Thursday, October 27, 2005

England siblings settled in Union

Jonathan (called “Athan”) England, Daniel England and Margaret Elizabeth (called “Peggy”) England were all children of William Richard England and Martha (called “Patsy”) Montgomery England. They married and settled near each other “over the mountain” from Helen on the former Cherokee land after it became Union County in 1832.

Taking these three children of Richard England (who died in 1835 and was buried in the England Cemetery at Helen, Ga.) in order, we will trace a bit of these siblings’ history.

Jonathan “Athan” England (9/26/1815-10/6/1893) was born in North Carolina, the first-born of Richard and Martha England. In Union County marriage records, Athan is listed as Arthur. He married Nancy Ingram (born 4/13/1823 in Hall County, Ga., died 6/24/1897) who was one of the ten children born to Little Ingram and his first wife, Mary “Polly” Cagle Ingram. Their neighbor and Nancy’s brother-in-law, married to Nancy’s older sister, Sarah Ingram, was Justice of the Peace Thompson Collins Jr. He performed the marriage ceremony for “Athan” and Nancy on April 15, 1860.

Athan England’s farm was in the Owltown District. A portion of that now owned by Georgia Mountain Experiment Station was once farmed along the Nottely River by Athan England. He and Nancy had five children: C. E. England (1861), Tom P. England (1862), Richard Little England (1863), William H. England (1865) and John E. England (1867). Notice that Athan’s children were born just prior to, during and just after the Civil War. This writer does not have a record of whether Athan served in the war. At any rate, the general upheaval and unrest during the period did not provide a good environment for rearing a family of five children. Many of their crops and goods would have been confiscated by roving bands set on stealing and marauding. Athan and Nancy England were buried in the Shady Grove Church Cemetery where readable tombstones mark their resting places.

Daniel England (b. 1818 in NC, d. 1897 in Union Co., Ga.) was the second child of Richard and Martha England. He left the Helen Valley and went across the mountain to Choestoe District prior to the Civil War. He married Harriet E. (Elizabeth?) Hunter (1821, NC ?) in Union County on December 29, 1842. She was a daughter of John and Elizabeth Hunter who had moved their family from Buncombe County, N.C., to the Choestoe District of Union County prior to or about the time the county was formed. In 1834, John Hunter began building the cabin that still stands (in very bad repair) just off Highway 129 South about eight miles from Blairsville. Family legend about the Hunter family is that some had to stand watch to fight off the Indians because the white men had moved onto their lands and were erecting permanent dwellings. Some believe that Daniel England built the cabin. He and his family did not build it, but lived in it. Overlooking the Nottley River and with good land to farm, John Hunter was set to be able to care for his family. After John Hunter’s death, evidently his son-in-law, Daniel England and his daughter, Harriet Hunter England, moved into the cabin to help look after Harriet’s mother, the widow Elizabeth Hunter. That is how the historical house got the name Hunter-England cabin. Daniel and Harriet England had ten children, the first four born in North Carolina and the last six born in Georgia: John Richard (1843), Martha (1845), Mary Amanda (1847), Harriet (1849); William Andrew (1852), Thomas Noah (1855), Exton Virgil (1856, called “Eck”), Margaret (1859), James A. Polk (1862), and Emma Jane (1866).

Athan and Daniel England’s sister, Margaret Elizabeth (called “Peggy,” born in North Carolina in 1819, died Union County, 1894), married in 1839 to William Jonathan Hunter (1813-1893), son of John and Elizabeth Hunter. He was a brother to Daniel’s wife, Harriet. In 1840, William Jonathan Hunter began building a frame house near Town Creek not far from where it emptied into the Nottley River. That house, where several generations of Hunters have lived since William Jonathan’s time, is still standing just off Liberty Church Road, Choestoe. To William and Peggy England Hunter were born ten known children: Martha J. (1840), Mary E. (1842), John A. (1844), James A. (1847), Amanda Rebecca (1849), Margaret Eliza (1852), Willliam J. (1854), Georgianne (1855), Josephine (1858), Jerome (1861) and Jasper Francis “Todd” (1863).

These three England siblings were progenitors of Union County citizens almost too numerous to number. Through the years since the 1800s when the above-listed families first came to claim lands along the Nottely River, descendants of Englands, Ingrams and Hunters have proliferated and led out in many professions.

c2008 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Oct. 27, 2005 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Some Englands become Union County settlers

With the Gold Rush simmering down some around Duke’s Creek in Habersahm County (later White), and with the patriarch Richard England dying in 1835 and interred in the England Cemetery near the Chattahoochee River there, some of the England young men went “across the mountains” once again and settled in the area that had become Union County in 1832.

Martin England (1800-1899), son of Joseph England, grandson of Charles England, first listed in the 1834 (first Union) census, claimed land along the headwaters of the Hiawassee River that was included in Towns County when it was formed in 1856.

There he established a sizeable, productive farm. In the 1850 census he was listed as owning four slaves. He married first Elizabeth Carroll and they had eleven children: Sarah Adaline (1824), Charles Newton (1818), Mary (1830), Martha (1833), William Jasper (1834), Martin Van Buren (1836), Amanda America (1838), Margaret Ann Elizabeth (1840), Harvey Pinson (1841 ? went to California about 1868 and died there shortly thereafter), Andrew (1843) and an infant who died at birth. Martin England’s first wife Elizabeth died in 1868 and was buried in the Mt. Zion Cemetery. The Englands had helped to found that church in what is now Towns County. Martin married, second, Mrs. Sarah Melton from Athens, but the union ended in divorce. His third wife was Minerva Grist Brown, widow of Lafayette Brown. Martin and Minerva had three children: Harvey Pinson (1877), named for the 1841 son of Martin who had died in California; Iva (1879) who died young, and Lizzie (1882). Minerva England died and Martin married his fourth wife, M. E. (Mary Elizabeth?) Buckner in 1884. The family of Martin England has many descendants in Union, Towns and elsewhere.

In the 1834 (first) census of Union County, Elijah England was a resident. He was listed with eight males and six females in the household, a large family.

Elijah, like Martin, first settled in the Helen area of then Habersham County, buying Land Lot 38 from the lottery winner of the land and paying $1,000 for the lot in February 1822. Elijah about 30 years old, his wife Elizabeth, and four children (three sons, one daughter) and Elijah’s father William settled on Land Lot 38, moving there from Franklin County. It seems that his wife Elizabeth died while Elijah lived there. In 1824 Elijah sold half of Land Lot 38 for $725, and in 1828 he sold the remaining half to Henry Conley for $1,000. In six years, Elijah had made a profit of $725 on the sale of his land lot. He went back to North Carolina (probably where he had lived prior to going to Franklin County). But it wasn’t long until he was back in Georgia, some 30 miles from his old Land Lot 38, for by 1834 he was across the mountain in the new county, Union. Even though the Indians were not evacuated completely until 1838, white settlers were encouraged to go into Cherokee lands and take up residence. Elijah England and his family accepted that challenge.

Evidently Elijah England had slaves to assist him with his farming operations. In 1832 he sold five slaves to Adam Pitner who had settled in the Helen Valley. However, Elisha listed his own residence then as North Carolina. In the 1840 census of Union, he owned no slaves. His household, including himself, had five males and six females (one his wife), and no slaves. The 1850 census of Union lists the names in the Elijah England household: Elijah, 60; Caroline, 38; Eliza, 32; Sally, 22; James, 19; Lafayette, 19; Marinda, 14; Floyd, 10; and Engela (Angela?), 2.

Elijah England was one of the 33 slave holders listed in Union County in the 1860 census. He owned six of the county’s 133 slaves. I did not find a listing for either Elijah England or his wife Caroline in the Union County Cemeteries list. Perhaps they were buried in unmarked graves somewhere on his farm.

c2005 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Oct. 20, 2005 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Englands were early settlers - England families used Unicoi Turnpike and settled first in Habersham County

Many living 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.

Richard England 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, Daniel 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.

When Richard 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.

Richard England 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.

