The determination and bravery of some women could be the subject of a book of virtues. The life of Jane Nix Wilson Hood would fall into this category.
Sophronia Jane Nix was born October 20, 1867 in Union County, Georgia to James "Jimmy" Nix and his second wife, Carolina Elizabeth Duckworth Nix. From past articles in this series, you will remember that Jimmy Nix was a son of William and Susannah Stonecypher Nix. Jimmy married first Elizabeth "Betsy" Collins. They had fifteen children. Betsy died in November of 1859. When the Civil War was raging, Jimmy married Carolina Elizabeth Duckworth, who became a loving stepmother to his children. Jimmy enlisted on December 14, 1863 in Company 2 of the Georgia State Militia. To Carolina and Jimmy, four children were born: Mary Eveline, Nancy, Buddy and Sophronia Jane. She would be the youngest to live of Jimmy's twenty children. Her mother died before 1870 when Sophronia Jane was a little over two years old. Jimmy Nix, Jane's father, married the third time to her aunt, her mother's younger sister, Rebecca Evaline Duckworth, in 1872. Jimmy and Evaline's one child was stillborn.
Now we come to the story of Sophronia Jane Nix, and how she came to incorporate the attributes of a sturdy, determined mountain woman.
The Nix homestead, on which James Nix had settled on the 160 acres of land he had secured in the land lottery when Union County was new, was in the area of Choestoe where the present-day Richard Russell Scenic Highway intersects with Fisher Field Road. Here the Nix children grew up, going to the local one-room school at Hood's Chapel for their education. Being the youngest of nineteen children, Jane would have had as much fellowship growing up with her nieces and nephews, being about their same age, as with her own siblings. That's how life was back in the mountains of that era.
At age 18, three months before she reached her 19th birthday, Sophronia Jane married Isaac Thornton Wilson on July 27, 1886. Isaac and Jane had the following children: Verdie (1887), Hattie (1889), Gertrude (1892), Benjamin (1894), James Isaac (1896), Thomas (1902), Estelle (1904) and Garnie (1898). Garnie died in 1900 at age two. Seven of their children grew to adulthood.
Times were hard and work scarce. Isaac Thornton Wilson sought employment in the Copper Mines of Copperhill and Ducktown, Tennessee. He found a place to board there, and would return to his wife and children on weekends. He was a miner, going deep within the rich veins bearing copper and other ores around Isabella, Ducktown and Copperhill. But as was common, Isaac developed a serious lung condition from his work in the mines. He died of what was commonly called consumption on June 3, 1905. His birthdate was February 22, 1858. He was interred in what is now called the "Upper" Cemetery of Union Baptist Church.
While Isaac Wilson was away working in the mines, his wife, Sophronia Jane, managed their farm. She continued this work after the death of her husband. She added acreage by buying land from some of her brothers who decided to go west.
She had learned much about farming from her father, Jimmy Nix. She had apple trees and the bottom lands along the river yielded good crops. The family survived and managed due to Jane's industriousness. Not only was she a good farmer, she was skilled in the mountain household crafts of spinning, weaving, making quilts and "making do" with whatever was available. She worked with a will.
A family portrait which has survived shows Jane Nix Wilson, seated, with her eight children about her, and "Granny" Rebecca Evaline Duckworth Nix (Jane's aunt and her step-mother), in her bonnet seated on the front with Jane. On her lap Jane holds little Garnie, her last baby, who died very young. Having Granny Nix in her household was a big help to Jane as she adjusted to widowhood and had Granny's help in rearing her children.
Union Baptist Church was constituted on "the fourth Saturday in October, 1897" as stated in the church's constitution. Why Jane Sophronia Nix Wilson was not listed as a charter member is not known, for she gave the land on which the church building was erected. Granny Rebecca Evaline Duckworth Nix was one of the founding members. In the community and in the church, Evaline and Jane were stalwart leaders. The women hosted "quilting bees" in their home, and the ladies of the community would "quilt out" a new quilt for a needy family or a new bride in one day of work, sharing a country mid-day meal, and catching up on news. Though work, the quilting bees were also a common form of entertainment and relief from harder work.
Jane Nix Wilson was determined that her children have the best education she could possibly provide for them. In the wintertime, she would actually move the family to Young Harris, rent a place for them to live there, and put the children in school at the academy or in the college. At crop-planting time, the family moved back to their farm near Union Church in Choestoe and began the work required for the year's crops.
Jane's determination yielded from her children a dedicated homemaker, a nurse, a farmer who moved to Colorado to purchase land and become successful, a mechanic and three teachers. One of her daughters, Gertrude (1892-1980), who married Benjamin Franklin Shuler, better known as Frank (188-1978), was an excellent teacher at Union County High School. In my high school years, I was fortunate to have instruction from this gentle, compassionate lady whose mother, Sophronia Jane Nix Wilson, had worked so hard to see that her children were well-educated. Gertrude's husband, Frank, served as Union County School Superintendent for twenty years during a period of change and challenge in the system's schools.
After several years of widowhood, and after her children were grown, Sophronia Jane Nix Wilson married Enoch Chapman Hood, a widower and a neighbor. The marriage was short-lived, not because of any problems between the two, but due to his death. His tombstone in Union Baptist Church Cemetery shows his birth as September 1, 1855 and his death as April 10, 1932. Jane Nix Wilson Hood died August 15, 1956, and was laid to rest in the Union "Upper" Cemetery beside her first husband, Isaac Thornton Wilson. Dying two months shy of her 89th birthday, this noble mountain lady could well be called a heroine of her time.
c 2007 by Ethelene Dyer Jones. Published August 16, 2007 in The Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. All rights reserved. Used by permission.