Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Rev. John Corn, Another Son of Elder Rev. Adam Corn

We’ve traced the story of Elder Adam Corn who moved to Union County from North Carolina as early as 1839 and of his second son, the Rev. Alfred E. Corn, both of whom were noted as missionaries to the Indians and were instrumental in planting churches in the new settlements to which they moved. The first son of Adam and Hannah Heatherly Corn was John who was born October 18, 1813 near Cullowhee in what was then Buncombe County, North Carolina, now Jackson County. John was already married when his father Adam and the rest of his siblings relocated to Union County, Georgia. John and his wife and one child under five were listed in the 1840 census of Union, but the census taker mistakenly spelled John’s last name as Carne instead of Corn.

John Corn’s marriage to Mary Wade (known as “Polly”) Carter was recorded in Rabun County, Georgia as occurring on November 10, 1836 with the Rev. Robert Wood, also a Justice of the Peace, performing their marriage ceremony. Polly’s parents were Jesse Carter and Lavina Sams Carter. The Carter line went back to Edward Carter from Oxfordshire, England who settled in Pennsylvaniaabout 1682. Before Jesse and Lavina Carter moved to Rabun County, they had lived in Buncombe County near Cullowhee and their daughter Polly and John Corn knew each other then, and probably fell in love. He went to Rabun County to court and marry her in 1836. Polly was about three years older than John, having been born September 20, 1810 on the farm where her parents then lived at the Atkins Branch of the Big Ivy River near Cullowhee, NC. The young couple made their home at first at Cullowhee, but then when Adam Corn, John’s father, decided to migrate to Union County, Georgia to secure land available for settlement there, John and Polly decided to move, too.

We have seen from previous stories about Adam and Alfred that Rev. Adam Corn baptized his two older sons in the Hiawasee River near Macedonia Baptist Church in 1841. John Corn’s license to preach was issued by Macedonia Church on December 17, 1842. Two years later, on November 16, 1844, John Corn was ordained to the gospel ministry by that same Macedonia Church. Serving on the presbytery and ordaining council to question John were his father, Rev. Adam Corn, and neighboring pastors Rev. James Kimsey and Rev. Singleton Sisk.

A very significant event took place in Augusta, Georgia in May of 1845. Messengers gathered from states having Baptist Conventions and cooperating Baptist churches to discuss and act upon the proposal to form the convention and establish a Board of Domestic Missions, of Foreign Missions, of Education and other benevolent entities. Four friends discussed the importance of the meeting in advance, and they were made messengers from their respective churches in Union County to attend the organizational meeting. They had been given credentials for voting on proposals presented at the Augusta meeting. The men rode in Major Josiah Carter’s carriage drawn by two fine horses. With the routes available then from Blairsville to Augusta, we can imagine they went provisioned to camp out along the way since it would have been a several-days journey. In the group were the Rev. John Corn, the Rev. Elisha Hedden, the Rev. Elijah Kimsey and Major Josiah Carter. Major Carter was a brother-in-law to Rev. John Corn, the brother of John’s wife, Polly Carter Corn. Not only did these four men from Union County vote to form the Southern Baptist Convention, but Major Carter himself pledged there to contribute to foreign missions. Not only would he hold true to his pledge, but three of his granddaughters and one great grandson later became appointed foreign missionaries. The long trip to Augusta for these three ministers and one layman had far-reaching effects.

Rev. John and Mary Carter Corn lived in the Upper Hightower section of Towns County, a portion taken in when Towns was formed from Union in 1856. There they had a farm and reared their family: Lucinda Caroline who married Lafayette McKinney and Rev. Will Eller; Hannah Lavina who married Marion Stonecypher; John Heatherly who married Sarah Elizabeth Dillard; Mary Adeline (an invalid) who never married; and Nancy Elizabeth who married Ransom Smith.

Rev. John Corn was pastor of the Upper Hightower Baptist Church in his community for many years. It was said that, because that church was in his home district, he would never accept money for his services. Other churches he pastored were Old Union and Bell Creek in Towns County, and at Franklin and Valley River in North Carolina. He was listed as the first moderator of the Hiawassee Baptist Association when it was organized in 1849.

But farming and preaching were not the only two interests of the Rev. John Corn. When the Civil War was looming and the secession of Georgia from the Union seemed eminent, Rev. John Corn and Rev. Elijah Kimsey were elected representatives from Towns County to attend the secession convention held at the state capitol, then located at Milledgeville, Georgia, a four-hundred miles round trip by horseback from Hiawassee. Each of these representatives voted against Georgia’s seceding from the Union.

Rev. John Corn was a slave owner. He bought two young slave girls from his brother-in-law Major Josiah Carter. Harriet, a slave girl, age 7 was purchased for $750 in 1861, and Susan, age 14, for $1,600 in 1863. He purchased a 17 year old slave lad at a slave auction in South Carolina for $850 in 1862.

When he was 48, Rev. John Corn was drafted into the Confederate Army and served, according to his pension record, as Captain of Company D, 24th Regiment of the Georgia Volunteers. His service lasted from June 21, 1861 through May 22, 1862. When the elder Rev. John Corn resigned his commission, his son John Heatherly Corn enlisted in the Georgia Cavalry, Company A of the Sixth Regiment and served until the end of the war.

In 1874, Rev. Corn was elected as Towns County’s representative to the Georgia Legislature. By then, the state capitol had been relocated from Milledgeville to Atlanta. While inroute to his legislative duties, he became ill and had to return home. He died from complications with pneumonia at his home at Upper Hightower on January 2, 1875. He was interred in the Corn family cemetery at Upper Hightower near his home. Mary Polly Corn died January 14, 1879 and was also laid to rest in the family cemetery.

A special election was held through orders of Georgia Governor James Smith, and Samuel Y. Jameson, the great-uncle of Dr. S. Y. Jameson, President of Mercer University, Macon, was elected as Rev. John Corn’s successor to represent Towns County in the Georgia Legislature. Just as John Corn’s son, John Heatherly Corn, followed his father’s example and served in the Civil War, so he entered politics, becoming Towns County legislator for the 1884-1885 term. John Heatherly Corn also served as postmaster of the Visage post office in Towns County from 1875 through 1913, the entire life of that post office. The Corn families contributed much to early development of both Union and Towns Counties.

c2012 by Ethelene Dyer Jones. Published March 29, 2012 online with permission of the author at the GaGenWebProject. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Rev. Alfred Corn, Son of Elder Rev. Adam Corn

The Rev. Elder Adam Corn and his wife, Hannah Heatherly Corn, had at least nine known children, all of whom grew up to be solid citizens. When Union County gave up a section of its land to form Towns County in 1856, the Corn families were in a new county without having to move from the farms on which they had settled.

As we saw in last week’s article about Elder Rev. Adam Corn, he was a Baptist preacher and a church planter. He helped to organize several churches within the Union and Towns Counties areas. One was the Macedonia Baptist Church southeast of Hiawassee. Into the membership of that church, the Elder Rev. Corn baptized his two older sons, John and Alfred in the year 1841. Both of these men became outstanding leaders in church, associational and missions work, and both became ordained ministers and denominational leaders. The story is told that one of the favorite pastimes of these brothers when they were young was to find a stump to use as a pulpit and to “preach away” to anyone who would take the time to listen, perhaps their younger siblings or neighbor children. But even with this early practice as pulpiteers, it was not until John was twenty-eight and Alfred was twenty-four that they were baptized by their father in the Hiawassee River and accepted into the membership of Macedonia Baptist Church.

We will trace first some of the work of Alfred E. Corn, the second child of Adam and Hannah Corn. He was born January 19, 1817 before the Corn family left Buncombe County, NC to begin their travels to other points where they settled. He married Nancy T. Cook on January 16, 1842. I thought I might find their marriage record in Union County, Georgia marriages, since the Corn family moved from North Carolina to Georgia about 1839. I found that Rev. Alfred Corn performed marriage ceremonies for several in Union, but his marriage record to Nancy was not listed in Union. Rev. Alfred and Nancy Cook Corn had children Arminta Jane (1843-1932) who married Mangum Bryson; John Adam (1845-1864) who died in the Civil War but had married Ivy Ann Loudermilk on May 13, 1862. John Adam and Ivy Ann had a son, John Alfred, born in 1863. After his father’s death, his grandfather reared him. This young man became a prosperous property owner and served as both a state legislator and a Senator from the Towns County area. Rev. Alfred Corn’s first wife Nancy died in 1884 and he married, second, to Amanda Matthewson on May 22, 1885.

