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

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More on the Berry Kin

Last week’s column centered on Dr. Thomas Newton Berry (1870-1927), country doctor, something of his practice in Union County, of his black Stetson hat that became a symbol of “passing the torch” from the elder Doctor Berry to his grandson, Claude Hempill III, who received the hat as a gift when the younger man entered medical school.

I wish I, like popular radio journalist, Paul Harvey, knew “the rest of the story.” There’s much yet to uncover, I’m sure, about Dr. Berry and subsequent generations.

In fact, one of the Berry descendants, William Robert Berry, better known as W.R., who is the great nephew of Dr. Thomas Newton Berry, called me to thank me for the article, and to fill me in on some of the other aspects of the Berry family, a staunch and hard-working early settlers family who lived almost astraddle of the district line in Choestoe and Owltown. W.E. reminded me that Dr. Thomas Newton Berry was one of those Choestoe people who, from humble beginnings, did well and served people. Doc Berry’s house in town, long a landmark on Mauney Street, has recently been removed.

Dr. Berry had a brother four years younger than he, William Jefferson Berry (9/27/1874-12/19/1936). This Berry ancestor was W.R. Berry’s grandfather.

Recall that Thomas Newton and William Jefferson Berry were sons of John Johnson Berry (1848-1921) and Caroline Swim (Swaim, Swain) Berry (1848-1923). And, to keep the family line in perspective, John Johnson Berry’s parents were Elias Berry (1812-1885) and Sarah Johnson Berry (1814-1901). This couple was in the 1840 census of Union County. Family tradition holds that they moved to Union County after the 1834 census was taken in Union, but before 1837. The couple obtained land in the Choestoe and Owltown Districts. Berry Springs on the land is named in tribute to them.

Elias was a notable farmer, but also plied his trades of blacksmith for the community, and was a cobbler, making shoes not only for his own family, but for others round about. Methodists by denominational persuasion, the Berry family were important in the early years of the Shady Grove Methodist Church, and when death came to members of this early Berry family, they were interred in the Shady Grove Cemetery.

William Jefferson Berry, Dr. Thomas Newton Berry’s brother, married Ila Jane Frady. I find a discrepancy in the date of marriage. The article about Jeff and Jane Berry in The Heritage of Union County lists this couple’s marriage date as November 14, 1894. The Union County marriage record gives the wedding date as April 14, 1895. Descendants might have a family Bible listing that could authenticate the marriage date. Their ceremony was performed by I.T. Wilson, Justice of the Peach. Ila Jane’s parents were John W. Frady and Sarah Lance Frady. But to fully appreciate Ila Jane’s mother, the reader needs to see her full name: Sarah Harriet Nancy Artillery Saphronia Martha Ann Lance Frady. It was almost as if she received seven names in order to honor a string of female ancestors, or else to make a statement about the little girl who would become the mother of Ila Jane Frady Berry.

Jeff and Jane Berry had thirteen children in all, and supported and educated them by farming and doing other self-sufficient tasks that persons in that era did to make ends meet and provide a living for a large family. The couple believed strongly in education and were determined that their children would get the best education they could provide them. It is interesting that Jeff and Jane often moved from their Choestoe home to Young Harris in the wintertime in order for their children to have better educational opportunities. The trip would be made by wagon before the era of family automobiles (or trucks—as it would have taken a roomy vehicle to move a large family).

With a family of thirteen children, their births were over a period of twenty-six years, from 1895 through 1921. Space and knowledge of the family precludes my going into details about each of the thirteen. Here are birth dates and spouses, if known:

(1) Forrest Carter Berry was born in 1895 and married Vernie Brown and Irene Hackney.
(2) William Cautus Berry was born in 1897 and married Lorena Crawford.
(3) Sarah LuVina Berry was born in 1899 and married Cap Kerby.
(4) Floyd McRae Berry was born in 1901 and married Louise McDonald.
(5) Ulma Mae Berry, born in 1903, died in 1923, never married.
(6) Dollie Madison Berry was born in 1905 and married Lester Davis.
(7) Theodore Roosevelt Berry was born in 1907 and married Los Murray.
(8) Charity Belle was born and died in 1909.
(9) Jessie Pelle was born in 1910 and married O.H. Fields.
(10) Blanche was born in 1913 and married John Mullis and Roy Osborne.
(11) Bessie was born in 1916 and died in 1918.
(12) Mary was born in 1918 and married B.B. Tucker.
(13) John Jefferson born in 1921 married Elizabeth ? and ?

The Berry gatherings were large as children, grandchildren and great grandchildren returned to the old Berry homeplace at Choestoe/Owltown. Descendants of Elias and Sarah Johnson Berry have grown up and made a difference in our world as homemakers, teachers, politicians, bankers, farmers, merchants, foresters, doctors. . . almost any occupation you want to name. They stood tall in these tall hills and beyond.

c 2008 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published September 4, 2008 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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