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

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Nix connections, Part 6- John Washington Nix

My last column on Nix connections was in the August 23, 2007 "Sentinel." In that article, we saw that six sons of James "Jimmy" Nix and Elizabeth "Betsy" Collins Nix served in the Civil War (Thompson Nix, John Nix, James Bly Nix, Jeffrie Nix, Jasper "Grancer" Nix, and Newton Nix).

Of these six, Thompson, John and Newton died in the War, and possibly Jeffrie, as well, for no further trace of him is found in census records. The father, James Nix, also enlisted and served in the Georgia Militia.

Near the end of the war, Jasper "Grancer" Nix married first to Harriet Carolina "Tina" Duckworth, on April 2, 1865. "Aunt Tina" was a well-known midwife in the mountain area of Choestoe, traveling on horseback in all kinds of weather to assist in birthing and to attend the sick. She often brought very sick or premature babies to her house to tend them. She made them a bed before the fireplace in rocking chairs made by Jasper, and carefully nursed them until they were able to go back to their own mother.

Grancer and "Tina" Nix had twelve children whose names were Mary "Molly", John Washington, Benjamin, James, William "Bill", Martha, Albert, Emma Lena, Alonzo "Lon", Frank, Joseph, and Jerry. Their first son and second child is the subject of this column.

John Washington Nix was born to Jasper "Grancer" and "Tina" Nix on July 19, 1867. He was married three times and had children by his first two wives.

It is an interesting story how John Washington Nix met his first wife, Mary Dover. He was in White County, and suffered an accidental gunshot wound to his shoulder in the late 1880's. He stumbled into the Dover house, suffering greatly from his wound and thinking he would die.

Mary Dover and her mother devised a way to clean the gunshot wound by hanging a water bucket over him as he lay on the bed. They punched a hole in the bucket, and the cool spring water dripped onto the wound, partially numbing the pain. He recovered, and the good Samaritan Mary Dover became the wife of John Washington Nix on August 30, 1887. He moved her to his farm on Choestoe. There were born their three children: William Arzie Nix on July 10, 1888; James Lester Nix on February 13, 1891; and Wilburn, who died young. The cause of Mary Dover Nix's death is not known; it may have been in childbirth when her third child, Wilburn, was born.

John Washington Nix married second to Catherine Clarenda Dyer on December 29, 1895. She was a daughter of Henderson Andrew Dyer and Adeline M. Sullivan Dyer. Her paternal grandparents were Micajah Clark Dyer (inventor of "An Apparatus for Navigating the Air", 1874) and Morena Owenby Dyer. It is reported that Henderson Andrew Dyer, Catherine's father, was the "richest man" in Choestoe, loaning money to many people who migrated west in the late 1800's and early 1900's, as well as helping young couples to get established on a farm or in business. When they married, he gave each of his children acreage for their own farm.

John Washington and Catherine Dyer Nix had eleven children: Harvey (1897-1916) never married; Dora Lou (1899- 1966) married Franklin Hedden Dyer; Magnola "Nola" (1900- 1987) married John Jarrett Turner; Mary Elizabeth (twin, 1902-1904); Martha L. (twin, 1902-1904); Joseph Spencer (1905-1982) married Doris E. Nix and Cathryn Clark Birgel; Roy Walter (1906-1971) married Idell Nelson; Maver Clarenda (1908-1990) married General Pat Harkins and Edward Collins; Howard Benson (1911-1979), married Ellen Erwin; Florida "Flo" Lee (1911-2007) married Carlos Turner; and Cleo Inez Colorado (1917-2003) married Rouse King.

When her youngest child, Cleo, was only ten years old, Catherine Clarinda Dyer Nix died September 7, 1927 and was interred in Old Liberty Cemetery. John Washington Nix married the third time to Maggie Rice on December 25, 1928.

John Washington Nix was known as an excellent blacksmith. He was also quite a musician. He owned a genuine Stradivarious violin, a valued heirloom owned by one of his great grandsons today. To the delight of neighbors, friends and family, the strains of "fiddle" tunes and lilting mountain arias often came from his Stradivarious which he played from his front porch. The old gunshot wound tended by Mary Dover and her mother had left his right arm and hand with limitations, but since it was his "bow" hand, he could still produce excellent music. After a long and eventful life, he died July 14, 1942, and was buried beside his second wife, Catherine, at Old Liberty Baptist Church.

John Washington Nix was noted as an excellent marksman with the gun. A grandson, Eric England, often went with him on hunting trips and learned from his grandfather how to be a sure shot. This knowledge Eric employed as a member of the United States Marine Corps as a scout-sniper and has earned the title of "the greatest marksman in world history."

Resources for this article are "The Nix Family Tree" by Wanda West Gregory, 1980, and Dr. Joseph Blair Turner who answered questions about his great grandfather by e-mail.

(Ethelene Dyer Jones is a native of Union County. She is recovering well from five bypasses heart surgery performed August 30.)

c 2007 by Ethelene Dyer Jones. Published October 4, 2007 in The Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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