Alfred Corn was ordained to the gospel ministry by the Antioch Baptist Church of Union County on October 19, 1850. Little did those who sat in on his presbytery realize what a stalwart leader he would become in denominational work. He served for a number of years as an appointee of the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board (known then as the Baptist Board of Domestic Missions) to the Indians in North Carolina. He had to preach through an interpreter to be understood by the Cherokee. He was pastor of the Old Union Baptist Church at Young Harris for about 20 years. He was recognized as an outstanding leader in the Hiawassee Baptist Association and the Georgia Baptist Convention. He and Alphaeus Swanson led in organizing the West Union Baptist Church in Hiawassee Association.

He kept journals which tell of hardships during the Civil War. In one, he told how glad he was to see his son, John Adam, home for a brief leave from the Civil War. But later he lamented that, because of his son’s death, his family could never be together again as they once were on this earth. In 1864 his journal shows that he could not get to some of his church appointments because of unrest and “invasion of Yankee troops” that pillaged and robbed. Those same “snipers” stole his faithful steed that had taken him thousands of miles on his journeys to preach and do his missionary service.

He was also noted as an itinerant preacher and was invited to preach at summer camp meetings such as that at Fightingtown, a summer gathering held on a former Cherokee Indian Council Ground in Epworth, Fannin County, Georgia. He was one of the early invited guests after the camp meetings were reinstatedfollowing the Civil War.Known for his level-headedness and attention to duty, he left his mark in several North Georgia and North Carolina counties as he labored to build stronger churches. He and his first wife Nancy Cook Corn were buried in the Old Union Baptist Church Cemetery, Young Harris, Georgia. She died December 26, 1884 and Alfred died July 16, 1905.

c2012 by Ethelene Dyer Jones. Published March 22, 2012 online with permission of the author at the GaGenWebProject. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Early Union County Settler Adam Corn Noted as a Minister

He was likely referred to as “Elder” Corn among those who knew him. His name was Adam Corn, an ordained Baptist minister, who was living with his family in Union County Georgia by the time of the 1840 census. Extant family stories about this pioneer state that he moved here from North Carolina by 1839. In the 1839 census, his household had four males and four females. By age distribution, one male was five to ten, one was ten to fifteen, one twenty to thirty, and one fifty to sixty; females were two aged fifteen to twenty, one thirty to forty, and one fifty to sixty. The elder two listed in the household would likely have been Rev. Adam Corn and his wife, Hannah Heatherly Corn. Although the last name of another family living in Union at the time of the 1840 census was spelled Carne, it was likely intended to be Corn, the eldest son of Rev. Adam Corn. In that household were John Carne (Corn) who was between thirty and forty, his wife, and one child, a female under five.

As we shall see, this early Baptist minister was what we call today a church planter, for everywhere he went, including Union and Towns Counties in North Georgia, he started new churches. He was aided in this work (especially in the North Carolina area) by two more noted ministers of that early settlements era, the Rev. Humphrey Posey and the Rev. Stephen Smith. Bonded together in their work with frontier settlements and mission work with the Cherokee Indians, these men contributed significantly to early church establishment and mission work in Virginia, North and South Carolina and North Georgia.

Adam Corn was born May 2, 1783 in Albemarle County, Virginia, the son of John Peter and Elizabeth Parr Corn. His father was a Revolutionary War soldier. His grandparents were Matthew and Millie Corn and John and Miriam Parr, all of Henry County, Virginia. When Adam was a young lad of about eleven, his family moved from Virginia to Surrey County, North Carolina, then on to Wilkes County where so many who migrated from Union County had settled.

Adam Corn met Hannah Heatherly in Buncombe County, North Carolina. Her parents had migrated there from the old Pendleton District in South Carolina. Adam and Hannah were living near her parents, the John Heatherlys, in the 1810 census of Buncombe County. Adam was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1812 by the Mud Creek Baptist Church in Henderson, North Carolina. Thus began his career as a minister, church organizer and itinerant preacher and pastor. We trace several moves over the next years as he assisted the Rev. Humphrey Posey of the Board of Domestic Missions and the Rev. Stephen White, sometimes called a “hardshell Baptist preacher” to organize churches. “Hardshell” often referred to an anti-missions position of doctrine. Since Corn and Posey were obviously quite missions-minded, one wonders how the three then cooperated. Perhaps the demarcations in beliefs were not as divisive in those early years and people welcomed ordained itinerant preachers to deliver sermons, perform funerals and weddings, and baptize converts at the locations of scattered churches.

We trace Adam Corn’s ministry to the Cullowhee District in Jackson County, North Carolina where their eldest son, John, was born in 1813, and where he assisted with missions to the Indians and in organizing the Cullowhee Baptist Church. He was also an organizer of the Tuckaseegee Baptist Association at Cullowhee and presided at the meeting. He was present and led in organizing the Waynesville Baptist Church in 1823. He, the Rev. Stephen White and the Rev. Humphrey Posey organized the Cowee Baptist Church on March 15, 1828, and Rev. Posey served as its first pastor. Other churches he and the Rev. Humphrey Posey founded were the Locust Field Baptist Church in Canton (now First Baptist of Canton, NC), Mt. Zion Baptist Church at the Arneechee Ford of the Oconaluftee River, as well as the Luftee Baptist Church, the latter in 1836.

Then when Indian lands opened up in Union County, Georgia, Elder Adam Corn moved his family there about 1839. Within that area Rev. Corn led in organizing Macedonia Baptist Church which is south of present-day Hiawassee in Towns County, Brasstown Baptist Church, and Old Union Baptist Church in Young Harris. Towns County was formed from Union in 1856. Without moving, Rev. Adam Corn became a resident of the new county. Their farm was in the Bell Creek Community. He continued active in the ministry for all of his long life. Records show that he baptized his two older sons, John and Alfred, in the Hiawassee River in 1841 and they became members of the Macedonia Baptist Church their father had helped to organize. Alfred himself became a noted minister. Adam’s son John Corn served as the first moderator of the Hiawassee Baptist Association in 1849.

The graves of Rev. Adam Corn and his wife Hannah Heatherly Corn are in the Lower Bell Creek Baptist Church Cemetery. She died February 8, 1859 and he died September 12, 1871, at age 88. He had served as a minister for sixty years.

c2012 by Ethelene Dyer Jones. Published March 15, 2012 online with permission of the author at the GaGenWebProject. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Appalachian Values and Some People Who Exemplify Them (part 3)

We have looked at Appalachian Values as specified by Loyal Jones in his book, Appalachian Values (Jesse Stuart Foundation, 1994) and listed thus far religion, independence (that covers also self-reliance and pride), neighborliness, familism (love for family) and personalism (or relating well with others). Today we will complete his list with humility (modesty), love of place, patriotism, sense of beauty and sense of humor.

Mountain people hold to humility and modesty. They do not like to take credit for any achievements they might have accomplished. They had rather defer compliments to others, or at least defect them from themselves by saying such things as, “Well, this of which you speak is really not that good, not worthy of honor, anyway.” Take for example a man from Union County, who had to bear much of the responsibility of helping his mother rear his siblings after his father died. After a hard youth and manhood, he went forth from the mountains and did quite well as a leader in the state of Georgia. His name was Mauney Douglas Collins who for twenty-five years served as the state school superintendent. During his decade in the top school position in Georgia, he led in innumerableachievements in educational advancement to his credit. Among them were moving scattered one-teacher schools into consolidation, getting the “Minimum Program of Education” funded and a more stabletax base for education established, free textbooks, school and public libraries, nine months of school for all students, bus transportation. The list could go on of accomplishments under his administration. But when commended for his work, as is so often the case with mountain-bred persons, he would reply with, “It was time for a change, the people were ready for change, the time was right.” He did not like for credit to accrue to his own name. Yet the record is there for all to examine and admire. Loyal Jones describes this sense of modesty and humility: “We believe that we should not put on airs, not boast, nor try to get above our raising” (p. 90).

Love of place is almost a built-in part of our mountain ways. “Where’re you from?” one is likely to ask a person when hearing his/her mountain talk and wondering what cove or valley in Appalachian is home. Sense of place is deeply ingrained. There’s more truth than fiction to the saying, “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” We could substitute “mountains of Appalachia” for country and have a true evaluation of how much we who were born there cling to place. North Georgia Poet Byron Herbert Reece had the right idea when he wrote lovingly of his home and mine, “Choestoe,” the Cherokee Indian name meaning “Dancing Place of Rabbits.” It is a long poem, three pages published, so too long to quote here. But a few lines carry the strong sense of place he knew of the community where he was born, reared and lived:

“What does a land resemble, named for rabbits?...
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.”
Patriotism seems almost to be a built-in characteristic of Appalachian people. Next to family, another beloved entity for which one will die is country. So many people now dwelling in the hills and hollows of Appalachia can trace their ancestry back to someone who fought in the Revolutionary War. Likewise, when the rift came between the states in the 1860’s, many mountain people sided with the Union in that fray. The county of Union, when founded in 1832, was named Union because the representative,John Thomas, when asked what to name it, declared, “Union, for only Union-like people reside there!” From every war in which America has engaged since the Declaration of Independence was declared in 1776, Appalachian mountain military persons have fought with the bravest to win and maintain freedom.

