Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Is... A Trail of Miracles through Unbelievable Circumstances (or the Malac-Bartak Story)

Since this is my last column for 2011 in this paper, I want to thank my faithful readers for staying with me yet another year. I have written about many “first settlers” to our county, going back to study the 1834, 1840 and 1850 census records to trace several of the brave people who hazarded the unknown to settle in the new and burgeoning county of Union. If you missed any of these stories and have any interest in them, you may go online to GaGenWebProject, click on Union County, and when the general index emerges, click on “Through Mountain Mists.” There you will find a complete listing by title of my columns since I began writing for “The Union Sentinel” in July, 2003. Can it be it has been over eight years I have followed this challenging and satisfying pursuit of telling the stories of our brave ancestors and true stories of this section of our beautiful world?

But today’s column will take a different turn. It is a true story, coming at a pivotal time in the year here at Christmastime. I recently received a most wonderful Christmas gift, a copy of Barry Forrest Malac’s book of remembrances entitled “Through the Mountains, Valleys and Gloom…But Never Alone.” Barry and Marian Bartak Malac are fairly recent newcomers as residents of Union County, coming in 1986 to begin their Union County home, and moving here to live in 1989 after Barry’s retirement. Mainly his story, but interspersed with how he met Marian in his native Czechoslovakia, and how their lives became intertwined as husband and wife, reads like a novel. The reviewer, writer Arlene M. Gray of “An Ordinary Life…” rightly states of Barry’s book: “The reader has no choice but not to put the book down until the end is reached.” And with her evaluation I heartily agree; with many Christmas preparation jobs calling for my time, I could not leave Barry’s book alone until I had finished the last chapter. His is a marvelous story of faith and adventure, trust and persistence, following God’s leadership and acting on opportunities, many through grave dangers and escaping Communism That is why I entitle this review of Barry Malac’s book, “Christmas Is…A Trail of Miracles through Unbelievable Circumstances.” I recommend to my readers that you find a copy of his book and read it. It will inspire you, uplift you and make you know that miracles still occur in the lives of people who sincerely seek to follow the Lord who came to earth at Christmastime.

Born in Vienna, Austria on December 12, 1923, the third child of the Rev. Gustav Josef Malac and Antonie Malacova Malac, the new baby lived in the home of his Methodist Episcopal minister father and mother. Later his father would minister in Czechoslovakia where he became pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church South in Bratislava, Slovakia on January 1, 1929, and then on to the area of Prague. Grave days lay ahead, as they would live through the perils of World War II, with Barry (his Americanized name) working at Stalag Erding in Bavaria to assist with keeping German warplanes repaired and in the air. Barry’s story of close encounters of the dangerous kind, his bout in the military, and his college years are one string of miracles after another. Then he saw a picture of the daughter of an American United Methodist minister sent to his country as Superintendent of Methodist Missions. Barry told his mother, when she tried to match him up with a young lady of her choosing, that he planned to marry the girl from America whose picture he saw on the Methodist brochure. And things came about that he was able to do just that.

But even after their wedding, held on Easter Saturday, April 16, 1949, circumstances were not easy for the young couple—she an American citizen in that Czech country with her parents, approved missionaries, and the young Czech who had ambitions of becoming a forester.

He first took steps to escape the strict confines of the communist regime and border patrols. His story is full of suspense, intrigue and danger. She was to follow and they were to meet in Munich, Germany. Timing and getting through tough check-points allow the reader to see aspects of escape and holding securely to dreams. The way Barry Malac gives God credit for opening up the way for both of them and getting them safely to America is a story worthy of any Christmas miracles we can imagine.

Even in America, life was not easy as Marian’s aunt in Texas took them in for a while. Then they decided to move east to Duke University in North Carolina for Barry to get his Master’s degree in Forestry. Then came his first permanent job in Savannah, Georgia as Barry was employed in management with the Union Bag and Paper Corporation. Giving just the barest facts, as I am doing here, of a lifetime of dreams and their fulfillment may not sound very exciting. But believe me, Barry’s narrative style, his ability to remember significant events and how these were turned to good (which he terms miracles) make their true story fascinating reading. His frontispiece uses this quotation from the noted Albert Einstein: “There are only two ways to live one’s life: one is to live as if everything is a miracle, and the other one is as if nothing is a miracle.” And what have Barry and Marian done throughout their lives together: They see and acknowledge the miracles that have occurred. They know to Whom to give credit, and the Spirit of Christmas is evident throughout their long and eventful lives. Thank you, Barry Malac, for telling your story for us to marvel at and admire.

And since I want to end this column with a Christmas wish for all of you faithful readers, I offer you my 2011 Christmas poem. I hope its lines inspire deep thought about the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas Is…

Christmas is God with us,

Immanuel His name.

In the fullness of time

The Lord Jesus came,

Fulfillment of prophecy

From God’s plan for mankind,

To restore broken kinship

And bring peace of mind

To all who draw near

With faith deep in the heart.

This is the message

That Christmas imparts.

Christmas is Love Incarnate,

The Word made flesh;

A break through the darkness

From the sin that enmeshed

Mankind in bondage

For multitudinous years.

Angels declared the message:

“Rejoice! Have no fears,

For behold we bring you

This message of peace:

Christ is born in Bethlehem,

Now your bondage will cease!”

Think how our gratitude

Should swell up in praise:

Let us serve Christ the Lord

Throughout all of our days!

“Christmas is the day

That holds all time together.”*

Christmas is God-with-us!

No power that bond can sever!

-Ethelene Dyer Jones

Christmas, 2011

(*”Christmas is the day that holds all time together” is a quotation by Alexander Smith.)

c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published December 22, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmastime and World War II Recollections

December 7, 1941 was, as then-president Franklin Delano Roosevelt stated in addressing the nation, “a day of infamy.” Those still living who remember that day when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, resulting in the United States declaring war on December 8, indeed remember the times. Our nation was plunged into the war that had already been raging in Europe since 1939. The years from 1941 through 1945 changed our rather peaceful, taken-for-granted way of life in the mountainous region of North Georgia. Even Christmastimes during these years became different.

Upon President Roosevelt’s declaration of war on December 8, 1941, eligible young men began to volunteer and/or were drafted. This meant that the farm workers were cut drastically while at the same time maximum production was needed for the war effort. My brother, Eugene, volunteered for the Army Air Force, as well as did my cousins William Clyde Collins, Sr., and Robert Neal Collins, and many other able-bodied young men we knew. At Choestoe Church, we had an “Honor Roll” of those in service from our congregation, and we earnestly prayed for their safety each time we met to worship.

In the meantime, those of us—much younger though we were—had to grow up and become responsible in assisting with farm labor, like hoeing (which we were taught anyway from a very early age), learning to walk behind a corn planter and guide the mule along the rows, or operate a “cultivator” plow to plow between the rows to keep the weeds down. Maximum crop production was needed for the “war effort,” and it took all hands-aboard, young though we were.

Only ten days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, my Grandpa Collins died on December 17, 1941. He had been a stay in the community, out ahead in more modern methods of farming. He had the first “threshing machine” in the area, going from farm to farm to thresh the harvests of grain. He had the first electricity on his farm, from his own Delco system, long before Tennessee Valley Authority got permission to run their power lines into the community. He also had owned the first tractor and tractor-drawn farm implements. Grandpa Francis Jasper “Bud” Collins had a Delco Plant that produced electricity for his house and some of his farm buildings. Because of the passing of this staid citizen of Choestoe so shortly after Pearl Harbor, those of us who loved and respected him so highly thought we had lost our foremost citizen. I, for one, grieved during that time near to Christmas. Never again was his country store as fascinating to me as it had been before his death, even though his son and two of his daughters continued to operate it, and his large farm.

To complicate matters in the Dyer household, my brother Eugene joined the US Army Air Force and as soon as his training was finished shipped out to the European theater of war where he served admirably as a bombardier on many missions over enemy territory. My brother-in-law, Ray Dyer, husband to my older sister Louise Dyer, also entered service. He was sent to the Pacific theater of war. We had two members of our family far away in war. We had two less adult workers for all the farm work. We eagerly awaited any word from them in daily mail, but letters were sometimes infrequent. And then my mother became quite ill with heart complications in the days before miracle drugs and surgery could promise relief from her suffering. She died on Valentine’s Day, December 14, 1945. At the time of her death, my brother Eugene was severely wounded and lying in an Army Field Hospital somewhere in Italy. At age fourteen I transitioned from teenager to adult because I became the main housekeeper, cook, and manager of our household. It was a sad time for the Dyer family, but somehow we kept going, because of our strong spirit of patriotism and derring-do.

