Georgia Bar Journal
GSB Vol. 13, NO. 5, Pg. 40.
The Butts County Courthouse at Jackson: The Grand Old Courthouses of Georgia
GSB JournalVol. 13, NO. 5February 2007The Butts County Courthouse at Jackson: The Grand Old Courthouses of GeorgiaWilber W. CaldwellIn 1849, in his Statistics of the State of Georgia, George White described Jackson as village of about 300 inhabitants with a courthouse, a jail, two churches and three stores. The courthouse, a two story brick vernacular structure, had been built in 1828 to replace the log court building erected in 1825 when Butts County had been cut from Monroe and Henry counties. Jackson was roughly treated by Federal forces in 1864 owing to scattered resistance in the area, and to large quantities of Confederate supplies warehoused there. The old courthouse had been used to store grain for the Rebel Army and was burned to the ground.
A second brick vernacular court building was erected in 1870. When The East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad arrived in 1882, Jackson still counted only about 300 residents and not much had changed since White's visit. The Middle Georgia Argus described the town on the eve of the railroad's arrival: "...an old dilapidated town with only about half a dozen business houses, and they doing a very small business, and but a few decent dwelling houses...." As was usually the case, the arrival of steel rails created a frenzy of expectation and excess. The Argus heralded the arrival of the railroad as "the greatest day to remembrance for the people of Butts County," and spewed forth myths lifted verbatim from the New South's catechism of progress.
For a brief moment, the New South's promises for the enduring prosperity of the industrial age appeared real, but all of this amounted to little. In fact, Jackson's boom had included no real industry at all. By 1890, although the town's population had more than doubled since the arrival of the railroad, Jackson's economy still rested on the upward spiral of cotton production and the downward spiral of cotton prices. In 1891, Jackson shipped 18,000 bales (compared to 8,000 reported by Sholes' Gazetteer of Georgia in 1886). A list of Jackson's "industries" in 1890 reveal only the shaky infrastructure of cotton: gins and a cotton seed oil plant, factors and fertilizer dealers; a livery stable...