Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

Music

Shelby County Alabama Probate Judges: 1818 To Date


Researched by Bobby Joe Seales


The Shelby Chronicle, Trade Issue, dated Thursday, December 29, 1887 has a listing of Probate Judges through 1887, with James T. Leeper, appointed by Governor William H. Smith on June 21, 1869, and in office at the time of the newspaper article. [This article was reprinted in the April 2000 issue of the Quarterly magazine.] The Shelby County Museum & Archives have many of the newspapers and county record books that contain much valuable information about the Probate Judges. It was a pleasure to research this information and to be able to present it to you. If you find any discrepancies or errors please contact Bobby Joe Seales.


Visit Shelby County, Alabama Probate Judge's Website


Shelby was one of the original counties formed in the Alabama Territory. In 1887 Shelby County was comprised of 758 square miles being organized by an act of the Alabama Territorial Legislature on February 7, 1818. The first white settlements were made along the Cahaba Valley, a narrow but fertile strip of territory bordering the small river of that name which passes through the western border. The pioneer whites planted their rude cabins among these favorite Indian hunting grounds, and the two races lived together until the final removal of the red men beyond the Mississippi.

Also known as "Orphans Court" the first "honorable the County Court of Shelby County, Alabama Territory" was held the "fourth Monday in April 1818" at William S. Wallas's, the place appropriated by law for holding courts in said county. It was held by George Phillips, Chief Justice; Bennet Ware and Patrick Hays, Associate Justices; Henry Avery, Clerk; James Hamilton, Sheriff. [The 1820 Shelby County Alabama census indicates Wm. Wallis, over 21 years of age.]

On the fourth Monday in July 1819 "the worshipful the County Court of Shelby County, Alabama Territory was opened according to law" at which time was present were James Walker, Needham Lee and Bennet Ware, Justices, and Henry Avery, Clerk. "For want of necessary convenience the court adjourned to Henry Avery's store." [The 1820 Shelby County Alabama census indicates Henry Avery, 2 males over 21 years; 1 female over 21 years.]

The "worshipful the County Court of Shelby County of the Alabama State" was held on the third Monday in March 1820 by Thomas W. Smith, Needham Lee, Samuel Givens and Richard Crowson, at which time Thomas W. Smith was elected Chief Justice, William B. Arnold was the Sheriff and James Walker was the Clerk.

Visit Concise History of Columbiana as told by Joseph L. Peters to find out more about the history of Shelby County Alabama.

The Judges of the County Court were as follows:


THOMAS W. SMITH
1820-June 1825

[first officer] As indicated in the March Term 1820 County Court "on motion ordered that the sum of fifty three dollars be appropriated to Thomas A. Rogers for a courthouse for the county ... said house to be finished against the September session of the County Court." Thomas W. Smith was the Chief Justice of the County Court upon completion of the "first" courthouse in Shelbyville, Shelby County Alabama. The October Term 1821 first indicates Thomas W. Smith's title as "Judge".

The 1820 Shelby County Alabama census indicates Thos. W. Smith, 2 white males over twenty one years; 7 white males under twenty one years; 1 white female over twenty one years; 2 white females under twenty one years; 12 total of white population in household; 0 total of free people of color in household; 1 total of slaves in household; 13 total of inhabitants in household. The 1830 Shelby County Alabama census indicates Thos. W. Smith, Males, 1 of 5 and under 10; 2 of 10 and under 15; 1 of 15 and under 20; 1 of 20 and under 30; 1 of 40 and under 50. Females, 1 of 5 and under 20; 1 of 10 and under 15; 1 of 15 and under 20; 1 of 30 and under 40.

Thomas W. Smith acquired 80.09 acres through land patents in Section 15 [near Helena, Shelby County, Alabama] on May 10, 1824 and 80.09 acres on May 20, 1824.

On December 5, 1825 the "Commissioners Court" indicates that Thomas W. Smith was now serving as Clerk of the Circuit Court of Shelby County Alabama.


JOAB LAWLER
June 1825-February 1827

The December Term 1822 of the "County Court of Commissioners of Roads and Revenue" indicates Joab Lawler as a Justice of the Peace and a County Commissioner in Shelby County Alabama. It was during this meeting "that a road be reviewed from Wilson's Hill the nearest and best way to join a road from Elyton to meet at the County Line by way of Tarrances Gap in Jefferson County."

The first Judge of the County Court after its removal to Columbia [in 1832 the name was changed to Columbiana], Shelby County Alabama was Joab Lawler. Visit Concise History of Columbiana as told by Joseph L. Peters to find out more about Judge Joeb Lawler.

The 1830 Shelby County Alabama census indicates Joab Lawler, Males, 1 of 15 and under 20; 1 of 30 and under 40. Females, 1 of 5 and under 10; 1 of 30 and under 40.

Judge Joab Lawler, born June 12, 1796 in Monroe County North Carolina, died March 8, 1838 in Washington D.C. He is buried in the Congressional Cemetery, 1801 East Street, S.E., Washington, D.C. [Section 1115, Row 31, Site 53]. Important facts about Judge Joab Lawler are (1) 1826-1831 Alabama State Legislature (2) 1831-1832 Alabama State Senator (3) 1826-1835 Baptist Minister (4) 1835-May 8, 1838 U.S. Congressman, Washington D.C. (5) 1832-1835 Receiver of public money for Coosa Land District (6) 1833-1836 Treasurer at University of Alabama.

He married July 24, 1816 in Talladega County Alabama to Elizabeth Baker. Their son was Levi Welbourne Lawler, born 1816. Levi married August 23, 1838 in Talladega County Alabama to Mourning Catherine Jenkins. Buried in Autrey-Jenkins Cemetery in Talladega County Alabama is Mourning Catherine Jenkins Lawler, 'Wife of Levi W. Lawler", "Daughter of Wm. & Lettice W. Jenkins", born June 12, 1818 in South Carolina, died August 8, 1839. Judge Lawler's parents were Levi R. Lawler and Elizabeth Teague. Buried in Mardisville Cemetery is Levi Lawler, born 1767 in North Carolina, died April 16, 1836, "Erected by Grandson Levi W. Lawler".


LEONARD TARRANT
February 1827-1833

The February Term 1827 [Monday, February 19, 1927] indicates "the County Court was opened according to law in the Court House in the town of Columbia [in 1832 the name was changed to Columbiana] in Shelby County" at which time Leonard Tarrant, Judge of County Court presided.

Leonard Tarrant acquired through a land patent 79.71 acres in Section 23 [just outside Columbiana, Shelby County, Alabama] on April 10, 1827.

The 1830 Shelby County Alabama census indicates Leonard Tarrant, Males, 1 of 15 and under 20; 1 of 40 and under 50. Females, 1 of 10 and under 15; 1 of 15 and under 20; 1 of 30 and under 40. The 1840 Talladega County Alabama census indicates Leonard Tarrant, Males, 2 age under 5; 1 age 50 and under 60. Female, 1 age 40 and under 50. The September 23, 1850 Talladega County Alabama census indicates Leonard Tarrant, "Methodist Minister", age 65 years, born in Virginia, and his wife, Jane, age 55 years, born in Kentucky. The June 1, 1860 Mardisville, Talladega County Alabama census indicates Leonard Tarrant, "Farmer", age 75 years, born in Virginia, and his wife, Jane, age 65 years, born in Kentucky.

Buried in Tarrant-Harmon Cemetery, Mardisville, Talladega County Alabama are Judge Leonard Tarrant, born June 26, 1785, died February 25, 1862, "Certifying Agent of the Creek Indian Reservation" and Jane Estill Tarrant, Married September 22, 1812 [married in Franklin County Tennessee], "Marker placed by Andrew Jackson Chapter DAR, 1956".] Judge Tarrant's parents were Reuben Tarrant and Charity Cox Ballinger Tarrant.


ALPHONZO A. STERRETT
1833-1834

The November 7, 1850 census indicates Alphonso A. Sterrett, "Lawyer", age 39 years, born in Kentucky, and his children were living in Shelby County Alabama.

[obituary] The Shelby Sentinel, Columbiana, Alabama, Thursday, August 3, 1876, "About 10 o'clock last Saturday, the community was shocked by the startling inteligence that Judge Sterrett had fallen in its midst, and by his own hands, shooting himself with a pistol. For some time he had been in failing health, and it was painfully evident that his mind was gradually giving way, produced, as was believed, by what is known as "softening of the brain," and at the time of his appalling end, there is not the shadow of a doubt but that his reason was completely dethroned. Judge Sterrett was born August 27th, 1810, at Glascow, Ky. His parents removed to Huntsville, Alabama in 1816, where they resided about one year, and then moved to this county, near Montevallo, where he grew to manhood. In 1881 he was admitted to the bar, having read law under Chancellor Jas. B. Clark, with whom he was afterwards associated in the practice. He was afterwards at different times associated in the practice of his profession in this county with Gens. J.B. Martin, of Talladega, and John T. Morgan, of Dallas. At the time of his death, he was the senior member of the law firm of Sterrett, Cobb & Wilson. He served in the Legislature of this State in 1834-6, and again in 1858, and was chairman of the committee which prepared and reported resolutions on the death of W.R. King, Vice President of the United States. He was for several years Judge of the county court of this county. His last public service was as a delegate from the Senatorial District, composed of Shelby and Bibb, in the Constitutional Convention, September, 1875, and served in that body on the committee of finance. It is thought that over exertion in the canvass favoring the call of this Convention, brought on the disease that indirectly caused his death. He has continuously resided in this county since 1817, except a short time about 1845, when he lived in Kingston, in Autauga county. He was a consistent, zealous, active, prominent member of the Baptist Church from early manhood until his death. We have known Judge Sterrett intimately for many years, and it may be truthfully said of him that he was a great man. In his profession he was assiduous, pains-taking and prompt, ever faithfully and vigilently watching over the interests of his clients, until the whole business world within the sphere of his practice had learned to entrust him with their most important interests with full assurance and implicit confidence that they would receive full and complete justice. We doubt whether any lawyer in the State ever enjoyed a better reputation for promptness, faithfulness and uprightness in his profession. Endowed by nature with a good mind and evenly balanced judgment, and having closely applied himself, he stood high in his profession because of his legal learning. But it was in his office more particularly than in the courtroom, that he was pre-eminently useful to the community. Here his advice, counsel and encouragement was sought and obtained by all who needed it. By his wife and prudent counsels, much irritating litigation was avoided, many difficulties were amicably settled, and widows and orphans were protected in their rights. He was always ready to sympathise with those in trouble and distress, and was ever ready to aid and assist them by all means within his power. His loss will be severely felt by the entire community, who have so often sought his advice and counsel. He was a pious and devoted christian. He was not fond of religious excitement, and he was not accustomed to engage much in the public exercises of the church, but his religion was of that earnest, heartfelt character that quietly pervaded his whole nature, and governed and controlled him. In all his intercourse with the world, and manifested in his daily walk and conversation that he constantly communed with his Saviour. He studied the Bible closely, he trusted its promises, he loved its precepts and obeyed its commandments. He clung with unwavering faith to his Bible; he made it the rule and guide of his life, and never permitted himself borne away from the decisions of God's law or from his precepts by any current of human opinion, or any of the temptations of life. His example was for good, his footprints were plainly discernable in the sanctuary. He lived the life of a christian, and though his life was taken by his own hands, it was so plainly evident that the deed was done when reason was so completely dethroned that it will never for one moment shake the confidence of his friends that his ransomed soul has found its home in Heaven. Judge Sterrett was a kind neighbor and affectionate husband and father, and we all today feel that there is a Prince and a great man fallen in Israel." In Memoriam, The Shelby Sentinel, Columbiana, August 31, 1876, "Brother A.A. Sterrett was made a Master Mason in the early history of Shelby Lodge, No. 140, and from that time to his decease, was a good consistent and exemplary member. He has been continuously elected Treasurer of the Lodge for many years ...."

