Thursday, July 30, 2009

Four Sons of Repentance Townsend Served in American Revolution

Repentance Townsend who was born about 1712 in Sheffield, England and died about 1794 in Abbeville County, South Carolina had five known sons, four of whom served as soldiers in the American Revolution. The sons were Thomas, Samuel, Andrew, John and Henry. The first four, Thomas, Samuel, Andrew and John, were American Revolution soldiers. Thomas, Samuel and Andrew made applications for Revolutionary pensions in which they delineated their service to their country. Evidently John did not apply for a pension, for no record of his application has been found.

With a first name like Repentance, it was fairly easy to trace the migrations of this ancestor of many in the Townsend line who eventually settled in Union County, Georgia.

He and his wife, Mary Taylor Townsend, who was born about 1716, were in Augusta County, Virginia as early as 1746. It was there that their eldest son, Thomas, was born in 1753. Thomas is important to the Union County, Georgia Townsend line, for it is through this son, Revolutionary soldier, that we trace the links through Thomas’s son, Edward (1789-1860) and Edward’s son, Eli Townsend (about 1810-1849) and Eli’s wife, Sarah Elizabeth (Sally) Dyer Townsend.

From Virginia, Repentance Townsend migrated to Anson County, North Carolina, where his name appears on land documents. Repentance and Mary probably did not move about much in North Carolina but were on land that underwent name changes as new counties were formed there.

A portion of old Anson County became Mecklenburg County in 1762, and then Tryon County in 1768, Lincoln County in 1779, and Gaston County in 1846. The state line between North and South Carolina was in dispute, and part of Gaston County, NC fell into the old Camden District of South Carolina, later called York District. It was from the old Camden District, SC that Thomas, Andrew, Samuel and John, sons of Repentance Townsend, signed up to serve in the American Revolution.

By an act of the US Congress passed June 7, 1832, those who had served in the Revolution were eligible for pensions. Therefore, we see Thomas Townsend, Sr., the eldest of Repentance Townsend’s sons, making application for a pension as an eighty year old man on July 1, 1833, in Habersham County, Georgia, where he then lived. His full affidavit, a lengthy document, is available from the National Archives in Pension Claim Number W3889. In brief, Thomas Townsend served periods as a private in the militia, both as a volunteer and a draftee from 1775 through 1781.

He was granted a pension of $80.00 per year (not quite $7 per month) beginning November 6, 1832, until his death on February 17, 1836 in Lumpkin County, Georgia. After his death, and basing her application on the act of Congress of July 4, 1836, that made provision for the widows of Revolutionary soldiers to draw a pension, Thomas’s widow, Susannah Townsend, on April 8, 1844, applied for benefits. She was then 95 years of age and unable to attend court. Martha Alexander testified to the veracity of Susannah Townsend’s application. Susannah was twice a widow. Her first husband, Thomas Stephens, had been killed by the Indians. Susannah Hamilton Stephens, widow, married Thomas Townsend on December 16, 1778 in Abbeville District, SC. Thomas and Susannah Townsend had these children: Edward (who became the father of Eli who married Sally Dyer), Andrew, Eleanor, and Thomas, Jr.

Did Susannah Townsend, widow of Thomas Townsend, receive the applied-for widow’s benefits from her husband’s service as a Revolutionary War soldier? This writer could not find a record of her receiving a pension.

We have further information on the other three sons of Repentance who served in the Revolution. Samuel Townsend (1755-1849) died in Coosa County, Alabama on May 14, 1849 and was buried in Pine Grove Cemetery. John Townsend (1761-?), likewise, after traveling about rather extensively, ended up as did his brother Samuel, in Coosa County, Alabama. Andrew Townsend (1764-1838) received a pension of $20 a year and died in St. Clair County, Alabama. Henry, Repentance’s fourth son in the Revolution, did not make application for pension. His whereabouts at his death are unknown to this writer.

[Sources: Some Townsends of North Georgia by E. E. Townsend and online documents of pension applications and Revolutionary service.]

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published July 30, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Reunion Reflections and Revolutionary Remembrances

Pardon my very personal and proud approach to reporting on our annual Dyer-Souther Heritage Association Reunion held Saturday, July 18, 2009 at Choestoe Baptist Church Family Life Center. We gathered some 213 strong (according to registration count) for a day of reflecting upon the past, greeting people both new to us and regular attendees, and hearing the accounts of some of our ancestors who fought to gain freedom from Great Britain during the American Revolution.

