COL Robert L. Berner

COL Robert L. Berner

Jasper County, Georgia, USA
Death 13 May 1922 (aged 68)
Bibb County, Georgia, USA
Burial Forsyth, Monroe County, Georgia, USA
Memorial ID 154347660 · View Source
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Robert Lee Berner, sometimes spelled Robert Leigh Berner. Son of William Robert Berner (1814-1881) and Julia Ann Cook, who married on 12 December 1843 in Monroe Co., GA.

Robert L. Berner's father was a school teacher who was born in Germany (Saxony), and his mother, Julia Ann Cook had died between 1854 and 1860. He had a sister, Florence T. Berner (1848-1926). During the 1860 Federal Census, they resided in Dalton, Whitfield Co., GA.

On 19 December 1865, his father married Florence Gordon (b ca 1825) in Jasper Co., GA. Robert L. Berner was about age 11 then. His father, William R. Berner died on 21 November 1881 in Jasper Co., GA.

He was one of the founders of Kappa Deuteron chapter of Phi Gamma Delta at the University of Georgia in 1871.

In June 1898, during the Spanish American War, he was appointed by Gov. William Yates Atkinson, as Lt. Colonel of the Third Georgia Infantry, carrying that organization into Cuba during the campaign there. He rose to the rank of Colonel prior to the end of the War.

Robert L. Berner married Clifford Napier on 10 December 1900 in Monroe Co., GA.

Robert L. Berner was instrumental in having Terminal Station built in Macon, Georgia in 1916, after filing a petition on 28 September 1912, with the Georgia Railroad Commission, asking that the railroads entering Macon be required to erect an adequate Union passenger station in Macon. His efforts culminated in the construction of Terminal Station, which was officially opened in 1916.

He was a prominent Georgia attorney. The town of Berner, Monroe Co., GA was named in his honor.


The Macon Daily Telegraph, Macon, Georgia, Sunday, May 14, 1922, pg 1:

Well Known Macon Lawyer Dies Suddenly At His Home.
Life Was Filled With Political, Legal and Army Battles.

Robert Leigh Berner, one of Georgia’s best known lawyers, died suddenly yesterday morning at 7:35 o’clock of angina pectoris, an affliction with which he had been suffering for years. Apparently he knew that the end was near for it was only the night before that in conversation with his wife, he gave the names of five of his associates during life whom he desired to serve as pallbearers at his funeral. He promised to complete the list later, but it remained for Mrs. Berner yesterday to supply the sixth name.

Mr. Berner graduated from the University of Georgia at the age of 19 years, which would make him 71 yeas of age. He was the son of W. R. Berner, a noted school teacher of Jasper county, which gave him opportunities to complete his studies early in life.

Life Filled With Battles

Mr. Berner’s life was filled with battles, political, legal and military. He was famed as a fighter and his brilliant oratorical powers and his military poise put him to the forefront during his middle life and extending up to a few years ago.

The death of Mr. Berner, although not unexpected because of his feeble health, caused a shock to his friends yesterday, for he was down town Friday and did not leave his office in the Georgia Casualty building until 6 o’clock that evening. Yesterday morning, he arose at 7 o’clock and was stricken, dying within thirty-five minutes, doctors being unable to bring relief as they had often been called upon to do at other times.

Mr. Berner’s fame in Georgia probably rose to its highest notch when he took the stump “and met all comers,” according to one of his close friends yesterday, in the fight on populism that in those days was gaining strength in Georgia. His brilliant oratorical powers at that time meant immense crowds wherever he appeared.

A Gubernatorial Candidate

It was about that time that Mr. Berner also came into the limelight as a gubernatorial candidate. He entered the field for the governorship in 1898 against Allen Candler and Spencer Atkinson, making a good race, but the former won.

During the Spanish-American War, Mr. Berner was the Colonel of the Third Georgia Infantry, carrying that organization into Cuba, during the campaign there. His appointment was due to his friendship with Mr. Candler, his political rival for governorship. Former Congressman C. L. Bartlett, who was in school with Mr. Berner, and who was a close friend with him through life, yesterday furnished a considerable amount of history concerning the life of Mr. Berner, as did J. Ellsworth Hall and Gen. Walter A. Harris, the latter two speaking of his work in later years.

Mr. Berner was born in Jasper county and after graduating from the University in 1870 went to Forsyth, where he studied law in the office of Judge A. B. Hammond, beginning the practice first of law in 1873, being first associated with Capt. Tom Cabaniss and later with C. A. Turner, the latter later moving to Macon, where he became active at the bar.

About 18 years ago, Mr. Berner moved to Atlanta where he was associated in the practice of law with Senator Hoke Smith. He returned here about twelve years ago.

When Grover Cleveland was serving his second term as president and Hoke Smith was secretary of the interior, Mr. Berner held a position in the Department of the Interior.

President of Georgia Senate

At one time, Mr. Berner was president of the Georgia Senate. He also was a member of the General Assembly from Monroe county for the years 1884, 1885, 1886 and 1888. At one time he was also chairman of the Democratic executive committee.

In 1892, when it was left to Monroe county to designate a candidate for Congress from this district, Mr. Berner was defeated by Mr. Cabaniss by one vote in that county.

It was while residing in Forsyth that Mr. Berner married Miss Clifford Napier, of that city, who survives. A daughter, Miss Martha Berner, now a student at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, is the only child. Mrs. Florence Williamson, of Sylvester, is a sister, and three surviving nephews are Julian Williamson, of Sylvester,
Loring Williamson, of Washington, Ga., and Charles J. Williamson, of Atlanta.

The members of the Macon Bar Association met yesterday afternoon and selected honorary pallbearers for the funeral, which will be held on Monday morning at 11 o’clock at the residence, 233 Bond street. A memorial to be spread upon the records of the Bibb County Superior Court, will be drafted later.

Name Pallbearers

The honorary pallbearers will be Julian Urquhart, Ed. Ryals, A. H. Heyward, F. R. Martin, Charles Bloch, John R. Cooper, John P. Rose and R. C. Jordan.

The active pallbearers, most of whom Mr. Berner selected himself, are Roland Ellis, J. Ellsworth Hall, E. W. Maynard, C. L. Bartlett, J. A. Dixon, of Americus, and Judge Will Gunn.

The funeral service at the residence on Monday will be conducted by Dr. Rufus W. Weaver, president of Mercer. Mr. Berner was a member of the Baptist church. Immediately after the service the body will be taken to Forsyth, where another service will take place.

Family Members


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  • Created by: William Mills
  • Added: 28 Oct 2015
  • Find A Grave Memorial 154347660
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for COL Robert L. Berner (21 Apr 1854–13 May 1922), Find A Grave Memorial no. 154347660, citing Forsyth City Cemetery, Forsyth, Monroe County, Georgia, USA ; Maintained by William Mills (contributor 47533441) .