John Pemberton was born 8 July 1831 in Knoxville, Georgia to James Clifford Pemberton and Martha L. Gant. John's father James was the brother of Confederate General John Clifford Pemberton. He had two siblings, a brother Archy and a sister Ann Pemberton.
Pemberton entered Reform Medical College of Georgia, in Macon, and at the age of 19 became a licensed pharmacist. It was not long after that, that he met and married Ann Eliza Clifford Lewis, who was known to her friends as "Cliff". They had only one child, a son, Charles Ney Pemberton, born in 1854. They lived in Columbus, Georgia and John became the owner of two slaves.
John served as a lieutenant colonel of the Confederate Army's 12th Cavalry Regiment and in April 1865, was wounded in the Battle of Columbus, Georgia. The wound was a saber slash across his chest and like many of the wounded veterans, John found himself addicted to morphine. Perhaps because he was a pharmacist, he began searching for a cure for his addiction.
At first, he worked on opiate-free painkillers that could be used in place of morphine. Next he experimented with coca wines and eventually created his own alcoholic medicine called Pemberton's French Wine Coca. The product was marketed towards war veterans and "highly strung" Southern women.
In 1866, temperance legislation was enacted forcing John to find a non-alcoholic version of the French Wine Coca. After experimenting with various combinations with friend and fellow druggist Willis Venable, they worked out a set of directions that included blending the base syrup with carbonated water. Pemberton then decided to sell it as a fountain drink rather than medicine. Frank Mason Robinson came up with the name "Coca-Cola", liking the alliteration of it. Pemberton marketed the drink as "delicious, refreshing, pure joy, exhilarating".
Not long after Coca-Cola hit the markets, John Pemberton fell ill and nearly bankrupt. Desperate, partly because of his continuing addiction to morphine, he began selling rights to his formula to his business partners.
On 16 August 1888, John died, addicted to morphine and a victim of stomach cancer. He is buried at Linwood Cemetery, where his gravestone is engraved with symbols reflecting his service in the Confederate Army and his pride at being a Freemason.
1860 Federal Census (Columbus, Muscogee, Georgia, United States):
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On 11 Sep 2015 at 18:24 GMT Vincent Piazza wrote:
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