Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Sunday, March 28, 2010

More Early Union County Post Offices

With double emphases in April on Confederate Memorial and History Month and National Poetry Month, I addressed this column to those two subjects for the past four weeks. We will continue with some more early post offices that once operated in Union County, a series I began earlier.

Let me digress here to thank those who attended the Souther Mill Site and Historical Marker Dedication service on Saturday, April 30. Despite the inclement weather, we did not have rain at the time of the meeting in the afternoon. A large crowd gathered to pay tribute to Jesse Willliam Souther, Jr. who founded the grist mill and sawmill. We thank John Paul Souther, grandson of the mill’s founder, and Theodore Thomas, great, great, great grandson, for their hard work in making the program possible and Mr. Thomas, in particular, for building the shelter that houses the historical marker and pictures at the old mill site. Another marker has been placed with the display of turbines from the mill at Union County Museum Annex, the Butt House. If you did not attend the program, you are invited to see the markers and pictures of the mills.

Today Union County has two post offices—Blairsville and Suches. With all the modern means of transporting the mail, it is hard for us to imagine that in post office history since Coosa, the first, was founded in 1833, the year following Union’s founding, the county has had a total of sixty-four named post offices at fifty-nine sites throughout the county.

Oftentimes in pioneer days, the post office was in a store or in a home. And both the post office and the store could have been in a room of the post master’s home.

Several post offices operated in Canada District. The first, according to record, was named Gaddistown to honor early settlers there, a family named Gaddis. The application was approved June 15, 1848 with John D. Cavender as first post master. Mail came to the new post office from Dahlonega. Gaddistown operated for a total of 107 years under the same name but moving to locations within a mile-square area of the first post office. Several men and women were in charge of the post office for its more than a century of operation: John D. Cavender, Newton K. Williams, A. H. Pitner, Lewis W. Gilreath, Squire E. Jones, John C. Cavender, Essie Brookshire, :Lottie Cavender, Arthur Grizzle, Lottie Cavender (second time), Mrs. Alma M. McDougald. The Warren McDougald’s rock dwelling house was the last location of Gaddistown postoffice.

Quebec post office was named as a complement to the name Canada for the district. Quebec was established August 31, 1881 with Eli P. McGee as first postmaster. The next postmaster at Quebec was Grant Woody. He operated the post office in his Service Spring Hotel at Miller Gap. The hotel, more like a boarding house, was the mountain vacation location of wealthy planters from the south. There in the basement of the hotel was a bar dispensing mountain moonshine and also an ingenious water trough reputedly carrying mineral springs water good for health. Later when all signs of the hotel were removed, the new owners of the land found the mineral water gum log water trough containing old iron implements over which the “mineral water” had passed, probably to give the water its “mineral” or iron content. Following hotel owner Grant Woody’s term as postmaster, two more men served at Quebec as postmasters: John Holloway and William E. Burnett. On April 30, 1907, Quebec post office was closed and the mail routed through the Suches station. Quebec had operated almost twenty-six years.

A wholesale grocer of Dahlonega, Georgia had a good idea for increasing his business and making products not grown on the farms of Canada District more available to citizens. John Cannon, Wholesaler, had a line of groceries, dry goods and hardware. It was very likely that John Cannon helped Eli McGee set up the Gaddistown post office and establish a store there. Bill Davis had opened a store and John Cannon persuaded him that he should send application to open a post office in his store. Suches opened March 6, 1886. Suches was the name of an Indian chieftain who once lived in the valley near the Bill Davis store site. Interestingly enough, John Cannon himself was first postmaster listed with the US Post Office Department. It is very likely that the store owner, Bill Davis, did the postal work. On July 20, 1887, Bill Davis was officially made the postmaster. During its one-hundred twenty-one years of operation, a long list of postmasters have served. The office moved several times. The Lunsford Store owners operated the post office.

The present location near the intersection of Highways 180 and 60 has a stately brick building near the Woody Gap School. Rural routes operate from Suches to take the mail to families living in the valleys once ruled over by Indian Chief Suches.

(Next week: More on other Canada District post offices.)

c2005 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published May 3, 2005 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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