What were Christmases like during these years from 1941 through 1945? Recall that rationing became necessary to the war effort. We could only have a “rationed” amount of sugar, other scarce items of “store-bought” supplies, and gasoline and tires were hard to come by. Say that we adjusted. Maybe these scarcities and restrictions were not as hard on farm families as they were on those living in the cities of our country. We still mainly farmed through “mule” power and human effort and had not yet become mechanized on our farm. Our first tractor came after World War II was over. It was amazing the tasty sweets we made using our own home-created product, sorghum syrup. My father, J. Marion Dyer, made hundreds of gallons of sorghum syrup each fall, from his own and other farmers’ crops of cane. We sweetened cookies and gingerbread, dried fruit stack cakes and peanut brittle candy with our country-produced sorghum. These made good sweets for Christmas during the war years.

At school we had all sorts of drives for the war effort: selling savings stamps and bonds; collecting scrap metal for the war effort; rolling bandages in home economics classes. We knew our nation was in a crisis situation and we as patriotic teenagers did what we could to support our troops and to hasten victory. We kept abreast of progress on all fronts. It is a wonder we did not become traumatized for life, having the realities of war and its effects on our families thrust upon us at such an impressionable age. But at least no battles were fought on US home soil. We were spared those atrocities and first-hand observations and fears of war. But we did, on occasions, attend solemn memorials for a few of our young military men who met their deaths in service. Four Christmases came and went. We became older and wiser, more thoughtful and less presumptive because of how the war touched our individual lives and communities.

At the churches in our communities, we had our Christmas programs much as we had done before the war. There were still manger tableaus with shepherds and wise men gathered around. We sang the beloved Christmas carols, trying to sound notes of hope and majesty despite our concerns for the war and beloved from our churches who had gone as servicemen.

Maybe the little paper bags with our goodies—an orange, an apple, some peppermint stick candy and chocolate drops—had less of the goodies than in pre-war years. But those treats were there…and ever, hope was paramount.

And so we weathered the war years, 1941 through 1945. Maybe it is good for us to remember, to think of the sacrifices and triumphs, the determination to make-do. Have we lost some of our spirit of persistence and pride, of patriotism and faith? Christmas is a good time to reflect and recollect…and to set new directions that will lead to victory. We had this spirit in World War II years. Oh, that we could recapture the wonder, the marvel of working together for common purposes! In retrospect, I’m grateful that I “grew up” to adulthood at a young age because of circumstances.

The words of poet John Greenleaf Whittier express well the intention of having the Christmas spirit all the year through:

“Somehow, not only for Christmas

But all the year through,

The joy that you give to others

Is the joy that comes back to you;

And the more you spend in blessing

The poor and lonely and sad,

The more of your heart’s possessing

Returns to make you glad.”

c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published December 15, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Patterson Families--Early Settlers in Union (part 2)

Last week’s column introduced early settler families in Union County with the last name Patterson. In 1834, four families with Patterson surname numbered 34 persons; in 1840, that number had climbed to ten Patterson households with 55 total; and by 1850, there were eleven Patterson households with a total of 73 persons and one slave.

Continuing with Patterson families, we will look a bit more closely at some of them. We noted that John Patterson was here in 1834. Family information holds that he and his wife Margaret Black came to the area that became Union as early as 1829. Their son, George, also settled along Ivy Log Creek in Union about the same time his father came. In the 1834 census, John’s household had four males and three females, and George’s family also had four males and three females. Both of these had farms along Ivy Log Creek, but George Patterson was also a milliner by trade, making hats from sheep’s wool. George was married twice. His first wife was Rebecca Chastain. After her death, he married Sophia Dunnigan.

One of the sons of George and Rebecca Chastain Patterson was named William Harden Patterson (b. April 10, 1832, d. 1883). He married Elizabeth Akins on November 5, 1853 with Hampton Jones, Justice of the Peace, performing their ceremony. When the Civil War came William Harden Patterson and his younger brother, John, both enlisted in the Confederate Army. They were mustered into Company B, 6th Regiment, of Georgia Volunteers. Both lived through the war.

William Harden Patterson and Elizabeth Akins Patterson had a large family of twelve children: James Alonzo, Sarah Florence, Martha Elizabeth (nicknamed “Jeff” because her father, William Hardin, known as “Bill” was such a staunch supporter of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy), Rebecca Emmaline, Mary M, John Lumpkin, Lewis, twins William Elisha and Joseph Elijah, Vienna Caledonia, Lula L, and George Bunyan.

Bill and Elizabeth’s oldest son, James Alonzo Patterson (Nov. 30, 1855 – 1953), was ordained a Baptist minister. He married Rozella Sparks. Their children were Semon, Howard, Harden, Ellen, Milton, Maude, John, Howell and Elizabeth. Bethlehem Baptist Church in Lower Young Cane District was formed in 1848. Some of the Patterson families attended and were active in that church, and William Harden, Elizabeth, Rev. Alonzo and Rozella and other of the Pattersons were buried in the Bethlehem Baptist Church Cemetery.

Twins of William H. and Elizabeth Patterson, William Elisha and Joseph Elijah, were born September 12, 1871. Elisha Patterson (1871- ?) married Julia Brackett (1875-1933) on July 24, 1895 with Rev. D. A. Sullivan performing their ceremony. I did not find a list of their children. The other twin, William Elisha Patterson, married Nancy Jane Ammons in 1901. They lived in Fannin County near her parents until Nancy’s untimely death with tuberculosis. Elisha farmed and sold fresh produce. They had six children: The first infant died at birth, The other five were Clinton, Nellie, Grace, Earl and Kathryn. On a cold day, December 31, 1917, Elisha Patterson loaded his five small children into a covered wagon and moved them and their household goods from the foot of Aska Mountain in Fannin County back to Young Cane in Union County. Later they moved to Ivy Log and then to Upper Young Cane. Back in Union, some of his relatives helped him with the children while he worked to make a living for them. Elisha Patterson, almost blind in his old age, was killed when he walked into an oncoming automobile in November, 1957. He was interred at Bethlehem Baptist Church Cemetery.

The Patterson surname is still numerous in Union and other North Georgia counties. The name Patterson derives from the Scottish and Northern English patronymic form, Patrick, shortened sometimes to Pate, hence son of Patrick, son of Pate, and then Patterson. By the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in England, Scotland and Ireland, the name Patterson was common. William Patrison was listed as a “gentleman” in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1446. James Patterson was noted as a Sheriff Deputy in Inverness, Scotland, in 1530. John Patersoune was a Burgess in Northberwyck in 1562. George Patersoune was a monk in the monastery of Culross in 1569. Whether related to the Pattersons who migrated to Union County in 1829, I do not know, but Rev. Hampton William Patterson was born June 18, 1806 in North Carolina and died in Henderson County there February 28, 1880. He was ordained to the ministry by Mountain Creek Baptist Church in Rutherford County, NC in 1834, and was appointed superintendent of public schools there in 1841. Pattersons have been contributing citizens in various aspects of culture, education, politics and ministry.

c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published December 8, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Patterson Families--Early Settlers in Union

With our annual Thanksgiving celebration immediately past we have fond memories of our own family get-togethers, traditional turkey and dressing and other excellent food, and the good times such family events provide for us. We are grateful for such a highlight in our year and mark each as worthwhile and a time to draw together as family.

We don’t know to what extent the early settlers to Union County observed Thanksgiving. Maybe they, too, gathered family members and had a special time of gratitude for blessings and sharing food. I took time to examine the 1834 Union census, and discovered that the surname recorded with the most families with the name living in the county then was Patterson. Four families made up the Patterson population with heads of households listed as Joseph (8 males, 4 females), Amos (5 males, 2 females), John (4 males, 3 females) and George (4 males, 3 females). That count brought the Pattersons living in Union at the time of the first census to 33 persons. Some of the Patterson families settled in the Ivy Log District of Union County along Ivy Log Creek.

The marriages recorded in Union records before the 1840 census were as follows:

Lewis Patterson to Jerushia Denton on December 6, 1836 by J. B. Chastain, Justice of the Peace;

Margaret Patterson to Gravit R. Foster on November 9, 1837 by William Patterson;

Sarah Patterson to William Carroll on December 31, 1838 by A. Chastain, Justice of the Peace;

John Patterson to Sarah Beasley on March 13, 1839 by John B. Chastain, Justice of the Peace.

By the 1840 census, which gives only names of heads-of-households and the number of males and females and their ages by categories of under 5, 5-10, 10-15, 15-20, 20-30, etc. to over 100, we find ten Patterson families listed. The four families resident in Union had remained, Joseph, Amos, John and George, and six more Patterson families with heads of households named William, John, Samuel, Lewis, John (the elder—he and his wife were between 70 and 80), and Bailey. Those in Patterson households numbered a total of 55 for the 1840 population.

Those searching their genealogy are always grateful to come to the 1850 census, for therein they find names of husband, wife, children and any others living in the household when the enumerator visited. There were eleven households of Pattersons in Union in 1850. I list them here as I found them enumerated:

Household #45: William Patterson, 37, born in NC, wife Elizabeth, 32, born in GA, and ten children, all born in Georgia; Mary, 13, Joseph, 12, John, 11, William, 9, Samuel, 7, James, 5, Nancy, 4, Alfred, 3, Manerva, 1, and an infant, gender and name not given, 4 months.

