Skip to main content

Judge George Hillyer papers

Collection number: ahc.MSS906

Scope and Content

This collection consists of the papers of the Hillyer family. It is divided into seven different series, keeping the papers of each individual in a separate series. Series I is Judge George Hillyer's materials, and it is divided into five subseries consisting of legal papers and court cases, publications, civic duty and railroads, speeches, and personal papers. Series II is of Judge Joseph W. Fields. Series III belonged to Junius Hillyer. Series IV is the correspondence of the Hillyer family, which are typically among family members. Series V is Alfred C. Newell. Series VI is William Wright Bryan, and series VII is family materials of which exact personal ownership could not be determined or of materials belonging to a family member who did not have enough material to receive their own series. Series VII is divided into four subseries consisting of invitations, newspaper clippings, ephemera, and materials of other family members. The types of materials included in the collection are: newspaper clippings, correspondence, speeches cotton sales receipts, invitations, legal papers, court cases, and publications.


  • 1835-1985, undated


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.

Administrative/Biographical History

Judge George Hillyer (March 17, 1835-October 2, 1927) was the mayor of Atlanta from 1885 to 1886. The son of Junius Hillyer (1807-1886) and Jane Seline Watkins of Athens, Georgia, and the grandson of Shaler Hillyer. George Hillyer was trained as a lawyer at Mercer University. Organizing and fighting with Hillyer's Rifles of Walton County, Georgia, which constituted Company C of the Ninth Regiment of Georgia Volunteers, during the Civil War, Hillyer served as Captain and as Major. After the war he worked in the law firm of Hillyer, Alexander & Lambdin with his brother, Henry. He also served as a member of the Georgia legislature, elected in 1857, a member of the Georgia Senate from 1871-1874, as an auditor of the Western and Atlantic Railroad, a member of the state railroad commission, and was appointed to the Fulton County Superior Court by Governor Alfred H. Colquitt, serving from 1877-1883. As mayor of the city, he drafted the financial part of the city charter, and the installation of the city waterworks was under his presidency of the commission. He married Ellen Emily Cooley (1839-1931) of Rome, Georgia, and they had eight children, of which three died as infants. The children were: Elizabeth Hillyer marreid Francis M. Coker, Jr.; Minnie Hillyer married a Henry A. Cassin first and then married Dr. James Dawkins Cromer; Marian J. Hillyer married Dr. Bernard Wolff (1868-1916); George Hillyer, Jr., an electrical, mechanical, and consulting engineer, married Edith Carter Chapin of Washington, D.C.; Ellen Hillyer married Alfred Colquitt Newell, grandson of Alfred H. Colquitt. The Newells had a daughter, Ellen, who married William Wright Bryan. Judge Joseph Field was a large plantation owner in Mississippi near Columbus. His son, Julian Field, came to Atlanta as a lawyer and was a partner in George Hillyer's firm. Julian Field married Mary Hillyer. Junius Hillyer was the son of Shaler Hillyer and the grandson of Dr. Asa Hillyer, a surgeon in the colonists' forces during the Revolution. Shaler brought the family to Georgia from Connecticut in 1796 and had married Rebecca Freeman, daughter of Captain John Freeman of Wilkes County, Georgia. The couple had three sons: John Freeman, Shaler Granby, and Junius. Junius married Jane Watkins Hillyer, and they had eight children: Eben, a physician of Rome, Georgia; Shaler, who died young; Carlton, auditor of the Georgia Railroad at Augusta; Henry, a member of the Atlanta bar; Mary, who married Major George Whitfield; Katherine Rebecca; and Evalina Walton. William Wright Bryan was a prominent newspaper editor for the Atlanta Journal. He was born in 1905 in Atlanta and graduated from Clemson College in 1926. A year later, he began his journalism career as a Journal reporter. In 1932, Bryan married Ellen Hillyer Newell, granddaughter of Judge George Hillyer. They had three children: Ellen Newell, Mary Lane, and William Wright, Jr. During World War II, Bryan was the first reporter to broadcast the landings in Normandy on D-Day in 1944. Soon after, he was captured by the Germans and spent six months in a prison camp. When he returned to Atlanta in 1945, Bryan was promoted to editor of the Atlanta Journal. From 1954-1963, he was editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. After becoming the vice president for development at Clemson in 1963, he finally retired in 1970. Bryan died of pneumonia in 1991 at 85 years of age.


20.86 linear ft. (39 document cases; 6 half document cases; 2 oversize boxes)



System of Arrangement

This collection is arranged in seven series, keeping the papers of each individual in the family in a separate series.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, 1984

Description Control

This collection was processed in 2013.

Judge George Hillyer papers
Josh Hogan
March 2013
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305