As noted in the September 2002 Quarterly magazine published by the Shelby County Historical Society, Inc., written by Myra Lewis Daniel and Herbert J. "Jim" Lewis, "Our roots in Shelby County began with the arrival into the Alabama Territory of the Sterrett family in 1816. Robert Sterrett and Sally Brooks Sterrett settled with their sons David, Major, and Alphonzo near the Little Cahaba River in present-day Bibb County. The Sterretts were among the first settlers in this area."

[Buried in Columbiana City Cemetery, Shelby County Alabama is Alphonzo A. Sterrett, born August 27, 1810, died July 29, 1876.]

Visit Concise History of Columbiana as told by Joseph L. Peters to find out more about Alphonzo A. Sterrett and family.


WADE H. GRIFFIN
1834-1835

As told by Joseph L. Peters in the Concise History of Columbiana "Wade Griffin, who followed A.A. Sterrett as Judge of Probate, was also a prominent citizen of the town, but filled the office only for one year, and was succeeded by James Woodruff, in 1835. Wade Griffin, however, filled other important places of trust in the county, until 1839, when he was elected a member of the Legislature from Shelby county, in which capacity he served until 1842." As noted in Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama For Thirty Years (1872), Wade H. Griffin was listed as a Shelby County Representative in the Legislature of Alabama from 1839-1841.

Wade H. Griffin acquired four land patents in Shelby County Alabama in 1839. Tuscaloosa Land Office indicates there were three dated March 15, 1839 [79.63 acres, 79.98 acres and 79.96 acres] and one dated September 20, 1839 [40.155 acres].

The 1840 Shelby County Alabama census indicates W.H. Griffin, Males, 1 age under 5; 1 age 10 and under 15; 1 age 15 and under 20; 1 age 30 and under 40. Females, 2 age 5 and under 10; 1 age 20 and under 30; 1 age 30 and under 40.


JAMES WOODRUFF
1835-1840

As told by Joseph L. Peters in the Concise History of Columbiana "Wade Griffin, who followed A.A. Sterrett as Judge of Probate, was also a prominent citizen of the town, but filled the office only for one year, and was succeeded by James Woodruff, in 1835."

James Woodruff acquired 80.13 acres through a land patent in Section 34 of Shelby County Alabama on April 1, 1837.

Caldwell Woodruff's Sketch of Col. Joseph Woodruff, Revolutionary Soldier, of Broro Neck, McIntosh County, Georgia, with list of his descendants, published in 1917, contains the following biography of James Woodruff: "James Woodruff, the third son of Col. Joseph and Mary (Forrester) Woodruff, was born on the Woodruff Plantation, Broro Neck, McIntosh County, Georgia, about January 1789, and his next oldest brother, Joseph, was only a little less than a year his senior. He was graduated from the University of Georgia, at Athens, class of 1808, with a degree in A.B. He then read law, and afterwards located at Montecello, Jasper County, Georgia, where he practiced his profession. There he was married about the year 1812 to Agatha Medlock, daughter of George and Feribee (Smith) Medlock, of Hancock County, Georgia. The Medlock homestead was at what is now Jewel, Hancock County, Georgia, on the Ogeechee River, and it was there that Agatha Medlock was born about 1796. He taught school in Fayette County, Georgia for a short time, and about 1826 removed with his family to Shelby County, Alabama, where Agatha's mother, Feribee (Smith) Medlock, was then living. In the year 1834 James Woodruff was elected Judge of the Probate Court of Shelby County, Alabama. His son Joseph was married nearby in Bibb County, to Bodecia Ann Hill. In the year 1844 Judge Woodruff, as he was known in Alabama, joined his son Joseph in Itawamba County, Miss., where he, Joseph, had gone a few years previously. James Woodruff was Deputy Clerk of the Circuit Court of Itawamba County for a time, and it was here that his youngest daughter, Sarah Medlock, was married to Neil McDuffie, of Saltillo, Miss. At the same period Joseph Woodruff was Sheriff of Itawamba County for several terms. While on his way from Mississippi to visit his daughter, Mary Ann, at Montevallo, Alabama, he was injured in a railway accident at Marion Junction, Alabama, on the 9th day of February 1867. He was carried to the home of his daughter and died there on the 14th day of February 1867, in the 79th year of his age, (just past 78 years old). He was buried in Montevallo Cemetery. His wife Agatha Medlock survived him only a few months dying at the home of her son Joseph in Itawamba County, Miss. She was buried at Mantachie, Miss."

The November 19, 1850 Itawamba County Mississippi census indicates James Woodruff, age 61 years, "Teacher", born in Georgia, and his wife, Agatha, age 56 years, born in Georgia, and their daughter, Sarah, age 16 years, born in Alabama. The June 23, 1860 Montevallo, Shelby County, Alabama census indicates Jas. Woodruff, age 70 years, "Teacher", born in Georgia, in the household with Abe Nabors and his wife, Mary A. [Judge Woodruff's daughter], age 42 years, born in Georgia, and their daughter.


ANDREW BROOKS STEVENS
1840-March 1841

He resigned in March 1841 as indicated in The Shelby Chronicle, Trade Issue, dated Thursday, December 29, 1887.

His parents were Henry Wilbourne Stevens and Sally Brooks Stevens. [He was a half-brother to Judge Alphonzo A. Sterrett.] As noted in the September 2002 Quarterly magazine published by the Shelby County Historical Society, Inc., written by Myra Lewis Daniel and Herbert J. "Jim" Lewis, "Andrew Brooks Stevens was a graduate of the recently opened University of Alabama in 1834. He was a lawyer who practiced in Kingston in Autauga County as well as in Montevallo, and served for a time as County Court Judge for Shelby County. Andrew died unmarried."

Andrew B. Stevens, died at Kingston, Alabama March 25, 1844, aged 26 years, and is buried in Cahaba Valley Church Cemetery in Bibb County Alabama.


SAMUEL BRASHER
March 1841-June 1841

The August 23, 1827 County Court in Shelby County Alabama with "the honorable" Judge Leonard Tarrant presiding "Thomas and Samuel Brasure [Brasher] obtained a permit from the Clerk of this county to retail spiritous liquors in Coosa Valley." [Thomas H. Brasher, served as 1843-1846 Sheriff of Shelby County Alabama, and his brother, Samuel Brasher, served approximately three months in 1840 as Judge of County Court in Shelby County Alabama. The 1840 Shelby County Alabama census indicates Thomas H. Brasher and family and S. Brasher and wife were living next household to each other.]

The October 29, 1850 census indicates Samuel Brasher, "Merchant", age 47 years, born in South Carolina, and his family living in Shelby County Alabama. The July 4, 1860 Shelby County Alabama census indicates Samuel Brasher, "Merchant and Farmer", age 56 years, born in South Carolina, and his family were living in Montevallo.

As noted in Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama For Thirty Years (1872), S. Brasher was listed as a Shelby County Representative in the Legislature of Alabama from 1861-1862.

Samuel Brasher, born December 25, 1803, died June 12, 1868 in Shelby County Alabama. His first wife was Elizabeth Ann Johnson. Buried in Johnson Cemetery in Shelby County Alabama is Elizabeth Ann Brasher, died July 24, 1837, "Wife of Samuel Brasher", "Aged 25 years 9 months 28 days". His second marriage on November 2, 1840 in Shelby County Alabama was to Margaret S. Gooch. Other children of Samuel Brasher buried in Johnson Cemetery in Shelby County Alabama are John Rufus Brasher, Martin Hugh Brasher and Samuel Henry Brasher.

Visit Concise History of Columbiana as told by Joseph L. Peters to find out more about Samuel Brasher and family.


CHARLES R. GIBBS
June 1841-April 1846


Charles R. Gibbs

The above photograph of Judge Charles R. Gibbs was copied from the The History of Walworth County Wisconsin, 1912.

The 1840 Shelby County Alabama census indicates C.R. Gibbs, Male, 1 age 15 and under 20; 2 age 20 and under 30. Females, 1 age 5 and under 10; 1 age 15 and under 20.

As told in 1905 by Joseph L. Peters in the Concise History of Columbiana, "It is not known where he [Judge Charles R. Gibbs] lived or what became of him after his term of office expired. However, he owned the land north of East College Street, and it is supposed he lived on it."

