Probate Court Of Jefferson County, Alabama

History of Court

Probate Judges of Jefferson County Alabama
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Before the creation of the probate courts in each county of Alabama by the Alabama Legislature in 1850, the probate of wills, the administration of estates, and other similar functions were carried out by a county court.

When Alabama became a state in 1819, each county court consisted of five justices.  In 1821 that system was changed so that one judge presided over the county court.

The following is a list of the presiding county judges of Jefferson County and their terms of service:

Thomas W. FarrarJune 14, 1821 to August 31, 1822
John (Red) BrownSeptember 7, 1822 to January 1, 1823
Peter WalkerDecember 1, 1825
Walker Keith BaylorDate of Governor’s appointment not certain
John F. ForrestElected January 22, 1839
Reelected January 22, 1845
James WilcoxMay 1, 1848
(Resigned 1st Monday of May, 1850)

A “court of probate” was established in each county of Alabama by Act No. 3 of the 1849-50 Session of the Alabama Legislature which passed on February 11, 1850.  The court was composed of one judge for each county with the title of “judge of probate”.  This individual would be elected by the qualified voters of the county and would hold office for a term of six years.

The following is a list of Jefferson County probate judges and their terms of service beginning in 1850:

Joab BagleyElected May 20, 1850
Served July 1850 to July 1856
Moses KelleyElected May 14, 1856
Served July 1856 to May 1862
William L. WilsonMay 5, 1862 to August 1865
John Calhoun MorrowAugust 1865 to November 1884
(Resigned October 16, 1884, effective November 8, 1884)
Mitchell T. PorterNovember 8, 1884 to October 1898
J. P. StilesNovember 1898 to November 1904
Samuel Earle GreeneDecember 1904 to January 1911
J. P. StilesJanuary 1911 to August 1931
Eugene H. HawkinsAugust 1931 to June 1942
Henry R. HowzeJune 1942 to September 1945
Eugene H. HawkinsSeptember 1945 to January 1947
Tom C. GarnerJanuary 1947 to August 1955
G. C. BonerSeptember 1955 to June 1956
Guy W. HannaJune 1956 to November 1956
J. Paul MeeksNovember 1956 to January 1977
O. H. FlorenceJanuary 1977 to 1980

In 1980 the Alabama Legislature created a second probate judge position for Jefferson County.

The following is a list of the probate judges under the two probate judge system:

Place 1 – O. H. Florence1980 – 1989
Place 2 – George R. Reynolds1980 – 1989
Place 1 – George R. Reynolds1989 – 2001
Place 2 – Michael F. Bolin1989 – 2001
Place 1 – Michael F. Bolin2001 – 2005
Place 1 – Mark L. Gaines2005 – 2007
Place 2 – Alan L. King2001 – 2007
Place 1 – Alan L. King2007 to 2020
Place – James Naftel2020 to date
Place 2 – Sherri C. Friday2007 to date

In 1915 the Alabama Legislature created the Bessemer Cut-off of the Tenth Judicial Circuit.  Local legislation later established the position of Bessemer Deputy Probate Judge.

The following persons have served in that position:

Sam T. Huey1926 – 1938
J. C. B. Gwin1938 – 1946
Gurley Vines1946 – 1953
Frances Patton (Acting)1953
Charlie Thames1953 – 1956
J. Harris Moore1956 – 1967
A. Guy White1967 – 1972
Geraldine Matthews1972 – 1974
O. D. Huey1974 – 1980
Mildred G. Wright1980 – 1989
John C. Rockett1989 – 1992
Grover Dunn1993 – 2001
Eddie C. Vines2001 – 2005
Matthew A. Reynolds2005 – 2007
Cynthia Vines Butler2007 – 2013
Elizabeth North2013 to date

An especial thank you is in order to attorney Sam Rumore for his research into the history of the Jefferson County Probate Court.
The history of our court section will include photographs and short biographies of our former probate judges as they become available
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