Savannah Feature


Famous Faces in Savannah

Here's a sampling of the figures who have etched themselves into Savannah's collective memory.

James L. Pierpont (1822-93) probably wrote a classic Christmas carol in Savannah, despite the total lack of snow. A native of Medford, Massachusetts, Pierpont became music director of Savannah's Unitarian church in the 1850s. In 1857 he obtained a copyright for "The One Horse Open Sleigh" (more popularly known as "Jingle Bells"). All was jolly until the 1980s: tempers flared when Medford claimed that Pierpont had written the song there instead. The dispute over where he wrote the timeless tune remains unresolved.

John Wesley (1703-91), the founder of Methodism, arrived in 1735 and is commemorated by a statue in Reynolds Square. After returning to England, he became one of the towering figures in the history of Protestantism.

Johnny Mercer (1909-76), who penned such classic songs as "Moon River" and "Accentuate the Positive," was a fourth-generation Savannah native and helped found Capitol Records. He is buried in Bonaventure Cemetery next to his wife, Ginger.

Fiction writer Flannery O'Connor (1925-64) spent the first 13 years of her life in Savannah. Known for her Southern-Gothic style, her greatest achievement is found in her short stories, published in the collections A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Everything That Rises Must Converge.

Antwan "Big Boi" Patton (born 1975), best known as half of the legendary hip-hop duo OutKast, was born on the west side of the city and returns frequently to visit family and host events related to his nonprofit group, BigKidz.

Updated: 04-2013

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