Cooper: Reuben Beavers and his 64 years in public office

Lisa Cooper Collection/Special

This is the signature of Reuben C. Beavers as it appeared on a legal document dated 1851 for the Campbell County Inferior Court. A few years later Beavers would be elected to the office of Ordinary which was basically the same court with a different name. Beavers would hold the office for 64 years!

Lisa Cooper

Can you imagine holding the same or similar job for more than 50 years?

For today's millennials, that seems impossible. According to a Forbes article (June 2016) reports are mixed regarding whether millennials are actually job-hopping more frequently than previous generations, but what is clear is job-hopping is becoming the norm for the average 20-something.

I'm not sure how I feel about that being one of the baby boomers myself, however, I'll have you know that my birth came at the tail-end of that generation, so I guess I'm a "baby-baby boomer." While my father stayed in the same profession and worked for the same company for most of his working life, I did not, though I held each job for at least 10 to 15 years. I've worked as a court clerk, paralegal, a legal researcher, a classroom teacher, and curriculum designer. I used to joke with my students I would know what I wanted to be once I grew up. I'm still waiting, but this writing and researching gig isn't half bad.

While 50 years is a long time to have the same job, what about 64 years? That's nearly three quarters of a century, and one man in old Campbell County's history can boast of it.

In 1898, an article appeared in several national newspapers regarding Reuben C. Beavers. He is considered to be one of the original settlers of the area before Campbell County existed, and most certainly before Douglas County was thought of. Most biographies state Beavers was born in Jasper County, Georgia in 1813, the son of Joseph and Sarah (Fluker) Beavers. He came to this area with his parents when he was 12 years old. He farmed, went into merchandising for a bit, and then entered public office at the age of 21 when he was appointed as one of the judges for the Inferior Court of Campbell County.

He worked with the Inferior Court until 1856 when he was elected to succeed Joseph B. Camp, who was the first Campbell County Ordinary beginning in 1852 when the court was created by the state Legislature. Camp moved to the part of the Territory of New Mexico that would later become what we know as Arizona in 1856, and Beavers was elected to succeed Camp as Ordinary. It was basically the same job, but the name of the court had changed.

Beavers remained in that office for the remainder of his life seeing Campbell County lose its lands north of the Chattahoochee River as Douglas County was created in 1870, and the county seat for Campbell County change from Campbellton to Fairburn which included a move of the courthouse as well.

By common consent it seemed Beavers owned the job. It was his private property, and at election time he was generally the only candidate. There was that time, however in the fall of 1897 when some members of the Populist Party sought to elect someone else, but no one could be found who had the nerve to challenge Beavers.

He was extremely well respected and was considered to be high minded, honest, and conducted his work in a straight forward manner. In 1898, despite being 85 years of age it was reported Beavers' sight was acute, his hearing was good as ever, and he performed his duties well.

Beavers temporarily abandoned -- but never resigned -- the office only on the occasion to go to "war." In 1838, he "fought" what is remembered as the Indian Wars here in Georgia. He was 23 when he went off with several other Campbell County men in Captain James A. Word's company. They were assigned to an area of Forsyth County to re-establish a fort -- a fort they named Fort Campbell. It was located in an area where the counties of Forsyth, Lumpkin, and Cherokee counties meet today close to Scudder's Crossroads. Fort Campbell was one of 15 collection points for members of the Cherokee Nation and was in operation from April 3, 1838 to June 30, 1838. My research indicates there was no "fighting" for Beavers or the men from Campbell -- mostly just the job of rounding up Native Americans in the area to send them along to other collection points to begin the sad trek along the Trail of Tears.

Rueben C. Beavers passed in April 1898 after a long life of service to the people of this area leaving the office of Ordinary in the capable hands of his nephew and longtime assistant clerk, W.S. McLarin.

The city of Chattahoochee Hills has purchased the Beavers home which still stands in the former town of Campbellton just across the Chattahoochee River along Highway 92. There are plans to preserve the home and maintain it for historical purposes.

Lisa Cooper writes the amazing stories of Douglas County each Sunday. You can find her new book "Every Now and Then: The Amazing Stories of Douglas County" online at Amazon, print and Kindle versions. Locally, her book can be found at the Douglas County Museum of History and Art and the Douglasville Welcome Center located at O'Neal Plaza in the former Douglasville Banking Company building.

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