James Franklin Goodman, son of Isaac and Penea (sp) Goodman, a native of Wilkinson County, Georgia, became Berrien County’s first School Commissioner in 1872.
The state legislature passed a law in 1872, mandating the establishment of boards of education in Berrien and other Georgia counties. Mr. Goodman was elected (appointed) to that position at that time, though research by local historian, Skeeter Parker, suggests that Mr. Goodman may have served in that position as early as 1856.
Mr. Goodman, known in his day as Judge Goodman, because of his service as Inferior Court Judge, evidenced by his having served as a Justice of Inferior Court, 1861-1868, Justice of Peace, 1157th District, 1873-1877, a member of Duncan Lodge #234, F&AM, and a founding member in the ‘first’ Baptist Church in Nashville, established in 1855.
The organizational meeting for the church was held in the barn at the home of Mr. Goodman on Henrietta Street. At that meeting, Mr. Goodman donated the land for the first church site.
The young James F. Goodman’s education was that found in Wilkinson County, where he was born in 1821, and where his father-in-law, Jethro Dean, was active in that county’s early school system. Mr. Dean was a trustee at Mt. Pleasant Academy, established in 1836 in Wilkinson County.
James F. Goodman served as Berrien County School Commissioner for at least twenty-one years, longer than any other commissioner or superintendant in the county’s history. Two of his sons, Isaac J. Goodman, and John Jesse Franklin (JJF) Goodman, were also educators in Berrien County.
When he retired in 1892, at the age of 70, James F. Goodman moved with his second wife, Lamanda Dean, to Sparks, where his son Dr. Isaac J. Goodman, founder of Sparks, lived.
James F. Goodman died on April 28, 1905. He is buried, along with many other family members, at Sparks Cemetery. (Courtesy of Wenda Gaile Bailey, 2nd great granddaughter of Judge Goodman through his daughter, Carrie Ann Jane Goodman, who married Reddick Charles McKinnon)