Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Districts in Union County
The state of Georgia
is divided into 159
counties. Within each county are further
subdivisions called Militia Districts. Union County
is divided into fourteen districts, but only five voting districts. Beginning along the northern border at the North Carolina
proceeding southward, these militia districts are Dooly, Ivy Log, Gum
Lower Young Cane, Blairsville, Upper Young Cane, Coosa,
Arkaquah, Owltown, Choestoe, Coopers Creek, Canada and Gaddistown. These names are more for location than for
political divisions, as changes have occurred over time to warrant a
how present election districts have evolved.
Even though there were fourteen
districts in 1849 listed for the then seventeen-year old county of
districts were changed through the years due to part of Union being
Fannin (formed in 1854) and Towns (formed in 1856).
The tax lists of 1849 had the fourteen
districts in Union named thus: Hiawassee, Choestoe, Ivy Log, Noontootla,
Blairsville, Hemptown, Brasstown, Stevenson, Gaddistown, Arkaquah,
Gum Log, Cut Cane and Skinah (Skeenah).
You can easily recognize from this listing that only eight of
fourteen remain in Union today, with
same. As changes in geographical divisions occurred through the
the districts were realigned accordingly.
Historical records show that a
fifteenth district was added in 1851, before the counties of Fannin and
were measured off from portions of Union. That new district did not receive a name
until 1855, when it was named Young’s District.
Later, the Young’s District was split into two and received the
Lower Young Cane and Upper Young Cane.
An interesting sideline about districts not only in Union
but throughout Georgia
is that they were sometimes named for a person prominent in the area,
families who settled there, especially when several by the same name
within a given geographical area.
Examples of this naming in Union are Young Cane (upper and
Coopers Creek and Gaddistown, and although I do not find any named
Dooly in the
county until the 1850 census, this district name, too, might have been
family or a remembered family name from a previous place residents
lived. The Dooly District was officially
the tax lists of Union in 1857. Other
were adopted from names the Cherokee had given the place before their
the Trail of Tears. Some of these names
are Arkaquah, Choestoe and Coosa.
By 1870, Coosa
Creek had been
added to the tax list districts. And then
in 1887 Owltown was formed, taking
portions of Choestoe, Arkaquah and Coosa
form the legal entity numbered 1409. In
order to get the Owltown District, a petition was presented, with some
leaders being citizens Thomas Fields, Daniel Mathis and others. The parameters of Owltown were surveyed and
recommended by a court-appointed team made up of Quiller F. Reece, John
Rich, and Milford G. Hamby. The act to
form Owltown District took effect on April 4, 1887 when Ordinary William
Colwell signed the
remained in the district names for about a hundred years.
But even during that time, district lines
changed somewhat due to petitions of citizens and surveys that led to
some of the district lines by small margins.
In 1981, Georgia Code, Chapter 34-7 and 34-701, amended, gave
resetting “election districts” to cut costs in holding elections (not
each of the fourteen districts), but according to locations, with some
districts realigned and combined for precincts.
Brasstown and Blairsville were combined into Election District
were combined as follows for precincts:
District 2 covered Upper and Lower Young Cane and Coosa. District 3
encompassed Choestoe, Arkaquah and
Owltown. District 4 contained
Dooly, Ivy Log and Gum Log. And
“across the mountain” District 5 combined
Coopers Creek, Gaddistown and Canada.
Then in 1983, Representative Carlton
Colwell introduced a bill in the state legislature to make the Union
School Districts correspond to the voting districts.
Members of the Union County School
Board—instead of being from the fourteen districts—would be elected
the five voting districts. And it was so ordered.
Nowadays, the 14 Militia Districts of
the County are remembered from past history and for sentimental reasons. However, we still like to hail from whatever
district we or our parents might have claimed.
Simplification in government alignment sometimes leads to loss
in place. But we still look at the old
district lines on a map of Union County
and remember “how
it used to be.” I look at old
records of the county and see names of those important district
Justice of the Peace (JP) and Notary Public (NP). They
served notably in the capacity they had
as legal representatives in their districts.
These names appeared frequently on legal documents in the first
of our county’s history: Jesse Reid, JP;
Thompson Collins, JP; Hampton Jones, JP; J Duckworth, JIC (Justice of
Inferior Court); T. M. Hughes, JP; James Bird, JP; M. M. Roberts, JP;
Chastian, JP; Enes M. Henry, JP; Posey D. Guthrie, JP; and Bennet
Smith, NP, to
name a few.
Jones; published Aug. 5, 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 August 15, 2010
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