Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
History of the University of Georgia
If those people from Union County, Georgia
who have attended the University
years were lined up, they would make a long stretch probably from
to county line. Add those who are fans and support the Georgia Dawgs
get another expansive line.
It is good to call to memory
that the University
of Georgia was
the first state-chartered
university in America.
Its charter was incorporated by an act of the General Assembly on January 27, 1785.
an act in the making for two years, for the first mention of it came in
and in 1784 action was taken by setting aside 40,000 acres of land in
northeastern expanse of Georgia
to endow a university. The land-grant college, however, did not begin
to open doors to students. The journey to getting it established took
years by the appointed Board of Trustees and the Academicus Senatus,
Boards entrusted with its business.
The first meeting of the Board
held in Augusta
February 13, 1786
elected Abraham Baldwin as president of the university. He kept this
for several years, although the proposed school had not been officially
A native of Connecticut,
he had been a professor at Yale, and was active in national politics.
in 1784. He did, however, draft the charter and set the parameters for
In the early years, money for
university was "earned" by renting and/or selling portions of the
40,000 acres that had been designated as an endowment for the school.
Trustees had difficulty getting a quorum together for a meeting.
factors contributed to this fact. One no doubt was poor communication.
was distance and the difficulty of getting to Augusta, Louisville or some other designated
meeting. One year, a great smallpox epidemic prevented the meeting of
Several academies existed
state. The Trustees sent out questionnaires asking for information
of maintaining the schools, the curriculum offered, and what the
were paid. They intended to use this information to help them establish
The University, although
chartered in 1785,
did not begin until 1801. A committee of the Board of Trustees selected
site. John Milledge, who later became governor of Georgia,
purchased 633 acres of
land on the Oconee
River in northeast
gave the land to the Trustees.
Josiah Meigs was elected
president of the
university. Work began on building the first unit of the university,
College in honor
of the venerable
Benjamin Franklin. Abraham Baldwin had observed Josiah Meigs as a
Yale and thought him worthy to become the first president and
first, Meigs was the only employee of the University until student
built up and more staff was needed.
The first class graduated from
of Georgia in
1804. Gradually the
curricular offerings and the staff grew until, at present there are
colleges and schools offering degrees from bachelors to doctorates in
fields. These branches and their starting dates are as follows:
College of Arts and Sciences, 1801; College of Agricultural and
Sciences, 1859; School of Law, 1859; College of Pharmacy, 1903; Warnell
of Forestry and Natural Resources, 1906; College of Education, 1908;
School, 1910; Terry College of Business, 1912; Henry W. Grady School of
Journalism and Mass Communication, 1915; College of Family and Consumer
Sciences, 1933; College of Veterinary Medicine, 1946; School of Social
1964; College of Environment and Design, 1969; School of Public and
International Affairs, 2001; and the College of Public Health, 2005.
In Union County,
we are fortunate to have what we have called through the years "The
Experiment Station," an entity of the University of Georgia's
similar branches at
strategic locations about the state. These provide valuable controlled
and experimentation in agricultural practices.
Now all the various locations of
colleges and universities are under the jurisdiction of a single board,
University System of Georgia, governed by regents. Each school within
system has its own local governing board, faculty and staff.
The early years of the
challenges and hardships. But Georgians should be proud that we have
state-chartered university in the United States.
Jones; published Jan. 31, 2008 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville,
Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
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
Updated August 11,
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