Thursday, August 31, 2006

No Coincidence: To Learn of the Late Emma Lena Nix Dyer (1889-1955)

Webster defines “coincidence” as “the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection.”

Notice that coincidence is “by accident,” but that the events can also “seem to have some connection.”

Writer Haddon Chambers in the early twentieth century in his drama, “Captain Swift,” spoke of “The long arm of coincidence.” The English poet Lord Byron wrote, “’A strange coincidence’ to use a phrase/ By which such things are settled now-a-days.” Thomas Hardy, writing on the destruction of “The Titanic,” likened the glacier and the giant liner being “on paths coincident—twin halves of one august event/’Till the Spinner of the Years/Said ‘Now!’.”

So far, nothing as cataclysmic as the wreck of the Titanic has occurred, and we would hope that it would not. But indeed, it was “the long arm of coincidence,” and, we believe, intervention by the “Spinner of Years” that Bruce Dyer of Dalton and I came to have a telephone conversation a few weeks ago, and it was from him I began to learn of his beloved grandmother, the late Emma Lena Nix Dyer, about whom he wanted to know more information.

It happened like this, in a string of “brought together” coincidences (or, as Bruce and I now believe, it was no ‘accident’). Someone in Dalton where Bruce Dyer owns and operates several carpet-tufting mills took him a copy of “The Union Sentinel.” It was the issue when we were pleading with Dyers and Southers everywhere to attend the July 15 Dyer-Souther Reunion, and especially to attend the 3:00 p.m. ceremony that day that would review the contributions of inventor Micajah Clark Dyer (1822-1891) as a portion of Georgia Highway 180 was named in his honor.

“This has something about the Dyers,” the donor of the paper said to Bruce Dyer. “I thought you would like to read it.”

And with that coincidental giving of the paper, Bruce Dyer was furnished with my telephone number. This was after the reunion happening on July 15, but he called me and we talked a long time. He didn’t know much about his connections to the Dyers, except that his grandmother, Emma Lena Nix had married David Marcus Dyer. Beyond that, he had no inkling of whether or not he was in the direct line of Micajah Clark Dyer. I told him I had a few resources I could check, and I would be back with him in a few weeks. With that one telephone conversation, we struck a rapport, and I wanted, if possible, to help Bruce Dyer, businessman, connect with his ancestors.

To make a long story short, I had great success in tracing Bruce Dyer’s roots back to his great, great grandfather, Micajah Clark Dyer, and even beyond the inventor to the first known Dyers in the line. Furthermore, I was able to trace the roots of his grandmother, Emma Lena Nix, back to the earliest known Nixes in America. I had help, of course, from online sources, from genealogy buffs like myself, Linda Trader Jordan of Gainesville, Dr. Joe Turner of Gainesville, and the five books of genealogy my cousin Watson Benjamin Dyer published from 1967 through 1988, and a helpful tome, “The Nix Family Tree,” published by Wanda West Gregory in 1980.

I could hardly pull the wonderful information together fast enough and send to Bruce Dyer. On August 28 I had the second telephone call from him, thanking me profusely for my efforts and assuring me that he and his two sons, Mark and Jeff, who are in the carpet business with him in Dalton, were delighted with the results of my findings and were trying to absorb the various family connections I had unraveled for them.

Since the subject of this column set out to be about Emma Lena Nix Dyer (1889-1955), I will continue with that subject, and a lofty subject she turned out to be, indeed.

Emma Lena Nix was born November 22, 1889 in Union County, Georgia, the fifth of eight children of John Wesley Nix (1-5-1863 – 10-13-1896) and Minty Lavada Reece Nix (2-12-1863 – 8-6-1933). Emma Lena married David Marcus Dyer (1885-?) on January 6, 1907 in Union County. The couple lived in the Owltown District of Union County. David (“Dave”) was a son of Robert F. Dyer (1856 - ?) and Elizabeth Fortenberry Dyer (1856-?). And Robert F.’s parents were Micajah Clark Dyer (1822-1891) and Morena Owenby Dyer (1819-1892). Indeed, I had easily traced Bruce Dyer’s lineage on the Dyer side back to the nineteenth century inventor of the “Apparatus for Navigating the Air.” And on the Nix side, back through John Wesley, Archibald Carr, James, William “Grancer”, and John Nix.

