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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 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 ( : accessed 4 June 2013). For the creation of counties after 1777, see generally Ed Jackson, “A Brief History of Georgia Counties,” GeorgiaInfo ( : 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.
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