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County Ordinary: 1941

County Ordinary: 1941

June 1941. "Mr. Lloyd Lewis, Greene County ordinary, in his office in Greensboro, Georgia." Medium format negative by Jack Delano for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.

 

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The remarkable Lewis family

Edward Lloyd Lewis Jr. was about 37 in the photo and lived to the age of 71.

The child in the photo is Edward Lloyd Lewis who became a dermatologist and died this year. Dr. Lewis’s thoughtful obituary can be read here:
https://www.mccommonsfuneralhome.com/notices/DrEdward-Lewis

Greene County was a center of black activism in the years following the Civil War. It’s interesting to contrast that fact with images of the Colored Greene County volume and the Carter’s Ink mascot (although simplified from the overtly racist mascot of the 1920s), and the knowledge that Edward Jr.’s grandfather, Miles Walker Lewis, Jr., served as a Confederate soldier.

Correctly Shod

Since the photo was taken between Memorial Day and Labor Day, white shoes are perfectly appropriate.

Segregated books

The book to the left, visible under his chin, is "Colored Greene County." The books on the right are just "Greene County."

Interesting desk items

A plant with roots wrapped in newspaper, a running stick man on a cylinder (and I thought the stick man was a '60s/'70s design), ink pot, ink pen, mini calendar and, most importantly, photographs and memorabilia under the glass writing surface. And the papers in the cubby holes in what, to me, looks like random filings are probably very important and he knows what each is for. But what is missing from the desk is the note stick pin, a calendar with written notes and a daily ledger book.

Stickman

Anyone notice the running stickman on the container just beyond the newspaper?

Possibly related

Carter's Inky Racer

Tin with running stick figure

Anyone know what the little canister on his desk might be? I can't quite make out the text. Possibly " ... ink eraser"?

Mr. Lewis also appears to have a plant or some cut flowers wrapped in newspaper on his desk. Perhaps for the lovely lady pictured above.

The Extraordinary E. Lloyd Lewis

A Georgia "ordinary" was a hybrid judge-clerk whose job was to record important genealogical information. (In ancient Rome, an "ordinarius" would hear civil and criminal matters.) The term was used from at least 1868 when the Reconstruction-era Georgia Constitution was approved, until 1974 when voters amended the State Constitution to change the name to "probate court."

Those books on his desk were the County's official marriage and death records. (Note the security wire-glass and the roll-down shutters on each window.) The "Minutes" book "N" would have contained the decisions of the ordinary acting as a judge. The two books to the right are probate records. To his left, the book marked "Colored" would have contained marriage records for non-white Greene County residents. Presumably, the "White" book was next to it. Most of these records are now available online via familysearch.org, but organized by people's names, dates, etc., not volume. It's possible to read the actual books via microfilm at various libraries, but I could not find images online.

Mr. Lewis practiced law in Greenville from at least the 1930s through the 1960s. He argued several cases in the Georgia Supreme Court, mostly concerning trusts, estates and what we'd call "Family Law" today (e.g., https://cite.case.law/ga/182/131/183648/).

He was also a landowner and, at about the time of this photograph, a party to a lawsuit by a tenant (a farmer?) who claimed to own land that Mr. Lewis and the county sheriff he had bought from a third party. The tenant sought to have the deed canceled as fraudulent. You can imagine how a lawsuit against the County bigwigs turned out. If you can't guess: https://cite.case.law/ga/194/203/

Court of Ordinary

is what is usually called the Probate Court in other states than Georgia. Presumably
he's the equivalent of a probate judge. I personally have never heard it called that before.

June 13, 1941

Interesting story about a U-boat captain that gave the crew of an American ship 30 minutes to get to the lifeboats before the ship was sunk.

Nothing ordinary about it

What a pretty wife and insanely adorable child. And a Son of the American Revolution, no less.

Swat Team

There's an anti-fly weapon on top, ready for use.

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