Richard became 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 old England 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 reserved.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Tale of the Unicoi Turnpike

From ancient Indian trail to the Unicoi Turnpike covered a period from unrecorded history in the mountain area to a time when ancestors responded to the urge to settle lands in the North Georgia wilderness and see if there was, indeed, “gold in them thar hills” as was quickly rumored. Parts of the road remained intact until 1925 and into the 1930s when state roads replaced the old route.

During the Revolutionary War, South Carolina militiamen targeted Cherokee outposts aligned with the British. Pushing through Rabun Gap, they attacked and destroyed a Cherokee settlement near present day Franklin, NC. Marching onward, they went to Quo-neashee (Hiawassee Town) and overcame the Cherokees there. They faced southward, and going on the Unicoi Trail across the Gap, they were wary of possible ambush from the enemy hiding in the laurel thickets. In a journal of the militia’s expedition, they told of sixteen stream crossings from the foot of the mountain on the north side to the Chota settlement in the Nacoochee Valley.

With the Revolution won, America began to make treaties with the Indians to claim the area of the mountains that formerly held Cherokee settlements aligned with the British. A peace settlement was made with the Cherokee nation about 1795. Through various treaties after that, portions of land were opened up for white settlement.

Negotiations began for a permanent road or turnpike following rather closely the Old Unicoi Trail from Augusta to Maryville, Tennessee. In 1812 Georgia’s General Assembly requested approval from the federal government for establishing the road. In March, 1813, the US Cherokee Agency in Tennessee signed a treaty for work on the road to begin. The Unicoi Turnpike Company had charge of both construction and management and the Cherokees were to be paid $160.00 per year for a period of twenty years for use of the land that comprised the road.

In 1816, Georgia officially chartered the road and set tolls for its use. It is interesting to read the tolls compiled in Lucius Q. C. Lamar’s Compilation of the Laws of the State of Georgia, 1810-1819, Act # 489, pages 774-776: ‘For every man and horse, 12 and 1/2 cents; for every led horse not in a drove, 6 and 1/4 cents; for every loose horse in a drove, 4 cents; for every foot man, 6 and 1/4 cents; for every waggon (sic) and team, one dollar; for every coach, chariot, other four-wheel carriage, chaise, chair or other carriage of pleasure, one dollar and twenty-five cents; for every two-wheel carriage (etc.) for pleasure, seventy-five cents; for every cart and team, fifty cents; for each head of cattle, two cents; for each head of sheep, goats, or lambs, one cent; and for each head of hogs, one cent.”

Where feasible, the roadbed was dug out following the ancient trail. It was required to be twenty feet wide, twelve feet wide where bridges or stream crossings occurred. Only hand tools were used to grade the route. It was tedious, back-breaking work, and required much longer than anticipated. The work started on the road in March, 1814. The Georgia Legislature had asked for completion in 1817, but had to renegotiate for the road to open in November 1818. The Tennessee crews were having the same delays. The road finally opened for full operation in 1819, and was advertised as “a safe route and with as much convenience as any other road through Cherokee Country” (from a brochure by Robert Bouwman, Traveler’s Rest and Tugaloo Crossroads by Georgia Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites, 1980). There was irony in this advertisement about the Unicoi Turnpike, because there was no ‘other road’ offering competition at that time.

Financial troubles beset the Unicoi Turnpike Company. The Georgia Legislature “loaned” the company $3,000 in 1821. The Cherokees complained that the promised $160 per year had not been paid their agency. In its early years, the Unicoi Turnpike was 150 miles in length. Road houses and accommodations sprang up about every twelve miles along the road, as that was about the distance that could be made in one day with droves of animals for market, or a covered wagon loaded with goods.

Our earliest ancestors came over the Unicoi Turnpike, settling first in areas of Habersham County in the late 1820s. In 1828, gold was found on Duke’s Creek. Then the busiest period of the Unicoi Turnpike opened with prospectors, miners, land-lot and gold-lot claimers going to Nacoochee Valley to settle. A virtual stampede of travelers traversed the Unicoi Turnpike to what they considered a land of promise. It was a vital route for Georgia’s economy in the mountain area and a “shining white road” to new lands and fulfilled aspirations for our ancestors.

c2005 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published October 6, 2005 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.