Thursday, August 30, 2007

'Through Mountain Mists' on hold

Due to a recent health issue, the weekly column by Ethelene Dyer-Jones will not appear in the Union Sentinel until further notice.

We at the Union Sentinel wish Ethelene all the best and a speedy recovery.

c 2007 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Aug. 30, 2007 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Some Nix connections (part 5 Serving in the War Between the States

Before I launch on this week's topic of Nix men (and boys) who served in the War Between the States, I want to clarify items from last week's article on Aunt Jane Nix Wilson Hood.

Betty Jane Shuler called my attention to the caption under the picture. Thanks to her keen observations, the caption should have identified the picture as taken in 1905 (the year Jane's husband Isaac Thornton Wilson died). The baby Sophronia Jane Nix Wilson holds on her lap is Estelle, last born of her children, not Garnie, who lived only about two years and died in 1900.

Seven children of Jane Nix Wilson and Isaac Thornton Wilson are shown in the picture. The second girl from the left, standing, is a neighbor and friend who was visiting in the Wilson home and wanted to "get in" on the picture (Callie Clark?).

To properly identify the Wilson children in the 1905 photograph, they are Tom (1902), Estelle (1904) in Jane's lap, Benjamin (1894), Granny Evaline Duckworth Nix, James Isaac "Jim" (1896); second row: Verdie (1887), friend (Callie Clark ?), Hattie (1889) and Gertrude (1892). Who would know better how to identify these than history buff Betty Jane Shuler? Sophronia Jane Nix Wilson Hood was her grandmother, and the one for whom she was given her middle name, Jane.

Another item to clarify is the statement about Jane Wilson not joining Union Church when it was constituted in October, 1897, although she gave the land on which the church building was erected. She wished to remain a member of the New Liberty Baptist Church where she was a member from her youth. This was not uncommon in those days, to keep one's membership with relatives and friends in the church where one had grown up.

With those items clarified, we move to today's topic in the Nix saga. We trace briefly six sons of James "Jimmy" Nix and Elizabeth "Betsy" Collins Nix who served in the War Between the States. Five of them enlisted in the 23rd Georgia Regiment, Infantry, enlisting at Camp McDonald. The sixth, Jasper, enlisted in Ben Ledford's Regiment. Their father, James, himself enlisted on December 14, 1863 in the Georgia State Militia, Company 2. Betsy Nix therefore had six sons and a husband to be concerned about as they actively upheld the Confederate cause. What happened to these Nix men?

Jimmy Nix may not have left Union County for his service, as the Georgia Militia was charged with protection of home territory. Not much that I can find was written about his service other than his date of enlistment, December 14, 1863.

The sons, in order of age, served as follows: Thompson Nix was born in 1838 and named for his grandfather, Thompson Collins. He married Mary C. Hix in 1860 and they had one son, James Bly Nix, born June 1, 1861. This son was given the same name as Thompson Nix's brother. Thompson was a private in Company K of the 23rd Regiment, Georgia Infantry, enrolling on November 9, 1861. He became ill with a fever and was hospitalized in the "New Hospital" in Yorktown, Virginia, where he died March 4, 1862. It is reported that his body was returned home to Choestoe by W. L. Howard. I found no gravestone for him listed in the Cemeteries of Union County book.

John Nix, the fourth child of Jimmy and Betsy Collins Nix was born in 1840. He, too, was in the 23rd Georgia Regiment, enlisting August 31, 1861 at Camp McDonald. He was killed in battle at Sharpsburg, Maryland in September, 1862. His father filed for death benefits, but it is not known whether his applications were rewarded.

James Bly Nix was the fifth son and seventh child of Jimmy and Betsy Collins. Born June 2, 1844, he was a twin to Isabella, who may have died as an infant. At the age of 17, James Bly Nix joined Company K, 23 Georgia Regiment on August 31, 1861 at Camp McDonald. He was in the Battle of Frericksburg, VA, where he was wounded. He was treated at the Jackson Hospital in Richmond for a wound in his right leg on October 1, 1864. He saw much action during the war and was captured by the enemy and exchanged for a Union prisoner. James Bly returned from the war and married Millie J. "Polly" Henson on November 5, 1865. He was a farmer in the Owltown District. He also had gold mining rights on Coosa Creek and pursued mining with a passion. He and Mollie had nine children.

Jeffie Nix was born in 1846. It has been hard to trace his history, but it is believed that he also enlisted in Company K when his brothers did. Since he is not shown in subsequent census records after 1860, he may have died in the Civil War.

