Georgia Bar Journal
GSB Vol. 14, NO. 5, Pg. 38.
The Liberty County Courthouses at Hinesville: The Grand Old Courthouses of Georgia
GSB JounralVol. 14, NO. 5February 2009The Liberty County Courthouses at Hinesville: The Grand Old Courthouses of GeorgiaWilber W. CaldwellLiberty County's first town was the port of Sunbury, founded by Puritans in the 1750s. By the time of the Revolution, it was the second largest town in Georgia, and it became the first Liberty County seat of justice in 1783. Riceboro replaced Sunbury as the county town in 1796, and a log courthouse was built there soon after the town was surveyed. In 1836, Liberty`s citizens voted to move the county seat again, and the town of Hinesville was laid out. In 1837, a two-story frame courthouse was erected in a crude carpenter Greek mode.
Twenty years later the rails of The Savannah, Albany and Gulf Railway would bypass Hinesville opting to serve the larger Walthourville, and creating McIntosh and Allenhurst along the way. Through the years, Hinesville experienced little in the way of growth, and even as late as 1910 it counted only 174 residents. Little hope had arrived in Hinesville, and the simple frame court building would serve Liberty County until 1927.
Although the 1837 Liberty County Courthouse can hardly be called one of "The Grand Old Courthouses of Georgia," it is typical of the vernacular frame court buildings that once covered Georgia's town squares. Across the state, more than 100 frame court buildings had been erected. The last appeared in Bryan County at Clyde in 1901. In that year, 23 vernacular frame courthouses, very much like this one, were still in use in Georgia. The last gavel fell in a wooden courthouse in Georgia at Cusseta in 1975, and today only four wooden court structures remain standing. Such buildings speak volumes about the seemingly countless county towns where the myth of the...