Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Austine Hunter Wallis
We often hear
that someone is "a born teacher." If this designation is, indeed, true,
it could certainly be said of the late Dr. Austine
As a little
girl, she loved to play school, always appointing herself as the
teacher. If siblings, cousins and neighbor children were not willing to
play school with Austine, she lined up
dolls in classroom formation and pounded away at basics of arithmetic
She also had
several role models close to her who were teachers, and watching their
performance, she wanted to emulate them. Among these models were her uncle, Charles Roscoe Collins,
her mother's brother; and Dora Anne Hunter Allison Spiva,
her father's sister. Older cousins were also teachers.
This educator-to-be was born October 12, 1927 to
William Jesse and Sadie Collins Hunter. She was born in the historic
house built in 1840 by her great grandfather, William Johnson Hunter
(1813-1893) and his wife, Margaret Ann (Peggy) England Hunter
(1819-1894). The first child to be born in the house was Martha Hunter,
born in 1840. The house is still standing on Liberty
Church Road and
is used by descendants of the William Johnson Hunter family. The house
was well built with a skeleton frame and ceiled with hand-hewn lumber. Austine had three older brothers, Jackson Creed,
James Jasper, and Charles Milford, and two younger siblings, William
Jack and Martha Sue.
Hunter Wallis enjoyed genealogy and pursued it avidly. She helped to
organize the Hunter Family Reunion that meets annually at Alexander's.
With early settlers so tied together by marriage, she assisted with the
puzzle of who married whom and how they were related.
Hunter (1840- 1920), first child born in the Hunter house, married Ivan
Kimsey Collins (1835-1901). Ivan was the
youngest of ten children born to Thompson Collins (1785-1858) and Celia
Self Collins (1787-1880), first Collins settlers in Union County.
Martha and Ivan Collins were parents of ten children. The sixth was
James Johnson Collins who married Margaret A. Nix. They were parents of
Austine's mother, Sadie Collins Hunter.
On Austine's father's side, the youngest of William
Johnson and Peggy England Hunter's children was Jasper Francis "Todd"
Hunter (1863- 1897) who married Martha Lucinda Souther (1867-1937),
daughter of John Combs Hayes Souther (1827-1891) and Nancy Collins
Souther (1829-1888). Nancy Collins was a daughter of Thompson and Celia
Self Collins. The Souther-Collins marriage February 6, 1852,
linked another early settlers family. To
Todd and Martha Souther were born seven children. Austine's
father, William Jesse, was the second born. After Todd Hunter's death
in 1897, Martha Souther Hunter married her late husband's brother James
A. Hunter (1847- 1912), and to them were born three children, Dora
Anne, Joseph Daniel and Dan D. Getting the family lines straight and
recording genealogy became one of Austine's
student, Austine Margaret Hunter attended Town Creek Consolidated
School and Union County High
graduating with high honors. Her repertoire of college graduations,
each with high honors, included Young Harris College; Georgia State
College for Women, (1951, BS in Education, Mathematics and English);
George Peabody College, Nashville, TN (1954, M Ed. Secondary Education
and Mathematics); Louisiana State University, (which she attended under
a National Science Foundation grant in the Mathematics Institute,1962, M. A.); and University of Georgia (1968,
D. Ed., Teacher Education and Supervision).
She met Dr.
George Washington Wallis, a professor at the University of Georgia.
They were married August 16, 1963. To
them were born two children, Andrew and Susan. Before her death, Austine Wallis was glad to welcome her first
grandchild, Michael Fahey. While the Wallises
lived in Athens, Austine worked on the doctor of education degree
at the University of Georgia,
where, from 1966 through 1968, she was a research assistant and a
teacher in the Education Research Project (the education program known
Her roster of
teaching assignments through fifty-nine years as an educator began when
she was a young girl of eighteen, teaching on a Provisional
Certificate, and working with her Uncle Roscoe Collins at St. Mary's
School in Camden County, Woodbine, Georgia.
Returning north, she taught both English and Mathematics at Airline School, Hall County, and
then to her alma mater, Union County High
mathematics teacher, 1949-1955. She taught math and was a counselor at Young Harris College. At Las
School in New
Mexico she taught mathematics. Then
for several years she taught in the Athens, Georgia
area, at Athens High
the University of Georgia, and
began her administrative career at Pattie Hilsman
Junior High in Clarke County in
1968. She also worked in Oconee County as a
principal, taught mathematics for Truett McConnell College, and
after retirement, continued to teach until her illness with a brain
tumor brought her long and illustrious career to a close with her death
daughter-in-law, Debra Jones, who began as a paraprofessional under Dr.
Wallis as principal, states: "Dr. Wallis is
the person who inspired me to return to college and complete my degree
and become a teacher. She pushed me, and I found my niche as a teacher.
She made a tremendous difference in my life."
How do you
measure the worth of a "born" teacher? By the honor societies in which
she held membership, like Pi Mu Epsilon,
Kappa Delta Pi, Delta Kappa Gamma?
educational associations in which she took an active part as a member
and served as an officer? By the number of degrees
after a name? By community service and efforts to promote education ? Dr. Wallis was a founding member of
the Byron Herbert Reece Society and of the Dora Hunter Allison Spiva School of Education at Truett McConnell College. All
of the above, and more; an extraordinary teacher is measured by the
students she touches and inspires to achieve. And the chain goes on and
on, one touching the other. They all look back and say, "Austine Margaret Hunter Wallis was my teacher,
and she made all the difference in my life."
c2007 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Mar. 29, 2007 in The Union
Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights
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