I thank all who worked hard to set up for the day and plan and implement the program. These events do not just happen. The trustees and officers of the association are Bill Collins, president, Reid Dyer, vice-president, Janice Lance, secretary, Marie Knight, treasurer of the Old Liberty Cemetery Fund, assisted by Lee Knight, Ethelene Jones, historian and newsletter editor, Keith Jones, Trustee, and Joe Dyer, Trustee emeritus. This group carries on the work of the association between reunions, plans for and advertises the reunion, and, with the help of others, sets up the meeting place for the anticipated crowd of attendees. Bill Collins concluded his long term as president at the end of this reunion. Reid Dyer became the new president and Bill will remain on the Board as a Trustee.

Andrew Turnage announced plans to further promote the work of inventor Micajah Clark Dyer (1822-1891) who received a patent (# 154,654) in 1874 for his "Apparatus for Navigating the Air." A foundation has been set up to receive funds for upgrading his gravestone in the Old Choestoe Cemetery. Plans are also under way to get his invention listed in the Aviation Hall of Fame and to build a working model of his invention according to specifications and drawings he set forth in his application for the patent. For more information, interested persons may go to this website or e-mail for information at MicajahClarkDyer@gmail. com.

A drawing for the proposed grave marker for Bluford Elisha Dyer, Jr. (ca 1785-1847) was presented by Keith Jones, Trustee. The approximate location of the grave, unmarked, has been found on property where Dyer settled when he and his wife, Elizabeth Clark Dyer, moved to the Choestoe Valley along Cane Creek in the early 1830's, becoming the first Dyer settlers in the area. Another historical preservation project is to locate the old Souther Family Cemetery near New Liberty Baptist Church where John and Mary Combs Souther buried some of their children who died prior to the establishment and development of the church and cemetery on land John Souther gave for that purpose. The Heritage Association aims to locate, if possible, this burial site and mark it.

Still another project is to mark in a more appropriate manner the family burial site of the Rev. John M. Dyer, and the gravesites of his wife, Elizabeth Sullivan Dyer and their daughter, Martha Dyer. This year's reunion saw first-time attendees from many places with ties to the Dyer-Souther and collateral families of Choestoe. From Louisiana came Ida Nix Reed and her husband Charles and daughters, Ashleigh Smith of Mississippi and Leslie Doucette of Atlanta, and granddaughter Caroline Smith. From Louisiana came Royce and Velma Dyer, descendants of Jefferson Beauregard and Rhoda Souther Dyer. From Athens, Georgia came Eva Leach Banks who descends from Samantha Dyer Alexander, and others of Eva's kin. From Warrenton, VA came Margaret Harkins Patterson, a great, great, granddaughter of Micajah Clark Dyer. From Cleveland, TN came Ed (and Dortha) Townsend. Ed descends from Sarah Elizabeth (Sally) Dyer and Eli Townsend. Ed has written a valuable family history book entitled Some Townsends of North Georgia. From Brasstown, NC came Tipper Pressley, author and presenter of “Blind Pig and the Acorn,” an on-line newsletter with the purpose of documenting and publishing information about mountain people and ways that are fast vanishing with our modern-day development. These are but a few of the "first time" attendees whom we welcomed warmly. Space precludes my listing them all here, but they, too, are important. Their names will be in the next Chronicle newsletter of the Association. We hope they will return, year after year, as do the scores of "regular" attendees, all of whom, by their presence and support, assist the Trustees to have a wonderful reunion that focuses on family solidarity and honoring the contributions of our ancestors to the American way of life.

The program for the 2009 Reunion was about our ancestors who were soldiers and patriots in the American Revolution. Brief biographical sketches were given about two James Collins soldiers who may be tied to Thompson Collins, first Collins settler in Choestoe Valley. We heard about Elisha and Amey Laws Dyer, assisting with material aid to the Revolution, as did William and Daniel England with their iron forge on Hunting Creek in North Carolina. John Ingraham, Stephen and William Souther, Michael Tanner, John Henry Stonecypher, William Jones, the two named John Nix, and the four sons of Repentance Townsend, all soldiers in the "Overmountain Men," were all briefly eulogized in the program to honor our Revolutionary War patriots. Each deserves his own story, and many have already been written about in this column in years past. Look online to see their biographies. Others will be featured in future columns.

A solemn part of the reunion program is the "In Memoriam" time. This year, we honored the memory of twenty-three of our kin who had passed away since the last reunion. We especially missed the physical presence of our beloved Dora Hunter Allison Spiva who passed away February 24, 2009, and who loved attending the reunions and contributing her sparkling wit and personality to all who came.

