The focus of this story will be that of Hix and Caroline Burgess Souther’s second child, Jesse Wilburn Souther, born November 11, 1840 in McDowell County, North Carolina who died March 6, 1920. Both he and his wife, Mary Delia Souther (May 1, 1858 – Nov. 15, 1915) reared their family in Union County. Interment for this couple was at New Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery on land that Mary Delia’s father, John Souther (he was also Jesse Wilburn’s uncle) gave for a cemetery and church site.
When Jesse Wilburn Souther’s widowed mother, Caroline Burgess Souther, married Rollin Wimpey on August 25, 1844, Jesse Wilburn was not quite four years old. We know that the couple moved, with her children and his children, six, all very young, “little stair-steps” as we would say, six and under. They moved to Gilmer County, Georgia and settled in the Gates Chapel section of that county where Rollin Wimpey farmed. From there, some of the Southers later moved to Whitfield County, Georgia and settled in the Deep Springs section north of Dalton.
Jesse Wilburn Souther joined the Confederacy in May, 1862 and fought in the Civil War in Company F, 60th Regiment of Georgia, Gordon’s Brigade. He was wounded in 1864, losing one of his fingers. A family photograph with his wife and four of their eight children shows a finger missing from his right hand. He was on the pension list of 1893.
We have no record of the courtship of Jesse Wilburn Souther and his first cousin, Mary Delia Souther, daughter of J. W.’s uncle and aunt, John and Mary “Polly” Combs Souther. Perhaps they became attracted to each other as Jesse Wilburn visited his uncle after his mother moved to Gilmer County. After the Civil War, and following Jesse Wilburn’s recovery from his wound that took a finger, we learn from Union County marriage records that he and Delia married on September 17, 1868. They made their home on Choestoe near New Liberty Baptist Church, probably on land where Jesse Wilburn’s uncle John had settled in the 1830’s. Jesse Wilburn and Mary Delia Souther had eight children as follows:
William Leason Souther (1869-1948) married Elizabeth Goforth
Johnathan Hix Souther (1871 – 1957) married Julia Vesta Woodring 1869-1950)
Bailey William Souther (1876- 1956) married Lydia Plott (1882-1969)
Jesse Benjamin Souther (1876-1964) married Dovie Caroline Townsend (1883-1975) Emory Spier Souther (1878 - ?) married Iowa Nicholson
James Henry Souther (1881 - 1958) never married
Daniel Loransey Souther (1883 – 1961) married (1) Alice Collins and (2)Dora Collins
Mary Elizabeth “Mollie” Souther (1886-1910) never married
Johnathan Hix (Hicks) Souther and his wife, Julia Vesta Woodring Souther, also went to the Upper Disappointment Valley near Norwood, Colorado and settled there around 1900. However, they did not remain in Colorado but moved back east to Towns and/or Union, County, Georgia with their children Garnie (?), Ambrose, Esta and Gordon. His obituary (clipping, undated by person who saved it, 1957) stated that he was “a life-long resident of Union County,” but this statement was in error. His funeral was held at New Liberty Baptist Church with the Revs. Henry Brown, Tom Smith and John Thomas officiating. There is not a marked tombstone for him at New Liberty. His son Gordon and Gordon’s wife Thelma Ensley Souther were both interred at Harmony Grove Cemetery, Union County.
Bailey William Souther (1873-1956) migrated to Pueblo, Colorado in 1890. He worked as a carpenter and farmer. He cut and sold the first crossties used for laying the rail line to Telluride, Colorado. He returned to Towns County and married Lydia Plott (1882-1969) in Young Harris on February 2, 1901. Their children were Vernon, Arnold, Elizabeth Lillian and Mary Delia. They went back to Colorado where they made their home in Eaton. They were buried in the Eaton Cemetery.
Jesse Benjamin Souther (1876-1964) married Dovie Caroline Townsend (1883-1975) in Union County, Georgia on July 30, 1903. Like his siblings before him, Ben Souther went west as a young man, and the first child, Bertha Edna, was born in Telluride, San Miguel County, Colorado in 1904. They returned to Georgia where son Paul Wilburn was born in 1906, Pearl Iowa was born in 1909, Mary Lee was born in 1911. They went back west for another few years and Gladys Delphane was born in Colorado in 1913. About the time World War I ended, Ben Souther moved his family back to Georgia, settling in the Gum Log section of Union County. Gladys died at age six in 1919 and was buried at Ebenezer Baptist Church Cemetery. Ben and Dovie Souther were buried at Old Union Cemetery, Young Harris.
Emory Spier Souther (1878 - ?) married Iowa Nicholson. They had one child, a daughter born about 1911, named Emorie for her father. Emory Souther was a dentist and a pianist. This family lived in Cheyenne Wells, Colorado and later at Eads in the same state. Emorie had made application to teach school in Georgia, evidently wanting to live in the state where her father was born. However, she got a bad boil on a thigh and contracted blood poisoning. She died January 5, 1937 and was buried in Eads, Colorado. Emorie, with her father’s penchant for music, was a good pianist and singer. Family reports are that Emory Souther died in the Murphy, NC Hospital while visiting his brother, Johnathan Hicks Souther, and was buried in New Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery. However, there is not a marked tombstone there for Emory Souther.
James Henry Souther (Dec. 4, 1881- Oct. ?, 1958) never married. He went to Colorado and was living in Eaton when he died in 1958.
Daniel Loransey Souther (1883-1961) was married twice and had children by each spouse. Alice Collins (1893-1919), daughter of Joseph Newton Collins and Sarah Melissa Nix Collins and Daniel Loransey Souther were married August 31, 1913 in Union County, Georgia. Their children were Thomas Roy Souther (1915-1994) and Jesse Clyde Souther (b/d August 26, 1918). Alice died in 1919. “Ransey” Souther married Dora Iowa Collins (1900-1989), daughter of Isaac and Josephine Hunter Collins in Union County on March 26, 1922. Their children were Blain, J. D., Reba, Mamie Eulene and James Ralph. Like his siblings, Daniel Loransey Souther lived and worked in the area of Weld County, Colorado. He died January 17, 1962 and was buried in the Eaton, Colorado Cemetery. [Note: This Ransey Souther should not be confused with Frank Loransey Souther (1881-1937) son of William Albert Souther and Elizabeth “Hon” Dyer Souther, who served as a US Marshal in North Georgia, Alcohol and Tax Unit, from 1920-1937.]
Jesse Wilburn and Mary Delia Souther’s eighth and last child, Mary Elizabeth (1886-1910) never married. She preceded her parents in death and was buried at the New Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery, Blairsville, dying before her 24th birthday.
Resources for information on the family of Jesse Wilburn Souther and Mary Delia Souther were Watson Benjamin Dyer’s “Souther Family History” (1988) and Dianalee Reynolds Gregar’s “Souther Lines,” (1998), covering especially the “Western” Southers. It takes special people and careful research to dig through countless records to compile family histories.
c2011 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Aug. 11, 2011 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.