Thursday, October 28, 2004

The Harvey Alfonso "Bud" Twiggs Family

Harvey Alfonso, better known as “Bud” Twiggs, was the youngest of six children born to the early Union County settlers, Willis (1804-1880) and Margaret England Twiggs (1812-1886). Harvey A. was born at Choestoe, Union County, Georgia on June 1, 1848 and died there March 6, 1932. He married Elizabeth Johnson on July 21, 1876, and to “Bud” and “Lizzie” Twiggs were born five children reared on the farm, part of which was inherited from Bud’s father, Willis.

Margaret M. Twiggs (August 2, 1871-May 28, 1949) married Mancil Pruitt Dyer, a son of Choestoe’s inventor of the “Apparatus for Navigating the Air,” Micajah Clark Dyer and his wife, Morena Ownbey Dyer. Mancil Pruitt had the nickname “Mant”. He and Margaret had seven children: Nellie Naomi who married Dallas Nix; Herbert Carter who married Pearl Duckworth; Patrick Henry Lee Dyer who married Cleo Hix; Celia Wilhemina “Minnie” Dyer who married Marshall J. Nix; Harriet who died at nine years of age; and Chartiers McMillan Dyer who married Pearl Parker and Sibyl Franks. When Margaret died in 1949, she was at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Marshall Nix, in Waverly, Colorado where she had lived during a period of ill health. Her body was returned for burial at Pine Top Cemetery, Choestoe, where her husband was buried in 1916.

Bud and Lizzie Twiggs’ second child was James Willis Twiggs (June 15, 1879 – February 1, 1966) known as Jim, this son had a distinctive career as a teacher, public servant, educator and benefactor. He married on December 28, 1910 to Helen Cordelia Collins (March 1, 1886-December 10, 1981), daughter of Dallas and Rosannah Souther Collins. The Rev. Charlie Rich performed their wedding ceremony at the home of the bride’s parents near New Liberty Baptist Church. They had one daughter, Clarice Lorraine Twiggs who married Thomas Jefferson Stephens. Helen Collins was a teacher when she and Jim Twiggs married. During the first years of their marriage both taught school at Talmo, Georgia (Jackson County) for three years, then to South Georgia for three years, and northward to Gwinnett County for three more years. Then they returned to Union County. In 1920 Jim Twiggs was elected County School Superintendent in Union County where he served two four-year terms (1920-1928). He next was with the sales tax unit of the Department of Revenue. He was elected state senator from the ninth congressional district for one term. Following that service he was a supervisor with the Georgia Department of Education until his retirement at age 72. Jim and Helen Twiggs were known for their Christian compassion and community spirit. I personally will ever be grateful to Mr. Jim Twiggs for loaning me the money to complete my AA degree at Truett McConnell College in 1948-1949 at a time when my father had a not-so-good crop year and did not have the money, even with my working at a campus job, to pay my college tuition. Mr. Jim Twiggs came to my rescue with a loan which I repaid during my first year of teaching.

Bud and Lizzie Twiggs’ third child was John Milford Twiggs (June 9, 1881-September 5, 1960). John married Celia Sarah “Sallie” Collins (October 8, 1884 – October 4, 1972), daughter of Ivan Kimsey and Martha J. Hunter Collins on March 1, 1908. John was a farmer on Choestoe, tilling the land settled by his grandfather Willis Twiggs and passed on to him by his father Bud Twiggs. John and Sallie had two sons, Roy Willis Twiggs (1909-1987) and Mercer Franklin Twiggs (1912-1990). Educated at Young Harris and North Georgia Colleges and Oglethorpe University, Roy taught school for several years. Roy became director of Union County’s Department of Family and Children’s Services (then called the Welfare Department) in 1938. World War II came and he served for four years in the U. S. Army. Following military service, he again assumed directorship of the Department of Family and Children’s Services from 1946 through his retirement in 1971. He was named to the Georgia Welfare Hall of Fame in 1985. Quiet, efficient and unassuming, Roy Twiggs is remembered as a compassionate social worker who sincerely had the welfare of his clients uppermost as he sought to help those who really needed aid. Mercer Twiggs had a career of thirty-seven years with the Georgia Highway Department. He married Ruby June Little in 1942 and they had one child, Sarah Rebecca Twiggs who married James Matthew Thompson. John and Sallie Twiggs were buried in the Old Choestoe Cemetery and Roy Twiggs and Mercer Twiggs in the New Choestoe Baptist Church Cemetery.

