Early Settlers of
Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
The mountains of yesteryear - Jefferson Beauregard Dyer and Rhoda Jane Souther Dyer
Mountains of Yesteryear is the title of a delightful
little book that came to my desk recently. A gift from Ronald Eugene
Thanks to Jane Berry Thompson of the Union County Historical Society and Museum, Ron Miles, a kinsman of the far-flung Dyer-Souther Heritage Association whom I had not met before, got in touch with me. We have enjoyed making connections and sharing genealogical information.
The book his mother wrote was edited and published by Ron Miles in 1999 prior to his mother's death in 2000. In novella form, Ruby Lee Sergeant Miles wrote of the life and times of Jefferson Beauregard Dyer (1861-1944) and Rhoda Jane Souther Dyer (1863-1942), her grandparents.
by the author's son and editor of the book, is a lofty and eloquently
written tribute to the way of life and the people whose story is
revealed in the book. Ronald Miles writes: "Ultimately, this family
trail would wind from the foot of
Sergeant Miles (
The book was
illustrated by a friend of Ron Miles, artist Gregory R. Wimmer of
Rhoda Jane were married
mother was Sarah E. Collins (1840-1872), daughter of Frank and Rutha Nix Collins. Sarah died when Rhoda Jane
was only nine years of age, and being the second child of seven and the
oldest girl, it fell her lot to help take
care of her siblings who ranged in age from eleven years to six months
when her mother died. On
Ruby Lee Sergeant Miles imagines that Jefferson Beauregard and his bride-to-be took picnic lunches and visited the land he received from his father, James Marion Dyer. I am not sure that young people of that day would have been permitted that much unsupervised time away from elders. But in the granddaughter's account of their courtship, she allows for time for the young couple to dream of their future life together:
"On Sundays, Jeff would take Jane up for the day, to picnic and plan a life in their new home. These times were very thrilling for them. They could almost see the morning glory vines growing over the end of the long porch." (p. 23).
With much hard work, Jeff finished the cabin before Christmas, 1879. The couple had their marriage ceremony at the Souther home. And on Christmas Day that year, Jane and Jeff invited their parents to their cabin and served a typical mountain feast to celebrate their marriage and to show their home.
Ruby Lee Sergeant Miles follows the year-by-year life of the Jefferson Beauregard Dyer family--filled with hard work and births of their twelve children, four sons and eight daughters.
moved from Choestoe to
children were also employed in the mill.
The last half of Mrs. Miles's book has vignettes about "Yesteryear in the Mountains," including myths, early homes, producing and preserving food, animals, people caring for one another, and plants and herbs. She included recipes for some of the dishes prepared at the fireplace in an iron pot or in an iron Dutch oven covered with coals.
Ronald Eugene Miles, retired from his career with Minnesota State
Parks, for editing and publishing his mother's book. It
is an excellent addition to our written mountain history. The Book Nook
in Blairsville has some copies or one may be ordered from Grassroots
On the back cover is an "Afterword" written by poet and essayist John G. Neihardt. He states: "This story will not turn back the hands (digits?) of time, but it does advocate lessons the earth still has to teach us. And when mists lift off the mountains, is there a more fulfilling, refreshment than a long draught of pure, cool spring water bubbling from the Giving Earth?"
For those of you who enjoy reading about mountain ways and families of yesteryear, this insightful book will be an excellent addition to your library.
c2006 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published
[Ethelene 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 Cedarwood Road, Milledgeville, GA 31061-2411.]