We honored our youngest present, little Kaitlyn Girardot from Hoschton, GA, daughter of Kari Bardenwerper Girardot, granddaughter of Judy Dyer Bardenwerper, and great granddaughter of Wilonell Collins Dyer. Our eldest one present for the second year in a row was Mrs. Irene Coker Brown, widow of Emory Brown, who at the wonderful age of 100 enjoyed the reunion and the people. The one who traveled farthest was a brand-new attendee, Simon Napoli from Australia, who was the guest of Dr. Eva Nell Mull Wike and Jim Wike of Oak Ridge, TN. Eva Nell taught Simon's mother in the 1980's as an exchange student, and now the student's son is here visiting the Wikes. He was "awed" by our reunion, and said he had never attended anything like it before in Australia. And from beautiful Hawaii, second in the "farthest distance" traveled were Linda Nahser Beadle and her husband Wes. Linda's mother is Kathleen Dyer Nahser, her grandparents were Franklin Hedden and Dora Nix Dyer, and her great grandparents were Bluford Elisha (III) and Sarah Evaline Souther Dyer. Thanks, Wes and Linda, for traveling so far, and for making sure Linda's mother gets to attend the reunion.

As I reflect back upon the Reunion of 2009, my very subjective evaluation is "wonderful, marvelous!" If you missed it this year, perhaps you will consider setting aside the third Saturday in July, 2010 to be a part of our gathering. You will find a warm welcome, good food, an enlightening program, and southern hospitality at its height. And you will learn something, too. This year, I took displays of several genealogy and other books and found people with notebook and pen in hand gleaning information on their family lines from the materials. Overall, it was a beautiful, exciting and rewarding day!

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published July 23, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Appreciating Revolutionary War Patriots--Stephen Souther and William Souther

The annual Dyer-Souther Heritage Association Reunion will be held Saturday, July 18, 2009 beginning at 11:00 a. m. at Choestoe Baptist Church, eight miles south of Blairsville just off Highway 180 ("The Micajah Clark Dyer Parkway).

As historian for the organization, it has been my privilege to delve into the ancestral history of our known Revolutionary War patriots. Telling their stories will be the focus of the afternoon program at the reunion. Those with ties to early settlers Bluford Elisha Dyer and Elizabeth Clark Dyer and John Souther and Mary Combs Souther are invited to attend. Friends of these descendants are also welcome. We will have a grand time of renewing acquaintances and remembering our ancestors and their contributions to America's freedom.

The historical focus of this column will be two of several honored patriots, Stephen Souther (1742-1780) and William Souther (about 1732- 1784).

Stephen was a son of Henry Souther (about 1712-May, 1784) and Juliann (last name unknown - about 1715- about 1783). William Souther was Stephen's uncle, brother to Stephen's father, Henry. Both were born in Culpepper County, Virginia. The Choestoe early settler, John Souther, was a grandson of Stephen Souther.

The five known children of Henry and Juliann Souther migrated from Virginia to Surrey County, North Carolina (from which Wilkes County was formed). So did William Souther, Stephen's uncle and Henry's brother, who was only ten years older than Stephen. William's wife was Magdalena Vernon whom he had married in 1755.

We will examine first, our ancestor, Stephen Souther, first son of Henry, and trace what we know of the story of his service to his country. It is unrecorded (yet) in annals of patriot history, mainly because he may have died before his volunteer service was recorded. A story well-founded in Souther family history and recorded by historian Watson Benjamin Dyer states that Stephen Souther (1742-1782) married Mary Bussey (1745-1790) before they left Culpepper County, Virginia to move to Surrey (later Wilkes) County, NC in 1778. At the time, much unrest brewed as Tories (those loyal to the British) attacked settlers in the remote mountain areas, led on by the British Captain Ferguson who promoted their loyalties and attacks.

Stephen Souther signed on with the militia led by Benjamin Stephens. The story of Stephen's military service, passed down in family stories from that time, is that Stephen Souther, suffering from severe nosebleed, for he was afflicted with the disease of hemophilia, died in 1780. It is not known definitely whether his death occurred at the Battle of King's Mountain where he may have suffered a wound and the bleeding could not be stopped or whether he died somewhere enroute to the Battle. His widow, Mary Bussey Souther, was granted 200 acres of land on Hunting Creek in Wilkes County on October 23, 1782 in appreciation of his service to the country. Already, Stephen had received a grant previous to his death on February 5, 1780.

Stephen and Mary Bussey Souther had seven known children, Elizabeth, Jesse, Michael, Joshua, Joel, Sarah and Frank. The second-born, Jesse Souther (about 1775-1858) who married Joan Combs, was the father of John Souther, first Souther settler in the Choestoe District of Union County, and for most in the Souther kinship line, our link back to Stephen, whose Revolutionary Service is not proven through records. Even though there is not yet an official documentation of Stephen Souther's patriotic service, we his descendants hold confidently to the belief that he lost his life at King's Mountain where the British leader Patrick Ferguson and his army were defeated by hill country militia in late 1780. Stephen's widow, Mary Bussey Souther did not apply for a pension but accepted the land grant as recompense in recognition of her husband's service.

