City celebrates LaGrange’s 194th birthday with party at the square

Published 9:00 am Saturday, December 17, 2022

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Happy Birthday, LaGrange. At nearly 200 years old, you’ve earned a celebration.

On Friday afternoon, the City of LaGrange celebrated its 194th birthday with a celebration on the downtown square with guest speakers cookies, cake and music.

The city was incorporated on Dec. 16, 1828. Friday marked the 194th anniversary of the day LaGrange was officially “born.”

The city hasn’t traditionally celebrated Dec. 16 with a special event, but Mayor Pro-Tem Willie Edmondson suggested doing so to remember the history of LaGrange. Edmondson acknowledged that 194 isn’t a particularly special anniversary, but the mayor pro-tem suggested holding the event annually.

Several past leaders joined in to celebrate the city’s birthday, including former mayor Chris Joseph and former council members Kay Durand, Norma Tucker, Nick Woodson and Bobby Traylor. Current council members Nathan Gaskin and Jim Arrington also spoke during the event.

Arrington gave a brief history of the story that led to LaGrange’s incorporation,

In the years preceding 1828, the area where the city sits was primarily inhabited by Muskogee Native Americans. The area was eventually settled by people coming from Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina, Arrington said.

“In December of 1828, they decided that there was a need for a county seat in the county of Troup and the selection was left in the hands of five judges. We had one judge that wanted the county seat to be Mountville, and we had one judge who wanted the county seat to be Vernon, which was closer to the river,” Arrington said.

“They couldn’t come to an agreement, so they compromised and where we landed was right in the middle between Mountville and Vernon,” Arrington said. “In 1828, Dec. 16, exactly 194 years from today, the City of LaGrange was incorporated.”

Kay Durand, LaGrange’s first female city council member, served as the keynote speaker for the event. Durand was introduced by Norma Tucker, who was the city’s first African American councilwoman.

Durand said the birthday celebration had caused her to reflect back on the history of LaGrange and to think about its future.

“We are six years away from celebrating the 200th anniversary of the founding of LaGrange. I wonder what that celebration will look like?” Durand asked.

“We know that the original settlers came from more settled areas east of us, some from the Carolinas and some from Virginia. They arrived in a fertile area, but not one that was uninhabited. We need to remember this area was first inhabited by Native Americans with a long history here. Those settlers came to create their own way, their own place in this new land called America,” Durand said. “They came also with people who were enslaved and who had no choice. But they too came and were part of forging this new line.”

Durand suggested using the time until the 200th anniversary to learn more about the history and stories of people in LaGrange.

“Some in our community have already recorded their stories in books. Perhaps when our new library opens these books will be there for everyone to read,” she suggested.

“I want us to spend this time that we have until the 200th anniversary to reflect on our own stories of this place called LaGrange,” Durand said. “We all have stories, and I can’t wait to hear yours