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.