A sense of beauty permeates place with majestic purple-clad mountains rising toward the sky and green valleys with meandering streams rushing through the rocks and rills of what is Appalachia. But as if nature is reflected in what hands produce, beauty is seen in creative projects from looms, needles, workshops, blacksmith shops. Mountain music played on banjo, dulcimer, and fiddle pays tribute to beauty of sound and accompanies voices that might have composed the songs telling about the land and its people. A concert of beauty rises in place, project and pursuits as if in tumultuous offering of what the people enjoy in Appalachia in loveliness. Is life not hard there? We wonder and yet know that it often is, but amidst the hard toil and sometimes deprivation, the imagination and industry of a people seek after and produce beauty.

And, finally, all the characteristics of mountain life are wrapped in a sense of humor. Loyal Jones assizes the humor of the mountaineer by stating: “Humor is more than fun; it is a coping mechanism in sickness or hard times” (p. 123). We often make ourselves the brunt of our own jokes. I remember the Rev. Jesse Paul Culpepper who was born and reared in Wetmore, Tennessee and who, for 26 and ½ years of his ministry was the director of missions among churches in rural Fannin and Gilmer Counties in Georgia. He was known far and wide for his preaching, and the points he could easily make on a difficult passage. He had the ability to do that oftentimes by telling one of his funny stories, with himself more likely than not the one who had put himself into a humorous position which would help the people to remember the point he was making. For example, in teaching tithing as a biblical way of giving, he would sometimes tell: “Our churches need a better way to raise money than to make punkin’ pies with foam on top (his word for merinque) and try to sell them to the highest bidder. I got one of those pies one time, and it was awful. We’re not winners when we get something like that. Why not give the money to the Lord’s treasury to start with?”

In closing his book on Appalachian Values, Loyal Jones appeals to us all to help correct the abuses to place and people that have occurred within our environs. We can no longer put on blinders and hope the problems of environment and social conditions will go away on their own. He implores: “The reasons for change (must be) sound and desired by mountain people” (p. 138).

[Resource: Jones, Loyal. Appalachian Values. Photography by Warren E. Brunner, with an Introduction by John B. Stephenson. Ashland, KY: Jesse Stuart Foundation, 1994.]

c2012 by Ethelene Dyer Jones. Published March 8, 2012 online with permission of the author at the GaGenWebProject. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Appalachian Values and Some People Who Exemplify Them (part 2)

Continuing on author Loyal Jones’s list of Appalachian Values as given in his book by the same title (Jesse Stuart Foundation, 1994), we focus on neighborliness (also known as hospitality), familism (obligation to family) and personalism (relating well to others).

In recent decades, dwellers in Appalachia have adopted the customs of people in other areas, which, unfortunately, has somewhat curtailed our normal tendencies toward neighborliness and hospitality. Distrust and suspicion, and the fear of harm from strangers have erected walls of suspicion so that we are querulous of helping people. The time was, when persons passed through as strangers in the vicinity, with hotels and motels almost non-existent in the hill country, people “took in” the travelers and treated them to the best they had available in food and lodging. Sometimes, for a stranger, a bed in the hayloft on stacks of newly-threshed hay was welcomed, and the persons who offered such rest for the weary were thanked volubly. That was back in the day of trust and the desire to share what a family had with those who might happen by. Now, if we have people in our homes for meals, or to be overnight guests, we extend a special invitation in advance. This, of course, still shows the spirit of neighborliness and hospitality, but it somewhat takes away from the old mountain custom of “keeping the welcome mat” out.

Back in the nineteenth centurythere came through Choestoe community periodically a person who at one time had lived in the valley but who had migrated west to Texas. His name was Phillip Humphries (b. ca. 1841, a son ofKizziahSouther Humphries and John Humphries). He had served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and many said his shock from battle left him somewhat deranged and with a desire to wander the country. He would come preaching on the end times. People knew of his family connections to the Souther families of the valley. They showed hospitality and neighborliness, listened to Phillip and gave him food and lodging, warm water for bathing, and clean clothes to wear. Then his restless nature caused him to move on. Someone, taking compassion on him, finally found him a permanent home in a veterans’ home in North Carolina.

Familism, or obligation to family, is a strong trait of Appalachian people.

The general idea is that you don’t talk badly about “my” people, nor do you treat them with unkindness. Loyal Jones states: “Family loyalty runs deep and wide and may extend to grandparents, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, cousins and even in-laws. Family members gather when there is sickness, death or a disaster” (Appalachian Values, p. 75). An example of this loyalty to family shows in remorse that occurs if there has been a rift in a family relationship and apologies and reconciliations have not been made before the death of one or the other at odds with each other. Another example of deep familism is the obligation felt by mountain people to “take care of one’s own.” Until recent decades, assisted living and nursing homes were not a consideration, since children cared for aging parents or other relatives not as closely kin as parents. And if a young mother or father died and the widow or widower needed help with young children in the family, relatives were quick to take in the children and love and rear them as their own. Union County did have a “Poor House” back in the nineteenth century where, as a last resort, persons were housed and cared for if relatives could not, due to their own circumstances, take care of the indigent. Or maybe the residents of the Poor House had no kin who could take them in. But the general principle has been for generations in the mountains to “take care of our own.” Family is a strong entity. Even divorce is a more recent blight in Appalachian society because of the strong sense of family.

Personalism is a bit harder to define. Loyal Jones sees it as “relating well to other persons…going to great lengths to keep from offending others…not alienating others” (Appalachian Values, p. 81). However, don’t think that mountaineers are easy to give in. Consider, for example, when Tennessee Valley Authority was buying up land to build lakes in the area for generating hydro-electric power. Because much of the land had been a legacy, passed down from generation to generation, people were reluctant to let it go, even to sell it for the ‘purpose of progress’ as the promoters proclaimed. When the government prevailed, and the land had to be sold, the people would comply, but dissatisfaction often remained, and some of the most adamant against selling their land refused for years to “hook up” to the electrical lines that came into their communities. In summarizing how Appalachian people relate to others, Mr. Jones states: “We may not always like or approve of other people, but we normally accept them as persons and treat them with respect” (p. 82).

[Resource: Jones, Loyal. Appalachian Values. Photography by Warren E. Brunner, with an Introduction by John B. Stephenson. Ashland, Ky: Jesse Stuart Foundation, 1994.]

c2012 by Ethelene Dyer Jones. Published March 1, 2012 online with permission of the author at the GaGenWebProject. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Appalachian Values and Some People Who Exemplify Them

Senior scholar, Loyal Jones, a native of nearby Cherokee County, North Carolina, and for many years director of Appalachian Studies at Berea College, Kentucky, wrote an essay on “Appalachian Values” first published in Twigs in 1973. His intention when he first wrote the essay was to dispel the misconceptions often held about people of the Appalachian mountain region. Betty Payne James ofDisputanta, Kentucky, suggested to Mr. Jones that his essay be made into a book with pertinent photographs. The word artistry and depth of thinking from “Appalachian Values” of Loyal Jones were combined with excellent black-and-white photographs by prize-winning photographer Warren Brunner of Berea, Kentucky to make a book published by the Jesse Stuart Foundation of Ashland, Kentucky in 1994. If you have not yet read this provocative book, I recommend that you find a copy at your library—or better still—purchase your own copy, because you will want to refer to it again and again.

It occurred to me, while thinking about a worthy subject on which to write for his column, that it would be appropriate to name the values Loyal Jones calls to our attention and think of persons within Union County, Georgia, past and present, who exemplify the values worthy of emulation. I thank Loyal Jones for such a thought-provoking book. I give him deserved credit for calling to our attention the characteristics and values held dear and lived out by our ancestors. And Warren Brenner’s excellent photographs brought to my own mind persons and places with whom I am acquainted that fit so well the values Loyal Jones enumerates. I only wish I had photographs to illustrate this article that carry the same sense and depth that those in Appalachian Values convey. I ask my readers, therefore, to think of persons you know, and make a “mountain pictorial” of them as you read about these values, still alive and well in the coves, valleys and hillsides of our beloved Appalachian region.

Loyal Jones sets the stage for Appalachian Values by devoting a chapter to the early settlers to the region and their origins. Many Scots-Irish, German, English and Welsh people came to America and eventually found their way to our Appalachian wilderness and mountains, an ideal place with plenty of wild game, land for clearing and farming, and isolation that afforded them the seclusion they desired, “away from ‘powers and principalities’” (p. 24) that would rob them of their desire for freedom. “They came for many reasons, but always for new opportunity and freedom—freedom from religious, political, and economic restraints, and freedom to do much as they pleased. The pattern of their settlement shows that they were seeking land and solitude.” (p. 29)

Here we have but to do a roll-call of people who were listed on the 1834 (first) Union County census. Which from that list of 147 heads-of-households enumerated in 1834 are your ancestors? They fall into Loyal Jones’s category of people with European ancestry that came seeking freedom and independence. We salute them all.