Judge Joseph L. Peters may not have know what became of Judge Charles R. Gibbs after his term of office expired ... but I [Bobby Joe Seales] know ... thanks to today's modern means of genealogy. The History of Walworth County Wisconsin, 1882, pages 626-627, "Judge Charles R. Gibbs, farmer, Sec. 7; P.O. Whitewater: has 240 acres of land. He was born in Granville, Washington Co., N.Y., December 14, 1813, He is the son of [Dr.] Leonard and Betsy Roberts Gibbs, who were natives of New York, of English descent. His grandfathers were both soldiers of the Revolution. He received an academic education, read law with his brother, Leonard Gibbs, three years, and, in 1832, went to Georgia, where he resided until 1839, holding the position of Postmaster during the years of 1835 and 1836. He pursued the study of law with Hon. Turner H. Trippe; was admitted to the bar of the State of Georgia, and practiced his profession in that State until 1839. He then moved to Shelby Co., Ala., where he was Judge of the County Court from 1841 to 1846. He then moved to Rock Co., Wis., making his home near Janesville, where he was engaged in farming. In 1848, he was an unsuccessful candidate for the State Senate, running on the Free-Soil ticket. He was beaten only by thirty-five votes on a poll of over three thousand, running considerably ahead of his ticket. In 1854, he was elected Register of Deeds of Rock County, and served the term of 1855-56. He was Commissioner at Large of Schools, and Secretary of the Board of Education for the city of Janesville three years, during the war and also held other local offices. During the years from 1854 to 1858 inclusive, he served as Secretary of the Rock County Agricultural Association, which embraced the most prosperous years of its history. In 1858, he formed a law partnership with John R. Bennett and John B. Cassoday, of Janesville, under the firm name of Bennett, Cassody & Gibbs, which connection lasted seven years. He was appointed member of the Board of Managers of the Industrial School for Boys by Gov. Harvey, and was connected with the board from April, 1862, to April 1880. In 1866, he moved to Whitewater and engaged in farming, and breeding fine-wool sheep, Short-Horned cattle, Blooded horses and Poland-China hogs, having as fine a stock of the different kinds as can be found in the State. In 1872, he was elected to the Assembly from the Third District of Walworth County, comprising the towns of East Troy, La Grange, Sugar Creek, Troy and Whitewater, receiving 1,168 votes as a Republican against 549 cast for the Democratic nominee, Perry G. Harrington. He was appointed by Gov. Taylor as a delegate to the National Prison Congress held at St. Louis in 1874, being also a delegate from the Industrial School. Taking an active interest in agricultural matters, he has served as President of the Walworth County Agricultural Association for the year 1880, up to that date the most successful year of the association. He was married in Georgia, June 4, 1838, to Miss Martha H., daughter of Wilie Pope. They had seven children, of whom only four are living - Pope, Frank L., Helen and John. Mrs. Gibbs died March 12, 1860, at Janesville. Judge Gibbs was married, Nov. 20, 1860, to Mrs. Frances Birge, widow of Leander Birge, and daughter of John M. and Julia B. Clark. They have one child, a daughter named Frances." As indicated in The History of Walworth County Wisconsin, 1912, pages 1232-1233, "He [Judge Charles R. Gibbs] remained in Janesville until 1867, enjoying a good practice, then came to Whitewater, Walworth county, locating on a farm in Whitewater township, a mile west of the city, owning there one hundred and sixty acres, on which he continued to reside until 1902, when he came to Whitewater and purchased a pleasant home on Main street, where his widow still resides, and here his death occurred on November 30, 1907, at the advanced age of ninety-four years, after a useful, successful and honorable life, one of which his descendants may well be proud ... The widow of Judge Gibbs was born in Pawlet, Vermont, on April 25, 1831."

The July 22, 1850 census indicates Charles R. Gibbs, age 37 years, "farmer", born in New York, and his family were living in Rock County Wisconsin. The June 18, 1860 census indicates C.R. Gibbs, age 46 years, "Attorney at Law", born in New York, and his family were living in Rock County Wisconsin.

[obituary]The Elkhorn Independent, Elkhorn, Wisconsin, Thursday, December 5, 1907, "Judge C.R. Gibbs of Whitewater died Saturday evening, aged 94 years. He was a native of Washington and New York in which state he was educated to the law. About 1850 he went south, settling in Georgia, but soon became unpopular with his neighbors who could not tolerate his anti-slavery ideas, and he found it best to come north. He located at Janesville about 1855 and in time became a member of the law firm of Cassody, Bennett & Gibbs, with which he remained until 1864, when he moved to a farm near Whitewater, where he gave much attention to raising blooded stock. He is survived by his wife and a daughter. Judge Gibbs was for many years a member and secretary of the board having in charge the reform school at Waukesba. Judge Gibbs and the late Andrew E. Elmore, who were of the same age, were for a long time the leading spirits in building up the institution. Judge Gibbs and family moved to Whitewater from the farm some years ago."

Buried in Hillside Cemetery in Whitewater, Walworth County, Wisconsin [Block 10, Lot 850] are Judge Charles R. Gibbs, born December 14, 1813, died November 29, 1907; Frances Clark (Birge 1st) Gibbs, "wife of C.R. Gibbs", 1831-1921; Frank L. Gibbs, "Son of C.R. Gibbs", born 1851, died July 3, 1900; Helen Gibbs, "Daughter of C.R. Gibbs", born March 18, 1853, died February 2, 1928; John B., "Son of C.R. Gibbs", born June 12, 1855, died May 29, 1928; Leonard Gibbs, 1869-1871; Sarah J. Gibbs, 1843-1871; Fanny Gibbs, born 1872, no death date.


WILLIAM G. "BILLY" BOWDON
April 1846-April 1849

The November 10, 1850 Shelby County Alabama census indicates William G. Bowdon, age 31 years, born in South Carolina, and his wife, Mary, age 30 years, born in South Carolina, and their children, Lucy, Lavina, Virginia and George. The July 16, 1860 census indicates W.G. Bowden, "Attorney at Law", age 41 years, born in South Carolina, and his family were living in Harpersville, Shelby County, Alabama.

He was the son of Robert Bowdon, son-in-law of Rev. James M. and Catherine T. Scott, and husband of Mary Jane Scott Bowdon. William G. Bowdon married Mary Jane Scott in Shelby County Alabama on December 5, 1840. As noted in Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama For Thirty Years (1872), William G. Bowdon was listed as a Shelby County Representative in the Legislature of Alabama from 1859-1860. What happened to Judge Bowdon after the 1860 census is unknown; however, his wife, Mary Jane Bowdon, died July 30, 1904 in Kansas City, Missouri and is buried in Independence Cemetery in Independence, Missouri. [The June 2004 issue of the Quarterly magazine published by the Shelby County Historical Society, Inc. has an article concerning "his last years" that was submitted by Eleanor McCain.]

Visit Concise History of Columbiana as told by Joseph L. Peters to find out more about William G. "Billy" Bowdon and family.


JOHN M. McCLANAHAN
April 1849-1862

In May 1850 the Orphans and County Courts were abolished by an act of the Legislature. The duties and functions of these tribunals were delegated to the Probate Court. Therefore, John M.McClannahan became Judge of Probate. The first Shelby County Alabama Probate Court was held on June 5, 1850.

John M. McClanahan married Eliza Ann Roper, daughter of Joseph and Mary (Cromwell) Roper. The December 20, 1850 Shelby County Alabama census indicates John M. McClanahan, "Lawyer", age 40 years, born in South Carolina, and his wife, Eliza, age 36 years, born in Tennessee, and their children, all born in Alabama, Dora, Joseph, James, Mary, Laura. Living with them was Martha Nelson, age 83 years, born in Ireland. The July 4, 1860 Shelby County Alabama census indicates Jno. M. McClanahan, "Atty. at Law", and family were living in Montevallo.

When the 1854 Courthouse was built in Columbiana, Shelby County Alabama Judge John M. McClanahan was the Judge of Probate Court. Visit Concise History of Columbiana as told by Joseph L. Peters to find out more about the 1854 Courthouse and John M. McClanahan and family.

[obituary, appeared in the June 2002 issue of the Quarterly magazine published by the Shelby County Historical Society, Inc.] The Ouachita Telegraph, dated July 18, 1867, "Ouachita Parish Louisiana. An Editor Killed By Lightning. The Mansfield Times (DeSoto Parish Louisiana) comes to us draped in mourning for the death of one of its editors, Judge Jno. M. McClanahan, from a stroke of lightning, causing instantaneous death. Deceased was standing at the time in the front piazza of his residence watching the approach of a cloud. Judge McClanahan was for many years a resident of Shelby County, Alabama, but removed to Louisiana some eighteen months ago. He had filled many responsible positions in that State. He had already made hosts of friends in his new home, and died greatly lamented."


NAPOLEON B. MARDIS
1862-June 1869

The June 6, 1870 Columbiana, Shelby County Alabama census indicates Napoleon Mardis, "Lawyer", age 45 years, born in Alabama, and his wife, Harriett, age 32 years, born in Alabama. Living next household was his mother, Margaret Mardis, age 74 years, born in Tennessee. The June 15, 1880 Shelby County Alabama census indicates Napoleon B. Mardis, "Post Master", age 56 years, born in Alabama, his father born in South Carolina, his mother born in Tennessee, and his wife, Harriet A., age 40 years, born in Alabama, her father born in England, her mother born in Alabama.

Visit Concise History of Columbiana as told by Joseph L. Peters to find out more about Judge N.B. Mardis and family.

[obituary] The Shelby News, Calera, Alabama, Thursday, October 20, 1892, "Judge N.B. Mardis died in Columbiana last Thursday night, the 13th inst. Judge Mardis was a native of Shelby county, and although not in political touch with our people, he was universally liked and esteemed as a good citizen, neighbor and friend and every citizen of Shelby county regrets his death and tender to his afflicted wife the fullest sympathy." [his wife's obituary], The Peoples Advocate, Columbiana, Alabama, Thursday, January 2, 1896, "Died at her residence in this place on the night of the 22nd of December last, Mrs. N.B. Mardis. She had been sick several days and her death was not unexpected. Her remains were interred in the city cemetery on Monday following, beside her husband who died several years ago."

[Buried in Columbiana City Cemetery, Shelby County Alabama is Judge Napoleon Mardis, born July 1, 1823, died October 13, 1892, "Husband of A. Mardis".]


JAMES THEOPHALUS LEEPER
June 1869-August 1888

Judge James Theophalus Leeper, 1832-1888, and Judge John Samuel Leeper, 1843-1895, were brothers. They both died while serving in their term of office as Shelby County Probate Judge. Their parents were Samuel Leeper and Elenora Stone. [As noted in the Shelby County Guide, Columbiana, Alabama, Thursday, August 24, 1871, "We are pained to note the death of Samuel Leeper, Esq., of Shelby County, who died at the residence of his son Judge Leeper, in Columbiana, on Thursday last. Mr. Leeper was one of the early settlers of Talladega County. He aided in establishing and was the first superintendent of the Sabbath School ever organized in the county. Mr. Leeper was in every respect a good man. He was an active, useful citizen in the community which he resided and his influence was always for the right. He had been a ruling elder in the Presbyterian church for more than forty years, and died as he had lived a true Christian, an upright man and an honored citizen."]

The October 28, 1850 Talladega County Alabama census indicates Theophalus Leeper, "Clerk", age 17 years, born in Alabama, living in household with Alexander J. Cotton, "Judge of Probate Court", and family and Seldon H. Eason, "Clerk", age 21 years. The October 15, 1850 census indicates Samuel Leeper, "Lawyer", age 49 years, born in Georgia, and his wife, Elenora, age 34 years, born in Virginia, and their six children, all born in Alabama were living in Shelby County Alabama. Two of their children were James T. Leeper, "Clerk", age 18 years, and John S. Leeper, age 10 years.

The Shelby County Guide, Columbiana, Thursday, June 3, 1869, "The following named attorneys were admitted at Montgomery, last week, to practice in the U.S. District Court ... James T. Leeper."

