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Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Early Settlers in Union County with Ledford Surname

A search of the 1834 (first) census of the newly-formed Union County (founded 1832) did not yield any citizens listed in the 147 households and 903 population with the surname Ledford.
However, by the 1840 census, when Mr. John Butt, Jr. made his way to all the households he found to register heads of household and number of males and females with the general ages within those residencies, he located four households with the name Ledford.

Ledford is an interesting name, seems to be English in origin, and is what is termed a “habitational” name, with those bearing it having come from a particular location in the old country known by the name. The “ford” part is easy to determine. People would have lived by or near a ford in a stream. We wonder, then, was Led, the first syllable, from the name of a stream? Actually, yes. The Lyd River flowed through Somerset and Devon in England, and was known as “a noisy stream.” The Old English Lyd meant just that. But in Surrey, people were called Latchfords who lived by the stream there. Eventually, through the standardization of English spellings, the surname settled into Ledford, those who lived by the ford by the River Lyd.

The first of the Ledford ancestors of some of those who eventually settled in the new Union County, Georgia seem to be descendants of the John Ledford who came from England to North Carolina about 1763.

By the 1840 census in Union County, Georgia, there were four households of Ledfords enumerated. This writer was not able to learn the relationship, if any, between these four Ledford households. They could have been brothers, cousins or otherwise related.

Benjamin Ledford had nine in his household in 1840—six males and three females. He and his wife were both listed in the age category of “40 and under 50.”

Thomas Ledford had six males and two females in his household. He and his wife were “thirty and under forty.”

William Ledford had three males and six females in his household. He was “forty and under fifty” and his wife was “thirty and under forty.”

The fourth Ledford household was that of George, who had five males and three females. He was “thirty and under forty,” and his wife was in that same age category. Therefore, we count and find that 20 males and 15 females, or a total of 35 Ledfords made their home in Union in 1840.

Moving to the 1850 Union County census, it is interesting to note whether the same households are listed again, and if any other Ledford households have been set up within the ten-year period. It is noteworthy, too, that by the 1850 census, the government had made the decision to list not only the heads-of-households, but the spouse and children, the ages, and where each member of the household had been born.

Let’s take a look at Ledford households in the 1850 Union Census, from which we learn much more information. The only household with the same-named head of household in 1850 as in the 1840 census was that of Benjamin. Whether Thomas, William and George were going by another given name by 1850 is not known. But households, according to the information given to Mr. Butt, the census taker in 1850, were headed by Silas, Porter, David, Benjamin, and James.

Silas Ledford and his wife, spelled Deilly (Delia ?) lived in household # 53. He was 28, had been born in North Carolina, his wife, 29, had been born in South Carolina, and they had been in Georgia at least five years, because their oldest child and the three others listed were all born in Georgia. Their children were Thomas, 5, Benjamin, 4, Caroline, 2, and Louisa, 1. We learn from other research that Silas was a son of Benjamin and Grace Owenby Ledford, the one settler from the 1840 census who had remained in Union County. My curiosity turned me to the Union County marriage records where I found this listing: Silas Ledford married Dolly Elmiry Bowling in Union County on December 19, 1841, with the Rev. Elisha Hedden performing the ceremony. The census-taker’s spelling, “Deilly,” therefore should have been “Dolly” for Silas’s wife’s name.

Household # 54, next door to Silas and Dolly, had the family of Porter Ledford, age 23, born in North Carolina, his wife, Temarina, age 20, also born in North Carolina, and their four-month old baby, Marion. Again, the Union County marriage records yielded the date of this couple’s marriage—August 28, 1848, when Thomas Ervin, a justice-of-the-peace performed the ceremony. The bride’s name was Damaris A. Rogers. Again, this helps us correct a misspelling from the census record of “Temarina” to Damaris. Porter Ledford was the sixth child of Silas and Dolly Ledford, and was given the name Porter after his maternal grandfather, Porter Owenby.

Household 87 was home to David Ledford, age 31, born in North Carolina, and his wife Jane, 35, also born in North Carolina. They had been in Union County less than two years in 1850, for their four listed children, Rachel, 9, Marion, 6, Hardy, 4, and Madison, 2, had all been born in North Carolina.

In 1850, the household of Benjamin Ledford, age 50, born in North Carolina, was listed as # 133 in the enumeration. Living there were his wife, 51, born in North Carolina, and listed as “Racy,” an unusual name, to say the least. Make that an error in entry, which probably should have been Gracy, or Grace—Grace Owenby Ledford, whom Benjamin married in North Carolina before moving to the Ivy Log section of Union County, Georgia sometime before 1840. In Benjamin and Grace’s household in 1850 were two children still at home, Vianna, age 20 and Benjamin (Jr.?), 11, both born in North Carolina. Registered in their household was another female, Caroline Brown, age 19, born in North Carolina.

A young man, Jacob Ledford, age 20, was listed as living in Household 475 with Eli Henson and Elizabeth Henson and their three children, James, 7, Archibald, 5, and Jacob, 1.

In household # 619 were James Ledford, 35, born in North Carolina, his wife, Nancy, 32, also born in North Carolina. Their first three children, Caroline 10, LaFayette 7 and Lucious, 6, were born in North Carolina, but Asberry, 4, and Jane, 1, were born in Georgia.

The last of the Ledford households appearing in the 1850 Union census was that of the family or Hiram Ledford, 47, and his wife, Mary, 47, both born in North Carolina. They had seven children listed as still living at home in 1850, all born in North Carolina: John, 25, Spencer, 22, Marion, 15, James, 12, George, 10, Hiram, 8, and Alexander, 5. They had evidently moved to Union County after 1845 since Alexander was not born in Georgia.

These families were the beginnings of the Ledfords who remained in Union and Towns counties of upper Georgia. We will follow some of them in subsequent accounts.

c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Aug. 18, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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