Following the deaths of the Honorable Patrick Henry Haralson and his wife Maude Mildred Conley Harrison, both of whom died in 1956, land was donated by the family on which the Haralson Civic Center was built. The building was named in their honor and has been a location for many events since its erection.
We go back in time to trace the Haralson family. To note how some of them bore names of outstanding citizens in early America attests to the patriotism of this family.
Thomas Jefferson Haralson (1819-1899), father of Patrick Henry Haralson, was an early merchant in the town of Blairsville. He also owned and operated the tan yard to which many of the citizens brought their skins to be treated and turned into leather. Thomas Jefferson Haralson married Mary Logan (1828-1892) of White County.
Patrick Henry Haralson was born to Thomas Jefferson and Mary Logan Haralson on October 30, 1871. Notice how they gave this son the name of another famous American Patriot, Patrick Henry, whose famed quotation, "Give me liberty or give me death," reverberates to this day. Perhaps the name was prophetic of what the new baby would become, a public servant.
When Patrick Henry Haralson was born, the Civil War was just six years in the past, and, although not scathed by battles here, the county was still struggling to overcome post-war problems.
Pat Haralson, as he was known, showed early signs of scholarship. He was educated in the schools at Blairsville and entered Young Harris College when it was in its struggling early years. Upon graduation from Young Harris, he entered the University of Georgia, pursuing a degree in law. He graduated in 1897, having earned top honors in two areas of law study. He was admitted to the Georgia Bar and opened his law practice in 1897.
Pat Haralson had been courting a young lady with ties to the Ivy Log District of Union County. A bright young lady, she was a graduate of Brenau College, Gainesville, Georgia, with a major in music. She was said to be the first woman from Union County to receive a college degree.
Maude Mildred Conley and Patrick Henry Haralson were married May 11, 1902. Her parents were Francis Edward and Davie Colwell Conley. Her father owned and operated a mercantile business at Ivy Log. Later, in Madison, Georgia, her father opened a wholesale grocery warehouse. Moving back to Blairsville, the Conley family became active in First Baptist Church where Francis Conley was a deacon. He was postmaster at Blairsville and also represented the county in the state legislature. From this background, Maude Mildred Conley Haralson was well-equipped to serve as the wife of a lawyer and legislator.
Maude Conley Haralson's parents were active Baptists. Merchant Thomas Jefferson Haralson, Pat's father, was a Presbyterian. But because that denomination had very few members in the Blairsville area in the nineteenth century, the land on which the First Methodist Church of Blairsville was erected was given by Thomas Jefferson Haralson. That family became active Methodists and supporters of that church. Thomas Jefferson Haralson (1819-1899) and Mary Logan Haralson (1828- 1892) were buried in the "old" Blairsville Cemetery alongside the graves of some of their children who died at an early age.
To Patrick and Maude Conley Haralson Conley were born four children: Juanita Pat, Frank Conley, Austine and Thelma Louise.
Patrick Henry Haralson, with some success as a lawyer in his native Union County, as well as in the US District Court, the Court of Appeals, and in US Superior Court cases, entered politics. He represented Union, Towns and Rabun Counties, then known as District 40, both as a state legislator and a senator from the district. His tenures at the state capitol also saw him serving as Assistant Secretary in the Georgia Senate.
He was appointed to the Governor's Staff in 1943. He also served as the attorney for the Neel Gap Bus Line and the Georgia representative for the Tennessee Copper Company at Copperhill, Tennessee. Litigation for these businesses kept him watchful and on his legal toes.
A most helpful proposal before the state government was for the road across Neel Gap, completed in 1925 and now known as US Highway 129. Prior to the completion of this fourteen-foot-wide paved road, Blairsville was cut off from Gainesville and Atlanta except through the Logan Turnpike over Tesnatee Gap, a steep dirt road used for wagon traffic, yet the best road available prior to 1925 for Union County farmers to get their produce to market. As president of the Union County Good Roads Association, Lawyer Haralson was active in getting the highway built and operable.
Many of us remember the stately Haralson House which stood just off the square in Blairsville as the street led out to Young Harris. A few years ago, that landmark was purchased, moved and set up in another location in Union County. The moving of the house marked the close of an era.
Patrick Henry Haralson died September 15, 1956. A little less than two months later, on November 12, 1956, his beloved wife, Maude Mildred Conley Haralson died. Both were buried in what is called the "new" Blairsville Cemetery just off Blue Ridge Street leading west out of Blairsville.
c 2008 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Jan. 24, 2008 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.