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

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cathey family in Union by 1840

By preliminary greeting, I hope all you readers had a good Christmas, 2008, and that the New Year, 2009, despite its challenges on the economic front, has dawned with hope and health for you and your family. In a New Year's greeting from dear friends, they wrote: "Expect peace, love, joy, harmony, forgiveness, understanding and ask the Lord for wisdom." That is good advice for 2009 or any year.

Now to the family name we will pursue for awhile. Looking in the 1840 (second) census of Union County, I found the first reference to a Cathey family living here. No family by that name was recorded in the first census of the county taken in 1834.

William Cathey's household in 1840 consisted of four males between the ages of 20 and 30, one male (the head of household, William) between the ages of 50 and 60. And females in the house included one female child (0 to 5—who may have been a grandchild), one female age 15 to 20, one female, age 20-30, and one female, age 50 to 60, which was William's wife, Elizabeth Bryson Cathey.

From other records of the Cathey family, we learn that William Cathey was born April 15, 1782 in Burke County, NC and died in 1860 in Towns County, Georgia. His wife, Elizabeth Bryson was born April 3, 1787 and died in 1872. She was a daughter of Andrew and Agnes Nail Bryson. Her grandparents were William and Isabella Holmes Bryson.

Next door neighbors to the William Cathey family in Union County in 1840 were the John Bryson family (he may have been a brother of Elizabeth Bryson Cathey) and David McClure.

Known children of William and Elizabeth Bryson Cathey, all born in North Carolina before they migrated to Georgia, were Andrew Dever Cathey (04-16-1809) who married Mary Jefferson Allison; James Cathey (03-11-1812) who married Emmeline (called Emily) Brown; William H. Cathey (08-22-1815) who married Nancy M. Carter; Samuel B. Cathey (09-13-1818) who married Mary Melissa "Polly" Parker; and Rebecca Cathey (11-17-1820) who married John B. Parker.

In researching the Cathey surname, we find an interesting history. The first Cathey immigrants to America in the seventeenth century were four brothers (whose names seem to be James, John, David, and Alexander). They had lived in Monaghan County, Ireland. Before that, the Cathey family had migrated from the Island of Colonsay, Scotland. About 1720 the Catheys who came to America were settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Gradually, some of them migrated to lands in Virginia and North Carolina.

The Catheys were of the McFie or MacPhie Clan in Scotland (some spell it McAfie). The Gaelic spelling is far different from either McFie or Cathey and was Macdhubhshith, which meant "Son of the Dark Fairy or Elf." Legend holds that the chief of the MacPhie Clan was killed in 1623, and the clan had to gradually leave the wonderful island of Colonsay in Scotland. The clan had owned two islands off the coast of Scotland. On one they buried their dead and on the other they lived and farmed. For about 100 years, the Catheys survived in and around Ulster, Ireland. They held closely to their Presbyterian beliefs. They wanted a good education for their children, and had a strong work ethic. Religious persecution in Ireland caused migration to America. The Cathey brothers were among those who came to America seeking freedom.

James Cathey, one of the four brothers who came to America, was a millwright. He followed the occupation of milling wherever he settled—first in Pennsylvania, then in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. In Virginia, James was deeded 1,350 acres of land by King George II for which Mr. Cathey paid sixteen pounds and fifteen shillings.

The next move was across the Yadkin River where the "Cathey Settlement" was formed at Mills Bridge in Salisbury, NC. It is said the Catheys were the first English-speaking settlement at this location in North Carolina. James owned 3,752 acres there which he received in a grant. His wife was named Ann, but her maiden name is not found in any extant records. Upon James's death, he willed half his plantation to his wife Ann and one-half to a nephew John Branden.

Later, two of James Cathey's nephews owned the land, were operating his mill, and grinding the grains produced around Salisbury.

The lineage of William Cathey who settled in Union County, Georgia before 1840 has not been traced by this writer back to the large land holder James Cathey, the miller of Salisbury, NC. However, we do know that William came to Union from Burke County, NC, and that his father was Andrew D. Cathey. So he definitely stems back to the "Cathey Settlement" in the Yadkin Valley. It is interesting to note that the names of the first Cathey brothers to settle in America have been passed on to descendants in almost every generation of Catheys—a tradition to those who hold to the importance of family ties.

Julius Young Cathey was a son of James and Emily Brown Cathy, a grandson of William and Elizabeth Bryson Cathy. One of Julius's sons was John Lucius Cathey (b. 01-15-1876) who married Hattie Ann Dyer. And so comes my kinship to the Clan McFie for John Cathey married my Aunt Hattie, sister of my father, Jewel Marion Dyer. Little did my Cathey cousins and I know when we were growing up that the Cathey name had such a long and illustrious history.

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published January 8, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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