Memory Stream Dipping into Philadelphia's illustrated past

The popular soft drink Coca-Cola, invented by Atlanta chemist John Stith Pemberton, was originally called Pemberton's French Wine Coca. In 1886, when Atlanta introduced prohibition, Pemberton switched out wine for sugar syrup, and the product was marketed as Coca-Cola in the late 1880s.

Although John Stith was born and raised in Georgia, the Pemberton family had its roots in Philadelphia. In 1680, Phineas Pemberton and his family set forth on the ship Submission from Liverpool, England, to Maryland. The family then traveled to Pennsylvania and settled on a large swath of land in Bucks County.

Phineas Pemberton became a member of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania and the state's Assembly, as well as serving as William Penn's chief administrator in Bucks County. The Pembertons were very active in the Society of Friends, and Phineas Pemberton's son Israel (John Stith's great-great-great-grandfather) was named president of the legislature and presiding officer of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends.

Other notable members of the family include James Pemberton, a merchant and one of the founders of the Pennsylvania Hospital, and John Clifford Pemberton (John Stith's uncle), who fought on the frontier and in the Mexican War. Though he was raised in Philadelphia, in 1861 John Clifford resigned his commission and offered his services to the Confederate Army.

Content and images provided by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. For more stories, visit

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