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

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How Some Places in Union County Were Named

The Suches area of Union County is "across the mountain" from the county seat of Blairsville, a large mountainous area somewhat isolated until more modern roads were built in the 1930s and 40s. Suches contains three militia districts, Cooper's Creek, Canada and Gaddistown. How did Suches get its name?

Go back a long ways to the time the Cherokee Indians inhabited the area of Union County. Cherokee Chief Suches was the major chief of the area "beyond the mountains."

When the United States government gave orders to move the Cherokee west to Oklahoma, Chief Suches cooperated by giving General Winfield Scott, commander of the U.S. Army commissioned to move the Cherokee on what now is known as the Trail of Tears, a census of the Cherokee population of his domain.

Why Chief Suches would side with the U.S. government to assist General Scott with the exodus has been lost in the mists of time. Did the chieftain realize that the Cherokee homelands would succumb to the white man's rule? Did he see no other hope for his people than to have them vacate their mountain home? Did the white man's greed for land and gold supercede any thoughts of preserving the Cherokee's domain?

Whatever the answers, Chief Suches helped Scott to locate and round up the Cherokee families of his area. As a tribute to this Indian chief, the land in Union County "over the mountain" in the southwest section of the county that adjoins Fannin County on the west and Lumpkin County on the east is known as Suches. When you travel the picturesque route to this area of Union County, you might like to imagine that it was once the domain of Cherokee Chief Suches and his braves.

A placid lake in the region is named Winfield Scott after the General who not only led the Indian removal but who, during the Civil War, served as a commander in the U.S. Army. So popular was he that he received two nominations to run for president of the United States, but he never made it to that high office. Many believed Scott's lack of support for the presidency stemmed from his infamous part in the Indian Removal.

Woody Gap is the gap in the mountains through which Georgia Highway 180 winds southwest to meet Georgia Highway 60 at Suches. Woody Gap, Woody Lake in Suches, and Woody Gap School were all named for Union County's beloved Forest Ranger Arthur Woody and early Woody settlers there. John Woody, Ranger Woody's paternal grandfather, was a founder of North Georgia Agricultural College at Dahlonega. John Woody had also fought with the U.S. Army at the famed battle of Gettysburg, bearing a U.S. flag which has become a treasured legacy of the Woody family.

Known as "the barefoot ranger," Arthur Woody began working for the Forest Service in 1912 as a surveyor. His love for the forest and outdoorsman expertise were recognized and in 1918 he became Georgia's first forest ranger over the newly-established Blue Ridge District of the Chattahoochee National Forest. His work with the Civilian Conservation Corps and his efforts to bring the deer back to the forests and stock the lakes with trout, bass and bream are notable.

Likewise, he wanted better education for the Suches community. Plans began in 1936 to build a school that would consolidate the scattered schools of Mt. Lebanon, Mt. Zion, Cooper's Creek, Sprigg's Chapel and Valley into one complex. Arthur Woody and his son Walter made numerous trips to Atlanta on behalf of establishing the consolidated school. These men bought the land that was formerly owned by the Governor Joseph E. Brown family and gave it for the school site. The building was constructed, using native stone. In 1941 the school opened in January, at mid-term. Through thick and thin, the school has maintained its position in the annals of Georgia education as an "isolated" school, and continues to this day. It was named to honor the Woodys, father and son, who labored long to get the school located in Suches.

Now to the three militia districts in Suches. How did Canada get its name? It is believed that some of the early settlers there thought their new mountain home resembled areas of Canada, and thus the name. Who knows? As for Cooper's Creek and Gaddistown, these names can definitely be traced to early settlers by the same name. On the fast-flowing streams, the pioneers who had known how to build and operate grist mills in North Carolina and Tennessee used their expertise to channel the mountain streams for water power and to establish mills. With mills built, roads had to be cut for settlers to have a path wide enough for their wagons to bring grains to be ground. Civilization was slow coming to this remote mountainous area of Georgia. Now citizens enjoy not only the beauty and majesty of surrounding mountains but the relative quiet and solitude of their mountain homes. Place names pay tribute to those who have gone before.

c 2007 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Mar. 15, 2007 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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