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Establishment of judges, lawyers and the bar in Bulloch
Bulloch History
roger allen
Roger Allen

Note: The following is one of a series of articles looking at events in the history of Bulloch County.

Part I

The Statesboro News of July 12, 1916 contained an article entitled "The Bar of Bulloch," written by Bulloch County's 'Ordinary," Judge S.L. Moore.

Judge Moore said that before becoming part of the Middle Judicial Circuit, Bulloch County was part of Georgia's Eastern Circuit, which included Chatham County and Savannah.

Moore said his earliest memory of a judge and solicitor general were "Old Judge Wm. Schley and A.B. Smith was solicitor general." Judge Moore then continued sharing whom he next remembered.

The book, entitled Men of Mark (MOM) in Georgia, (7 Vols.) edited by William Jonathan Northern, the ex-governor of Georgia, provided many early Bulloch lawyers' biographies.

Vol. #2 of MOM stated William Schley, elected the 18th governor of Georgia in 1835, attended Academies in Louisville and Augusta, and was elected judge of the Superior Court for Georgia's Middle District.

"After that for a considerable time, Judge Henry B. Thompkins and Judge William H. Fleming presided in the order named, and A.R. Lamar was Solicitor."

Vol., 4 of MOM stated William Henry Fleming attended Richmond Academy in Augusta, and then graduated from the University of Georgia in 1876 as a civil engineer and then earned his A.B. from UGA.

Fleming was admitted to the Georgia Bar in in 1880, and became so influential with his excellence in oratory that he was elected the president of the Georgia Bar Association in 1894-95.

Moore, next added, "Lamar seldom came to Bulloch's court, but W.G. Charlton, the present Judge of the Eastern Circuit, came and represented the State in Lamar's stead."

Lucien Lamar Knight's book, entitled A Standard History of Georgia and Georgians, Vol. 5, (1917) identified Walter Glasco Charlton as "one of the oldest active members of the Savannah Bar."

"The Superior Court would convene on Thursday mornings and if there was an extra heavy docket, might last until Saturday. And mind you, there was no county or city courts."

Judge Moore reminisced that "those few days were great and eventful days for the few inhabitants of our country; the semi-annual meeting for old friends, the days for transactions of business."

It was also the time "for settling old scores between enemies in the fisticuff, for tanking up on bad liquor and betting on horse races and many other such diversions."

Moore revealed that "crowds at court were fed by a few boarding houses--some of them temporarily established for the occasion. But Aunt Sallie Fletcher, Wm. B. Griner, and Uncle Jake Nevils (had) permanent ones."

He added that "the old court house that now serves as a workshop on West Main Street, occupied about the same spot that our present temple of justice does, (a) very creditable structure."

"During the first of those years, Bulloch had no local Bar. The principal visiting men were G.R. Black, J.L. Singleton, J.C. Dell, and T.W. Oliver from Sylvania.

Vol. 3 of MOM stated George Robison Black attended both the University of Georgia and South Carolina College, and was admitted to the Georgia Bar in 1857.

There were more: "R.E. Lester and P.W. Meldrim from Savannah;" "Isaiah Beasley from Reidsville"; (and later) "our own country boys D.R. Groover and John Slater were admitted."

Vol. 3 of MOM stated Rufus Ezekiel Lester was a graduate of Mercer University's class of 1857, and was admitted to the Bar in 1859. Vol. 7 of MOM stated Peter Wiltberger Meldrim attended Chatham Academy.

Meldrim then went on to graduate from the University of Georgia, first in 1868 in the Literary Department, and then from the Law Department of UGA in 1869, and then earned a Masters of Arts from UGA in 1871.

In addition, was "J.A. Brannen (of) Brannen and Booth. Mr. Brannen's first stay was short, (for) he went to Swainsboro and practiced for a few years. He returned and (is now) the oldest member in service at the Bar."

Roger Allen is a local lover of history who provides a brief look each week at the area's past. Email him at

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