Union County Georgia History
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Union County Georgia History, Times and Changes

Horse and Barn with Blood Mountain in the background in Union County GeorgiaTraveling across the heartland of Union County you'll find old mountain life relics and ruins, cherished remains of ancient homesteads dotting the landscape. These reminders of times gone by are a scattered collection of lost treasures. Many of these structures are being removed for the sake of progress while others are being preserved or even restored for the sake of posterity. You never know which one of these local landmarks is staying or going so I recommend a photograph to preserve their memory just in case.

Union County Gold MineUnion County has a wealth of history to explore and I would recommend you begin your tour into the past by visiting the Old Courthouse on the square which today is home to Union County Historical Society and Museum. The “Golden Days” kicked open the door to Union County in the mid-1830’s, a hard life of panning and mining the precious gold was short lived though, due to the California Gold Rush of the mid-19th century.

By the turn of the 20th century a young country’s thirst for lumber took its toll, not only on this region but also nearly all regions of the Blue Ridge Mountains.   The ravaging of these mountains by large lumber barons hungry for profit, eventually opened the way for the founding of the National Forest Service in the early 20th century. Thankfully the National Forest Service purchased millions of acres of mountain wastelands for the purpose of restoration and preservation. The museum can enlighten you concerning these days of hard times and poor mountain folk needing work, as well as those who came with the sole purpose of profiteering.

Byron Herber ReeceOne of the more unique jewels of this particular region came not in natural resources held within the land per say, but in the human flesh and bone of a renowned individual named Byron Herbert Reece.   This native of Union County was a writer and poet, sharing his mountain life experience with his many admirers and neighbors.

Born in 1917 this poor son of a rural farmer was gifted with the ability to convey life in an isolated mountain region through his poetry and writing often sharing his biblical faith contained within the confines of his heart felt renderings. So exceptional were his works that this backwoods country boy was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, bringing his gift to the forefront of international acclaim. His poetry was the inspiration of the State of Georgia’s official drama “The Reach of Song.” He spent most of his adult years caring for his mother and father who were afflicted with tuberculosis. The hardships of life and illness eventually took his gifted mind and life in 1958. His memory has been preserved at Byron Herbert Reece Farm and Heritage Center, along with the Byron Herbert Reece Memorial Park on the upper slopes of Blood Mountain near Neel’s Gap.

Yet the inspired greatness in human achievement within Union County doesn’t stop there. In the mid 1800’s this mountainous high country, with its winds and updrafts lifting eagles and hawks soaring high above the mountain tops were considered the only aerodynamic children of flight the good Lord ever created, until one man’s vision choose to challenge what others declared couldn’t be done.

Micajah Clark Dyer - Flying AparatusA local young man named Micajah Clark Dyer (1822-1891) lived at the foot of Rattlesnake and Cedar Mountains in the Choestoe District of Union County. This insightful and intelligent young inventor who was always tinkering and inventing gadgets much to the amazement and often scorn of his neighbors. Clark was a poor farmer with a family to feed and his formal education did not surpass the one room country schoolhouse he attended. With a wondering mind and the natural skill of an architect, he often watched the birds flying over his farm and pondered why can’t a man fly?

With an imagination fit for a genius and primitive tools he confined himself to his work shed drawing precise plans and constructing a flying machine. Clark applied for and received U.S. Patent No. 154,654 on September 1, 1874 for his “Apparatus for Navigating the Air. "

Eyewitnesses from family, neighbors and friends saw him fly off the side of Rattlesnake Mountain navigating his crude flying machine over their fields. Two news articles were published concerning the flight in 1875, one in the Gainesville Georgia Eagle and the other in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

This event took place some 30-years before the Wright Brothers' claim to fame. Quite impressed with his hand drawn patented plans, the Highlander has included a copy to give our readers a view of his creation.

Clark Dyer died in 1891 and his widow sold both the plane and the plans to the Redwine brothers.   It's the family's belief that those plans found there way to the Wright Brothers. Others have often contended that the Wright Brothers weren’t the first to fly and gave credit to a handful of others.   Possibly the Wright Brothers were just insightful enough to alert the media, grounding their accomplishment.

Learn about the Union County Historical Society...




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