Thursday, March 26, 2009

Family of War Soldier John Nicholson

Pvt. John Nicholson
Revolutionary War Soldier
Pleasant Grove Baptist Church Cemetery

In this four part series about Revolutionary War Soldier John Nicholson, we have looked, first, at his record in the war to free America from England. We traced his involvement with Old Walton County, the "Orphan Strip" on the Georgia-North Carolina- South Carolina border, and his representing that county in the Georgia Legislature. We saw him move from Buncombe County, NC to Hall, Habersham, Cherokee and finally Union Counties in Georgia and learned that his grave is at the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church Cemetery, Union County, where he was laid to rest.

This column will list what we know of his children and family, although this information has been hard to document. At best, there may be omissions and errors in listing what we have found of his children.

Tradition holds that John Nicholson, Sr., Revolutionary War soldier, was married three times. The name of his first wife has not been found. Neither is it known whether this first wife was the mother of some of his children. According to a marriage record in Warren County, NC, John Nicholson and Nancy Freeman were married there on February 22, 1794. His third marriage (date unknown) was to Susan Brown.

Ten children are listed for John Nicholson, Sr. As nearly as possible from available sources, the children were James, Mary, Walter, Elizabeth, William Harrison, Alfred, a daughter (name unknown), Luvicia (called Vica), John Nicholson, Jr., and Sarah.

It is not know whether James Nicholson remained in North Carolina when other members of the family relocated to Georgia.

Mary Nicholson, called "Polly" (1791-1868) married Rene Chastain (1793-1889) on March 17, 1814. This marriage to the Chastain joined the Nicholson family to the famous Pierre Chastain, first Huguenot immigrant, who was Rene's great grandfather. Rene's grandfather was the famous Rev. John "Ten Shilling Bell" Chastain, Baptist minister and leader in church planting in Virginia and other states. Rene's parents were Edward and Hannah Brown Chastain.

Walter Nicholson (1795- 1850) was born in South Carolina and married Dorcas Hogsed in Buncombe County, NC. This family moved to the Fodder Creek section of old Union County, a portion of the land that became Towns County in 1856. A farmer and orchardist, Walter Nicholson grafted apple trees and produced a variety called the "Watty" apple, using his nickname for the fruit. Walter and Dorcas Nicholson were in Union County, Georgia in the 1840 census. They had four children before moving from Buncombe County: John, Leander, Sarah and Elizabeth. Children with them in Georgia were Easter, Samuel and Logan.

Elizabeth Nicholson, called "Betty" is believed to have married Benjamin Burke.

William Harrison Nicholson (1797-1864) married first Jane Duckworth, a daughter of Jonathan and Kesiah Duckworth. He married, second, Jane Blocker. This family of Nicholsons made their home in the Cathey's Creek section of Transylvania County, NC. Unfortunately, William Harrison lost his life at the hands of bushwhackers during the Civil War.

Alfred Nicholson (April 28, 1799-Jan. 31, 1874) married Mary "Polly" Chastain (July 10, 1797-July 22, 1865). She was a daughter of Edward and Hannah Brown Chastain, a sister of Rene Chastain who had married Alfred's sister, Mary Nicholson. Thus two of the John Nicholson children were linked in marriage to the noted Chastain family. The 1834 census of Union County, Georgia enumerates the family of Alfred Nicholson with five females and eight males. A well-known descendant of this couple is Dr. James M. Nicholson, grandson, and son of Jackson Van Buren Nicholson and Barbara Anne Etris. Dr. Nicholson, better known as "Professor" was principal of Union County High School from 1929 until his retirement in 1943.

A daughter, name unknown, married Porter Owenby. This family moved to Union County, Georgia.

Luvicia ("Vica") married Lewis Akins and they also moved to Union County, Georgia. Vica's father, John Nicholson, was living in her house when he passed away at age 96 on December 20, 1858.

John Nicholson, Jr. (1802- 1884) married Elizabeth Allred. They had settled in Hall County, Georgia by 1830. Later, they relocated to Cherokee County by 1850. The senior John Nicholson lived with this couple for a portion of his years in Georgia.

Sarah Nicholson (1803- 1882) married John Erwin (1801-1885).

Many bearing the surname of Nicholson in Union County and elsewhere are proud to trace their ancestry back to John Nicholson, Sr. (1762-1858), Revolutionary War soldier.

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Mar. 26, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Revolutionary War Soldier John Nicholson and his connection to Old Walton County

Before John Nicholson, Revolutionary War Soldier, moved to Hall County, Cherokee County, and then Union County in Georgia, he was a resident of the Old Walton County, a hotly contested strip of land sometimes referred to as the "Orphan Strip" in a twelve mile wide area of land near the 35th latitude north in old Buncombe County, now Transylvania County (South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia). It took some time to settle the land dispute and find that the line gave the contested land to North Carolina.

