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Johnny Vardeman: Hoschton, Dacula, Vienna, Cairo — a Georgian's pronunciation guide
Johnny Vardeman

The little town of Hoschton in Jackson County is in the news again, not in a good way, so it’s time for a refresher course on places’ pronunciation.

Whenever Hoschton or the unfamiliar name of some other place comes up, TV announcers, as well as some new residents of the area, struggle with how to pronounce it. Many want to call it “Hosh-ton.” The correct pronunciation is “Hoosh- (rhymes with push) ton.”

William Hosch and his brothers founded Hoschton in 1881, and he built the first house there. He was a Civil War veteran and became a businessman and agent for the old Gainesville Jefferson and Southern Railroad, whose depot remains standing. He moved to Gainesville in 1889 and joined George P. Estes in business, a longtime retail clothing store in the downtown area.

William Hosch later with his brother and sons established Hosch Bros., a wholesale dry goods business that once occupied the building behind the old Princeton Hotel, now Dress Up!

The Hosches have been prominent in the communities where they lived, including some descendants who continue to live in Hall County.

Sometimes you hear Hoschton’s next-door neighbor Braselton spoken with a “z” in it, such as “Brazelton.”

It’s hard to mispronounce Demorest, but some have been known to call it “De-MORE-est.”

Dahlonega is another town whose name requires some getting used to. It’s commonly pronounced around here as “Duh – LON- eger.”

Pronunciation of Flowery Branch isn’t so difficult now that the Atlanta Falcons make the South Hall town its home. But some have been known to call it “Flour-Brainch,” the two words running together, the three-syllable “Flowery” spoke in a single syllable.

Likewise, you’ll sometimes hear the town of Marietta pronounced “May-retta.

There’s Albany, New York, and Albany, Georgia. In North Georgia, you might hear the South Georgia city pronounced the same way Albany is pronounced in New York. But in South Georgia, it’s most likely “All-Benny.”

Rookie TV anchors see “Dacula” on their tele-prompter, and they think “Dracula” without the “r.” So that’s how they pronounce it: “DAK-uler.” Maybe they should have stuck with the original name of the Gwinnett County town, Hoke. Dacula’s name somehow came from a few letters of the Decatur and Atlanta Railroad.

Vienna, Georgia, is pronounced differently from Vienna, Austria. South Georgians insert a “y” in pronouncing the Dooly County town: “Vi-yenna.” The Austrian city is kind of like “Vee-inner,” to Southerners anyway. The Georgia town was named for the Austrian city, but earlier had the names Berrien and Drayton.

The crossroads of Choestoe in the North Georgia mountains is correctly pronounced “Cho-wee –sto-wee.” It’s an Indian word meaning “rabbit’s place.”

A lot of those Native American terms are confusing and sometimes hard to pronounce. But look at Chattahoochee, as in the river. It’s pronounced just as it’s spelled. It was originally “Chatu-huchi,” meaning painted rocks. Much easier to say than some of those earlier French versions, such as Ichattaouchi and Chactas-Ou-guy. The English got it closer with “Chatty noochee.”

On a trip to Cairo

This isn’t North Georgia; in fact, about as south as you can go in South Georgia.

Cairo, Georgia, has always been a curiosity. People who don’t know South Georgia and Grady County usually pronounce Cairo like the one in Egypt – Ki-row. The Georgia version is pronounced Kay-row.

Some sources say the town was named for Cairo, Egypt; others say Cairo, Ill.

Cairo, Georgia, is famous for making syrup, although syrup apparently hasn’t been made on a large scale since the 1990s. The high school football team, however, still is nicknamed the “Syrupmakers.” The town’s slogan is “Where Life Is Sweeter,” and the city’s website is

Grady County, where Cairo is located, is named for journalist and orator Henry W. Grady and produced such elite athletes as legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson, legendary UGA basketball player Teresa Edwards and UGA All-American and Miami Dolphins All-Pro defensive lineman Bill Stanfill.

And, no, there apparently is no relation between Cairo, Georgia, and Karo Syrup, based in New York and Chicago, whose name might have originated from the wife of a syrup chemist.

Watch for more local history in this column next Sunday.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. He can be reached at 2183 Pine Tree Circle NE, Gainesville; phone 770-532-2326;

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