Religon is one of the values cited by Loyal Jones. “Mountain people are religious…we are religious in the sense that most of our values and the meaning we find in life spring from the Bible. To understand mountaineers, one must understand our religion” (p. 39). I thought of the Rev. Milford G. Hamby (1833-1911), who became a Methodist Circuit Rider in 1852. As a minister in the North Georgia Conference, he often filled as many as twenty-nine appointments for preaching per month. He married Eleanor Hughes on May 9, 1850. She was the daughter of the Rev. Thomas M. Hughes. Her father was also a faithful minister in Union and nearby counties in the early settlement days. Eleanor’s grandfather, the Rev. Francis Bird, was likewise a minister. A brother-in-law to Rev. Hamby was the Rev. John Wesley Twiggs (1846-1917) who married Eleanor Hughes Hamby’s sister, Sarah Elizabeth Hughes. Rev. Twiggs was a noted minister, school teacher and farmer. These early ministers in the county did much to set a pattern of religious practice. Rev. G. W. Duval, writing in his eulogy of Rev. Milford Hamby in the 1911 Conference Journal of the North Georgia Conference Methodist Episcopal Church South (pp. 80-81) said of him: “He conferred not with flesh and blood but was obedient to the heavenly vision…He made the Bible the man of his counsel, the guide of his young life. His library was not extensive. He made his sermons from the revelation of God’s love to man.” Here I have briefly cited only three of the early ministers in the county; there were many more, both then and since. Oftentimes laboring under great hardships and certainly without much monetary remuneration for their labors, they planted the gospel in hard-to-reach places as itinerant preachers and religious and educational leaders.

Mr. Loyal Jones combines three of our Appalachian Values in chapter three, perhaps because the three are so inter-related and so vital a part of the fabric of our mountain people’s lives. These are independence, self-reliance and pride.

He quotes John C. Campbell (for whom Campbell Folk School is named) by saying in the mountains “independence is raised to the fourth power” (p. 52)—meaning we have an exceeding strong spirit of independence. I think of John Thomas, chosen to be the first representative from Union County in 1832 to the state legislature. When a name for the new county was being considered, he said, “Name it Union, for none but union-like men resides in it” (The Heritage of Union County, 1944, p. 1). Although our ancestors were patriotic and supporting of our nation, their geographic isolation and dependability on local resources bred independence. Several of the early-settler men had seen service in the American Revolution and desired independence from tyranny and outside rule. The lay of the land to be tamed and a living to be made from the wilderness inspired an independent spirit.

Closely tied to that spirit of independence is self-reliance. I think of my own ancestors, the Collins, Dyer, Souther, Hunter, Nix, Ingram, England and other settlers who began productive farms, established churches, set up mills, began schools, were elected to government positions—all showed the spirit of self-reliance. True, our ancestors sometimes over-did the self-reliant bent and depleted the land and its resources, like cutting timber and not allowing it to be replenished, before they learned to be conservators. Not all qualities of self-reliance are applaudable.

Then pride is a part of our values; not the puffed-up, vain, egotistical, arrogant, “better-than-thou” kind, but a sense of self-esteem and self-respect for a job well done. I think of my Aunts Avery and Ethel Collins who fashioned many quilts, woven coverlets, and other handcrafted items, entering them into the Southeastern Fair in Atlanta, Georgia and consistently winning blue ribbons. Dr. John Burrison and his crew of historical preservation people from Georgia State University filmed my Aunt Ethel before her death as she showed many of the items that had won acclaim. Never did she seek accolades for her work, but it was worthy of notice and was recorded in a documentary entitled “The Unclouded Day.” She and Aunt Avery had pride in their work, and rightly so. As Loyal Jones notes: “The value of independence and self-reliance, and our pride, is often stronger than desire or need” (p. 68).

In my next column, I will explore more of Loyal Jones’s listing of Appalachian Values. Dr. Stephenson asks this question in the introduction: “Who really knows Appalachia?” (p. 9, 11). This is a probative question. Even though I was born and reared in that area of America, and have experienced all the values named by Mr. Jones, I realize that we only begin to scratch the surface of the complexity and depth of a people whose characteristics, as he writes, represent “the core elements of regional culture, the bones upon which the flesh of a people is layered” (p. 10).

[Resource: Jones, Loyal. Appalachian Values.Photography by Warren E. Brunner, with an Introduction by John B. Stephenson. Ashland, Ky: Jesse Stuart Foundation, 1994.]

c2012 by Ethelene Dyer Jones.Published February 23, 2012 online by permission of the author at the GaGenWebProject. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Singing in the Cotton Mills or Mountain Music from the Sweat Factories

In these parts, Union, Towns, Fannin and surrounding counties in North Georgia and also in nearby Tennessee and North Carolina, we like what we call “country music.” During the Great Depression era and even prior to that economic downfall in America, many people had to leave their farms and seek employment elsewhere. Many went to towns where cotton mills operated, offering jobs for men, women and children at very low wages. The employment provided enough to keep food on the table, if they could find food to buy, a shelter of sorts over their heads, and clothing on their backs. Out of this sad time came much “country music,” for those with the abilities to play guitar, banjo, fiddle, “French” harp and autoharp and sing their plaintive, sad folk songs brought about what has been called “Singing in the Cotton Mills.”

Recently I came across and read a delightful book about how our mountain folk music was preserved by those with a will to be happy despite circumstances. Patrick Huber has written/compiled a book chronicling the history of country music. It tells of those who got their start as music artisans as they worked in cotton mills of the Piedmont South. The title is Linthead Stomp: The Creation of Country Music in the South.

Huber devotes a chapter to Fiddlin’ John Carson (1868-1949) who, some biographers say, was born in Fannin County, Georgia. Carson described himself on one of his Okeh recordings in 1929: “I’m the best fiddler that ever jerked the hairs of a horse’s tail across the belly of a cat.”

Life was not easy for cotton mill workers in the era covered by the “Linthead Stomp” book, 1923-1942. Many left farms that had been their way of life for a long time and sought work in the cotton mills. Many with musical inclinations took with them their ability to play the fiddle, a guitar or a banjo, and their plaintive voices that sang the ballad-type songs they had heard all their lives.

Others, with a talent for writing rhyme, composed new ballads about the life they had left for hard work in the cotton mills. In John Carson’s case, he wrote a song about a newsworthy event, the murder of a young girl in Atlanta in April, 1913.

John Carson wrote “Little Mary Phagan” about the murder trial of Mary Phagan, a thirteen-year old pencil factory worker who was murdered and her body buried in the basement of the factory. Leo Frank, manager and part-owner of the factory, was accused of the murder and a notorious trial ensued. While he was in prison serving a life sentence, a group calling themselves “Knights of Mary Phagan” stole Frank out of prison and hanged him.

Fiddlin’ John Carson wrote his song about Mary Phagan in 1915 and sang it from the steps of the Georgia State Capitol to a crowd gathered to hear. In 1925, his daughter, Rosa Lee Carson, who was his guitar player and did duets with her father, sang the Phagan song and it was recorded. Those interested may access U-Tube clips of many of the John Carson songs as well as this ballad sung by his daughter.

John Carson and a fellow musician, Ed Kincaid, another Fannin County native, who was a member of Carson’s Virginia Reelers Band, often did concerts together. Both appeared at the annual Georgia “Old Time Fiddler’s Convention” at which entrants were judged for their playing ability. In 1913, John Carson entered the competition for the first time and was named to fourth place that year. However, with more practice and much determination, Fiddlin’ John Carson was named first place winner seven times from the years 1914-1922. Both Carson and Kincaid worked at the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills in Atlanta. Their work at the mills and association through their music and recordings gave them the distinction of being included in the Huber compilation, Linthead Stomp.

For the country music lover, especially of the more vintage (old-fashioned) type, Huber has included valuable information in appendices in his book. Appendix A is a directory of southern textile workers who made hillbilly recordings between 1923-1942. And Appendix B lists the discography of recordings of these artists during the same time period.

Many of the old records have been re-recorded and are now available on disk. Johnny Carter of Rome, Georgia, who has Union County roots (his grandfather was Frank Dyer of Choestoe, who was a noted “shaped note” music teacher of the twentieth century, and inducted a few years ago into the Union County Gospel Music Hall of Fame) has the National Recording Studio in Rome. We commend Johnny Carter for this mission. You can read about him and his recording studio by going online to National Recording Corporation (NaReCo). He is not included in Linthead Stomp because he is after that era; but he is saving some of the recordings of the era Huber writes about.

In looking through Huber’s appendix on recording artists, not only did I read about John Carson and his daughter, Rosa Lee, nicknamed “Moonshine Kate,” and Ed Kincaid, all of whom were partners in recording on the Okeh records, with Carson’s first being made in 1923, but I also found the listing of Hazel Cole who was born in Fannin County. She left Fannin County to go to Rome, Georgia to work in a textile mill there. She met her future husband at the mill, Henry W. Grady Cole from LaFayette, Georgia. Since both liked to sing and play, they formed the “Grady and Hazel Cole Duo.” During 1939 and 1940, Hazel and Grady recorded twelve sides on RCA and Victor recording labels. Huber gives a total of twenty-five natives of areas of North Georgia who contributed significantly to this particular era of country music. I don’t know if any he lists were from Union County, as he did not know or did not give their birth counties, except for a few of them. Noted in his listings are three with the last name of Chumbler who have North Georgia ties: George Elmo (1907-1956), Irene (1913-?) and William Archer (1902-1937) who often recorded as the Chumbler Family and also with “Jim King and His Brown Mules” as well as with “Hoke Rice and His Southern String Band.”

With the Great Depression and its financial woes, a very real challenge to cotton mill workers (as well as almost everyone) during a major portion of the period covered by Huber’s history of country music in Linthead Stomp, there’s a heartening note to think that they might have been singing in the cotton mills as they operated the looms or made garments and worked hard to make their production quotas. The tone of much of the music they produced matched the depressed times, sad and plaintive, longing for better times, and remembering why they had to leave their farm homes in the first place.

Carson’s “The Little Old Log Cabin inthe Lane” touched on that very nostalgic theme. But then, on their time off, the fiddlers could play at barn dances and community gatherings, providing music for weekend parties and get-togethers where they might share food they’d bring for the best meal their means could provide. They sang their blues away by singing sad songs and dancing. They were grateful for work, whatever it was, and singing in the cotton mills was better far than crying, even though their songs were often melancholy. Their music and their expressed pathos make up part of the fabric of America and the hard times they lived through.

c2012 by Ethelene Dyer Jones. Published February 16, 2012 online by permission of the author at GaGenWebProject. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tracing the Souther Genertions ~ Those Who Remained Behind in North Carolina: Jesse Souther’s Will and His Children

I ended last week’s article by promising a look at the will of Jesse Souther (1784-1858), whose children Joseph, John Jesse, Kizziah Souther Humphries, Jesse and Hix moved to Union County, Georgia in the mid-1830’s. What about their father and other children who remained in North Carolina? His will reads:

Fall Term 1858
State of North Carolina

This the twenty-second day of December, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty-Seven

McDowell County

I, Jesse Souther, of the county and state aforesaid, Being of sound mind and Memory, Thanks to God for His mercy, do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament in manner and form as follows:

First of all, I will my soul to God who first gave it to me. Then I will that my just debts be punctually paid with all burial expenses first.

Then I will to my son James Souther to have all the notes I hold against him together with all the notes and judgements where I am security for him.

I do will to my three daughters to wit: Nancy and Lucinda and Rosa J. Hogan all my perishable property, only Rosa J. Hogan to pay Nancy and Lucinda thirty dollars out of her part of the property.

Further, I will that Lydia Jane Justice have one cow and calf, one bed and furniture. I further will that Hix Souther’s three children, to wit: Catherine Saphronia, Jesse William, and John Jefferson have thirty dollars each when they arrive at the age of twenty-one, to be paid out of my perishable property.

I also will to Jesse Souther and Nancy and Noah and Lucinda Souther and Rosa J. Hogan all my lands to be equally divided between the five above-named.

Further, that my daughter Mary Elliott is to have one hundred dollars out of my estate.

Also, my daughter Kizziah Humphrey to have thirty dollars to be paid out of my estate.

All the above property to be paid over to my Executor and also applied my two sons Jesse Souther and Noah Souther Executors to this my last will and testament.

I set my hand and seal in the presence of:
Jesse (X) Souther, Seal
John Ross, Juratt
John P. Fortune, Juratt Court of pleas, Quarter Session, Fall Term, 1858.

The foregoing Will and Testament was presented
To open court for probation in due execution.
These were proven in solemn form by the oath of
John P. Fortune and John Ross, Executors.

Subscribing openly these and ordered to be recorded and registered together with the certificate. J. M. Finley, Clerk

Some observations about the will of Jesse Souther will be made while listing his known fourteen children:

1. Joseph Souther (1802-died in Stone County, Missouri, married Sarah Davis.
2. John Jesse Souther (1803-1889) married Mary Combs. He died in Union County, Georgia. He is not mentioned in his father’s will; could he have given John his inheritance before he moved to
3. Mary Souther (1805-?) married an Elliott; she was mentioned in her father’s wil to receive $100. Had he given her property already at the time of her marriage? Or perhaps at that time that amount of money was equal to several acres of land.
4. Elizabeth Souther (1805), is believed to have died young; she is not listed in her father’s will.
5. James Souther (1809-?) married a Logan. According to the will, James owed his father money, and therefore his inheritance was the money he had not repaid. Two of James’s sons, James Logan and John “Rink” Souther moved to Union County, Georgia, married there, then moved to St. Charles Mesa, Pueblo, Colorado.
6. Kizziah Souther (1811-?) married John Humphries. They moved to Union County, Georgia between 1840 and 1850. They had thirteen children and lived awhile in Blount County, TN. Kizziah died in Cherokee County, NC. See their story in a separate “Through Mountain Mists” article.
7. Jesse Souther (1830-1869) moved to Union County, Georgia and established the Souther Mill in Choestoe. He married Malinda Nix (1829-1894), daughter of William Nix and Susannah Stonecypher Nix. They had eight children. Their stories are traced in previous “Through Mountain Mists” articles. Note that Jesse Souther (the elder) appointed son Jesse and son Noah to be Executors of his will. His second son (my great, great grandfather) was named John Jesse. It was not unusual in those days for two children to have one of the names of their father or their mother.
8. Hix Souther (1815-1840?) married Caroline Burgess. They, too, settled in Union County, Georgia. Hix died, leaving a wife and three children. Notice that Jesse Souther was thinking of his three minor grandchildren, Hix’s children, and gave them $30 each. Later, Caroline married Roland (or Rollin) Wimpey. Their story is in a previous “Through Mountain Mists” article.
9. Martha Souther (1817-?),
10. Nancy Souther (1818-?) and
11. Sarah Souther (1820) never married and continued to live in the old Souther homeplace in North Carolina. Nancy was the only one of these three mentioned in Jesse’s will. Martha and Sarah had perhaps died before 1858, the date of the will.
12. Noah Souther (1821-1883) married Sarah Gilliam, a daughter of Maynard Gilliam. In the will, he was to receive land, which was to be equally divided between Noah, Jesse, Nancy, Lucinda and Rosa J. Souther Hogan. He also was named one of the executors.
13. Lucinda Souther (1824-1875) never married. She, too, continued to live in McDowell County. She received equal parts of Jesse’s lands with sisters Nancy and Rosa and brothers Jesse and Noah.
14. Rose Jane Souther (1828-?) married William C. Hogan. I have no record of her family. She received a five-way division of Jesse’s land with two sisters and two brothers.
Who was Lydia Jane Justice mentioned in the will as receiving a cow and calf, a bed and furniture? Was she a married granddaughter, or was she someone who lived with and took care of Jesse Souther after his wife Jane Combs died? Were the heirs of Jesse Souther pleased with his distribution of property or were some offended and complained? Family records available do not show this aspect of his descendants’ reactions.

[Resource: Dyer, Watson Benjamin. Souther Family History. Self-published. 1988. Pp. 52-53.]

cFebruary 9, 2012 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published online by permission of author at GaGenWebProject All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tracing the Souther Generations ~ Some Who Stayed Behind in NC

I have written much in these pages about five siblings who came to Georgia in the 1830s and settled in Union County, Georgia, at least for awhile until two of them (Joseph and Kizziah) moved on elsewhere. These were sons and a daughter of Jesse Souther (1784-1858) and Jane Combs Souther (1782-d. before 1858), namely Joseph Souther (wife Sarah Davis), John Jesse Souther (wife Mary Combs), Kizziah Souther (husband John Humphries), Jesse Souther (wife Malinda Nix), and Hix Souther (wife Malinda Burgess). If you desire to review information on any of these five siblings, please refer to their stories in past articles in this “Through Mountain Mists” series. We now begin with a series on those in this Souther family who remained behind in North Carolina or who moved elsewhere other than Union County, Georgia. It is this writer’s hope that you will find this further information about the Jesse Souther family of interest.

Jesse Souther was born on June 6, 1784, only eight years after America declared its independence from England. He was a son of Stephen Souther (1742-ca 1780) and Mary Bussey Souther (ca. 1745-after 1790). Family legend holds strongly to the story that Stephen Souther enlisted with the soldiers from Wilkes County, North Carolina who were launching an attack against the British and Tories at the famous Battle of King’s Mountain. However, either due to a wound or from some other calamity, Stephen Souther developed a severe nosebleed (he was believed to be a hemophiliac) on the way to or in the battle and bled to death. Descendants of Stephen Souther (of whom I am one) have done much research to try to certify his Revolutionary War service, but we have not been able to go beyond the story passed down in our family concerning his joining the Wilkes County soldiers. No trace of his service has been clearly documented. However, Mary Bussey Souther was living on a 200-acre land grant which seems to have been given to Stephen Souther and recorded first in 1778, and again in 1782 (after Stephen’s death). Could this have been a grant for his Revolutionary War service? The description of the land in each entry (# 234, July 4, 1778 and # 482, October 23, 1782, Wilkes County records) were the same, reading: “Grant Stephen Souther 200 acres both sides Hunting Creek above William Carnes improvement…between Souther and Osborne Keeling.” With no proof of ancestor Stephen Souther’s enlistment in the Revolutionary Army, we who would like to claim him as a patriot have not been able to prove his service registration.

Mary Bussey Souther seemed to be a good wife and mother. Stories come to us of her having driven an ox cart herself, after her husband Stephen’s death, “to the west” (probably to settlements in Kentucky or Tennessee on the frontier) to visit her relatives, and the report was that “she was gone a long time.” She and Stephen had these known children: Michael (1760) who married Elinor (maiden name unknown) who lived in Buncombe County, NC; Elizabeth (1765) who married Alexander Gilreath; Jesse Souther (1774) who married Jane Combs [her name is also given as Joan in some records] and reared their family in Wilkes County, NC near Old Fort, with five of them migrating to Union County, Georgia and the others remaining in NC; Joshua Souther (1777 ?) who married Libby Profitt; he served in the War of 1812; Joel Souther (17?) married Patsy Brown; and Sarah Souther (17?) married Elijah Hampton. In the 1782 tax list of Wilkes County, Mary (Bussey) Souther was listed as head-of-household. In the 1790 census, she was again listed as head-of-household with two males under sixteen, two males over 16, and 3 females. It is not known if some of these were Mary’s married children and grandchildren. Stephen Souther may have died intestate, since no will is listed signed by him in Wilkes Court records.

Stephen’s son, Jesse Souther, is the ancestor whom we want to trace. Since we know that his children Joseph, John, Kizziah, Jesse, and Hix migrated to Union County, Georgia, and since these “Mountain Mists” articles have traced those stories, we will concentrate on those who remained behind in North Carolina. Jesse Souther’s will probated in 1858 gives insights into how he distributed his property.

Our next entry will examine his will and some of his children who remained in North Carolina.

[Resource: Dyer, Watson Benjamin. Souther Family History, Self-published, 1988. Pp. 45-60]

cFebruary 1, 2012 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published online by permission of author at
GaGenWebProject All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tracing Some of the Jenkins Ancestors of the Late Hon. Edgar L. Jenkins

A search through the 1834, 1840 and 1850 Union County, Georgia census records did not yield a single family with the last name of Jenkins. Where then did the Jenkins ancestors of our late Honorable Edgar Lanier Jenkins, sixteen years our Ninth District of Georgia U. S. Representative, originate?

Edgar's paternal grandfather, Patterson Levi Jenkins (1855-1910), moved to Young Harris, Georgia in Towns County in 1906. He and his wife, Mariah Louisa Sawyer Jenkins (1857-1950), moved from near Robbinsville, North Carolina, Graham County, shortly after Christmas in 1906. The move was necessitated by the building of the Santeetlah Dam and the land the Jenkins family lived on in North Carolina was sold to be a part of the development for hydro-electric power for that area. Mr. Jenkins, known as Pat, had been a merchant in Robbinsville, and that was his goal in moving to Young Harris. Through his friend and fellow merchant in Towns County, Mr. Tom Hunt, Pat Jenkins was encouraged to move to Young Harris. Pat had purchased a large house and store from Mr. C. A. Webb on grounds now owned by Young Harris College. There he settled his family and opened the Jenkins Store.

Imagine the adventure of riding four days and camping out three nights along the wagon road as the Jenkins family went in the dead of winter from Robbinsville to Young Harris. It must have been a general migration, for accounts list the entourage as a "wagon train." Who the others were that made the trek with the Jenkins family, this writer does not know. In the wagon(s) were as many of their household goods as they could pack, merchandise from Pat Jenkins' store he had to close in Graham County, NC, and also his family: Pat himself, his wife Maria Louisa, and children Mary Elizabeth (b. 1888), William Robert (b. 1890), Nora Belle (b. 1892), Thomas Judson (b. 1896), Archie Jackson (b. 1901) and Charlie Swinfield (b. 1904). The couple had to leave behind the graves of their first two children, daughters, the first who died at birth and the second who died at twelve days of age. Two more children were born to Pat and Mariah Louisa in Young Harris: Nannie Ellen Ethel Jenkins was born in 1907, and Patterson Levi Jenkins, Jr. was born in 1910, but this namesake of his father, like the firstborn child in the family, died at birth. Seven of their ten children grew to adulthood.

Going back a generation from Pat and Mariah Sawyer Jenkins, his parents were Jonathan and Rachel Hyde Jenkins. Mariah's parents were Thomas Patton and Margaret Jane Stillwell Sawyer. Pat and Mariah were married in Graham County, NC on January 24, 1844.

Edgar Jenkins' father was Charlie Swinfield Jenkins, born March 4, 1904. He lacked not quite three months being three years old when the Jenkins family arrived in Young Harris by wagon train in December of 1906. In their eagerness to unload and get into the "Jenkins House" (the former Webb house), the parents evidently did not notice when little Charlie wandered off. He had much to see in his new surroundings. On his own, he went through most of the buildings then on the Young Harris campus, exploring as a little boy will all the nooks and crannies of strange and exciting places. Missing him, someone in the family finally found the little boy Charlie and rescued him. But a standing joke in the family was that Charlie was the first to "go through" Young Harris College, and that at the tender age of not even three years old. Later, many of the Jenkins family of Pat and Mariah's children, as well as their subsequent generational descendants, would begin their college careers at the college. Honorable Edgar Jenkins himself was graduated from the college, later served on the Board of Trustees, and set up a scholarship fund that benefits students attending there. It was also at the college where little explorer boy Charlie learned early to be an excellent athlete. He excelled in basketball, baseball and tennis. Later, in 1927, he played professional baseball with the Florida State League, pitching fifteen games and winning thirteen. He was noted for his fast overhand pitch.

The Jenkins Store in Young Harris was a popular place, not only for necessary shopping but for sharing viewpoints on the state of the community, county, state, nation and world. A checkerboard with chairs (and probably near a pot-bellied stove in winter to ward off the cold) was an inviting place. Noted instructors Dr. Joe Sharp and Professor W. S. Mann frequented the store. They were also fishing and hunting companions with store proprietor Pat Jenkins. It was not unusual to see a sign on the store door on rather slow days: "Gone fishing; be back soon if the fish aren't biting." Probably on Mr. Pat Jenkins' absences from the store, Mrs. Jenkins or one of the older children would answer the summons by the store bell to go unlock the door and wait on the customers.

Mr. Jenkins' tenure as a merchant in Young Harris was short-lived, however. He died on December 16, 1910, and the store was closed. Mrs. Jenkins continued to run what was known as "The Jenkins House," somewhat like a bed-breakfast-and meals, where "drummers" or traveling merchants liked to eat. She was noted as an outstanding cook. Two of her sons, Charlie and Will, learned to cut hair. They became the community barbers, carrying on their business in the Jenkins House. Charlie Jenkins followed his barbering talents for some years at the Jenkins Barber Shop in Blairsville prior to his years of serving as a Tennessee Valley Authority public safety officer.

Charlie Swinfield Jenkins married Evia Souther on June 30, 1929. They planned to elope, and sought out the Rev. Henry Brown to perform their ceremony. They found him preaching in a revival at Brasstown Church near Young Harris. After the service was over, he performed their marriage ceremony outside the church house, with the congregation looking on.

No keeping their marriage secret after that.

Mariah Louisa Sawyer Jenkins died February 27, 1950. She was laid to rest where her husband had been interred in the Old Union Baptist Church Cemetery, Young Harris. Following her death, the Jenkins House was sold to Young Harris College. The Pruett-Barrett building now stands on the land where the Jenkins family lived. The seven children who grew to adulthood from the union of Patterson Levi and Mariah Louisa Sawyer Jenkins have produced many descendants of this outstanding couple who moved to Towns County in the winter of 1906 from Graham County, NC.

cJanuary 26, 2012 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Tribute to Congressman Edgar Lanier Jenkins

Union County, Georgia can be justifiably proud of one of her native sons, Congressman Edgar Lanier Jenkins. He grew up in the county, was educated in the elementary and high schools at Blairsville, and went out to make his mark in the world. We salute him, pay tribute to his memory, and extend condolences to his family.

Congressman Edgar Lanier Jenkins who served as the United States Representative from the Ninth US Congressional District, Georgia, passed away Sunday, January 1, 2012, three days shy of his seventy-ninth birthday. He was born in Young Harris, Georgia on January 4, 1933, the second son of six children born to Charles Swinfield Jenkins and Evia Mae Souther Jenkins. He served in the United States House of Representatives for sixteen years, from 1976 through 1992 when he retired.

He and I were, as we say in genealogical terms, double-first cousins twice (or thrice) removed. We both descend from stalwart early settlers to Union County, Georgia (where Ed and I both grew up). As John Donne so aptly stated in one of his poems, Ed’s death “diminished me.” I was deeply saddened that he could not recover from the cancer he so bravely fought and that took his life three days before he reached his seventy-ninth birthday.

I will miss his presence at our annual Dyer-Souther Reunions in July. I will miss sending him “The Chronicle,” the newsletter I write and send out to about 300 descendants of Ed and my common ancestors, John and Mary Combs Souther and Bluford Elisha and Elizabeth Clark Dyer. Edgar’s connection back to them is through his mother, Evia Souther Jenkins, the granddaughter of William Albert and Elizabeth “Hon” Dyer Souther. This couple’s first-born son, Frank Loransey Souther (1881-1937) who married Nancy Elizabeth Johnson (1886-1967) was Edgar’s grandfather, his mother Evia’s parents. Edgar’s great, great grandparents were John Combs Hayes Souther (1827-1891) and Nancy Collins Souther (1829-1888)—and through the Collins line Edgar and I pick up still another relationship, for we share the same Collins ancestors as well. But all these ancestral connections get to be a bit confusing, especially if you don’t deal with them on a regular basis. Suffice it to say that the family connections are back there, strong and with definite influence upon both of us.

Edgar Lanier Jenkins perhaps got his penchant for public service in an “honest” way, as we say in the mountains. His grandfather, Frank Loransey Souther (1881-1937) was what we call in Appalachia a “revenooer.” That is, he worked for the U. S. Government to find, break up, and arrest perpetrators of the law who made “moonshine liquor” in the coves and hollows of this mountain region. When Edgar was a slip of a boy only four years old, his grandfather Ransey (as we called him) was killed in the line of duty. Maybe that Grandfather’s death made such an impression on Edgar that he resolved at an early age to do what he could in future to treat people well and to make a difference with his own life.

Ed graduated from Union County High School and then attended and graduated from Young Harris College in 1951. His faithfulness to his junior college Alma Mater led him in later years to set up a scholarship fund there which has assisted many with tuition. His first job out of Young Harris was with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (was this in remembrance of his late grandfather, Ransey Souther?). He then joined the U. S. Coast Guard and served ably from 1952 through 1955. Following his honorable discharge, he entered the University of Georgia to receive his bachelor’s degree and then his law degree in 1959.

From 1959 through 1962 he served on the staff of U. S. Congressman Phillip M. Landrum of the Ninth Congressional District. That experience helped the young Jenkins get a feel for serving in our U. S. capitol and set the stage for his later direction in life. From 1962 through 1964, Edgar Jenkins was Assistant District Attorney for Georgia’s Northern District, and he practiced law in Pickens County, Georgia, where he and his wife, Bennie Jo Thomasson Jenkins made their home at Jasper. Their two daughters, Janice Kristin and Amy Lynn came along in the 1960’s to give them much joy and grace their home. Later he would rejoice in two grandsons, Sam and Drew Dotson, sons of his daughter, Amy Jenkins Dotson.

Ed Jenkins was elected as the Ninth District U. S. Congressman in 1976, the same year another Georgian, Jimmy Carter, was elected President of the United States. Since Ed had the experience of being on the staff of Congressman Landrum, he was not to be considered a rookie in Washington politics. His sixteen year tenure (he did not run for reelection in 1992) saw many achievements by this legislator from Georgia who served a total of eight terms. It is interesting that “The Almanac of American Politics” in 1990 described Jenkins as “one of the smartest operators on Capitol Hill.”

This article could not possibly enumerate all the bills he sponsored or the legislative committees on which he served. Some of his major roles in Congress were serving on the House Ways and Means Committee, on the very volatile Joint Committee on the Iran-Contra which had the task of investigating and dealing with trading weapons to Iran. Ed Jenkins’ main value to the area he served was his strong stands for the textile industries within the Ninth District, holding that these jobs should not be parceled out to other countries. This had to do not only with the carpet industry of Dalton, but all the once-profitable sewing shops that made clothing throughout the mountain region. What do we see now on labels? “Made in-----” with the name of another country named.

Jenkins likewise stood up for conservation in supporting our National Forest bills, and for the farmer and small business owner. He authored bills for soil and water conservation and wilderness areas. Having come from salt-of-the-earth ancestors, he recognized the value of hard work and of holding on to ideals of integrity and fairness. He also worked hard to bring about tax revisions to give more equity in the tax structure. He believed in education and in his retirement served on the Board of Regents of the University of Georgia and as a trustee (emeritus) of Young Harris College. He and his family demonstrated as well their Christian influence and were active in First Baptist Church, Jasper, where his memorial service was held on January 7, 2011. His body was returned to Union County where he was interred at the Antioch Baptist Church Cemetery.

To honor this long-time member of Congress, a bill passed on December 11, 1991 to name an area of the Chattahoochee National Forest the “Ed Jenkins National Recreation Area.” This 23,166 acre spread of north Georgia forest is a tribute to an humble man who studied hard, set goals and reached them, and lived nobly. In researching for this article, I accessed a beautiful photograph taken by Alan Cressler (photostream) of the Lovinggood Creek Falls in Fannin County, Georgia. This is one of the beautiful, sparkling falls in the Ed Jenkins National Recreation Area that lies generally within the Blood Mountain Wilderness area and the Blue Ridge Wildlife Management area. As I saw the image of the tumbling water, I thought of how Ed Jenkins’ influence is still flowing on, still making a difference now and into the future. He made “footsteps in the sands of time” and in our hearts.

My condolences go out to his beloved wife, Jo, children Janice Anderson and Amy Dotson, grandsons Sam and Drew Dotson, brothers Charles and Kenneth Jenkins, sisters Ella Battle, Marilyn Thomasson and Patti Chambers. I thought of nephew Rick Jenkins (Charles’s son) and his wife, Cindy Epperson Jenkins (of Epworth, Ga—one of “my” children whom I taught) serving as missionaries in Panama who could not attend the memorial service because of the distance. I thought of all of us many cousins—twice, thrice removed—who people this planet. We will miss you, Ed, but we salute you for the life you lived.

Edgar Lanier Jenkins, our ancestors would be proud of how you carried on the tradition of serving others. You “preached your funeral while you lived,” as our great grandparents liked to say as they sought to teach us how to live. I thought of Ed’s father, Charlie Jenkins, the barber of Blairsville for so many years, talking politics and expressing his wisdom to customers on the country’s situation as Edgar probably played quietly in the barber shop. I thought of Edgar’s grandfather, Ransey Souther, and his unselfish giving in the line of duty as a federal agent. So many influences combined to make Ed what he was. I thought of our wonderful mutual teacher, Mrs. Dora Hunter Alison Spiva, at Union County High School—and so many more people, kin and friends, who wielded their influence. Now we will look back on Edgar Jenkins’s life and say, with poet William Winter:

“On wings of deeds the soul must mount!

When we are summoned from afar,

Ourselves, and not our words will count—

Not what we said, but what we are!”

cJanuary 19, 2012 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lake Winfield Scott Recreation Area Bears Distinctive Name

Lake Winfield Scott Recreation Area was a project of the Civilian Conservation Corps finished in 1942 shortly following America’s entry into World War II. It was the last of the CCC recreation development projects in Georgia and almost the last in America. Its 18 acres of mountain land lies ten miles south of Blairsville and 4.5 miles east of Suches, Georgia. The lake rests at 2,854 feet above sea level and is the highest lake in elevation in Georgia. The area provides space for camping and opportunities for fishing, boating, picnicking and hiking. Around the lake itself is the Lake Winfield Scott Trail; nearby are Slaughter Creek Trail, Jarrard Creek Trail, and not too far away is access to the famed Appalachian Trail and the Benton McKaye Trail. Nearby Sosebee Cove, a beautiful forested area, invites naturalists.

Lake Winfield Scott was named in honor of General Winfield Scott who earned distinction as a strong military leader in the War of 1812, Indian Wars, The Mexican War, and a plan for operation of Union troops in the Civil War which has come to be known as the Anaconda Plan. Among the notable assignments made to General Winfield Scott was commandeering the Cherokee Removal of 1838.

What about this man for whom a lake and recreation area in Georgia were named? He was not a native Georgian, nor did he spend much of his military career in Georgia except for a short period during the Cherokee Removal. He was born on June 13, 1786 on Laurel Branch Plantation in Dinwiddie County near Petersburg, Virginia. His parents were William Scott (1747-1789) and Anna Mason Scott (1748-1803). In 1804 the young Winfield Scott graduated from William and Mary College in Virginia. He read law in a private law firm and took the bar examination and became a lawyer in 1806. However, the military beckoned him and he first joined the Virginia militia cavalry in 1807 as a corporal. In 1808 he entered the U. S. Army in the artillery and soon achieved the rank of captain. In 1811-1812 he served under General Wade Hampton in New Orleans, becoming a Colonel in the Artillery. In March of 1813 he was made adjutant general and was deployed to the area along the US/Canadian border to fight in what we know as the War of 1812. In 1813 he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Queenstown Heights and sent to Quebec to British Army Prison. There he stood up bravely, ordering his American troops as prisoners not to speak to insure against fiercer punishment. He was released on exchange in January of 1813. He personally commanded the advance of Fort St. George, and was badly burned there when an ammunitions magazine was set ablaze by the enemy. Some of his maneuvers led at Ft. St. George were said to be the best commanded operations of the entire War of 1812.

His further maneuvers included victory over British forces at the Battle of Chippewa on November 8, 1814. At the Battle of Lundy’s Lane he was badly wounded in his left shoulder, with bones shattered. This wound left him greatly impaired in that arm and hand for the rest of his life. In 1814 he was commended by receiving the military Gold Medal.

He married Lucy Baker about 1814 and they had two children, Winniford Scott and John Scott. His wife Lucy died in 1816. They made their home at Hampton Place in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. He later married Maria DeHart about 1817 and they had seven children, Maria, John Mayo, Virginia, Edward, Cornelia, Marcella and Adeline. Maria died in 1845 in Georgia. During the years between 1814 and 1820, he made some trips to Europe, representing America in France and elsewhere. He also studied military tactics while there.

He was named Commander of the United States Armed Forces in 1832, succeeding his long-time friend, General John Wool. Then came the Seminole and Creek Wars, and General Winfield Scott was often on the scenes of these battles, giving commands and ordering maneuvers.

Then came the unrest with Cherokees and the political maneuvering to gain land held by the Native Americans. Various treaties and negotiations failed, and finally, in 1832, General Winfield Scott was made commander of Cherokee Removal to reservations in the mid-west. Scott arrived April 6, 1838 at New Echota in North Georgia at the Cherokee Capitol. He divided the Cherokee Indian Nation into three major districts and began to set up forts as gathering points. He wanted U. S. soldiers for the round-up operations, because he felt there would be less likelihood of personal gain. However, because the army moved so slowly, he had to settle for many of the round-up force being Georgia, Tennesse and Alabama militia. Two major moves of the Indians was launched, the first in August, 1838. Complaining of heat, the remainder were delayed in removal until fall of 1838. It must be noted to Scott’s advantage that he urged kindness, consideration of aged, babies and ill, and other humanitarian rules for the removal. His orders, however, were not always followed, as reports of conditions on what we now know as the Trail of Tears have been uncovered. Wanting to go on the Trail of Tears himself, he left Athens, Georgia on October 1, 1838, continuing to Nashville, Tennessee. There he received word to return immediately to Washington where he was assigned to the Aroostock or “Pig War” to settle the boundary between the state of Maine and British Columbia. The remainder of the Cherokee Removal had to go forward without the presence of General Winfield Scott.

In 1847 he was made chief of US Armies against Mexico and was successful in turning back the Mexican forces and winning victory in the western territories of the United States.

With political ambitions, he entered the race for President of the United States as a member of the Whig Party in 1852. He lost to Franklin Pierce.

In 1861 when the War Between the States erupted, he was too aged and infirm to be active in the war. His major contribution to the Union strategy in the war was to recommend what became known as the “Anaconda Plan” or “Scott’s Great Snake.” This included embargoes on the major Confederate ports and possession of the Mississippi River, thus cutting the Confederacy in two. His plan was slow to take effect, but in the end, President Lincoln was able to enact most of Scott’s strategy. General Winfield Scott retired from active military service on November 1, 1861, with President Lincoln and members of his cabinet gathered around the venerable General. He had nicknames of “Old Fuss and Feathers” (this due to his attention to details and his belief in elaborate military dress) and “Grand Old Man of the Army” due to his long years to serve in the major military role in our country, 1832-1861.

When you visit Georgia’s Winfield Scott Lake and Recreation area, you will know something about the man in United States History for whom the beautiful place was named.

c2012 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published January 12, 2012 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Goodbye 2011...Hello 2012

Years are the means of marking time on the calendar. We said “goodbye” to 2011 and “hello” to 2012. Time flows in relentless passage. Before one year can hardly be reckoned with, another is upon us. Much ink and an infinite number of words have been expended in trying to laud or decry time’s rapid passage. But regardless of what we think or say about time, none of us has the power to either slow it down or stop it.

John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States who served from 1825-1829, wrote this poem about time:

“Alas! How swift the moments fly!

How flash the years along!

Scarce here, yet gone already by,

The burden of a song.

See childhood, youth and manhood pass,

And age with furrowed brow;

Time was—Time shall be—drain the glass—

But where in Time is now?

This son of our second president, John Adams, was seven years old when the battle of Bunker Hill was fought during the American Revolution. That day was carved indelibly in the young child’s memory. When he was eleven, his father was sent as America’s representative to France where the young boy attended school. And, unbelievably, when John Quincy Adams was only fourteen, his precociousness landed him in Russia where, at that young, impressionable age, he worked as secretary to the American ambassador in that country. At age fifteen, he became his father’s secretary and was present as John Adams assisted with writing the peace treaty ending the American Revolution. Returning to the United States, the younger Adams entered Harvard where he earned a law degree in 1787. He then became America’s representative under President Washington to several European countries. Continuing his career in foreign service, he helped write the peace treaty following the end of the War of 1812 (in 1814), sent by President Madison. Then President James Monroe appointed John Quincy Adams Secretary of State in 1817. He assisted when the United States negotiated to get Florida and helped to write the Monroe Doctrine. In the election of 1824, the decision had to be determined by the House of Representatives because there was not a majority in the electoral college. Andrew Jackson and his compatriots accused John Quincy Adams of making deals to win the election. Nevertheless, even with the shaky beginning, his presidency saw the building of the Erie Canal, and laid the groundwork for educational advancement and the establishment of the Naval Academy, all of which came later. He was defeated by Andrew Jackson in the 1828 election, but later ran for Congress, was elected from his home state of Massachusetts and served seventeen years, helping to establish the Smithsonian Institution and advocating freedom for slaves, civil rights, and free speech. He died at his desk in his office at Congress on February 23, 1848.

With all of history that the inimitable John Quincy Adams lived through (1767-1848), is it any wonder that he asked the pointed question in his poem: “But where in Time is now?”

His question brings us to the same pivotal consideration. “But where in Time is now?”

We are in a time of great duress in our nation. Trust seems to be in grave danger. Debt and uncertainty reign. Citizens, many of whom would work if they had jobs, are jobless. Many other citizens, too accustomed to government “hand-outs” and idleness, are just as glad to make-do from one government assistance check to another without rendering any worthwhile service either to their families or our country. “But where in Time is now?” reechoes through the many decades from the time John Quincy Adams wrote these probing words. The demise of 2011 and the dawn of 2012 call us to consider our own responsibilities and directions.

True, we may not lead a life of foreign service and domestic leadership as did the long-ago sixth president, John Quincy Adams.

But I’m reminded of the old adage that carries great truth: “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” We come to 2012 for some purpose. Could it be to stand on convictions and strengthen the one small link that is our niche in the chain of time and events?

We have now—which will soon pass. But now is important. All that we have and are has been shaped by what is past. All that we have and will become lies in right choices and determined action. Poet Alfred Lord Tennyson stated quite succinctly the passing of one year and the dawn of the new in his “In Memoriam” (1850):

“The year is going, let him go;

Ring out the false, ring in the true.”

Our times are more complex, more complicated than those experienced by John Quincy Adams and Alfred Lord Tennyson. But we, as they, have opportunity to make a difference where we are, to “ring in the true.” The question remains: Will I? Will we? Tennyson put our responsibility quite well when he wrote: “That men may rise on stepping-stones/Of their dead selves to higher things.” The year 2012 gives us this opportunity.

c2012 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published January 5, 2012 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.