James Oglethorpe Varnedoe, son of Samuel McWhir Varnedoe and Caroline Fraser Law, was born Jun 24, 1842, in Liberty County, Georgia. He married Harriet Louisa Busby in Dorchester, Georgia on May 9, 1864. He graduated from Oglethorpe University and enlisted in the Confederacy in 1861. After the war Varnedoe taught school in Decatur, Brooks, and Lowndes County (at the Valdosta Institute). In 1890 he organized the Valdosta Mercantile Company as a wholesale dry goods house. That same year he became captain of the Valdosta Videttes, a home guard militia established after the Civil War. He was also the postmaster of Valdosta for over 15 years and served on the city council.