Bruce knew some information about his grandmother whom he loved dearly. He told me when they held her funeral in Whitfield County, Georgia following her death on July 12, 1955, that “crowds of people came out of the mountains (around Owltown, Union County) to pay their respects. She and David Marcus Dyer had lived in Owltown until they moved to Dalton about 1946. She had been a noted mid-wife in the era before doctors were readily available to attend births around the countryside in Owltown. Those who came to her funeral were some of the grown-up children she had delivered, and their elderly parents who appreciated what this good woman had done for their families.

Emma Lena Nix Dyer was a devoutly religious woman. She and her family attended the Church of God in the Owltown Community. One summer, a Rev. Woody was leading a revival, and Mrs. Dyer got “in the Spirit,” and in her state of spiritual ecstasy, she walked around inside the church building with her hands raised, praising the Lord. Rev. Woody fell in behind her, and so did most of the congregation. When Mrs. Dyer sat down, the preacher went back to the pulpit and resumed his preaching and the congregation seated themselves and sat listening.

She did most of her trading with traveling peddlers who came by the Dyer house in Owltown. She saved up eggs, and caught fryer chickens to barter for goods from the peddler’s wagon (or, in later years, his truck). She also was noted for the produce she canned from her garden and orchard, and often traded pickles, jams, jellies and vegetables for the peddler’s wares. When the peddler got back to town, people rushed to his wagon to see what Mrs. Emma Lena Dyer had traded. They wanted first choice of her goods, knowing that they were “put up” with care and attention to detail.

After World War II, the Dyer family moved from Owltown District to Dalton, Whitfield County. David Marcus Dyer was a carpenter by trade. He worked for awhile in Atlanta, building houses, until they moved to Dalton. There both of Bruce Dyer’s grandparents died and were buried. The lineages on “both sides” of this family, Nix and Dyer, show a line of stalwart pioneers, salt-of-the-earth people who lived by high moral and religious standards, treated their fellowmen with respect, and left a legacy of hard work and stability.

c 2006 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Aug. 31, 2006 in The Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Going home, A tribute to John Paul Souther (1915-2006)

Lt. Col. (Retired) John Paul Souther and wife, Virginia Parks Souther September 23, 2000.

In his book War Not Forgotten: A Frontline Officer's Eyewitness Account - World War II - North Africa and Italy (Wolfe Publishing Co., 1995) Lt. Colonel John Paul Souther entitled Chapter 11 "Going Home." After three years of rigorous service in the First U.S. Armored Division in the North African and Italian Campaigns, he was finally going home to Gainesville, Ga., to see his wife, Virginia Parks Souther, and his 37-months old son, Billy, whom he had never seen.

Virginia had met her returning war hero in Atlanta, leaving their son in Gainesville with her parents. When John Paul and Virginia arrived home, young Billy ran from the porch with his hands outstretched, saying the wonderful words, "Hello, Daddy!" He had seen pictures of his daddy and greeted him for the first time in his young life, not with shyness, but with excitement. John Paul Souther wrote: "There could be only a few such joyous occasions as this in a lifetime" (War not Forgotten. Page 224).

Friday, August 18, 2006 was "Going Home" time again for John Paul Souther.

When his daughter, Lynn Souther Godshall, called to tell me of her father's death, she said: "He died quietly and peacefully about 3 a. m." He had shed the bonds of earth and illness, and with a transition not unlike the end of the war and returning home to family, he was welcomed to his eternal home by the Lord he loved.

On earth he had earned many medals and commendations for his bravery and excellency in battle. I imagined the Lord's welcome to this trustworthy soldier and follower: "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful...enter into the joy of the Lord" (Matthew 25: 2, 23).

