John Pemberton

John Stith Pemberton (1831 - 1888)

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John Stith Pemberton
Born in Knoxville, Georgia, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Brother of
Husband of — married in Georgiamap
Died in Atlanta, Georgia, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 8 Jul 2014 | Last significant change: 26 Nov 2018
12:51: Gil Davis edited the Biography for John Pemberton. (added cemetery) [Thank Gil for this]
This page has been accessed 4,943 times.

Categories: Famous Inventors of the 19th Century | Famous Scientists of the 19th Century | Linwood Cemetery, Columbus, Georgia | American Notables.

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The Inventor of Coca-Cola

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.

Census Records

1860 Federal Census (Columbus, Muscogee, Georgia, United States):

Household Role Gender Age Birthplace
John J Pemberton M 29 Georgia
Anna E C Pemberton F 23 Georgia
Charles Pemberton M 5 Georgia[1]


  1. "United States Census, 1860," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 14 Nov 2014), Charles Pemberton in household of John J Pemberton, Columbus, Muscogee, Georgia, United States; from "1860 U.S. Federal Census - Population,"; p. 291, household ID 1150, NARA microfilm publication M653; NARA microfilm publication M653. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.; FHL microfilm 803132.

See also:

  • "United States Census, 1850," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 14 Nov 2014), John S Pemberton, Floyd county, Floyd, Georgia, United States; citing family , NARA microfilm publication M432, NARA microfilm publication M432, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

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No known carriers of John's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests and no close relatives have taken a 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or Family Tree DNA "Family Finder" test.

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Images: 2
John Pemberton Image 1
John Pemberton Image 1

John Pemberton Image 2
John Pemberton Image 2


On 11 Sep 2015 at 18:24 GMT Vincent Piazza wrote:

Shouldn't he have Dr. as a title since he is a pharmacist which implies he must have a PhD.?

John is 28 degrees from Rosa Parks, 26 degrees from Anne Tichborne and 20 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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