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History of Byron
In the early 1850s, Byron was a flag-stop on the Southwestern Railroad and was known as "Number One and One-Half Station." It had a wood rack for wood-burning engines that was kept by Nimrod Jackson, so later the settlement became known as Jackson Station.
William Hays built a store here in 1860 and a post office was established. In 1867, a second store was built by Dr. C.H. Richardson, who later became Byron's first Mayor. By this time, several handsome homes and pretty cottages had been built. In 1874, the town was incorporated by the Georgia Legislature and named for Dr. Richardson's favorite poet, Lord George Gordon (Noel) Byron.
A large belt of productive farmland owned by industrious people surrounded the infant town. It lay directly on the Southwestern Railroad, which handled all incoming and outgoing freight. Several roads leading from different points penetrated the town. The town began to grow steadily and substantially.
The first school erected within the corporate limits was established in 1885 by Major E.H. Ezell who served as principal and teacher. At that time, owing to his splendid reputation as an educator, boarding students came from various parts of the state to attend the school.
At the turn of the century, Byron was still a quiet rural community but was beginning to show marked growth. Its people were conservative, religious and well-educated. Byron attracted people by its nearness to Macon and excellent passenger train schedules that made it convenient for those in business or those that worked in Macon to commute. Students used monthly ticket books to commute to Wesleyan College, Mercer University and Macon Business College.
Farming was the principle occupation. Mercantile shops, a carriage and buggy factory or two, blacksmith shops, a drug store and general merchandise stores cared for its people. The town was blessed by an abundance of professional people - doctors, lawyers, (six MDs and three lawyers all practicing in late 1800s) druggists, teachers and musicians.
Around 1920, the story of the peach industry marked an era that gave the first quarter of this century such a glamour of prosperity that fact and fiction were hard to distinguish. The peach industry brought bankruptcy as well as wealth. Byron became one of the largest peach growing and shipping areas in the South. During fruit season, Byron was a beehive of activity; often 30 or 40 cars of peaches were shipped in one day by rail; boarding houses provided hospital care for transient fruit packers, crate makers and buyers. In Byron or nearby, there were 11 or 12 locally-owned packing sheds in operation at one time. During this time 14 passenger trains were added to the schedule.
In 1942, our country was at war and often 40 to 50 troop trains or freight cars loaded with war supplies passed through Byron every 24 hours. The same year the United States Government began its installation of Warner Robins Air Force Base. In 1959, the U.S. Naval Forms and Publications Supply Office was built in Byron, it was phased out in 1963 and is now a United States Department of Agriculture Research Station.
In the '70s, people anxious to leave city living and high taxation started migrating to this vicinity which is now one of the most progressive parts of the state. Our area is attractive to new business and industry and it is one of the most highly developed agricultural sections in Georgia.
During the '80s and '90s, Byron enjoyed great growth, with an outlet shopping mall, antique malls, automobile dealers and RV dealerships. Also during this time the North Peach Industrial Park was developed, motels, restaurants and service stations were constructed to accommodate travelers on Interstate 75, which after being opened in the '60s put Byron on the map.
In 1990 local Byron residents raised $70,000 to renovate the Byron Depot, which houses a museum of our history. In 1995, Byron's Downtown and those homes in the immediate area were designated as the Byron Historic District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In recent years, the Byron Area Historical Society has partnered with the City of Byron to renovate the Old Jail, and provided start-up funds for the bandstand in the park which has just been beautified with plantings and the installation of brick walkways imprinted with the names of Byron's earliest citizens as well as with names of current members of the community. Funding provided by the State of Georgia enabled the park project to be completed.
At the turn of the 21st Century, Byron invested in several hundred acres of prime industrial land and entrusted the Byron Development Authority (BDA) with its development. The BDA has not let the city down, and has sold nearly every lot in North Peach Industrial Park. Noticing the success of the BDA, the city has invested in another site on the north side of the city, on the new Crawford-Peach connecting thoroughfare named Benjamin Hawkins Parkway, the BDA is hard-at-work preparing and marketing the site.
As of the 2010 Census, Byron’s population has grown to 4,561 continuing a trend of tremendous growth, outpacing other local communities. Byron is no longer a small town, but a fast-growing city offering superb services to its residents and passersby.