Household # 184: John Patterson, 35, born in NC, Sarah, 29, born in NC and children all born in Georgia: Lidey, 9, Nancy 6, Elizabeth, 4, Andrew, 2, and Nathan, 6 months. These, I think, are the John Patterson and Sarah Beasley married on March 13, 1839

Household # 187: Samuel Patterson, 44, born in NC; Jane, 3 (?) born in TN, Carroll, 17, born in NC, Decator, 15, born in NC, and the remaining children born in Georgia: Amanda, 13, Julius, 11, Mercilla, 9, Nathan, 6, Sarah, 4, Julian, 2, and Samuel, 6 months.

Household # 333: Joseph Patterson, 61, born in SC, wife Agnes, 55, born in SC, children still at home all born in Georgia: Solomon, 24, Mary, 20, Elizabeth, 18, and Melissa, 16. Listed in Joseph’s household is Margaret Patterson, age 83, his mother (?), born in SC, and Ann Patterson, 47, his sister (?) and Sary Durham, 84, born in VA, his mother-in-law (?).

Household # 335: Amos Patterson, 26, born in Georgia, Jane, 24, born in NC, and children Mary, 4, born in GA, James 3, born in NC, and Nancy, 1, born in GA.

Household # 373: John Patterson, 28, born in NC and Mary, 24, born in SC.

Household # 454: John Patterson, 52, born in NC, owns one slave; Sarah, 47, born in SC, and children all born in Georgia: Andrew, 18, Humphrey, 15, John, 11, George, 8, Sarah, 3; and Margaret Patterson, age 83, listed again here in her son John’s household (she was also enumerated in her son Joseph’s household), and Lucinda Hix, 45, born in SC, who probably was a sister of Sarah Patterson, John’s wife.

Household # 455: Joseph Patterson, 25; Mary, 22, both born in Georgia, and children all born in Georgia: George, 5, Sarah, 3, and John, 2 months. A marriage is listed for Joseph Patterson and Polly Hawkins on October 24, 1844 by William Poteet, Justice of the Peace. “Polly” was a common nickname for Mary.

Household # 456: William Patterson, 23, Margaret Patterson, 22, Lucinda 5 and James, 2, all born in Georgia. I do not find a marriage listing for this couple in Union’s records unless the one for W. H. Patterson and Elizabeth Akins on November 5, 1853 by Hampton Jones, Justice of the Peace is the entry, maybe using Margaret’s other name.

Household # 608: George Patterson, age 50, born in North Carolina; no wife listed; children all born in Georgia: William, 19, Elizer, 17, John, 13, Elijah, 11, and Margaret, 6.

Household # 902: James Patterson, 34, born in NC; Easter, 26, born in NC, and children all born in Georgia: Martha, 6, Adaline, 4, Jonathan, 2, and Nathan, 11 months. James Patterson and Easter Nicholson were married in Union on Christmas Day, 1843 by Rev. Abner Chastain.

These 11 households of Pattersons in the 1850 Union census numbered 73 in population, plus one slave, with 38 males, 34 females, and one infant with gender not specified nor name given at age four months.

c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published December 1, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Doing Our Part to Bring Thanksgiving to Many: or a Venture into Raising Turkeys on Our Farm

How my father learned about the availability of baby turkeys that he could order-off for and have delivered by rural mail carrier to our farm at Choestoe, I don’t remember. However, I do recall our venture into turkey raising when I was a child—or how we tried to do our part to make the traditional Thanksgiving bird available to many people.

Maybe Daddy read about turkey poults in the dependable “Market Bulletin.” That was a farm paper that came regularly to our farm mailbox and which he read avidly to keep up on the latest bargains in seeds and other farm needs. That was probably where he learned about where to purchase the baby turkeys and have them delivered to our farm.

But before that adventure saw itself through to the end, his third child was glad our latest enterprise lasted only a few years. I never did make friends with those noisy turkeys, and the mean turkey tom, in particular, must have known I didn’t like him, because every time I was anywhere near him on the farm, he seemed to chase me and scare me half to death.

We built a special poultry house for the anticipated turkeys, and since they were coming in early spring and the weather was still cold and unpredictable in the mountains, my father knew he would have to devise a way to keep the turkey house heated for the darling little poults. He put a small wood heater in the house, and built a fence around the house, with chicken wire strung from pole to pole so the fowl would not wander.

I remember well the day the baby turkeys arrived. The mail man (as we called the postman) blew his horn at our mailbox, and since Daddy was avidly looking for his turkey poults, he hurried out to get the crates. We had a hundred of the little critters. They looked so cold, and even ailing when they arrived. What would we ever do to raise them? They seemed so small and furry. Surely it would take them years to grow into eating-sized turkeys worthy for a Thanksgiving feast.

I’m sure Daddy spent sleepless nights looking after those little critters at first, making sure they were warm and fed properly. I recall how rapidly they grew, and maybe we lost a few, but as they developed from cuddly baby turks to lanky fryers, they had a mind of their own. Their sounds grated on my ears—and soon they were outgrowing their fenced-in area and Dad was allowing them to range a bit farther out. By then that aggressive gobbler had taken to my red sweater, or anything red, and chased me like I was easy prey and something he wanted to sample for his own dinner. I was mortally afraid of that barnyard king-of-the-roost.

Since we had secured the 100 turkeys very early in the spring, my Dad’s aim was to grow them off for pre-Thanksgiving sale. He had to fence them in again and give them special feedings of grains and nutrients to make them ready for market. They didn’t like being confined, since they had been range turkeys for several months. They protested loudly, with a gooble- gobble here and a gobble-gobble there. I, for one, despised turkey language.

But then, who was I to complain? My Daddy was always telling us that when he took the turkeys to market, we would have more money for the things we needed, for the Great Depression had certainly not been kind to North Georgia farmers. Turkeys were a “trial-run” crop to help restore the economy.

Then came time to catch those turkeys, put them in coops and take them to Gainesville to market. We kept about eight or ten from the whole flock so that we and our neighbors could have a Thanksgiving feast from some of our own home-grown turkeys.

I don’t know how much money per pound my father earned from those pestersome turkeys, but it must have been enough for him to try it again for about three more years. For it seems that we repeated that process of having baby turkeys delivered by mail and going through the same process for several years to grow them out for market. And without fail, there was always one or more turkey toms in the flock that played havoc with my own peace and quiet.

Then my father told us how lucky we were that we didn’t have to “drive” the turkeys by foot to market like our grandfather used to have to do. It would take two or three days to herd the turkeys along the wagon roads by foot to market, with the turkeys roosting in trees as they camped by night. I never did understand just how they managed to keep those turkeys under control enough to drive them to market, especially when one in those we raised always gave me so much trouble.

As we gather around our Thanksgiving tables this year, 2011, we feast on a roast turkey we purchased at the supermarket. But in the 1930’s, in the midst of the Great Depression, there was a time when turkeys were grown on a mountain farm and fattened up and marketed wholesale prior to Thanksgiving. That helped people to have that favorite of holiday meals—roast turkey. I, for one, was glad our turkey venture didn’t last many years. But the business did aid farm families to have a little more money for some of the barest necessities of life.

c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published November 24, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Honoring Early Settlers in the Duncan Family and Sheriff Harlan Duncan, a Descendant

One Duncan family was present in the new Union County when the first census was taken of residents in 1834, two years after the county was formed. When Alexander Duncan and his family settled here is not certain. In 1834, his household had three males and three females listed as residents.

By 1840, four households of Duncans were registered in the U. S. census in Union County. These included Alexander Duncan, still residing in Union from 1834, whose household had a son between five and ten, one between ten and fifteen, Alexander himself, between 40 and 50 and three females under fifteen and his wife, between 40 and 50. The second Duncan household was headed by David, with two males under five, and David himself between twenty and 30, and his wife in his same age category. In another household was Charles Duncan, between fifty and sixty, two sons, one 15 to 20 and one 20-30, and evidently his wife, between 40 and fifty, and an elderly lady, aged between 70-80. The fourth and final Duncan household was headed by Elisha who was between 30 and 40, two sons between 10-15, and evidently three daughters, one under 5, one 5-10, and one 10-15 (no wife, or no female who would have been the approximate age of a wife and mother).

In the interim period between the 1840-1850 census tabulations, more Duncan households had been set up, so that by 1850, the first census with names of all residents in a family listed, we note eight with Duncan as the household head. These, listed as found in the census (even with spelling as given then) were:

Household # 9: Charles Duncan and his wife Mary, both age 75, both having been born in Virginia.

Household # 75: Joseph Duncan, age 29, and Mary, age 27, both born in North Carolina. Union marriage records show a Joseph Duncan married Mary Thomas on September 28, 1840.

