THROUGH MOUNTAIN MISTS
Early Settlers of Union County, Georgia
Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Union County Townsends, Eli, son of Edward
From the Norman Conquest to about 1832 or shortly after is a span in history of about 766 years. When Eli Townsend came into Union County with his wife, Sarah “Sally” Dyer Townsend and their children, he could not follow through with the meaning of the surname Towns-end, for Union County then was barely building the town of Blairsville, the county seat. Eli and Sally settled in the Choestoe District next door to her parents, Elisha Jr. and Elizabeth Clark Dyer. They did not settle at “towns-end” or the edge of town. The family of Eli Townsend is shown first in the 1840 Union County census with seven children. The census-taker spelled the last name Townsel.
Eli (short for Elisha) Townsend’s father was Edward Townsend Sr. Edward’s estate in Pickens County, Ga., covered 2,100 acres of land. He owned 18 slaves. Appraisal of land, slaves, and goods, all listed February 3, 1860, showed an evaluation of $10,000. Edward Sr. and Anna Townsend had 16 children. Eli’s parents were buried in a family cemetery near Tate, Ga., Pickens County, as was a sister of Eli’s. Their tombstones read as follows: Edward Townsend (Aug 9, 1789-Jan 29, 1860); Anna Townsend (April 30, 1796-Sept 19, 1838); and Elizabeth Townsend (Jan. 9, 1836-Jan. 9, 1852).
Eli (ca. 1809-1849?) was the first-born of Edward Sr. and Anna (Kimsey or McKinney?) Townsend. He married Sarah “Sally” Dyer sometime before 1830, for they were listed in the Habersham County, Ga., census of 1830, already with three male children under 10 years of age. When Eli married Sally, she already had a child, Micajah Clark Dyer, who was born in 1822 and was being reared by grandparents, Elisha Jr. and Elizabeth Clark Dyer. This son of Sally’s became quite well known as the inventor of “the machine for navigating the air,” the airplane he built and for which he secured a patent in July 1875.
Eli Townsend, farmer and soldier, served in the MexicanAmerican War. His war records give valuable information. His statement given at “Perote Castle” stated that Morgan County, Ga., was his place of birth. He was enlisted into service of the United States July 7, 1847 and was 38 years of age at the time of enlistment, which would make his birthdate in 1809. He was a sergeant of Company C of the Georgia Battalion of Foot Volunteers. He was honorably discharged “by reason of Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability” on January 7, 1848. How badly he was wounded is not known. It seems that his sixmonths term of service entitled him to a land grant for which he applied on March 4, 1848 at Cassville, Ga. Why the grant was applied for at Cassville (now Bartow County) is not known. His residence was established as being in Union County. He did receive a Land Warrant (15900) on May 23, 1848, but the land was in Wisconsin. He did not go there to settle on that land, but rather sold his patent to one John Fitzgerald in the Green Bay Land District of Wisconsin. The transaction was authenticated by John Butt, Judge of the Inferior Court of Union County, Georgia on August 30, 1848. This document is the last authentic record of Eli Townsend in Union County.
The 1850 census of Union lists Elizabeth (Sally) Townsend but not her husband, Eli. Some say that he had a second wife in another place, possibly in Cherokee County, Ga. This has not been proven authentically. The children of Eli and Sally Dyer Townsend were Andrew (Andrew Crockett Sr. born in Lumpkin County in 1826); Elisha; Thomas; Mary Ann called Polly; Caleb (called Cale), William and Sarah Elizabeth (called Betsy).
Andrew, the eldest son, also served in the Mexican-American War at about the same time his father Eli served. He enlisted on July 5, 1847 in John S. Fain’s Company C, Georgia Battalion of Foot Volunteers. He was honorably discharged on July 13, 1848 at Mobile, Ala., when his year’s term was up. Andrew Townsend received a land grant of 160 acres, also in Wisconsin, which he sold.
Jones; published Aug. 25, 2005 in The Sentinel, Blairsville, GA.
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