Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Settler Benjamin J. Ledford (1800-1892)
In the years since I’ve been
people, places and events in these “Through Mountain Mists” columns,
many surnames familiar to Union
and present, which I have not yet mentioned.
To use mountain vernacular, It is hard to “get a round to it”
for all of
I like to examine the 1834 and 1840
census records of Union
County to pinpoint
and see if I can trace some of the descendants of those listed. I found no Ledford families in the first
(1834) census, but by 1840 there were four families of Ledfords, that
Benjamin with nine members at that time, that of Thomas with eight in
household, William, with ten, and George with eight.
The total population of Ledfords in Union
in 1840 numbered thirty-five. Whether
Benjamin, Thomas, William and George
were related, maybe brothers or cousins, I did not uncover. Maybe readers and descendants of some of the
first four Ledford families can add some light on this puzzle. Because I did easily find information on
J. Ledford and some of his descendants, he will be the present focus.
Ledford is an interesting
surname. English, deriving from the
Anglo-Saxon, it is what we call a habitation name, or a name derived
place where the first lived bearing this name.
The prefix, spelled variously “Hlude” “Lud,” “Lyd,” and later
add to that earlier “Latch”) come from the Anglo-Saxon and means “loud,
fast-flowing river.” Suffix of “Forde”
meaning a shallow place for crossing the river, the name, then,
people from the shallow place beside the loud-flowing river. They were identified by where they
lived. Later, rivers themselves got
names, so those who dwelt by them might receive the name of the river
with the addition of the suffix ford, to indicate they lived near the
What we know as Ledford originated
and Devonshire in England. In Anglo-Saxon records as early as 997,
families named Lydford lived in Devonshire. Ludesfords were listed in the Domesday Book
of 1086. A John Lodeford applied in London in 1450
marriage license. William Ludford
married Vertue Rocker at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent
in 1669. Further anglicized, the prefix
with the addition of the suffix “ford.”
The ancestors of Union
Benjamin J. Ledford (02/03/1800
– 03/24/1892) have been traced to a John Ledford who settled in North Carolina
the Revolutionary War. His son, John,
Jr., the father of Benjamin, fought in the Revolution, thus giving this
ties back to that important event in American history.
John Ledford, Jr. had rather
holdings in Buncombe County,
North Carolina on Hominy
Creek. Therein is seen that tendency
still, probably ingrained since Anglo-Saxon times, of Ledfords settling
clearing land near a “loud flowing stream”—creek or river.
John, Jr. (wife’s name unknown) had six
children, four sons and two daughters, listed in the 1800 census in
County, NC, but names of these six, except for Benjamin, are unknown to
writer. Who knows? Maybe
the four Ledfords in Union
in 1840 were brothers. We can only
wonder until this is uncovered and proved.
Benjamin Ledford married first Grace
– 06/12/1864), a daughter of Porter and Martha Morgan Ownbey. A land deed for 123 purchased acres along
Hominy Creek in Buncombe
County, North Carolina
was registered to
Benjamin Ledford in 1829. In 1832, he
added another 100 acres to his holdings.
The town of Candler,
NC was founded on land held by Benjamin.
But, like many of their neighbors,
Benjamin and Grace Ownbey decided to migrate to the mountains of North Georgia when Cherokee lands opened up for
settlers. He sold his land in North Carolina
and moved to Union County,
to acreage he secured on
Ivy Log Creek. There he erected a log
cabin and cleared the land for farming.
There this couple reared their large family of twelve children: Hannah (1819), Josiah (1820), Silas L.
(1822), Sarah Mareilla (called Sallie, 1824), Martha M. (named for
mother, 1826), Porter L. (named for Grace’s father, 1827), Amy Vianna
John C. (named for Benjamin’s father, 1832), Carolina L. (1834),
(1835), Benjamin Mercer (first name for his father, 1838), and Pinckney
Grace Ownbey Ledford died in 1864,
during the Civil War, and was buried at the Ebenezer Baptist
Gum Log District of Union County. Grace
lived to see all of her children reach adulthood except for the
Pinckney, born in 1840, who was fourteen when his mother passed. Benjamin, widowed, married the second time in
Union County to Sarah Salena Chapman
widow of Civil War soldier Henry Miller.
Their marriage took place September 18, 1868.
Salena was much younger than Benjamin (04/18/1837 – 06/24/1920). Salena’s parents were Solomon and Adeline
Odom Chapman. Three children were born
to Benjamin and Salena: Solomon S. (1870),
Mary (1873) and William (1875). The
birth of these three later in Benjamin’s life brought his total number
children to fifteen.
Benjamin J. Ledford died March 24, 1892, having
reached the advanced age of ninety-two.
He was laid to rest beside his first wife, Grace, in the Ebenezer Baptist Church
Cemetery, Gum Log. Salena lived until June 24, 1920.
She, too, was buried in the Ebenezer Cemetery.
Lives and exploits of some of the
fifteen of Benjamin Ledford’s children will be explored in subsequent
articles. This pioneer and his
descendants, whose surname meant from ancient times “dweller beside the
roaring river,” made a difference in the early life of Union
and other counties where they migrated.
Jones; published April 22, 2010 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville,
Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Jones is a retired educator,
freelance writer, poet, and historian. She may be reached at
phone 478-453-8751; or mail 1708 Cedarwood Road, Milledgeville, GA
Updated April 25, 2010
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