He was appointed Probate Judge of Shelby County Alabama by Governor William H. Smith on June 21, 1869. The Shelby County Guide, Columbiana, Alabama, Thursday, June 24, 1869, "Mr. Jas. T. Leeper our present efficient Register in Chancery has received the appointment of Probate Judge of this county, vice Judge Mardis whose disabilities had not been removed. A word of praise from us in favor of Mr. Leeper would be superflous. He is well known to the people of Shelby as a consistent union man, and represented them in convention of 1865, and will fill the place he is about to assume with credit to himself and fidelity to the people." [The Shelby News, dated November 3, 1892 indicates the county officers as Probate Judge, John S. Leeper; Circuit Clerk, W.R.A. Milner; Register in Chancery, D.R. McMillan; Sheriff, H.W. Nelson; Tax Collector, A.F. Smith; Tax Assessor, John H. Hammonds; County Treasurer, W.A. Thompson; Superintendent of Education, E.O. Dawson; County Solicitor, J.L. Peters; County Commissioners, James McGowan, Rufus Walker, Richard Griffin, A.M. Jones."]

The June 23, 1870 Columbiana, Shelby County Alabama census indicates James T. Leeper, "Judge of Probate", age 36 years, born in Alabama, and his family were living in same household with his parents, Samuel and Elenora Leeper. [The July 6, 1860 Shelby County Alabama census indicates Samuel Leeper, "Attorney at Law", age 60 years, born in Georgia.] The June 14, 1880 census indicates James T. Leeper, "Judge of Probate", [age 48 years, born in Alabama, his father born in Georgia, his mother born in Virginia] and family were living in Columbiana, Shelby County Alabama. His daughter, Olive Leeper, married in Shelby County Alabama on May 21, 1890 to Frank A. Nelson. [He was the son of Hardy Sanders Nelson and Sarah Ann Elliott.] Their son was Frank Nelson, Jr. (1896-1970), owner of the Frank Nelson Building, a 10-story skyscraper located at the corner of 20th Street and Second Avenue North in downtown Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama, It was originally completed in 1903 as the headquarters for the First National Bank of Birmigham and is considered Birmingham's third skyscraper.

[obituary] Shelby Chronicle, Columbiana, Alabama, Thursday, August 18, 1888, "On Monday, August 13, at 12:30 o'clock, Judge Jas. T. Leeper quietly and peacefully passed from time to eternity. His death was not unexpected, and his preparation for the event was full and complete. Death had no terrors for him. That faith which he had exemplified through life sustained him in the last trying hour, and he passed into the dark valley, his mind clear and calm, leaning upon the almighty arm of Him whom he had trusted and faithfully served through life. "Mark the perfect man; and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace." James T. Leeper was born at Moulton, the capital of Lawrence county, Alabama. In his extreme youth his parents removed southward to Talladega county, where their son was given a common school education. In 1848, Mr. Leeper moved to Shelby county, but, in 1850, returned to Talladega to be employed as clerk in the Probate office there. This position he held for a year and a half. Coming again to Shelby he was employed in the same capacity. He so economized his time under Probate Judge Miles H. Pope, as to prepare himself for the bar. In 1854, he was examined by John T. Morgan, J.L.M. Curry and John J. Woodard at a term of the St. Clair Circuit Court, Hon. George D. Shortridge presiding, for admission to the bar, and was by them passed upon as prepared. In 1855, Mr. Leeper assisted M.H. Cruikshank, Register in Chancery for Talladega, with the duties of his office. The next year he was himself appointed Register for Shelby county by Chancellor Jas. B. Clark, of Eutaw. In connection with his duties as Register, he entered upon the practice of law, in co-partnership with his father, Samuel Leeper, who was one of the most successful practitioners in this circuit. On November 1, 1857, Mr. Leeper married Miss M. Antoinette Bandy [they married in Shelby County Alabama on November 1, 1857], and has continuously since then lived happily and and comfortably in Columbiana. A large family has sprung up from this union. Mr. Leeper was elected a member of what is known as the "Parson's convention" of 1865. He took a conservative stand as a democrat in that body, whose object was to re-organize the political life of the state. In 1865, Mr. Leeper was appointed by Gov. Parsons Solicitor for this circuit, and stood for election by the legislature for the same office, with Alberto Martin, of Jefferson, and B.B. Lewis, of Shelby, as rival candidates. Martin was elected. In 1866, he formed a new partnership with Mr. Lewis. Two years later, he was appointed Register in Chancery for the district of three counties, Jefferson, St. Clair and Shelby, by Chancellor Woods, afterwards Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the U.S. The year following, that of 1869, Mr. Leeper was appointed Judge of Probate for Shelby, by Gov. W.H. Smith. He has held the office continuously since by three popular elections, and has occupied that and other important positions of trust and emolument for the greater part of forty years. In 1867, Judge Leeper joined the Presbyterian church, and four years later was made an elder of the same, which position he has filled with that dignity and singleness of purpose which distinguishes his life. Judge Leeper was frank, open, easy and social in manner. His courtesy was never varying; his sincerity self-vindicating, and the native courage of his life attracted men of all degrees and conditions. No man ever lived in the county who carried a wider personal influence than he. The popular vote which fixed the county on the side of prohibition, was the result of his calm but firm espousal of that policy. He acted only after mature deliberation, and seldom changed his opinion. As a Judge of Probate, Judge Leeper possessed the unbounded confidence of his constituency. His rank in that office was second to none before the Supreme Court. Prior to the war of the state, Judge Leeper was an active Whig in politics. He canvassed his county for Bell and Everett in 1860, opposed by B.B. Lewis, who advocated the election of Breckenridge and Lane. Immediately after the close of the war, Judge Leeper alligned himself with the democrats, the political situation then having been reduced to white control of the state or negro supremacy, aided by federal legislation and the federal army. He has been a consistent democrat since that time, supporting the party organization and voting the party ticket. Where the party has been divided on the question of finance and taxation, he has espoused the cause of low tariff. The fact need especially to be signalized that Judge Leeper was not only an able officer, industrious and attentive in the minutest details of his office, but of incorruptible integrity and immovable firmness - a breakwater between careless or negligent administrators and guardians and widows and orphans. He loved the church and the honor of his Redeemer, and was a conspicuous example of the saying "Strength and beauty are in the sanctuary." True men trusted and confided in him to the last degree, and will mourn over him as one mourns over a brother by blood. On Tuesday afternoon at three o'clock, the funeral services were conducted at the Presbyterian church by Rev. H.A. Smith, assisted by Rev. G.T. Lee and Dr. E.B. Teague, who added a high tribute to the virtues of Judge Leeper. All business houses in town closed as soon as the death was announced, and all business was suspended until the funeral was over. This is a mark of respect seldom shown any one in this place, and shows in what high esteem Judge Leeper was held by the people among whom he has lived. His place will not be easily filled, and his sad death will not soon be forgotten by the people of Shelby county."

Buried in Columbiana City Cemetery, Shelby County Alabama are James T. Leeper, born September 23, 1832, died August 13, 1888, "Born in Moulton, Lawrence County, Alabama", and his wife, Nettie Leeper, born February 14, 1836, died November 26, 1915, "Wife of James T. Leeper", and Samuel Leeper, "Son of J.T. and Nettie Leeper", born March 3, 1867, died June 15, 1890, and J.T. Leeper, born January 4, 1869, died March 12, 1930.


RUFUS WILLIS COBB
August 1888-October 1892


Rufus W. Cobb

Some records indicate his name as Rufus Wills Cobb. Rufus W. Cobb was born February 25, 1826 in St. Clair County Alabama, died November 26, 1913 in Jefferson County Alabama. His parents were John W. and Catherine Stevens Cobb. He practiced law in St. Clair until he moved to Shelby County, Alabama, in 1867 and became a law partner of B.B. Lewis. When war was proclaimed in 1861 Cobb joined the Confederate Army as Captain of Co. C., Tenth Alabama Infantry Regiment, Forney's Brigade, and went to Virginia with that regiment. He remained there until in 1863 he was assigned to General Joseph Wheeler's Calvary in Tennessee and placed in charge of a scouting party. At the end of the war he resumed his law practice. Cobb was elected to the Alabama State Senate in 1872 and 1876 and was elected the 25th Governor in1878 and re-elected in 1880 [his term of office began November 29, 1880 and expired November 29, 1882]. Cobb also served as President of the Central Iron Works at Helena, Shelby County, Alabama from 1873 to 1891, continuing to hold his title while serving as Governor. He was also an attorney for the L&N Railroad and was involved in cotton planting and in developing the "Delmar", an iron mine in northern Alabama. He belonged to all the branches of the York Rite Masons and was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Alabama in 1879 and 1880. He was the only man who was Grand Master and Governor at the same time. He is buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama. The Cahaba River Bridge on U.S. Highway 31 South, between Jefferson County and Shelby County, is named in his honor.

The June 3, 1880 census indicates Rufus W. Cobb, "Gov. of Alabama", age 50 years, born in Alabama, his parents born in South Carolina, and his wife, Fannie, age 36 years, born in Maryland, her parents born in Maryland, and his children, Edith, Richard, and Dora P. Cobb, were living in [Beat 6, Helena] Shelby County Alabama.

[obituary], Shelby County Review, Calera, Alabama, Friday, November 28, 1913, "Judge R.W. Cobb, Governor of Alabama two terms, died Wednesday morning at 7:30 o'clock at the residence of his daughter, Mrs. C.M. Campbell of Woodlawn. Judge Cobb had been ill for some time, and his death was not unexpected. In a fall a few days ago he suffered a fractured hop and he did not recover from the shock of this injury. Funeral services were conducted from the residence at 2:30 Thursday afternoon, Rev. W.C. Clark, of the Woodlawn Presbyterian Church, and Rev. Preston Blake, of the South Highlands Baptist, conducted the services at the home. The Alabama Grand Lodge of Masons, of which Judge Cobb was a Past Grand Master had charge of the services at Woodlawn Cemetery, Grand Master Judge Dan Greene conducting. The subordinate lodges of Birmingham assisted in the ceremonies. The pallbearers were the Past Grand Master Geo. W. Morrow, Past Grant Master Ben M. Jacobs, Eugene Fies, Col. T.O. Smith, George W. Armstrong, W.W. Wittaker and Joe C. Hail. Former Governor R.W. Cobb was born in Asheville, Ala., February 25, 1829. Through all of his life he had a prominent part in the affairs of Alabama. His early life was spent on a plantation, and he was taught in the neighborhood schools. At the age of 18 he entered the University of Tennessee, graduating in 1850." Shelby County Sun, Columbiana, Alabama, Thursday, December 4, 1913, "Last week at his home in Birmingham, Ex-Governor R.W. Cobb passed to the beyond after a most useful career in his eighty-fourth year, surrounded by the members of his family. The death of Ex-Governor Cobb leaves three ex-Governors to survive him; Thos. G. Jones, W.D. Jelks and B.B. Comer. The subject of this sketch connected Alabama with an age that is fast fading away. Before the war between the states, an educated and talented young man, he displayed most wonderful elements of leadership. He was a soldier with an enviable record, and when hostilities ceased, he took an active part in the desperate political struggle to restore the white man in Alabama. Mr. Cobb was not a spectacular Governor; but he was able, faithful and industrious. His valuable services were rendered in restoring economy and picking up the raveled ends of the state's financial affairs, after the orgy of carpet-bag and scallawag corruption which accompanied carpet-bag rule in the latter "sixties" and early "seventies." During Mr. Cobb's administration the first Railroad Commission for Alabama was established, a forward step in legislation for those days. During this time Mr. Cobb was a resident of Shelby county, and after retiring from four year's service as Governor, he was appointed Probate Judge of Shelby county to fill out the unexpired term of Judge J.T. Leeper, deceased father of our fellow townsman and prominent lawyer, J.T. Leeper. He later moved to Jefferson county and located at Woodlawn, where he served several times as Mayor. Governor Cobb grew old gracefully, with loved ones around him in a handsome and comfortable home. He has always been interested in the affairs of humanity and was fond of walking the ways of the average man. Peace to his ashes."


