Some historical perspective on the Decatur State of the City Address

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt January 27, 2015
Decatur Mayor Jim Baskett. File photo.

Decatur Mayor Jim Baskett. File photo.

Decatur Mayor Jim Baskett will give his annual “State of the City” address tonight, Jan. 27, at 6 pm.

Last year, Baskett had a very upbeat message about the city, saying everything was “just great,” including the city’s schools, its financial position and its employees.

But take a trip in time with us, if you will. The year is 1883. Decatur’s population is in a growth spurt. The city recorded 639 people in the 1880 census, and will record 1,013 people in the 1890 census. In January of 1883, the Atlanta Constitution published a summary of the city’s annual report.

“The last meeting of the mayor and council of Decatur was held last night for the purpose of making their annual reports, and to turn over to their successors the reins of the town government for 1883,” the story says.

Among the highlights:

– The city treasurer reported a treasury balance of $387.11. The salaries paid for the mayor, clerk, treasurer, marshal and sexton totaled $545. Expenses included a $400 “appropriation on the town clock” and a $25 expenditure on the city’s schools.

– The town marshal said 134 people were “subject to street tax.” He reported 729 days of work done on the streets, with 24 convict laborers, 98 people paying off the street tax and 607 hired laborers. He arrested 29 people. “Fines paid were $127, all collected except $4,” the report says.

– The city reported the number of burials in the cemetery, 38. Of those burials, 15 were white and 23 were black, 17 males and 21 females. Of those, 14 died in their infancy, less than one year of age. Of the causes of death, four died from consumption (tuberculosis), five from pneumonia, 10 from “teething and troubles related to infancy.” One died “from violence.”

The story concluded, “Mayor Word, who was reelected, has conducted a prosperous and successful administration of one year.”

Your move, Mayor Baskett.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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  • Daren Wang

    Mayor Word is my new rap name.

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