Wednesday, March 27, 2013

9901. Henry Harding Tift

Well, hello Mystic, Connecticut! With a late morning appointment (late morning to me being 9 am) at the Mystic Aquarium, I decided to get out and walk the Elm Grove Cemetery for a while, just to see whom I could meet.

I met Henry.

Henry was born in Mystic, but made his impact felt in another place - south central Georgia, of all locales. As a seafaring man, he worked as engineer on a New York-Gulf Coast steamer, before taking a job managing an uncle's manufacturing firm in Albany, Georgia. Taking some saved money, he bought some land along the Brusnwick and Western rail lines in 1872, erected a sawmill, employed workers, and built a thriving town: Tifton, Georgia. It boomed in 1888 when a second rail line intersected with the first, making Tifton a crossroads. Tift County grew from the success of Tifton.

Henry - known from his early days as "Captain," as many from Mystic were, and are - became a philanthropist in his later years. In his final year, he returned to Mystic, where he was buried in 1922 beneath a massive stone with his name on it, and a smaller one that says "Father and Founder of Tift County, Georgia."

I sometimes wish I had been born in an earlier age, when the ladder to climb wasn't quite so tall. This is not to take anything away from men like Henry at all, for they are my idols. I just wonder what I would have done had I had more of a blank slate on which to work. But, che sera, sera, as we have already seen. Besides, who the heck would want to live in Galluzzo County?

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