Household # 111: David Duncan, age 44 and his wife Nancy, age 38, both born in North Carolina. Their children listed were Elisha, 14, William, 11, John 8, Moses 3. I found a listing of marked graves in the Duncan Family Cemetery with David Duncan’s birth date as March 14, 1806 and his death date February 11, 1877. Nancy Duncan, according to her tombstone, was born July 17, 1811 and died November 4, 1890.

Household # 129: James Duncan, 39 and his wife Elizabeth, 36, both born in North Carolina, and their children William, 15, Frances 13, Elizabeth 11, Henry 9 and James, 5. Living in their household was Mary Lunsford, age 72, also born in North Carolina. She perhaps was Elizabeth’s mother.

Household # 169: William Duncan, age 32 and Sarah Ann, 27, both born in North Carolina, and their children Mary 3, and Aryadey (sp.) 1. In the Union County marriage records, I noted that a William Duncan married Ann S. Neal on September 14, 1856, with the Rev. Thomas M. Hughes performing their ceremony. And much later, Areadna (so spelled), their daughter, married Elam A. Scruggs on August 15, 1883 with Rev. C. A. Sullivan performing the ceremony.

Household # 415: Mary Duncan, age 52, was head of household, born in North Carolina, and in her household were John, 21, Mary, 18, Jesse, 15, and Caroline, 11.

Household # 679: Havey (sp) Duncan (should this have been Harvey?), 26, and Nancy, 23, both born in North Carolina, and Louesa, age 1.

Household # 682: Jonathan Duncan, age 63, born in Virginia, Sarah, age 55, born in North Carolina, and their two children, both born in North Carolina, Elizabeth, age 10 and Andrew, age 15.

By 1850, those with the Duncan surname in Union County numbered 33. And by 1850, the first settler, Alexander, had passed away already and was buried in the Duncan family cemetery with his birth and death dates noted: February 28, 1797 – August 17, 1849. Probably several other in the unmarked Duncan graves there had passed before 1850 as well.

Duncan is a very old family name, having derived from Scots and Gaelic “Donnchadh,” the Donn meaning brown and the “chadh” meaning warrior. The first syllable was shortened to “Dun” by the Scots and meant a fortress, and the “chadh” became “chean” and later “can” which meant “the head or a chief.” We are all familiar with the story of King Duncan whom Macbeth killed in William Shakespeare’s play entitled “Macbeth.” Traces of the name go back in history to the Turpillian Stone carving of the 4th century AD in Crickwell, Wales. Dunchad was one of the earliest forenames in Scotland, originating with the Dalraidan Celtic Scots from Ireland that settled in the southwest of Scotland as early as the 4th century. On the Duncan family crest is the motto, “disce pate” which means “learn to suffer.”

One of the lofty and notable Duncan citizens of Union County was Harlan Thomas Duncan (September 14, 1818-May 5, 1985), son of Tom and Gertrude White Duncan. Harlan Duncan served as sheriff of the county for 21 years, from 1964 until his death. Add to those 21 years as respected and efficient sheriff, a time as a member of the City Police force of Blairsville, 18 years as a Georgia State Patrolman, and his term as deputy sheriff and then sheriff and he clocked over 40 years in law enforcement.

Handsome of demeanor, tall and rangy, and always impeccable in character and conduct, he was the “John Wayne” figure of Union County. It has been recounted that he was so intent on maintaining law and order that sometimes just a finger pointed by Sheriff Duncan and directed toward anyone infringing on the law, like speeding teenagers, was sufficient to slow them down and remind them what awaited if their behavior did not improve. Although a tough law man, he is remembered, too, for his congenial personality, his fairness, and his devotion to family and citizens of the county. He was married to Ruth Jackson, daughter of Marion and Emma Davis Jackson. Ruth was a teacher for many years in Union County Schools. They had two sons, Thomas Harlan Duncan, Jr. and Jack Sidney Duncan. His stately funeral procession, with Sheriff Duncan’s beloved horse with an empty saddle except for his sheriff’s hat on the saddle, saw over 500 law enforcement officers and others citizens paying tribute to this man who had stood tall for right in Union County. He served our country in the U. S. Army during World War II. Sheriff Duncan was laid to rest in Union Memory Gardens, Blairsville.

c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Nov. 17, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lard Pail Lunches and Shared Knowledge (or Life in a Country School ~ Part 3)

Through the past two columns, I have shared memories of attending and teaching my first year in the same country school. I hope this journey back in time brought to mind some good memories of your “grade school” years, wherever you attended. It is good to remember foundations in life that helped to mold and make us into life-long learners. I was fortunate to gain a good education even under what may seem now a rather outdated system. To conclude this series on life in a country school, I will pinpoint some memorable incidents that made a lasting impression on me.

We had in the corner of each of the two classrooms at Choestoe School a wooden cabinet with doors. This book cabinet was the “library” for that particular classroom. When we finished our assignments, we had freedom to go to that cabinet, select a book from the shelf, take it to our desk and read it quietly. It was a great achievement in first grade to have learned phonics and “sounding out” words well enough to become competent to select a book to read from our “library” resources. The teachers, to encourage good reading habits, kept a chart with students’ names on the wall beside the book cabinet. A colored star was placed beside the name of each student who successfully read and reported to the teacher on books from this cabinet. These “star” awards seemed to work well as motivational devices to encourage reading. I often wondered how the library was furnished with books. That old classroom library was there in 1936, and it seemed to grow more books year by year—even before the days when Dr. M. D. Collins led state schools to have library resources and before the bookmobile from the regional public library began to make its regular monthly stop at Choestoe School. The bookmobile was an innovation by the time I taught there in the 1948-1949 school year. My life-time love for reading and books was encouraged by that library cabinet in a reading corner of Choestoe classroom long ago.

I recall a memorable field trip. When I was a seventh grader in 1943 at Choestoe School, and just prior to going to high school by riding the bus the next school year, we had our first-ever field trip. Mrs. Florence Hunter was my teacher, and she was known for getting things done. Her husband, Mr. Joe Hunter, was a county school bus driver. So Mrs. Florence and he made arrangements and got permission to take the fourth-through-seventh graders to Atlanta on a Saturday. All who could go loaded on that old bus early, early on a Saturday morning while it was still dark. We had a most memorable trip to visit the State Capitol building, the Atlanta Zoo, and the Cyclorama. I had never been to Atlanta before that notable trip, and that was probably true of the other children on that bus trip. Mrs. Florence managed to take snacks and drinks, and we had been instructed to bring our own lunch as we would have a picnic at Grant Park. What a notable building was our capitol where state government was conducted. How interesting to see all the strange animals at the zoo, some we had only read about and seen pictures of in books at Choestoe School. Then the panorama and story of the Civil War in Atlanta in the Cyclorama display was a first-hand, up close lesson in history.

We were a group of exhausted young children, sleeping on the long trip from Atlanta back to Choestoe after a full and exciting day. I’ve thought many times about how meaningful that trip was for us children, and of the sacrifice in time, money and influence expended by Mr. and Mrs. Hunter. They were able to give us a first-hand view of life beyond the confines of our mountain community. And to look back now and realize that in 1943 when we made that field trip during World War II, there was gasoline and tire rationing. For Mr. Hunter to be able to use some of his allotment of scarce items to take country school children to Atlanta was indeed a notable happening.

Graduation from that country school was a memorable occasion. We had a graduation program, not only with the two top graduates speaking with valedictory and salutatory addresses, but we had a program in which other grades participated with music and recitations. In fact, some of the programs we had for parents at that school during my seven years of learning there were so poignant that I can remember even now lines of poems I memorized to recite. Even though our teachers had few resources, they managed to make learning challenging and interesting. They gave us opportunities such as “Parents’ Night” or “Parents’ Day” when we could “show and tell” some of the things we had learned.

When I graduated from seventh grade country school, my future career as a teacher was already in my mind. I knew I wanted to be a teacher. In that way I could somehow repay Mrs. Mert Shuler, my own sister, Louise Dyer, Miss Opal Sullivan, Mrs. Bonnie Snow, and Mrs. Florence Hunter who had been my able teachers in my seven years as a student at Choestoe School. And so it was that in 1948 I returned to that same school, armed with two years of college and a provisional Georgia teacher’s certificate, ready to teach. As I greeted the twenty-five students in seven grades—for the school, by the time I returned to teach there—had a drop in student population and only one teacher could be hired for the seven grades. Talk about a challenge—a first-year teacher and twenty-five eager students scattered in every grade from first through seventh! I conducted classes much as my own teachers had done in the seven years when I was a student in that school. I had an excellent helper in a very brilliant seventh grade student named Shirley. Without neglecting her own instruction, I allowed her to help me mentor some of the younger students with their math, spelling and reading.

Looking back, I count that year as a teacher in country school as one of my happiest and best, although it was hard, with all the responsibilities falling to me. In that first year of my thirty-year teaching career, I learned to be teacher and administrator, how to cultivate parental support, how to instruct with enthusiasm and how to motivate students to achieve. I had learned to teach by having been taught myself by exemplary role models.

