The Vagabond – E.O. McCord: a solid citizen of Gadsden

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By Danny Crownover

In 1911, Edgar Oliver McCord moved to Gadsden from Albertville to practice law. He soon formed a partnership with O.B. Roper, John Inzer and Tom Stephens under the name of McCord, Roper, Inzer & Stephens. This law firm was mutually dissolved under peculiar circumstances.

A red-hot fight against prohibition was developing. McCord was the chairman of the campaign committee of the Dry Movement, while Stephens was chairman of the campaign committee of the Wet Movement. It was unanimously agreed that the two warring campaigns should not be conducted from one office. McCord was a strong prohibitionist when it was not very popular to go around and speak for that cause.

McCord later formed a partnership with Harwell G. Davis, who was later the president of Howard College. McCord later took his son Roy into the firm, and for many years the firm of McCord & McCord was among the leading law firms of Gadsden.

McCord, who was referred to as “the people’s lawyer,” represented all Gadsden residents – high and low, black and white, rich and poor.

McCord was a natural-born politician and served as chairman of the Etowah County Democratic Executive Committee for eight years. He was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention that nominated Franklin D. Roosevelt for U.S. President for the first time.

McCord took an especially active part in the religious life of the community, being a steward in the Eleventh Street Methodist Episcopal Church and superintendent for 25 years of the church’s Sunday School. A stained-glass window honored his memory in that church. He was also a Knight of Pythias and an Odd Fellow.

McCord was born in Conyers, Georgia, on March 1, 1867 and died on November 14, 1943. He is buried at Forrest Cemetery.

McCord graduated from Quinn High School and entered the North Georgia Agricultural and Mechanical College at Dahlonega. He failed to graduate from the latter institution by a few months due to an illness in his family, which forced McCord to go to work.

McCord became a teacher and eventually founded Blount College in Blountsville. He refused to take the presidency since he was only 22 years old at the time. He did hold the chair of science and languages while at the college.

While McCord was in Blountsville, he organized a posse that made an unsuccessful attempt to capture the notorious Alabama outlaw Rube Burrows. Burrows shot and killed a member of the posse, an 18-year-old boy who insisted on marching in front of the inexperienced manhunters.

McCord eventually became principal of the public schools in the cities of Albertville, Blountsville and Attalla.

In 1893, McCord began practicing law in Albertville and was immediately successful. During that same year, he established The Marshall County News, a weekly newspaper, and served as the paper’s editor. He served as mayor of Albertville for three terms. He also established and owned the Sand Mountain Electric Company, which provided Albertville with its first electric lights. In addition, McCord was superintendent of the Methodist church Sunday school in Albertville for 12 years.

In 1908, a terrible cyclone struck Albertville and all but destroyed the city. McCord’s home was blown to bits, his oldest son was killed and other members of his family were seriously injured.

The Vagabond may be contacted at dkcrown@bellsouth.net.

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