Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Legacy of Benjamin J. Ledford: Son Benjamin Mercer and Grandson Arthur
The Civil War brought hard times
do” situations even to families in remote Union County, Georgia. As we’ve already seen in the account of Silas
L. Ledford, third child of fifteen born to the early settler Benjamin
Ledford (1800-1882), who joined the Georgia Cavalry and the Local
Troops, so another son of Benjamin, his eleventh-born, also had a term
Benjamin Mercer Ledford
(11/14/1838-03/24/1919) was Benjamin’s eleventh child.
His mother was Grace Ownbey Ledford. On
May 10, 1862,
he enlisted with the 6th Regiment, Georgia
Cavalry Volunteers, Company B. He
received the rank of captain. He was wounded in the knee at the Battle
Chickamauga . This brought about his
subsequent resignation from active duty.
He continued to serve in the Local Defense Troops and evidently
the rank of Colonel in that group, for he was often referred to as
An interesting incident occurred while
he was in service. He was visiting in a
friend’s home in Loudon County,
While there, Union troops attacked the
house. How he had time, before the
soldiers came into the house trying to kill any of the Confederate
they found, is not exactly known. But
the story has been passed down about how Benjamin Mercer Ledford
death. He donned the garb of a woman,
and with a bonnet on, was at the dough board kneading bread when the
occurred. His life was spared, and for
good cause. He married Sarah Blair
(09/28/1838-09/13/1889) on July 29, 1863, daughter of his friend in whose
house he had escaped
Benjamin Mercer and Sarah Ledford made
their way back to Union County,
up housekeeping. Since her father was a
substantial citizen of Loudon
County, and owner
slaves, he gave Sarah slaves to help her with housekeeping and Benjamin
with his farm work on Gum Log in Union County
settled. This couple gave ten acres to Antioch Baptist Church
from the land holdings they had acquired.
Benjamin Mercer Ledford became an
ordained Baptist minister, announcing his call on October 18, 1873. He received his license to preach by Ebenezer Baptist Church
three years later on July
14, 1876. Not only
interested in helping the churches in the district where the Ledfords
is believed that he also preached at churches “over in North Carolina”
from his home. He was very much interested
in education and
was successful in securing a grant for a high school for the Gum Log
from Peabody Funds. This school was
established about 1880 and was a boon to that section of the county.
Benjamin and Sarah had six known
children: Mary L. (1865), Mamie May
(1867), Arthur Paul (1869), William J. (1872), Bettie A. (1874) and
(1877, who died as an infant). When
Sarah died in 1889, she was laid to rest in the Antioch Baptist
on land her husband had given to the church.
Benjamin Mercer married twice more:
to Eliza Plott and to Lena Gray (believed to be a Cherokee
Indian). He later moved from his beloved
Gum Log and
lived in Cherokee County,
He was interred at the Friendship Baptist
Church Cemetery, Suit, NC.
The third child of Benjamin and Sarah,
Arthur Paul (01/12/1869-04/07/1931) became a noted merchant and owned
operated his own store in the Gum Log District.
Arthur Paul, known lovingly as “Bud” Ledford, started working in
mercantile business by hiring on at the store of Charley
Mauney. In 1924, Bud purchased the store
himself. It was a popular trading place
in that section of the county. He bought
another store on Gum Log
in 1925, and operated it until his death in 1931.
Arthur Paul Ledford married Alcy Dona
Ensley (04/14/1870-04.01/1943) on December 20, 1888 in Union County. Her
parents were Robert and Martha Parris
Ensley of Gum Log. To “Bud” and Dona
were born six children; Mamie Isabell
(1890-1981) married John Calvin Hood; Alma Udora (1893-1969) married
Bradley; Obed Erick (1894-1977) married Nora Brown; Benjamin Robert
married Ada Wilson; Baxter Wayne (1902-?) married Bert(a) Miller and
Ohio; and William Blair (1906-1987)
married Violet Lance.
Bud Ledford died April 7, 1931 in Franklin, NC
after stomach surgery. His body was
returned and buried at Antioch
Baptist Church Cemetery,
Gum Log. Later, when his beloved wife,
(April 1, 1943), she was interred alongside her husband’s grave.
The Ledford families played an
role in Union
from the early years until
the present. Those who went out to other
places likewise were strong contributing citizens.
For example, Amy Vianna Ledford (1830-1892),
seventh child of Benjamin J. and Grace Ownbey Ledford, who married
Franklin of Union
County about 1851,
with her family to Coryell
in 1889. We can only imagine the long
journey from Union
covered wagon, via Arkansas
and other stops along the way. They left
Union County in 1883 and arrived in
in 1889—a long and eventful journey with many stops in between.
There is much more to the Ledford
story, but I will leave it to others to write.
Suffice it to say that the family of Benjamin J. Ledford played
important role in establishing a solid citizenry wherever they went
roots in North Carolina
and North Georgia.
Jones; published May 6, 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 May 11, 2010
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