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

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Willis, the First Twiggs in Union County

A name carrying distinction in Union County and beyond is that of Twiggs. Willis Twiggs was the first of the line to settle in Union County, Georgia.

He was born in Rutherford County, NC on December 5, 1804 and died at Choestoe, Union County, Georgia December 11, 1880. He and his wife Margaret England Twiggs (August 9, 1812-December 10, 1886) were both interred in the Old Choestoe Cemetery.

Not proven but believed by those who have traced the Twiggs line, Willis Twiggs was the son of Timothy and Joice Willis Twiggs of Rutherford County, NC. This conjecture seems almost positive by Willis Twiggs’ given name, a custom in that day, for a son (second or later) to receive the maiden name of his mother. Then Willis himself named one of his children Joice Minerva Ann, a name which honored the one believed to be his mother, Joice Willis Twiggs.

Willis Twiggs migrated to Habersham County, Georgia where he had been eligible for one draw in the land lottery of 1832. There he married Margaret England in either 1833 or 1834. Margaret herself had been eligible for a land lot in Habersham County due to her grandfather Daniel England’s patriotic service in the American Revolution. The ancestry of Margaret England is somewhat nebulous, like that of Willis Twiggs. Her father was listed as John Good and her mother Jane England. She was reared as an England and bore that last name.

Willis and Margaret Twiggs’ first child, Mary Louise, was born in Habersham County (now White) on March 12, 1835. She was a baby when her parents moved over the mountain into the Choestoe District of Union County. There, in the 1838 Tax Rolls of Union County, he owned land in the 34th District, described as having “oaks and hickory trees” and “upland”. In June of 1859 Willis Twiggs added to his acreage by purchasing land in the 16th District from James M. Henson. It was on this land that Willis Twiggs built his house, lovingly called “The Homeplace” by descendants. The land has been owned by members of this Twiggs family from the 1830’s to the present.

Willis Twiggs was a very religious man, following the beliefs of the Methodist Church. Beginning at least as early as 1838, church services were held in his home at Choestoe for at least nine years until the first Salem Methodist Church building was erected on Self Mountain in 1847. His obituary printed in “The Wesleyan Advocate” stated that he “professed religion and joined the Methodist Church at age 12.” The death notice cited that he was “an orphan from an early age and his way in the world was quite rough. He learned to trust God for all good. He lived a faithful Christian life.”

Shortly after settling in Choestoe, he made acquaintance with a Methodist missionary of the Holston Conference, and with his assistance held sacred meetings at his home for nine years until the congregation could build the Salem church house.

In addition to Mary Louise who was born before Willis and Margaret Twiggs moved from Habersham County, GA, the couple had five other children, all born in Union County. These were Elizabeth Jane (b. March 1837) who married William C. Hicks on November 4, 1866; Margaret, born 1839, who died at age 19, unmarried; Joice Minerva Ann, born November 27, 1841, who married George W. Bryant on November 29, 1869; John Wesley born January 31, 1846 who married first Sarah Elizabeth Hughes on August 20, 1871 and second, Georgia Elizabeth Westmoreland in 1886. This son of Willis and Margaret Twiggs became a noted itinerant Methodist preacher, a teacher and a farmer. The sixth child of Willis and Margaret was Harvey Alfonso, called “Bud,” born June 1, 1848. He married Elizabeth Johnson on July 21, 1876. Mary Louise, their firstborn, married Spencer Lafayette Curtis on January 25, 1857.

In later columns, we will trace other descendants of Willis and Margaret Twiggs and note the significant contributions they made as they remained in Union County or moved to other areas to live and work.

c2004 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published September 23, 2004 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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