Fannin, Georgia – Arzela Golden and her son Joseph Henry Golden, circa 1879-1883

Golding / Golden / Goulding et al Family History on Facebook

We know that Arzela Moore Golden (1825-1886), first wife of Nathaniel Greene Golden (1812-c1882), lived in Fannin County, Georgia. But where?

From tax records, we now have a good idea as to where she lived, within at least 10 miles per references to the Georgia militia system structure.

Some states, such as Georgia, organized mandatory state militias in which all able bodied men were expected to participate.

Despite the physical size of some militia districts, each district was organized with the intent of fielding a company of soldiers. Older military company organizations were smaller than today. In the case of Georgia it was the expectation that a company would field 63 soldiers. Knowing this then you have some idea of the militia district’s population base.

The Georgia Militia existed from 1733 to 1879. It was originally planned by General James Oglethorpe prior to the founding of the Province of Georgia, the British colony that would become the state of Georgia.

Residents of a militia district also had other responsibilities, such as the financing of the militia company’s expenses. For this reason there are tax documents that identify residents according to the militia district that they lived within.

Fannin County Tax Record Book for 1879-1883

Below are the militia district tax records for my great-great-grandmother Arzela Golden and her son Joseph Henry Golden. I cannot find a date on the records. Joseph appears and he had just turned 21 as of March 1879. These tax records go through 1883. This gives us a timeframe.

Arzela Golden is shown to own 80 acres of land.

Mobile Militia District
c1879 Militia District tax records for Arzela Golden and her son Joseph Henry Golden, Fannin County, Georgia

The year of these tax records are probably 1879 as that was the last year that Georgia was organized under the old militia district system. Assuming that government, both then and now, generally reuses old forms or printed material until they run out then we could still argue that these tax records could be in the few years after 1879.

Fannin County was very sparsely populated at this time, with just 7,245 citizens in the 1880 census.

Four Clues

The tax records give us four clues as to where my grandmother lived: the post office was at Purceville; the militia district number was #1130; the name of the militia district was ‘Mobile’, and her land was the parcel at Number 169, District 9, Section 2 on the land plat. As to the parcel identification: this is very specific but these records do not appear to be available (online).

Georgia Militia District 1130 

A master map of all Georgia militia districts is available, albeit the districts are not indexed. You must visually scan the entire map of Georgia to find the numbered district that you are looking for. It would appear that districts were numbered as they were created and as the population grew.

Militia District 1130 backs up to the Tennessee stateline and is located in the northwest corner of Fannin County, Georgia.

Georgia Militia District 1130

Purceville, Mobile Militia District, Georgia

Despite many references to Purceville during the Civil War period and shortly thereafter, there does not appear to be a Purceville in Fannin County, Georgia today. However, there is an Old Mobile Road that connects into a Pierceville Road and there is a Pierceville ‘populated place’ — i.e., people know it by that name and identify with that name, but it is not a town or has an organized government of its own. Unlike back in 1879, Pierceville no longer has a post office; it is served today by Epworth, Georgia, Zip Code 30541 … just a few miles down the road and on the same road: Madola Road.

Pierceville, Georgia 2015

Pierceville on an 1883 map.

Pierceville, Fannin County, Georgia
Source: George Cram Map of Georgia, 1883



You are welcome to add to or to correct this story by contacting: Bill Golden,

BTW – I look forward to sharing your stories, photos and in-search-of quests. Contact me at the email address above.