Documentation for the service of William Souther (1732 -1794) is clear, found in his application for pension which was made September 14, 1833. It was approved and payment made retroactive to March 4, 1831 of $27.00 per year.

In his application for pension William Souther (# S-7575) stated he volunteered for the militia in Surrey County, NC under Captain William Merritt. In his first three months tour he was at Salisbury under General Rutherford, at Rutgers Mill near Camden, SC, and with General Compton at the rout of British soldiers, Tories and Indians at the Catawba River. Then, joining General Gates at the Catawba, they were defeated in August, 1780 at the Battle of Camden and returned home.

His next term of service was by draft in Surrey County. He was at Richmond, NC under Captain Arthur Scott, at Haw River, where he became sick and was discharged to go home and recover. His next draft was under Captain David Humphries at Old Richmond in Surrey County. The unit went to Guilford Court House in March, 1781, and won a decisive victory against the British. He joined with Colonel James Martin's forces and went to Wilmington, NC in November of 1781. There they were ordered to line up for a proclamation. William Souther and his fellow soldiers heard the grand news that Cornwallis had surrendered at Yorktown in Virginia and that General Washington was victorious in battle on October 17, 1781. The British officially surrendered on October 19 and asked for terms.

These brave ancestors gave time, energy, courage and loyalty to winning of America's freedom.

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published July 16, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

John Henry Stonecypher, Jr. - Revolutionary War Soldier

John Henry Stonecypher, Jr., Revolutionary War soldier, did not ever live in Union County, Georgia. In fact, after the war, he settled on a large grant of land in what became Franklin and later Stephens counties. But his descendants people the mountain areas across North Georgia, including Union. We turn our focus on this mover and shaker of colonial America.

John Henry Stonecypher, Jr. was born in Culpepper County, Virginia in 1756, the son of German immigrant Johann Heinricus Steinseiffer who came to America in 1753, and the grandson of Johannes Steinseiffer who immigrated to America in 1749. John Henry, Jr. lived in Virginia until his family moved to Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1763.

John Henry Stonecypher, Jr. enlisted in the United States Army in June, 1776 as a private in the North Carolina Militia under Colonel Cleveland and Captain Shepherd. He entered the service at the Wilkes County Court House and was made a guard over some prisoners-of-war at Salisbury under Captain Gordon Shepherd. This was a three months tour of duty.

He returned to Wilkes County Court House and was reassigned to a battalion at the Crew River where they sought to stop the Tories led by a Captain Roberts. At King's Creek they also warded off Tories. That ended his second three-month's enlistment.

He rejoined the service in June, 1780 at Wilkes County Court House under the leadership of Captain Rutledge in the regiment commanded by Colonels Loches and Isaacs. Commander in Chief was General Gates. He also served under General Rutherford. That term of service was three months. His fourth term of duty in the North Carolina Militia began at Salisbury. The regiment was marched to Charlotte Court House and then to Camden, South Carolina where he again fought under the command of General Gates. Life was not easy. His militia was defeated. Stonecypher escaped and returned home to Wilkes County. After a few days of rest, he went again to Wilkes County Court House and signed for the North Carolina Militia under Colonel Cleveland with whom he continued in service and fought in the famous Battle of King's Mountain in October, 1780.

He was then placed under the command of General Davidson and engaged in the Battle of Okimish at Beatty's Ford on the Catawba River. There they were trying to prevent the British under General Cornwallis from crossing the river. General Davidson was killed in the battle. The militia was defeated and retreated to the Widow Torrance's house. There they were attacked the next morning in her Lane and again defeated. He went home for a brief furlough.

Stonecypher returned to Wilkes Court House, again joining with Colonel Cleveland. He remained with Cleveland until the latter was assigned to the Lejis Catuce. Stonecypher was then placed under the command of Colonel Hearne with whom he continued to serve until the Battle of Guilford Court House in March, 1781. At Guilford he was placed among the riflemen under Colonel Campbell. He was wounded in that battle. He returned home for his wound to heal.

In October 1781 he reentered service under the command of Captain Keys, Colonel Hearne and General U. Lowell. They marched to Pleasant Gardens on the Catawba River. From thence they engaged against the Indians who were siding with the British in Cherokee territory. The militia engaged in burning Indian villages at Wautauga, Cowee and Sugar Creek. He served until December, 1781. He was honorably discharged at Wilkes County Court House by Colonel Cleveland. Altogether, John Henry Stonecypher served three years as a private soldier in the Revolutionary War.