Jasper "Grancer" Nix, ninth child of Jimmy and Betsy Collins Nix, was born in 1847, a twin to Newton. He departed the tradition his older brothers had set and joined Colonel Ben Ledford's Regiment, John Souther's Company, from September, 1864 through May, 1865. His enlistment and discharge papers are not in the National or Atlanta Archives, but a soldier's pension application was found in the Atlanta Archives. He married Harriet Carolina "Tina" Duckworth and they had twelve children. After "Tina's" death, Jasper married Margaret Ballew.

Newton Nix, twin to Jasper, and tenth child of Jimmy and Betsy Collins Nix, joined Company K, 23rd Georgia Regiment at Camp McDonald on August 31, 1861. At the age of fifteen, he died of erysipelas and fever in Richmond, Virginia.

From the military records of these six sons of Jimmy and Betsy Collins Nix, we can imagine the impact of enlistment practices to get young men to join the Confederacy.

Of the six, we know that Thompson, John, and Newton died in the War. It may be that Jeffrie also lost his life during the war, for no further record has been found of him. Six sons fighting, and four lost is a heavy price to pay for war. What grief that mother bore.

c 2007 by Ethelene Dyer Jones. Published August 23, 2007 in The Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Nix connections (part 4 Aunt Jane Nix Wilson Hood)

Sophronia Jane Nix Wilson
This 1905 picture shows Sophronia Jane Nix Wilson with seven of ther children and Granny Evaline Duckworth Nix.
First row: Tom (1902), Estelle (1904) in jane's lap, benjamin (1894), Granny Nix, James Isaac "Jim" (1896)
Second row: Verdie (1887), friend of family (Callie Clark?), Hattie (1889) and Gertrude (1892)

The determination and bravery of some women could be the subject of a book of virtues. The life of Jane Nix Wilson Hood would fall into this category.

Sophronia Jane Nix was born October 20, 1867 in Union County, Georgia to James "Jimmy" Nix and his second wife, Carolina Elizabeth Duckworth Nix. From past articles in this series, you will remember that Jimmy Nix was a son of William and Susannah Stonecypher Nix. Jimmy married first Elizabeth "Betsy" Collins. They had fifteen children. Betsy died in November of 1859. When the Civil War was raging, Jimmy married Carolina Elizabeth Duckworth, who became a loving stepmother to his children. Jimmy enlisted on December 14, 1863 in Company 2 of the Georgia State Militia. To Carolina and Jimmy, four children were born: Mary Eveline, Nancy, Buddy and Sophronia Jane. She would be the youngest to live of Jimmy's twenty children. Her mother died before 1870 when Sophronia Jane was a little over two years old. Jimmy Nix, Jane's father, married the third time to her aunt, her mother's younger sister, Rebecca Evaline Duckworth, in 1872. Jimmy and Evaline's one child was stillborn.

Now we come to the story of Sophronia Jane Nix, and how she came to incorporate the attributes of a sturdy, determined mountain woman.

The Nix homestead, on which James Nix had settled on the 160 acres of land he had secured in the land lottery when Union County was new, was in the area of Choestoe where the present-day Richard Russell Scenic Highway intersects with Fisher Field Road. Here the Nix children grew up, going to the local one-room school at Hood's Chapel for their education. Being the youngest of nineteen children, Jane would have had as much fellowship growing up with her nieces and nephews, being about their same age, as with her own siblings. That's how life was back in the mountains of that era.

At age 18, three months before she reached her 19th birthday, Sophronia Jane married Isaac Thornton Wilson on July 27, 1886. Isaac and Jane had the following children: Verdie (1887), Hattie (1889), Gertrude (1892), Benjamin (1894), James Isaac (1896), Thomas (1902), Estelle (1904) and Garnie (1898). Garnie died in 1900 at age two. Seven of their children grew to adulthood.

Times were hard and work scarce. Isaac Thornton Wilson sought employment in the Copper Mines of Copperhill and Ducktown, Tennessee. He found a place to board there, and would return to his wife and children on weekends. He was a miner, going deep within the rich veins bearing copper and other ores around Isabella, Ducktown and Copperhill. But as was common, Isaac developed a serious lung condition from his work in the mines. He died of what was commonly called consumption on June 3, 1905. His birthdate was February 22, 1858. He was interred in what is now called the "Upper" Cemetery of Union Baptist Church.

While Isaac Wilson was away working in the mines, his wife, Sophronia Jane, managed their farm. She continued this work after the death of her husband. She added acreage by buying land from some of her brothers who decided to go west.

