Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tornado Fells Monument of Gov. Brown

The usual quiet and peaceful Oakland Cemetery which lies a few blocks east of Georgia's Capitol was hit violently by the Friday evening, March 14, 2008 tornado that cut a swath of destruction through the city of Atlanta.

Damages to the cemetery alone are estimated at $4 million, but evaluation of the destruction has not yet been completed. This site, on the National Register of Historic Places, will be given keen attention in the restoration process.

Giant trees which were left intact when the cemetery was founded in 1850 were uprooted by the violent storm. Magnolia trees were scalped and tall memorial obelisks were grounded. The debris and chaos to the once peaceful walking paths have left behind grim reminders of the fast-moving tornado that swept through the cemetery in 30 seconds, swift and destructive.

The time, and fear, were all experienced by Mr. Sam Reed who has been sexton of the cemetery for a decade. He had gone back to the bell tower in the middle of the cemetery to get an item he had left. The storm struck while he was there, with no time for him to take cover. Fortunately, he was unharmed, and amazingly, the bell tower remained intact. He was able to measure the tornado's intensity as only a brief thirty seconds, but seemingly an eternity as he cowered in its wake.

On the cemetery's western edge, the monuments to Georgia's Governor Joseph Emerson Brown and his wife Elizabeth Grisham Brown lie in pieces, the tall statue of the Angel Gabriel broken and sundered, the other two angels damaged, and Mrs. Brown's gravestone with her picture sculpted in stone is now cutting a deep dent in Oakland's soil.

This four-time governor of Georgia, from 1857-1865, during the hard period leading up to and during the Civil War, had brought pride with his life and service to the small Union County Community at Woody Gap where he spent his youthful years. Now the historic monuments to him and his wife lie sundered, toppled under the power of tornadic winds.

We should hope that restoration of the cemetery in future will somehow include rebuilding of these two significant monuments and the story they tell of a family that provided leadership at a pivotal time in Georgia's history. Pictures and descriptions of the monuments, with the information carved into the marble, have been preserved. The task of restoration, or rebuilding, will be costly and time-consuming. But at least the record is still intact to help with the restoration.

In "Frankie's Confederate Monuments and Memorials of the South" the Brown monuments are described in detail. The tall obelisk at Governor Brown's grave was topped by the Angel Gabriel looking toward heaven, with trumpet in hand. The tower itself had carvings of flowers and lower down, on the pedestal, two other angels lean on their trumpets. His name, birth date and death date are given: Born in Pickens County, SC April 15, 1821 - died in Atlanta, GA November 30, 1894. His statement of faith is also inscribed on his tomb: Marked by a cross, these words of affirmation appear: "I know that my Redeemer liveth!" A further testament to his faith follows: "Died hoping and relying though frail for smiling in the future world of all upon the mercies of Jesus Christ and the atonement made by Him."

Then follows a detailed record of his political service inscribed under the angel on the right: State Senator, 1819- 1850; Judge of Superior Court, 1855-1856; Governor of Georgia for four successive terms, 1857-1865; Chief Justice of Georgia, 1868-1870; US Senator, 1880-1891; President of Western and Atlantic Railroad, 1870-1990. "His history is written in the Annals of Georgia."

Under the angel on the left are included the names and dates of the Browns' nine children. One of them, Joseph Mackey Brown, served two terms as governor, from 1909- 1913.

Oakland Cemetery is a landmark for Atlanta, the state of Georgia and even the South, as thousands of fallen Civil War soldiers were interred there. For many of Georgia's great leaders, the cemetery became their final resting place.

Officials state: "The city is committed to repairing the park." Among the fallen debris and the uprooted trees, workers will have to proceed with care so as not to uproot coffins with the roots of ancient oaks and magnolias wrapped around them. These trees have, since the beginning of the cemetery, spread lofty limbs and provided leafy shade for this famous city of the dead.

c 2008 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Mar. 27, 2008 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Meditations on St. Patrick's Day and Easter

My column this week will depart from my usual historical probe and present thoughts on St. Patrick's Day (which we of Irish descent celebrated on March 17) and on Easter, coming earlier-than-usual this year on Sunday, March 23.

