Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Legacy left by
the Rev. Charles Edward Rich
was his surname, riches as the world knows them were never in abundance
for the Rev. Charles Edward Rich, better known as Brother Charlie Rich.
He was an humble country preacher, plying
his work mainly in Union
preacher, Charlie Rich, was born on October 25, 1868 the
only son of Solomon Hill Rich, Sr. (1806-1889) and his second wife,
Nancy M. Conner (1827-1868). Charlie had seven half-brothers and two
half-sisters, children of his father’s first wife. Solomon Rich and
Nancy Connor were married October 22, 1865. Nancy was
helping to rear the children by his first wife, and hoped to rear her
own child, Charlie. But the baby’s mother died in childbirth the day he
Educated in the
county schools of Union County,
Charlie Rich desired education at a higher level and attended Hiawassee
Baptist Institute, graduating from its program of studies. This school
was founded by the Rev. George W. Truett
and his cousin, the Rev. Fernando Coello
McConnell. It was possible for young men to board in the homes of the
people or rent a small cabin with two or three neighbor boys sharing
expenses and doing their own cooking while they “batched” and went to
school. The school was noted for its strong academic program and its
emphasis on Bible study, theology, speech and classical studies. It was
no doubt while a student there that Charlie Rich felt a strong calling
to become a minister of the gospel.
was ordained to the gospel ministry about 1898 (exact date not known by
this writer). His first pastorate was the Choestoe Baptist Church, the
first-organized church in Union County
(about 1832 with minutes extant from 1834). Rev. Charlie Rich met this
congregation for two years during 1898 and 1899. Other churches in the
county that experienced his spiritual leadership were Harmony Grove
Baptist, Union Baptist and Mt. Zion Baptist (in Dooly District). He
returned for the second time to pastor Choestoe for a longer period,
from 1903 through February of 1915. When a new church building was
erected there, Rev. Rich preached the dedicatory sermon in June 1918.
The Rev. Rich’s
first wife was Nannie Epps (May 27,
1869-July 13, 1906) whom he married February 27, 1890. To
them were born six children. These children and their spouses were:
Minnie Beulah (1891) married Tom Jarrard
and had one child, Bonnell; Francis Marion
(1893-1962) married Ella May Welchel and
had one son, Francis Marion Jr; Clarence
Edward (1895-1947) married Nancy Louise Dyer (1893-1985) and had three
children, Ellene Epps, Clarence Edward Jr.
and Bill Bluford; Nellie Alma (1897-1918)
married Tom Boling. They had no children. Estelle
Bessie (1901-1992) married Ralph Conley. Their six children were
Charles, Sarah Nell, John, Buddy, Francis and Jim. Irene
Stephens (1904) married Benjamin Jefferson Hulsey and had six children:
Amanda, Sarah, Mariben, Joyce, Benjamin
Jefferson Jr. and Julius.
After the Rev.
Rich’s first wife Nannie died July 13, 1906, he
married, second, to Rebecca J. Cavender on
31, 1907. His children were ages 3, 6,
10, 12, 14 and 16 when their mother died. Rebecca helped to rear her
husband’s children by his first wife, Nannie.
Rev. Rich had a
deep love for the people in the mountains. He encouraged young people
to seek education beyond the one-teacher rural schools, where he
sometimes taught in addition to his preaching duties. He helped
students to get enrolled and settled into studies at the Blairsville
Collegiate Institute and the Hiawassee Collegiate Institute where he
himself had graduated.
It is said that
he preached with vigor and evangelistic zeal. He was often sought out
as the summer revival preacher in weeks of protracted meetings after
crops were “laid by.” A tribute, written several years after his death
and published in the Notla River Baptist
Association Minutes of August, 1950, cited his work as a pastor, an
evangelist and a promoter of Christian education and missions.
A stained glass
window in the present Choestoe Baptist Church
building recognizes him as a former pastor of the church. As the sun
streams through the window it is a reflection of the influence and
outreach of this minister whose life was dedicated to the service of
God and to leading people in a Christian walk.
Charles Edward Rich died April 25, 1919 at
the young age of 50. He and his first wife, Nannie
Epps Rich, who died in 1906 when she was only 37, were both interred in
the Old Choestoe Church Cemetery.
c2005 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published July 7, 2005 in The
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 firstname.lastname@example.org;
phone 478-453-8751; or mail 1708
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