Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
families used Unicoi Turnpike and settled first in Habersham County
today in Union County, Georgia
descend from the England
families that came along the Unicoi Turnpike and settled near
present-day Helen in what was, about 1826, Habersham County.
The old England Cemetery is
on a knoll above the Chattahoochee River that
winds its way just south of Helen. Behind the Comer Vandiver house, under a giant beech tree, said
to be the largest of its kind in Georgia, some dozen unmarked stones
seem to be a part of the landscape, so settled are these stones in
their hillside setting. I shall never forget the feeling of connection
I had the day, several years ago, when Mr. Vandiver
showed my husband and me the cemetery known as the England Cemetery.
There, in two of the graves marked only by fieldstones, were interred
my ancestors on my mother’s side, William Richard England and his wife
Martha “Patsy” Montgomery England, my great, great, great grandparents.
and his wife Martha “Patsy” Montgomery England
moved from Burke County, North Carolina with a general migration of
settlers to the Nacoochee Valley
about 1826. Richard was the youngest of ten children born to Daniel
England (1752-1818) and Margaret Gwynn/Guinn
England (1758-1847). In Burke County, NC,
and Margaret England lived at Hunting Creek on their plantation located
near present-day Morganton, NC.
Daniel England operated an iron foundry there and rendered material aid
in the Revolutionary War through supplying iron for weapons. His widow
received land in Habersham
County, Georgia in
the land lot drawings. Richard’s oldest brother, Elisha,
had settled at Mossy Creek about ten miles south of Helen in 1820.
and his family moved over the Unicoi Turnpike they brought with them
his mother Margaret who went on to Mossy Creek to live with her eldest
son, Elisha and his family, already
settled into their cabin. With Richard and Martha were their children
born in North Carolina:
Jonathan Athan (1816), Daniel (1818), and
Margaret Elizabeth (1819). The couple had four children after they made
the move to Georgia, but evidently they went back and forth from
Georgia to North Carolina, for one at least (as indicated) was born
there: Jerome (1822, GA), Coleman (1826, NC), Mary Amanda (1828, GA),
Mary Ann (1831, GA). With Richard on the move to Georgia in
1826 were his sisters, Nancy, who had married (and later divorced)
Moses Harshaw) who settled at Sautee; and
Isabella who married Groves Morris.
owned two large tracks of land in the valley. One was located where
Helen’s present-day water-treatment plant
lies, and the Gold Mine tourist site. Then he bought a large valley lot
at the base of Hamby Mountain at
present-day Robertstown. There he built up
a good farm.
very ill in 1835 and immediately made his will, evidently thinking that
he would not recover. He did not. He willed his estate to his wife with
a distribution of a child’s part to each of their children as they came
of age. Martha England never remarried after Richard’s death in 1835.
Their place in the upper Helen valley at Robertstown
became known as “The Widow England’s Place.” He was buried in the England Cemetery that
overlooks the Chattahoochee River.
Other graves there are those of Joseph, Martha and Coleman England and Priar Pitner and
perhaps some young children of the early settlers.
Several of the Englands
traveled across the Blue Ridge from
the valleys along the Chattahoochee River and
settled in the new county of Union. The
old Choestoe Indian Trail left the Unicoi Turnpike about three miles
north of Helen and crossed Low Gap. The Tesnatee
Trail was west of the Choestoe Trail and crossed the Tesnatee Gap. This latter trail became the Logan
Turnpike. Daniel England, second son of Richard and Martha England,
went “across the mountain” and built a cabin about 1834 near the Nottely River. The
cabin still stands today where it was originally built. In bad repair
and showing the ravages of time and neglect, it is near Georgia Highway
129 about seven miles south of Blairsville.
c2005 by Ethelene
Dyer Jones; published Oct. 13, 2005 in The Union
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 May 18, 2008