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

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Reunion, anyone?

Summer seems to be family reunion time. The choice of time probably goes back to when most of the work on the farm was done by plowing a team of mules, cultivating the crops and hoeing and weeding whatever was planted in the fields until it was "laid by" and left to grow and mature until harvest time came in the fall. Families thought about gathering and catching up on news, rejoicing over babies born since the previous year's reunion, and remembering beloved family members that had passed away within the year. It was called reunion. The union had never been broken, just delayed by hard work and lack of communication (unless, of course, some like the Martins and the Coys of legend who continually had a feud going).

Annual reunion was just a time to be united again, as the term implies. Reunion, anyone?

Call me a reunion person! Whether the event is a family reunion, a high school class reunion, a college class reunion, a church homecoming, or a birthday gathering, I enjoy planning for, implementing and being in the midst of the activity.

Saturday, July 15, 2006 will be a big day in the year for Dyer-Souther and related families as they gather for the annual reunion that brings many from Georgia, surrounding states, and far-flung places.

One year, we had a young man all the way from France. He practiced his English on those attending, and if anyone had an inkling of the French language, they embarrassed themselves by trying to speak French to him. He was kind, however, and did not laugh at our attempts to be bilingual. And yes, he was our kin, too. One of our male cousins had gone to France and married there. The child of that union was visiting relatives in north Georgia just at the time of the annual reunion. What better way to be "broken in" to the culture of his American kin than the annual family reunion?

We're changing our pattern this year. Instead of the third Sunday in July, we're meeting the third Saturday in July, the 15th.

Since 1999, the Dyer-Souther Heritage Association has used the beautiful Conference Center facilities at North Georgia Technical College, Blairsville Campus. This year we're changing location to Choestoe Baptist Church's new Family Life Center building. Choestoe is the locale where our ancestors settled in the 1830's.

At last year's reunion, Theodore "Ted" Thomas, great, great, great grandson of William Jesse Souther Jr. holds the old double yoke for oxen used when his ancestor moved from Old Fort, N.C., to Choestoe, Ga., prior to 1848 and built the Souther Mill on Choestoe. The yoke was restored by Mr. Thomas and given by a grandson of the miller, Mr. John Paul Souther of Gainesville. The yoke was a special presentation to the Union County Historical Museum
by Mr. Souther.

We welcome kin as well as interested visitors to the reunion. Registration starts at 11:00 a.m. and the buffet meal will be served at 12:00. Reunions always mean good food. People tend to bring their "best" dishes to spread on tables well laden with delectable food. The French writer Moliere in the seventeenth century penned these words: "One should eat to live, and not live to eat." Had he known about our Southern family reunions, he would have known that once a year we "live to eat" Roma Sue's chicken dumplings, chocolate pies that our late Aunt Northa taught some of us to make, or caramel pies like our late Aunt Pauline taught her granddaughter to make. Reunion, anyone? The food invites. And there's something about eating with your kin. Sharing food seems to strengthen family ties.

We've had the request that there be "less programmed" time and more time for visitation and sharing family genealogy. We will have a program in which we recognize first-time attendees, the family that traveled farthest, the youngest, the oldest, and everyone over the age of 90. We will, in solemn remembrance, have a memorial service for those who have passed on since our last reunion. We will take care of necessary business recommended by the Board of Trustees. But mainly, we will visit, be happy, enjoy being together. Reunion, anyone?

A special program at 3:00 p.m. at this year's reunion will be to honor Micajah Clark Dyer (1822-1891), inventor who received a registered patent in 1874 for his "Apparatus for Navigating the Air." Those gathered for the reunion and others who will come for the special event will observe the unveiling of the historic sign to name a portion of Georgia Highway 180 the Micajah Clark Dyer Parkway.

Georgia Highway 180 winds from Highway 129 up toward Bald Mountain, the highest peak in Georgia. The road overlooks the area of Rattlesnake Mountain where Clark Dyer worked on and launched his flying apparatus. He was a young lad when his grandfather, Elisha Dyer Jr. settled the land in the early 1830s. The family was in Union County when it was formed in 1832.

Reunions are for looking back and appreciating the legacy our forebears left to us.

For many years members of the DyerSouther clan heard the legend of "Clark Dyer and his flying machine." It was passed down, generation to generation. When the official patent was found, along with detailed engineering instructions on the building and operation of the "Apparatus for Navigating the Air," we of this generation marveled that this was not a legend but it actually did happen. As the legend holds, Clark Dyer looked at the birds and wondered, "Why can't I fly?" And he set to work to make an airship for that very purpose.

Reunion, anyone? We invite you to come on Saturday, July 15, and help us celebrate a legend made reality. Maybe you will gain inspiration to delve into your own family's treasured stories and find that they are more than legend.

c2006 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published July 13, 2006 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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