She had learned much about farming from her father, Jimmy Nix. She had apple trees and the bottom lands along the river yielded good crops. The family survived and managed due to Jane's industriousness. Not only was she a good farmer, she was skilled in the mountain household crafts of spinning, weaving, making quilts and "making do" with whatever was available. She worked with a will.

A family portrait which has survived shows Jane Nix Wilson, seated, with her eight children about her, and "Granny" Rebecca Evaline Duckworth Nix (Jane's aunt and her step-mother), in her bonnet seated on the front with Jane. On her lap Jane holds little Garnie, her last baby, who died very young. Having Granny Nix in her household was a big help to Jane as she adjusted to widowhood and had Granny's help in rearing her children.

Union Baptist Church was constituted on "the fourth Saturday in October, 1897" as stated in the church's constitution. Why Jane Sophronia Nix Wilson was not listed as a charter member is not known, for she gave the land on which the church building was erected. Granny Rebecca Evaline Duckworth Nix was one of the founding members. In the community and in the church, Evaline and Jane were stalwart leaders. The women hosted "quilting bees" in their home, and the ladies of the community would "quilt out" a new quilt for a needy family or a new bride in one day of work, sharing a country mid-day meal, and catching up on news. Though work, the quilting bees were also a common form of entertainment and relief from harder work.

Jane Nix Wilson was determined that her children have the best education she could possibly provide for them. In the wintertime, she would actually move the family to Young Harris, rent a place for them to live there, and put the children in school at the academy or in the college. At crop-planting time, the family moved back to their farm near Union Church in Choestoe and began the work required for the year's crops.

Jane's determination yielded from her children a dedicated homemaker, a nurse, a farmer who moved to Colorado to purchase land and become successful, a mechanic and three teachers. One of her daughters, Gertrude (1892-1980), who married Benjamin Franklin Shuler, better known as Frank (188-1978), was an excellent teacher at Union County High School. In my high school years, I was fortunate to have instruction from this gentle, compassionate lady whose mother, Sophronia Jane Nix Wilson, had worked so hard to see that her children were well-educated. Gertrude's husband, Frank, served as Union County School Superintendent for twenty years during a period of change and challenge in the system's schools.

After several years of widowhood, and after her children were grown, Sophronia Jane Nix Wilson married Enoch Chapman Hood, a widower and a neighbor. The marriage was short-lived, not because of any problems between the two, but due to his death. His tombstone in Union Baptist Church Cemetery shows his birth as September 1, 1855 and his death as April 10, 1932. Jane Nix Wilson Hood died August 15, 1956, and was laid to rest in the Union "Upper" Cemetery beside her first husband, Isaac Thornton Wilson. Dying two months shy of her 89th birthday, this noble mountain lady could well be called a heroine of her time.

c 2007 by Ethelene Dyer Jones. Published August 16, 2007 in The Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Nix Connections (part 3 in a series on the Nix family of Union County, GA and surrounding counties)

Columbus Hannibal Nix (1874-1950)

The sixth of eight children born to Archibald Carr Nix (1842-1906) and Sarah Ann Williamson Nix (1842-1927) was given the name Columbus Hannibal Nix when he was born April 1, 1874. His name shows the parents' interest in history. Perhaps they did not dream at the time of this sixth child's birth how adventuresome the life of their sixth child would be, prophetic of the name they gave him. It was soon shortened to "Lum" by which he was known the rest of his life.

An unusually bright lad, Lum Nix received what education was available in his home community of Choestoe, showing keen ability in history, geography, and mathematics. At age 17, equipped with the ability to sharpen saws and other handicrafts, like caning straight chairs with oak strips, Columbus Hannibal Nix set out on his life of adventure beyond the mountains of Choestoe Valley. In 1891, it was not easy to "go west, young man," but that was exactly the direction he headed. This was about the time that several in Choestoe Valley heeded the urge to find their livelihood beyond the mountains.

His exact journey and mode of travel are not known to this writer, but he probably went to Gainesville to board a train for his westward journey. Before leaving he would have saved up enough money for his train fare and upkeep along the way. Or, being an enterprising young man, he could have earned money at temporary stops as he sharpened saws or caned chairs.

His westward adventure took him to Colorado, to Idaho, to Oregon, and on to Alaska. At these places he pursued what has sometimes been called "gold fever," seeking that ever-elusive metal in various quick-claim mines in three states. Alaska beckoned him, and he moved northward. Records show that he got a grant in the Yukon on September 2, 1897 for a placer mine. His life as a miner would be the fabric of the stories he told later when he returned to Georgia. Lum Nix was a great storyteller. His life was one great tale of adventure, lived out in his travels and undergirded by his ability to fascinate his listeners by the places he had seen, the work he had done, the people he had met. He would come by our home when I was a child and young teenager and spend two weeks or more with us. Our home was his "base" of work as he sharpened saws for farmers in our community, or caned Reed-made chairs that had worn out with so much use. Now I wish I had listened more carefully to his true tales of adventure and how he overcame great difficulties in his search for treasure.

