Early Settlers of
Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Some Black History in Union County on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
writing this article on
At best, history of blacks in
Since the farms were relatively small, and most of them were settled by independent Scots-Irish who migrated from North Carolina, few of the landowners had been accustomed to slavery and did not bring slaves with them to the lands they claimed, received mainly from the land lottery, along the creek and river valleys of Union County.
A look at names of slaveholders in 1850 reveals that citizens with these last names owned slaves: Butt, Hughes, Barclay, Reid, Haralson, England, Watkins, Addington, Erwin, Turner, Collins, Flowers, Hunter, Thompson, Hudgins, and at least four more whose names cannot be determined from the census taker’s handwriting.
The Emancipation Proclamation was
signed by President Abraham Lincoln on
Two communities of black settlements
were located in the Blairsville militia district. One
was near the foot of
Cemeteries reveal clues to the history
of a people. From the old courthouse
square in Blairsville, the Black Cemetery is located 1.5 miles east on
76, with a turn south on Shaw Road for one-fourth mile, then southwest
top of the ridge and westward for about one-fourth mile.
Although there are more than 100 graves in
this old cemetery, only seven have names still decipherable. The first person buried there with a name on
the stone was Samuel Morris, born in 1839 and died
Records show that Eugene Butt gave land for the black church, school and cemetery following the Civil War. Church and school were held in the same building. Rev. Tom Coke Hughes, a noted white Methodist preacher of the nineteenth century held services at the black church on occasion. It is said that he had an agreement with Glenn Butt that if the congregation got “caught up in the Spirit,” he would escort Rev. Hughes safely from the church amidst the shouting and charismatic celebration.
The black school was still in operation in 1924, although M. L. Duggan, Rural School Agent who did a survey of Union County Schools in 1916 did not list the black school as one of the public schools. By 1938 the church had only the families of Glenn Butt and Eliza Trammell attending. Most of the black families had moved elsewhere to find employment.
When I was a child, my parents showed
me graves in the
I have been inspired again by reading
several of the speeches and writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Among his famous words are the “I Have a
Dream” address delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in
His advocacy of non-violent social
change has brought about many actions that have helped his dreams to be
realized. I can imagine that from the
1830’s through about the mid-1940’s before the remaining black
[I am indebted
to these publications for information
for this article: “Sketches of
Union County History,” (1987), edited by Teddy J.
Oliver, pp. 38-41; “Cemetery Records of
Union County, (1990), pp. 296-297)].
c2005 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published January 20, 2005 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
[Ethelene Dyer Jones is a retired educator, freelance writer, poet, and historian. She may be reached at e-mail email@example.com; phone 478-453-8751; or mail 1708 Cedarwood Road, Milledgeville, GA 31061-2411.]
Updated September 20, 2008