Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
The Life and
Times of a Circuit-Riding Preacher: The Rev. Elisha Hedden, Jr.
It has been said of the Rev.
Jr. (2/2/1814-8/23/1900), mountain preacher of the nineteenth century,
“few, if any, men have done more to extend the influence of the Gospel
Georgia or have been the means of leading greater numbers to the Cross.”
Hearthstones of Home, p. 107].
So far as opportunities went,
accepted under the most stringent of circumstances and with a great
personal duress. He was a cripple and
used a crutch to get about. What caused
this disability is unknown to this writer.
He was born in Spartanburg County, SC
on February 2, 1814. Only six years after his birth, in 1820, his
father, died. His mother was the former
Elizabeth Pinson, the second wife of Elisha Hedden, Sr.
They had eight children. Seven had
been born to his first wife. Elisha, Jr.
was next to the youngest of his
full siblings who were, in order of birth: George, Joel, Garet, Mariah,
Doshe, Elisha, Jr., and Jeffrey.
Elisha Hedden, Sr. had served
years in the Revolutionary War, and was wounded several times. He received land grants for his service and
settled on the Tyger
River in Spartanburg,
County, SC where he engaged in
farming. His will was tied up in legal
complications for 19 years after his death, and was never settled
satisfactorily. Perhaps that is why,
when his widow Elizabeth married again on October 19, 1821 to William
she had him draw up a legal bond in Pendleton District, SC which
$1,000 be set aside for her two minor children and that he “shall
handsomely bring up Elisha Headin, seven years old next February, and
Headin, five years old, during their minority and nonage with necessary
drink, washing, lodging, apparel, and learning, according to their
the said William Visage shall during the time be guardian and tutor
said Elisha and Jeffrey Headin...Defend them from hurt of body, loss of
and lands, so far as in his power lieth.”
[Hearthstones..., p. 106]. The legal bond further
stipulated that the two Hedden boys duly receive whatever property was
when they should come of age.
That legal action on the part of
mother with her new husband, William Visage, apparently was honored. The Visage/Hedden family moved to Rabun County, Georgia in 1823, as did
Visage’s parents, Joseph and Margery Pinson.
There the daughter, Mariah, married Joseph Eller.
Ten years later they moved over the mountain
to the Upper Hightower section of Old Union County
in the area that
County in 1856. There Elisha Hedden, Jr.’s step-father opened
the Visage post office and became its postmaster. The
boys received their early education in
country schools in these North Georgia
While they were still young lads, Elisha, Jr.
and Jeffrey Hedden came in contact with a noted minister and
to the Cherokee Indians, the Rev. Humphrey Posey. It
is possible that they heard him preach
before they moved out of South
Carolina, for he taught school and started
there. Appointed by the Home Mission
Board to minister to the Indians at Valley Town
in the Murphy, NC
area, Rev. Posey had begun a mission school for Indians there that
the Removal on the Trail of Tears. Rev.
Posey went on preaching tours into Georgia, western North Carolina,
and South Carolina. He was instrumental in starting many Baptist
churches in the area. He also was active
in promoting the Mercer Institute (now Mercer University)
organized in Penfield,
in 1833. When the Rev. Posey spoke, people
notice. Colonel A. T. Davidson, writing
of him, stated: “He was a man greatly endowed by nature to be a leader,
great physical force, singularly marked with a fine profile, a fine
manner, singularly simple and eloquent.”
[quoted in Whitaker, Bruce, “Reverend Humphrey Posey” in the Fairview,
NC Town Crier.]
Elisha, Jr., in his future
career, would emulate in his own sermon delivery style the bold
of the Rev. Humphrey Posey.
Keeping his pre-marital contract
the Hedden boys “the best education possible,” William Visage and their
Elizabeth Pinson Hedden Visage, sent Elisha, Jr. and
Jeffery Hedden to middle Georgia to
begin their advanced educational studies at Mercer Manual
at Penfield. Unfortunately, Jeffrey, who
was born in 1816, died while a student at Penfield in the spring of
1838. Elisha, Jr.
finished his course of study there and was ordained to the
ministry in 1839. [Next: Continuing
life and work of the Rev. Elisha Hedden, Jr.]
Information for this article was derived from
these sources: Hearthstones of Home: Foundations of Towns County, Georgia,
Volume I, 1983. Pp.
<>The Fairview Town
Crier, Fairview, NC, “Reverend Humphrey Posey,”
Nov. 99. www.fairviewtowncrier.com.Various
church and associational documents of Union,
Towns and Fannin Counties,
and Viewpoints, a publication of the Georgia
Jones; published Jan. 15, 2004 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville,
Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Dyer Jones is a retired educator, freelance writer, poet, and historian.
She may be reached at e-mail email@example.com;
phone 478-453-8751; or mail 1708
Updated January 16,
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