"Going Home" had much meaning for World War II veteran, Lt. Colonel, retired, John Paul Souther. He was a decorated soldier returning after rigorous years during World War II. He was one of those we now term "the greatest generation." But he had another love for home, and "going home," back to his roots in Union County, GA.

He was born May 4, 1915 to Jeptha Freeman Souther (1865-1953) and Mintie Iva Ann Dyer Souther (1876-1937). He was the eighth of nine children born to this couple. In a tribute lauding the attributes of his mother written March 16, 1987, John Paul said of her: "Today, there are eight of these nine children living between the ages of 68 to 89. This being very extraordinary has to reflect her ability on how to raise a large family...My brothers and sisters... think of our mother in this great accomplishment." (p. 332, Souther Family History by Watson B. Dyer, 1988).

Seeking to pay even greater respect to his mother and father and his upbringing on a dirt farm in Choestoe, Union County, Ga., Lt. Col. Souther wrote a book-length tribute to them and to their way of life. Between the Blood and the Bald, Choestoe, Georgia, 1915-1940 (c2000) is a look at 25 years of life there. Taken together, both this book and War Not Forgotten comprise a chronological account of life from strong family roots in Choestoe to a valiant (though humble) hero's part in World War II. At the same time biographical and memoirs, his widely received books added greatly to the history of an era from 1915 through 1946.

It was my privilege to work with John Paul Souther on some major historical projects, and to participate in and observe him as he engineered several more.

On April 30, 2005, just prior to John Paul's 90th birthday, we held a program at the site of the Souther Mill on Cane Creek, Choestoe. Jesse Souther Jr. (1813-1869), grandfather of John Paul, built the grist mill in 1848 after he had migrated from North Carolina. My own great grandfather, John Souther (1803-1889), older brother to Jesse Jr., had arrived in Union County about 1836. He and another brother, Joseph Souther (1802-1937) all assisted with building and operating the mill. Following Jesse Jr.'s ill health and death, his youngest son, Jeptha Freeman Souther (1865-1953), father of John Paul, when he became old enough, and with the help of various millers, oversaw the operation of the Souther Mill until it was closed in 1937. Theodore Thomas, a great, great grandson of Jesse Souther Jr., built a shed to house the memorial plaque and pictures at the millsite. Now people who travel by where the old mill stood for almost a century can stop and read a portion of history. It was a cold, misty day, that April 30, 2005, when we met for the program to honor work of our ancestors. But the fact that John Paul Souther, at almost 90, was able to see this dream of preserving history accomplished gave all of us present a warm glow of gratitude.

Earlier, John Paul Souther had purchased and installed tombstones at the graves of his grandparents, Jesse Souther Jr. and Malinda Nix Souther at Old Choestoe Cemetery. Tracing some of the exploits of his grandfather, John Paul knew that before his move to Union County, Georgia, Jesse Souther, Jr. had served in the U. S. Army during the removal process when the Cherokees were sent to the Reservation in Oklahoma in 1838.

Another preservation effort by John Paul Souther was marking the graves of Malinda Nix Souther's grandparents at the Stonecypher Family Cemetery at Estanollee, Ga. She was a daughter of William Nix and his wife Susannah Stonecypher Nix. Susanna was a daughter of John Henry and Nancy Curtis Stonecypher.

The stately ceremony conducted in 1995 saw numerous people gathered near the two story mansion (preserved and still standing) John Henry Stonecypher built for his family about 1790. With a lofty tribute given about the Revolutionary War service of John Henry Stonecypher (1756-1850), with taps played by John Paul's grandson, young Jonathan Mark Souther, and appropriate patriotic music for the processional and memorial service by Jonathan Mark and my own son and grandsons (Keith Jones, Brian, Nathan and Matthew), we stood beneath tall trees and thought on the legacy left by John Henry Stonecypher Jr. and his wife, Nancy Curtis Stonecypher. Thanks to John Paul, the small family cemetery had been surrounded by an ornamental iron fence and gate, and a granite marker told major highlights in the lives of the Stonecypher patriot of Revolutionary War fame. Thanks to John Paul, it was a time of deep reflection and appreciation.