St. Patrick was the patron Saint of Ireland, credited with ridding that country of the plague of snakes and bringing Christianity and civilization to its citizens. On Monday, St. Patrick's Day, I went online and found St. Patrick's "Breastplate" Prayer. It is longer than the version printed here. But the lines reproduced here were set to lovely Celtic music and narrated, along with delightful pictures of nature. I give you St. Patrick's "Breastplate Prayer" in its shortened form. I recommend that you go online at patricksbreastplateprayer.htm if you want to read the prayer in its entirety. It's worth the search!

The Breastplate Prayer of St. Patrick (shortened version)

I arise today

Through the strength of heaven,

Light of the sun, Splendor of fire, Swiftness of wind, Depth of the sea, Stability of earth, Firmness of rock.

I arise today

Through God's strength to pilot me,

God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me, God's hand to guard me,

Afar and anear, Alone or in a multitude. Christ shield me today Against wounding; Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in me.

I arise today

Through the mighty strength

Of the Lord of Creation. - Amen

Holy Week is now in progress. Many of you, no doubt, are participating in Holy Week services at your church. This week we celebrate Maundy Thursday, the day Christ instituted the Lord's Supper, the night he was betrayed and arrested.

The next day we call Good Friday. The thing "good" about it was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world.

But then came Easter on the first day of the week following Good Friday, and Hope was born eternally with the glorious resurrection.

I give you here one of my original poems when I consider what it might have been like with Mary Magdalene at the tomb on that first Easter morning. You might like to read John 20:1-18 on which this is based:

As Mary Magdalene in the Garden
Mary Magdalene went early
Before the dawning light
Had spread abroad the sunshine
To give the darkness flight.
Sadness filled her heart
For lo, her Lord was dead.
He who had promised life and hope
Had died with thorn-crowned head.
Frightened was she when she saw
The sepulchre's stone awry;
Who had taken the Lord's body?
Was it not enough for Him to die?
To Peter and the other disciples
She ran with tears and said:
"They have taken away his body;
Wherever could He be laid?
Peter and others went to find
That Mary's word was true.
No longer was He in the grave,
Only burial clothes there to view.
The disciples left and went home
But Mary lingered there,
Weeping in the dark garden
And mourning her Lord so fair.
Then a voice said "Mary!"
And when He spoke she knew
It was her Lord triumphant!
"Rabboni!" she said, "'Tis you!"
"I have a message for you to bear:
Tell the disciples I now live;
As I told them when I taught,
This message of life you must give!"
Mary in the garden was afraid
When lingering shades of night
Still surrounded the tomb,
But then what a glorious Light;
The very Son of God arose
Victorious from the grave,
And to Mary Magdalene, His servant,
The glorious message He gave.
She ran telling the disciples:
"I have seen the Lord!"
He lives, He conquered death,
We have His holy Word
To tell others that death
No longer over us reigns
The Christ our Lord is risen!
Now my soul forever sings!"
As Mary in the garden
We need not fear shades of night,
Knowing that Life awaits us
In His marvelous life changing Light.
-Ethelene D. Jones

Enjoy an Easter filled with hope, a spring of new beginnings!

c 2008 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Mar. 20, 2008 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

How Cottage Industries Added to Farm Family's Income

Many of you can probably remember driving through the countryside or going to a small town several years ago and seeing chenille bedspreads hung on clotheslines near the road, waving in the breeze. A hand-lettered sign at the display would announce FOR SALE. The salesman would be present to show the chenille patterns in those not on the line so the customer could choose one to his liking.

No doubt, some of these spreads were made in what has been termed "cottage industries," by farm women who wanted to earn a little more money, especially in the wintertime when the work was lighter on the farm.

This practice was done during the 1930s when our country was still in the Great Depression.

