John Pemberton, Pemberton House | Columbus, Georgia

John Pemberton, Pemberton House
11 7th St
Columbus GA 31901
Phone: 706-322-0756

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John Stith Pemberton (July 8, 1831 – August 16, 1888) Born in Knoxville, Georgia Pemberton was the inventor of Coca-Cola. His home is open for tours. He is buried in Linwood Cemetery in Columbus

Pemberton was born to James Clifford Pemberton (born 1803 in North Carolina) and Martha L. Gant (born 1803 in Virginia). Though born in nearby Knoxville, Georgia, Pemberton, as a young child, moved with his family to the larger city of Columbus, Georgia. His uncle, John C. Pemberton, was a Confederate lieutenant general during the U.S. Civil War.

Invention of Coca-Cola
In April 1865, Pemberton was wounded in the Battle of Columbus, Georgia, and like many wounded veterans, he became addicted to morphine. Searching for a cure for this addiction, he began experimenting with coca and coca wines, eventually creating his own version of Vin Mariani, containing kola nut and damiana, which he called Pemberton's French Wine Coca.

With public concern about drug addiction, depression and alcoholism among veterans, and "neurasthenia" among "highly-strung" Southern women, his medicinal concoction was advertised as being particularly beneficial for "ladies, and all those whose sedentary employment causes nervous prostration, irregularities of the stomach, bowels and kidneys, who require a nerve tonic and a pure, delightful diffusible stimulant."

In 1886, when Atlanta and Fulton County enacted temperance legislation, Pemberton found himself forced to produce a non-alcoholic alternative to his French Wine Coca. Pemberton relied on Atlanta druggist Willis Venable to test, and help him perfect, the recipe for the beverage, which recipe he formulated by trial and error. With Venable's assistance, Pemberton worked out a set of directions for its preparation that eventually included blending the base syrup with carbonated water, and Frank Mason Robinson came up with the name "Coca-Cola" for the alliterative sound, which was popular among other wine medicines of the time. Although the name quite clearly refers to the two main ingredients, the controversy over its cocaine content would later prompt The Coca-Cola Company to state that the name was "meaningless but fanciful." Robinson also hand wrote the Spencerian script on the bottles and ads. Pemberton also made many health claims for his product and marketed it as "delicious, refreshing, exhilarating, invigorating" and touted it as a "valuable brain tonic" that would cure headaches, relieve exhaustion and calm nerves.

Asa Candler bought the business in 1887. In 1894, Coke was sold in bottles for the first time. During World War II, bottling plants were set up in Europe, Africa, and the Pacific islands.

John Pemberton in Popular Culture
In 2010 the Coca-Cola Company paid tribute to Pemberton as a key character within an advertising campaign called "Secret Formula". Centered on the secret ingredients of Coca-Cola, imagery related to Pemberton was used to make people more aware of Coke’s history and mythology.

In May 2010, a Twitter account was created for John Pemberton, which was subsequently "verified" by the website. In April of 2011 it was active and had more than 45,000 followers.

The Pemberton House
The simple four room Greek Revival cottage at 11 7th Street in Columbus was the home of Dr. John Stith Pemberton and his family until 1860. Dr. Pemberton, who was a pharmacist in Columbus and later in Atlanta, was the originator of the formula for Coca-Cola. The cottage features an apothecary shop and has been carefully furnished to approximate the surroundings in which Dr. Pemberton worked. Coca-Cola Company momentos, pharmaceutical items, a soda fountain, and advertisements of Dr. Pemberton's are some of the items on display in the cottage.

Tagged with: People in Georgia Historic Houses and Buildings in Georgia Museums in Georgia


According to the Biedenharn museum in Vicksburg, MS, John Stith Pemberton was no relation to John Clifford Pemberton, the Confederate general who led the army that defended Vicksburg during the Civil War (  Can you tell me the source of the information on your web site that John S. Pemberton was the nephew of John C. Pemberton?

Thanks very much.

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