Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Rev. Elisha Hedden, Circuit-Riding Preacher- (Part 2)

Rev. Elisha Hedden, Jr.
Juanita Caroline Butt Hedden

When Elisha Hedden, Jr. was twenty-four and his bride was seventeen, he married Juanita Caroline Butt, who was called “Neety.” The marriage took place on July 19, 1838. Neety was one of eleven children of John Butt, Sr. (1780-1843) and Sarah (Rider or Smithers?) Butt (1784-1855). Neety’s father had helped her grandfather operate a gold mine at Duke’s Creek in Habersham County on land lot 68. The Butts family moved across the mountain and settled in Union County, first on the Virge Waldroup place on Choestoe. Later acquiring more land, they moved farther north toward the county seat of Blairsville. Their home was at the foot of Wellborn Mountain alongside the Nottley River. Evidence exists that John Butt mined for gold on his farm. An entrance to an old mine shaft is not far from where their homeplace stood. Neety’s parents were buried near the old mineshaft on the Butt farm where their weathered tombstones may be viewed today.

Elisha Hedden, Jr. was ordained to the gospel ministry in 1839 at the Antioch Baptist Church in Habersham County, Georgia. His ordination was requested by a church in Rabun County, Persimmon Creek, where he was a member and where he had made known his call and separation to the ministry. At the time of the 1840 census, Elisha Hedden, Jr. and his young wife were living near her parents in Union County, Georgia. They lived in Union until 1851 when they moved to nearby Cherokee County, NC. Another move was made in 1860 when they returned to Georgia and settled near Hiawassee where they lived the rest of their lives.

Whether, in his crippled condition, he did any farm labor is not known. However, soon after his ordination, he began preaching at various churches in the mountain area. The fiery young preacher was often called upon to lead revivals and was a popular evangelist in the area summer camp meetings. Although the latter were mainly sponsored by the Methodist Episcopal Church South, the organizers of the camp meetings did not consider religious denomination a factor and sought to get the best preacher possible for the protracted (one, two or three week) meetings. Records show that Elisha Hedden, Jr. preached at the Fightingtown Camp Meeting in Fannin County, at the Choestoe Camp meeting, and at locations in Towns County and Cherokee County, North Carolina. Other devout preachers who helped in these summer revivals were the Rev. Alfred Corn and the Rev. Humphrey Posey.

So effective was Rev. Hedden as a preacher that he was appointed by the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board and the Executive Committee of the Georgia Baptist Convention to be a missionary in the mountains. His preaching influenced the conversion of George W. Truett and Fernando C. McConnell, first cousins, who became outstanding ministers of the twentieth century. He was faithful in his calling for over forty years and wielded a far-reaching influence for good as a church planter, a pastor, an evangelist and a missionary. He believed in cooperation among churches and led in the formation of Baptist Associations. He was Hiawassee Association’s first messenger to the Georgia Baptist Convention in 1853.

While her husband was on his preaching circuit, Juanita Caroline Butt Hedden was a stay-at-home mother. They had ten children:

Jeffrey Allen (1839-1883) married Cynthia Adeline Gray. He was in the Confederate Army. He lost his life in and accident at his sawmill in Ellijay, GA.

John B. (1841-?) married Millie Leatherwood.

Sophronia J. (1841-?) married a Logan. They lived at Hayesville, NC.

Samantha Adeline (1846-?) married Rev. John Tyler Platt. They lived in Clay County, NC.

William Worth called “Bud” (1848-1944) married Nancy M. Sutton. He was a merchant in Hiawassee.

Sarah (1850-1935) married William Taylor Parker. They lived in Maysville, GA.

Armeda (1852-?) married Meed Curley. They moved to Grand Junction, CO.

Martha C. (1856-1912) married Rev. Howell Cobb Standridge. They were last in Clermont, GA where both are buried.

Elisha Dean (1858-1940) married Ireland Ann Texas Ledford. He was buried in Alabama.

Warne K. (1861-1941) married (1) Texie Anna Ledford and (2) Violet Virginia Hooper. This family lived in Towns County.

In addition to his preaching, the Rev. Hedden was also active in community affairs and politics. In 1847 he was elected from Union County to the Georgia House of Representatives. He became an organizer and charter member of the Allegheny Lodge #114 of Free and Accepted Masons of Union County, formed in 1849. He was also a charter and founding member of the Unicoi Lodge # 259 in Hiawassee in 1890. He served as Ordinary (now called Commissioner) of Towns County from 1875-1877.

His beloved wife Juanita Caroline Butt Hedden (b. Sept. 21, 1821) died January 21, 1896 in Hiawassee, Georgia. She was buried in the Osborn Cemetery there. Rev. Elisha Hedden, Jr. (b. Feb. 2, 1814) died August 23, 1900 at age 86. The Rev. Alfred Corn who was then quite elderly himself, gave the eulogy, assisted by the Revs. Frank Lloyd and J. J. Kimsey.

The epigraph of William Wadsworth Longfellow in his “Psalm of Life” certainly holds true for the Rev. Elisha Hedden, Jr: “Lives of great men all remind us/We can make our lives sublime;/ And departing leave behind us/Footprints on the sands of time.”

[Sources for the “Life and Times of the Rev. Elisha Hedden, Jr.:
Hearthstones of Home: Foundations of Towns County, Georgia, Volume I, 1983. Pp. 106-108.

The Heritage of Union County, Georgia, 1832-1994.” 1994. P. 91.

Cemetery Records of Union County. 1990. P. 193.

“Reverend Humphrey Posey,” from The Fairview (NC) Town Crier, Nov. 1999.

Skinner, Winston, “Rev. Humphrey Posey,” in Viewpoints, Vol. 10, 1986, published by the Georgia Baptist Convention Historical Commission.

Various church and associational records, Fannin, Union and Towns Counties.]

c2004 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Jan. 22, 2004 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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