The term “carpetbagger” is defined as one who is an unscrupulous opportunist. But just as it is true that all that glitters is not gold, it is also true that not all who came to Atlanta following the Civil War were solely unscrupulous, opportunistic carpetbaggers. Take the case of Hannibal Ingalls Kimball.
H.I. Kimball was a salesman for the Pullman Car Company who came to Atlanta in 1866 and he, most certainly, was involved in some very shaky financial dealings. He also, most certainly, was involved in a number of ventures that greatly benefited the City of Atlanta, such as the Cotton Exposition of 1881 and the building of a “world-class” hotel.
Hannibal Kimball did very well for himself during his time in Atlanta. He lived in a big Victorian mansion near the present day Fox Theater. He walked in “high cotton,” as they say, rubbing elbows with most of Atlanta’s movers and shakers and, most importantly, he made a lot of money. Things were good for Kimball, well, up until that point where he and the Governor of Georgia had to leave town quickly to avoid prosecution for financial wrong doing.
But even after that, Hannibal Kimball got an “all is forgiven” pass from the city fathers and he was invited back to town to help with the rebuilding of a structure he had built in 1870…a structure that is the subject of this week’s Stories of Atlanta.