Thursday, July 28, 2005

More Observations From 'The Pioneer'

The Pioneer” Union County High School newspaper has held my attention for three columns now. Before I leave its fascinating pages, I will share some more thoughts about that important era in school life.

What did the Class of 1936 do for social activities? According to Bennie Lee Helton, editor, and valedictorian, her column describes some of the events that were outstanding. She notes that “social affairs have not been numerous,” but those enjoyed have been “oases in the desert of our daily routine.”

Twenty-two were present for the Senior Party held January 5, 1936 in the Candler-Ledford Hall (a name carrying over from the days when the high school was the Blairsville Collegiate Institute, and probably in what was known as the “dormitory” building). They enjoyed games and refreshments and an “evening stamped indelibly on our memories.” On April 18, every senior, 27 in number, went to Blowing Springs for the senior trip. [Where was Blowing Springs? How far did they have to travel and what conveyances were used? A bus? No word is given on transportation.] “It was a cold day,” Bennie Lee writes, “but it did not keep us from enjoying the day.” They had a “delicious picnic lunch” and made “many pictures.”

On April 23 “our class was entertained by the Class of 1937 in the annual Junior-Senior Prom.” The event was held in the Candler-Ledford Hall. Prom cards provided sign-ups for seven partners. These were not “dances” as we know them today at junior-senior proms, but promenades about the campus. Dr. and Mrs. Nicholson led out in the first prom, and for the next hour and a half the campus was full of happy couples enjoying their walks. Afterwards came punch, skits for entertainment of which “Ted Weaver and his hill-Billy orchestra” without instruments won first prize. To cap off a delightful prom night, a bounteous banquet was served. Bennie Lee ended her report on “Social Activities” by writing: “There was a feeling of sadness in the heart of each of us as we left, realizing that in just a few weeks our life at UCHS would be a memory and no longer a reality.”

A previous column referred to the Senior Class picture and names of the members of the Class of 1936. Pictures of the junior (Class of 1937), sophomore (Class of 1938), and freshman (Class of 1939) were included in “The Pioneer.”

Mrs. W.C. Hughes was junior class sponsor for these students: Hazel Bruce, Virginia Jones, Ruth Jackson, Mildred Sullivan, Kathleen Henson, Mary Addington, Patricia Waldroup, Helen Cearley, Kathleen Wakefield, Billy Deaver, Betty Baskin, Wilonell Collins, Louise Dyer, Hazel Smith, Irene Hunter, Leon Colwell, Wayne Petty, Ira Kelley, Mary McCravey, Christine Ledford, R. M. Ash, Charles Conley, R. E. Whitmore, Robert Martin, Harold Killian, James Collins, Hubert Rich, Sylvan Plott, Charles Meeks, Clifford Shuler and Harlan Duncan. Through my sister, Louise Dyer, a member of that class, I was able to meet many of the Class of 1937 and see them at their 50th class reunion in 1987. It was interesting to note that in the “School’s Who’s Who” list, Harlan Duncan who became the fearless sheriff of Union County received the honors of “Noisest Boy” and “Biggest Pest Boy.” Maybe within those not-too-complimentary titles in 1936 were the makings of a fine sheriff who married his classmate, Ruth Jackson, who, herself, became a very fine teacher.

Mrs. Frank (Gertrude) Shuler was sponsor for the Sophomore Class. Listed were Ford Tanner, Eloise Killian, Reba Tanner, Lucille Jarrett, Latha Carpenter, Corrine Burnett, Bonnie Thompson, Maxine Wakefield, Cora Lou Martin, Edna Souther, Edna Smith, Pearl Morgan, Ruby Jones, Edward Swain, Edward Young, Joe Akins, Bruce Hood and Clyde Collins. I expected to see my brother, Eugene Dyer, pictured and named with this class. Maybe he was absent on the day for picture-taking.

The Freshman Class was by far the largest, and no faculty sponsor was listed. Members pictured included Dartha Morgan, Josephine Miller, Ellen Jackson, Cora Bowling, Sarah Penland, Anna Joe Cook, Maggie Roberts, Blanche Hunter, Audrey Akins, Sara Nell Conley, Lillian Moss, Madeline Shuler, Lorraine Ash, Julia Jackson, Eugene Truelove, Mrs. Jim Parker (Could she have been the class sponsor? She was not pictured with the faculty), Lillian Tarpley, Nell Nicholson, Anna Belle Brackett, Ruby Morgan, Ruth Lance, Robert Stephens, Dewey Raper, Rufus Bullock, Luther Brown, Edward Jones, Nell Collins, A. J. Ledford, Ervin Dyer, Ford Burns, Garnett Davenport, Kelley McGlamery, John Berry, Randall Mason, Cecil Hamby and Eugene Colwell.

I sent a copy of the 1936 “The Pioneer” to the Union County Historical Society Museum where those interested may go to read it. I also sent a copy to Mrs. Dora Hunter Allison Spiva, sponsor of the Class of 1936 and of “The Pioneer.” As is typical of this unusual teacher, now a centenarian, she thanked me profusely and wrote, “I’m so fortunate the Lord called me to be a teacher. I was fortunate to have a part of my life spent with so many lovely, smart, good students. I have so many good memories of my teaching days with lovely kids.”

I also sent a copy to Barbara Ruth Nicholson Collins Sampson, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. James M. Nicholson (he was principal [called superintendent] and English teacher and his wife was Home Economics teacher). Barbara had never before seen a copy of “The Pioneer” and was extremely grateful to receive it. She filled me in with many details of persons in the senior class and what became of them.

In the faculty picture were six teachers: Mrs. Allison (mathematics), Dr. and Mrs. Nicholson (English and Home Economics), Mrs. Frank Shuler (Biology and Latin), Mrs. W. C. Hughes (History), and Mr. Clarlence Shuler (Typewriting). Of the six, five were still teaching at Union County High some of the time when I was a student there from 1943-1947. Typing was not offered during my years there, and Mr. Clarence Shuler had gone on to other pursuits. I count it a great honor to have studied under the other five, although their areas of instruction had changed and several other faculty members had been added by the 1940s.

To close out this series from “The Pioneer,” I will end with a portion of Mrs. Frank (Gertrude) Shuler’s message to the Class of 1936. She reminded them that all of life would not be “ease and pleasure, and you’d be no good if it were.” On finding their life work, she advised, “Even though all places of service seem to be overcrowded, remember this: there’s always room at the top, but it isn’t a ‘Rest Room.’ ”

Mrs. Shuler ended her message by quoting from poet Edgar A. Guest’s “My Creed.” This seems to be the best way to end this series from a delightful look back at 1936:

To live as gently as I can,
To be, no matter where, a man;
To take what comes of good or ill;
And cling to faith and honor still;
To do my best and let that stand*
And then should failure come to me,
Still work and hope for victory.
To have no secret place where-in
I stoop unforeseen to shame and sin.
To be the same when I’m alone
As when my every deed is known.
To live undoubted, unafraid
Of any step that I have made;
To be without pretense or sham,
Being just what men think I am.
To leave some simple work behind;
To keep my having lived in mind.
If enmity I ought to show,
To be an honest, generous foe.
To play my little part nor whine,
That great honors are not mine.”
[*The next line seems to have been omitted here to keep rhyming sequence in order in the two-line pattern of the verse. I could not readily find a copy of Guest’s poem to check for the missing line. –EDJ]

c2005 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published July 28, 2005 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

More from ‘The Pioneer’ Union County School Paper, May 1936

This article is a continuation of the rich store of information I found in the old copy of “The Pioneer” newspaper published by and for the senior class of May 1936 of Union County High School.

Before I proceed with notable items from that premiere issue, let me digress to laud all of the more than 190 who attended the notable 2005 DyerSouther Association Reunion held July 17, 2005 at the North Georgia Technical College Campus. Those who have contacted me say, “It was one of the best, if not the best.”

The service was dedicated to long-time family historian, the late Watson Benjamin Dyer (1901-2005) whose five books of published family history helped many to find their family roots. Several items of his memorabilia were presented to the Union County Historical Museum.

A noteworthy item was on display: a double-yoke for oxen which William Jesse Souther Jr. used on his team as he moved from Old Fort, N.C., to Choestoe prior to 1848. A gift from Jesse’s grandson, John Paul Souther of Gainesville, restored by great, great, great grandson Theodore Thomas of Blairsville, the yoke was presented to the Museum. Those who saw the yoke and touched the wood were in awe that it was still intact after more than 150 years.

A picture of Lt. Col. John Paul Souther, a picture of the ten medals he earned as an outstanding U.S. Army Air Force officer in World War II, and a plaque honoring him were donated to the Museum. Those who participated in the Reunion had feelings of deep pride for roots going back to hardy citizens who helped to form Union County and go out into the world to make a difference.

The person receiving the “eldest person present” award was the inimitable Mrs. Dora Hunter Allison Spiva, teacher extraordinary, whose mother was Martha Souther Hunter. At age 100 Mrs. Spiva still encourages by her presence and wisdom. She was the faculty sponsor for that long-ago “Pioneer” Union County High School paper which is bringing us insights and delights from 1936.

The Pioneer” business manager was Sarah Kelley, assisted by Mary Belle McGlamery. Advertisements evidently paid the cost of publishing the paper, with multiple pictures. It was a professional-looking newspaper, printed for the Pioneer Staff by Fannin County Times Press of Morganton and Blue Ridge, Ga.

With transportation in 1936 at a premium toward the end of the great depression, the co-business managers went as far away as Murphy, N.C., to sell ads. Probably their sponsor, Mrs. Allison, took them in her automobile to Murphy. They could have walked around the town of Blairsville to sell ads there.

The businesses in Murphy that sold ads to the girls were Dr. Thompson who wrote: “If you have a toothache, see me.” The Mauney Drug Company in the Adams Building “welcomes you where courtesy is a pleasure and service is a habit.” Crisp’s Studio was known for good portraiture and photographs. E.C. Moore was the Dodge and Plymouth distributor in Murphy. The Murphy Hardware “is always ready to serve you.”

The Dayton Brothers advertised, “When in Murphy and you need a taxi, see us.” Candler’s Store and Beauty Shop invited customers to drop in for a visit.

The town was not listed in some advertisements. Perhaps readers know whether these were in Murphy, Blairsville or elsewhere:

“Edward’s Hotel and CafĂ©, a good place to eat, rooms and cold drinks, satisfaction guaranteed.” West End Service Station had gas, oil and groceries. The Nation Wide Grocery Service “in the post office building appreciates your business,” with B. J. Wilson, Manager.

The other advertisers gave Blairsville as their location. These community-minded businesses at that time willing to help with publication of the high school paper were: Akins Hotel, J. M. Akins, Proprietor; Good Gulf Service Station, Grady Cook, Manager; Texaco Service Station, Robert Butt, Manager; Butt’s Drug Store, “Service with a Smile;” Margie’s Sandwich Shop, “A good place to eat”; T. S. Candler, Attorney-at-Law; Compliments of Allison Brothers, General Merchandise; Roger’s Cash Store, “Appreciates your business;” Blairsville Barber Shop, “two excellent barbers, work reasonable.”

Union County High School, Dr. J. M. Nicholson, Superintendent, had one of the larger advertisements bearing announcements for the school year 1936-1937. He stated that all transportation would be continued in all communities served during 1935-1936. The faculty would remain the same for the new school year. Teachers in the country schools were kindly requested to send names of seventh grade graduates so they could be contacted and encouraged to attend high school. [Note: Before the days of compulsory attendance laws, this announcement was intended as an enticement for students to continue their education into high school.]

Editor Bennie Lee Helton had a word of thanks to all who made “The Pioneer” possible: “To our class members, faculty, and others in the school who have spoken words of confidence; to Crisp’s Studio who made the pictures and to Citizens’ Engraving Company who gave discounts for engravings; to The Fannin County Times Press for their printing, kindnesses and willingness to help us; and to others who may have pushed our cause, we thank you.”

I’m sure the editor and seniors of the Class of 1936 had not the faintest notion that sixty-nine years into the future some history buff (yours truly) would examine with awe the contents of The Pioneer” and be amazed at the information they printed for posterity.

Some of the mottoes chosen by seniors for their profile showed the spirit prevalent in 1936 as seniors looked forward to commencement and life: Several chose “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” “Paddle your own canoe,” was another favorite. “Rowing but not drifting,” showed purpose. “Rolling on” indicated the future was full-speed ahead. “A clear conscience is a good pillow,” stated one. And lest the “Rolling on” gathered too much momentum in life, another warned “Rolling stones gather no moss.”

c2005 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published July 21, 2005 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

From the Pioneer High School Newspaper of May 1936

A delightful slice of history came my way recently when I received as a wonderful gift a copy of the May 1936 premier issue of “The Pioneer,” Senior Edition, a publication of Union County High School at Blairsville, GA. My youngest sister, Janice Lance, found it as she was clearing out the attic of the old house which had been home to both of us on Collins Road, Blairsville.

The eight-page paper is of inestimable value. I will be sharing some of its treasures with you from time to time in this column.

Imagine a high school with commencement exercises extending over four days, Thursday through Sunday. With 23 in the graduating class, no holds were barred in making the four-day events memorable for the graduates, their proud parents and the community at large.

The exercises opened on Thursday evening with the senior class presentation of a comedy drama entitled “Prof. Pepp.” It was lauded as “having a high rank in the old comedies” and was written by Walter Ben Hare. Sixteen named characters had speaking and acting parts, supplemented by “students, co-eds, etc.” which probably gave opportunity for all 23 of the graduates to have a part in the play. The major role of “Prof. Pepp” was played by Hubert Souther, who stated as his ambition in his senior profile, not teaching but becoming an aviator. That he was able to do a few years later as he attained the rank of Major and a pilot in the U. S. Air Force during World War II. Following World War II, he and his wife, Elizabeth Ann Bates, located in La Habra, Calif., where he owned an aeronautical supplies and instruments manufacturing company employing over 100 people and shipping precision instruments to airplane manufacturers throughout the United States.

The Friday evening of that long ago 1936 commencement weekend was a presentation by the opposing Alpha Omega and Henry W. Grady Literary and Debating Societies. It featured the annual declamation contest and the championship debate.

The Pioneer,” having been published in advance of the event, did not give winning results, nor did it announce the topic for debate. But in those days, the literary and debating societies were extremely popular and an academic boost in extra-curricular activities. Girls were members of the Alpha Omega Society and boys were members of the Henry W. Grady Society.

The third special event of the four days of activities was on Saturday evening, May 9, 1936. The commencement exercises were held, at which time the valedictorian, Myrtle Hunt, gave her address. Her speech was printed in “The Pioneer” and is quite eloquent in composition and content. She expressed thanks to all who helped the seniors reach their goals and closed with this challenge:

“If the outlook be dark, remember, the tide will turn. There is one thing we can all do, and that is ‘keep on keeping on.’” How little did she realize in 1936, having come through the Great Depression and with World War II looming ahead, the class needed a light for the dark, an optimistic glint of hope. The salutatory address was given by second honor graduate Bennie Lee Helton. Both girls gave prominence to faith in God that had been a strong anchor in their lives. Bennie Lee used this poetic quotation in her speech: “I know not where/God’s place for me may be;/I only know I cannot drift/beyond His love and care.” Before diplomas were delivered, the baccalaureate address was given by the Rev. Henry Grady Jarrard, “a product of Union County Schools,” who grew up in Suches and was a graduate of North Georgia College, Furman University, and Oglethorpe University. He served as superintendent (principal) of the Air Line School, Gainesville, and a pastor in the Gainesville area.

After receiving their diplomas on Saturday night, the 23 seniors and their parents returned to Union County High School on Sunday morning at 11 a.m. to march again to the stately “Pomp and Circumstance,” and to listen to the Rev. L. M. Twiggs, also a “product of Union County Schools” who was pastor of First Methodist Episcopal Church South in Dalton, Ga. He was educated at Young Harris College and Emory University School of Theology and was currently a member of the General Finance Board of the Methodist Denomination, “charged with the administration of the six million dollar superannuate endowment fund of the church.”

Mrs. Dora Hunter Allison (now Spiva) was sponsor of the senior class and faculty advisor for the first issue of “The Pioneer.” In her parting word to them, she sounded her typical advice, some which many of us who had the privilege of her instruction heard in her mathematics classes: “Remember always that the road to your goal is the straight and narrow path ahead, and do not be led off the main road by the tempting bypaths through the marshes of dishonesty which are seemingly short cuts to your destination.”

Dr. James N. Nicholson, called superintendent then, but under present terms principal, had timely parting advice for the seniors: “Cultivate a sense of personal worth. Develop in yourselves industry, temperance, loyalty, courtesy, kindness, and reverence. Find your job in the world; and whether it be great or small, try to be and do your best at that job. Learn to do creative thinking, and use the ability thus developed in constructive living. Try to find something greater than yourself to live for; unless you live for something bigger than yourself, you’ll live in vain. Fill each day with a day’s distance run. Dare to be yourself. Learn the lesson of self mastery. Believe in yourself, in a friendly universe, and in the goodness of God.”

“We finish to begin” was the class motto. Those who graduated in May 1936 were Bonnie Jones, Lennie Cagle, Sarah Rogers, Edith Ballew, Juanita Standridge, Mary Rich, Pauline Poteete, Myrtle Hunt, Thelma Morgan, Bennie Lee Helton, Alwayne Ledford, Mary Belle McGlamery, Willard Chastain, Agnes Young, Sarah Kelley, Alline Stevens, George Watts, Hayden Seabolt, Garnet Morgan, Hubert Souther, Billy Caldwell, June Caldwell and Pat Akins.

I’m sure that in the list are many present readers knew as neighbors, friends, parents, grandparents. What a find, this May 1936 issue of “The Pioneer.”

c2005 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published July 14, 2005 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Legacy left by the Rev. Charles Edward Rich

Although Rich was his surname, riches as the world knows them were never in abundance for the Rev. Charles Edward Rich, better known as Brother Charlie Rich. He was an humble country preacher, plying his work mainly in Union County, Georgia.

This mountain preacher, Charlie Rich, was born on October 25, 1868 the only son of Solomon Hill Rich, Sr. (1806-1889) and his second wife, Nancy M. Conner (1827-1868). Charlie had seven half-brothers and two half-sisters, children of his father’s first wife. Solomon Rich and Nancy Connor were married October 22, 1865. Nancy was helping to rear the children by his first wife, and hoped to rear her own child, Charlie. But the baby’s mother died in childbirth the day he was born.

Educated in the county schools of Union County, Charlie Rich desired education at a higher level and attended Hiawassee Baptist Institute, graduating from its program of studies. This school was founded by the Rev. George W. Truett and his cousin, the Rev. Fernando Coello McConnell. It was possible for young men to board in the homes of the people or rent a small cabin with two or three neighbor boys sharing expenses and doing their own cooking while they “batched” and went to school. The school was noted for its strong academic program and its emphasis on Bible study, theology, speech and classical studies. It was no doubt while a student there that Charlie Rich felt a strong calling to become a minister of the gospel.

Charlie Rich was ordained to the gospel ministry about 1898 (exact date not known by this writer). His first pastorate was the Choestoe Baptist Church, the first-organized church in Union County (about 1832 with minutes extant from 1834). Rev. Charlie Rich met this congregation for two years during 1898 and 1899. Other churches in the county that experienced his spiritual leadership were Harmony Grove Baptist, Union Baptist and Mt. Zion Baptist (in Dooly District).

He returned for the second time to pastor Choestoe for a longer period, from 1903 through February of 1915. When a new church building was erected there, Rev. Rich preached the dedicatory sermon in June 1918.

The Rev. Rich’s first wife was Nannie Epps (May 27, 1869-July 13, 1906) whom he married February 27, 1890. To them were born six children. These children and their spouses were: Minnie Beulah (1891) married Tom Jarrard and had one child, Bonnell; Francis Marion (1893-1962) married Ella May Welchel and had one son, Francis Marion Jr; Clarence Edward (1895-1947) married Nancy Louise Dyer (1893-1985) and had three children, Ellene Epps, Clarence Edward Jr. and Bill Bluford; Nellie Alma (1897-1918) married Tom Boling. They had no children. Estelle Bessie (1901-1992) married Ralph Conley. Their six children were Charles, Sarah Nell, John, Buddy, Francis and Jim. Irene Stephens (1904) married Benjamin Jefferson Hulsey and had six children: Amanda, Sarah, Mariben, Joyce, Benjamin Jefferson Jr. and Julius.

After the Rev. Rich’s first wife Nannie died July 13, 1906, he married, second, to Rebecca J. Cavender on January 31, 1907. His children were ages 3, 6, 10, 12, 14 and 16 when their mother died. Rebecca helped to rear her husband’s children by his first wife, Nannie.

Rev. Rich had a deep love for the people in the mountains. He encouraged young people to seek education beyond the one-teacher rural schools, where he sometimes taught in addition to his preaching duties. He helped students to get enrolled and settled into studies at the Blairsville Collegiate Institute and the Hiawassee Collegiate Institute where he himself had graduated.

It is said that he preached with vigor and evangelistic zeal. He was often sought out as the summer revival preacher in weeks of protracted meetings after crops were “laid by.” A tribute, written several years after his death and published in the Notla River Baptist Association Minutes of August, 1950, cited his work as a pastor, an evangelist and a promoter of Christian education and missions.

A stained glass window in the present Choestoe Baptist Church building recognizes him as a former pastor of the church. As the sun streams through the window it is a reflection of the influence and outreach of this minister whose life was dedicated to the service of God and to leading people in a Christian walk.

The Rev. Charles Edward Rich died April 25, 1919 at the young age of 50. He and his first wife, Nannie Epps Rich, who died in 1906 when she was only 37, were both interred in the Old Choestoe Church Cemetery.

c2005 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published July 7, 2005 in The Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.