Two well-known Norcross families have lived in the house at 71 Thrasher Street.
Riley Owen Medlock and his family owned the house at the beginning of the 20th century. Mr. Medlock, a descendant of pioneer Gwinnett settlers, established a retail store, ran a harness-making company and built the two-story brick building still standing today at the corner of Jones and Wingo Streets.
He established a real estate office in 1906 in the tallest skyscraper at the time in the city of Atlanta — the 11-story Empire Building. He died there on June 25, 1908, when he accidentally fell down the elevator shaft while on his way to his office on the 4th floor. Medlock’s wife Emma and her family continued to live in the Norcross house for more than 20 years. They were followed by Grady and Carrie Sue Simpson, who raised their daughters Jane and Margaret there. Grady was appointed the Norcross Police Chief in 1937, when the city was a small town in a rural, agricultural area.
It had no permanent city hall. Simpson and night watchman Tilley Smith comprised the entire police force, and the Norcross jail was a two-cell structure located on Skin Alley, with minimal heating and no restroom facilities. Simpson stayed on the job for the city for 32 years, keeping the town safe as it grew in population He became a beloved figure in the community.
Harold H. Cofer, a county deputy sheriff who worked with Simpson for many years, summed up the life of Grady Simpson in a statement he wrote when the Chief retired: “There have been so many times he has gone far beyond the call of duty to help and protect his fellow man. I think now, as I did during the years we worked together he is tops – not only in his profession – but also as a man that has and is living by the Golden Rule.”