Education has gone through many changes since those days from 1936-1943 when I was a student in country school and took my lunch in a lard pail and had the privilege of shared knowledge because students learned from each other as well as from the teacher. And my year of teaching there, 1948-1949, was foundational to who I became as a teacher. Have we lost some significant aspects of education in these modern days? Then we had the privilege of learning from and being challenged by upper classmen whose recitations we heard. We had concepts drilled into us until the learning became second nature. There is much to laud and praise for our heritage of “lard pail lunches and shared knowledge.” Then eager students gathered at a country school under the auspices of ones called and dedicated to the important role of teacher.

c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published November 10, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lard Pail Lunches and Shared Knowledge (or Life in a Country School ~ Part 2)

Attending a country school for the first seven grades of my education and then returning to the same school to teach my first year as an educator were rich experiences indeed. Last week’s column began this series. I continue with Part 2.

Persons have asked me, “What was a typical day like with everyone in several grades studying in the same room? Wasn’t there a lot of noise and confusion? Did you really learn what you should have learned under those primitive circumstances, and wasn’t teaching very hard?

Back from 1936 through 1943 at Choestoe School, a typical day began with us lining up in orderly fashion to march into the building. Then in each room, our teacher began the day with a Bible reading, a few verses from the Psalms or some other selected short passage. Next we quoted the Lord’s Prayer in unison, followed by the pledge to the American Flag. There were no complaints then about this morning devotional time, even though it was a public school. When I returned to teach there in 1949-1950, I practiced the morning opening as I had learned it when I was a student.

Then classes began. The teacher had a schedule, usually with reading, arithmetic, and spelling all done in the morning. The class “reciting” or being taught at a particular time, went to a bench at the front near the teacher’s desk. First grade was mainly learning to make the numbers, count (for those who could not already when they entered school), learning the letters and how to form them, and learning to read in Primer and then first grade readers. Older pupils might work arithmetic problems on the board. Turns were taken reading aloud from the reading text, with comprehension questions and discussion led by the teacher. The classes proceeded in an orderly fashion, first, second, third grades. In the upper room the classes for fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh graders proceeded orderly. The teacher seemed quite adept at being able to assign meaningful seat work for those who were at their desks awaiting “recitation” time. Discipline was good—we were expected by our parents to behave, and if we received a paddling for an infraction at school, we certainly received the same punishment from our parents, as well as a stiff lecture on acceptable behavior. In this manner, good behavior was enforced. School was a privilege and we went to school to learn. That was an expected norm for our community.

Two breaks came during the school day. One was for lunch. My title is meaningful in this regard. Each student took lunch to school usually in a tin bucket, a bucket that had contained lard or maybe a tin syrup pail. In that lunch might be ham and/or sausage and biscuit, a boiled egg, a baked sweet potato, an ear of boiled corn, an apple (in season), or maybe even a jar of homemade soup. We seldom had “light” (loaf) bread in those days. Sometimes we would have “store-bought” bread, a real treat. When peanut butter became available for purchase in country stores, a biscuit with peanut butter and jelly was always a welcome item in the lunch pail. Special sweet treats were gingerbread or cookies sweetened with sorghum syrup.

We gathered outside in good weather to eat our noon meal, or in inclement or cold weather, we took our repast at our desks inside. For liquid, we drank water carried in a tin bucket from the spring, with each student bringing a personal cup from home to receive the water. Trusted older students were assigned “water duty,” and had the privilege of going the distance to the spring near the school to “fetch” the water. Sometimes we would “swap” lunches, with students trading something in their lunch pail for an item a friend had that seemed enticing.

Following lunch, we had a long recess time. Some of the games played were “Red Rover”, “London Bridge,” Hop Scotch,” “Town Ball” or “Antni-Over.” No playground equipment graced the schoolyard. Only the expanse of yard and woods surrounded the building, forming ideal places for creative play at recess time. Games included the afore-mentioned and also “playing house” for the younger children, who might bring a favorite doll to school. In the playhouse, we outlined the house with sticks or moss, giving a name to each room just like at home. “Playing school” was another favorite recess game. We were supervised during recess times by both teachers, and any minor accidents were quickly attended. I might add that disagreements among students at recess time were also summarily handled with the proper punishment, or “time out” from play.

Following lunch and the noontime recess, we were ready for another session of “books” as we called in-class time. Afternoons, especially in the upper grades section, were usually given to science, geography and history. In the lower grades, simplified science and more reading, and extra practice in arithmetic were the drills.

Then came the mid-afternoon recess—a time for toilet and water break, and a very short time for some exercise or short games. Not more than twenty minutes was allowed for afternoon recess.

Following the afternoon recess, any classes not covered either in the morning or after lunch were conducted. This was often the time for intensive spelling drills. We were quite competitive in spelling matches, enjoying the “spelling bees,” both in-school and competitively about once a month on Friday afternoons when parents were invited to come and observe, or even participate to try to “spell down” the most adept spelling students. This period was also sometimes used for recitations when we quoted poems we had memorized, or the teacher read to us from a continuing story book. All too soon, 3:30 came and time to go home. And so days proceeded at the country school in much this fashion.

Part of my title for this series is “Shared Knowledge.” My opinion is that the students learned from each other as they heard recitations of the upper classmen in their room. That way, it could be possible to advance on one’s own level. I can never remember being bored because I learned something in the next grade simply by listening. Teachers then seemed to be quite aware of this occurrence and allowed students to proceed on their own to advanced levels.

Our teachers comprised the whole staff. First and foremost, they were instructors, academically gifted and with skills to teach. They also had the job of keeping the building clean and in good order. They bound up wounds sustained in playground accidents. They felt fevered heads and applied compresses. Discipline-wise, they were strict and a few licks with a sapling switch were not beyond their parameters of dealing with misbehavior. They were likewise community leaders. If a program or drama were to be help on special occasions such as Christmas, Easter, or graduation, they came up with the proper program that made the parents glad their children were going to Choestoe School. When the churches near by (Choestoe Baptist and Salem Methodist) had revival meetings, students were lined up in orderly rows and marched to the church to hear the visiting minister. No questions were raised as to the propriety of this practice.

c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Nov. 3, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lard Pail Lunches and Shared Knowledge (or Life in a Country School ~ Part 1)

Choestoe School in Union County, Georgia, 1936 through 1943 has a special place in my memory, in things I love, and in who I became in life. It also figures in my first year of a thirty-year teaching career, for it was there, where I started school, that I returned to teach my very first year as a young, inexperienced, fresh-out-of-junior-college state provisionally certified teacher.

Choestoe schoolhouse has been moved from its former location and now stands on land that was once my Daddy’s, then my brother’s, my own, my son’s, and now the county’s. The old Choestoe school house is being restored and will eventually be used as a voting precinct building and perhaps a community clubhouse.

But what took place there in the building’s heyday as a schoolhouse? Come with me to learn about “Lard Pail Lunches and Shared Knowledge.”

I received my early education in a two-teacher country school from 1936 through 1943. I never felt deprived educationally from this inauspicious start. In high school, college and graduate school, I regarded my elementary school education as excellent and special indeed.

Not only did I begin my education in a two-teacher country school, but my first year of teaching was in that same school in 1949-1950. “You can’t go home again,” as proposed by author Thomas Wolfe in his novel, Look Homeward, Angel, did not apply to me. I returned home to teach with anticipation and joy, and gratitude that the Union County School Board would consider a product of that school to be worthy to teach there.

By 1949, due to declining pupil population, Choestoe had become a one-teacher school. Having attended that school myself the very first year the “new” two-room building opened, and then returning thirteen years later to teach my first year there at the same school, were both rich and rewarding experiences for me.

Let us look at life in Choestoe School from 1936 through 1943, the years I was a student in its hallowed halls. From Primer through Seventh Grade I was educated at that school. Choestoe had been an early school, although the building in which I attended was brand new in 1936. Previous schools had preceded the one I knew so well. Early settlers began the school, some of my ancestors with surnames like Dyer, Souther, Collins, Hunter, Nix, Self and England, to name a few. Many of these forebears were in the county when it was founded in 1832. And straightaway they began a school at various locations, not necessarily on the same spot as the new building of 1936. Earlier, a log building used for both school and church had been replaced by a two-room, two-story frame school building. On the upper floor of the old building, the Choestoe Masonic Lodge met. I can vaguely remember attending events in that building when my older brother Eugene and my sister Louise went to school there. Even as a young child, the steps to the second floor fascinated me and I wondered what lay beyond the confines of what I could see.

The brand new building in which I began my educational adventures in 1936 had two rooms, both on the ground level. A covered open vestibule-type entrance was at the front. Two front doors led in from the vestibule to the classrooms. The “lower grades” (primer through third) classroom was on the left and the “upper grades” (fourth through seventh) was on the right. Each classroom had a cloak/storage room across the front where we had pegs to hang our coats and shelves to set our “lard bucket” lunch pails. If we wore galoshes over our shoes in rainy or snowy weather, we removed them and left them in the cloak room while we were in class. Also in that room were bookcase shelves in one end of the room on which the extra textbooks were aligned, grade-wise.

