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

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Some Descendants of the Famed Adam Poole Vandiver

Several have commented that they particularly enjoyed my column of January 13, 2005 entitled “Adam Vandiver—Truth or Legend?” In it we traced facets of the stories Adam Poole Vandiver (1788-1877) told to a Mr. Lanman and collected in his book entitled “Letters from the Alleghany Mountains.” The legendary “Hunter of Tallulah” was, indeed, a living, breathing mountain man whose exploits are still kept alive through family history.

Mr. Theodore Thomas who moved in 1996 to Union County following his retirement, and who is involved with historical research and preservation, called to tell me that Adam Poole Vandiver was his great, great grandfather. Ted Thomas, as he is better known, was delighted to read an account of his ancestor’s notable exploits. Readers of “The Sentinel” will recall an article on May 6, 2004 about the restored turbine from the old Souther Mill of Choestoe having been donated to the Union County Historical Society in memory of Ted’s mother, Frances Rosanna Vandiver Thomas. His grandmother was Rhoda Lucinda Souther (1853-1947) who married John Floyd Edward Vandiver (1849-1923). Rhoda Lucinda was the daughter of John Souther (1803-1889) and Mary “Polly” Combs Souther (1807-1894). It was John Souther’s brother, Jesse William Souther, who built Souther Mill on Cane Creek, Choestoe, in 1848. The mill operated for almost 100 years.

John Floyd Edward Vandiver, Rhoda Lucinda Souther’s husband, was a son of George Vandyman Vandiver (1812-1910) and Frances Wheeler Vandiver (1816-1915). George was the second child of the famed Adam Poole Vandiver (1788-1877) and his first wife, Martha Whiting Vandiver (1794-1840).

John Paul Souther of Gainesville, Georgia, whose grandfather, Jesse William Souther founded the mill, and whose father, Jeptha, continued the milling tradition, and Ted Thomas are combining their historical interests and expertise to plan a marker placement at the location of the Souther Mill. The historical program is set for Saturday, April 30, 2005. Please watch for further announcements about this observation.

Rhoda Lucinda Souther was the twelfth and youngest child of John and Mary “Polly” Combs Souther. Her parents had purchased and settled about 1836 on four lots where the New Liberty Baptist Church is located today. In fact, Rhoda’s father gave land at the intersection of the four lots to build the church and cemetery. Both her parents were born in Wilkes County, NC, but had migrated to Rush County, Indiana before deciding to move to the Choestoe District of Union County, Georgia.

Just how Rhoda and John Floyd Edward Vandiver met is not known to this writer. But it was not that far from the section of White County, Georgia where Vandiver’s mother and father, George and Frances Wheeler Vandiver lived across the mountain to Choestoe. Rhoda and John very likely met at New Liberty Church and their courtship blossomed. They were married in Union County, Georgia January 9, 1872.

They lived at the old John Souther homeplace, she being the youngest of the twelve Souther children. Rhoda and John Vandiver had thirteen children, twelve of whom were born at the John Souther homeplace. The youngest was born in Asher, Arkansas, after the Vandivers moved west in 1895. From Arkansas the family moved to Wyoming and from Wyoming to Washington state.

Here is a listing of their children and birthdates: Mary A. Vandiver (1873) married Frank L. Smith; William Joshua Vandiver (1874) married Ida Hilderbrand; Cordelia Jane Vandiver (1876) married Andrew Jackson Townsend and Carl Sieverts; John Joseph Vandiver (1878) married Lula Mae Estee; James Harley Vandiver (1880) married Mae Larsen; Frances Rosanna Vandiver (1882) married John W. Thomas; Marion Thomas Vandiver (1884-1900); Della Lucinda Vandiver (1886) married Joseph McDonald, Chaney Canning and Carl Zieske; Sarah Evelyn Vandiver (1887) married John Durham; Nellie May Vandiver (1890) married Frank Whitley; Hartwell Franklin Vandiver (1891) married Ella Hazel Blackwell; Callie Buenaulsta Vandiver (1893) married Barr Patton, ? Peabody, and Hans Peter Walloe; and the last child, Jesse Edward Vandiver (1897) was born in Arkansas and married Ella Frances Bielby.

The sense of adventure continued to succeeding generations from Adam Poole Vandiver as evidenced by the challenges and changes his descendants experienced.

[Sources for this article and the January 13 column on Adam Vandiver are the book “Souther Family History” by Watson Benjamin Dyer, 1988, pages 241-268 and a monograph by Cornelia Vandiviere Barton of Sorrento, LA on the Vandiver family: “Pedigree Chart” and “Adam Poole Vandiver Descendancy Chart.” -EDJ.]

c2005 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Jan. 27, 2005 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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