By Larry Upthegrove
Robert Maddox was born in 1829 in LaGrange, Georgia to a wealthy planter family. At the age of 21, he was elected Sheriff of Putnam County. In 1858, he became interested in merchandising and came to Atlanta to operate his own store. In 1860, he married Nancy Reynolds of Newton County. When the Civil War began, Robert helped to organize the 42 Ga Regiment and became its Colonel. He returned from the war to devastation of his property and his newly adopted city. After a brief time of helping to clear the streets, he ran for, and was elected to the State Legislature.
In the legislature he was tasked with finding food resources for the population and went on grain buying expeditions to the Midwest. While working in government, he saved money and entered the produce brokerage business and later cotton brokerage. By 1869, he had risen to prosperity and was able to build a fine new house on Peachtree St at Ellis St. It is there that his son was born the next year, Robert Foster Maddox. In 1880 Robert Sr. organized the Maddox-Rucker Banking Company, and he was involved with this enterprise until his death of a heart attack in 1899.
Robert’s son, Robert Foster Maddox was well educated in the Atlanta schools, The University of Georgia, and Harvard University. In 1899 he went to work for his father’s bank where he began with a menial job and worked his way up to Vice-President. He continued to hold high offices in this bank and all of the resulting mergers over the years. His last banking job was the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the First National bank. He was also very active in the affairs of the City of Atlanta and served on the Board of Commissioners of Roads and revenues of Fulton County for two years, and served as the Mayor of Atlanta for two years, 1909-1910. Under his Mayoral administration, the City, through annexation, doubled in size, and Robert was able to get a $3,000,000 bond issue for construction of 12 new schools, modern sewage disposal plants, and a crematory for garbage. Robert Jr. built the estate “Woodhaven” on West Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead and raised his family of three children there. In 1967 after a huge fire had badly damaged the mansion, it was sold to the State Of Georgia. The remnants of his home were removed and a new Governor’s Mansion constructed there.
Today, the Maddox family resides in the splendid mausoleum adjacent to Historic Oakland Cemetery’s Museum Shop and Visitors Center.
By Larry Upthegrove