Friday, November 20, 2009


Georgia’s Oldest Lawyer

On Friday, September 4th, Col. Lucian A. Whipple, would be one hundred and twenty years old. If he was alive and healthy, he would probably still be practicing law. Next to his family and his community, it was the love of is life - and a long life it was. When Col. Whipple retired, he was the oldest practicing attorney in the United States. He was 98 years old.

Lucian Adolphus Whipple was born on September 4, 1878 on the Whipple family farm on Turkey Creek - a few miles east of the present city of Dudley. When the M.D. and S. Railroad came through in 1891, the community was given the name of Whipple's Crossing. Whipple's father, Stephen Bennett Whipple, was of New England stock. The elder Whipple served as an officer in the Confederate Army during the first year of the Civil War. Whipple and his brother Allen were awarded a contract to furnish salt to the Confederacy for the duration of the war.

After the war, Whipple went west to California to seek a fortune. Within a year, he returned to Georgia. He bought the James Thomas Place about ten miles west of Dublin. Whipple and his wife, Sarah Holliman Whipple, knew the value of an education. Whipple himself had attended Mercer University before the War.
Whipple and his neighbor David Ware built their own schoolhouse. Whipple and Ware chipped in to supplement the teacher's small state salary. Whipple decided to move to Cochran where the New Ebenezer Baptist Association was located.

Whipple left the farm and became one of Cochran's most influential businessmen. Stephen and Sarah raised eight sons. William was a physician. Ulysses V. was Judge of the Cordele Superior Court circuit and a legislator. Allen P. was a teacher and a farmer. Robert L. practiced medicine for fifty eight years and died while administering care to a patient. Clifford was a practicing pharmacist for more than fifty years. Stephen T., the oldest son, never married and worked in the family business for many years. Oliver J. practiced dentistry for more than fifty years.

Lucian A. Whipple was eight years old when his family moved to Cochran. He attended New Ebenezer College for six years. Whipple transferred to Gordon Institute in Barnesville where he was elected senior class president. In 1895, he again transferred, this time to the University of Georgia, where he was again
elected senior class president. Whipple graduated with first honors in 1898. From Georgia, Whipple returned to the homeland of his paternal ancestors and enrolled in Harvard University Law School. He graduated from the prestigious school in 1901.

Whipple returned to Cochran to set up his law practice. Before he was through, Col. Whipple would practice law for seventy-two years. The title of Colonel was honorary. It was a tradition in the South to give a lawyer the title, which was derived from the days when counties were divided into militia districts.

Before and during the Civil War, the militia district provided military security to the county, as well as providing justice of the peace courts and election precincts.

In 1907, Col. Whipple formed a partnership with a Cochran printer, Royal A. McRae. The duo founded the "Cochran Journal." Whipple served as editor of  Cochran's first weekly newspaper. Ironically, after only a short period, he moved his law practice to Hawkinsville. Col. Whipple served his country in World War
I as a second lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps. After the war's end, Whipple taught one year at Mercer University in Macon. Whipple decided it was time to come home to Cochran. When he came back, he brought his new bride with him. On the last day of the 1919, Col. Whipple and Lella Jackson Dillard were united in marriage. Mrs. Whipple's father, the Rev. Miles Hill Dillard, was a well-known minister in the North Georgia Conference of The Methodist Church. Mrs. Whipple was well educated in the arts. She taught school in Sparks, Oglethorpe, Jackson, and Hawkinsville. Mrs. Whipple was the first principal of Druid Hills High School.

Col. Whipple, in addition to his love of the law, valued the importance of education. He served as Superintendent of the Bleckley County School System from 1921 through 1925 and from 1929 to 1933. Whipple was appointed by the governor to the State Board of Education in 1931. He served until 1937, when he was elected to the General Assembly of Georgia. Representative Whipple served in the
legislature until 1945. He was responsible for the law allowing non jury trials in Georgia.

The First Baptist Church of Cochran was the beneficiary of Whipple's leadership and generosity. During his life, Col. Whipple served as deacon, church clerk, church treasurer, Sunday school teacher, and Sunday school superintendent.

The Whipples had four children. Lucian, Jr. served as a decorated B-24 gunner in World War II and this year celebrates his fiftieth year in the office machine business in Dublin. Fielding served in the U.S. Navy Reserve in World War II and as an officer during the Korean War. Stephen also served his country
during the War in the Army Air Corps. Anne followed in her mother's footsteps, graduating with honors from Wesleyan College and making teaching her career.

She married Louis Alderman, well-known educator and former President of Middle Georgia College in Cochran.

In September of 1976, Col. Whipple decided to make that last trip to the courthouse. He had been going there for the last seventy five years. He had witnessed a radical change in the way lawyers tried their cases. Cases were tried faster and lawyers and judges were much better educated. Fittingly, Col. Whipple
won his last case. He was ninety eight years old and his health was beginning to fail. During the last two years of his life, he was honored as the oldest alumnus of Harvard School of Law, Middle Georgia College, and the University of Georgia, and the oldest former member of the Georgia House of Representatives. Col.
Whipple passed away on August 24, 1979, eleven days shy of his 101st birthday.

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