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

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Some Descendants of Leason Spiva

When the Union County Census of 1834 was taken, the first after the county was formed in 1832, one of the families listed was that of Leason Spiva. His name was spelled by the census taker, Lecen Spivey. He had come into Union County from Habersham, and to Habersham from Rutherford County, NC where he had married Jane Jackson. Leason Spiva became clerk of the first inferior court of Union County. It seems that Leason liked to live in new counties, for by 1860 he and his family were residing in Towns County which had been formed in 1856 from a portion of Union. His property near the Hiawassee River on Mill Creek in Towns County was distributed to heirs. He died sometime before April 1, 1889.

Leason and Jane Jackson Spiva had at least eight children. I will focus on Adnirum, born in 1828 in Habersham County, who married Eveline Souther, daughter of John and Mary Combs Souther. They made their home on a farm near her father's home in Choestoe. Their children were John (1851-1933), Jesse (1852-1918), Joseph L. (1855-1940), William Washington (1857-1931), Rhoda Caroline (1859-1930), Thomas Newton (1862-1918), James Alfred (1864-1950), Nancy Jane (?), and Stephen Adrian (1865- 1960). Eveline Souther Spiva died December 4, 1865 when her baby Stephen was less than a month old. She was buried on her father's farm and her grave has been lost to the ravages of time. Her parents, John and Mary Souther, took her small child Stephen and reared him. In his will, John Souther bequeathed to Eveline's heirs $300 to be divided between them, except for "Stephen whom I raised." To him he gave $100.

Claude Spivey, age 92, stands before some of his model trains that he makes in his woodworking shop.

Adniram Spiva married, second, Sarah Haseltine Corn of Towns County and they had five children, bringing the total born to Adniram to fourteen. Adniram and Sarah's children were Evaline (1875), Sarah Rose (1876-1943), Louis J. (1880-1954), Luther F (1883-1955) and Benjamin H. (1885-1925).

James Alfred, seventh child of Adniram and Eveline, chose to use the spelling Spivey for his last name. He was the only one of the children by Eveline who ventured out of Union County and went first to Tellico Plains, Tennessee and eventually to Baker City, Oregon. He married Mary Elizabeth Rhea at Tellico Plans. They had eight children: William Finley, George Thurston, Luther Adniram, Maggie Beatrice, James Wiley, John Henry, Harvey Ethridge, and Charles. All the children were born in Monroe County, TN at Tellico Plains, so it was perhaps after their third child, Luther Adniram, left Tellico Plains in 1931 to go to Baker City, Oregon to make a living that the other family members followed him. All of James Alfred and Sarah's children lived in Oregon until their deaths.

Luther Spivey

Luther Adniram Spivey was the third child of James Alfred and Mary Elizabeth Rhea Spivey. He and his wife Ora Lee Ellis Spivey had a large family of ten children. The eldest of these was Claude Raymond Spivey, born December 2, 1915 in Tellico Plains, Tennessee. He is now 92 years old, in good health, and is eagerly awaiting spring in Baker City, Oregon, so that it will be warm enough for him to go into his shop and resume his hobby of woodworking. A feature article in the "Living Well" section of the "Baker City Herald" told of this zestful senior citizen who looks forward to each day.

He tells of his family's trip to Baker City in a 1928 Buick. He remembers it as in 1929. However, noting the birth dates of his siblings, it must have been 1931, for his sister, Della LaVelle, was the last born in Tellico Plains on June 14, 1931. With seven children and two grownups in the car, they learned to pull some subterfuge at toll gates to avoid paying twenty-five cents per head for every child. They "hid" the younger ones to save some payment in tolls.

Claude Spivey served as a cook in the US Army from 1941 to 1945. His tour of duty took him to Trinidad, Curacao, Puerto Rico and other places. After the war, he returned to Baker City, Oregon, but went to Brooklyn, New York to marry the girl whom he had met in service in Puerto Rico. He married Ernestina Gomez Quinones on July 5, 1947. Known as "Tina" because of her petite 4' 11" stature, she and Claude had four children, all born in Baker City, Oregon: Diana Lynn, Linda May, Evelyn Sue, and Ronald Steven. Tina passed away in 2005 and Claude now lives with his daughter Linda May Bjorklund.

Among his prizes in his woodworking collection are six trains which he has fashioned simply by "thinking about them," from his years of work on the railroad. He began woodworking in 1977, a year after his retirement from Union Pacific. One of his favorites is the steam locomotive made after #4449 "American Freedom Train." When the weather warms up in Oregon, he will put the finishing touches on this seven-foot replica.

Trains are not his only forte. In their home are gun cabinets, a secretary desk, a table, creative picture frames, stools, a stock for an old .22 caliber rifle, and knife handles. Linda says lovingly of her father: "If I don't have something and need it, Dad makes it."

It's a long distance to Choestoe in Union County where his great, great grandfather Adniram Spiva lived. And it's been a long time since that ancestor passed away. But some of the genes for a solid work ethic and a zest for life still remain with this 92-year old descendant, Claude Raymond Spivey, in Oregon.

[Thanks to Linda Spivey Bjorklund of Baker, OR for sending me the newspaper article about her father; to Geraldine Spiva Elmore of Tuscaloosa, AL for her book, "Descendants of Adaniram Spiva (1827-1898) and Evaline Souther Spiva (1826-1865)"; and for Watson B. Dyer's "Souther Family History" 1988, all of which I used as resources for this article.-EDJ]

c 2008 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Feb. 21, 2008 in The Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved

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