The Gun That Shot The Buck

In the 1800s the area we know as Buckhead was transitioning from dense woodland populated by Creek Native Americans to a community of families who first built vacation homes here and later relocated to the area, opening businesses and schools. In 1838 businessman Henry Irby bought 202.5 acres of lush, rolling hills around the intersection of Piedmont, Peachtree and Roswell Roads for $650. Legend has it a buck was shot and killed, its head mounted on a tree near the store. People then referred to the area as Buck’s Head which has evolved into Buckhead.

Images courtesy Buckhead Heritage Society

Many believe that Irby himself shot the buck, but the Buckhead Heritage Society has announced that they have found and will showcase the original weapon that killed that infamous buck. The gun is property of the Whitley family and the accompanying story posits that it was either Mr. or Mrs. Whitley that fired the shot and hung the head, earning the area its name.

The Whitley family moved to Buckhead from North Carolina in the 1830s and lived near the intersection of Peachtree and West Paces Ferry Rd. Years later the couple bought 40 acres in an area known as ‘Upper Vinings’ and built a small cabin. As roads began to encroach and new building developments flooded the once wild land the building was relocated to a friend’s backyard where it resides to this day. The gun is said to have been on display above the fireplace in that cabin ever since.

The Buckhead Heritage Society will feature this artifact during their Mansions, Gardens and Ghosts: Buckhead Hidden History Tour on April 28.

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