Early Settlers of
Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Adam Vandiver -
Truth or Legend?
that have been passed down through the generations,
it is sometimes difficult to separate truth and legend.
Such is the account of one Adam Vandiver,
supposedly the progenitor of many of the Vandivers in
About the time gold fever struck the
mountain region of
Adam Vandiver was small of stature but
his exploits measured to giant proportions.
He was sixty years old when Lanman met him.
Vandiver was described as having “a weasley
face, a long white beard, and small gray eyes.”
Vandiver told Lanman how he had been a soldier in the Creek War, killing more Indians than any other white man in the army. Thrice married, he was living with his third wife. He had fathered thirty children, but at the time of Lanman’s visit, only five of his offspring were under the Vandiver roof, the others having died young or were “scattered to the winds.”
Vandiver had one mule and some goats,
and faithful hunting dogs. His main
occupation was hunting the mountains of
He named his mule after a well-known tale “The Devil and Tom Walker.” He preferred deer for their hides, but saved the fur of almost any four-legged creature he could trap or kill. The largest number of deer skins he took home at one time was 600. He estimated he had killed over 4,000 deer in his lifetime.
He practiced ingenuity and cunning in pursuit of his wild prey. One day he spotted a fine gray wolf and aimed his gun at its head. The wolf escaped into a cave. Vandiver waited, but hearing nothing he went in, thinking the wolf had died. In the back of the small cave, the wounded wolf and Vandiver engaged in a life-or-death encounter, with the wolf receiving Vandiver’s knife to its heart. On dragging out the wolf, he discovered that his initial shot had broken the animal’s jawbone and because of that the hunter’s life was spared.
One day when Vandiver was completely out of ammunition, a large black bear assaulted one of his favorite hunting dogs and was about to squeeze it to death. Vandiver took on the bear and again landed his trusty hunting knife in the big bear’s heart. The victory was not without its price, for Vandiver lost two of his fingers to his own sharp knife. The bear weighed 350 pounds, a formidable enemy for the small man to wrestle.
Another battle was with a buck which Vandiver shot at the top of a 30-foot high precipice. Thinking the deer dead, he approached it, but was assaulted by the deer which pushed Vandiver over the cliff into a pond of water below. The deer got away, and Vandiver suffered no broken bones, thanks to the pool that somewhat softened his fall. About a month later, the mighty hunter killed a buck with a bad neck wound. He felt sure he had finally killed the deer that had pushed him over the precipice.
Was this legendary “Hunter of Tallulah” a real person? Yes. Male children in the Vandiver family to this very day are given the name Adam to honor this progenitor.
In cemetery records of
[*Note: Later, I learned the grave is, indeed, that of Adam Poole Vandiver, the “Hunter of Tallulah.”]
c2005 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published January 13, 2005 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
[Ethelene Dyer Jones is a retired educator, freelance writer, poet, and historian. She may be reached at e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; phone 478-453-8751; or mail 1708 Cedarwood Road, Milledgeville, GA 31061-2411.]
Updated September 8, 2008