Town History

The following account was written by Wm. L. Bass in consultation with Dale Jackson, local historian in 1977. Dale Jackson (now deceased) was the town’s historian for many years.  The accompanying photos and minor corrections were provided by the family of George Davis and Kitty (Lucas) Davis.


In Tracing the history of the community back to its origins, we are led to the person of Gen. Michael Sheil, who was born in Ireland in 1793. Before settling in this area Gen. Sheil had served in the wars in the eastern section of our nation. He and his wife, Bridget, settled here in 1834. Sheil is known as the Father of the town of Atlanta for his land included the existing town boundaries, plus 160 acres (a half mile) west. At that time there were very few settlers in the area, so the main commercial transactions were with the Miami Indians. Sheil built his trading post in 1836 on the western part of his land, and laid out a town called Sheilville. The trading post, built of logs, served the few white settlers in the area and the Miami Indians. There are some in the community today who can still remember this log building. Sheilville obtained a post office, and Gen. Sheil became the first post master.


There must have been a lot of competition and expectations to be found in those times, for around 1835 Caleb Sparger came to the area to settle. His land adjoined that of Sheil on the west. He also built a trading post out of logs, and laid out plots for a town which he named after himself, Spargersville; however, he did not stay long and soon left the area.


In 1846 Andrew Tucker bought land from Sheil east of Sheilville, and laid out a town which was named Buena Vista. As was often the case in those days, survival of communities depended upon the coming of the railroad. The IP&C Railroad (Indianapolis Peru and Chicago Railroad) came through Buena Vista, thus guaranteeing the survival of that community. This led to a decline in Sheilville.


The Indianapolis Peru and Chicago tracks were laid in 1854 "mostly by early Swedes that lived in cabins along the tracks. “Their offspring are still around here — their names were Teal, Nelson, Johnson, Samuels. The Teal family is still here and the Samuel family can be found in Tipton county," according to Dale Jackson.


Buena Vista was renamed to Atlanta in 1885. Some say that this was done due to the beauty of the southern city by the same name and the influence of the men returning from the War between the States. It appears that the change had more practical roots for there was already a larger community in Indiana by that name (Buena Vista) which had a post office. Therefore, in order to acquire a post office the town had to be renamed. All indications are that the selection of the name was based on the Civil War story, but only after a change was already indicated. Whatever the case, Buena Vista became the community now known as Atlanta. The town was incorporated in 1900.