Saturday, April 23, 2011

About Easter, Spring and GTT

I am writing this from Karnes City, Texas, the county seat town of Karnes County. I am visiting my grandson, Nathan Jones, and his wife Kayla and my great granddaughter, almost-five-year-old Brenna. He is one of the ones, who, a few years ago, like some of his ancestors of old, got the urge to GTT—that is, Go To Texas.

The closest I had ever been to Karnes City, Texas before in my travels back when my husband and I had the ambition to “visit every state in the Union,” I had explored that notable Texas town, San Antonio, site of the famed Battle of the Alamo. Karnes City lies about an hour’s motor drive south of San Antonio. We (my son Keith, his wife, Debbie, and I) are here for a visit for Palm Sunday and until Thursday of Holy Week when we will fly back to Georgia. A brief visit for a long journey, but spring breaks and obligations about the celebration of Easter somewhat dictated our schedule.

We worshiped on Palm Sunday in the church where Nathan and Kayla are active, First Baptist of Karnes City. Both of them serve on the ministry staff, he as part-time minister of music (his regular job is band director and chorus director in the local school system) and she is church secretary and youth leader (better known nowadays as ministry assistant). The music was glorious and uplifting. The sermon by the Rev. Kevin Cornelius asked and explored the probing question, “Why the Cross?” He related how we observe Palm Sunday as a day of rejoicing because of the celebration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. On Easter Sunday we are filled with rejoicing because of the resurrection of the risen Lord. But in between these two events of rejoicing is the darkest day in Christendom—we call it “Good Friday,” the day of Jesus’ death, the Day of the Cross. “Why the Cross?” he asked pointedly. Then Rev. Cornelius traced the necessity for the cross in God’s redemption plan. The cross was necessary in God’s plan because by Christ’s substitutionary death He did for us what we could not do for ourselves: He became the perfect sacrifice for sin required by God to restore mankind to Himself.

We are seeing the countryside, quite different from the spring we left in Georgia, with trees in full regalia of new leaves and the flowers in brilliant array. Karnes City and the surrounding area is in the Texas plains area. The county itself has several oil wells, some now being drilled and others that have been active for some time. At night we can see the well frames alight, one close to Nathan and Kayla’s house on Fair Lane. The cattle farms and pasturelands stretch for miles, with Texas longhorns sometimes close to the fence that encloses the Jones property in the town of Karnes City. Within the county are people of Polish descent and of Spanish descent. The foliage is grassland, and mesquite trees and a type of oak, much shorter than our tall oaks of various types in Georgia. And there’s the wind—always the wind. It may be extremely hot or extremely cold. Here in this Texas springtime, it is cool and somewhat bracing as it stirs the limbs of mesquite and oak and the shoots of prairie grass.

And now I come to GTT. The story is told that when some of our ancestors from the Georgia hills decided to find their fortunes in the west that was opening up to settlers, they painted in large letters on their barns in Georgia: GTT. The designation meant Gone to Texas. They might be back, they might sell their property in Georgia where the side of their barn announced their destination, but most likely they would remain in Texas, trying to make a living on the plains they had chosen for their new destination.

I learned that some of the eighteenth century property developers went to far away Poland and made the new world and its opportunities seem so inviting to those who wanted to leave their homeland to settle in America that a large contingent of Polish settlers came to the area of Texas that became Karnes County. No doubt, they hardly thought of any letters such as GTT—Gone to Texas. But that’s what they did, and that’s how the Polish immigrants came to make the area around present-day Karnes City their home.

It was easier for the Spanish. Mainly they had to cross the border of Mexico to make America their home. Many had come to fight in Santa Ana’s army that led up to the Texas War for Independence. And there many remained, and others migrated farther on. And so the Spanish communities, with the many who had moved across from Mexico, settling permanently in Texas and other southern border states.

Migrations into our mountain counties took place in the early nineteenth century. GTT (Gone to Texas—or GWYM, Go West Young Man) was a common occurrence in the late nineteenth century. Both migrations were with hopes of a better way of life and more room for growing families.

c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published April 21, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mary Self Squires, Noted Educator, Began Her Career at Henson One-Room School, Choestoe (Self Family, Part 3)

For two weeks we have traced early settlers to Union County, Georgia bearing the last name Self. As we observe in April, “Teaching Career Month,” we turn our attention to one descendant of these early Self settlers, Mary Self, who began her teaching career at the Henson one-room school that was once an integral part of education in the Choestoe District of Union County.

It is told that one of the school trustees of the Henson School appeared at the schoolhouse on the opening day of school in the early 1900’s and addressed the seventeen year old teacher, Mary Self, with the question: “Are you the little girl who is going to teach these children this year?”

A bit frightened by the query, but at the same time determined, young Mary Self answered, “I’m going to try!”

And try she did. Those larger in size and older than she held no fear for her. She taught with enthusiasm and determination and thus began her long career in education.

During the years she taught at the Henson School, she spent her summers furthering her own education at the Normal Institutes held then at places such as Young Harris and Piedmont College in Demorest. She sat for the two-day teacher examination administered for the purpose of gaining her teacher’s license. The certification grade (I, II or III) she made on it determined the salary she would make. She graduated from both of these colleges, and in her later life she praised the dean of Young Harris College, Dr. Joseph Sharp, for the quality influence he had on her life as a teacher and that of her sister, Jane Self, whose marriage ceremony to Norman Vester Dyer was performed by Dr. Sharp in the parlor of the college on June 17, 1915, with Mary Self as an attendant.

After her years of teaching at Henson School, she taught at other Georgia schools, mainly where her brother-in-law and sister had employment as educators in Lilly, Nichols and Dawson, Miss Mary Self accepted a job at Candler Street School in Gainesville. She remained there, serving both as a teacher and then as a principal from 1942 until her retirement in 1953.

In Gainesville Miss Mary Self met and married J. Howard Squires. He was for many years an officer with the Gainesville Midland Railroad. They made their home in a lovely house on Green Street Place. After her retirement in 1953, Mrs. Squires could not leave teaching alone. She first began to tutor at-risk students in her home after school.

Then the work of mentor was expanded. Her former students, in the 1950’s and 60’s parents themselves, sought her out to assist their own children and give them a boost in their school work. She enjoyed this contact with former students and was glad to assist their children to gain more confidence as students.

In choosing teaching as a career, Mrs. Mary Self Squires named the number one requirement as “a genuine love for children.” Combine that love for students with an avid desire to teach and an aptitude for instruction and teaching may be the avenue of work one so inclined should follow.

The Self sisters, Mary and Jane, both met the criteria for teachers as noted by Mary. She herself had a long career as a teacher and principal. Her sister Jane followed teaching until she and Dr. Dyer had children. Sarah Ruth and twins, Betty and Helen. Then Jane took up the full-time job of stay-at-home mother, but always assisted her husband, Dr. Norman Vester Dyer, mainly a school administrator--principal and superintendent--in his career as an educator.

“I’m going to try to teach!” became more than a statement to a school board member in the early 1900’s as she began her first job at Henson School. She did try--and she succeeded in teaching.

c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published April 14, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Continuing the Self Family Saga (Part 2)

By way of review, last week’s introductory story on the Self early settlers to Union County told of three families with the surname Self that were here in 1834: Job, Thomas and Francis, with a total of 16 people. In 1834, too, was one household, that of Isom Seffle, that unusual spelling, with 6 males and 2 females. Was this a misspelling of Self? Seffle was not found listed again in Union census records. By 1840, the households listed were those of Job, Thomas R. Robert B. and William, with the Self population swelling to 28 persons.

I am always glad to come to the 1850 census record, the first one to list the name of wife and children rather than just the number by ages, not just the name of head-of-household.. By the time the county was 18 years into its life as a division of the state of Georgia, the Self population was as follows:

Household 163: Self, William, age 37, born in North Carolina Wife, Elizabeth, age 43, born in North Carolina

The first four children listed had been born in North Carolina: David, age 17 Berryman, age 14 John, age 12 Sarah, age 10

The next three children were born in Georgia: Mary, age 8 Franklin, age 6 Barbary (Barbara?), age 4

Of these children of William and Elizabeth Self, marriage records in Union that possibly are for these Self offspring are David Self to Polly Long on December 20, 1855 by William M. Duncan, Justice of the Peace. John Self to Rebecca Seabolt, January 1, 1860, by Rev. Thomas M. Hughes. On the other hand, this John could be the son of Francis and Hester Self who was 10 in 1850, or John the son of Thomas and Nancy Cook Self who was 12 in 1850.

With so many children in Self families named John, Francis and Job, to trace those wed back to the right parents takes more adequate family records than I have available on the Self descendants. For example, there are four Sarah Self marriages listed in the records. The three possibilities for William and Elizabeth’s Sarah was to T. E. Jenkins on March 13, 1870; or the Sarah who married James L. Smith on January 2, 1868; or the Sarah who married M. H. Monroe on March 27, 1879. This Sarah definitely is not the Sarah Self who married Allen Simpson on February 2, 1845. This couple must have left the county soon after their marriage, for in 1850 I could not find a Simpson household with Allen as the head and Sarah as the wife and mother. A Mary Self married W. W. Hix on May 4, 1872, with Rev. J. B. Parham officiating. This could be the daughter of William and Elizabeth. Barbery (sic) Self married John Medaris on November 8, 1866, with Rev. S. H. Waters officiating.

Household 542: Self, Robert, age 30, born in North Carolina Wife Martha, age 29, born in North Carolina

Their five children had all been born in Georgia: James, age 13 Susan, age 8 Elisha, age 7 Jane, age 4 Job, age 2

Union County marriage records indicate that Robert Self married Martha Cook on January 25, 1838, with Jarrett Turner, Justice of the Peace, performing their ceremony.

The two James Self marriages listed in the record take place in 1889 and 1896, a little late, it seems for this 13-year old son of Robert and Martha Self. I do not find marriage records that seem to match the ages of the other children of Robert and Martha.

Household 534: Self, Francis, age 32, born in North Carolina Wife Hester, age 31, born in North Carolina

They had five children by 1850, all born in Georgia: Job, age 12 John, age 10 Thomas, age 10 John (yes, a second named John), age 4 Joseph, age 1

Evidently Francis and Hester were married before they settled here, because no marriage record is listed for this couple in Union. The Job Self, son of Francis and Hester, might be the Job Self who married Caroline Hix on January 22, 1860 with James R. Hood, Justice of the Peace, officiating.

In a message from Pat Self, she told me that Job M. Self and Mary Samantha Plott married. I find a J. M. Self and Mary M. (Samantha not as part of her name in marriage record) married on October 8, 1871, with Rev. Alfred Corn performing their ceremony.

Pat Self reported that Job M. and Mary Samantha Self helped to organize the Old Union Baptist Church at Young Harris when it was founded, and were active there until their deaths. But was the Job who married Mary Samantha a son of Francis and Hester? I hope Pat Self will help me clarify who were the parents of this Job Self.

Household 646: Self, Thomas, 34, born in North Carolina Wife, Nancy, age 35, born in North Carolina

Eleven children, all born in Georgia: William, age 16 Sally, age 15 Caroline, age 13 John, age 12 Elizabeth, age 10 Francis, age 9 Jehu, age 7 Monroe, age 6 Newton, age 5 Thomas, age 3 Infant (male), age 2 months

Marriage records show that Thomas Self and Nancy Cook were married in Union County on July 11, 1833 by John Thomas, Justice of the Inferior Court. Searching for names of these children and their marriages, the records show: Caroline Self married Michael Lance on July 12, 1853.

There are two John Self marriage listings: one John to Margaret Daniel on February 10, 1856 performed by Charles Crumbly, Justice of the Peace; and another John, which by age and time of marriage must have been Thomas and Nancy’s son John, age 12 in 1850, who married Rebecca Seabolt on January 1, 1860, when he was 22, with Rev. Thomas M. Hughes performing their ceremony. But this John’s marriage could also have been for William and Elizabeth Self’s son, John, who was also 12 in 1850. Francis M. Self married Rebecca Daniel on August 6, 1863, with Thompson Collins, Justice of the Peace, officiating.

Household 662: Crumbly, William, age 31, born in North Carolina Wife, Jane, age 28, born in Alabama

They have in the household with them a child, Celia Self, age 6.

In the marriage records, William Crumbly and Jane Self are listed, marrying on February 25, 1849, with Charles Crumbly, JP, performing their ceremony.

This article has given mainly census and marriage records, with little help from family research and history that would tie the marriages to the right parents for the brides and grooms. Maybe someone who reads this article knows the puzzles and can clarify and help set the record straight.

c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published March 31, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.