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.