In John Paul's own words, he stated that "my largest project was the George Washington Bicentennial Year bust" erected at the corner of Washington and Green Streets in Gainesville and dedicated on December 14, 1999, the bicentennial of our first president's death. As chairman of the committee, John Paul Souther raised $42,975.00 for the successful project. The original bust, twice life-size, sculpted by Dr. John Lanzalotti, is mounted on an eleven-ton base of Elberton, Georgia granite. There passersby on Washington Street, Gainesville, can see the bust of George Washington and think on the contributions of the "Father of Our Country."

In 2004, although not able to attend the Dyer-Souther Heritage Association Reunion, John Paul Souther donated to the Union County Historical Society Museum the oxen yoke his grandfather, William Jesse Souther Jr. had used when he moved from Old Fort, NC to Choestoe, GA., in the 1840s. Theodore Thomas had restored the yoke and had it in tip-top shape for the presentation. That same year, Virginia Parks Souther, John Paul's beloved wife, presented a picture of her husband in his World War II uniform, and a picture of the medals and awards he earned in service. These all can be seen in the Old Courthouse Museum, Blairsville, GA.

This week a hero was laid to rest. One who loved and cherished his home on earth and contributed significantly to life and freedom here, was freed from the bonds of feeble flesh and made his last trip home. His "Going Home" was celebrated with accolades and fond remembrances. All of us who knew him have been enriched by associations with John Paul Souther, farm lad, soldier extraordinary, businessman, historian, family man, kinsman.

c2006 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Aug. 24, 2006 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Matheson Cove: In the Shadow of the Devil's Post Office

Mr. Steve Oakley, Director of the Union County Historical Society Museum in the majestic, restored old courthouse on the square in Blairsville gave Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D., my telephone number. She called me. The first time we talked, after precursory introductions, we were like old friends who had been reconnected after years of separation, although we have not yet met each other in person.

The tie that binds Eva Nell and me is a common love for and appreciation of history. And some common family roots. But more about the shared family roots later. The intention of today's column is to introduce the reading public to Dr. Wike's book published in 2006 with the inviting title of The Matheson Cove: In the Shadow of the Devil's Post Office. Consider this a review of the book, and even with my words of commendation, I cannot do justice to Dr. Wike's book published by Tennessee Valley Publishing, PO Box 52527, Knoxville, TN 37950-2527 (The publisher may be reached online at The hardbound book may be purchased from the publisher or from the author, Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph. D., 109 Oklahoma Ave., Oakridge, TN 37830-8629 for $25 + $4 S&H [$29] Copies are available at The Book Nook in Blairsville and at Phillips & Lloyd Book Shop on the Square, Hayesville, NC.)

Eva Nell Mull Wike

This is a book of history, a book of remembrance, a book of family solidarity in a changing era, and a book about a place, almost magical, yet real and inviting.

Matheson Cove is a real place, a valley overshadowed by the Shewbird Mountain. The cove is located near Hayesville, N.C., and was the place where Eva Nell grew up in a hardworking family with not many of this world's goods but an abundance of love and values.

The Devil's Post Office was a cave in the Shewbird Mountain, an off-limits place where Eva Nell and her sisters longed to explore but which was forbidden by their parents. On Sunday afternoons, some of the more daring teenagers living near the Shewbird Mountain would venture up to the Devil's Post Office, take letters they had written during the week, and deliver them to crevices in the deepest recesses of the cave. What happened to the letters was a matter of legend as well, for the missives were never seen again. As Dr. Mull writes, "there is not a dead letter box in that post office!"

Shewbird Mountain got its name from an old Cherokee Indian by that name who hid out in the cave to avoid the trek to Oklahoma during the Trail of Tears.

