Probate Court Of Jefferson County, Alabama

History of Court

Probate Judges of Jefferson County Alabamajudge-king

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. Farrar June 14, 1821 to August 31, 1822
John (Red) Brown September 7, 1822 to January 1, 1823
Peter Walker December 1, 1825
Walker Keith Baylor Date of Governor’s appointment not certain
John F. Forrest Elected January 22, 1839
Reelected January 22, 1845
James Wilcox May 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 Bagley Elected May 20, 1850
Served July 1850 to July 1856
Moses Kelley Elected May 14, 1856
Served July 1856 to May 1862
William L. Wilson May 5, 1862 to August 1865
John Calhoun Morrow August 1865 to November 1884
(Resigned October 16, 1884, effective November 8, 1884)
Mitchell T. Porter November 8, 1884 to October 1898
J. P. Stiles November 1898 to November 1904
Samuel Earle Greene December 1904 to January 1911
J. P. Stiles January 1911 to August 1931
Eugene H. Hawkins August 1931 to June 1942
Henry R. Howze June 1942 to September 1945
Eugene H. Hawkins September 1945 to January 1947
Tom C. Garner January 1947 to August 1955
G. C. Boner September 1955 to June 1956
Guy W. Hanna June 1956 to November 1956
J. Paul Meeks November 1956 to January 1977
O. H. Florence January 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. Florence 1980 – 1989
Place 2 – George R. Reynolds 1980 – 1989
Place 1 – George R. Reynolds 1989 – 2001
Place 2 – Michael F. Bolin 1989 – 2001
Place 1 – Michael F. Bolin 2001 – 2005
Place 1 – Mark L. Gaines 2005 – 2007
Place 2 – Alan L. King 2001 – 2007
Place 1 – Alan L. King 2007 to date
Place 2 – Sherri C. Friday 2007 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. Huey 1926 – 1938
J. C. B. Gwin 1938 – 1946
Gurley Vines 1946 – 1953
Frances Patton (Acting) 1953
Charlie Thames 1953 – 1956
J. Harris Moore 1956 – 1967
A. Guy White 1967 – 1972
Geraldine Matthews 1972 – 1974
O. D. Huey 1974 – 1980
Mildred G. Wright 1980 – 1989
John C. Rockett 1989 – 1992
Grover Dunn 1993 – 2001
Eddie C. Vines 2001 – 2005
Matthew A. Reynolds 2005 – 2007
Cynthia Vines Butler 2007 – 2013
Elizabeth North 2013 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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