History Comes Alive at the Union County Museum


by Martha Clayton Clement

          While researching your Union County ancestry, did you ever wonder how they managed to live and survive every day hardships?  Did you wonder what their daily life was like or what their homes were like? They had to learn to be self sufficient at a time when prosperity could be determined by the whims of nature and destitution was a common occurrence. So, how did they do it?


          The lack of money did not keep these hardy mountain people from their desire to better their lives with the common comforts that we take for granted today.  Instead, they learned trades and skills and bartered to get what they could not make their selves. Clothes and shoes were handmade as were the farm tools and livestock tack. Furniture, while sometimes crudely made, served its purpose. Nearly everything was handmade.  Life was difficult but these resilient individuals made do with what they had.


          A visit to the Union County Museum, located inside the Old Courthouse in Blairsville, is a wonderful way to immerse your self in a bygone era.  Many of the local families have donated their heirlooms for display.  You will get a sense of history when you sit on the benches located on the second floor of the restored 1899 court room.  Believe it or not, municipal court is still held on Mondays in the old court room!  Wander among the artifacts detailing the many segments of life such as law enforcement, the military, the practice of law, gold mining, schools, churches, and even famous native sons such as Byron Hubert Reece. Georgia’s poet laureate and a novelist, Reece was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 1952. The museum has on display the old Remington typewriter that he used to produce his work.


          The two ton clock and bell tower were removed in the 1960s due to impending structural collapse. A replication of the clock and bell tower was replaced and dedicated in November 2000. The old clockworks were restored and are located on the grounds in a shelter for all to see.


The old courthouse was eventually condemned and threatened with demolition, but wiser heads prevailed and slowly this beautiful treasure was restored.  This cherished landmark is now listed under the protection of the National Register of Historic Places.


For more information about the Old Courthouse and the Museum, go online to the Historical Society’s new website www.unioncountyhistory.org.  There, you will find the museum hours, a list of genealogical treasures such as family histories, more information on the history of Union County and its people and even an application to join the Historical Society!  Our ancestors loved these unforgettable mountains encircled by the distant blue haze. Honor them by becoming a member, resolving to make sure that the generations to come will always know where their roots began.



To See the Accompanying Photographs, please click on a link below:

The Old Courthouse

The Judge's Dais in the Restored Courtroom
The Jury Box
Hand Built Bandsaw
Old Student Desks
Hand Carved "Wagon" Chair
Baby Clothes
The Byron Hubert Reece Exhibit
Clockworks and Belltower
Springtime in Union County



 All text and photographs in this article are
c2005 Martha Clayton Clement