Murphey Candler: Baseball, Parks and History

May 20, 2008

(Valerie Biggerstaff, Dunwoody Crier)

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Murphey Candler Baseball Park. The park is named for Charles Murphey Candler, born 150 years ago. There is a lot of DeKalb and Atlanta history in the names Murphey and Candler.

Charles Murphey, born 1799, was Charles Murphey Candler’s grandfather. He was a state representative, state senator, and U. S. representative for Georgia. Charles Murphey was a delegate from DeKalb, representing the county for the vote for or against secession. Murphey was quoted more than once as saying he prayed Georgia would never leave the Union. Ironically, he died of pneumonia on opening day of the Secession Convention. A regiment of Confederate soldiers from north DeKalb were named Murphey Guards after Charles Murphey.

Charles Murphey’s daughter, Eliza, married Milton Anthony Candler in 1857. Milton Candler practiced law with his father-in-law and was also a state representative, state senator and U. S. representative. Milton Candler was a captain in the Confederate army.

Charles Murphey Candler was born to Eliza and Milton Candler in 1858. Keeping with family tradition, he was a lawyer, state representative, state senator and chairman of the state Public Service Commission. He wrote the legislation which ended the convict lease system, where convicts were leased out to work for private individuals. In 1922, Charles Murphey Candler delivered a historical address for the centennial of DeKalb County. A copy of this address is located at the Dunwoody Public Library.

Eliza and Milton had seven sons and four daughters; some of which also had claims to fame. John Candler was a Supreme Court justice and Asa Griggs Candler bought the rights to the Coca-Cola formula in 1891.

The land for Murphey Candler Park was donated in 1953 from the estates of Fred B. Wilson and M. A. Long, although this area may have belonged to Salathel and Sarah Adams at an earlier time (more on this later). This acquisition of 135 acres by DeKalb County followed the 1952 establishment of a Recreation Program and Park Department. The original park was built as a service project of the North DeKalb/Dunwoody Kiwanis Club, led by Dick Fraser.

Since 1958, children and their families have been enjoying the park. In addition to baseball, Murphey Candler Park has softball, football and cheerleading.

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