Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Cherokee Names and Legends
Elevation 4458 Ft.
Chattahoochee National Forest
Cherokee mythology the mountain was one
of the homes of the Nunnehi or Immortals,
the “People Who Live Anywhere,” a race of
Spirit People who lived in great townhouses
in the highlands of the old Cherokee Country.
One of these mythical townhouses stood near
Lake Trahlyta. As a friendly people they
often brought lost hunters and wanderers to
their townhouses for rest and care before
Guiding them back to their homes. Before
the coming of white settlers, the Creeks
and Cherokees fought a disastrous and bloody
battle at Slaughter Gap between Slaughter
and Blood Mountain.
The historical marker gives
information about early dwellers in our land.
The Cherokee who were in Union County
long before the
white settlers left us many names and legends that, though sometimes
enrich our land and lend much food for thought.
The historical marker on Blood Mountain
gives a taste of
both legend and real history, and helps us know why the mountain was
First, to the
myth about the Nunnehi, immortal people. These
were believed to be the immortals who
dwelt in these mountains. Their task was
to help all who traveled and needed assistance of any sort. We can only imagine how overwhelming was
their tasks when the Creeks and Cherokees met in battle at Slaughter
Gap near Blood
Mountain. It is said the blood ran down so profusely
from the dead and wounded that the whole area was covered in blood. Hence the names, Blood Mountain
and Slaughter Gap.
Prior to the Revolutionary War, the
Cherokee had made contact with English, French and Spanish settlers. They had learned to trade and make bargains
with the European colonists. We find
many instances of Cherokee leaders negotiating with traders and
officials. Oftentimes, the Cherokee
would make raids against the settlers.
Living on the frontier in those days was fraught with danger. In the Revolution, the Cherokee sided
the British against the colonists.
In 1791 at what was called the Holston
Conference, Cherokee-American negotiations were somewhat stabilized. There followed several treaties in which
Cherokee land was ceded to states and the federal government. By 1819, the Cherokee Nation was left with
about ten million acres of their former land holdings.
Some of the Cherokee began to move to western
lands in the early 1800’s. The
Cherokee that had remained in the mountains of Georgia,
were the most adamant against moving west.
In 1828, the government of Georgia declared Cherokee
and void. Governor Gilmer, with the
support of President Andrew Jackson, sent troops to push the Cherokees
out. The next governor, Wilson Lumpkin,
continued to push for Cherokee removal.
Many had left before the final exodus and the Trail of Tears
under the military direction of General Winfield Scott in 1838.
When white settlers began to
come into what
County in 1832,
some Indians remained
but most had already moved.
The town of Blairsville
was incorporated on December
26, 1835 and
became Union’s county seat. Two reports exist about whom the town was
named for. In his Georgia
Place Names, Kenneth Krakow states that it was named
for Francis Preston Blair (1791-1876), a Kentuckian, editor of The Washington Globe newspaper
which was established to support Andrew Jackson’s presidency. The fine house in which F. P. Blair lived in Washington was
for government property and is now known as the Blair House.
The other person (probably more
authentically) for whom the town of Blairsville
was named was Captain James Blair. He
was an official Cherokee Indian agent, born in Augusta County,
1761, and listed as working in Tennessee,
and the Carolinas as an Indian agent
the years of 1801-1835. The naming of
our county seat town for this Blair was declared in “The Blair Family
Magazine,” Volume 8, No. 3 in the Fall of 1990 by researcher Margaret
Webb. She tells how James Blair worked
to settle land claims and to assist with Cherokee removal from Georgia. In Habersham
where Georgia Highways 115 and 105 intersect, a historical marker
that spot as where the “Blair Line” crossed.
The historical marker reads: “It
was a line between the state of Georgia
and the Cherokee Nation, surveyed by Captain James Blair in the early
1800’s. The line extended from the forks
of the Soque and the Chattahoochee
Rivers in a direct
northerly line to the Tallulah
River. It was the boundary line in 1817 for all the
lands east of the Chattahoochee
River by the State
the Cherokee Nation by the Treaty of 1818.”
This abbreviated sketch merely hits
the high places of the stormy era of our history prior to and leading
Cherokee Removal. Each time you hear a
name, like Walisiyi, Trahlytah, Arkaquah, Coosa, Choestoe, and many
that the Cherokee left place names where they once lived, names that we
take for granted in our familiarity with our beloved county. Honor the names and the land left to us. They came our way at great sacrifice and with
Jones; published May 20, 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 25, 2010
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