of the Civil War.
April 28, 1913
1913 On day two after the discovery of her body, two more men were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the murder of Mary Phagan. One was John Gantt, a former bookkeeper at the National Pencil Factory, who had openly admired Phagan. He was arrested in Marietta with a packed suitcase, waiting to board a train. The second man arrested was an unnamed black man. The Atlanta Constitution published an appeal, along with a reward of $1000, for anyone who had seen Mary Phagan after noon on April 26 to come forward. Meanwhile police had to disperse a white mob threatening to lynch Newt Lee, the night watchman who had discovered Phagan’s body and was also under suspicion. In a side note to the investigation, the superintendent of the National Pencil Factory was questioned perfunctorily in the case, then expressed his unhappiness with the investigation’s progress, so he personally brought in a Pinkerton’s detective to aid in the investigation. This was the first public mention of superintendent Leo Frank by Atlanta’s press.
April 28, 1983
1983 Alice Walker’s The Color Purple won the prestigious American Book Award for fiction