Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Stone - "Father of Forestry in Georgia"
Stone was not a Union County
native, but some of the most productive years of his life were spent
here. A plaque to honor him was placed at
Neal Gap in 1935.
It reads: “June, 1935 Erected
to the Memory of BONNELL
STONE December 3, 1887 – May 25, 1935 by
THE GEORGIA FORESTRY ASSOCIATION of which he was a founder and
secretary. His public service as a trained
forester merits him the distinction of being THE FATHER OF FORETRY IN
GEORGIA He inspired the donation of Vogel State
Many mountains mists have risen and dispersed over the sign that
memorializes Stone. Who was he and what
significance did his work and leadership have upon Union County?
Bonnell H. Stone was born in Oxford, Georgia on December 3, 1887 and
returned there after his retirement to become the town’s mayor. He died in his native Oxford on May 25, 1935. But most of his working years were spent in Union County. His accomplishments read like a merit sheet of
He received his education from Emory-at-Oxford and the University of Georgia
where he majored in forestry. He took a
job with the U. S. Forest Service and worked with that government
entity until he took a job with the Phister
and Vogel Land Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As advisor to this land company with large
holdings here in the mountains, and as their forest ranger, he managed
thousands of acres owned by the company from 1913 through 1931. It was while he worked for Phister and Vogel that he inspired the donation
of land that was to become Vogel State
Park and Lake Trahlyta, one
most popular state parks.
In addition to assisting in the establishment of Vogel State
Park, Stone worked to get Highway
129 built across Neal Gap. This road
opened in 1925. It replaced the Old Logan
Turnpike across Tesnatee Gap and into Cleveland, Georgia. Highway 129 connected Gainesville and Atlanta in
the south to Blairsville and points northward. Stone wrote of the road: “The highway is not only a main truck line
between Atlanta, Ga., Asheville, NC, and Knoxville, Tenn., but as an
agricultural and market road it will be unsurpassed in importance to
the State of Georgia, opening up as it does the vast possibilities and
resources of Union County and her highly flavored fruits, vegetables
and berries, her poultry, livestock and small grain.
Not only will Georgia establish her claim to this territory on
the north side of the Blue Ridge when the highway is formally opened
through Neal Gap, but the counties of Clay and Cherokee in North
Carolina will then be more closely identified with Atlanta and other
Georgia centers than with Asheville or Knoxville or other cities
further to the north.” (article
written by Stone Nov. 30, 1924).
In the fall of 1915 the Union County Good Roads Association was
organized in Blairsville with Bonnell H.
Stone as first president. He was able to
get Dr. C. M. Strahn of the University of Georgia to
speak to the newly-formed association. Col.
Pat Haralson, attorney and representative, was active in the
association and worked hand-in-hand with Stone to get the road across
A bond issue was voted on and passed. Union County was
among the first counties in the state to vote the limit in road bonds. The vote was 9 to 1 to pass the bond issue and
the amount was $80,000. Citizens proved
the slogan, “In Union there is strength.” Dr.
Strahn, the speaker in 1915 at the Union
County Good Roads Association, became the first chairman of the Georgia
Highway Commission. Stone stated: “The hand of Providence
placed Dr. Strahn at the head (of the
In his work other than forestry and road building, Bonnell H. Stone served as chairman of the
Blairsville Pubic Schools Board, president of the Union County Chamber
of Commerce, was active and served as an officer in the Appalachian
Scenic Highway Association, was president of the Union County Good
Roads Association and the Southern Good Roads Association.
He was also a member of the National Council of Outdoor
Recreation and the National Conference of State Parks.
He was a founding member of the Georgia Forestry Association and
served on the state forestry board. Moreover,
he had two terms in the Georgia Legislature from Union County,
1925-1926 and 1929-1931. As
representative, he worked for the interests of the area.
A conservationist, a visionary, a hard worker, Bonnell H. Stone is listed in volumes of “Who’s
Who” and “Hall of Fame” as one whose dedicated service benefited his
and future generations. Blairsville and Union County are
richer because he lived and worked here.
c2005 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Feb. 25, 2005 in The Union
Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights
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 September 16, 2008
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