Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Power & Politics: Former State Senators Hugh & Jim Gillis, Jr (D-Soperton) of Treutlen County

I don't know of any family that has a iron grip on a county here in Georgia, but the Gillis' of Treutlen County sure does come close to being that exact family.
(Hugh Gillis Left), (Jim Gillis, below right)

If you travel east on I-16 you'll past by Treutlen County, home of the powerful Gillis Family who have left their mark on Treutlen County & Georgia Politics.

The Gillis name that is synonymous with the area's agricultural industry and public service landscape.

The county was founded by Neil Gillis (D), who was the state senator for Emanuel County at the time Treutlen County was founded in 1917. Neal Gillis founded Soperton Naval Stores in the late 1800s, a turpentine business located on east Georgia. Neil Gillis, remembered as the "Father of Treutlen County," was a local bank director and large landowner who campaigned successfully for the creation of the county.

But it doesn't end there.

His son Jim L Gillis, (D-Soperton) also got into politics. He became State Senator & later Highway Commissioner serving under Eugene Talmadge. Interstate-16 was named in honor of Jim Gillis, Sr

Then there was Jim L Gillis, Jr (D-Spoerton) who he ran a successful campaign for the Georgia Senate. He served again from 1945 to 1946, and returned home to become first mayor and then county commissioner of Treutlen County, a post he held for forty years, retiring in 2001.

Hugh Gillis (D-Soperton) ran successfully for the Georgia House of Representatives. He served two terms, one from 1941 to 1944, and the other from 1949 to 1956. Gillis was elected twice to the Georgia Senate, the first time in 1957, and the second in 1962. He would hold that seat for the next forty-two years, making him the longest-serving member of the Georgia General Assembly. In the senate, he was elected president pro tempore, and served on the Appropriations Committee before retiring in 2004.

Let's begin with Jim Gillis, Jr.

Back in May of this year, NRCS joined the Ohoopee Conservation District and the Pine Country Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D) to celebrate and honor Mr. Jim L. Gillis, Jr, who at age at 93, is the longest serving conservation district board member in the Nation. Gillis was a founding member of the Ohoopee River Soil and Water Conservation District and remains its Chairman to this day. He was also an inaugural member of the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) Hall of Fame. Mr. Gillis witnessed the early days of NRCS, which celebrated its 75th anniversary this year.

Gillis manages over 12,000 acres of timberland, and is well respected throughout the Southeast for his timber management program. Jim L. Jr. is the chairman of the board for the Georgia Forestry Commission, on which he has served since 1971. He also has served as president of the American Turpentine Farmers Association.

Jim L. Gillis Jr. is chairman of the board of the Bank of Soperton and is past president of the Georgia Bankers Association and was president of the State Association of County Commissioners. Hugh Gillis also is a stockholder in the Bank of Soperton.

Hugh Gillis was honored this year by the Georgia Farm Bureau in recognition of the many contributions he made to Georgia’s forestry and agriculture industries during the 56 years he served in the Georgia General Assembly.

Gillis helped oversee the passage of numerous bills that helped Georgia’s forestry and agriculture industries remain profitable, benefiting the economies of many rural Georgia communities that depend on these industries. Gillis was a charter member of the Treutlen County Farm Bureau where he served on the board of directors in some capacity for nearly 70 years and continues to support the organization as a director emeritus.

Gillis helped found Gillis Ag & Timber, a pulpwood & logging company back in 1940.

Hugh Gillis, an old school rural democrat, more conservative that some republicans on some issues, is recognized for championing rural healthcare and helping to start a dental school. He was the longest serving member of a state legislature in the country, having served a total of 56 years in the Ga General Assembly.


The Gillis family are deep rooted family in politics. They have dominated local and state politics for years. Hugh Gillis is now out of the politics, but still sits on many important boards (so he is still unoffical in politics) They are just a very powerful family in that very small community of Soperton. There's more in the pipe line as Hugh son Donnie (D) is a Superior Court Judge in the Dublin Circuit & at times sits on the Treutlen Court, as well as another son that at last check was a democratic county commissioner for Treutlen County.
One person says that Treutlen County have some of the best roads in the State, all because of the Gillis Brothers, which I can't confirmed because I never visited the county. They have given back to nearby Brewton-Parker College, as well as back to their community. The Gillis family are well-respected in the county, although they do have some "Haters" as well, hell we all do.
Who knows we may well see another Gillis family member take the plung into Georgia Politics, possily in 2012. Who Knows.

1 comment:

Dusty Roads said...

I surely miss discussing the Braves,fishing,etc. with Hugh.
Proud to be his Brother-In-Law
Gary Farmer

This is a Rural Blog that provides views & insights from a Conservative Georgia Democrat

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