JOHN SAMUEL LEEPER
October 1892-October 1895

Judge James Theophalus Leeper, 1832-1888, and Judge John Samuel Leeper, 1843-1895, were brothers. They both died while serving in their term of office as Shelby County Probate Judge. Their parents were Samuel Leeper and Elenora Stone. [As noted in the Shelby County Guide, Columbiana, Alabama, Thursday, August 24, 1871, "We are pained to note the death of Samuel Leeper, Esq., of Shelby County, who died at the residence of his son Judge Leeper, in Columbiana, on Thursday last. Mr. Leeper was one of the early settlers of Talladega County. He aided in establishing and was the first superintendent of the Sabbath School ever organized in the county. Mr. Leeper was in every respect a good man. He was an active, useful citizen in the community which he resided and his influence was always for the right. He had been a ruling elder in the Presbyterian church for more than forty years, and died as he had lived a true Christian, an upright man and an honored citizen."]

The October 15, 1850 census indicates Samuel Leeper, "Lawyer", age 49 years, born in Georgia, and his wife, Elenora, age 34 years, born in Virginia, and their six children, all born in Alabama were living in Shelby County Alabama. Two of their children were James T. Leeper, "Clerk", age 18 years, and John S. Leeper, age 10 years.

The June 14, 1880 census indicates John S. Leeper, "Merchant", age 37 years, born in Alabama, his father born in Georgia, his mother born in Virginia and his wife, Fannie A.W., age 37 years, born in Alabama, her father born in South Carolina, her mother born in Virginia, and their children, Norah (female, age 5 years) and Georgia (female, age 3 years), were living in Columbiana, Shelby County Alabama. Also, living with them were Horace Ware, "Iron Manufacturer" and his wife, Mary, and their child, Clara.

The Shelby Chronicle, Columbiana, Alabama, Wednesday, October 19, 1892, "Gov. Jones has appointed John S. Leeper, the probate judge elect, to fill the unexpired term of Judge R.W. Cobb, resigned. Mr. Leeper being the choice of the county by election, of course his appointment will give general satisfaction." [The Shelby County Election Returns on August 1, 1892 indicates for Probate Judge "Leeper, 4,445 votes; Pitts, 1,328 votes; Holbrook, 889 votes."]

[obituary] Shelby Sentinel, Calera, Alabama, Thursday, October 17, 1895, "Died suddenly at his home in Columbiana, on Friday morning last the 11th inst., Hon. John S. Leeper, Probate Judge of Shelby county. Rarely, if ever, have the people of Columbiana or of Shelby county received such a shock as that occasioned by the announcement of this death. Judge Leeper was apparently in his usual health and had been presiding at the sessions of the Commissioners court which convened on the Monday preceding and continued in session into Thursday afternoon the 10th inst. After the adjournment of the court he spent the remainder of the afternoon looking after business connected with his office. Late in the evening he came out of the office and spent a short time on the street in social converse with friends and then repaired to his home. He ate his supper and passed the evening pleasantly with the family retiring at his usual hour, about 9 o'clock ... At an early hour on Friday morning a servant entered the house and knocked at his door for the purpose of obtaining the pantry keys, preparatory to getting the morning meal in readiness. Not meeting with any response to her knocks she notified the Judge's eldest daughter, Miss Nora, of the fact. Miss Nora repaired immediately to the room door and knocked once or twice but failing to arouse her father opened the door and looked into the room. He appeared to her to be sleeping so quietly that at first she hesitated about disturbing him, but called him gently, and then a little louder. Failing to arouse him she became somewhat alarmed and went to his bedside and touched him and found him cold in death. She at once gave the alarm, quickly arousing the other members of the family who were at home. Medical aid was at once summoned and several of the near neighbors came in, but nothing could be done - the vital spark had fled. The immediate cause of death, as decided by the family physician, Dr. W.S. DuBose, who was called in, being an apoplectic stroke. Mrs. Leeper, the wife of the Judge, was absent on a visit to Bessemer having gone to that place a few days before to place young John at school. Judge Leeper was a native of Alabama and was born at Mardisville in Talladega county, on the 15th of April, 1843, hence was in his fifty-third year. He entered the army when a youth of only eighteen years in the 10th Alabama regiment, and served with Wilcox's famous brigade in the army of Northern Virginia, throughout the war, a true and faithful soldier. He was a prisoner of war for a number of months, bore the hardships and suffering of prison life in the rigerous Northern climate with heroic fortitude, but suffered to the end of life from the exposure and hardships to which he was subjected during that time. He was united in marriage with Miss Fannie Woodruff of this county in 1873. She died in July, 1892. He was married again in June of this year to Miss Ella Calhoun of Bessemer, Ala. (Ella Calhoun Leeper died May 26, 1921 and is buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Bessemer, Jefferson County, Alabama), who with three children, two daughters and a son by his first wife, survive him. He was elected Probate Judge of this county in 1892 and was discharging the duties of the office at the time of his death, a faithful, painstaking and efficient official. He was a man of lovely character." The Peoples Advocate, Columbiana, Alabama, Thursday, October 17, 1895, "Hon. John S. Leeper Probate Judge of Shelby County was found dead in his bed at his residence in this place on the morning of the 11th instant. Judge Leeper had been threatened with paralysis for some time and it was a stroke of this fatal disease that carried him away during the night. His body was entered in the Columbiana cemetery at 10 o'clock Saturday morning, a large concourse of sympathizing friends and relatives following his remains to his last resting place...." [Buried in Columbiana City Cemetery in Shelby County Alabama is Fannie A.C. Leeper, born November 18, 1843, died July 17, 1891, "Wife of John S. Leeper".]

His three children were (1) Eleanora W. "Nora" Leeper Reynolds (1874-1937), wife of Herbert E. Reynolds (1869-1911). As noted in his obituary he was an "Ex-State Senator from Bibb County under Governor Comer's administration; was well known in Columbiana, he having at one time been a resident and prominent lawyer of this place, and married Miss Nora Leeper, also of this city; he was survived by his father, Capt. H.C. Reynolds (Henry Clay Reynolds, Civil War veteran, Montevallo businessman and was named "first" President of the Alabama Girls Industrial School, a.k.a. University of Montevallo) , of Montevallo, his wife, two sons, two sisters." (2) Georgia Woodruff Leeper (1977-1951). Georgia never married and as noted in her obituary had served as manager of the Alabama College school's supply store since 1911 and director of the postoffice for much of that time; was born in Columbiana and was the daughter of the late Judge John S. Leeper and was educated at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga.; she was survived by a niece, Miss Frances Leeper, Centerville, and two nephews, Captain John Leeper Reynolds, New York City and Eugene DuBose Reynolds, Montevallo. (3) John Stone Leeper (1880-1934). He was married to Dora (Davidson) Leeper, daughter of James Lafayette and Susan (Powell) Davidson. They are all buried in Centreville Memorial Cemetery in Bibb County Alabama. Judge Leeper's grandchildren were (1) Capt. John Leeper Reynolds, U.S. Navy, Retired. He was born February 2, 1898 in Bibb County Alabama, died September 22, 1962 in City of Luxemburg, Country of Luxembourg in Europe. He had no children. (2) Eugene DuBose Reynolds, born June 18, 1899, died September 15, 1968 and is buried in Montevallo City Cemetery. His wife was Jamie Bonner (Henry) Reynolds (1892-1975) and their surviving children were Eleanora Reynolds, married George S. Compton, and Sara Henry Reynolds (1926-2006), married in 1949 in Shelby County Alabama to Ralph Roundtree Banks, Jr. Other survivors included a grandson and a granddaugher [Ralph Roundtree Banks, III and Jamie Banks Cochrane, wife of Peyton C. Cochrane]. (3) Frances P. Leeper, never married, daughter of John S. and Dora Leeper, born July 14, 1908, died January 15, 1991 in Centreville, Bibb County, Alabama.

Shelby Sentinel, Calera, Alabama, Thursday, October 17, 1895, "The death of Judge Jno. S. Leeper has caused a vacancy in the office of Probate Judge of this county. There are, we understand, three candidates for the appointment, viz: D.R. McMillan, of Columbiana, E.S. Lyman, of Montevallo, and N.A. Graham of Calera."

John S. Leeper, born April 15, 1843, died October 11, 1895 and is buried in Columbiana City Cemetery, Shelby County Alabama. [On July 10, 2009 the Shelby County Historical Society placed a marker at his grave site, located next to his first wife's grave who was also the mother of his children. See the Shelby County Reporter, dated July 29, 2009 for photos and article.]


DUGALD RICHARD McMILLAN
October 1895-November 1898


D.R. McMillan

The above drawing of Judge D.R. McMillan was copied from the Columbiana Sentinel, dated September 22, 1904., at which time he was up for election as a "loyal Democrat" for the position of Probate Judge [against Republican Judge A.P. Longshore that was up for re-election] ... "he served the people of this county for three years as Probate Judge."

The Chronicle, Columbiana, Thursday, October 17, 1895, "Again there is a vacancy in the office of probate judge of this county, caused by the death of Hon. J.S. Leeper, and again the governor will be called upon to appoint a capable man to fill this important position." The Chronicle, Columbiana, Alabama, Thursday, October 31, 1895, "Tuesday evening about 8 o'clock a telegram was received here from Gov. Oates' private secretary, Capt. Vaiden, announcing that Hon. D.R. McMillan had been appointed by the governor probate judge of Shelby county. This was indeed gratifying to our fellow-townsmen, and we believe will prove equally pleasing to the democracy of the county, by whom Judge McMillan is held in warm esteem ... Mr. McMillan was born in Monroe county, this state, January 31, 1854, and was admitted to the bar in Monroeville, the county seat of his native county, in May 1881. In 1883 he moved to this place, where he has been continuously in the practice of his profession ever since. He is now 41 years old, and in the prime of life, with the promise of many years of usefulness before him."

D.R. McMillan was first appointed Register in Chancery on November 5, 1892.