The classrooms were separated by a removable partition, ceiled with wood on both sides. I can remember my father and other men in the community taking down those partitions to provide a large space. A raised stage was put in place and the classrooms could then accommodate our school programs.

Each classroom was heated by a wood heater, an iron stove (not the usual “pot” bellied) a low, oblong heater with a door on the front into which to feed the wood. Parents (or patrons of the school) were required to haul their fair share of the wood consumed throughout the months heat was needed. Long tin stovepipes connected the heater to the common chimney that was outside the building about where the middle partition was located that separated the classrooms.

That first nervous day—in July, 1936—we students waited outside, anticipating what school might be like until “the principal,”—the upper-grades teacher, rang the school bell—our signal that “books” (or classes) were to begin. Miss Opal Sullivan was the upper grades teacher, a trim, beautiful young lady who seemed to me then all-too-young to be a teacher. She stood in the school entrance on the right side, awaiting her fourth through seventh grade pupils to line up in an orderly row. Mrs. Mert Shuler Collins was the primary grades teacher. She stood at the school entrance on the left side. She patiently showed the new pupils like me how to line up. When everyone was quiet and in order, we were given the signal to proceed.

Once we were inside that primary side of the magnificent new school building, it was not hard for us to tell which desks were for the primer and first grade students. The very smallest individual wooden desks were in a row nearest the line of tall, glowing windows. I quickly found one in a location I liked, and soon it seemed to me that I had found a new home. And, indeed, I had, because from that first day of school in 1936 until the present, I have found my home-away-from home in classrooms, wherever they have opened welcoming doors to me.

[To be continued: Part 2 of “Lard Pail Lunches and Shared Knowledge”. Note: This story, in modified form, written by Ethelene Dyer Jones, appeared first in Moonshine and Blind Mules edited by Bob Lasley and Sallie Holt. Hickory, NC: Hometown Memories Publishing Co., 2006, pp. 88-91. Used by permission.]

c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published October 27, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Unicoi Turnpike as a “Trail through Time” (Part 2)

Last week’s column presented the Georgia Historical Marker wording on the Unicoi Turnpike and gave a brief account of some of the importance of this road to the history of the area. It looked forward to November 12, 2011 when the Unicoi Turnpike Day will be held by the Towns County Historical Society, with an opportunity to hike along a portion of the old trail from the Unicoi Gap parking lot north of Helen and South of Hiawassee.

This important “Trail Through Time” has figured prominently in the history of the mountainous regions of North Georgia, western North Carolina, and eastern Tennessee. Let’s pursue some more highlights of this significant history.

In 1999, the section of the Unicoi Turnpike that stretches between Vonore, Tennessee and Murphy, North Carolina was designated as one of sixteen National Millennium Flagship Trails by the United States government. Reading the speech made by Mr. Brett Riggs, archaeologist, for the September 9, 2000 dedication service at the Sequoyah Museum Pow Wow, I found a rich store of information about the Unicoi Turnpike and its significance to history. I merely highlight here some of the dates and events of this Trail through Time.

Mr. Riggs told that the first Europeans to travel the Indian trail from Charleston, South Carolina to the Cherokee Overhill towns of Tellico, Chota and Tenasi in Tennessee—going through mountainous regions of what later became portions of four states, South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee—were English traders with the names of Alexander Long, Cornelius Dogherty, Robert Bunning, and James Douglas. This history dates to 1690 when these men used pack animals to traverse the “Great Warpath” Trail and trade with the Indians.

Ten years later, by 1700, French traders had joined to ply their trade, coming from the New Orleans area, getting on this northern mountainous route, and finding the profitable business in furs and other items of trade from the Overhill Indians.

By 1730, Alexander Cumming, an English Trader was dealing with the Indians. In a well-researched book by William Steele, he tells of Cumming having designated the Cherokee Chieftain, Moytoy of the Tellico, TN area as “Emperor of the Cherokee.” Cumming took seven warriors back to England with him , among whom was the famous warrior Attaculla, or “Little Carpenter.” This “Empire” designated by the trader Cumming lasted until another trader in 1736, named Christian Gottlieb Priber, still designating Chief Moytoy as leader, made himself Secretary-of-State. Priber’s empire, however, was only five years in duration. He was arrested as a “French spy” and died in prison on the coast of Georgia at Ft. Frederica.

The French and Indian War (1755-1781) was the next large historic event that affected action on the Unicoi Trail. The British built Fort Loudon during this period. An amazing transport of twelve cannon were hauled over the Unicoi Trail, with the loss of only one of the horses that pulled the 300-pound cannon. After the British surrendered Ft. Loudon, the cannon were taken back over the trail to South Carolina.

The next major highlight in Unicoi Trail history was the American Revolution. We will recall from history that the Cherokee sided with the British against the American settlers. Along the Trail, John Sevier invaded Overhill Cherokee villages, coming as far east as Murphy and Andrews in North Carolina. Sevier’s army was surrounded at one time by about 500 Cherokee warriors at Tellico, but amazingly the U. S. troops escaped massacre. A fuller story of this encounter is given in J. G. M. Ramsey’s book, Annals of Tennessee.

Benjamin Hawkins, a US Indian Agent to the Cherokee and Creek tribes, made a journey in 1799 the whole length of the Unicoi Turnpike. His writings and journal have been preserved in what is entitled Letters of Benjamin Hawkins. This valuable account is in collections of the Georgia Historical Society (Volume IX, pages 110-113). His naming important landmarks along the trail and giving the time it took him to walk from point to point which he indicated has proved valuable in understanding the geography and lay-of-land of this ancient route.

We learned from last week’s account that a group of Whites and Cherokees joined to form the Unicoi (or Unaka) Turnpike Road (1813 and following). Improvements on the old trail enabled better travel conditions. The turnpike became a boon to agricultural production and marketing, trading, and even transport of settlers as they moved into mountainous regions to claim land and begin a new and brave way of life.

Then came the Gold Rush. Gold was discovered on Coker Creek in Tennessee in 1827 and at Duke’s Creek in upper Georgia in 1828. When the Cherokee were forced to give up all claims to their traditional homeland by the Treaty of New Echota in 1836, the plans for evacuation of the Indians began in earnest. We all know too well the Trail of Tears and the loss of many Indians along this route of exposure, illness and death. Unfortunately, many of the Cherokee were forcefully moved over portions of the Unicoi Trail from temporary stockades where they had been gathered. We have stories of how they mournfully waved farewell to their mountain homes.

The Civil War, too, 1862-1865, provided all-too-bloody tales along this “Trail in Time.” The hollows and mountainous hiding areas provided cover for guerilla bands and outlaws who marauded, stole and killed. Following the war, the Trail was still the scene of intrigue and high adventure. Many stories abound of how history has occurred along the trail.

Now an effort is under way to continue marking more portions of the trail as a “National Millennium Flagship Trail” along the whole mileage from the Tugalo River in Georgia to Bristol, Tn. This “Great Warpath Trail” has many miles and many stories still to be told.

c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published October 20, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Unicoi Turnpike

The Unicoi Turnpike was an old road that played prominently in the early days of settlement of Union and Towns Counties, and, indeed, as a trade route in parts of Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia prior to the settling of the mountain region by whites. The historical marker that designates the road is at GPS reading N 34° 41.209` W 083° 42.616` in White County, Georgia. The message on the marker states:
The Unicoi Turnpike

This road is the Old Unicoi Turnpike, first vehicular route to link East Tennessee, Western North Carolina and North Georgia with the head of navigation on the Savannah River system. Beginning on the Tugalo River, to the east of Toccoa, the road led this way, thence through Unicoi Gap and via Murphy, N. C. to Nine Mile Creek near Maryville, Tenn.

Permission to open the way as a toll road was given by the Cherokees in 1813 to a Company of Indians and white men. Tennessee and Georgia granted charters to the concern. Georgia Historical Marker

Marker @ GHM 154-1R Date: 2003

In recent correspondence with Mr. Carey Waldrip, a history buff (as am I) and member of the Towns County Historical Society, he announced that Saturday, November 12, 2011 has been designated as Unicoi Turnpike Day in Towns County. Plans are to meet at any time between 9:00 and 12:00 noon on that date at the Unicoi Gap Parking Lot (GA Hwy 17/75). Hiking directions will be given for those who wish to walk the remnant of the old Unicoi Turnpike, a rough, sunken road from the Gap that leads for two miles northward into Towns County. Mr. Waldrip warns that people should come prepared for a rugged hike, with good walking shoes, and bright hat and jacket, “because it is hunting season.” Another feature of the Unicoi Turnpike Day will be a lecture beginning at 9:00 a. m. by Dr. Paul Arnold of Young Harris College who will speak on the subject of “Geocaching.” Those who have a hand-held GPS instrument should bring it for the lecture session.

