Probate Court of Dooly County

County Seat History...

The Dec. 24, 1821 act organizing Dooly County authorized the justices of the inferior court to select the location of the county seat. Apparently, no action was taken by the inferior court, for an act approved Dec. 25, 1822 named William T. Smith, Asa Richardson, Daniel McNear, Reuben Mannen, and Ezekiah Fountain as commissioners to pick a temporary site for the county seat, "which shall be as near central as convenience will admit" (Ga. Laws 1822, p. 122). Until such site was selected, the law directed that Dooly County courts hold their sessions at the house of Isaac Jones. What happened next is not clear -- but on Dec. 10, 1823, the legislature named Blasingain Pollet, William Hillard, Thomas E. Ward, Thomas Cobb, and Littleberry Richardson as new commissioners to select a county seat (Ga. Laws 1823, p. 190). Until a courthouse was erected, Dooly County courts were to meet at the house of John Goldsmith. Again, there is uncertainty about what happened next -- but apparently the commissioners could not agree on the location of the county seat. On Dec. 20, 1824, the legislature named five new commissioners -- James Powell, Etheldred Farcloth, Moses Ramsey, John Harvard, and William Slaid -- to select the site for the county seat "as near the centre of said county as convenience will admit of, paying due regard to that part of the county which is most inhabited or likely to be so. . . ." (Ga. Laws 1824, p. 140). Until such site was selected, county elections and courts would continue to be held at the house of John Goldsmith.
On Dec. 26, 1826, the legislature designated land lot 57 in the seventh district as the permanent county seat of Dooly County and directed that the site be known as Berrien (Ga. Laws 1826, p. 93). The name honored John Berrien (1781-1856), who at the time represented Georgia in the U.S. Senate. On Dec. 23, 1833, the legislature changed the name of Berrien to Drayton (Ga. Laws 1833, p. 322). William Drayton, a U.S. Representative from South Carolina, had served as chairman of the House Military Affairs Committee until his term ended in March 1833.

A group of Dooly County residents were unhappy with Drayton's location and signed a petition asking that the county seat be moved to a site on the Flint River. On Dec. 25, 1835, the legislature authorized Dooly County's inferior court to move the county seat "to the most suitable situation on [the] Flint river, in the ninth district of said county" (Ga. Laws 1835, p. 260). The legislation also directed that if the county seat was moved, the new county seat continue to be called Drayton. Subsequently, the county seat was moved to a site near -- but not on -- the Flint River. On Dec. 30, 1836, the legislature confirmed the new Drayton as permanent county seat and incorporated it as a town (Ga. Laws 1836, p. 272).

On Dec. 23, 1839, criticism over the location of Drayton led the legislature to appoint William Smith, David Scarboro, Joel Dorsey, James Oliver, Thomas Cobb, John Eubanks, and John Crumpler as commissioners to select a new seat of government for Dooly County -- one "which shall be as near the centre of the county as convenience of water and health of situation will admit (Ga. Laws 1839, p. 213). The act further directed that the new county seat be named Glascock.

Nevertheless, Drayton continued to serve as county seat. On Dec. 22, 1840, the legislature amended the 1839 legislation by giving the authority to select a new county seat to the Dooly County inferior court (Ga. Laws 1840, p. 149). Moreover, any change would have to be approved by Dooly County voters in a public referendum. Finally, if a majority of voters favored removal, the new county seat was to be named Contractile.

If a referendum was held, it failed -- for on Dec. 11, 1841, the General Assembly moved the county seat from Drayton back to Befriend, and renamed the town Vienna (Ga. Laws 1841, p. 70). Presumably, the name was based on the famous Austrian city of the same name. On Feb. 18, 1854, the legislature incorporated Vienna (Ga. Laws 1853-54, p. 273).
Source: University of Georgia