With the disaster of Katrina and that hurricane’s aftermath, the thousands dislodged from their homes, the hundreds injured and killed, and with statistics and losses still rising, it is difficult to pull away from reports of the present catastrophe long enough to return to a quieter time and trace connections through the mists of time.
The ties to Eli Townsend and Sarah Elizabeth (Sally) Dyer Townsend’s descendants are so numerous that to trace them all would take a long book. For the benefit of this short column, I will focus today on a child of Eli and Sally’s first child, Andrew (Andrew Crockett Townsend, Sr.) and trace connections through Andrew’s sixth child, Elizabeth, who married William Jackson Shuler.
Elizabeth Townsend Shuler (Feb. 1, 1861-June 9, 1947) grew up in a household of seven children. They were the children of Andrew Townsend (1826-?) and Malinda Ingram Townsend (1829-1903). Malinda’s parents were John Little Ingram and Mary “Polly” Cagle Ingram. The marriage of Andrew and Malinda brought together two early-settler families of Union County.
Elizabeth’s siblings were Thompson L. (known as “Bud”) Townsend; Thomas Simpson (known as “Simp”) Townsend who married Ruthie West and Wilda Hood; Nancy J. Townsend (who married Thomas N. England); Amanda Jane (who married Enoch Chapman Hood).; Andrew Crockett Jr. (who married Myra Anne Duckworth, Mary Duckworth, and Mary Hunter); and Clarasie Townsend (who married Joshua Columbus Fortenberry).
The story of Elizabeth Townsend Shuler and William Jackson Shuler is told in the book by their third child, the Rev. Edward Leander Shuler, entitled Blood Mountain: An Historical Story about Choestoe and Choestoeans. To the union of Elizabeth and Jack Shuler were born 14 children, all but two of whom grew to adulthood and married. Two sets of twin girls were among the 14 children. The children grew into productive citizens, two becoming ministers, five choosing to be teachers and the others following other vocations.
In order of birth the 14 children were: Allen Candler Shuler (April 19, 1883-Sept. 1, 1967) married Lillian Lipscomb and Louise Rogers. William T. (Sept 8, 1884-April 16, 1901) died at age 16; Edward Leander (March 15, 1886-?) married Laura Collins (sister to Dr. M.D. Collins, Georgia’s long-time State Superintendent of Schools); Benjamin Franklin (Feb. 14, 1888-March 7, 1978) married Gertrude Wilson (March 27,1892-March 6, 1980). They were educators, she teaching mainly at Union County High School and Frank serving for 20 years as Superintendent of Union County Schools. He was a founding director of the Union County Bank. Andrew Harve (1889-?) married Ophelia Maddox. Della (1891 ?) married J. M. Chastain. Lydia Jane (1893-1967) married Lester Stovall. Ruth (1894-1948) married Epp L. Russell. Ada and Ida, twins, (born April 21, 1897, death dates unknown); Ada married Ralph Cavender and Ida married Herbert Jones. Alice (March 27, 1899-March 21, 1989) married James I. Wilson, a brother to her sister-in-law, Gertrude Wilson Shuler. Henry Grady (Dec. 31, 1900 ? June 16, 1901) was buried at Union Baptist Church Cemetery. Twins Myrtle and Bert, known as Mert and Bert, were born February 10, 1904. Mert married Watson Collins. She was a teacher. She died January 29, 1988. Bert married Joseph Warnie Dyer. She died May 31, 1987. The twins Mert and Bert and their spouses were interred at the Choestoe Baptist Church Cemetery.
In his book recounting life at the Jack Shuler farm along the Logan Turpike, Edward Shuler tells about the Ponder Post Office being in a portion of their house and of travelers stopping by to spend the night and take the supper meal and breakfast with the Shulers and rest their mules or horses before going on to Blairsville or to Cleveland, depending on whether they were traveling north or south. The Shuler boys helped their father keep the Logan Turnpike, the major trade route in those days, in repair by removing brush, filling in potholes, and shoring up the roadbed. Never knowing when guests might arrive unannounced, Elizabeth Townsend Shuler always seemed ready to give them a good mountain meal of cured meat, vegetables, cornbread and biscuits, and fruit cobbler or apple stack cake for dessert. Jack Shuler also had a country store. He and his wife were founding members of the Union Baptist Church.
Even though their formal education was only in the oneteacher schools of the communities where they grew up, they were ambitious for their children to get an education. The girls went to the Blairsville Collegiate Institute. The boys attended Hiawassee Academy. Beyond these institutions, the children on their own pursued further college education. Two sons, Allen Candler and Benjamin Franklin served in World War I and were deployed to France.
When surveying was in progress for the right-of-way for Highway 129, Jack Shuler “walked many miles with the surveyors over the hollows and around the cliffs out in the Blue Ridge…on Oak Mountain …above Harkins old fields over in White County…at Tesnatee Gap…by Cow Rock and Camp Branch to Frogtown Gap…northward along Wolf Creek and down under Blood Mountain.” (Shuler, “Blood Mountain,” p. 142) The road was finished and opened in 1925. It took the place of the old Logan Turnpike, and the laborious work Mr. Shuler and his boys had done to keep the old road open was no longer necessary. Jack Shuler built his third house in “Lower Choestoe” close to the new highway, but he always longed to return to the Hood Chapel and Union Church Community where he and Elizabeth Townsend Shuler had reared their large family. They were interred in the cemetery at Union Church. Their tombstones read: Elizabeth Townsend Shuler (Feb. 1, 1861Jun. 9, 1947); William Jackson Shuler (June 14, 1860-July 4, 1936).
c2005 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published September 8, 2005 in The Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.