James Barrow, Jr.
Biography: James Barrow Jr. was born on July 26, 1917, in Athens, Georgia. He was the son of James C. Barrow and Clara E. Barrow. He attended public schools in Athens and from the age of 17, he managed the family farm following the death of his father. He later graduated from the University of Georgia with an AB (Bachelor of Arts) in 1937 and an LLB (Bachelor of Laws) in 1939. He then began practicing law in Athens.
Service Time: James entered the Army sometime in 1941. We don’t have any information on his early years in the military but at some point he was assigned to the Reconnaissance Company of the 634th Tank Destroyer Battalion. The unit was originally formed as the 34th Provisional Anti-tank Battalion in August, 1941, and participated as such in the Louisiana Maneuvers that fall. The 634th was activated on December 16, 1941 at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. In 1942, they trained at Camp Hood, Texas, and participated in the fall Louisiana Maneuvers before returning to Camp Claiborne.
In 1943, they were equipped with the M10 Tank Destroyer. They shipped to England on December 29th, arriving on January 10, 1944. While there, they received additional training before landing on Utah Beach in Normandy, France, on June 30th. They were committed to battle on July 10th near Carentan and participated in the Cobra breakout in late July. Their widely separated elements helped capture Mayenne and defeat the Mortain, France, counteroffensive in early August.
The 634th then raced east to Mons, Belgium, and supported operations against the Siegfried Line and the capture of Aachen, Germany, in October. They fought in the Hürtgen Forest in November and then moved to Belgium in December, only to race south to the Ardennes in late December. Crossing the Roer River on February 25, 1945, the 634th pushed to the Rhine River at Bonn by March 9th and crossed at Remagen, Germany, on the 15th, supporting the envelopment of the Ruhr Pocket. They then moved east to the Harz Mountains in early April and drove 200 miles to the Czechoslovak border by April 28th. Unit records show that on the night of 2-3 May, 1945, Captain Barrow, along with two other men, was captured by an enemy combat patrol in the vicinity of Mammersreuth, Germany. Numerous patrols searched for the men over the next two days but only a flashlight was found. We do not have any information regarding his time in captivity or his eventual release.
The unit received credit for the campaigns of Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. James would have shared in the unit’s award of the Croix De Guerre and he was awarded a Bronze Star medal. He was discharged in April, 1946, and left the service at the rank of Captain.
Following his return home, James returned to his law practice. On December 31, 1945, he married the former Phyllis P. Jenkins, from Athens, daughter of the late John W. Jenkins and Ruth Parker. Phyllis served as a Captain in the Women’s Army Corp, entering service in July, 1942. The new couple made their home in Athens and had six children. James also taught law at the University of Georgia Law School from 1946 until he took office as Superior Court Judge in 1963. He was elected City Attorney for the City of Athens, an office he held from 1950 until his election as Superior Court Judge.
During the public school desegregation crisis, Judge and Mrs. Barrow served as co-chairs of H.O.P.E (“Help Our Public Education”), which successfully opposed efforts to close the public schools rather than submit to federal court orders to desegregate. He was a founder and first president of the Athens Legal Aid Society in 1961. Before the Supreme Court required the states to do so, the Society was organized to provide counsel to persons who had the right to a lawyer but could not afford to hire one. Judge Barrow was elected Superior Court Judge of the Western Judicial Circuit in 1962 and was thereafter re-elected without opposition until his retirement in 1990, when he was appointed by the governor to serve as Senior Judge of the Superior Courts. He continued to serve on a full-time basis through 1995.
Judge Barrow continued to serve as a role model in the civil rights movement, charging grand juries to comply with new federal laws guaranteeing civil rights that many local officials throughout the South were urging people to disobey. During the investigation of the murder of U.S. Army Col. Lemuel Penn by the Ku Klux Klan (the “murder at Broad River Bridge”), Judge Barrow was virtually alone among local public officials in offering the assistance of his office to federal officials investigating the outrage.
His service on the bench was recognized by the Georgia State Bar in 1992 with the Tradition of Excellence Award, its highest honor for judicial service.
Judge Barrow passed away on May 30, 2000, and was buried in the Oconee Hill Cemetery, Athens, Georgia. We would like to thank him for his lifetime of service to the country. Thank you to Ancestry contributor “zoegracie” for use of the main photo. Thank you also to Ancestry contributor “carolbowdoin” for use of the wedding photo. We would also like to thank Find A Grave contributor Ed Saye for use of the grave marker photo.