Before 1786 the John Nicholson family and several other pioneer families settled in Cherokee Indian Territory at the head of the French Broad River. At that time, the place where they settled was claimed by South Carolina, and the families were allowed land grants. But South Carolina withdrew claims to the strip. The settlers set up an independent government much like the famed John Sevier had formed in the old State of Franklin. They waited for the US Government to cede them to a state.

It was in 1798 that the federal government received this land from the Cherokee Indians. It was not surveyed at that time, and was believed to be below the 35th latitude north, the boundary line between Georgia and North Carolina. Georgia took the "Orphan Strip" as a part of the northernmost territory of the state in 1802, rugged and hard-to-reach as it was. The strip was named Walton County after the last survivor from Georgia who signed the Declaration of Independence. It was officially added to Georgia by act of the Georgia Legislature on December 10, 1803. This county on the border of North Carolina is not to be confused with the later Walton County in central Georgia with Monroe as the county seat town.

Soon after Walton County was added to Georgia, a census was taken. About 800 people lived in the county. John Nicholson's family at that time had eleven persons, he, his wife, and nine children. Property deeds recorded in Old Buncombe County showed that he owned 500 acres of rugged land on the northwest of the French Broad River along Gladys Branch. He evidently did not move while living in this "Orphan Strip" area but remained on his lands along the French Broad.

John Nicholson and John Aiken (Akins) were elected representatives from Walton County to the Georgia Legislature. They would have had to make the long journey to Louisville, Georgia, the capitol of Georgia until the state house in Milledgeville was completed enough for the state government to be moved there in 1807. Either place was a long trek through rough terrain and over poor roads for these two men who represented Old Walton County.

Then the situation back in Walton County became volatile. When the Georgia-owned county became more tame and law-abiding, it looked favorable to the North Carolina government. The contest over ownership of the land led to the Walton War. Militia groups from North Carolina opened fire on Walton County defenders at Magaha Branch, a tributary of the French Broad River. Some Walton County citizens were killed and a number were imprisoned. Among the prisoners was Representative John Nicholson. When brought to trial, the Walton citizens claimed that their only crime was defending their claim as land owners in the still-contested strip of land.

Georgia, thinking to set the line once and for all, appointed commissioners, as did North Carolina, to survey the land. Finding that the 35th parallel was indeed, within North Carolina, Georgia's governor and legislature wanted a second opinion. In 1811 they hired a noted Philadelphia professional surveyor, Andrew Endicott, the man who had surveyed the Mason-Dixon line. The diary of the rough times his surveying team had going through thick rhododendron bushes and undergrowth to survey the land is interesting reading. Georgia was again disappointed, for Endicott found that, indeed, the 35th parallel was farther south, extending North Carolina's borders. The famous Endicott Stone can be viewed, even today, at the corner of three states, South and North Carolina, and Georgia at its most northeastern point.

The Georgia faction in Old Walton County finally relented, and in 1813 requested that it become a part of Old Buncombe County (now Transylvania).

By the 1820 census of Buncombe County, John Nicholson and his wife were registered there with a son and daughter still at home, both between 10 and 16 years of age.

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published March 12, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Revolutionary War soldier John Nicholson

According to the 1820 Buncombe County, North Carolina census, John Nicholson was still a resident there. He and his wife were over forty-five and still at home were two children, a son and a daughter, both between ten and sixteen years of age.

Some time within the decade of the 1820s, John Nicholson, Sr. had moved from Buncombe County, NC to Hall County, Georgia where, in 1830, he was enumerated in the household of his son, John Nicholson, Jr.

The next authentic record of the old soldier occurred on November 2, 1832. It was a pension application based on his service in the Revolution. As usual, the wheels of government moved slowly, but finally, on July 30, 1833, the 72-year old received a pension of $40 per year.

The next paper trail on John Nicholson, Sr. is from Habersham County, Georgia. There he was transacting business about his property he had left in Buncombe County, NC. Deed records in North Carolina show that a tract of land containing 568 acres, purchased by Benjamin Wilson, was sold by John Nicholson. A witness to the deed was John Erwin, a son-in-law to Nicholson, who had wed his daughter, Sarah.

Evidently, John Nicholson, Sr. spent quite a few of his declining years in the household of his son, John Nicholson, Jr. In 1850, the Cherokee County, Georgia census lists the old man, age 88, with John, Jr. But the elder paid taxes in Union County, Georgia that same year. The tax bill was cleared by his son-in-law, Lewis Akins, who was married to John, Sr.'s daughter Luvicia whom they called Vica. This family lived in Union County.

