GSB Vol. 17, NO. 4, Pg. 28. The Early County Courthouse at Blakely: The Grand Old Courthouses of Georgia.

Authorby Wilber W. Caldwell

Georgia Bar Journal

Volume 17.

GSB Vol. 17, NO. 4, Pg. 28.

The Early County Courthouse at Blakely: The Grand Old Courthouses of Georgia

GSB JournalVol. 17, NO. 4December 2011The Early County Courthouse at Blakely: The Grand Old Courthouses of Georgiaby Wilber W. CaldwellUnlike the many "boom towns" that blossomed all across South Georgia at the beginning of the 20th century, Blakely had roots deep in the 19th century. The town had been established as Early County's permanent seat of justice in 1825. Chartered in 1818, Early County along with Appling and Irwin was one of the three enormous counties that originally spanned the vast empty reaches of south central and southwestern Georgia. Eleven new counties would later be fashioned, in whole or in part, from Early's original territory.

Located only nine miles from Howard's Landing on the Chattahoochee River, Blakely began as cotton's servant. In 1849, George White described the town as having 25 or 30 families with two stores and two hotels. The first Early County Courthouse had been a "heavy hewn log building" built some time after 1825.

This was replaced by a frame structure in 1836, which in turn gave way to a "Colonial Style" court building in 1857. This vernacular brick building with its ample portico supported by four square columns remained in use until 1904.

Progress had been slow to come to Blakely. The Central of Georgia Railroad began its "Blakely Extension" from Albany to Blakely in 1873, but in the wake of the depression following the Panic of 1873, it would be eight years before rails reached Blakely. By 1890, with her population under 500, Blakely was sputtering. By the turn of the century, when The Central completed the "Blakely Extension" to Dothan, Ala., the town still counted only 800 residents. As the new century began, plans for a new railroad through Blakely emerged, and spirits soared in Early County. The grand jury began to recommend a new courthouse.

Not all of this was the usual railroad-imported New South propaganda. The old courthouse was in bad shape. The Early County News related that the building was "all rotten," and "becoming unsafe." The grand jury called the old courthouse "thoroughly worn out." Nonetheless, the rhetoric surrounding the construction of a new court building in Blakely was tinted with a light wash of New South fervor and...

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