Early Settlers of
Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Beginnings to Chief Justice:
Honorable William Henry Duckworth
Duckworth was the third of
ten children born to John Francis (called Jack) and Laura Jane Noblet
Duckworth. He was born on the Duckworth
farm just east of
When Henry was fifteen years of age,
his father, Jack, met an untimely death in a shooting match near his
William Henry Duckworth got his early education in the one-teacher schools in Choestoe. A bright lad, he was invited by Dr. Joseph A. Sharp, then president of Young Harris College, to take a job working there to help defray his tuition. A great uncle of Henry’s, Francis Marion Duckworth, who, with his wife, Nancy Davis Duckworth had taken Henry’s mother into their home to rear when she was a small child, loaned the young student some money for college. In 1917, William Henry Duckworth graduated from Young Harris with honors. Later in his life he would ardently support the college through donations and service. The library at the college is named Duckworth Library, honoring William Henry and his brother, James Lon, also a lawyer.
During World War I, Henry Duckworth joined the U. S. Navy where he served as an Ensign.
His desire to become a lawyer was not
thwarted due to lack of finances to attend law school.
He read law, a practice generally followed
then, in the law office of his friend, E. D. Rivers.
He took a correspondence course in law from
He was elected senator from the 7th
District of Georgia in 1931. This
launched his career in state government.
He successfully managed the gubernatorial candidacy for E. D.
when he was elected Governor of Georgia.
They had been classmates at
He became assistant Attorney General
of Georgia and served in that capacity during 1937-1938.
He was hoping to be appointed to the next
vacancy on the Georgia Supreme Court, only to be told by the incumbent
that he was “too young” for the position.
He ran for the position in a three-man race and won. From
Keeping his deep-seated integrity and
his fearlessness, he wrote some noteworthy decisions in the annals of
Known for his intensive questioning and his search for truth, Supreme Court Justice Duckworth was adept at finding weak points in arguments and lack of evidence.
During the last sixteen years of his
life, he suffered with and was treated for chronic leukemia. In 1953 he had a heart attack that slowed his
work for several weeks while he recuperated.
It was a heart attack that brought his demise on
He had fulfilled his youthful dreams of becoming a lawyer and a Georgia Supreme Court Justice. In 1955 he was elected as chairman of the National Conference of Chief Justices, made up of the top jurists from all the states of the union.
His pastor at
Another man went out from the hills of
Jones; published November 4, 2004 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville,
Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Jones is a retired educator,
freelance writer, poet, and historian. She may be reached at
phone 478-453-8751; or mail 1708 Cedarwood Road, Milledgeville, GA