I can remember my aunts, India, Avery and Ethel Collins, making chenille bedspreads. The "laid out" (already patterned) broadcloth the size of a double-bed bedspread was brought to their house by the representative from the factory. With the designed spread, he also brought the thread they were to loop by hand into the spread and then cut the many stitches needed to form the chenille. It took many hours of work to finish one bedspread. The man who had delivered the designed cloth would leave maybe six spreads to be finished. About a month later, he would return with another batch and pick up the finished products. They were paid the agreed-upon rate for each completed spread.

As a child, I can recall my fascination with their work and how bright patterns of flowers (the usual design) came to life as they stitched in the colored heavy thread. There were some of the less common patterns sometimes. Some of these included a peacock with spread wings, a scene from nature, or a landscape scene. When finished, these latter patterns looked gaudy. Had we in our farm community been buying one of the finished bedspreads, we would not have chosen the gaudy patterns, for we were conservative, even in home decorations. But the peacocks and other designs were popular at the roadside sales places.

Where did the traveling "bedspread man" get the spreads for the farm women to work on? A factory in Dalton was our North Georgia supplier. Not then equipped in the factories to do the chenille tufting, they hired it out to farm women. It was a mutual benefit - to the factory and to the women who meticulously sewed in the designed spreads that were left with them.

On winter nights, when the outside chores were done and supper (the evening meal; we always called it supper then) was finished and the dishes washed, my aunts sat down near the fireplace, each with a voluminous spread on which they stitched until bedtime.

It was a time of purpose and also of storytelling and fellowship. I remember the talk around the spread-making. Tales of their early schooldays and who taught them in the one-teacher country school; stories of ancestors who came into Choestoe before the Indians left; how-to accounts of how they learned to weave on the large loom in the weaving room and make the wool cloth they tailored into Grandpa's suits - all of these stories fascinated me. My love for history no doubt was born as these dear aunts sewed the spreads delivered to them in the "cottage industry" era and told stories of past times.

Perhaps many more readers remember the days of the chenille spreads and how the women got paid for sewing in the designs. By today's standards, the pay would seem miniscule but every dollar could be used in those days to purchase items not produced on the farm.

Those were days of solidarity of family and of abiding by the Puritan work ethic, Hands found work to do that they could do. And they did the work to the best of their ability. It was from watching my aunts make those spreads that I learned an important life-truth: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

c 2008 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Mar. 13, 2008 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

"Go West, Young Man"--Bluford Lumpkin Dyer and Some of His Descendants

I received a letter from my distant cousin John Dyer’s widow, Pauline. In it she stated, simply, “Your cousin John died February 2, 2008 in Kalispell, Montana after a valiant battle with cancer.”

John and I shared the same ancestors, going away back to Bluford Elisha Dyer, Jr. (abt. 1785-1847) and Elizabeth Clark Dyer (abt. 1788-1861), the first Dyer settlers in the Choestoe Valley, Union County. This pioneer family was in the 1834 census, the off-year census ordered because the county was new, founded in 1832.

John Dyer of Kalispell, Montana and I saw each other only two times in this earthly life, both times in the 1990’s when John and members of his family returned to Union County to meet some of his Dyer kin here and find out as much as he could about our common ancestors.

Immediately Cousin John and I developed a rapport, which extended over the remaining years of his life. He was a pleasant, hard-working, family-loving man. He and his beloved wife, Pauline Smith Dyer, had fifty-seven years together prior to his death with cancer. John’s five sons loved their dad and considered their lives blessed, indeed, for having him as their father.

Their names (and spouses) who mourned their father’s passing on February 2 are Ray (and Margo) of Kalispell, Jeff (and Candy) of Fairbanks, Alaska, Ronnie, Lonnie and Mark (and Wanda) of Kalispell. Eight grandchildren were beloved by their grandfather John and had time to learn from him and catch a bit of his optimistic, forward-looking spirit: Tammy, Matthew, Leslie, Tracy (and Amy), David (and Christine), Bryan (and Jamie), Brett (and Amber) and Chelsea. John loved his four great grandchildren: Jessica, Anthony and Nicole Olsen and Hannah Dyer. John’s parents who preceded him in death, were Ray George Dyer and Dorothy Bernadine Sheldon Dyer. Of the six children born to Ray George and Dorothy Bernadine Dyer, only three survived at the time of John’s death: brother Kenneth Dyer (and Lona) of Washington state; and two sisters, Roberta Ann Dyer Arnold and Shirley Ellen Dyer McDaniel of Kalispell. John’s siblings, Claire Frances Dyer Kienas and James Roger Dyer preceded John in death.

Growing philosophical as I considered John Chester Dyer’s death, I thought of the lines by Alan Seeger:

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade…
And I to my
pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.
John Chester Dyer had that rendezvous, and so will all of us, in due time. But the English poet and minister, John Donne, in his “Holy Sonnets,” declared “Death be not proud, though some have called thee/ Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so,/For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow, /Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me…/death, thou shalt die.”

And, thinking back over the generations of people to the early pioneers in this county, where John and I made our connections, I thought of the tenth son of Bluford Elisha Dyer and Elizabeth Clark Dyer. His name was Bluford Lumpkin Dyer, born in Habersham County in 1832, who died October 29, 1907 in Kalispell, Montana. He married on February 8, 1854 in Union County, Georgia to Ruth (Ruthie) Turner, daughter of Jarrett Turner and Sarah “Sallie” Collins Turner. A mistake was made in registration of this marriage in the Union County marriage records, and Ruthie was listed as “Tanner,” not Turner. Mark this up to difficulty in reading penmanship when a “u” looked like an “a”. Bluford Lumpkin Dyer’s marriage to Ruthie Turner brought ties of first settlers closer together. Jarrett Turner and his in-laws, Thompson and Celia Self Collins, were also among the first families who settled Union County.

But what about the “Go west, young man” which I mentioned in the title above?

Bluford Lumpkin Dyer served as sheriff of Union County in the 1860’s, a difficult time because of the unrest caused by the Civil War. Following cessation of the war, times were very hard. Bluford Lumpkin and his wife, Ruthie, made the decision to move to the Loudsville area of White County, “across the mountain” from Choestoe before 1870, for the family was in the White County census of 1870. Son John George Dyer (John Chester Dyer’s grandfather) was born in White County on October 12, 1870. Just when Bluford Lumpkin Dyer got the strong impression to “Go west, young man” is not exactly known, but it was within the decade 1870-1880. “Lump” (as he was called) had a first cousin, Francis Marion Dyer (1863-1947) who had gone west. It is believed Francis Marion had an influence on persuading Lump and Ruthie Dyer to move west.

Their westward pilgrimage was by stages. They settled first in Gainesville, Texas for awhile. Their next move was to Ardmore, Oklahoma. Then gold fever struck and Lump moved his family to Colorado and went prospecting. Evidently he did not ever find that evasive lode which would make him rich. The family’s next move was to Montana. Then back to Ardmore, Oklahoma for a short period, where their daughters, Rosetta and Sarah had married and settled. But there was a strong pull back to Montana. Lump and Ruthie and their children still at home returned there, bought a farm at Creston a little east of Kalispell. There Lump’s first cousin, Francis Marion Dyer, wooed and wed his cousin and the daughter of Lump and Ruthie, Mollie Dyer, who had been born in Georgia in 1866. Mollie died young and Francis Marion married, second, Helen Dann.

Lump and Ruthie remained on their farm at Creston, where Ruthie died and was buried. After his beloved Ruthie’s death, Lump moved to Kalispell, Montana, to be cared for in his last days by some of his children who lived there. Bluford Lumpkin Dyer, former sheriff of Union County, Georgia, died October 29, 1907 in Kalispell, Montana.

Much more history exists between the dashes—the period between the birth and death of John Chester Dyer (1932-2008), recently deceased, and Bluford Lumpkin Dyer (1832-1907), John Chester’s Dyer’s great grandfather who went west with a spirit of adventure to find a new way of life for his beloved family. I’m glad John Chester Dyer came back to Georgia on visits to find his roots; I’m glad we hold dear our common ancestry.

c 2008 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published March 6, 2008 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved