Thursday, October 29, 2009

Brown Families Among Union County's First Settlers

Of the 147 heads of households recorded in Union County’s first census in 1834, two were Brown families, David Brown with three males and two females and Milton Brown with five males and six females. Of the 903 population recorded at that time, sixteen had the surname Brown.

Both David and Milton Brown continued to live in Union, for they were recorded in the 1840 census as well. Some of Milton’s children had already left home to go out on their own, for his household had only 3 males and two females in 1840. David Brown’s family, on the other hand, had increased, for registered in his household in 1840 were four males and four females. It was interesting to note that by 1840, the Brown households had increased from the two in 1834 to eleven, and total Brown population from sixteen to sixty-three. Besides David and Milton’s households, other heads-of-households in Union in 1840 were Harmon (5), Romulus A. (6), John (6), William A. (5), Macky (12), Joel R. (6), William C. (2), John (4), and William (4). According to the scattering of the census, these eleven Brown families were located in several districts of Union.

Then came a surprise. An examination of the 1850 census revealed that the Brown population had taken a decided growth spurt in the decade. The number of households with a Brown listed had increased to twenty-seven but only twenty-one of these were Brown households, for six of the Browns enumerated were living in the household of persons not bearing the Brown surname. These were Elliott Brown, age 23, in the home of Joseph (age 25, b. SC) and Martha Stephens (age 17, b. SC). Franklin Brown (age 23, b. NC) in the home of J. E. Purkins (age 38, b. NC) and Elizabeth Purkins (age 25, b. NC). Mr. Purkins owned 18 slaves. Caroline Brown (age 19, b. NC) lived in the home of Benjamin and Racy Ledford. Mary Brown (age 16, b. NC) lived in the home of Lewis and Sally Queen. She was helping Sally Queen take care of her six little children ranging from age twelve to six months. James Brown (age 19, born TN) was in the home of Hugh and Adaline Lee (ages 25 and 23, both born in NC). Terrell Brown (age 8, b. SC) was in the home of Mourning Brookshire (age 67, b. NC), with David Brookshire (16, SC) and Milly Brookshire (13, SC). Supposition is that Terrell, David and Milly may have been grandchildren of Mourning Brookshire.

Browns noted as heads of households in the 1850 census were Harmon Brown (35, b. SC), his wife, Sarah (later listed by her nickname Sally—age 31, NC) and six children, ages 10 to 9 months: John, Alfred, George, Elisha, Jackson and Smith Loransey.

Susan Brown (age 64, NC) was evidently a widow with two children still at home, John (age 21, b. KY) and Elizabeth (age 18, b. KY).

Jacob Brown (age 52, b. NC) headed a household with his wife Elizabeth (age 44, b. VA) and children Francis (age 25, b. NC), Jane (age 20), Thomas (age 13) and Lazarus (age 12)—with the last three children born in SC.

G. W. Brown (age 40, b. NC) had a wife named Nancy (age 36, b. TN) and eight children at home: Elizabeth (16, b. NC) Thomas (14, b. TN), the next four were born in NC: Patton (12), Peliner (10), Amanda (8), Frances (7); and the last two, Matilda (4) and Martha (3 months) had been born in Georgia.

Mary Brown (age 45, b. NC) headed a household with four children still at home, all born in NC: Smith (18), John (16), Josephus (12) and Sarah (10).

John Brown (68, b. NC) and his wife, Sally (60, b. NC) had in the house with them a person listed as Betsy Miller (22, b. NC).

James Brown (34, b. NC) and his wife Anner (35, b. NC) had four children who had been born in NC, namely Mary Ann (11), Henry (8), Martha (7), and Jesse (5); and little Sarah Jane (3) and John (1) had been born since they arrived in Georgia.

Continuing with listings of 1850 Brown households in Union we find John, Jr. (age 24, born in NC) with his wife Sary (age 27, b. NC) and two small children both born in Georgia: Susannah, 6 and Burton, 2).

Next door is John Brown, Sr. (53, b. NC), his wife, Tempey (57, b. NC) and children James (19, NC) and Margaret (17, NC).

Another household has John M. (40, NC) as its head, making this four in 1840 with John as the head of household. His wife was named Sarah (39, b. NC) and children James (17), William (16), Andrew (14), Willson (12) and Jane (9), all born in NC, and John (2) born since the family arrived in Georgia.

Nathaniel Brown headed a small household. He was 26, born in NC, with his wife, Mary Ann (18, b. NC) and their 11-month old child William. Living in their household was James Gallion (17, b. NC). Could he have been a brother to Mary Ann?

By 1850, Milton Brown was 54, we learn that he was born in NC, as was his wife, Kissiah, age 52, and their very large family of children numbering nine still at home were all listed as having been born in NC. However, this may be a mistake on the part of the census taker, for Milton Brown had been in Union both for the 1834 and the 1840 censuses. Their children listed were John (30), Mary (20), Sally (19), Enos (18), Betsey (14), Adington (13), William (11), Ephraim (8) and Martha (5).

The last of the Brown households noted in 1850 was headed by R. A. (Romulus A. of the 1840 census, age 37, b. SC) and his wife Elizabeth (38, b. NC) with the elder two of their children born in NC: Leander 17 and Catharine, 15. The other five children had been born since the family moved to Georgia: Caroline (12), Hazeltine (10), Lovina (8), Jane (5) and Avaline (3).

Readers who have Brown family ties may be able to link back to some of these early households of Union settlers. Next week we will look at some Brown marriages before 1850 and how the name Brown was linked through wedlock to other early settlers.

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Oct. 29, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Hope Cemetery Inquiry and Cobb Family History

A telephone call led me on a research dig, first about the New Hope Methodist Church Cemetery in Union County, Georgia and then to the Cobb family who buried at least twelve family members there in marked graves. Maybe there were other Cobb family members buried there, for some fifty plus graves have no identity indicators other than unmarked fieldstones.

Strangely enough, the inquiry was not about the Cobb family, but rather about the King family. A granddaughter of Mr. Henry King called me. Mr. King was buried in one of the unmarked graves at old New Hope Cemetery. His son had a stone made, but died before he could erect it, and now the granddaughter and grandson want to fulfill their father’s desire to mark his father’s grave. Finding my name attached to a “Through Mountain Mists” column, she called to ask me if I could give her directions to the cemetery.

Thanks to Mr. Dale Elliott and the late Mr. Charlie Wimpey who compiled and edited Cemetery Records of Union County, Georgia in 1990, I quickly found New Hope Cemetery listed. I read to her from the book, page 300: “From the old courthouse square in Blairsville, it is 8.4 miles north on U. S. 129, then ¼ mile on Cobb Mountain Road.” She said that she and her brother knew the location of the unmarked grave, and would soon be erecting the tombstone at Mr. Henry King’s grave.

From the cemetery book, I learned that the New Hope Methodist Church was founded about 1851 as evidenced by a recorded deed of land in Union County Courthouse. Mr. Moses Anderson transferred property on which the church was located to five men who were trustees of the church, namely W. A. Cobb, U. C. Wilson, B. F. Stiles, Joseph C. Neece and W. W. Odom. I found it interesting that not a single one of these men had named markers in the New Hope Cemetery. Maybe some of them were interred there for the cemetery book states there are more than 50 unmarked graves. I found Joseph C. Neece listed as buried in the Ivy Log Cemetery. New Hope Church either was incorporated with another Methodist church in the community or was disbanded. The building was torn down in the 1940’s and now only the cemetery with its 33 marked graves and 50+ unmarked graves remains to show that an early church met there.

Since a dozen of the marked graves at New Hope have the Cobb last name, my curiosity sent me searching for these early settlers. The earliest marked grave was that of Lydia Keys Cobb with the dates 1773-1848. In fact, this lady’s rather elaborate tombstone is pictured in the cemetery book on the New Hope pages as the first person interred there. Evidently the Cobbs were in Union before 1848 to have a family member buried at New Hope, perhaps as the very first person buried there.

And then I discovered a mystery. Reading the Cobb family histories submitted for The Heritage of Union County (pages 99-100), checking the Union County census records of 1834, 1840 and 1850, and again reading the tombstone of Lydia Keys Cobb from Cemetery Records of Union County showing the tombstone with death date of 1848, I immediately thought: “Something’s wrong in the records.”

I found that Lydia Cobb was listed in the 1850 Census, age 77, as living in the home of her son, William Cobb. According to her tombstone, she died in 1848. William’s wife Charlotte (she was also buried at New Hope Cemetery) and William and Charlotte’s nine children all born in North Carolina, were listed in the 1850 census. Either the census taker was wrong about Mrs. Lydia Cobb still being alive in 1850 or the date on her tombstone is wrong.

Tracing more about William and Charlotte Cobb, I found this information. There were no Cobb families in Union County census records until the 1850 census listing. Then William was 40, his wife Charlotte was 45, and their nine children were Reuben, 19, John 18, Rebecca, 16, Joseph, 14, Louisa, 13, James, 11, Rufus, 8, Elbert, 6, and Harrison, 3. And there, at the end of this family listing is Lydia Cobb, age 77. All had been born in North Carolina What gives? Her tombstone has her death date as 1848, and from her birth date, 1773, according to her tombstone she died at age 75. I think it is not likely there were two women in the same household named Lydia Cobb, and since the one buried at New Hope has the maiden name Keys, I found that she was definitely the mother of William Alfred Cobb.

William Alfred Cobb (8/10/1809-8/5/1886) was the only child of Lydia Keys Mullen Cobb, second wife of William’s father, John Paul Cobb, a Revolutionary War soldier who moved from Charlotte to Newburn, NC. There William Alfred Cobb married, first, Charlotte Henson whose father Daniel was a Revolutionary War soldier. They lived in Haywood County, NC where William was sheriff and an ordained Methodist minister. William Alfred Cobb was a unionist, and did not like states seceding prior to the Civil War. He decided to move his family to Union County, Georgia in 1848 so he could be among more who supported the union.

Since he was one of the Trustees of the New Hope Methodist Church in Ivy Log District when Moses Anderson granted land on which the church and cemetery were located, my supposition is that the Rev. William Alfred Cobb may have been the organizing minister of the church when it was formed. Regardless of the confusing date from the 1850 census which still shows Lydia (Keys) Cobb alive at age 77, and the gravestone death date that shows her death as 1848, William Alfred’s mother was definitely the first burial at the New Hope Cemetery. His wife, Charlotte Henson Cobb, was the second burial there. Her death date was May 22, 1861.

William Alfred Cobb married his second wife, Lavinia Roberts, on February 2, 1862 in Union County, Georgia with the Rev. Thomas M. Hughes, noted Methodist minister, performing the ceremony. After the Civil War, in 1872, William and Lavinia moved to Beaver Dam in Cherokee County, NC. There they lived out their lives and he was buried at his death in 1886 in the Unaka Cemetery in an unmarked grave.

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Oct. 22, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Judge Thomas Slaughter Candler Wields Wide Influence

Judge Thomas Slaughter Candler at the dedication service of the Brasstown Bald Recreation Area, June, 1971, the last public function he attended prior to his death.

Thomas Slaughter Candler was born December 15, 1890 in Blairsville, Union County, Georgia, the seventh and last child of William Ezekiel Candler and Elizabeth Mary Haralson Candler. His father was a local lawyer. Did W. E. Candler have dreams that his new son would grow up to follow in his footsteps as a lawyer, and go even farther to become a Georgia Supreme Court Justice?

When Thomas Slaughter Candler was born December 15, 1890, Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president of the United States was in office. Called “the little president” because of his short stature of five feet six inches in height, he dealt with labor strikes in manufacturing areas, and saw passage of the McKinley Tariff Act that put a high tax on goods shipped to America from abroad. It was also the year the Sherman Antitrust Act passed, intended to deal a blow against monopolies. On the very day of little Thomas Slaughter Candler’s birth in Blairsville, the famed Sitting Bull, Sioux Indian Chief, and eleven other Sioux, were killed at Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota by U. S. soldiers called Indian Police assigned to keep order there. To say the least, the Candler baby was born in a time of unrest. Who knows? Maybe the situation called for growing up a lawyer and judge who could make a difference in the future.

Our Blairsville Thomas Slaughter Candler was well-connected descendancy-wise to other famous Georgians with the Candler surname. Let’s look at Thomas’s ancestors. Thomas’s great, great grandfather William Candler was born in Ireland in 1738. William was brought as a child to Virginia where he grew up and married Elizabeth Anthony in 1761. Eventually, the Candlers migrated to North Carolina and then southward before the Civil War to Columbia County, Georgia. Daniel Candler, born in 1779 in Columbia County, was Thomas’s great grandfather. In 1779 Daniel married Sarah Slaughter, the forebear whose surname was used as the middle name of several of the Candler descendants. Daniel and Sarah Slaughter Candler had several children, among whom were these named ones: Milton Anthony Candler, 1837; Ezekiel Slaughter Candler, 1838; Noble Daniel Candler, 1840; Florence Julia Candler, 1842; Sarah Justiana Candler, 1845; William Beall Candler, 1847; Elizabeth Frances Candler, 1849; Asa Griggs Candler, Sr., 1851; Samuel Charles Candler, 1855.

Of the above-listed children of Daniel and Sarah Candler, all “turned out well,” as we say in the mountains. Some made a name for themselves in business, politics and religion.

Milton Anthony Candler was a Georgia congressman. Asa Griggs Candler bought out Dr. John Pemberton’s recipe for Coca-Cola for $2300 and made a fortune manufacturing that popular soda. He used his wealth to found Emory University and for many other philanthropic causes, including the Candler Missionary College in Cuba. Samuel Charles Candler held public offices in Cherokee and Carroll counties. Warren Akin Candler became a bishop in the Methodist Church in Georgia and left a legacy of good in institutions of that denomination.

Daniel and Sarah’s son, Ezekiel Slaughter Candler (1838-1869) married Jane Williams. They lived in Milledgeville, Georgia when their youngest child, William Ezekiel Candler was born. The Civil War came when W. E. (as he was known) was only eight. His parents sent him from Central Georgia to live with his older sister who resided in Blairsville, hoping that the child could escape death as Sherman’s army marched through Georgia. While young W. E. was still in Union County, his father Ezekiel died in 1869. He remained on in Union at the home of his sister and got his education in one-teacher schools, later reading law and passing the bar examination. According to Union County marriage records, W. E. Candler married Elizabeth Mary Haralson on June 11, 1879, with then-noted Methodist minister, the Rev. Thomas M. Hughes performing their ceremony. Elizabeth Mary’s parents were Thomas J. and Mary Haralson. This marriage joined two families interested in law as a career.

Thomas Slaughter Candler had six siblings. His sister June, the oldest, married Clabis Lloyd. His sister called “Pick” married Pierce Matthews. These two older girls moved to Gainesville and Smyrna respectively. Nellie (1880-1893) and Ruth (1897-1928) died and were buried in the Blairsville Cemetery. Alwayne married Garnett Butt and remained in Union.

William Ezekiel, Jr. married and lived in Blairsville. The last-born child of W. E. and Elizabeth Candler was Thomas Slaughter Candler. On April 16, 1916, he married Augusta Beulah Cook, daughter of Joe and Sarah Cook.

To Thomas and Beulah were born four children: Sarah (died 1992) married Jason B. Gilliland; William Ezekiel (called “Buck” died of diphtheria in 1921); Nell married Walter McNeil; and Thomas Slaughter Candler, Jr. married Blanche Patton.

Thomas Slaughter Candler was educated in small schools in the Blairsville area and graduated as valedictorian of his 1913 class from Young Harris College. He went to the University of Georgia where he graduated summa cum laude in 1915 with an LLB degree. He passed the Georgia bar and worked with his father, William Ezekiel Candler, in his law office until his father died in 1927. Thomas served as a local lawyer, on the School Board, and mayor of Blairsville.

In 1939, Governor Ed Rivers appointed him as Georgia Superior Court Judge for the Northeastern District. He became a Justice of the Georgia State Supreme Court in 1945, appointed by Governor Ellis Arnall, and subsequently elected three more times, holding that office through 1966.

His other achievements included assisting in rewriting the Georgia Constitution.

He gave generous portions of his land for Vogel State Park and for the area around the spring at Bald Mountain State Park. He was instrumental in getting electricity to Union County through Tennessee Valley Authority and in gaining grants for highway construction in the area.

A Christian gentleman, lover of the Constitution—both Georgia and US—supporter of people’s rights, honest, fair and intellectually gifted, this man from Union County stood tall wherever he served. He died June 15, 1971 and his beloved wife Beulah died in 1983. They were interred in the Union Memory Gardens. The Candler surname means “one who lights candles or one who makes candles.” Certainly, Judge Tom Candler lived up to his name and was a shining light in the mountains.

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published October 15, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Some More 'First Families' in Union by 1834--the Self Family

From time to time I have been examining the 1834 special census of Union County to see ancestors of those families who may still be living within the area of Union, or those who still come back to visit graves of those who have gone before.

This focus will be upon the Self family. Three households with the last name Self lived in Union County in 1834.

The Job Self household had six males and six females. The Francis Self household must have been a young or old one, for there was just one male and one female registered, no children. The Thomas Self household had one male and one female, and I can more readily account for them, for the first Self marriage recorded in Union was that of Thomas Self to Nancy Cook on July 11, 1833 by John Thomas, Justice of the Inferior Court. This marriage occurred about seven months after Union was created on December 3, 1832. Nancy may have been a daughter of William Cook, the only Cook family in Union in 1834 with 7 males and 9 females. Thomas, the groom, was probably a son of Job Self. Unfortunately, no family article about the Selfs appeared in The Heritage of Union County 1932-1994 to assist with this family puzzle.

By the second census in 1840 four Self families were living in Union. These were Job, William, Thomas R. and Robert B. The household of Francis Self was not listed in 1840. Perhaps he and his wife had died. No marked grave with Francis Self was found in cemetery records. Another Self wedding had taken place since 1834. That was of Robert B. Self to Martha Cook on January 25, 1838, performed by Jarrett Turner, Justice of the Peace. We wonder if Martha Cook Self and Nancy Cook Self were sisters. It is interesting to note the number in each of the families in 1840, as that census lists only the number by gender categories. Job Self’s household had 4 males and 7 females. In William’s home were 3 males and 2 females. Thomas R. Self (Thomas and Nancy who married in 1833) had 3 males and 4 females, or five children. Robert B. Self (who married Martha Cook in 1838) had one male and 2 females, or one child already.

Gratefully, by the 1850 census, not only were names of heads of households listed, but the wife’s name was given, the place, if not Georgia, where persons were born, and the names and ages of husband, wife and children. In 1850 we find four households of Selfs and another household with a child having the last name of Self. William, Thomas and Robert had remained for the decade since 1840. The fourth household, not listed in 1840, was that of Francis Self, age 32, born in NC, his wife Hester, 31, born in NC, and their five children all born in Georgia: Job 12, John 10, Thomas 8, John 4 (this may have been a mistake in transcription, for they already had a son John, age 10), and Joseph, 1. This Francis could have been missed in the 1840 census, for their oldest child, Job, would have been born about 1838.

Tracing the other Selfs in the 1850 census, we find William, age 37 and his wife, Elizabeth, both born in North Carolina. Their first four children were also born in North Carolina: David, 17, Berryman, 14, John 12, and Sarah 10. Mary, 8, Franklin, 6, and Barbary 4 were born in Georgia.

Robert Self and his wife Martha Cook Self were both born in North Carolina. He was 30 in 1850 and she was 29. They had married in Union County in 1838. Their children were James, 13, Susan 8, Elisha 7, Jane 4, and Job 2.

Thomas Self and his wife Nancy Cook Self (married in Union in 1833) and both born in North Carolina had a large family by 1850. Names of their children listed in the 1850 census were William, 16; Sally, 15; Caroline, 13; John, 12; Elizabeth, 10; Francis, 9; Jehu, 7; Monroe, 6: Newton, 5; Thomas, 3; and an infant male with no name yet given when the census taker visited their house in 1850.

The other Self listed in 1850 was a child, Selia (Celia) Self, who lived in the household of a young couple, William Crumley, age 31, born in NC and Jane Crumley, age 28 who listed her birthplace as Alabama. Selia was age 6 and had been born in Georgia. Noting the marriage records, I found that Jane Self and William Crumley were married February 25, 1849 by Charles Crumley, Justice of the Peace. Celia evidently was Jane’s child born before her marriage to William Crumley. Could Jane have named her after her aunt, Celia Self Collins, wife of Thompson Collins?

In consulting the helpful resource book entitled Union County Marriage Records 1833-1897 compiled by Viola Holden Jones of Louisville, TN in 1992, I found a total of fifty Self marriages recorded between 1833 and 1897. Space precludes my listing them here, but it is interesting to see the children’s names of the 1850 households listed among those marriages.

Consulting another valuable resource, Cemetery Records of Union County, Georgia (c1990), I decided to seek marked graves of any Selfs born before 1850. I was disappointed to find only three: Ezekiel Self (1845-1890) buried in Antioch Cemetery; John J. Self (Dec. 6, 1835- Oct. 22, 1921) and Margaret Self (May 28, 1939-Sept. 18, 1928) both buried in Shady Grove Cemetery. Referring again to the marriage records, I found that Ezekiel R. Self married Rosa A. Hix on March 10, 1867 with Jebiah Jackson, Justice of the Peace performing the ceremony. John Self married Margaret Daniel on February 10, 1856 with Charles Crumley, Justice of the Peace, the officiating officer.

At best, this account of first families Selfs is incomplete. I am greatly interested in Self genealogy because I descend from Celia Self Collins, wife of Thompson Collins. They were among the first settlers in Choestoe District of Union County and were here when the first census was taken in 1834. What research I have been able to do reveals that Celia was a daughter of Francis Self and that she had siblings named Job, Sarah, and Jesse. I believe the Job Self in the 1834 Union Census was my great, great uncle, and the Francis Self listed then may well have been my great, great, great grandfather (Celia Self Collins’s father). This research leaves me wishing I knew for sure.

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Oct. 8, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Silas Chambers, Country School Teacher Extraordinary

Seated: Teacher Silas Chambers holding their first child and his wife, Laura Hood Chambers, about 1899.

Standing, Laura's younger sister, Jessie Mae Hood (1886-1902), who died at age 16 with a fever.

We read this account about early country schools in Edward Leander Shuler’s book, Blood Mountain (Convention Press, Jacksonville, FL, 1953, p. 48):

“ ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child,’ had long been the rule both parents and teachers had followed in Choestoe. The rule was used, they said, by the Cherokees in bringing up their children throughout the Georgia mountains before the white people went to Choestoe to live. But a new age of learning was destined to change the people of Choestoe. It would change their thinking first and then their ways.”
That ‘new age of learning’ came when young Silas Chambers from “the other end” of Union County went to Hood’s Chapel School to be the teacher. Edward Leander Shuler’s father, William Jackson Shuler, had a voice in hiring the young, aspiring teacher. So did Mr. Theodore Saxon, another prominent man in the community. The Reverend John Twiggs, who had been the teacher at Hood’s Chapel, had moved on to White County across the mountain to preach and teach, leaving the local school on the Logan Turnpike without a teacher. Maybe Silas Chambers had heard the news that the community was without a teacher. He went, seeking the job as the schoolmaster.

Silas Chambers was minus a right hand and a portion of that arm. In inquiry, he told Mr. Shuler that he had lost his arm in an accident while he worked on the railroad in North Carolina. In damage settlement from the railroad, the young man had received money with which he went to Bellevue Academy to learn to be a teacher. He came well-qualified, with credentials in science, mathematics, the classics of literature and language, history and philosophy. He also enjoyed sports and proposed to teach the pupils how to play baseball, wrestling, “town” ball, and swimming.

The parents of Hood’s Chapel Community welcomed the young teacher who got a place to board in the community and began the summer school term as soon as crops were “laid” by. He was a brilliant conversationalist, and even before school began, the people knew that he had worked not only on the railroad, but that he had experience in the mines at Copperhill, Tennessee and on the log trains that loaded at the Culberson, NC railroad depot. Even though he had lost an arm, he compensated with strength and power in his body, and the dexterous use of his left hand and arm.

In baseball and town ball, he taught the students coordination and good sportsmanship. After school hours, he took the boys hunting on the mountains. He taught many to swim in the mill pond or in the deep hole of the Nottley River. School was an exciting place, for learning was active and interest was high. He made available more books than the students had known before, and he taught research methods and through experiments.

Then Silas Chambers met a young lady, already out of school, but who would pass by the school building going to her care-giving job at Tom Alexander’s house, where she helped LeEtta Alexander with her new baby and the other children. This young lady’s name was Laura Hood, daughter of Mary Reid Hood and Richard Jarrett Hood. She lived up near the Helton Falls along a mountain trail from Hood’s Chapel School.

The young couple began to see each other at church meetings. Later, as no surprise and to the delight of the Hood’s Chapel people, the couple announced a date for their wedding. Then, on a Sunday in the early springtime, while dogwood trees were in full bloom, Silas Chambers and Laura Hood were married in a beautiful ceremony at the home of her mother, Mary Reid Hood, with the Rev. John Twiggs performing the ceremony. This was in 1896. The festivity was complete with a reception with good food for all guests and a serenade to the new couple. It was a typical mountain wedding celebration in the late nineteenth century.

How long Silas Chambers continued to teach at Hood’s Chapel School is unknown to this writer, but sometime later, the young couple decided to go west for better job opportunities for the excellent teacher who had opened up the vistas of learning for many in the Choestoe section around Hood’s Chapel School. Many who themselves became teachers, ministers, doctors and lawyers as well as farmers and housewives testified to the lofty influence this teacher had on their early learning experiences at the little country school.

The couple settled near Denver, Colorado in a township called Brighton. Silas Chambers was born in 1867 and died in 1938. His parents were Juan Roswell Chambers and Mary A. Shields Chambers. Silas’s brother, J. W. Chambers, married Laura Hood’s older sister, Ida Hood. J. W. and Ida Chambers remained in Union County when Silas and Laura went west. Occasionally the younger couple would return to visit relatives in Union County.

Laura Hood Chambers died March 23, 1938 at the Presbyterian Hospital in Denver, Colorado. Her death certificate lists causes of death as pneumonia and cardiac hypertrophy. She was 58 at the time of her death. Her husband died the same year as she. He was 71. Their triple tombstone at Brighton, Colorado has the names Silas Chambers (1867-1938), Laura L. Hood Chambers (1880-1938), and son Ferd Chambers (1905-1920). Other known children of this couple were Mercer, Peter, Emma, Grace and Florence.

Edward Leander Shuler writes of this teacher extraordinary, “Silas Chambers was the chief actor in the drama of life that unfolded at Hood school house” (p. 57).

[Resources: Edward Leander Shuler, Blood Mountain. Jacksonville, FL: Convention Press, 1953. Pp.48-57. Carol Thomas Alexander, Mary Reid Hood and Richard Jarrett Hood Families. Compiled 2001.]

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Oct. 1, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.