The city of Stone Mountain had a significant role in the American Civil War, which led to the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.
Stone Mountain Village recognized its part in history by commemorating the 150th anniversary of the signing on Jan. 5. The event included ceremonial cannon fires, the singing of “God Bless America,” and speakers. Stone Mountain mayor Pat Wheeler also spoke and presented a proclamation of Rev. Timothy Depp, pastor of the historic Bethsaida Baptist Church.
Susan Ryles, executive director of Stone Mountain Main Street and Downtown Development Authority, said it was important to recognize the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation because of Stone Mountain’s part in the Civil War.
“The city of Stone Mountain’s history and our awareness of the history all around us here made us really want to commemorate this occasion,” Ryles said. “We’re a significant point in the history of the Civil War here.”
During the Civil War, Stone Mountain Village was destroyed by men under the command of General James Birdseye McPherson on July 19, 1864. On November 16, 1864, the right wing of Union General William Sherman’s troops destroyed the railroad track to the north of the mountain during the March to the Sea.
“They destroyed all the railroad tracks between Stone Mountain and Madison [Ga.] to keep them from running through the mill again,” said Stone Mountain historian Dr. George Coletti.
The railroad track is the oldest structure that was burned by Sherman during the Civil War that is still in use today. The city of Stone Mountain recognized Sherman’s mark on the city by creating a piece art called Sherman’s Neckties.”
Sherman’s neckties were railway rails destroyed by heating them until they were soft and twisting them into loops resembling neckties, often around trees.
Coletti said they also wanted to honor the residents of Stone Mountain and DeKalb County who voted against secession.
“They did not want to leave the Union,” Coletti said. “So, we figured to recognize those citizens of our city who voted against secession.”