Fourth child of Bud and Lizzie Twiggs was Naomi Belle Twiggs (May 17, 1886-August 14, 1941). She married Fulton Huey Gaddis and they lived to Barrow County, Georgia.

The fifth and youngest child of Bud and Lizzie Twiggs was Frank Densmore Twiggs (January 10, 1889-July 4, 1979) who married Margaret Lea Self on October 28, 1934. She was a daughter of Willis C. and Mollie Dyer Self. Lea and Frank lived in the Twiggs house that his father, Bud, built. The house is still standing on Collins Road just off Highway 80 and is now owned and maintained by Frank and Lea’s son, Ralph.

Frank taught school in one-teacher schools for a few years, among which was Pine Top. He became a full-time farmer, saying he “liked to be his own boss.” He and Lea had two children, Ralph (born in 1936) and Opal (1937-1944). Frank and Lea Twiggs were wonderful neighbors and extended such kindness to my younger brother, Blueford, and me after our mother died in 1945 when we were young.

Some interesting stories have been passed down in the Twiggs family about the escapades of Harvey Alfonso “Bud” Twiggs. A favorite is how he “broke” a new horse for his son Jim to ride. Determined to tame the horse, he bridled it up and took it into the field. The horse bucked and reared, but Bud held on for dear life. Finally, the horse reared and fell, with Bud Twiggs still holding on. Those who were watching feared that Mr. Twiggs was badly injured, but he got up and refused help in taking the horse back to the barn. A few days later, Bud Twiggs saddled up the horse and came out riding him, with the animal behaving, well-broken and taken to the saddle, ready for his Jim Twiggs to ride. Bud Twiggs was at the ripe age of 80 when he broke the untamed horse. He lived four more years after the horse-breaking incident.

c2004 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published October 28, 2004 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Lovick Marvin Twiggs, Noted Methodist Minister

Lovick Marvin Twiggs was the fifth of six children born to the Rev. John Wesley Twiggs and his first wife, Sarah Elizabeth Hughes Twiggs of Choestoe. He was born May 30, 1880 at what was lovingly called “the Twiggs homeplace” in Choestoe, where his grandparents Willis and Margaret England Twiggs settled about 1836.

No doubt Marvin went with his father who was an itinerant Methodist circuit preacher. He was only five years of age when his mother died June 2, 1885. He and his younger sister, Nellie Margaret, who was not quite three when their mother died, became very close. The other siblings were Edwin Paxton Twiggs (Nov 6, 1872-July 25, 1954); Nancy Elmira (Feb. 17, 1874-Dec. 26, 1953); Emma California (Feb. 9, 1876-Sept 19, 1903) and Mary Frances (Mar. 19, 1 879-May 3, 1952). Rev. John Wesley Twiggs married his second wife, Georgia Elizabeth Westmoreland from White County on February 4, 1886. It is reported that she was a good step-mother to Rev. John Wesley Twigg’s first six children. Georgia Twiggs had three children, half-siblings to Marvin: Kitty who was born and died in January, 1887; Walter Mondwell (1888-1984), a Methodist minister noted in last week’s column; and Erwin Eugene (1890-1977).

Marvin Twiggs graduated from Young Harris College and later served on the Board of Trustees of that institution. He maintained his love for and support of the college throughout his adult life. Prior to being admitted to the Methodist Conference as a fully-certified minister, he taught school for several years in Cleveland, Georgia. His ordination as a minister came in 1902.

For forty-eight years of his eventful life, he was a minister in the North Georgia Conference. He was admitted for a trial period in 1904, ordained as a deacon in 1905, and as an elder in 1908. To begin his trial period, his first charge as a pastor was in the Hancock Circuit from 1904-1908.

He was pastor at Broadway Methodist Church, Augusta, Georgia in 1910-1911. While there, he and Miss Estelle Middlebrooks were married on September 7, 1910. The marriage joined two strong Methodist families for Estelle was a granddaughter of Bishop George Foster Pierce. Her parents were Henry Lafayette and Claudia Snider Pierce Middlebrooks.

His charges, like those of his brother the Rev. Walter Mondwell Twiggs listed in last week’s column, read like a geography of towns in Georgia; The newly-wed couple was assigned to Harlem from 1912-1915. Consecutive appointments and dates included: Conyers, 1916-19; Madison, 1920-21; Cartersville, 1922: St. John Church, Atlanta, 1923-26; Superintendent of the Griffin District, 1927-1930; LaGrange First Methodist, 1931-34; Dalton First Methodist, 1935-38; Superintendent, Augusta District, 1939-1942; Gainesville First Methodist, 1943-47; first full-time chaplain of Emory University Hospital, 1948-1952.