[obituary] The Peoples Advocate, Columbiana, Alabama, Thursday, April 27, 1911, "D.R. McMillan died at his home here early Wednesday morning from an attack of heart failure. He was sick only a few hours. Mr. McMillan was well known to the citizens of Shelby county and had many friends who will learn with regret of his sudden departure. He had been a citizen of Shelby county for over twenty years and was at one time Probate Judge for the county. He is survived by a wife and six children." As stated in Shelby County Sun, Columbiana, Alabama, dated May 18, 1911, "... Dugald Richard McMillan was born January 31, 1854 in Monroe County, near Monroeville, Ala. His parents were Neill and Serena McMillan. He spent his youth on the farm, and secured the chief part of his schooling by his own hard work and determination. After reaching manhood he began the study of law. He practiced first in Monroeville, going from there to Pensacola, Fla., and then in March 1883, to Columbiana, Ala. On December 31, 1890, he was married to L. Etta Mason. They had seven children, but one of them has died." [Buried in Columbiana City Cemetery, Shelby County Alabama is D.R. McMillan, born January 31, 1854, died April 26, 1911.]


ADOLPHUS PARKER LONGSHORE
November 1898-January 1917


A.P. Longshore

The Election Returns in August 1898 for Shelby County Alabama indicates for Probate Judge J.D. Hardy, 25 votes; Adolphus P. Longshore, 1,595 votes; D.R. McMillan, 1,453 votes.

The Shelby Sentinel, Calera, Alabama, Thursday, November 20, 1898, "The newly elected county officers took charge of their respective offices last Thursday, the 3rd inst."

In 1904 at the time the two story "new jail" was built Judge A.P. Longshore was Probate Judge. Also, in 1905 when the construction of the "existing courthouse" was begun Judge A.P. Longshore was Probate Judge. He was the "first" Probate Judge to preside in the "new courthouse".

Published in the April 2001 Quarterly magazine published by the Shelby County Historical Society, Inc. is a poem taken from The Peoples Advocate, dated Thursday, December 1, 1910. The fourth verse reads "Our courthouse is one of the very greatest, And built on the style of the latest. Its cost compared with its value is a very small sum, And Judge A.P. Longshore will ben honored for it in years to come. We also have honest officials in power, Who holds office in this magnificent tower."

The June 5, 1900 and the April 15, 1910 Columbiana Town, Shelby County Alabama census indicates Adolphus P. Longshore as "Judge of Probate".

[obituary] Shelby County Reporter, Thursday, June 1, 1939, " The following account of the death of Judge A.P. Longshore, a widely known and prominent citizen of Shelby County, is taken from the Birmingham Age-Herald of Thursday, May 25. An outstanding figure in Alabama's civic and political life, Judge Adolphus P. Longshore, Sr., died Wednesday afternoon [May 24, 1939] in a local hospital after a short illness. An active leader in the Republican party in Shelby County for many years, Judge Longshore had served in the State Legislature four terms, was Shelby County probate judge four terms and practiced law until his retirement in 1936. Born Sept. 16, 1854, near Hickory Flat, in Chambers County, Judge Longshore attended school in Chambers and Coosa Counties and later attended Washington and Lee University. He was admitted to the bar in Wetumpka in 1878. He was a missionary Baptist, a Mason and a Knight of Pythias. Surviving are four sons, A.P. Longshore, Jr., W.L. Longshore and Paul J. Longshore, all of Birmingham; Leslie C. Longshore, Anniston; six daughters, Mrs. A.M. Averyt, Miss Frances Longshore and Mrs. C.R. Culpepper, all of Birmingham; Miss Lallage Longshore, Tuscaloosa; Mrs. Sam Friedmon, Tuscaloosa; Mrs. D.R. Barnett, Misoula, Mont.; 18 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and four nephews, Gen. John C. Persons, Birmingham; Col. W.E. Persons, New Orleans, and Clyde Persons, Atlanta. Funeral services were held at 3:30 p.m., Thursday, at Southside Baptist Church, Dr. J.H. Chapman officiating, assisted by the Rev. C.C. Sanders. Burial was in Elmwood Cemetery, Rideout directing. Among those named to serve as honorary pall bearers were W.J. Horsley and Judge W.W. Wallace of Columbiana, W.L. Farley and F.G. Koenig (active), former citizens of Columbiana."


GEORGE W. WEAVER
January 1917-January 1923


George W. Weaver

The Peoples Advocate, Columbiana, Alabama, Thursday, January 18, 1917, "At the court house Monday there were many changes made in county officials. G.W. Weaver succeeded A.P. Longshore as Probate Judge, and Judge Longshore succeeded P.J. Kroell as President of the Board of Revenue ... By the new court bill, the County Court was abolished Monday...."

[obituary] Shelby County Reporter, Thursday, May 12, 1932, "Judge George W. Weaver, prominent attorney and former county official, died at his home in Columbiana at 11:30 Thursday evening, after an illness of only a few hours. Thursday, he was apparently as well as usual, having spent the day in Birmingham on business. Judge Weaver was born and reared in Shelby county and obtained his education in the county schools. As a young man he held various places of trust, including the postmastership at Wilsonville. He became interested in politics and soon gained recognition as a leader in his party. He served for a term as tax collector and in 1916 was elected probate judge. Following his retirement from the office of probate judge, he was for several years located in Birmingham where he held a government position. Returning to Columbiana he engaged in the practice of law. He was a member of Brother Tom's Bible class of the Methodist Sunday school, being regular and prompt in attendance. On the last Sunday he was in the class, he heard his name read as having made the Honor Roll for the month of April. Friends from all parts of the county and from other counties came to Columbiana Friday afternoon to attend the funeral service which was held in the Methodist church. The service was conducted by Rev. T.K. Roberts and Rev. D.Z. Woolley assisting. A quartet composed of Mrs. W.W. Wallace, Mrs. J.W. Stone, Rev. O.R. Burns and T.H. Kirby sang the hymns. Pall bearers were: L.H. Ellis, P.O. Luck, C.T. Weldon, Judge Cage Head, C.E. Niven, Parker Shelly, J.M. Leonard and W.L. Christian. Following the service interment was made in the Columbiana cemetery." [Buried in Columbiana City Cemetery, Shelby County Alabama is George W. Weaver, born October 3, 1880, died May 5, 1932.]


LEONARD BUFORD RIDDLE
January 1923-January 1929


L.B. Riddle

Shelby County Reporter, Thursday, January 18, 1923, "The county officials elected last November were installed last Monday ... Probate Judge, L.B. Riddle; Circuit Clerk, W.T. Taylor; Sheriff, J.J. Faulkner; Tax Collector, J.L. Isbell; Tax Assessor, W.E. Harrison; Tax Adjuster, E.A. Turner, Treasurer, J.S. Bird ... L.B. Riddle is the first democratic probate judge Shelby county has had in nearly thirty years. He defeated G.W. Weaver after a vigorous campaign, the result of which was not known until several days after the election. Judge Riddle was born and reared on a farm in Shelby county, two miles west of Wilsonville. He attended the public schools in his community and later engaged in several lines of business. At the time of his election he was a traveling salesman for a wholesale house in Talladega ... Judge Riddle is a member of the Baptist church, and takes an active part in all church affairs. He is also a Master Mason and a member of other fraternal organizations."

Shelby County Reporter, December 26, 1928, "A state examiner of accounts spent Tuesday at the court house checking the automobile records of Judge L.B. Riddle. He found the judge's books in perfect balance. This is a new record, the examiner stated, for the counties in which he has worked for the past four years."

Shelby County Reporter, Thursday, January 24, 1929, "Upon his retirement from the office of probate judge in which he served the people of Shelby county so efficiently for six years, Judge L.B. Riddle entered upon the work of writing life insurance as a representative of the New York Life Insurance company."

[obituary] Shelby County Reporter, Thursday, February 11, 1960, "Judge L.B. Riddle, a former Judge of Probate of Shelby County, died Friday, February 5, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. E.D. Fort in Birmingham. He was 80 years old. Funeral services were held Sunday in the First Baptist Church of Columbiana, conducted by the pastor, Rev. Cecil Little. Burial was in the family lot in the cemetery at Wilsonville, Judge Riddle's former home. Mr. Riddle was elected to the office of Probate Judge in 1922, and moved from Wilsonville to Columbiana to make his home. He made a outstanding record as a county official; his administration was progressive and efficient. He later served his county as a member of the Board of Education and as chairman of the Board of Equalization. He was public spirited; active in the affairs of his community and his county. He was a leader in his church. Judge Riddle assisted actively in the organization of the first civic club in Columbiana, the Exchange Club, which was active in promoting the interests of Columbiana and Shelby county. Later he served as president of the State organization of Exchange Clubs. Judge Riddle was a life-long, active member of the Baptist church, serving as deacon and trustee. As a member of the board of trustees he took part in the ground breaking ceremony for the new Baptist church in Columbiana. He was also a member of the Masonic order. Judge Riddle gave freely of his time and his services in the interest of causes in which he believed. He had many friends throughout Shelby county and in Alabama. Surviving are two daughter, Mrs. H.T. Jackson, Gadsden and Mrs. E.D. Fort; two sons, L.B. Riddle, Jr., Birmingham and Rev. G.W. Riddle, Gadsden."

Located in the Shelby County Museum & Archives, the funeral home record indicates Leonard Buford Riddle, widowed, born September 30, 1879, died February 5, 1960 in Birmingham, Alabama. His parents were James L. Riddle and Mary Davis. [Buried in Wilsonville Community Cemetery, Shelby County Alabama, Leonard B. Riddle, born September 30, 1879, died February 5, 1960.]


DR. CAGE HEAD
January 1929-January 1935


Cage Head

Shelby County Reporter, Thursday, February 2, 1928, "Dr. Cage Head of Montevallo has entered the race for probate judge of Shelby county, subject to the action of the May primary. Dr. Head received his degree at Auburn and since graduation has been engaged in the practice of his profession. He is a veteran of the World War. Volunteering for service he entered the army with the rank of second lieutenant and was promoted to the rank of major. Dr. Head is active in the affairs of the American Legion being Post Commander of the Hendrick-Hudson Post at Montevallo."

Shelby County Reporter, Thursday, January 17, 1929, "Dr. Cage Head of Montevallo entered Monday morning upon his new duties as probate judge of Shelby county, to which office he was elected in November. Judge Riddle, the retiring probate judge, was in the office also, assisting the new judge in taking up the details of his office. Judge Head announced that Mrs. F.P. Shealy, who has served so efficiently during the past six years as chief clerk in the probate office, has been reappointed. Mrs. Shealy has accepted the appointment and is at her old place as usual."

[obituary], Shelby County Reporter, Thursday, November 27, 1947, "Dr. Cage Head, former probate judge of Shelby county, died Thursday, November 20, in a Montgomery hospital after an illness of only a few weeks. He was 55 years old. The body was brought to his home near Wilton on Thursday night and funeral services were held Saturday in the Baptist Church at Wilton. Burial was in Montevallo cemetery, Walton of Columbiana in charge. Dr. Head was a veteran of World War I. He served overseas and was promoted to the rank of major. He was a member of the American legion and active in the work of the organization. In 1928 he was nominated and elected to the office of probate judge on the Democratic ticket and served in that office for one term. In recent years he had engaged in the practice of his profession, doctor of veterinary medicine, and he was joint publisher of the Shelby Democrat. He had many friends throughout Shelby County and in Alabama. Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Addie Curry Head; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. O.P. Head, Wilton; three sisters, Mrs. Grover Cleveland, Miss Carrie Head and Miss Sara Head; two brothers, Representative Frank Head of Columbiana; D.R. Head, Thomasville."

Cage Head, born December 29, 1891, died November 20, 1947. He and his wife, Addie C. Head, are buried in Montevallo Cemetery in Shelby County Alabama.


LEON COLUMBUS WALKER
January 1935-January 1959


L.C. Walker

Shelby County Reporter, Thursday, January 17, 1935, "New faces in the court house Tuesday indicated that another term for county officials had come to an end and that a new term had begun. L.C. Walker succeeded Cage Head in the probate office for a six-year term. Assisting Judge Walker were Mrs. Edna Roberts and Mims Roberts, both of whom were in the office with Judge Head...."

The year 1923 will always be an important year in the history of Shelby County. The county was so deeply in debt that only the most optimistic could have found any sign that the debt would ever be paid. However, as indicated in the Shelby County Reporter-Democrat, dated Thursday, June 11, 1953, "July 1, 1953 will be an important date in the history of Shelby County. On that day the Board of Revenue and Control will pay the last dollar of the county's indebtedness. For the first time in many long years, and maybe the first time since Shelby County was organized, there will be no debt. Shelby County will be debt free."

The Shelby County Times-Herald, Montevallo, Alabama, January 1, 1959, "My twenty-fourth year as your Probate Judge will expire on January 19, 1959. It has been a great privilege to serve you good people in this capacity. I am indeed grateful to all of you. I have tried to serve my native county and its people to the very best of my ability. Any mistakes that I may have made through these years have certainly been made honestly and unintentionally. When you elected me as your Probate Judge in 1934, I promised that I would serve you to be best of my ability and protect your interests. I honestly believe that I have fulfilled this promise ...."

[obituary] Shelby County Reporter, Thursday, August 19, 1976, "Funeral services for L.C. Walker, 88, Probate Judge of Shelby County from 1935 until 1959 were held Tuesday afternoon in Columbiana. Judge Walker died in Shelby Memorial Hospital, Sunday, August 15, after a brief illness. After serving Shelby County as Probate Judge for 24 years, Mr. Walker retired in 1959. A member of the Columbiana United Methodist Church, Judge Walker was the recipient of a fifty-year membership pin from the Masonic Lodge. He was a member of the Corinthian Lodge 462 in Alabaster. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the First National Bank of Columbiana. Survivors include one daughter, Mrs. Fred Phillips of Atlanta, two grandsons and four great grandchildren. Funeral services for Judge Walker were held from the Bolton Brown Service Chapel in Columbiana with the Rev. Lamar Davis, pastor of the Columbiana United Methodist Church officiating. Rev. Davis was assisted by the Rev. J.A. Crim and Rev. James Merrell. Active pallbearers were Hank Spires, Sr., Robert Butler, Jack Atchison, James Ray, Conrad M. Fowler and Ross Bob Mullins. Honorary pallbearers included members of the Men's Bible Class of the United Methodist Church in Columbiana. Interment was in Elliottsville Cemetery."

As noted in the December 2001 issue of the Quarterly magazine published by the Shelby County Historical Society, Inc. L.C. Walker was married to Pearle Nickerson, 1885-1963. His parents were Rufus H. and Mary Frances Walker. Shelby County Reporter, Thursday, June 2, 1932, "L.C. Walker, successful businessman of Siluria, is building a new home on a beautiful lot near the site of his former residence. The new home is being build of brick, is of English bungalow type and contains eight rooms. It will be furnished with all modern conveniences. F.E. Dunlop Construction Company of Birmingham is the contractor in charge of the job."

[Buried in Elliottsville Cemetery, Shelby County Alabama is L.C. Walker, born December 18, 1887, died August 15, 1976.]


CONRAD MURPHREE FOWLER, SR.
January 1959-January 1977


Conrad M. Fowler

Shelby County Reporter, Thursday, January 15, 1959, "There will be new county officials in some of the offices of Shelby county, beginning next Tuesdy, January 20 ... Conrad M. Fowler of Columbiana, Circuit Solicitor for the past six years, will become the new Probate Judge. He was nominated in the May primary and elected in November without oposition...." Shelby County Reporter, Thursday, January 29, 1959, "Probate Judge Conrad M. Fowler announces the appointment of Mrs. Fay Quick to continue as Chief Clerk in the probate office, a place she has filled with efficiency, beginning nine years ago. Assisting Mrs. Quick are Mrs. Howard Moore and Mrs. Jane Dillard."

The Shelby County Historical Society, Inc. was founded January 18, 1974 and was incorporated February 18, 1974. Conrad and Virginia Fowler were charter members and instrumental to the support of the society. The 1854 Old Courthouse [a.k.a. Columbiana City Hall] was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 29, 1974.

The Birmingham Post-Herald, Tuesday, January 11, 1977, Caption under photograph ... "Presiding at last meeting as Probate Judge and President of the Shelby County Commission Monday is Conrad Fowler, who held the gavel for 18 years. He was defeated last summer in his bid for a fourth six-year term. Fowler is a well known figure in Alabama political and law enforcement circles."

[obituary] The Shelby County Reporter, Wednesday, January 3, 2007, "Conrad Murphree Fowler, Sr., age 88, of Tuscaloosa died January 1, 2007. Services will be 11 a.m. Wednesday, January 3, 2007 at Columbiana United Methodist Church with Burl Oliver officiating. Burial will follow in Columbiana Cemetery with Bolton-Ledlow Funeral Home directing. Visitation will be two hours prior to the service at the church. Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Virginia; his sons Conrad Fowler and wife, Rachel of Columbiana and Randy Fowler and wife, Heather White of Tuscaloosa; his sister Jane Carter of Columbiana; his sister-in-law Dorothy Whims of Tuscon; five grandchildren, Catherine Fowler-Carnes and husband Matthew of Charleston, Elizabeth Fowler Smith and husband Boyton of Atlanta, Julie Fowler Otts and husband John of Mobile, Jones Fowler and Ingrid Fowler-White of Tuscaloosa; five great grandchildren, Graham and William Carnes, Adair and Amelia Smith and Jack Otts; and many nieces, a nephew and many great and great great nieces and nephews. Pallbearers include Rux Bentley, Frank C. Ellis, Jr., Don Fowler, Mike Hill, Sidney Holderness, Richard H. McDow, Dr. Nolan C. Moore, James L. Ray, Dr. Sam B. Roberts and Billie B. White. Conrad Murphree Fowler was born September 17, 1918, in Montevallo where his father, Luther J. Fowler, taught at Alabama College. Shortly thereafter Luther and Elsie Fowler moved, with their children, to Columbiana where they lived for the rest of their lives. Conrad graduated from the University of Alabama in 1941, where he had been a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Jasons, The Million Dollar Band and the Crimson and White staff. He immediately entered the U. S. Marine Corps. During World War II, Judge Fowler participated in the operations at Guadalcanal and in the assault landings on Bougainville, Guam and Iwo Jima. He received the Silver Star and Gold Star in lieu of a second Silver Star and the Purple Heart and Gold Star. He was discharged from the regular Marine Corps in 1946 with the rank of major and served in the Marine Corps Reserve, attaining the rank of colonel. He married Virginia, his wife of more than 61 years and they returned to the University of Alabama Law School. After receiving his Bachelor of Laws degree they returned to Columbiana and he practiced law with Handy Ellis from 1948 to 1953. He was a circuit solicitor for the 18th Judicial Circuit, 1953 to 1959, and served as a special prosecutor in Phenix City Clean-Up in 1954. From 1959 to 1977 Judge Fowler served as Judge of Probate and Chairman of the Shelby County Commission. Under his leadership, Shelby County became the first county in the state to institute countywide planning for private and governmental development. He was responsible for developing a new county government center. He served as president of the Alabama Association of Probate Judges in 1968, president of the Alabama Association of County Commissioners in 1970, and as president of the National Association of Counties during 1969 and 1970. By appointment of President Lyndon Johnson he served on the Commission on Health Facilities; by appointment of Presidents Johnson and Richard Nixon he served from 1967 to 1977 on the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. From 1970 to 1976 he served as chairman of the Alabama Constitution Commission. From 1973 to 1976 he served as chairman of the Alabama Committee for humanities and Public Policy. Judge Fowler has been active in the state and national Lung Association serving as president of the Alabama Associations, 1968-69, and as president of the American Lung Association, 1981-82. He received the Heacock Medal Award at the annual meeting of the Alabama Lung Association in 1979 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the American Lung Association the same year. He and Virginia moved to Lanett where he was Director of Public Affairs for West Point-Pepperell from January 1979 to March 1989. Judge Fowler served as a member of the board of directors of Associated Industries of Alabama and the Public Affairs Council. He was a member of the Public Affairs Committee of the Alabama and the Georgia Textile Manufacturers Associations. In 1981 he was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor. He loved the University and was an active member of the National Alumni Association of the University of Alabama; served as president of the Association in 1969; and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1992. Judge Fowler was an active member of the United Methodist Church in every town where he lived; serving as lay leader and as a delegate to the North Alabama Southeastern Jurisdictional, and General Conferences."

A "Letter to the Editor" from Nancy Walton Brasher, written in loving memory of Mr. and Mrs. Luther Fowler and "Bulley" Fowler, The Shelby County Reporter, dated February 28, 2007 indicates how Conrad acquired the name "Bulley" [his sister couldn't say "Brother" clearly and that it came out of her mouth as "Bulley" ... and that "nickname" for him just stuck].


THOMAS ALVIN "TOMMY" SNOWDEN, JR.
January 1977-January 1995


Thomas A. Snowden, Jr.

(Photo courtesy of the Shelby County Reporter)

Shelby County Reporter, Thursday, January 13, 1977, "The responsibility changes next Monday from Probate Judge Conrad Fowler to Probate Judge Tommy Snowden. Snowden will be sworn in at 9 a.m., along with new County Commissioner Jimmy (Jake) Morris and new District Judge William Hill." [He was appointed in April 1968 as Shelby County Tax Assessor by Governor Lurleen B. Wallace and continued to serve until he took office as Probate Judge in January 1977.] Shelby County Reporter, Thursday, January 20, 1977, "In a jammed courtroom, Probate Judge Tommy Snowden, County Commissioner Jimmie (Jake) Morris, District Court Judge William Hill and Circuit Clerk Kyle Lansford were administered the oats of office Monday morning. Circuit Judge Kenneth Ingram presided. Judge Snowden's designated chief clerk, Barbara Clinkscales, was also sworn in by Judge Ingram." In addition to the elected position as Probate Judge he also served as Chairman of the Shelby County Commission until May 1990. [Shelby County Reporter, Wednesday, June 6, 1990, "Probate Judge Tommy Snowden said he is not giving up his position on the Shelby County Commission without a fight - in court that is. Last Wednesday, Snowden filed an appeal in U.S. district court to overturn the settlement that kicked him off the Shelby County commission. Last week, the commission met and appointed commissioner Steve Chambers as chairman. They also increased the size of the commission by three members, as indicated in the settlement agreement approved by Judge Myron Thompson ... Dillard vs. Crenshaw was a lawsuit brought against over 200 Alabama municipalities and counties by the Alabama Democratic Conference to mandate black representation in local governments. The Shelby County Commission had voted in 1989 to accept a settlement."] Shelby County Reporter, Wednesday, January 2, 1991, "Shelby County's newly hired comptroller, Willie L. Mosely, Jr., and its new county administrator, Joe C. Sanders, began work today. The two were selected Dec. 24 to fill the new administrative positions created by the outgoing county commission." Shelby County Reporter, Wednesday, January 23, 1991, "It took two months for Shelby County to hire a comptroller and a county administrator - but less than a month to fire them both. At Monday's meeting ... Comptroller Willie L. Mosely, Jr. and County Administrator Joe C. Sanders saw their jobs eliminated less than a month after they were hired." Shelby County Reporter, Wednesday, February 13, 1991, "A county manager was hired to replace two men fired at the last meeting ... the commission hired Donald Hughes as county manager at Monday's meeting. He will begin work Feb. 25."

In October 1979 there was an election held in Columbiana to determine if the 1854 Old Courthouse [a.k.a. Columbiana City Hall] would be torn down or restored. It won by one vote to not destroy the building; thus, the Shelby County Commission acquired back the ownership of the building and today it is the home of the Shelby County Museum & Archives. In 1980 the Shelby County Historical Society, Inc., along with the Shelby County Commission, undertook the project of restoring the 1854 Old Courthouse to its original structure. In 1981 Judge Snowden allowed the original "old" courthouse records to be moved from storage at the existing courthouse to the 1854 Old Courthouse to be maintained in the Shelby County Museum & Archives by the Shelby County Historical Society, Inc.

On July 15, 1983 the first "satellite license office" opened in Pelham, Shelby County Alabama.

Shelby County Reporter, Wednesday January 18, 1995, "Last week a reception was held for outgoing Probate Judge Tommy Snowden. Joining Snowden at the reception was his wife, Dixie. Snowden is leaving office after a run for the State Senate. Snowden now plans to enter the Real Estate business along with his wife."

[obituary] The Birmingham News, Thursday, June 12, 2008, "Thomas A. Snowden, Jr., dedicated public servant, longtime civic leader and businessman, dear friend, and beloved family man, died at his Pelham home on June 10, 2008. Tommy, as he was called by most, was born to Thomas A. Snowden and Bessie Varner Snowden in Bay Minette, Alabama on November 27, 1932. He grew up in Montgomery, Alabama. Tommy served in the United States Navy during the Korean Conflict. He moved to Shelby County, Alabama in 1958. He was appointed Shelby County Tax Assessor by Governor Lurleen B. Wallace in April, 1968 and continued to serve in that office until he was elected and sworn in as Judge of Probate in January, 1977. His elected responsibilities included Chairmanship of the Shelby County Commission from 1977-1990. Judge Snowden retired from public office in January 1995 and pursued a career in real estate sales, while continuing the civic and charitable work that he held so dear. Judge Snowden helped shape decades of explosive growth in Shelby County. In 1983, he opened the first countywide branch license office, fulfilling his 1976 campaign promise. Another issue that Judge Snowden believed to be critical to the development of his county was additional sources of water. He began working toward this in the late 1970's and a few years later his efforts were instrumental in the development of the Shelby-Talladega water system, supplying a much needed resource to both counties. Some of Judge Snowden's other accomplishments include: implementing the first state-of-the-art digital recording system in the state of Alabama, streamlining accounting procedures in the commission office; helping establish the Shelby County Agri-Center, the Heart of Dixie Railroad, the Shelby County National Weather Station, and assisting with the incorporation of Indian Springs Village. Tommy's community involvement was widespread and included such positions as President of the Alabama Association of Probate Judges, Past Master of Calera Masonic Lodge #445, member of the Governor's Advisory Council On Aging, establishing the first county senior citizens club, Charter Member of the Shelby County Historical Society, Charter President of the Calera Jaycees, Charter President of the Shelby County Cancer Society, and Board Member of the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross. Judge Snowden was also involved in the American Legion, the American Heart Association, United Cerebral Palsy, the Boy Scouts of America, and was a charter member of the Shelby County YMCA. Tommy is survived by his wife of 32 years, Dixie Jones Snowden; sons, Kevin Snowden of Pelham, Alabama and Thomas A. Snowden III (Laura) of Locust Grove, Georgia; daughter Lisa Noah (Alston) of Athens, Alabama; step-daughter, Susan Benson (Jeff) of Montevallo, Alabama; step-son, Baxter Pamplin of Alabaster, Alabama; sister, Jean Hunter of Wetumpka, Alabama; and granddaughter, Candace Connell (Brandon) of Nashville, Tennessee. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, JoAnn Peterson. Tommy Snowden lived by his motto: " I try to treat everybody, every day, the way I want to be treated." He will be greatly missed by his family and many friends. The visitation will be held at Helena United Methodist Church on Thursday, June 12, 2008 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Funeral services will be held at the same location on Friday, June 13, 2008 at 2:00 pm. Pastors Ron Cox and Michael Edmondson will officiate. Burial to follow at Southern Heritage Cemetery in Pelham, Alabama."


PATRICIA ANNE YEAGER FUHRMEISTER
January 1995-February 9, 2008


Patricia Yeager Fuhrmeister

Patricia Anne Yeager Fuhrmeister was born May 2, 1956, died February 9, 2008. Her parents were Paul Lloyd Yeager and Willie Lavera Brasher Yeager. She was a very respected and much loved Probate Judge. Patricia loved her family and her family history ... "she was the Queen of the courthouse" ... and she will always hold a special place in the hearts of those who knew her.

Shelby County Reporter, Wednesday, January 18, 1995, "Judge Al Crowson swears in the county's new Probate Judge, Patricia Yeager Fuhrmeister, in a ceremony held at the County Courthouse last week. Fuhrmeister is joined by her husband, Jim, and her sons, Chris and Will. She becomes the county's first female Probate Judge and one of only a few in the state."

[obituary] Shelby County Reporter, Wednesday, February 13, 2008, "Shelby County Probate Judge Patricia Fuhrmeister lost her 17-month battle with leukemia Saturday. Fuhrmeister died around 10 a.m. at St. Vincent's Hospital in Birmingham. She was 51. Fuhrmeister was elected the county's first female probate judge in 1994. She practiced law in Shelby County from 1980 until she was elected probate judge. The probate judge's office is responsible for overseeing elections, estates and records deeds. They also perform weddings and adoptions. Fuhrmeister graduated from Auburn University and earned her JD [Juris Doctor degree] from the University of Alabama School of Law. No stranger to public service, Fuhrmeister grew up in Pelham, where her father, Paul Yeager, was the first mayor and her mother, Willie L. Yeager, was postmaster. "Her roots were in public service," said County Commissioner Lindsey Allison, who once practiced law with Fuhrmeister. "But what was really unique about Patricia is that she never did it for the accolades. She truly, truly loved Shelby County and its people." Fuhrmeister, Allison and Alabama Supreme Court Justice Patti Smith were some of Shelby County's earliest female lawyers. "We called ourselves the legal divas," said Smith. "We were really the first sorority of female attorneys in the county. We depended on each other." Fuhrmeister began treatment for a form of acute adult leukemia in October 2006. She received chemotherapy at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and St. Vincent's Bruno Cancer Center. "What the public didn't see, between the infections and quarantines, is my friend went through some of her darkest times in the past 17 months, but she never complained," said Allison. Chief Probate Clerk Kim Melton handled the bulk of the day-to-day duties in Fuhrmeister's absence. Melton was sworn in Monday as interim probate judge until Gov. Bob Riley appoints a successor. "What tells everyone what a great leader Patricia was was her staff's ability to carry on," said Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman. "She was so proud of them. There are other counties where those offices would have fell apart." Chapman said Fuhrmeister was the first person she went to see when she decided to run for public office 14 years ago. "I could pick up that phone day and night and call her and get her help," said Chapman. "Everything about her was real. She was one of those people who would do anything in their power to help someone." While Fuhrmeister was out, other Shelby County judges helped hear cases too. "You didn't get that devotion because she was the probate judge," said Allison. "That was because it was Patricia." Fuhrmeister is survived by her husband Jim and two sons, Chris, 22, and Will 16. Funeral service will be today at 11 a.m. at Asbury Methodist Church, One Asbury Way, Birmingham. Burial will follow in Pelham City Cemetery."

Visit Cornerstone Ceremony Speech by Probate Judge Patricia Yeager Fuhrmeister and watch the video of the cornerstone ceremony.


JAMES WARREN "JIM" FUHRMEISTER
March 2008-Current


Jim Furhmeister Oath

(Photo courtesy of the Shelby County Reporter) The above photograph is during the formal swearing in of Shelby County Probate Judge James W. "Jim" Furhmeister on Thursday, April 24, 2008. Alabama Supreme Court Justice Patti Smith administered the oath of office at the Shelby County Courthouse as his two sons, Chris and Will, looked on. Also present were his parents and sister along with a capacity crowd of other relatives and friends. In addition, Probate Judge Jim Fuhrmeister and his two sons were given special resolutions by the Alabama Probate Judges Association and the Alabama Legislature recognizing Probate Judge Patricia Yeager Fuhrmeister who died while in office. "Our torchbearer has fallen, but she wouldn't want the flame to go out," said Fuhrmeister. "So, I pick up the torch, pick up the cause and carry her ideals as long as I can." Fuhrmeister further stated, "Becoming probate judge was never a goal of mine. We had a probate judge and she was a good one. Nevertheless, I'm deeply honored ... I'm proud to be Shelby County Probate Judge."

The Shelby County Reporter Wednesday, March 5, 2008, "Gov. Bob Riley has appointed Jim Fuhrmeister as Shelby County Probate Judge. Fuhrmeister fills the judgeship left vacant when his wife, Patricia Yeager Fuhrmeister, died from leukemia Feb. 9. The announcement came down Friday afternoon from Sally Robinson, appointments director for Riley. Fuhrmeister, 56, of Inverness, is a lawyer and former Shelby County Assistant District Attorney. The appointment is effective Monday, March 3. Fuhrmeister's term will run through 2012."

Bar