Namesake of Buckhead

Today Buckhead, the affluent uptown district of Atlanta, is one of the major commercial and financial cen-ters of the southeast. With its high-rise office towers, hotels, condos and retail space, it is hard to think that Buckhead was once a 1830s frontier outpost with no large city nearby. It was about then that Buckhead derived its unusual and rustic name.

 

In 1838, after the Georgia lottery selling Indian land for low prices, Henry Irby purchased for $650 about 200 acres around today’s intersection of Peachtree, Roswell and West Paces Ferry Roads. Briefly known as Irbyville, it was really just a wood frame general store near a few farms in the remote wilderness.

 

Some stories are truer than others, but the often told account is that a deer hunter, John Whitely, killed a magnificent buck in the general area of Irbyville. He put the stuffed head on display on the Peachtree wagon road and for a time it became an awe-inspiring landmark as settlement continued. By 1840 the Georgia legis-lature designated Irbyville as an election polling place “known as Buck Head” and the colorful name caught on after that.

 

Dr. Paul Hudson, longtime resident of the Brookhaven area and historian at Georgia Perimeter College, writes columns for the Buzz.