He retired in 1952, but immediately became associate pastor of Druid Hills Methodist Church in Atlanta from 1952-1958. In denominational service he was a delegate to the General Conference (national) in 1930, 1934, 1938 and 1940. He served on the Methodist Boards of Missions and of Pensions.

An interesting news article appeared in the “Eaton Herald” of Eaton, Colorado in the August 5, 1938 issue. Rev. L. Marvin Twiggs and his family had been visiting his sisters, Mrs. Nancy Elmira Collins, Mrs. Mary Frances Nix and Mrs. Nellie Margaret Allison, and his brother Edwin P. Twiggs of the Greeley area. He cut his visit short in order to return to Georgia to be present at a convocation held at the University of Georgia on Thursday, August 11, 1938 wherein the University conferred upon President Franklin Delano Roosevelt an honorary doctorate of humanities degree. At the time, Rev. Twiggs was a member of the University’s Board of Regents and had voted for the honor for the president of the United States. Rev. Twiggs was present in cap and gown at that significant convocation. Other civic assignments were on the State Board of Corrections and Paroles, on the Georgia Citizens’ Council, and on the Georgia Prison Advisory Commission.

Three children were born to Rev. and Mrs. Twiggs: Claudia Pierce Twiggs (1915), Sara Elizabeth Twiggs (1920) and Lovick Marvin Twiggs, Jr. (1925-1946). Unfortunately, Marvin, Jr. was killed in a jeep accident October 5, 1946 in Gainesville, Georgia. He had completed a two-year term in the U. S. Air Corps and was in his senior year at the University of Georgia when his death occurred.

In a letter from the Rev. Marvin Twiggs in “The Northeast Georgian” published in Blairsville, Georgia May 15, 1908, this man who had gone out from Choestoe wrote from Mayfield, Georgia of his former mountain home: “The mountains of North Georgia furnish a valuable source of inspiration to an aspiring youth. Your intellectual energy is unsurpassable…Never be handicapped nor embarrassed about where you came from, but think seriously about where and how you are going. Hard work and good common sense are two of the most essential requisites for success. The simple life, lived close to nature, susceptible to her heaven-born influences, is the life that has implanted the seed truths of eternity.”

Rev. Marvin Twiggs died January 17, 1962 in Atlanta, Georgia and was buried at Sparta, Georgia. His widow, Estelle, died five years later on August 25, 1967. In the obituary for this outstanding Methodist minister from the mountains, the Reverend Doctor William R. Cannon wrote: “He was both an ecclesiastical statesman and a diplomat of remarkable skill. He knew how forcefully to reach an objective and at the same time to carry the people along with him, without offense…His was a steady march forward toward the kingdom of God, but in that way he never walked alone; he carried his people with him.”

c2004 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published October 21, 2004 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Walter Mondwell Twiggs, Noted Methodist Minister

Many have gone out from the hills and valleys of Union County and made distinctive contributions in many professions. The Rev. John Wesley Twiggs of Choestoe had two sons who, like himself, became Methodist ministers. Last week we got an insight into the early life of Walter Mondwell as he went with his father at age seven across the Logan Turnpike to the market in Gainesville in 1885. Walter was the younger of the two preacher sons. Lovick Marvin, eight years older than Walter, became an ordained Methodist minister, outstanding in Georgia. Both Choestoeans contributed greatly through long lives of service. This week we will continue with the life and work of the Rev. Walter Mondwell Twiggs. Next week we will look at contributions made by the Rev. Lovick Marvin Twiggs.

When Walter Mondwell Twiggs was born March 27, 1888 in Choestoe, Georgia to the Rev. John Wesley Twiggs and his second wife, Georgia Elizabeth Westmoreland Twiggs, he had six half-siblings to welcome him. Their mother, Sarah Elizabeth Hughes, had died June 2, 1885. Rev. John Wesley Twiggs married Georgia Elizabeth Westmoreland of White County on February 4, 1886. She was a good step-mother to the “first set” of John Wesley Twiggs’ children: Edwin Paxton, Nancy Elmira, Emma California (Callie), Mary Frances, Lovick Marvin and Nellie Margaret.

Georgia Elizabeth and John Wesley Twiggs had three children: Kitty who was born and died in January, 1887; Walter Mondwell (1888) and Erwin Eugene (May 13, 1890). In his memoirs, Rev. Walter Mondwell Twiggs pays great tribute to the closeness between him and his half-sister, Nellie Margaret, whom he says was “like a little mother to me,” and to his brother Lovick Marvin who was an inspiration to him. The distinction of half- brothers and sisters went unnoticed. Mrs. Twiggs loved all the children. Walter, writing of her, noted: “At night mother would sit around the open wood fireplace, never idle, but patching garments, sewing on buttons, darning socks and otherwise providing for the large family.”

Walter Mondwell Twiggs graduated from Young Harris College. While there at the age of 17, he was strongly impressed with a call to the gospel ministry. But he says he resisted the call for several years, teaching school and then studying law. In 1913 at age 24, he was licensed to preach by the Rev. Bascomb Anthony, then presiding elder of the Dublin, Georgia District, where Walter had gone to teach school. He taught at Powelton, Georgia, an early consolidated schools. He was principal of the Stillmore High School in Emanuel County. It was there he met his future bride who was a member of the faculty.

He and Claudia Lenora Thompson were married June 8, 1916 in Lyons, Georgia. They had three children, two daughters and one son. Phronia Webb Twiggs was born September 9, 1917 in Monticello, Ga. Sara Elizabeth Twiggs was born August 7, 1919 in Atlanta, Georgia; and John Wesley Twiggs (named after Walter’s father) was born and died January 7, 1925 in Atlanta, Georgia. The places of the children’s births show some of the locations of churches where the Rev. Walter Twiggs was pastor.

Shortly after his licensing to the Methodist ministry, he entered Vanderbilt University in Tennessee where he studied theology during 1913 and 1914. He was able to pay his way by a scholarship and through working as a janitor and operating the dormitory telephones. While there, he gained experience as assistant pastor at a Methodist church in Nashville’s west end.

In 1915 he enrolled in the Candler School of Theology of Emory University. While there, he was assistant pastor of the Asbury Methodist Church, 1914-1915. After graduation from Candler, he was assigned to the Monticello Methodist Circuit in 1915 and served there until 1920. He was ordained an elder by Bishop Warren A. Candler. His subsequent charges read like a roll-call of Georgia towns. Some of the places he served and the dates were: Lithonia, 1920-24; Patillo Memorial, Decatur, 1924-29; Hapeville, 1929-1933; Trinity-on-the-Hill, Augusta, 1933-35; Presiding Elder, Griffin District, 1935-39; West Point, 1940-43; District Superintendent, Lagrange District, 1943-49; Cartersville, Sam Jones Memorial, 1949-1953; Bethany, Atlanta, 1953-56. He retired in 1956, lived in LaGrange, Georgia and worked for a time with the Manget Foundation.

It was always a joy to the people of Choestoe District and Salem Methodist when their native son, Rev. Walter Twiggs, returned to speak at homecoming or hold a revival.

Rev. and Mrs. Walter Twiggs became the first residents of the Wesley Woods Towers in Atlanta, a senior citizen retirement home which the Rev. Twiggs had worked diligently to establish. They lived there from April, 1965 through September, 1972 when they went to their daughter Phronia Smith’s home in Griffin. There Mrs. Twiggs died July 27, 1973. Rev. Twiggs spent his last years in Griffin writing his memoirs and speaking or teaching occasionally at churches.

Rev. Walter M. Twiggs was a gifted speaker, an evangelist and a fundraiser, with an unusual talent for raising money for benevolent and church causes. He served on committees in the North Georgia Conference which brought about innovations in ministerial pensions, establishment of Wesley Woods Towers, and erection of church structures. He was a trustee both of the Georgia Conference of the Methodist Church and of LaGrange College.

He died quietly in the Brightmoor Nursing Home, Griffin, Georgia, on October 13, 1984 at age 96. He was laid to rest beside his beloved wife at the Forest Lawn Cemetery, Newnan, Georgia.

The tall man from Choestoe, measuring well over six feet in height, cast a long shadow and touched many lives through his work and ministry. In one of his last “Memoirs” letters written to his niece Barbara Allison Crawford (his sister Nellie’s child) he noted a quotation that had helped him at an early age to shape his philosophy of life:

“To each is given a bag of tools –
A shapeless mass, a book of rules.
And each must make ‘ere life is flown
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.

Rev. Walter Mondwell Twiggs who went out from Union County made of his “bag of tools” many stepping stones to help others along the way of life.

c2004 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published October 14, 2004 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 7, 2004

Going to Market in 1895 (As Remembered by Walter Mondwell Twiggs)

Walter Mondwell Twiggs was the second of three children born to the Rev. John Wesley Twiggs and his second wife, Georgia Elizabeth Westmoreland. Walter grew up to be a noted Methodist minister in Georgia. After his retirement, he wrote his memoirs. These were never published but some were made available to relatives and friends. Barbara Allison Crawford, a niece who compiled “The Old Homeplace: A Twiggs Family Saga” (1994) had a copy of her Uncle Walter’s “Memoirs,” and shared some of them in her book.

Marvin M. Twiggs’ account of going to market in 1895 gives insight into how the farmers of Choestoe Valley took produce to the market in Gainesville and bartered for items not available to them on their farms.

Marvin Twiggs, born March 27, 1888, was only seven years of age when he was allowed by his father to go in 1895 on his first wagon trip to the market at Gainesville some forty-five miles from their Choestoe farm. His excitement built daily as they readied for the trip which would be the highlight of the boy’s life to that point.

Although Marvin Twiggs does not mention this in his memoirs, it was customary in those days for a wagon train to form and travel together across the Logan Turnpike, crossing Tesnatee Gap by way of Cleveland, Georgia. Even though Mr. Jack Shuler of Upper Choestoe and his sons had a contract to keep the north side of the road in good repair from rock slides and wash-outs, the road was still somewhat rough and special care was needed in driving the mule teams along the narrow mountain road. Being in company with other wagon teams was a safety measure for they helped each other if a break-down or other trouble occurred.

The Twiggs family gathered fall apples from their orchard and filled the bed of the wagon with the luscious fruit. This was to be one of their major items of trade at the market in Gainesville. They added sacks of shelled corn and threshed rye to the load, and even a butchered hog that had been cured in the smokehouse.

The first night the wagon with its load arrived just south of Cleveland, Georgia where they lodged at the home of Marvin’s Great Uncle Ben Allison, brother to his Grandmother Westmoreland. He remembers the gentleman’s goatee and the hospitality with which the Twiggs caravan was received. The Allisons lived in a large house occupied by the old gentleman and his son and family. They arrived at the Allison house in time to go into the town of Cleveland and see the sights before dark.

In a Cleveland store, Marvin Twiggs spied a one-bladed, horn-handled Barlow knife on display. He had no money, not even the five-cent price of the knife. But his desire to own that knife became almost an obsession. That night, before they retired, Marvin told his father, the stern disciplinarian Rev. John Wesley Twiggs, that he would like to have a nickel to spend. Questioning the boy as to whether he wanted to buy candy for the journey, Marvin was evasive, fearing to tell his father he really wanted a knife. But to his delight, his father gave him the nickel. The next morning he was at the store early and purchased the knife. But with his purchase he had a guilty feeling, and he kept the knife well-hidden in his pocket all of the journey and even for some time after they arrived back at home for fear of his father’s punishment. It never was forthcoming, and eventually Marvin began to use the knife.

In two days the Twiggs wagon arrived in Gainesville. They spent their nights there in the home of Bill Dyer, ordinary of Hall County, who lived on Green Street just off the square. Dyer had been a childhood friend of John Wesley Twiggs before moving away from Choestoe. Mrs. Dyer prepared excellent meals for the travelers.

In Gainesville young Marvin Twiggs heard his first train whistle and saw the large steam engine pulling the loaded boxcars behind. He was both excited and frightened by the train, fearing that it might jump the tracks and head in his direction.

Days were spent bartering the load of produce they had brought from the mountains and purchasing cloth and thread for his mother to make garments for the “first” and “second” family; shoes for winter; a barrel of flour; sugar; coffee; rice. They tried to have enough money left to pay taxes for the year.

It took two days to make the trip from Gainesville back to Choestoe. His father knew many families along the route and they always had a place to spend the night. As Marvin grew older and continued to accompany his father on those twice-yearly trading trips, he felt that they were in a sense “sponging” on the good nature of the friends and relatives where they stopped. They enjoyed their hospitality, meals and shelter without paying anything whatsoever. But those were the days when people were neighborly and glad to take in travelers. He remembered stopping in homes of relatives like Ben Allison and Bill Harkins, but also at Densmore, Huff, Allen, Reed and Richardson households along the way.

The journey northward across Tesnatee was another hard pull. When they arrived home with their wagon loaded with the purchases from far-away Gainesville, it was an exciting time for the Twiggs household. They would have to practice frugality to make the staples last until the next trip south for goods. And Mrs. Twiggs would begin right away to make shirts for the men and dresses for the girls from the yard goods.

There, in his pocket, Marvin Twiggs proudly fingered his five-cent Barlow knife. He would have many hours of pleasure using it to cut and whittle, make sourwood whistles and have the satisfaction of being a proud owner of his very own Barlow knife.

c2004 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published October 7, 2004 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved