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State gives Bulloch land, funds to build 1st courthouse
Bulloch History
roger allen
Roger Allen

Note: The following is one of a series of articles looking at the origins of the formation of Bulloch County.)


Part I

“A Digest of the Laws of the State of Georgia” (1800) recorded “Drury Jones, Andrew E. Wells, Stephen Denmark, Joseph Rogers, and John Cook (were) appointed commissioners (of the new Bulloch County.)”

The Digest recorded they were told to “Erect a Court House and jail (for) the permanent seat (of the government) of Bulloch.” Until then, all “courts shall continue to be held...at the house of William Fletcher.”

Many recognize the name George Sibbald (or Siebald) as that name of the street around the Bulloch County Courthouse. What is not known is that he is also the man who created “The Georgia Asylum Company” back in 1801."

The one definite benefit to the citizens of Bulloch County was that Bulloch County received 200 acres for their Judicial Center, which Sibbald gave to the Georgia Legislature, hoping they would pass his plan.

The booklet entitled "The True Story of the Bulloch County Court House," was written by C.P. Blitch, and published in the Auspices of the Bulloch County Historical Society in 2004.

Blitch wrote that on Dec. 19, 1803, Gov. John Milledge of Georgia signed a bill creating the town of "Statesborough." County Surveyor Josiah Everett divided the town up into lots.

On March 10, 1804, lot #15, south of Savannah Street (now S. Main St.) was sold to Mr. William Wise for $33. He built a crude log cabin which became the first courthouse.

They repaired the courthouse and then built the city's first jail. In 1806, the Grand Jury wrote of "considerable damages by the keeper of the courthouse."

He had used the building for "a bale room, a threshing floor, and more during the majority of the year when court wasn’t being held. They repaired the building and added more seats in the Grand Jury room.

Then, in 1825, Bulloch's Inferior Court ordered another courthouse be built. Sheppard Wilson, Bulloch County's first sheriff, state senator, postmaster and inferior court judge, signed all the paperwork.

The Statesboro News issue of April 3, 1903 printed a letter from former resident A.J. Gibson, who described the second courthouse: "to my youthful mind the old courthouse was a magnificent structure."

In reality, "I suppose it was a 22-foot by 50 -foot (and) unpainted. It had 1 door, (a) small portico in front without window blinds or sashes, and an upper story where the jury rooms were."

Then, in December 1864, Sherman's troops burned the courthouse. Luckily, Bulloch's Ordinary Judge David Beasley, saved the records by hiding them at his house.

A new courthouse was finally built, a two-story frame building, which opened for business in 1893. Then, in 1894, it was decided a new larger courthouse was needed.

The Statesboro Star issue of March 30, 1894 announced revealed efforts to build “The New Court-House.” It announced that it was publishing “a list of the subscribers to the building of a new courthouse.”

Continuing, “It will be no burden on anybody. Everybody admits the necessity for a new court-house, and everybody knows it is needed, and should be built.”

The largest donors, with $300 donations, were: B.E. Turner, D.R. Groover, J.C. White, S.F. Olliff, J.A. Brannen, R.F. Lester, and J.W. Olliff and Co;” B.T. Outland donated $200; and H.S. Blitch donated $150.

The paper also reported that 11 citizens donated $100; eight citizens donated $50; 11 citizens donated $25; one citizen donated $20; three citizens donated $15; and six citizens donated $10.

According to National Register of Historic Places, Architects Bruce & Morgan hired J.H. McKenzie as the Contractor in 1894 for the Queen Anne building.


Roger Allen is a local lover of history who provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail him at rwasr1953@gmail.com.

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