Now to more history on the Unicoi Turnpike: In the September-October, 2008 issue of the Sautee-Nacoochee Community Association Newsletter, some of the history of the Unicoi Turnpike was given. Dr. Tom Lumsden, a resident of the Nacoochee Valley and one who strongly works to preserve history, stated that the Unicoi Turnpike Trail was originated by “engineers with four feet.” Even prior to the Indians’ use of the trail as a footpath, large mammals went from eastern Tennessee to the piedmont and coastal plains of North and South Carolina as they migrated for the winter months and returned along the same route in the spring. Since the trail was already there, cut through the forest by migrating animals, the Indians began to use it as a trade and migratory route as well. The route was seen as useful for trade, and from 1813 through 1817 a company headed by a Mr. Russell Wiley began at Mullin’s Ford on the Tugalo River and began to improve the trail across the top of North Georgia, into western North Carolina proceeding to Murphy, and then northwestward to Vonore, Tennessee on the Little Tennessee River.

With improvements on the turnpike, it was turned into a toll road for freight wagons. From Augusta in Georgia to Knoxville in Tennessee the toll road continued to operate until after the Civil War. Drovers went over the road with hogs, cattle, turkeys and other livestock along the trail. I have heard my grandfather, Francis Jasper Collins, tell of taking a “drove of turkeys” along the Turnpike from Choestoe near Blairsville all the way to Augusta. I could not envision how the drovers managed to keep the turkeys on trail and on task, and often wish I had been old enough when I heard him tell his stories of the turkey drives (and sometimes live cattle and sheep) to ask about particulars. I do remember his saying that the turkeys roosted in trees at night as the horses and men camped beneath them. Then early in the morning the turkeys would be fed from corn in the wagons and started on the next trek of the long journey. Also, at places along the Unicoi Turnpike were inns and rest stops, places where the men could get cooked meals and spend the night. These were sometimes at about fifteen-mile intervals. But not all the trail from Tennessee through North Carolina and Georgia had the convenience of inns for rest stops.

The Unicoi Turnpike Trail was more than just a path. It became the thoroughfare over which our ancestors moved from South or North Carolina into North Georgia, many arriving before the Cherokee were ousted from the mountain lands. People, events, and places along the ancient trail are a part of our history.

If you should plan to attend the Unicoi Turnpike Day on November 12, 2011, and walk a portion of the still discernible trail, you will be treading on ground almost sacred to the memory of a hardy people seeking a better way of life. Next week we will examine some more history of the Unicoi Turnpike—a “trail through time.”

c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published October 13, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Repeated Given Names Often Confuse Genealogy Searchers ~ Or: Which Person Do You Mean?

This week I’ve spent time back-tracking to an article I wrote for this column on June 2, 2005 about John Little Ingram’s family. He was my great, great grandfather who was born in 1788 in South Carolina, died in 1866 in Union County, Georgia, married three times, and had a total of twenty-one children, nine by his first wife Mary “Polly” Cagle, ten by his second wife, Cynthia Kittle, and two by his third wife, Catherine Cameron.

A question and additional research came about the tenth child by John Little Ingram’s second wife, Cynthia Kittle. This child was named Martin Ingram, born in 1844 and, according to Watson B. Dyer in his family history book, died in Jackson, Mississippi in 1863 during the Civil War.

A very fine genealogy researcher, Dr. Charles Ingram, read my article online at the GaGenWebProject and saw the name Martin Ingram. He immediately thought that the birth and death dates were wrong, because his ancestor by the same name, Martin Ingram, he had documented well. He knew that his particular Martin was born December 26, 1816 and died November 13, 1891 and was buried at the Four Mile Cemetery, Pickens County, Georgia—not in far away Mississippi during the Civil War.

One of the difficulties seemed to revolve around the name of the wife listed for each of the Martin Ingrams. Both were listed as marrying a Rebecca Bozeman, and to further confuse, Rebecca had a nickname, Beedee or Becky. Now is that coincidence, or an error in listing? Dr. Charles Ingram has a family Bible showing his 1816 Martin Ingram married Rebecca (Beede/Becky) Bozeman on November 24, 1842 in Cherokee County, Georgia. He also has authentication from Cherokee County marriage Book A, page 46, a listing for the marriage of Martin Ingram and Beedy Bozeman.

The only record I’ve found for the 1844 Martin Ingram’s marriage to Rebecca Bozeman is a listing on page 408 of Watson B. Dyer’s “Dyer Family History, 1600’s to 1980.” He did not give a source for the marriage record. Maybe the younger Martin Ingram married a cousin by the same name of the wife of his first cousin, 1816 Martin Ingram. I looked in the Union County marriage records and did not find the younger Martin’s marriage listed there. Could this be an error? Perhaps Watson Dyer found a listing for the 1816 Martin Ingram’s marriage, and assumed that the younger Martin married a Bozeman, too. Since the 1844 Martin died young, at age 19, he evidently married young, too, if, indeed, he wed before he went to the Civil War and was killed. I did find a listing of Martin R. Ingram in the 52nd Regiment of the Georgia Infantry Volunteers, Army of Tennessee, Company G. They called themselves “The Alleghany Rangers,” from Union County. They enlisted for six months and their commanding officers were Lewis B. Beard and Julius H. Barclay [Reference: “Sketches of Union County History, Volume 2, 1978, p. 41]

John Little Ingram’s son, Martin, lived only nineteen years, and whether he married before he went away to war (to a Rebecca Bozeman or not?), we do not have a record that he had children.

On the other hand, the Martin Ingram (1816-1891) who is definitely known to have married a Rebecca Bozeman, was the son of Tillman Ingram (1794-?) and Elizabeth “Betsy” Dalrymple Ingram (1799-?). Tillman and John Little Ingram were brothers, so the two Martin Ingrams were first cousins. The 1816 Martin Ingram became a Baptist minister and preached in churches in Cherokee and Pickens Counties, Georgia for more than thirty years. They had eleven children, nine for whom we have names: Isaac N., John H., Samuel T., Nancy E., Hester A., James P., Thomas K., Mary, and Loan. Rev. and Mrs. Martin Ingram were buried at the Four Mile Cemetery, Pickens County, Georgia.

Given names in any family are important. Maybe the babies are named for someone in the family, a grandparent, parent, aunt or uncle, or even going farther back to another ancestor. The fact that brothers give their sons and daughters family names causes confusion at times, because there are multiple people with the same name. That’s how we got confused over the name Martin Ingram. We could say the same of John, Little, Isaac, Tilman and other given names, carried through several generations.

c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published October 6, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pierre Chastain, the Immigrant, and His Continuing Influence Part 4 Learning from the Past – Shaping the Future

Jason Coward Chastain (March 10, 1818 – June 12, 1900) was of the sixth generation from Pierre “The Immigrant” Chastain, a son of John C. Chastain (1791-1880) and Nancy Coward Chastain (1800-1867). John C. Chastain was a son of Edward Brigand Chastain (1769-1834) and Hannah Brown Chastain (1771-ca 1832-37). He was descended from John “Ten Shilling Bell” Chastain, Pierre Chastain, Jr. and Pierre “The Immigrant” Chastain.

Jason Coward Chastain was born in Jackson County near Sylva, North Carolina. He went to the area along the Toccoa River in Upper Dial Community of then Union County (in 1854 this area became part of Fannin) and bought land and built his first cabin there. He returned to North Carolina where he married Mary “Polly” Rogers on Christmas Eve in 1840. They moved by covered wagon, bringing boxwoods with them to transplant at their new home. Her father gave Mary Rogers Chastain a slave named Isom to assist with the farm work. Jason and Mary had eight children, seven daughters and one son. As they prospered, Jason added to his holdings and buildings. He later built a fine ten-room plantation-type home which is still intact today.

Noting that Isom seemed depressed, his master found that it was because he had to leave his beloved named Leah behind in North Carolina. Jason went back, purchased Leah, the slave, and presented her to Isom for his wife. Jason and Mary provided well for them and treated them kindly. A story has been passed down about Mary baking fresh yeast bread and giving Leah’s children bread spread with butter and honey as they sat on her back porch steps. When the emancipation proclamation came, they wanted to remain at the Chastain farm because they had been so kindly treated. The black families did all eventually leave the Chastains and returned to North Carolina, but in 1896 some of Isom and Leah’s children visited Mary once again before her death.

One day a lamb was missing from Jason’s flock. A son-in-law felt he could find out where the lamb had gone. Suspecting Isom and Leah of stealing and killing the lamb for their dinner, Taylor Stephens slipped to their cabin and looked in at their window, expecting to see roast lamb on the table. Instead, he saw Leah, Isom and their children bowed in prayer and heard Isom praying for “Old Mastuh Jason and Ole Missey Mary, and bless Mr. Taylor and pretty Miss Mary, too.” No lamb was on the table, only the simplest fare. But in the hearts of the couple was gratitude for their blessings and prayers for their owner’s family. About three days later the lamb wandered back onto the farm.

Jason Chastain had a large farm, kept a store, had sheep and cattle, and was involved in church and community activities. A family cemetery on the hill back of his house has his monument bearing this epitaph: “I have been a soldier for the right.” In addition, these words are inscribed on his stone:

“Dear friends and neighbors,
Come one, come all and see
Where the old man lies.
Then, dear children,
When you die
Be placed here by me
On this hill
Which God has formed.
So, on the Resurrection morn
We may rise in unison
And join that blood-washed throng
And abide throughout the cycles of eternity
In that clime of eternal bliss.
So mote it be. Amen.
Indeed, in remembering several in the Chastain generations, we agree with Longfellow:

“Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.”
Yes, the face of these mountains of Appalachia from Virginia where Pierre “The Immigrant” Chastain and his family settled, to these hills of North Georgia, he and his people have left giant footprints in the sands of time. As Union County poet Byron Herbert Reece wrote in his poem, “Choestoe”:

Yes, sprung from the hard earth,
Nurtured by hard labor,
We know the names that built the fallen dwellings
Going to ruin in old dooryard orchards.

There is peace here, quiet and unhurried living,
Something to wonder at in aged faces.
These are not all I mean, but symbols for it,
A thing, if one but has the spirit for it,
Better, I say, than many rabbits dancing.
(published in “The Prairie Schooner, Spring, 1944)
We have become cosmopolitan in the mountains. With our increasing population and changing culture, we should come to appreciate even more our legacy from hardy pioneers who carved out farms and built homes in a mountain wilderness. We laud their efforts to endow us with a sound work ethic and keen sense of responsibility for our environment, our family values, our religious ideals. With economic instability and political unrest, we need especially to learn from the past as we face the future. We need time to consider whence we have come and where we are going. I invite you, as does our mountain poet, Byron Herbert Reece, to take time apart and, as he says in this poem:

In the Far Dark Woods Go Roving

Whenever the heart’s in trouble
Caught in the snare of the years,
And the sum of the tears is double
The amount of youthful tears,

In the far dark woods go roving
And find there to match your mood
A kindred spirit moving
Where the wild winds blow in the wood.
-Byron Herbert Reece
from Bow Down in Jericho, 1950
c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Sept. 29, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pierre Chastain "The Immigrant" and His Continuing Influence

Elijah Webb Chastain, the fifth generation from Pierre Chastain, “The Immigrant” was noted as a military man, lawyer, and politician. He was the seventh of ten children born to Benjamin Chastain (1780-1845), who moved his family in 1837 and was an Indian agent in the area that became Fannin County, Georgia. Elijah Webb Chastain’s mother was Rebeckah Denton Chastain (1779-1872). This tenth child was born in Pickens County, SC September 25, 1813 and died in an accident in Murray County, Georgia on April 9, 1874.

His sixty-one years were notable. He married Clarissa Susan Braselton on June 18, 1838 and they had twelve children: Marian Josephine who married Dr. Judson Linton Rucker; Rev. Benton Forsyth Chastain who married Nancy Elizabeth Morris; Benjamin Perry Chastain (1841-1859); Georgia Anne Chastian (1843-186) who married Lewis Crayton Allen; Rev. Oscar Fitzallen Chastain who married Mary Zenobia Addington; Mary Jane Chastain who married John Sullivan Addington; Lewis C. Chastain (b/d February 16, 1848); Eugenia Virginia Chastain (1850-died young); Emma Maria Chastain (1853-1916) married William Dallas Smith; Judson Rucker Chastain (1855 -1920) married Emma Frances Greenwood; Ida Amanda Chastain (1858-1930) married Allen Burton Dickey; and Sidney Johnson Chastain (1860-1882) married Thomas A. Willson. Of the twelve children, nine lived to adulthood, married and eight of the nine had children. Descendants of the famed Elijah Webb Chastain are now found in a broad geographic distribution.

Elijah Webb Chastain was termed “Colonel,” receiving this designation because of his service in the Seminole War in Florida in 1838 and later his service in the Civil War. He studied law, as was the practice then, by “reading” law in the office of established lawyers. He was admitted to the Georgia Bar in 1849. He practiced in Gilmer and Union Counties and at the young age of 21 he made a memorable speech on July 4, 1835 in Ellijay, Georgia that was printed in area newspapers at the time. Gifted as an orator and persuasive speaker, this quality would be a complement to his political career. He was elected Georgia senator from Gilmer County and served in that capacity from 1839-1849. He served as a representative to the U. S. Congress from 1851-1855. Some of his speeches in Congress have been preserved: notably on Union and States’ Rights (1852), the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) and the annexation of Cuba (1855). He was a member of the Georgia Secession Convention and voted for Georgia to secede from the Union at a hotly-debated contest at the state capital in Milledgeville, Georgia on January 19, 1861. He resumed his military career at age 47 and was commissioned a Lt. Colonel of the First Regiment, Georgia Regulars and later of the Eighth Regiment, Georgia State Troops. He and Civil War Governor Joseph Emerson Brown were good friends. Many of Chastain’s Civil War letters to the governor on behalf of his constituents in North Georgia plead dire circumstances, need for salt, and rampant lawlessness from raiders and renegades. He was appointed by Governor Brown to serve as the state attorney for the Western and Atlantic Railroad in 1857-1861, a railroad very vital to the Confederate forces.

Following the end of the Civil War, Elijah Web Chastain returned to Fannin County where he continued his law practice and managed his large farm. On a legal trip to Dalton, Georgia in April, 1874, he was drowned in Holly Creek April 9, swollen and flooded from spring rains, as he and his friends Col. John B. Dickey and Senator John A. Jervis returned from Dalton, Georgia where they had pled for the Dalton-Morganton Railroad. His body was recovered the next day and burial occurred at the Toccoa Baptist Church Cemetery, Morganton, GA on land Col. Chastain had given to the church only a year prior to his death. The eulogy written by Congressman Hiram Parks Bell has been preserved and gives a lofty account of this man whom Chastain historians as well as Col. Bell and others term “the most prominent Chastain of all time.” His “magnetic personality…soldierly bearing…and aggressive manner drew him into the limelight and his magnetism and easy success kept him there.” So wrote James Garvin Chastain about Col. Elijah Webb Chastain in his “A Brief History of the Huguenots and Three Family Trees” (in The Chestnut Tree, February, 1974).

Next in our line of notable Chastains we come to a son of Elijah Webb Chastain, namely Rev. Oscar Fitzallen Chastain (1844-1906) [sixth generation from Pierre “the Immigrant”] and his notable wife, Zenobia Addington Chastain (1848-1907). We can hardly remember one of these without also recalling the other, for their careers and interests motivated them as a solid team for good. Zenobia Addington established an academy in 1868 in Morganton and was able to get funding for this mountain school from the Peabody Foundation. Oscar Fitzallen Chastain had served in the Civil War, as had his illustrious father. When he and Mary Zenobia, daughter of March and Amy Elizabeth White Addington, were married December 18, 1872 in Union County by the Rev. Thomas M. Hughes, Oscar was a clerk in a store in Morganton, the then county seat town of Fannin County. No doubt, Oscar had been attracted to the outstanding teacher of the school known as Zenobia’s Academy.

Morganton Baptist Association of Churches was organized in 1893. In 1899, the association took a bold step and organized the North Georgia Baptist College in Morganton, to be operated as a boarding school appealing to mountain students. “College” was a broad term, for classes were offered from first grade through all the grades, high school, and about the first two years of college. Zenobia Chastain, one of the best-educated women of the area at the time had graduated from a noted academy in Ellijay, Georgia headed by Professor M. C. Briant. There she had been instructed in history, the classics, mathematics, Latin and Greek. She was asked to come aboard the North Georgia Baptist College as a teacher. Her husband, Rev. Oscar F. Chastain, who had been ordained to the gospel ministry on May 17, 1884, was named business manager of the college. At one time, due to severe financial needs at the struggling college, the Chastains mortgaged their own farm and home to raise funds for operation of the school.

Oscar and Zenobia Chastain had three children, daughters Mariam, Mary and Nettie, all of whom preceded their parents in death. They took relatives and others into their home to board so they could attend the college in Morganton. In 1906 the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention began joint sponsorship with Morganton Association of the North Georgia Baptist College and named it as one of its “Mountain Schools.” Nearby Blairsville operated a similar school called the Blairsville Collegiate Institute from 1904-1930. Oscar Chastain died in 1906 at age 62 and his wife Zenobia died in 1907 at age 60. Their joint tombstone in Morganton Baptist Cemetery has this epitaph: “They loved God and their fellowman.” Many who went through the educational programs at Zenobia’s Academy and later the North Georgia Baptist College became noted teachers, lawyers, doctors, politicians and upright citizens. These two made a distinctive mark as their vision and hard work become reality. Theirs were noble lives, nobly lived.

[Next: Continuing “Learning from the Past, Shaping the Future” we will feature Jason Coward Chastain, another sixth generation descendant of Pierre “the Immigrant” Chastain.]

c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Sept. 22, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.