From Union County have gone out some outstanding citizens to make a difference in places they chose to live and work outside these mountains and valleys. Such a person was Dr. S. Vanus Hunter, Dentist, who spent twenty-seven years of his years of practice in Commerce, Georgia.
S. Vanus Hunter was born September 14, 1890 in Union County, Choestoe District. His parents were William "Bill" Hunter (1871-1894) and Martha Ann "Mat" Jackson Hunter (1866-1916). Both his parents were descendants of early settlers.
Bill Hunter's parents were John A. Hunter (1844-1913) and Elizabeth Collins Hunter (1844-1924). Through her lineage, Vanus' grandmother Elizabeth was a daughter of Francis Collins, known as Frank (1816- 1864) and Rutha Nix Collins (1822-1893), and his great grandparents were Thompson Collins (1785-1858) and Celia Self Collins (1787-1880), first Collins settlers in Union County.
S. Vanus Hunter's mother, Martha Ann "Mat" Jackson was the fifth of eight children born to William Marion Jackson (1829-1912) and Rebecca Jane Goforth Jackson (1833- 1901) who lived in the Old Liberty section of Choestoe District, Union County. During the Civil War, Vanus's Grandfather Jackson served in the Union Army from December, 1863 through July, 1865. His service was in Tennessee and North Carolina.
When S. Vanus Hunter's father died in 1894, Vanus was only four years old. He lived most of his growing up years with his grandfather, William Marion Jackson. Vanus's mother married again to John Pruitt Collins following her first husband's death. From his Grandfather Jackson he learned a strong work ethic and a love for education. He was educated in the local one-room schools of Choestoe and New Liberty, and probably (though not proven) received his high school diploma either at Blairsville Collegiate Institute or Hiawassee Academy. While going to school, he worked on his grandfather's farm and did odd jobs to earn money.
On September 27, 1914, Vanus married beautiful Lannie R. Miller (1894-?), daughter of Jane Malinda Collins (1861-1931) and William J. "Bud" Miller (1849-1919).
Lannie Miller was a sister to Stephen Grady Miller (1891-1932), father of the Honorable Zell Miller, Governor of Georgia and US Senator. Lannie and Vanus were related through their Collins lineage. Her mother, Jane Malinda Collins Miller, was a daughter of Francis "Frank" Collins and Rutha Nix Collins.
After their marriage, the couple moved to Atlanta. Vanus got work first on the railroad and then in the post office. While still a clerk at the post office, he enrolled in Southern Dental College in Atlanta and graduated in 1917.
He opened his dental office and practice for awhile before the couple decided to move to Commerce, Georgia. Maybe the lure of that northeast Georgia town was the railroad track which cuts through the middle of Commerce. His dental office where he practiced for twenty-seven years was near the railroad track.
Vanus and Lannie Miller Hunter did not have children of their own. Each had a compassionate heart. Vanus was active in First Baptist Church, Commerce, where he served as the Men's Bible Teacher for years. He served in civic organizations, helped to organize the Commerce Kiwanis Club, was active in the Georgia Dental Association and was a member of the Commerce Board of Education and the Commerce Building and Loan Association.
Dr. Vanus Hunter died August 26, 1970 and was interred in the Gray Hill Cemetery, Commerce. When his wife Lannie died several years later, she was buried beside her husband.
From a rocky childhood on a hard-scrabble farm, Vanus Hunter went out from Union County to make a difference in Jackson County, Georgia.
c 2007 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Feb. 22, 2007 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.