Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Families ~ Early Settlers in Union
One county was formed from
another in early
settler days of establishing geographic county lines.
It sometimes becomes hard for subsequent
generations to distinguish just where their families lived in the years
1830’s through the 1860’s until Georgia’s county lines were fairly well
established. Such a name was that of Greenwood, early
settlers, but not the earliest, to this mountain region.
An examination of the 1834 census of Union County
reveals no Greenwood
family, but by 1840 James Greenwood and his wife and two small children
five were residents of Union
County. It is not until 1850 that we find another
family of Greenwoods, that of Martin Greenwood , age 34, and his wife
age 24, with children John, 7, William 4, Mary 1, and living in the
them, Margaret Morrison, age 64, (or
Morris ?) who we find was the mother of Martin’s first wife, Lucinda
Morris. James Greenwood and his family
were not listed in the 1850 Union census.
Since we find later that they lived in the more remote section
the Noontootla District, James’s family may have been missed by the
taker in 1850. And were James and Martin
Greenwood brothers or cousins? That I
have not established yet, but I did find by researching family records
Martin Greenwood’s parents were John and Mary Margaret (called “Polly”)
Before we go into the confusion of
which county the Greenwoods lived in—Union
Fannin—let us look at the origin of the Greenwood
surname. It is English, and was a place
name meaning the “place of the Green Wood.”
The first we find on record spelled the last name Greenwode. Wyomarus de Grenwode was a caterer for Maude
(or Matilda), Empress, mother of King Henry II of England. King Henry reigned in England
1154-1189. As chief cook for the king’s
mother, Wyomarus de Grenwode was among the titled gentry.
A great manor house constructed of hand-hewn
stone near Hedbon
still stands today as a monument to the noble Wyomarus de Grenwode who
it. It was from this English family that
John Greenwood of North
established as Martin father’s (and maybe James’s, too) was descended.
And now back to the 1840-1860 era here
in the mountains, and why the Greenwood
families were no longer listed in Union County
after 1850. Fannin County was founded in
portions of what was Union and Gilmer. Martin A. Greenwood (1818-1866) lived near
what became Fannin’s first county seat town, Morganton.
He had a rather large farm there, and was
also a merchant and a leather tanner. He
didn’t have to move to be a citizen of first one and then the other
James Greenwood and his wife lived
farther up in the mountain region. Their
farm was in the Noontootla District.
They are listed in both the 1860 and 1870 census of the new
Fannin. They did not move but because of
where they lived they also became citizens of Fannin.
In 1850, Martin Greenwood was 34, and
he and his wife Lucinda, 24, were listed as having three children, John
William 4, and Mary, 1. Lucinda’s
mother, Margaret Morrison (thus listed by census-taker) lived with them. Her name may have been Morris, not Morrison. Then by 1860, Martin was listed in the Fannin County
census at Morganton, a merchant and farmer, with considerable wealth at
time, property evaluated at $1,000 and available money at $3,900. He was evidently a widower by 1860, with five
children: John 18, William 15, Margaret
11, Andrew 7 (named for his father, for Martin’s middle name was
Samner, 3 months. Living in the
household with them was Benjamin C. Chastain, age 27, who evidently
Martin A. Greenwood with his mercantile business, as Benjamin was
listed as a
store keeper. I did not find, by
cemetery books of both Union and Fannin Counties,
a marked gravestone for Lucinda Morris(on?) Greenwood.
There is a marriage record for Martin
Greenwood to Sarah Freeman . They were
wed on October 4,
with the Rev. J. B. Parham performing the ceremony.
Sarah was the widow of Samuel Freeman. Her
maiden name was Parks. She and Samuel
Freeman had married in Union
on October 28, 1849,
with the Rev. T. M. Hughes performing their ceremony.
How Sarah’s first husband died is not known
to this writer.
Born to Martin and Sarah Greenwood
were three more children, Emma Frances, Thomas Martin (1863-1938) and
Molly. Martin Greenwood served in the
Confederate Army during the Civil War.
He plied his trade of tanning and leather-crafting while in
making shoes for the soldiers. He was
stationed at Carnesville in Franklin County. Whether he became ill while in service, or
contracted some disease that left him vulnerable to illness is not
known. He died in 1866 not long after the
returned to his store and farm in Morganton. I searched both the Fannin
cemetery books for his gravesite, but found no marked stone listed. John R. Greenwood, the son of Martin A. and
his first wife, Lucinda, studied law and became a prominent lawyer and
in Morganton. He was for a time the
internal revenue tax collector and also served as a commissioner of the
Circuit Court of the area.
Sarah, widow of Martin Greenwood, had
a hard struggle to rear his children and their children without their
father. In the 1870 census of Fannin,
she was age forty, with five children still at home.
Thomas, their son, early became interested in
medicine, and began to study it, first by associating with Dr. T. T.
Morganton in his office and going with him on house calls around the
countryside. Thomas went to Atlanta Medical College
(later named Emory) where he graduated in 1888.
He returned to Morganton where he practiced medicine until 1900. He then moved his family to Oklahoma and
then on to Texas.
Emma Frances Greenwood, daughter of
Martin and Sarah, married Judson Rucker Chastain, a son of the famed
Webb Chastain, a representative and senator who lived in Morganton. Judson Rucker himself entered politics and
ran against the famed Benjamin C. Dugger as representative in 1884.
Martin and James Greenwood, early Union County
settlers, did not remain listed as Union County
of the formation of the new county of Fannin
in 1854. But Greenwood,
a name that goes back to the twelfth century in England,
is well-known in many
parts of the United
fact, Greenwood, SC
is named for some of the first settlers to that area of our country. Even here in this country, the Greenwoods
seemed to enjoy settling in rural areas where their name described the
trees growing around them in the deep forests.
Jones; published Sept.
30, 2010 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA.
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 October 30, 2010
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