Lanier County Georgia, named for the musician and poet Sidney Lanier, is located in the southern portion of Georgia, and oas of 2010, has a population of 10,078. Lanier County's only incorporated municipality is its county seat, the town of Lakeland.
Historic sites include Governor Eurith D. Rivers' home, which was moved from its original spot on Banks Lake to West Main Street in Lakeland in the early 1980s; Union Baptist Church, located near Georgia Highway 135; and Fender Cemetery, located east of Lakeland at the junction of U.S. 221 and Georgia Highway 37 on land that once belonged to David Fender. The site of the cemetery, in which many of the area's first settlers are buried, was chosen so that mourners would not have to ferry their dead across the river for burial. Also, the "Murals of Milltown," which depict community life in the 1920s, grace the exteriors of buildings in downtown Lakeland.
Sidney Lanier was born February 3, 1842, in Macon, Georgia, to parents Robert Sampson Lanier and Mary Jane Anderson. He fought in the Civil War, primarily in the tidewater region of Virginia, where he served in the Confederate signal corps. Later, he and his brother Clifford served as pilots aboard English blockade runners. He was captured and incarcerated in a military prison at Point Lookout in Maryland, where he contracted tuberculosis (generally known as "consumption" at the time). Shortly after the war, he taught school briefly, then moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where he worked as a desk clerk at The Exchange Hotel and also performed as a musician.
He married Mary Day of Macon in 1867 and moved back to his hometown, where he began working in his father's law office. After taking and passing the Georgia bar, Lanier practiced as a lawyer for several years. Late in his life, he became a student, lecturer, and, finally, a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, specializing in the works of the English novelists, Shakespeare, the Elizabethan sonneteers, Chaucer, and the Anglo-Saxon poets.
Lanier finally succumbed to complications caused by his tuberculosis on September 7, 1881, while convalescing with his family near Lynn, North Carolina. He was 39. Lanier is buried in Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore.