Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Mr. Obe Pruitt's public service
name Mr. Obe Pruitt and many of the people
still living will remember this public servant who served as a U. S.
Deputy Marshall in Georgia's Northern District for 23 years and for
twelve years as mayor of Blairsville. They will remember him and his
wife Nettie as lovers of people and of
animals, and genuine neighbors and friends to those who needed a
Pruitt was not a Union County
native. Born in Banks
County, Ga., in
1895, he received his early education in schools there, growing up on
his father's farm.
entered World War I, Obe Pruitt enlisted
and after training was sent to France.
There he was wounded in battle. Returning to America
following the Armistice in November of 1918, he continued to recuperate
from his wounds and then farmed for awhile in Banks County.
In August of
1922 he married the love of his life, Nettie
S., also reared in Banks County at
Homer. The couple did not have children of their own, but every niece,
nephew and neighbor child experienced the strong influence of these two
law enforcement would be to his liking, Mr. Obe
Pruitt was appointed a United States Deputy Marshall and served the
Northern District of Georgia, mainly in Union County, for
23 years. One of the requirements of the job was that the deputy live in the area where he was assigned
duty. The couple moved from Banks County and
bought a house in Blairsville on what is now named Pruitt
It was at their
house where I first met Mr. and Mrs. Pruitt. I was a close friend to
their neighbor, Charlene Wimpey, who lived
at the corner of Highway 129 and Pruitt
Sometimes when I visited Charlene at the Wimpey
house, we would walk to Mr. Obe and Mrs. Nettie's house close by and look first to see
what stray animals Mr. Obe had taken in to
tend in the pens in his back yard. These ranged from opossums to
wildcats and once even a mountain bear.
children also knew Mrs. Nettie as one of
the school nurses employed by the health department to go to our
schools and give us immunization shots. We had a certain dread of that
needle, or the scratch and application of the smallpox vaccine, but
Mrs. Nettie, with her kindness and gentle
ways made "shots" day far less fearsome. She was a strong Christian
lady and taught Sunday School at First Baptist Church,
Blairsville, for over 30 years.
129 was first built, it curved right by the Obe
Pruitt House. Then, when the state decided to widen and straighten the
highway, the roadway was rerouted through a mountain that sloped upward
from the roadbed in front of the Pruitt house. The rerouting obstructed
the view of the road from the Pruitt House. Mr. Obe
took the problem to Atlanta,
straight to Governor Eugene Talmadge's
office. He pled that the obstructing land be smoothed out so the Pruitts could again see the traffic on Highway
129 as it went to and fro in front of their house. The mission was
accomplished. Attention was brought to the ability of this Deputy
Marshall who had influence enough in state governmental affairs to
"move a mountain." Now, driving around Pruitt
can imagine how the land that was moved blocked a beautiful view across
to busy Highway 129.
For 23 years in
the job of Deputy U. S.
Marshal, Mr. Obe Pruitt was frequently
away from home attending to his duties. One of the important tasks of
the marshals in the mountains was to arrest and bring to trial those
caught making bootleg liquor, or "moonshine." They worked hand in hand
with revenue agents. The 18th Constitutional Amendment in 1920
prohibited manufacturing, transportation and sale of intoxicating
beverages. Marshals and their deputies take an oath to uphold the US
Constitution and the rule of law.
office goes back to the first president, George Washington, who
appointed the first U. S.
Marshal on September
24, 1789. The motto of this law
enforcement unit is "Justice, Integrity, Service."
The marshals and their deputies took on various responsibilities such
as upholding the Constitution, offering security for witnesses in a
trial, and enforcing civil authority of all three branches of
government: executive, legislative and judicial. Obe
Pruitt was a highly-respected deputy marshal and stood tall as a
purveyor of national law on the local level.
retirement from being a deputy U.S. Marshal, he entered local politics
and was the mayor of Blairsville for twelve years. Beloved by his
constituents, he and the City Council worked diligently to bring some
visionary changes to the county seat town. The Blairsville Airport was
built during his tenure. A central water system for the city received
an affirmative vote and was installed. Many city streets were paved,
street lights installed, and the first city fire truck and police car
to the growing town are taken for granted now, but Obe
Pruitt pioneered in bringing about these needed changes.
Pruitt passed away in 1975 at age 80. His widow, Mrs. Nettie, lived on at their house on Pruitt
until infirmity beset her and she had to enter the Union County Nursing
Home in 1987. There she soon made new friends and kept her sweet,
outgoing spirit. She died on August 16, 1991 at
the ripe age of 91. Blairsville and Union County owe
a debt of gratitude to these two citizens who worked hard to bring
needed changes to the mountain region.
c2006 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published June 29, 2006 in The
Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights
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 January 4, 2009
Back To Union County, Georgia GenWeb Site