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The Georgia Reports

Supreme Court Records


Houston County Researchers:

Recently, I've located and purchased 7 old volumes of GEORGIA REPORTS:
Reports of cases in Law & Equity argued and determined in the Supreme
Court of the State of Georgia.

When the Georgia Supreme Court first met in 1846, a court reporter would
take notes and later have his reports published in these volumes.  Since
many of these court cases involved equity proceedings, they are full of
good genealogical information.  Each session of the Georgia Supreme Court
was held in the various Districts around the state.  Locally, the Macon
District and Flint District were the closest.

From what I gather, the court reporter earned his wages by selling the
Georgia Reports to the Court of Ordinary judges and various lawyers.
Upon acquiring these original volumes, I assumed that most of the county
Probate Courts or law libraries would have them in their collections.
However, that doesn't appear to be the case.  The Georgia Archives does
have some of the volumes in their collection, for those who will be
visiting there in the near future.

There were quite a number of Georgia Reports, if what I have is any
indication.  Volume One was in 1846, and Volume Sixty Four was 1880.
Most of the volumes contained 6 months of court activity, and are about
800 pages each.

It is interesting to note that Major James M. Kelly (1795-1849) was the
first court reporter of the Supreme Court of Georgia.  He was a prominent
citizen of Perry, Georgia, and is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Perry.

The nice thing about these volumes, is that they are well indexed.  Over
the next few months, as time allows, I may transcribe the names of the
parties of the cases from the Districts near Houston County.

I have the following volumes:

Volume 14: Aug 1853 to Jan 1854.
Volume 26: Jun 1858 to Jan 1859.
Volume 32: Jan 1861 to Jun 1861.
Volume 46: Jul 1872 only.
Volume 64: Sep 1879 to Feb 1880.
Volume 91: Oct 1892 to Mar 1893.
Volume 95: Oct 1894 to Mar 1895.

I'm not certain, but I don't think the LDS has microfilmed these volumes.
 Prior to finding and buying these volumes, I had never seen these types
of records in their published format.  I was aware of the court minutes
and transcripts of the Georgia Supreme Court, but not anything as
detailed and indexed as these records are.

For those of you who live in Georgia, the next time that you visit your
county courthouse, check to see if these old volumes are in the office of
the Probate Judge or the Law Library.  If they are, I will be surprised.

Generally speaking, it wasn't as big a deal in the mid 1800s to have a
case appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court.  If a Will was contested, it
could have eventually wound up at that court.  For us to have to read
thru all of the extensive court minutes and transcripts, could take
hundreds of hours to perform.  The court reporter probably didn't realize
it at the time, but he was probably one of the best record abstractors
that ever published genealogical records about Georgia citizens.

The main reason for the publishing of the Georgia Reports, was so the
Probate Judges could review, and lawyers could build and base their cases
upon previous cases which established precedence.

Take care & happy hunting!

William Mills
Perry, GA


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