Thomas Wiley Baxter
Thomas Wiley Baxter (1789-1844), a prominent businessman and entrepreneur in the early nineteenth century Athens. He also had business interests around the state, most notably in Milledgeville and Macon. He advocated for industrial development in the agricultural South and served as president of the Athens Manufacturing Company.
Thomas Baxter, born December 16, 1789 in Greene County to Andrew and Elizabeth Baxter, gained a reputation for heroism during the Seminole Indian Wars. He married Mary Ann Wiley The young couple settled in Milledgeville where they lived for several years. Baxter successfully pursued entrepreneurial opportunities in business and manufacturing before relocating to Macon where he worked as a merchant. While a resident of Milledgeville, Baxter served in the city government and acted as a member of the Board of Visitors for the Masonic Hall Lottery. The union between Thomas and Mary Ann produced eleven children, nine of whom lived to adulthood. Six of the couple’s sons served as soldiers in Confederate forces. A deeply religious man, Baxter belonged to the Presbyterian church and was elected Ruling Elder of the Athens congregation. The Baxters moved to Athens around 1831, where Thomas accepted the presidency of the Athens Manufacturing Company. This endeavor proved his most successful business venture. He became a prominent and respected figure in Athens. He died of consumption on August 18, 1844, at the relatively young age of 57.