Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Union County Was Polk, Georgia
Was there a place called Polk in
Union County? And
if so, where was it located?
An e-mail from David Friedly noted
that an 1839 map of Union
County showed Polk
located “around Owltown.” His question
to me was “Have you heard of Polk in Union County?”
I had not heard of a Polk in Union County,
but curiosity got the better of me and I began a search to see if I
authentic references. Knowing that a
post office usually designated a place, named either for the first
approved to be postmaster or for another significant person, I checked
post office history of Union
County, using the
wonderful Heritage of Union County, Georgia,
1832-1994, Sketches of Union County
History. Volume 2 (1978) and census and other records.
Interestingly, I found that there was
a Polk post office, but founded later than the 1839 map listing to
Friedly referred. The mystery of why a
place was named Polk and whether it was in Owltown still remained
Then I found this important bit of
information. Of the 1800’s militia
districts formed in Union
1409) was the last district to be designated.
It was carved out of portions of Arkaquah, Coosa
and Choestoe. The addition of Owltown
District was signed into law by Ordinary William Colwell on April 4, 1887.
The next step was to try to locate a
Polk Post Office in Union. That was not hard to do. Looking
at the list of post offices in
Owltown District, only three were listed:
Laura founded February
5, 1892; Otto, founded May 14, 1898; and Edmund founded March 11, 1905. No Polk there on record.
The Coosa Post Office was the first to
be officially established in the new Union County,
started On July 19,
1833 with Arthur
Gilbert as postmaster. It was near the
county seat of Blairsville, and ran until September 17, 1834. No post office seems to have existed in Union County
until the old Coosa, under postmaster
R. Gibbs was granted a name change to Blairsville on February 9, 1835. There was no post office named Polk in the
Then to the Choestoe Militia District
post office listings, and the origin of Polk was immediately evident. The very first post office in that district
was named Polk, with the first postmaster John Butt, Sr. on February 20, 1844.
Why was it named Polk? Evidently
not for the first postmaster. A guess is
that it may have been to honor
James Polk, eleventh president of the United States who was
the country’s highest office and had been governor of the nearby state
of Tennessee. Polk was not in the nation’s highest office
when Polk post office was formed in 1844.
Polk was elected and served one term, from 1845-1849. His platform of westward expansion, annexation
policy and agrarianism might have appealed to Mr. Butt.
Maybe he wanted to honor this “dark horse”
candidate from Tennessee
by naming the first post office in the Choestoe District for him.
Succeeding postmasters and their dates
of appointment at the Polk post office were Francis (Frank) Collins,
5, 1845; Robert F. Lemmands, May 28,
1846; John Butt, Sr. (for the second time), September 13, 1847; and
England, June 30, 1851. While Joseph
England was postmaster, he requested that the name be changed to
Choestoe. This was granted on September 25, 1851. So Polk became Choestoe.
To answer the question posed by David
Friedly: “Where was Polk in Union County?” I
did some more speculation based on
facts. Knowing that the post office
changed locations with the appointment of a new postmaster, and that
was either in a portion of the home or store owned by the postmaster, I
surmised that the location could have been somewhere in the midst of
a large district.
The second postmaster was Francis
Collins, son of one of the first Choestoe settlers, Thompson Collins
Celia Self Collins. This Collins family
was listed in the first census (1834) of Union County
and owned broad acreages along Town Creek and the Nottely River
in Choestoe. I could not easily find Mr.
Lemmands who served for little more than a year. But
the Joseph F. England was a neighbor to
Francis Collins and his family had also settled early in Choestoe. He was the one who requested the name change
from Polk to Choestoe.
[Next week: Continuing a look at
early post offices.]
Jones; published Mar. 24, 2005 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 31,
Back To Union County, Georgia GenWeb Site