Only County in Georgia Named for a Living Man Judicially Began Career Yesterday at Winder When Judge Brand’s Gavel Fell

The Banner, 26 Mar 1915, p. 4


“Barrow” county, which has the distinction of being the only county in the state of Georgia and one of the few in the United States to be named for a living man (Chancellor David Crenshaw Barrow of the University of Georgia at Athens) began its official history today when Sheriff Otis Camp cried: “O yez! Oyez; the first superior court of Barrow county is now in session; God save the State and the Honorable Court!”

The gavel of Judge Brand of Athens, Western circuit, to which the new county has been added, fell amid a hum and murmur of voices and the work began on the first term of court in Winder.

Held in Opera House.

The old Opera House has been leased for a few years by the county authorities and re-arranged and remodeled to meet the requirements of the court in very convenient manner.

From 1200 to 1500 were packed in the auditorium – a large number of ladies being present. People from the town were there in large numbers; representative citizens from every one of the twelve new and old militia districts and nearly a dozen nearby counties were represented by attorneys and other visitors.

Athens Was Present.

The judge and solicitor of the circuit are both from Athens – Judge Brand and Mr. Gamble. A number of other Athenians of the legal profession were present: Judge West of the city court, Judge Geo C. Thomas, Mr. Howell Erwin, Mr. Wolver M. Smith, Mr. H. M. Rylee, Judge J. J. Strickland, Mr. Roy M. Strickland, Mr Thomas J. Shackelford, and Mr. J. M. Merritt.

A number of other citizens from Athens were present for a part or all of the day.

Chancellor Barrow Present

Judge Brand, as a surprise for the people of the new county and a neat compliment to the man for whom the county is named, had invited Chancellor Barrow, of Athens, to be present and after appropriate introduction requested the chancellor to conduct a brief devotional exercise.

The chancellor read an impressive passage containing the prayer of King Solomon at the dedication of the Temple, making a few appropriate and impressive remarks and lead in an earnest benediction on the organization of the new county.

Others Made Speeches.

During the day there were remarks made, fitting for the historic occasion for the new county, by the local members of the bar, Messrs. L. C. Russell, W. H. Quarterman, and A. G. Johns.

Visiting attorneys from other counties spoke in felicitation upon the auspicious beginning of the county from a judicial standpoint: Mr. Orrin Roberts, of Monroe, speaking for Walton, Mr. J. A. Perry, of Lawrenceville, for Gwinnett, and Judge J. A. B. MaHaffey (recently succeeded to the place of Judge G. A. Johns on the city court bench at Jefferson) for Jackson County – the three counties from which the new county of Barrow was taken; Messrs J. J. Strickland and Roy M. Strickland and Judge H. S. West, of Athens, for Clarke county; and Mr. Percy Middlebrooks, of Madison, for Morgan county.

Judge’s Charge Strong.

Judge Brand made an exceptionally fine charge to the grand jury, of which Mr. H. P. Rainey, a former representative from Jackson county in the legislature, was elected foremen.

Judge Brand, in addition to the things which the law required to be given in general and special charge, took occasion to deliver a forceful lay sermon, impressing on the minds of the people of the new county duty to the state and respect and reverence for law. A better or a more fitting charge could not have been delivered upon such an occasion.

First Case Tried

The first case tried was a divorce case – a verdict being found for the plaintiff. There was quite a pleasant and interesting rivalry among the lawyers as to who should get the first case disposed of on the records. An Athens lawyer, Mr. J. M. Merritt, was the attorney for the plaintiff in the divorce case which received the first attention of a jury in a superior court in Winder.

Clerk Bagwell was directed by resolution to record the proceedings of the day – with some account of the exercises, remarks of the Judge, the Chancellor, and the attorneys who spoke.

The calendar was made out of civil business and the first prisoner to be brought up in the criminal side of the court is one that has been confined for several weeks past in the Clarke county jail at Athens.