Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Ledford Legacy: Benjamin's Son Silas and Grandson Mercer
Last week we looked at the life
of early Union
Benjamin J. Ledford
(1800-1892) who settled on land along Ivy Log Creek.
He had a large family of fifteen known
children. His third child, Silas L.
Ledford (1822 – 1891), and one of Silas’s sons, Mercer Lafayette
be the focus of this article.
Silas L. Ledford had an older sister,
Hannah (b. 1819) and an older brother, Josiah (b. 1820) when his
Ownbey Ledford (07/30/1799 – 06/12/1864) gave
him in Buncombe County,
North Carolina on October 22, 1822. He would have other siblings:
Sallie, Martha, Porter, Amy Vianna, John C.,
Carolina L, Patterson and Mercer, all born in North Carolina before the family
came to Union and settled in Ivy Log. The youngest of his siblings, Pinkney, was
born after the family arrived in Georgia.
Later, after his mother died, his father,
Benjamin J. Ledford, married Sarah Salena Chapman Miller and Silas L.
half-siblings, Solomon S., Mary and William, who were younger than
As we saw in last week’s account of
Benjamin J. Ledford, Silas’s father, he was a large land owner. He gave his son Silas some acreage and on it
he build a log cabin which became the first house for him and his wife,
Elmira Bowling Ledford (b. ca. 1821) whom he married in Union County on
December 19, 1841. She was a daughter of
Thomas and Mary McDonald Bowling. This
marriage blended two early settler families, for Dolly’s father had
cut timbers to build Union
house in the early 1830’s, and he also was elected an early sheriff of Union County.
To Silas and Dolly Bowling Ledford
were born five children: Thomas (1845),
Benjamin A. (1846), Gracie Caroline (1848), Louisa (1849), and Ellantha
(1851). The exact date of Dolly’s death
is unknown, but it occurred between 1851 and 1856.
Silas married his second wife, Eliza Arminda
Bowling (1837-1897), who may have been a sister of his first wife,
Dolly. To Eliza and Silas were born nine
children: Andrew, Jane, John S., Alice
V., Mercer Lafayette, Ida, Virgil C., Sallie Isabelle and Frank H.
When the Civil War came, Silas L.
Ledford served in Captain Young’s Company, the Georgia Cavalry, Local
Troops. Whether he saw action in battle
or just defended the home front is not known.
His main occupation was farmer. No record was found of the
Silas, Dolly and Eliza Ledford in the Union County
cemeteries book. It is believed that he
and his second wife, Eliza, were both buried in unmarked graves in the Antioch Baptist Church
Cemetery. Silas left a will, probated in 1888. In it, he made no mention of children Thomas,
Louisa, Ellantha or Frank. They may have
preceded their father in death.
Some interesting facts are known about
Mercer Lafayette Ledford, tenth child of Silas Ledford, whose mother
Bowling Ledford. He was born September 24, 1865. Mercer attended the Ivy Log
High School. At age seventeen, he took the Georgia
certification test and became a teacher.
He taught first at Ebenezer
School, a country
located on land his grandfather and then his father had owned.
On June 16,
1897, Mercer Lafayette Ledford married
Florence Iowa Christopher. She was a
daughter of John A. and Sarah Martin Christopher. Well
educated for a woman of her era, Florence had attended
school in Blairsville and also graduated from the Hiawassee Baptist
Academy. She taught school for several years before
her marriage. To Florence and Mercer were born four
children: Sarah, Ina, Curtis and Louisa.
Mercer and Florence
moved to Gwinnett
where he continued to teach. He became
interested in law, and began to “read” law in the firm of Juhan and
McDonald. He passed the state bar in
1892 and began the practice of law in Lawrenceville.
drew this couple back to their roots.
They moved back to Union
County where he
set up a
law practice. It is said that his first
trial in Union
County was held at
Baptist Church. What
precipitated this place for the trial is
unknown to this writer. In Union County,
Mercer Lafayette Ledford distinguished himself as a lawyer and
servant. He was on the County School Board
and served for a time as County School Commissioner (Superintendent). In 1902 he was elected to the state senate to
represent the district and served for three terms, authoring bills and
The Mercer Ledford family moved to Cairo, Georgia
(Grady County) about 1905.
There he practiced law, became county attorney,
served on the school board and was active on the Democratic executive
from that district. He held membership
in various civic organizations and had leadership positions in Woodmen
World and Cairo Lodge F & AM. He and
members of the Baptist
Church in Cairo. Mercer Lafayette Ledford is an example of a
grandson of an early settler who went out from the environs of Union County
and did well in his chosen profession.
Jones; published April
29, 2010 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA.
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 May 11, 2010
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