Matheson Cove got its name from the early Matheson settlers who left the highlands of Scotland and migrated to the United States, claiming 300 acres in North Carolina in present-day Clay County. Dr. Wike tells the story of their settlement and how Dallas Matheson was ahead of his time in cultivating peach, apple and chestnut trees in the Cove. The heart of the book is about the ancestors of Eva Nell Mull Wike, the author, both on the Wimpey and the Mull sides of the family.

Eva Nell heard fascinating stories of her maternal great, great grandmother, Matilda "Minny" Little, a fullblooded Cherokee maiden, who hid in a cave in the region of Union County, Ga., called Track Rock. Thus Minny escaped being sent on the Trail of Tears in 1838. The young girl was afraid but determined. Her later life proved the true mettle of this Cherokee lady.
Minny Little married Asa Thomason on January 13, 1857 and they were parents of the author's grandmother, Lula Bell Jane Thomason who married William Isaac Wimpey. And from these came her mother, Martha Jane Wimpey who married her father, Joseph David Mull.

The Mull family and their ancestors had likewise settled in Matheson Cove. And so the story continues, page after interesting page, to recount ways of making a living, rearing large families, dealing with serious illnesses, accidents, deaths, and grief. Always there is that stalwart will to keep pressing on, to provide better opportunities for the next generation than the parents themselves experienced.

The book is well illustrated by the author's husband, James Wike, an artist who has the ability to add interest to the true story by his drawings and enhancement of old photographs. The book is a treasure of history and memoirs, of hardships and change.

Matheson Cove and Shewbird Mountain, as well as the Devil's Post Office, have now been ravaged by modern twins called development and change. As Jack Douglas Matheson states in his poem which Dr.Wike includes in her book, "I've felt a lot of memories/ In that old mountain's face./It breaks my heart to see it go,/And lose all its grace."

Dr. Eva Nell Mull Wike has captured much of the grace and way of life of the Matheson Cove. Get a copy of the book. You will be enthralled by its pages, written by one who truly loves the place. It is fortunate for readers that she stored away memories and recorded them for posterity. We hope we will experience more books from this retired mathematics teacher turned author as she explores other stories of beloved ancestors who paved the way for us all to have a better life.

(Note: Dr. Wike is available to speak to groups or to have book signings. Anyone interested in scheduling her as a speaker may contact her at 865-482-2545.)

c 2006 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Aug. 17, 2006 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Observations from 1934

The Tennessee Valley Authority conducted an agricultural and industrial survey of Union County, Georgia in 1934. Pursuant to the building of dams and electric power plants, surveys were a precursory means of listing natural resources, the population, the economy and the possible outcomes of providing electricity for a given area.

The Tennessee Valley Authority Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on May 18, 1933. It was part of his "New Deal" plan to lift the nation out of the Great Depression. He had requested Congress to "create a corporation clothed with the power of government but possessed with the flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise."

The president needed innovative ways to lead the nation out of economic chaos. History has shown that TVA was one of his most innovative ideas. Although private power companies opposed TVA because, when dams were built and power generated, the new corporation could offer electricity at a much cheaper rate than private providers. David E. Lilienthal, Director of the Board of TVA, and sometimes called the "Father of Public Power" had the aim of making electricity affordable for everyone.

It is interesting to note some of the items in survey made for TVA in Union County in 1934. The report, quoting the 1930 census records for population of the county listed 6, 340. Blairsville, the county seat, had 409 residents. Of the total population, 47 were "colored." There were 2,500 children in the county of school age, but only 1,795 were enrolled in the 37 schools, making a percentage of 28.2 percent of the school age population not attending school. Mr. W. L. Benson who wrote up survey results stated that consolidation of the schools was impractical until better roads were built. Bus transportation was provided to only one school- Blairsville High School, with an enrollment of 304. There was one other consolidated school in the county, Town Creek in Choestoe, with 71 enrolled.

Mr. W. R. Woolrich who wrote the industrial part of the survey noted that the tax rate in Union County compared to most of the other counties in the TVA area in Georgia was "exceedingly high." The millage rate totaled 30, with 4 mills for state, 21 for county, and 5 for schools. "Well informed citizens" told the surveyors that the real and personal property of the county was assessed at 30 percent of its real value.

As for "industrial establishments," the only one in the county was a barrel stave mill employing "not more than ten men," and making the staves for barrels for alcoholic beverages from white oak timber bought from local land owners and farmers at $10 a cord. The barrels were not made in the county, but the staves, when treated and bundled, were taken to the Louisville and Nashville Railroad depot at Blue Ridge, 25 miles west of the barrel stave industry. The evaluator saw climate, water power, processing water, minerals and timber as assets to increase the industrial output.

The surveyors saw timber as one of the greatest resources of the county, with large quantities of oak, spruce, white and short-leaf pine, and beech. Chestnut trees had died or were dying, but the "excellent chestnut wood" should be gathered and shipped to tanning factories, or a tanning industry should be established in Union County.

The farms yielded fifteen bushels of corn per acre, and sorghum syrup was a money crop commodity. Fresh vegetables, "the best grown anywhere for flavor and hardiness" were shipped to cities like Gainesville and Atlanta by truck.

As to water supply, the clear freestone water from the Notla, Toccoa and Hiawassee Rivers and their tributaries could furnish water for many dye works, bleacheries and industrial purposes.

When TVA really became active, it was the water power that was used to "make electricity available for everyone," as the motto indicated. Nottely Dam (it seems TVA changed the spelling of Notla River to Nottely) was started in 1941 and finished in 1942. At first, the TVA dams to generate electric power were focused on the war effort, but after World War II, TVA was able to fulfill the aim of supplying every home and business with electricity. Building of Nottely Dam provided work for many construction workers. The pay scale indicated that skilled laborers were paid from $1.125 to $1.75 per hour; unskilled laborers received $.575 per hour; semiskilled from $.65 to $1.00 per hour, and an apprentice from $.65 to $1.46 per hour.

When Nottely was finished and operable, several Union County workers moved on to the Fontana Dam site near Robbinsville, N.C. A town sprang up at Fontana, with fabricated housing and dorms for workers. In 1943, over 5,000 workers were employed on the Fontana Dam Project, with an aim to supply more power to Alcoa Aluminum Company, highly involved in the war effort. Signs at Fontana reminded workers: "Work or fight!" Fontana was finished in November, 1944, and by January, 1945, was generating 228,000 kilowatts of power.

The TVA Act of 1933, the preparations for war, and World War II all combined to lift the economic cloud of the Great Depression. "The New Deal" with all of its ramifications had helped to turn America from rags to riches in a little more than a decade. The agricultural and industrial survey of Union County in 1934 no doubt aided leaders in the county to evaluate what citizens could do to move forward.

c 2006 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published August 10, 2006 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Civil War's effect on Mary Elizabeth Fields Smith Foster

In looking back on the Civil War, we often focus on the men who went away to war and its effect on them. But the women and children who were left to fend for themselves fought a brave fight as well, enduring hardships that would have torn apart less hardy and determined souls.

Little Mary Elizabeth Fields had a rather auspicious entrance into this world. She was born February 6, 1837. The exact place of her birth was not recorded in family records, for her parents, Jesse B. and Catherine Akins Fields were on their way from their old home in Pickens, S.C., to Union County, Ga., when their second child and first baby girl was born. Whether Catherine Fields thought they would be settled in Union County before the new baby arrived, or whether she went into premature labor is not known. However, even in the cold February weather and the trip over rough terrain through the mountainous region, the bundled-up new baby and mother arrived tired and safe at the land on which the Fields family settled and inhabited a log cabin in what later was known as the Edward Crump "gingerbread" house on Owltown.

Mary Elizabeth, better known as Bettie, did not receive much formal education, but learned to read and write at home, skills that served her well in later years. She married at age 17 to George Smith on June 14, 1855. To them were born four children, three sons and a daughter. However, as was common in those days, one son and the daughter did not survive infancy. Sons Louis W. Smith (b. 1858) and Joseph W. Smith (b. 1860) survived and grew to manhood.

Talk of the country splitting into North and South was prevalent, even as people gathered for church or at mills, stores or post offices in Union County. George Smith, who was born in the south and loved the south, held unionist views because he did not want to see the Union asunder. He decided to move his young family to Tennessee to look for a better living than he could make on the farm in Union County. With the family living in a log cabin with some land to provide patches and a garden, George Smith joined the Union Army and went away to fight.

Of great concern to Bettie Fields Smith as she cared for her two little boys and tried to make a crop were the knowledge that her brothers, John and Thomas Fields, who had joined the Confederate Army, might come face to face with Union soldier George Smith, her husband. Having sworn allegiance to opposing forces, their fighting each other was a grave possibility. It is not known whether they ever faced on the same battlefields.

On the home front, raiders and looters were a constant threat. Bettie stored what food she could raise for her family in hiding places to keep it from being stolen. Miraculously, with the help of some caring neighbors, she and the two young boys endured the hardships of war. Her husband did not return. Finally she received word that George Smith had been killed.

After a year of mourning for her husband, she met 24 year old Charles Edmund Foster. He, like her first husband, had fought for the Union cause and had been an officer in the U.S. Army. They courted for awhile and were married in Tennessee. Charles Foster had a good education for a mountain man of his day. He taught in country schools and farmed the land Bettie owned around her log cabin. Their first child, Ulysses S. Foster, was born February 28, 1867. No doubt, Bettie thought of her own birthday, so close to her fifth child's. She had been born 30 years before on February 6, 1837 as her parents moved from South Carolina to Georgia.

Soon after the birth of their first child, Bettie and Charles Foster moved from Tennessee to Union County. Their second child, William Robert Foster, was born October 11, 1869. Other children born to them were Edmund Lee Foster (October 26, 1873), Eva Eldorado Foster (1877) and Fleta Jane Foster (1880).

Betty Fields Smith Foster had learned fortitude during the war years. She did not ease up on her duties as a wife and mother back in Union County. She had not received much education, but she was determined that her children go to school. She made their clothing, weaving the cloth and sewing garments. She worked hard to make what money she could from eggs and chickens in barter at the local merchandise store. Her husband Charles Edmund Foster was "known in the land" as a dependable farmer and teacher. In the 1870s he was elected as Union County's Clerk of Superior Court, an office he filled with distinction periodically until his death in 1887. For a time in 1884, Foster and his eldest son, Ulysses, went west to Texas for six months to seek employment there. Bettie Foster was glad to see them return home and be content to remain in the mountains.

In 1887 Charles Foster became ill while serving as Clerk of Court. As the saying was then, "he took to his bed," and was never well again. His death came October 16, 1887. Although Bettie's older children were married and gone from home when Charles died, she was still left with these children at home: William Robert, 18, Edmund Lee, 14, Eva Eldorado, 10, and Fleta Jane, 7. At age 50, Bettie Foster buckled down and did what she had to do to keep house, farm and children together. Her son, Edmund Lee Foster, wrote a biography of his mother in 1923 in which he paid tribute to her as one who lived by the philosophy of "Where there is a will, there is a way." He lauded her strong Christian faith, her sterling character and her unwavering determination.

Her last years were somewhat easier financially when, in 1890, she was granted a widow's pension from the U.S. Army service of her late husband, Charles Edmond Foster.

With the stipend, she was able to buy a place on the Nottely River about 2 and 1/2 miles south of Blairsville where she lived out her life until age 72, dying May 6, 1908.

In the Harmony Grove Baptist Church Cemetery are the graves of Charles Edmund Foster (1842-1887) and Mary Elizabeth (Bettie) Fields Smith Foster (1837-1908). Close by are the graves of her parents, Catherine Akins Fields (?-1857) and Jesse B. Fields (1812-1904). The Fields were founding members of the church and that is probably where Bettie Foster liked to sing the beautiful songs of Zion and attend church faithfully, bringing up her children in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord."

c 2006 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Aug. 3, 2006 in The Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.