Saturday, Aug. 3 Booklaunch party at Historic Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, 2-4

Sunday, August 18 Booktalk and signing at Cabbagetown Arts Center, 11 and 1

Tuesday, August 20  Booktalk and signing at Marietta Museum of History 6:30

Thursday, August 22 Booksigning at The Book Worm, Powders Spring 4-8

Saturday, August 24  Booktalk and signing at Dogwood Books, Cartersville at 1

Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019 Booksigning at E Shaver Bookstore, Savannah  1-3

Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019  Booktalk and Booksigning at Sunday in the Park, Historical Oakland Cemetery 12-6; Booktalk at 1

Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019  Booktalk and Booksigning at Sautee-Nachoochee Center 2-4

Monday, Nov. 4, 2019  Booktalk and Booksigning at Forsyth County Library 6:30

Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 Booktalk and signing at DeKalb Courthouse at 6

Wednesday, November 20, 2019  Booktalk and Booksigning at Bartow County Lunch and Learn noon

Sunday, January 5, 2020  Booktalk and Booksigning at Smyrna Library 1-3

Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020  Booktalk and Booksigning  Senior Living Roswell Presbyterian Church 12-2

How Georgia’s cities got their names

Author, actress and storyteller Cathy Kaemmerlen in the Cobb County Museum of History

Anyone who has driven through rural Georgia knows there are some cities with headscratcher names, places like Hopeulikit, Rough and Ready, Hahira or Enigma.

Author, actress and storyteller Cathy Kaemmerlen said she couldn’t help but wonder about some of the places she’d seen driving around the state with her husband, and she decided to look up some of the Peach State’s place names, both serious and silly, for her latest book, “Georgia Place Names from Jot-Em-Down to Doctortown.”

“I’m not a native Georgian, but I have lived here over half my life now, so I think of this as my state, and meeting people and visiting their towns, and just falling in love with this state in all that has to offer,” she said. “So I hope the book carries across that spirit.”

The book, which Kaemmerlen calls a “coffee table gossip book,” contains entries on 200 cities, and she gave a sneak peek at some local spots during a presentation at the Marietta Museum of History last week.


The Gem City, like many others in the state, has multiple explanations as to how it got its name, one that is considered more plausible — as Kaemmerlen calls it, the boring version — and the version based on local folklore.

Kaemmerlen shared both of Marietta’s potential origin stories.

“It depends on who you talk to, but generally, it is said the name came from the wife of U.S. Senator Thomas W. Cobb, whose wife’s name was Mary,” she said. “So he had the honor of having the county named for him, and his wife having the city named for her. But the folklore version goes like this: there were two women — fascinating, they were described as — charming young women whose Christian names were Mary and Etta. So became a coined name, Mary-Etta for those two ladies.”


It’s a running joke that visitors from elsewhere are flummoxed by Atlanta’s superfluity of streets named Peachtree, but Kaemmerlen said that name itself may come from a misunderstanding.

“Originally, it was called Pitch Tree,” she said. “And people misinterpreted and thought they were saying peach tree, because it sounds similar, but it comes from the Indian name because the pitch tree, or pine tree, when lightning struck it, the pitch or tar ran down. … Then it went through other names, Terminus, until finally it became called Marthasville.”

Then-Gov. Wilson Lumpkin named the city thus in honor of his daughter, Martha, but the name didn’t really stick for the rapidly expanding city, Kaemmerlen said.

“When the railways came through, they said, ‘Well, we’ll name it Atlanta, we will do the feminine version of the Atlantic Railroad system,’” Kaemmerlen said. “So Gov. Lumpkin said, ‘Well, look at this family Bible, Martha’s middle name is Atalanta. We named her that because she could walk by the time she was one, and we named her after the goddess of the hunt.’ So Martha Lumpkin … went to her grave thinking, twice, that the city of Atlanta had been named after her.”

Nancy Hart

One special woman from Georgia history has a city, a county and a lake named after her.

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Nancy Hart, a staunch patriot, managed the family farm while her husband was fighting in the Revolutionary War, but Hart herself saw action in the war too, at times disguising herself as a feeble-minded man and entering the British camp to spy on the redcoats. According to one story, she once saw an eye peeking through a hole in the wall of her log cabin while she was making soap. She flung a ladleful of boiling soap water into the eye and confirmed that there was a Tory spy on the other end.

The soapy-eyed spy was turned over to the local militia.

Hart’s most famous actions took place when a band of Brits came to her farm, shot one of her turkeys and demanded she cook it for them.

She was happy to oblige — and to share some of her homemade corn whiskey.

“And so she was cooking it up and pouring the hooch down their throats. She and her daughter Sukey would take their guns and slip them through a little hole in their log cabin, and Sukey was waiting outside. Then finally a Revolutionary soldier came to his senses and saw what she was doing, and she picked up his gun and shot. Then one more advanced, and she killed him too.”

Hart held the other four redcoats at gunpoint until her husband and the rest of the militia showed up and hanged them.

Today, Hart County, its county seat, Hartwell, nearby Lake Hartwell and the Nancy Hart Highway are all named for the patriotic woman.

Kaemmerlen’s discussion got top marks from the crowd of history lovers, including retired Lockheed Martin engineer James Pernikoff of east Cobb, who said he had just ordered a copy of the book online.

“I’ve lived in various parts of the country, and anywhere you go, place names are always unique to the area, and I always wonder ‘How did these places get their names?,’” he said. “Some of the stories can be quite remarkable. … There are names that are kind of expected, it’s always popular to name a city like Rome or Athens after someplace else, but then you’ve got your Dahlonegas and your Milledgevilles and your Mariettas, they all have their own story, and as she pointed out, sometimes you don’t know which story to believe. It’s always fun for me to find out about these things because I’m a bit of a history buff and I’m a bit of a map collector.”

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