Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Settles in Norwood, Colorado
Young James Nix from Choestoe
found work at
various trades in the Western states. He
rented acreage and farmed. He worked at
sawmills in the great forests of Washington
state. But he always felt the call back
to Colorado. His Uncle Bill Souther and he got jobs with a
land surveying group. At first they
worked for $1.50 per day, but then the payment advanced to $50.00 per
$5.00 each per month for two mules. The
men and their mules were given “room and board,” albeit the “room” was
whatever encampment the W. H. Wheeler Surveying Company had on their
James Nix wrote, “We started out
Mesa, east of Dollar
Smeck’s Toll Road
learned of President Garfield’s assassination.”
James A. Garfield was shot July 2, 1881 and lived until September 19, 1881. On the La Plata River
assignment, the Uncompaghre Ute Indians went through on their move to
Reservation. The Indian Chief, Ouray,
died while the Indians were at the La Plata.
By August 1881 they were
Gurley Reservoir area and Wright’s Spring.
The areas they surveyed had only Indian trails and pinyon, cedar
sage flats. It was the “wild west” of
broad unexplored, unsettled spaces.
It was about November, 1881 when
his Uncle Bill Souther went to Disappointment Valley
to locate claims
they were making. The Disappointment
Valley of Colorado, near Norwood,
was to play an important role in the Nix and Souther settlements and
who had migrated there from Choestoe in Union County, Georgia.
Then the uncle and his nephew
luck at trapping. They caught bear and
other animals and sold the pelts.
Winters were severe. Survival
skills were in high gear all the time.
At one time someone burned Bill Souther’s cabin and all their
and supplies for winter were lost.
James Nix’s sisters and mother
thus relieving James somewhat of their care.
His sister Martha Jane Nix married November 2, 1882 to Thomas H. Sullivan. He was another of the Choestoe men who
migrated to Colorado.
James’s sister Nancy Ann Nix married Alfred Lafayette Sullivan in 1883. James’s widowed mother married William
Bankston at Norwood,
Colorado on March 11, 1884.
She had been a widow for over nineteen years, having buried her
husband, James’s father, William Nix, who died at Choestoe on March 17, 1864.
James married Ione May Copp,
niece of Mr.
Henry Copp, on January
2, 1890. James and Ione met
when she was visiting her uncle who founded the Norwood, Colorado
post office and store. Ione May was from
Missouri. They first met in April, 1888.
It was love at first sight. James
tells how he found many reasons to go
to the store and post office after Miss Copp went to Colorado to
live with her uncle and
aunt. James writes about how he and Miss
Copp and nine other young men and ladies took a ride up Baldy to Lone
an outing and picnic. While there, a
thunderstorm formed along Naturita Creek far below them.
James Nix said it was the second time in his
life he had been above a storm to view it.
The previous time was before he left Union County
in 1873. He and some young men had
climbed to the top of Bald
Mountain, and far
them, in Choestoe
flashed, thunder rolled and rain pelted, but on the mountain the sun
James Nix built a two-room cabin
bride at Norwood. It had a dirt roof and sod floor. Through the sagebrush, he dug down twenty
feet into the soil to find water for a well.
He worked for the Naturita
Company. James wrote that as their means
increased, they built onto the original two-room cabin, made it into a
two story house, and added two rooms on the west. There
nine children were born to them. Five
lived to adulthood, but four died in
When James Nix died at the age
of 88 on March 2,
1947, the Norwood Star wrote of him: “Mr. Nix was one of the few remaining
pioneers of Wright’s Mesa. He helped to settle a wonderful section of
the west. His life, spent mostly in Colorado in the
days of struggle for survival of the fittest, stands as a monument to
‘Carving of the West.’”
Those who read James Nix’s
inspired by the courage of a Georgia
mountain woman who had a vision of a better life for her children, and
especially of a son in his early teens when they left Union County
who shouldered responsibilities for himself, his mother and his two
a strange and daunting land.
Jones; published July 22, 2004 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville,
Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Jones is a retired educator,
freelance writer, poet, and historian. She may be reached at
phone 478-453-8751; or mail 1708 Cedarwood Road, Milledgeville, GA
Updated September 20, 2008
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