February 17, 1736
1736 After spending the night on Skidaway Island, James Oglethorpe and his small party continued southward on the inland waterway on their journey from Savannah to lay out a town and fort on St. Simons Island. Benjamin Ingham, who was on the 10-oar boat, recorded in his diary that around 2 p.m.:
"We set forward again, and with great difficulty crost [sic] over the Mouth of the River Ogeeky [Ogeechee}. The Wind was exceeding high, and the water rough, almost every wave drove over the Side of the boat, So that ever moment we were in danger of our lives; and truly, if Mr. Oglethorpe had not roused up himself, and Struck life into the Rowers, I do not know but that most of us might have here made our Exit."
Around 6 p.m. they arrived at Bear Island and went ashore to spend the night. Here, they found the advance party of colonists bound for St. Simons Island that had left prior to their departure.
February 17, 1783
1783 Georgia’s House of Assembly passed legislation entitling officers and soldiers who had fought in Georgia militia units during the Revolutionary War to a bounty of unallocated lands within the state. Veterans could select available land in any existing county in the state, or in a special military reserve set in newly created counties.
February 17, 1784
1784 Georgia’s House of Assembly enacted new legislation for distributing public land in the state. The 1777 headright formula was continued -- 200 acres to each head of a family, plus 50 acres for each family member (including up to 10 slaves) -- but the maximum number of acres per family was increased to 1,000. To retain their grants, grantees had to clear and cultivate at least three acres out of every 100.
February 17, 1844
1844 After receiving orders at Charleston, 1st Lt. William Tecumseh Sherman reported for duty at Marietta, Ga. For the next six weeks, Sherman helped take depositions in Georgia and Alabama with respect to personal loses of horses and equipment by militia members from the two states that had fought in the Second Seminole War in Florida. During this assignment, the young 23-year-old officer had a chance to familiarize himself with the area of northwest Georgia that he would visit again 20 years later under vastly different circumstances.
February 17, 1854
1854 Gov. Herschel Johnson signed legislation directing that at the next general election, the ballot include the question of whether voters favored or opposed removal of the state capital from Milledgeville.
February 17, 1854
Georgia cities and towns first incorporated by acts approved by the governor on Feb. 17:
1854 Fairburn (then Fayette and Campbell counties, now Fulton County)
February 17, 1893
1893 U.S. Representative Tom Watson secured an amendment to the appropriations bill for the U.S. Post Office Department requiring the Postmaster General to use a portion of the funds to experiment with delivering mail to residents outside incorporated towns and cities. This marked the beginning of Rural Free Delivery.
February 17, 1936
1936 Football great Jim Brown was born on St. Simons Island. He went on to a storied career at Syracuse University and in the National Football League with the Cleveland Browns. He has been enshrined in both the College and NFL Halls of Fame.
February 17, 1958
1958 Atlanta educational television station WPBA (channel 30) began broadcasting as WETV.
February 17, 1960
1960 Alabama prosecutors issued a warrant for Martin Luther King Jr.’s arrest on charges of falsifying his 1956 and 1958 state income tax returns.
February 17, 1974
1974 Gov. Jimmy Carter and Coretta Scott King participated in unveiling ceremonies for a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. in Georgia's state capitol.
The portrait, painted by George Mandus, hung outside the governor's office on the main floor of the capitol until a new and larger portrait of King replaced the 1974 portrait in 2006.
February 17, 1979
1979 Arnold Blum, Alice Coachman Davis, Frank (Hop) Owens, Billy Paschal, Charlie Grisham, Beau Jack, Johnny Raunch, B.L. (Crook) Smith, and George Stallings were inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.