Philander H. Fitzgerald, founder of the City of Fitzgerald, was one of the most prosperous and prominent businessmen of Indianapolis, Indiana. Born in Greensburg, Decatur County, February 4, 1848, he was the son of Joseph and Laura Fitzgerald. P.H. grew up quite poor on his father's farm, which he left in 1868 to study law at Manchester College in Indianapolis.
In June of 1872 Fitzgerald and Mary Mullin of Greensburg were married. The couple became the parents of six children, Frank N., Laura G., Rose E., Bernard G., John P., and George H.
Fitzgerald was appointed by Indiana's Governor Williams to file and settle claims growing out of the loss of property during the Civil War. He was instrumental in filing and settling hundreds of claims in this capacity. An astute businessman and investor, Fitzgerald acquired property on the old "Journal block" at Market and Circle streets in downtown Indianapolis and created what was called one of the finest office buildings in the city.
In 1882, Fitzgerald purchased the newspaper known as the Veteran Review and changed its name to the American Tribune, succeeding in raising its circulation to over twenty-five thousand per week.
The American Tribune became the primary instrument for the fulfillment of Fitzgerald's dream to establish a colony for Union Veterans and their families
in a warm climate where they could spend their last years. With the support of Georgia's Governor Northen, Fitzgerald established the American Tribune Soldiers Colony and sold stock through the Union which made possible the purchase of over 50,000 acres of land in the piney woods of South Georgia
2700 Union Veterans and their families soon moved to Georgia and within two years, side by side with their former enemies, Confederate veterans, created a city with a population of nine thousand people. Initially called Shacktown, the city was ultimately named Fitzgerald in honor of its founder.