He married in Wilkes County, NC to Nancy Ann Curtis, daughter of Joshua Curtis, a lieutenant in the Revolutionary Army. Stonecypher was granted 20,000 acres of land in Rabun and Franklin Counties in Georgia in payment for his service in the Revolutionary War. He and Nancy moved first to Hart County, Georgia in 1784. In 1786 they moved again to what was then Franklin County, Georgia (now Stephens) and located on Eastanollee Creek where he built a dam and a water-operated grist mill. In 1790 he built a stately two-story house, hiring the services of an architect to plan and erect the dwelling.

After moving to Georgia, he continued to fight the Indians, serving as Captain of the militia.

He and Nancy had nine children:

Benjamin, b. 1787, Franklin County, GA, married Elizabeth Collins.
Susannah, b. 1790, Franklin County, GA, married William Nix.
James Thomas, b. 1793, Franklin County, GA, married Martha Ruth Camp.
Fannie, b. 1797, Franklin County, GA, married a Cannon.
Mary, b. 1799. Never married.
Nancy, b. Nov. 11, 1800, d. March, 1854. Never married.
Lucy, b. ca 1801, married Anderson Moseley.
Amy, b. 1803. Married Cooper B. Fuller.
Phoebe, b. April 16, 1807, d. May 10, 1865, married Daniel Moseley who operated the old Stonecypher Mill.
John Henry Stonecypher, Jr. died at age 96 on December 15, 1850 from injuries sustained in a fall from his mill house steps. Nancy Curtis Stonecypher, who was born about 1760, died July 12, 1852 (?). Both are buried in the Stonecypher Family Cemetery near the house he built at Eastanollee near Toccoa, GA. Those interested can see both the cemetery and house. GPS location 34 32 03 N - 83 17 08 W should guide you there.

On July 16, 1994, descendants and admirers gathered for a service of dedication at the cemetery. An historical marker was placed and a patriotic program was conducted recounting Stonecypher's service in the Revolutionary War. Descendant and SAR member John Paul Souther (late) of Gainesville led the effort to erect the fence, place the memorial, and plan and implement the impressive program.

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published July 9, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

On July 4 - Remembering the High Cost of Freedom

"With firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

Under the closing words of this document known as America's Declaration of Independence are inscribed the names of fifty-six men who knew that their determination to see the thirteen colonies free and independent of Great Britain would levy a great price.

We hear this often: "Freedom is not free." But do we take time to actually weigh the costs of freedom and see, unfolding through the now 233 years since this document was enacted, the blood, sweat, tears and costs of liberty? I must admit that I, personally, must commandeer my thoughts toward that end and refresh my memory with the mind-boggling weight of how dearly freedom has been purchased at great cost.

John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail in 1776: "I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states; yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means."

In this present age, America is floundering. There are those who would like to rewrite history, to delete from its pages references to "the protection of Divine Providence" and other declarations of "one nation under God." We live in a period of change and insecurity. We are in an economic downslide. Our escalating national debt is phenomenal. Ordinary citizens can barely think in terms of millions of indebtedness, much less trillions. Add to financial woes the distrust from nations we once considered our allies. Then consider the multiple internal problems that grow proportionately worse as time passes. We could wallow in a terrible pit of pessimism about our beloved America.

John Adams saw "rays of light and glory" and that "the end is worth more than all the means." He did not lose a sense of vision and optimism, despite the battles and sacrifices that lay beyond the Declaration of Independence.

On this, America's birthday, the Fourth of July, it is time for Americans to draw hope from a well-spring of patriots who were willing to sacrifice. We cannot be bound by selfish motives in the never-ending battle to make freedom triumphant. It will take far more than the idea to maintain freedom. It must be a way of life.

Those who set their names as seals of promise on the Declaration did pay a high price. Five were captured by the British and tortured unmercifully before their deaths. Twelve saw their houses and property occupied by the enemy, looted or burned. Two lost sons in the fray and another had a son captured. Nine died in the war. All were true to their pledge of their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor."

Pages of history record that as the Colonial Congress signed the Declaration, "a pensive and awful silence …pervaded the house…as we were called up one by subscribe what was believed by many to be our own death warrants" (from the pen of Dr. Benjamin Rush).

In this far-flung year more than two centuries after the Declaration was signed, and as we consider an uncertain future, but one that depends upon our determination to help stabilize and insure the ongoing freedoms America has enjoyed, may we take seriously that message from Thomas Payne who wrote in 1776:

"What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a price upon its goods, and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated."

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published July 2, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.