THROUGH MOUNTAIN MISTS
Early Settlers of Union County, Georgia
Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Webster defines “coincidence” as “the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection.”
Notice that coincidence is “by accident,” but that the events can also “seem to have some connection.”
Writer Haddon Chambers in the early twentieth century in his drama, “Captain Swift,” spoke of “The long arm of coincidence.” The English poet Lord Byron wrote, “’A strange coincidence’ to use a phrase/ By which such things are settled now-a-days.” Thomas Hardy, writing on the destruction of “The Titanic,” likened the glacier and the giant liner being “on paths coincident—twin halves of one august event/’Till the Spinner of the Years/Said ‘Now!’.”
So far, nothing as cataclysmic as the wreck of the Titanic has occurred, and we would hope that it would not. But indeed, it was “the long arm of coincidence,” and, we believe, intervention by the “Spinner of Years” that Bruce Dyer of Dalton and I came to have a telephone conversation a few weeks ago, and it was from him I began to learn of his beloved grandmother, the late Emma Lena Nix Dyer, about whom he wanted to know more information.
It happened like this, in a string of “brought together” coincidences (or, as Bruce and I now believe, it was no ‘accident’). Someone in Dalton where Bruce Dyer owns and operates several carpet-tufting mills took him a copy of “The Union Sentinel.” It was the issue when we were pleading with Dyers and Southers everywhere to attend the July 15 Dyer-Souther Reunion, and especially to attend the 3:00 p.m. ceremony that day that would review the contributions of inventor Micajah Clark Dyer (1822-1891) as a portion of Georgia Highway 180 was named in his honor.
“This has something about the Dyers,” the donor of the paper said to Bruce Dyer. “I thought you would like to read it.”
And with that coincidental giving of the paper, Bruce Dyer was furnished with my telephone number. This was after the reunion happening on July 15, but he called me and we talked a long time. He didn’t know much about his connections to the Dyers, except that his grandmother, Emma Lena Nix had married David Marcus Dyer. Beyond that, he had no inkling of whether or not he was in the direct line of Micajah Clark Dyer. I told him I had a few resources I could check, and I would be back with him in a few weeks. With that one telephone conversation, we struck a rapport, and I wanted, if possible, to help Bruce Dyer, businessman, connect with his ancestors.
To make a long story short, I had great success in tracing Bruce Dyer’s roots back to his great, great grandfather, Micajah Clark Dyer, and even beyond the inventor to the first known Dyers in the line. Furthermore, I was able to trace the roots of his grandmother, Emma Lena Nix, back to the earliest known Nixes in America. I had help, of course, from online sources, from genealogy buffs like myself, Linda Trader Jordan of Gainesville, Dr. Joe Turner of Gainesville, and the five books of genealogy my cousin Watson Benjamin Dyer published from 1967 through 1988, and a helpful tome, “The Nix Family Tree,” published by Wanda West Gregory in 1980.
I could hardly pull the wonderful information together fast enough and send to Bruce Dyer. On August 28 I had the second telephone call from him, thanking me profusely for my efforts and assuring me that he and his two sons, Mark and Jeff, who are in the carpet business with him in Dalton, were delighted with the results of my findings and were trying to absorb the various family connections I had unraveled for them.
Since the subject of this column set out to be about Emma Lena Nix Dyer (1889-1955), I will continue with that subject, and a lofty subject she turned out to be, indeed.
Emma Lena Nix was born November 22, 1889 in Union County, Georgia, the fifth of eight children of John Wesley Nix (1-5-1863 – 10-13-1896) and Minty Lavada Reece Nix (2-12-1863 – 8-6-1933). Emma Lena married David Marcus Dyer (1885-?) on January 6, 1907 in Union County. The couple lived in the Owltown District of Union County. David (“Dave”) was a son of Robert F. Dyer (1856 - ?) and Elizabeth Fortenberry Dyer (1856-?). And Robert F.’s parents were Micajah Clark Dyer (1822-1891) and Morena Owenby Dyer (1819-1892). Indeed, I had easily traced Bruce Dyer’s lineage on the Dyer side back to the nineteenth century inventor of the “Apparatus for Navigating the Air.” And on the Nix side, back through John Wesley, Archibald Carr, James, William “Grancer”, and John Nix.
Bruce knew some information about his grandmother whom he loved dearly. He told me when they held her funeral in Whitfield County, Georgia following her death on July 12, 1955, that “crowds of people came out of the mountains (around Owltown, Union County) to pay their respects. She and David Marcus Dyer had lived in Owltown until they moved to Dalton about 1946. She had been a noted mid-wife in the era before doctors were readily available to attend births around the countryside in Owltown. Those who came to her funeral were some of the grown-up children she had delivered, and their elderly parents who appreciated what this good woman had done for their families.
Emma Lena Nix Dyer was a devoutly religious woman. She and her family attended the Church of God in the Owltown Community. One summer, a Rev. Woody was leading a revival, and Mrs. Dyer got “in the Spirit,” and in her state of spiritual ecstasy, she walked around inside the church building with her hands raised, praising the Lord. Rev. Woody fell in behind her, and so did most of the congregation. When Mrs. Dyer sat down, the preacher went back to the pulpit and resumed his preaching and the congregation seated themselves and sat listening.
She did most of her trading with traveling peddlers who came by the Dyer house in Owltown. She saved up eggs, and caught fryer chickens to barter for goods from the peddler’s wagon (or, in later years, his truck). She also was noted for the produce she canned from her garden and orchard, and often traded pickles, jams, jellies and vegetables for the peddler’s wares. When the peddler got back to town, people rushed to his wagon to see what Mrs. Emma Lena Dyer had traded. They wanted first choice of her goods, knowing that they were “put up” with care and attention to detail.
After World War II, the Dyer family moved from Owltown District to Dalton, Whitfield County. David Marcus Dyer was a carpenter by trade. He worked for awhile in Atlanta, building houses, until they moved to Dalton. There both of Bruce Dyer’s grandparents died and were buried. The lineages on “both sides” of this family, Nix and Dyer, show a line of stalwart pioneers, salt-of-the-earth people who lived by high moral and religious standards, treated their fellowmen with respect, and left a legacy of hard work and stability.
c2006 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Aug. 31, 2006 in The Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. 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