A must-have for Georgia researchers

Nifty little book

The Georgia Constitution of 1777 recognized a grand total of eight counties. By 1800, there were 24. By the end of 1832, there were 89. By 1875, there were 137; by 1924, 161; and by virtue of the consolidation of Milton and Campbell Counties into Fulton County in 1932, the current number stands at 159.1

And, according to a terrific little book by Paul K. Graham, CG, AG, “75 of the state’s counties have suffered 109 events resulting in the loss or severe damage of their courthouse or court offices.”2


For those of us with Georgia ancestors, that hurts.

But better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, and the last thing any genealogist wants to do is set off on a road trip to a courthouse that no longer has the records needed or to write an article saying records weren’t examined because of a courthouse fire that … um, er … never happened.

Either of those horribles is easily prevented. Just get a copy of Graham’s nifty little book Georgia Courthouse Disasters, just recently published.

It lists each and every one of those disasters, in alphabetical and in chronological orders, and provides a vignette of the type (or types) of disaster in each county and when each occurred — together with citations to the original sources of the information used to compile the.

One small example, for Toombs County:

Early in the morning of November 21, 1917, the Toombs County courthouse at Lyons was completely destroyed. The county was only twelve years old. Its records were safe in vaults.
“Courthouse is Destroyed,” Macon Daily Telegraph, November 22, 1917, p. 14.3

Perhaps the single most useful feature to the book beyond the simple utility of a one-stop source for record loss caused by disasters are the maps showing the impacts of record losses.

Remember that today’s counties are smaller than the original counties were and so a record loss in, say, Dooly County in 1847 impacted records covering land that today is in Wilcox, Turner, Lee, Crisp and Macon Counties as well as what is today Dooly County.4

The book is only 63 pages, 68 with the index, a neatly bound paperback in a size that’s easy to use and convenient to carry. It’s available from Amazon.com as a paperback for $5.39 or as a Kindle book for $2.99.

A must-have for Georgia researchers.

Highly recommended.


Note: The Legal Genealogist was given a copy of the book for review purposes.

  1. For the 1777 constitution, see Article IV, Georgia Constitution of 1777, GeorgiaInfo (http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu : accessed 4 June 2013). For the creation of counties after 1777, see generally Ed Jackson, “A Brief History of Georgia Counties,” GeorgiaInfo (http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu : accessed 4 June 2013).
  2. Paul K. Graham, CG, AG, Georgia Courthouse Disasters (Decatur, Ga. : Genealogy Co., 2013), 1.
  3. Ibid., 53.
  4. See ibid., 28.
Print Friendly
This entry was posted in General, Resources. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A must-have for Georgia researchers

  1. Linda Deppner says:

    Thanks, Judy — I just ordered my copy! My Georgia ancestors have been a real challenge to research. Jones County is great, with all kinds of records all the way back to its formation in 1807. Neighboring Wilkinson and Twiggs — not so much!

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Paul’s book is quite a treasure, Linda: knowing if there are records or not is a major time saver.

  2. Thanks for posting this! I’m getting more and more involved in my Georgia research and this will help a lot. My ancestors came to Alabama in 1817 from Georgia. I’m concentrating on Twiggs & Wilkinson counties also, as Linda mentioned.

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Have fun with your research, Paul — this will sure tell you if the courthouse ever had a disaster so you know where NOT to look!

  3. Laura W. Carter says:

    Thanks for letting folks know about this book from Paul K. Graham. It is a goldmine and can save researchers time and energy. It also can help get the information we need from those sometimes less than co-operative court house folks who want to pretend they have nothing old.

  4. Mary A Whittier says:

    Am trying to purchase The Legal Genealogist and not sure where and how?

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Mary, I don’t sell anything on this website; I just occasionally suggest to folks things they might like or need, like Paul Graham’s book. All you need to do to stay up with The Legal Genealogist is read along! And you can subscribe to the posts by email (if you go to any blog post from the front page, or just look to the right of this comment, there’s a “Subscribe by Email” button).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>