The U.S. Congress approved an act passed March 5, 1855 that made available "bounty" lands for veterans of the American Revolution. John Nicholson moved quickly to secure some of these lands, due him because of his service to his country. On March 26, 1855, he made application for a portion of these bounty lands. At the time he was living in Union County, Georgia with his son Alfred Nicholson who had a farm in the Harmony Grove Community of Arkaquah District.

When Revolutionary War soldier John Nicholson died at age 96 on December 20, 1858, he was living in the household of Lewis and Vica Nicholson Akins in the Coosa District. He was interred in the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church Cemetery which lies about 7.8 miles west of the Old Courthouse Square just off Old Georgia 76 toward Blue Ridge. There are no dates on the Daughters of American Revolution tombstone that marks his grave. Research since the placement of his gravestone, and his age at death, seem to authenticate these dates for his birth and death: May 1, 1762 - December 20, 1858.

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published March 19, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

John Nicholson, Sr. -- Revolutionary War Soldier

Before I begin today's column, let me thank all who e-mailed, called, or sent get-well cards to wish me God-speed during my six-day hospital stay and recuperation at home. I still face gall bladder surgery soon. That, I am told, is a routine procedure by laparoscopy. I thank my son, Keith Jones, for filling this space last week with his remembrances and thoughts on "Was It That Long Ago?" He, like his Mom, likes to write and he sometimes gets "carried" away. Thanks, Keith, for your love of the written and spoken word. And thanks, Sentinel,, for allowing him to sub for me.

And now to the subject of the day, beginning a new series on John Nicholson, Sr - Revolutionary War Soldier

The burial place of John Nicholson, Sr. is at the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church Cemetery almost eight miles west of Blairsville's Old Court House Square just off Highway 76. There a Daughters of American Revolution tombstone marker gives this patriot's name, but no date of birth or death. We have to search elsewhere to find his origins and his service as a soldier in the Revolutionary War.

John Nicholson was born in Bute County, modern name Warren County, in North Carolina. His father was William Nicholson, who no doubt links back to the first William Nicholson to come to Virginia in colonial America from England. The Nicholsons in Virginia and Maryland owned large tracts of land there. William Nicholson, John's father, migrated to the area around Tarboro, North Carolina and became a landowner there. The name of his mother is not known to this writer.

The birth date of John Nicholson, Sr. is given as either May 1, 1762, or May 1, 1763. Most researchers on his family line opt for the year 1763. When an adult, John Nicholson moved to Buncombe County, N. C. There he became active in forming what was known as Walton County, joined to Georgia in the "Orphan Strip" of land. It was a part of Georgia until the Georgia/ North Carolina border along the 35th latitude, a state line dispute, was settled in 1813. But this strip and John Nicholson's involvement in it are stories for a later column.

John Nicholson served a total of twelve months as an American Revolutionary soldier. His four terms of service, each three months in length, are documented by the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution. As a citizen of Bute County, N.C., his first enlistment in the Revolution was in 1780. This term of service was for three month's duration as a private in Captain John White's Company, under General Caswell's charge. Col. Eaton led the Regiment of which Nicholson was a soldier. They saw action in the Battle of Camden where General Bates was defeated. David F. Trask, historian, writing about the military during the Revolutionary War period stated that "The military tradition, together with the growing dislike for British professional troops, reinforced the anti-military bent in the colonies and encouraged a tradition that demanded the subservience of military to civil authority… The nation relied on volunteers to augment the regulars in the Continental Army." (p. 500, Oxford Companion to US History, c2001). It was in the spirit of volunteerism that John Nicholson fought and won at the Battle of Camden. His honorable discharge from this duty occurred at Adkin, NC.

His second tour of duty, again for a three-months' enlistment, occurred in 1781.

That time, he was assigned to serve under General Greene, with Captain Flewallen and Captain Norsworthy as Regiment leaders. In this period, the Regiment fought in the famous Guilford Court House foray. He was again honorably discharged at Col. Ramey's Mill in North Carolina.

His third volunteer trek occurred later in 1781 when he enlisted with his commander Col. Linton's North Carolina Troops. No battles are recorded in this tour of duty. His discharge was at Tarborough, NC after three months of duty.

His fourth and final three months in service, making a total of a year for him, was in 1782. He entered as a private in Captain Cox's Company in famed Colonel Sevier's North Carolina Regiment. His discharge came at the Tennessee River in NC.

He was granted a Revolutionary War pension on July 30, 1833 of $40.00 per year. At the time the pension was approved, he was 72 years of age and living in Hall County, Georgia. My next column will continue with more on the Life and Times of Revolutionary War soldier John Nicholson, Jr. and how he came to be a citizen of Union County, Ga.

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Mar. 5, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Aunt Dora will live on—in memory and legend

All of us who have known and loved Aunt Dora Hunter Allison Spiva for so long were saddened at her passing on Tuesday, February 24, 2009 at the marvelous age of 104 and 14 days. She was able to live at her home until Friday, February, 20, when her final illness required hospitalization. We mourn, not for her, but for ourselves at her departure from our midst. We can but rejoice that she is now enjoying the joys of heaven which she anticipated after a life well-lived and entrusted to the Lord Christ.

She leaves behind the influence of her forty years of teaching on students too numerous to number, and the example of a life lived with joy, purpose and service. For her influence on so many, we are eternally grateful. She said to me, a motherless girl of fourteen, "You can do anything you set your mind to do." I found her advice worthy of following. Many could give a similar testimony to mine on the influence she had upon them in school and beyond as she "kept up with her own" and loved and encouraged us.

Memories flood our minds as we think of the happy occasions we have spent with her. I have set on her porch at her home in Choestoe and admired her flower gardens, as lush and bountiful as any horticulturist could produce. I have thought often of how her life was like an unfolding flower, lifting thoughts like petals to sunshine in the early morning as she sought the Lord's guidance for the day. She was a mainstay at our wonderful Class of 1947 Reunions, and this could be said of any class she nourished at Union County High School. She was the eldest present at our Dyer- Souther Reunions each year after Cousin Watson Dyer died, himself reaching nearly 104, until this past July when she was not able to attend. She loved family and encouraged me to record and publish the history of our noble ancestors. "Salt of the earth," she would often say of them, being hesitant to own up to the fact that she, too, was of that salt that had not lost its savor, even to the ripe age of 104.

Now she is a legend in our time. Each time we think of her it will be with gratitude. As recently as October, she was part of a documentary film which will open the Byron Herbert Reece Center. Our poet/novelist was one of her students and she spoke lovingly about his time in her classes. Aunt Dora was honored by Truett McConnell College through having the four-year School of Education named in her honor. The first graduates from the school finished in May, 2008, and are now somewhere in schools beginning careers that will honor the name of this master teacher. It is one of my aims to continue raising funds to complete the endowment and scholarships for the Dora Hunter Allison Spiva School of Education. It is one way I can say "thank you" to Aunt Dora for inspiring me to become a teacher. Anyone wishing to donate in her memory may send contributions to Truett McConnell College, 100 Alumni Drive, Cleveland, GA 30529.

My prediction is that she will remain alive in the hearts and minds of those who loved and admired her, continuing to wield her positive influence, eliciting sweet memories of many associations with her; indeed, a legend in our time.

Dora Allison Spiva

Mrs. Dora Allison Spiva, 104, native and lifelong resident of Blairsville, Ga., died Tuesday, February 24, 2009 at Union General Hospital in Blairsville.
Mrs. Spiva was born Friday, February 10, 1905 in Union County, Ga., to the late Jim Hunter and the late Martha Souther Hunter. She graduated from the Blairsville Academy, Young Harris College and The University of Georgia. She was the oldest living member of Choestoe Baptist Church and had been very active in the church all her life, and was a founding member of the WMU at Choestoe.
Mrs. Dora was retired from the Union County School System and was a member of the Georgia Retired Teachers Association, a charter member of The Blairsville Garden Club, The American Legion Auxiliary, and Union County Historical Society. The Dora Spiva Educational Program is a scholarship program at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga., named in honor of Mrs. Spiva. She was preceded in death by first husband, Frank Allison and second husband, Dan Spiva. She was an inspiration to many.
Surviving family members include special nephew, Charles "Buddy" and Bobbie Hunter of Blairsville; many other nieces and nephews, and a host of friends. Funeral services were held Friday, February 27, 2009 at 11 a.m. from the Choestoe Baptist Church with Rev. Stacy Dyer and Rev. Ken Zollinger officiating. Music was provided by Rev. Stacy Dyer and Bill Collins and Linda Thornton. Pallbearers were Daniel Hunter, Chris Souther, Josh Lewis, Eddy Alexander, Barry Collins, Phil Hunter, Ken Hunter and Lesly Hunter. Interment followed in Choestoe Baptist Church Cemetery.
If you wish, the family has suggested memorial contributions be made to Choestoe Baptist Church Building Fund, 4455 Choestoe Church Road, Blairsville, Georgia 30512.
Arrangements entrusted to Cochran Funeral Home - Blairsville Chapel. You are invited to view Mrs. Dora's Life Tribute, send condolences to the family and sign the guest register at www.
c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Mar. 5, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.