After twenty years of the adventuresome life, Columbus Hannibal Nix returned to Choestoe in 1911. His father, Archibald Carr Nix, had died in 1906. It is doubtful that Lum returned from Alaska for his father's funeral. But he had other aims upon his return to Georgia. He began to court beautiful Lillie Henson, born December 15, 1881 to Lum's sister, Ruth Alice "Nelle" Nix Henson (1866-1898) and Joseph Denson "Doss" Henson (1856-1926). On the Henson side of the family, Lillie was descended from her grandfather, James Madison Henson, great grandfather, Joseph Henson, Jr., and great, great grandfather, Joseph Henson, Sr. Like members of the Nix family, the Hensons had been early settlers in Union County and Choestoe District. A school named Henson operated for many years in the district, named for this family who had established it.

Lillie Henson and Lum Nix were married January 28, 1912 in Union County. Their children were Alice Pearl, born December 12, 1912; Roy Carl, born October 12, 1914; Corene Etta, born September 10, 1916, Nellie, born July 4, 1918 and Jack Columbus, born July 22, 1921.

The west still held a fascination for Lum Nix, so he packed up his young wife and their firstborn Pearl and headed west in 1913. This trek saw them living in Oregon and Idaho, where children Roy, Corene and Nellie were born. In 1919 they returned to Choestoe, then moved to Blairsville before Jack's birth in 1921.

In 1925 Lum Nix bought land in White County, Georgia and moved his family there where he and Lillie lived out their lives, except for the intermittent journeys Lum made to places he had lived, making his way by his well-honed crafts. Everywhere he went, he was known for his adventurous tales, made even more fascinating by the fact that he was the main character in them.

A great niece of Columbus Hannibal Nix tells the true story of his expertise at setting broken bones. Doris Elizabeth Nix (daughter of Aaron Jacob Nix and Ethel Elizabeth Ensley Nix, and granddaughter of John Wesley Nix and Minty Lavada Reece Nix), was four years old when she fell and broke her leg with a double compound fracture. This happened August 20, 1923, for, as Doris remembers, "my mother was in labor with my sister, Wilda Ruth", who was born on that date. Her Great Uncle Lum came walking up the road shortly after the terrible accident happened and Doris was in great pain with her broken leg. He said that he could set the leg. Doris remembers the excruciating pain, but is grateful that she never had any trouble with the bones knitting back properly. She remembers that Lum had Aunt Lena (Emma Lena Nix Dyer) gather up wool rags she could find to wrap around the broken leg. He then directed her to pour hot water over the woolen rags to bring the swelling down in the leg. With this done, he made a splint from wood, pulled the broken leg into place and set it. The procedure must have been traumatic for the four-year old child, with nothing to lessen the pain. "I sure remember screaming," says Doris Nix Bigger of this experience from her early childhood.

I count myself fortunate to have known this unusual man of the mountains. When I entered Truett McConnell College in 1947 as a charter student, one of my excellent professors there was his first-born child, Alice Pearl Nix, who later became the head of the psychology department at West Georgia College, Carrollton.

Columbus Hannibal Nix died in 1950 and Lillie Henson Nix died in 1973. They were interred in the Friendship Church Cemetery near Cleveland, White County, Georgia.

c 2007 by Ethelene DyerJones. Published August 9, 2007 in The Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Continuing with some Nix connections (part 2 in a Series on the Nix Family of Union County, GA and surrounding counties)

Sarah Elvira Williamson Nix (12 Dec 1842 - 01 Jun 1927),
wife of Archibald Carr Nix (07 May 1842 - 25 Sep 1906)

Last week’s column began a series which I am calling “Nix Connections.” James “Glancer” Nix (1812-1882), son of William Nix and Susannah Stonecypher Nix, had twenty children and three wives as you saw from last week’s column. Many descendents have continued to live in Union County, Georgia, and many moved elsewhere. It would require several books of genealogy to trace this large family line. My intention is to be selective and give information on some of Jimmy Nix’s descendants.

Our focus today is on the fifth child of James “Glancer” and Elizabeth “Betsy” Collins Nix, Archibald Carr Nix, born in Union County May 7, 1842 who lived here all his life, a farmer, dying September 26, 1906. Archibald married Sarah Ann Elvira Williamson, born December 26, 1842. The marriage was performed on April 4, 1862 by Thompson Collins (a son of Thompson and Celia Self Collins) who was a Justice of the Peace for the Choestoe District. Sarah Ann Elvira Williamson was the youngest of seven children born to John Wesley Williamson, Sr. (abt. 1800-abt. 1880) and his first wife, Sarah Elvira Curtis Williamson (1801-1871).

Archibald Carr Nix and his beautiful wife, Sarah Ann Elvira Williamson Nix, made their home in Choestoe, Union County, Georgia. There they reared a family of eight children, all of whom grew up to be stalwart citizens. The children and their spouses are listed as follows:

1. John Wesley Nix (1-5-1863 – 10-13-1896) married Minty Lavada Reece (2-12-1863 – 8-6-1933). Their children were Izabeth and Lizabeth (twins, b/d 1885); Mary Ann (1886-1956) married Arvel Hayes Brown; Arie (1888-1890); Emma Lena (1889-1955) married David Markus Dyer; Callie (1891-1893); David (b/d 1894); Aaron Jacob (1895-1969) married (1) Ethel Elizabeth Ensley and (2) Annie Lucille Johnston.
2. Laura J. Nix (3-30-1864 – 3-23-1892) married Joseph Brown Reece (6-1-1860 – 2-24-1930) on September 25, 1879. They had a family of ten children.
3. Ruth Alice Nix, called “Nelle” (3-19-1866 – 3-24-1898) married in January, 1889 to Joseph Denson “Doss” Henson (6-26-1856 – 11-9-1926).
4. Adeline E. “Addie” or “Naomi” Nix (4-8-1868 – 2-?-1907) married on August 30, 1891 to Frank L. “Will” Prater.
5. Ariete “Etta” V. Nix (2-17- 1872 – 4-1-1936) married on December 7, 1890 to Amicus N. Miller.
6. Columbus Hannibal “Lum” Nix (4-1-1874 – 9-22-1950) married Lillie Henson (12-15-1881 – 1973) in Union County, GA on January 28, 1912. Lillie was Lum’s niece, a daughter of his sister, Ruth Alice Nix and Joseph Denson Henson. Lum and Lillie had the following children: Alice Pearl, Roy Carl, Corene Etta, Nellie, and Jack Columbus. Each of the five children were brilliant, earning degrees in education and/or engineering.
7. Arthur H. Nix (6-25-1877 – 5-24-1898) died at age 20 and was interred in the Old Choestoe Cemetery. He did not marry.
8. Minnie M. Nix (5-1-1881 - 1-28-1954) married Juan Dupree Miller (1-21-1883 – 5-23-1955).
I can remember visiting in the Miller’s home when I was a child. I did not know then Mrs. Minnie’s connection to me through our common ancestors, William and Susannah Nix Stonecypher and James “Grancer” Nix and Elizabeth “Betsy” Collins Nix. Years later, when I became interested in genealogy, she was no longer alive for me to ask her questions about her parents, Archibald Carr Nix and Sarah Ann Elvira Williamson Nix. Mrs. Minnie always had home-baked cookies for my brother Bluford and me when we visited as children. It is little wonder that we went as often as we dared. Another fond memory of Mr. Dupree Miller is his active role in Salem Methodist Church. He served as Sunday School Superintendent and song leader. We attended Choestoe Baptist Church, but were only “part time,” having services on the second and fourth Sundays. Salem Methodist, also “part time” had services on the first and third Sundays. I remember walking the trail through the woods from Choestoe Church to Salem after Sunday School and arriving at Salem Church in time for the church service on the Sundays Choestoe did not have preaching. Several of Salem’s members did the same, attending Choestoe on the 2nd and 4th Sundays. Mr. Dupree Miller had a mustache. As a child, I was fascinated by his debonair looks and his ability in leading congregational singing. Both Minnie Nix Miller and Juan Dupree Miller were buried in the New Choestoe Baptist Church Cemetery.

Archibald Carr Nix and his wife, Sarah Elvira Williamson Nix were buried in Old Choestoe Cemetery where their faded tombstones can be found today. If I did not list children born to any of the seven married children above, I did not have available to me in the resources I used for this article the names of all of Archibald and Sarah’s grandchildren. Next week we will explore another branch of the large Nix family of Union County. Stay tuned.

c 2007 by Ethelene Dyer Jones. Published Aug. 2, 2007 in The Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. All rights reserved.