GDA History

Commissioner Gary Ward Black

Commissioner Gary Ward Black Sr.
Term: 2011 - 2023
Gary W. Black served as the 16th Commissioner of Agriculture in Georgia's history.  Commissioner Black has served in various leadership positions during his 40-year career in Georgia agriculture extending from the Georgia Farm Bureau to the Georgia Agribusiness Council. ....  More>>


Commissioner Thomas “Tommy” Irvin
Term: 1969 - 2011
Thomas T. Irvin was born in Lula, Hall County on July 14, 1929. The Irvin family later moved to White County where they were sharecroppers. Irvin and his wife Bernice met while attending the Southeastern Fair, and they married on June 1, 1947. Irvin was elected to his first public office as a member of the Habersham County Board of Education in 1956. He later served as school board chairman and president of the Georgia School Boards Association...  More>>

Commissioner Phil Campbell
Term: 1955 - 1969
James Philander “Phil” Campbell, Jr. was born April 9, 1917, in Athens, Clarke County. Campbell gained his passion for agriculture and farming from his father who was the first director of the Georgia Agricultural Extension Service and held the post for 25 years. After graduation from Athens High School in 1934, Campbell began his undergraduate work at the University of Georgia where he was a member of the Kappa Alpha Order and...  More>>

Commissioner Columbus Roberts
Term: 1937 - 1941
Born in 1870 as the first of fourteen children to George and Mary Alice Roberts, Columbus Roberts learned the value of hard work and the humility of poverty. By age ten he had come to the end of his formal education and had begun life as a tenant farmer....  More>>

Commissioner Tom Linder
Term: 1935 - 1937, 1941 - 1955
Thomas Mercer Linder was born to Lewis B. and Nancy Jane Beall Linder, of Laurens County, on November 8, 1887. In 1909, Linder married the former Hazel Kirk Carter. They were residents of Hazlehurst, Jeff Davis County, where Linder was a farmer and lawyer. ....  More>>

Commissioner G.C. Adams

Commissioner G.C. Adams
Term: 1933 - 1935
George Claud Adams was born in 1868 to William J. and Susan Frances (Hurst) Adams in Newton County. He was the 12th of 16 children and grew up working on the family's farm...  More>>


Commissioner Eugene Talmadge
Term: 1927 - 1933
Eugene Talmadge was born on the family farm near Forsyth on September 23, 1884, to Carrie Roberts and Thomas R. Talmadge. After attending the University of Georgia and briefly teaching, Talmadge returned to Athens to earn a law degree in 1907. While at UGA, Talmadge was a member of the Phi Kappa Literary Society and Sigma Nu fraternity. He practiced law briefly in Atlanta before moving to Ailey and then Mt. Vernon to start his own practice...  More>>

Commissioner J.J. Brown

Commissioner J.J. Brown
Term: 1917 - 1927
John Judson Brown was born near Vanna, in Hart County, on December 17, 1865 to Ira and Susan Brown. The Browns were descendants of the northeast Georgia pioneers who had entered the territory and carved farms and small villages out of the wilderness. In 1885, Brown married Captora Terressie Ginn, and the two built a small log cabin across from Little Holly Springs where they farmed four to five hundred acres of land....  More>>

Commissioner James D. Price
Term: 1913 - 1917
James D. Price was born to James A. and Martha Wright Price on July 14, 1860 near Farmington in Oconee County. After attending the University of Georgia, Price married Miss Leila M. Wilson of Watkinsville and returned to Farmington where he would live for the rest of his life. James D. Price's career in public service began in 1888 as postmaster of the newly-created Farmington Post Office...  More>>

Commissioner James J. Conner

Commissioner James J. Conner
Term: 1912
James J. Conner was born on November 26, 1847 to Thomas B. and Sarah (Wall) Conner in what is known as the "Dead river settlement," in Montgomery County. At age twenty, Conner studied law under Col. Jonathan Rivers and was admitted to the bar in 1871. He would practice law in Dublin for a number of years. He was later elected mayor of Dublin for two years and served as solicitor-general of the circuit for several years....  More>>

Commissioner Thomas G. Hudson

Commissioner Thomas G. Hudson
Term: 1905 - 1912
Thomas G. Hudson was born to John N. and Amanda M. Hudson on November 11, 1867 near La Crosse in Schley County. After attending Schley County public school and the South Georgia Male and Female College at Dawson, Hudson married Miss Katie Royal and began his agricultural pursuits in Schley and Sumter counties. He served as a representative to the Georgia General Assembly House of Representatives for one term in 1892-93 and ...  More>>

Commissioner O.B. Stevens

Commissioner O.B. Stevens
Term: 1899 - 1905
Obadiah Benjamin Stevens was born August 1, 1847 to W.J. & Susan M. near the little town of Benevolence. He bears the distinction of having lived in two counties without having moved from his ancestral home. Stevens married Julia A. (Lofton) Stevens on October 16, 1867...  More>>

Commissioner R.T. Nesbitt

Commissioner R.T. Nesbitt
Term: 1890 - 1898
After the office of Commissioner of Agriculture became an elected position, R.T. Nesbitt entered the race against the incumbent, J.T. Henderson. Campaigning against Henderson's management of the oil and fertilizer inspection program, Nesbitt became the first elected Commissioner of Agriculture in Georgia...  More>>

Commissioner J.T. Henderson

Commissioner J.T. Henderson
Term: 1879 - 1890
J.T. Henderson, of Newton County, was appointed as the Commissioner of Agriculture on August 29, 1879 by Governor Alfred H. Colquitt, immediately following the resignation of Hon. Thomas P. Janes. Almost a year after his appointment, he called a convention of Agricultural and State Chemists to be held in Washington, D.C. The purpose of this convention was to establish a uniform method for analyzing commercial fertilizers...  More>>

Commissioner Thomas P. Janes

Commissioner Thomas P. Janes
Term: 1874 - 1879
Thomas P. Janes was born September 11, 1823 in Crawfordville, GA, in present-day Taliaferro County (formerly the eastern part of Greene County). There he attended Mercer Institute. He would go on to receive Masters of Arts degrees from Columbian College (George Washington University), Mercer University, and the College of New Jersey (Princeton University) before earning his medical degree at the University of the City of New York in 1847...  More>>