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James Burwell Mitchell, son of Dr. John Vass Mitchell and Janet Atkins Mitchell, was born in Hawkinsville, Georgia, November 16, 1834, and died November 27, 1911. He began the study of law at an early age with Judge Peter E. Love, judge of the Superior Court of the Southern District, and was admitted to the bar April 17, 1854, when only nineteen years old. He commenced the practice of his profession in his native town. By fitness, study, knowledge and experience he was favored for public service. His taste for books was enduring, and he was a constant student. He specialized in the Court of Ordinary, and for years did nearly all of it, such was the confidence of the people of the county in his ability in that field. He was appointed solicitor of the County Court in 1879 by Governor Colquitt, and served to August 24, 1866, when he resigned. He was a sergeant in the Confederate Army. After the war he went into the mercantile business in Marietta, but returned to Hawkinsville a few years later and formed a law partnership with his brother-in-law, Lawrence Carnes Ryan. In addition to his law practice, he added extensive farming interests, horticulture and beekeeping, in which he was engaged many years.
In his former days he found relaxation in playing the banjo, and when a ludicrous turn was desired in a concert he could be depended upon to give the right touch. His “Sandy, Lend Me Your Money Mill,” “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” and similar songs created a glow of good humor. For a considerable period in his later life he followed the chase with the hounds.
He was a faithful supporter of the common schools, and by word and example sustained the cause of temperance. He was a member of St. Luke’s -Episcopal Church, many years the superintendent of the Sunday school. He was also a Mason.
He was a descendant of Stephen Mitchell of Revolutionary fame, and his grandfather, Stephen Mitchell, rendered service in the War of 1812. On his maternal side his lineage is traced to Edmund Bacon and William Gordon of Virginia, and Ica Atkins of North Carolina, all of whom rendered outstanding service during the Colonial and Revolutionary periods.
His father was not only Clerk of the Superior Court of Pulaski County, but represented the county in the Legislature, was a dentist by profession, and said to be the finest violinist in this section.
On June 26, 1860, he was united in marriage to Mary Orleans Ryan, daughter of Charles Eaton Ryan and Mary Anne Buffington Ryan. To this union five children were born, but only two lived to maturity, viz.: Charles Ryan Mitchell, who married Mattie Royal. (Their children are: Mrs. Orlie Mae Kirven, James Royal, Mrs. Janet Roberts and Elinor Ryan), and Mary Jordan, who became the wife of William Byrd Daniel. (Their children are: Wright James, Mrs. Birdie O’Callaghan, Bessie Mae Patterson, and Harry LeRoy.)