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

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Some Early Settlers Named Gaddis and the Gaddistown District

If we could see the past, then of course it would look different. For there was a time when every man was a part of his mother,. . .and. . . part of his grandparents. If you could see humanity spread out in time, as God sees it, it would look like one single growing thing…rather like a very complicated tree. Every individual would appear connected to every other.” -C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)

The famous English theologian and apologist, C. S. Lewis, whom I have quoted here, had the right idea when he stated that humanity is “like a very complicated tree,” and that “every individual…(is) connected to every other.” In our eagerness to find out about the past, we are searching for that giant tree, and our connectedness. I enjoy looking at the names listed in the 1834 Union County census when the county was brand new, just becoming established, two years after its organization. I am fascinated by names of people who made up the early settlers, learned by noting names in that census. And that is how I came to the name Gaddis for a brief look. They left behind a place named for them, Gaddistown, the southwestern-most district in the County, surrounded by Coopers Creek to the north, a portion of Fannin County to the west, Canada District to the east, and Lumpkin County to the south.

In 1834 there were five Gaddis households listed in the census, with a total of twenty-four people bearing that family name—thirteen males and eleven females. Since only heads-of-households and number in the family unit were listed in 1834, we learn that these Gaddis men were early settlers in the county: Linsey Gaddis (3 males, 2 females), Iredell Gaddis (1 male, 2 females), James Gaddis, Sr. (3 males, 2 females), James Gaddis, Jr. (4 males, 2 females), and Lewis Gaddis (2 males, 3 females).

By 1840, the Gaddis households in that year’s census had increased to nine, with household populations giving a total of 30 males and 28 females with the Gaddis last name. Those listed were as follows: John Gaddis (4 m. 3 f.), Iredell Gaddis (2 m. 3 f.), Lewis Gaddis (2 m. 4 f.), James Gaddis (6 m., 1 f.), Drury Gaddis (4 m. 1 f.), another Drury Gaddis (3 m. 5 f.), William Gaddis (1 m. 2 f.), George Gaddis (5 m., 3 f.) and Emry (sic) Gaddis (2 m. 4 f).

By 1850, interestingly, only three Gaddis families were listed (one spelled Gettis). By that census, we have names and ages listed, and the state the head of household migrated from. Susan Gaddis, age 47, lived in household 85, with children Susan, 14, Allen, 12, and Matilda 8. In the household with Susan Gaddis were two with the last name of Black, their given names Iven, age 19 and John, age 23. In the Gettis (sic) household numbered by the census taker 917, were M. M., age 31, and his wife, Lucila, age 25, both born in North Carolina, and an elder lady, Elenor, age 70 (maybe M. M.’s mother?), all born in North Carolina. The third Gaddis, (in household # 969) was Lewis, age 47, born in North Carolina, his wife, Margaret, age 43, born in South Carolina, and these children: Eline, age 20, born in SC, and Elizann, 18, Allen, 14, Elvira, 12, Margaret, 10, Perlina, 8, and Archibald, 5 (the last six born in Georgia). In doing some Gaddis family research elsewhere, I found a bit of information that stated that many of the Gaddis families, living close to Lumpkin County, moved on over to that county and were involved in the later “gold rush” there. This I have not authenticated. Either some Gaddis families were missed in the 1850 census, or they had migrated to another county by that time.

We can assume that Gaddistown District was named for James Gaddis (Sr. or Jr.), Linsey Gaddis, Iredell Gaddis, or Lewis Gaddis, the first families of the Gaddis name that settled Union. The district lies along the Toccoa River that runs north, and has some very productive bottom lands for farming. The Gaddistown post office application was approved June 15, 1848. Interestingly, the request was not made by a Gaddis, but by John D. Cavender, another citizen of Gaddistown, who was the first postmaster from its opening until February 2, 1852. The post office continued for a total of 107 years, closing in 1955.

The name Gaddis (spelled in many ways—Gettis, Geddes, Gadice, Gattis) is a Scots-Irish name, a habitational or place name. In Scotland, the earliest found with this name were those who “lived on a ridge.” It is interesting that as the Gaddis forebears came to America, they migrated to and settled in the hilly sections of North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. They seemed to make their homes along mountainous terrain and learned to make a way and a living in the hill country.

c 2010 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published May 13, 2010 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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