July 20, 2006

Post-reunion reflections

As reported by the Union Sentinel July 20, 2006 by Ethelene Dyer Jones
bullet To view the source site for this and more news articles on Micajah Clark Dyer, click here.

Last week's column looked forward to the Dyer-Souther Heritage Association annual reunion held on Saturday, July 15, 2006. We anticipate it each year with great joy, knowing that we will meet more kin that hear about it and make their way to the gathering. Like children looking for Christmas, we think it will never come. Then the big day arrives, we enjoy it tremendously and it is too soon gone.

I don't want to belabor the point, but this year's reunion may have been one of our best. Registration showed 214 in attendance for the morning, noon and early afternoon gathering. Many more came for the program at 3:00 p. m. commemorating the invention of Micajah Clark Dyer's "Apparatus for Navigating the Air," and the naming of a portion of Georgia Highway 180 the Micajah Clark Dyer Parkway. The new arrivals lifted the attendance count to 300 or more. That program itself, carefully planned by Clark Dyer's great, great granddaughter, Sylvia Dyer Turnage, was well worth the effort people made to come from great distances, such as California, Oregon, Ohio and Texas to attend the dedication service. Sylvia and her family worked on wonderful displays that told the story of the inventor and his patent for the "Apparatus..." secured in 1874. The displays were given to the Union County Heritage Association Museum where visitors may read and see the story of Micajah Clark Dyer.

Earlier, in the regular reunion part of the program, a spinning wheel was donated to the Union County Historical Society Museum. Made by John Combs Hayes Souther in 1875 when his daughter, Sarah Evaline married Bluford Elisha Dyer, the heritage piece had been lovingly cared for and preserved by Ann and her husband,

the late Bill Rich, and had come to them by Bill's mother, the late Nancy Louisa Dyer Rich, a daughter of Sarah Evaline and Bluford Elisha Dyer.

Many attended for the first time this year. Among them were Ralph Collins of Granbury, Texas, who is a great, great grandson of Willliam Dallas Collins (18461938) and Sarah Rosannah Souther Collins (1849-1929). Several months ago Ralph Colllins (who has the nickname "Bits" because he was called "Little Bit" as a child) called and introduced himself to me. He had visited my cousin William Clyde Collins of Choestoe and Clyde gave "Bits" my telephone number, telling him I was historian of the Dyer-Souther Heritage Association.

Already, Ralph Collins had learned that his great, great grandfather, Dallas Collins, was the third child and first son of Francis ("Frank") Collins (1816-1864) and Rutha Nix Collins (1822-1893), and Francis was the fourth child of first Collins settlers to

Choestoe, Thompson Collins (1785-1858) and Celia Self Collins (1787-1880).

Ralph Collins' great grandfather was the firstborn of Dallas and Rosannah Souther Collins, James Elias ("Eli") Collins and Frankie Jane Jackson Collins (1870-1962). His grandfather was Vance Porter Collins (1897) who was born in Georgia before his father, James Elias, moved to Granbury, Texas. In Texas, Vance Porter Collins married Jessie Linthicum, and their second child, Doyle Collins, became Ralph "Bits" Collins's father.

Ralph and I have been exchanging e-mails and family history information. He and I agree that once one becomes interested in genealogy, it is hard to let go until the missing pieces of the puzzle of family connections are fitted together.

Have you ever met anyone whom you felt, at first contact, that you have known all your life? This was the case when Bits Collins and I first met in person on Sunday, July 15 at the reunion. Cousins whose

common ties reach for generations back are inextricably tied together by common family bonds and hardy pioneer stock. His great grandfather "went west" looking for a better way of life, leaving behind the graves of two babies who died as infants, Rannel Collins (1891) and Floyd Collins (1897), buried in the Old Choestoe Cemetery. Without access to any James Elias Collins family journals, we can assume that he and his wife Frankie Jane Jackson Collins moved to Granbury (or Weatherford), Texas about 1902 with their children Leona, Arthur, Vance Porter, Ernest Fulton, and Marion Dallas (born in Georgia in 1901). The last four children of James Elias and Frankie Jane Collins were born in Texas: Tressie (1903), Joseph Taylor (1905), Gusta Roseanne (1909) and Vester Eugene (1912).

I was a child when my great Uncle Dallas Collins died October 18, 1938. His funeral made a lasting impression on me. My mother and father took me to Uncle Dallas' home

near New Liberty Baptist Church where they helped with funeral preparations. My father, Jewel Marion Dyer, was handy with tools and he helped to make the casket for Uncle Dallas from seasoned timbers stored in the barn for that purpose. Great Aunt Sarah Rosannah Souther Colllins (1846-1929) had preceded her husband, Great Uncle Dallas, in death. She was my father's great aunt (a daughter of Jesse John and Mary "Polly" Combs Hayes Souther). Her husband, Dallas Collins, was my mother's uncle. This double-relationship was somewhat hard to figure out. We just knew we were "kin" on both sides of the family. I can remember the ladies preparing the body for burial. They also lined the casket with cotton and attached a satiny cloth to its interior before the body was gingerly laid in the homemade coffin. That was in the days before country folks used funeral homes. Mother and other kin also helped her cousin Martha Aria Collins with the cooking for the large crowd that gathered for

the funeral. Aria and her husband, Moody Watson Collins, lived with and looked after Uncle Dallas prior to his death. The funeral was held at the house the next day, with a large crowd present.

I told Ralph "Bits" Collins this remembrance from my childhood of his great, great grandfather's funeral. Sadly, Ralph's great grandfather, James Elias (Eli) Collins did not attend the funeral. This firstborn son of William Dallas Collins preceded his father in death, dying in Granbury, Texas on January 8, 1938.

Back in Milledgeville, Georgia, which is now my dwelling place, I am still reveling in the memories of a marvelous day in the hills of Union County, where the morning mists covered the mountains with an effervescent glow as the sun rose to drive the fog away and provide a marvelous day of beauty. The fellowship, as well, was bright and shining. Selah.

(Those wishing to get in touch with Ethelene Dyer Jones may call her at 478-453-8751 or e-mail her at edj0513@alltel.net).

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July 17, 2006

Micajah Clark Dyer Parkway - Signs placed

Micajah Clark Dyer Parkway sign

The Georgia Department of Transportation unveiled the new Micajah Clark Dyer Parkway signs posted on Georgia Highway 180 from the intersection at U.S. Highway 129 to Georgia Highway 180 Spur at the Towns County line. By early this morning, the sign used at the official ceremony at Choestoe Baptist Church was placed at the intersection of Georgia Highway 180 at Georgia Highway 348, the "Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway."

The picture above looks east up Highway 180 towards Choestoe community and Brasstown Bald, the area Clark invented his "apparatus for navigating the air."

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July 15, 2006

Relatives honor 'a genius'

As reported front page by the Union Sentinel
July 20, 2006 front page by Joan Crothers.
bullet To view the source site for this and more news articles on Micajah Clark Dyer, click here.

Micajah Clark Dyer was finally getting the due he deserved as relatives and friends gathered at the Choestoe Baptist Church on Saturday, July 15. The beautiful Fellowship Hall was filled to capacity with an estimated 300 people, most of them related to some part of the Dyer family.

Clark Dyer, as the family refers to him, is credited with creating and setting to flight a "flying machine" off of Rattlesnake Mountain in Choestoe, Union County, sometime in the 1870s. His patent has also been found and one person, Johnny Wimpy, now deceased, was 8 years old when "he saw it fly." He had also also helped Dyer build a large rock wall that is still standing. Dyer is also credited with creating a system of logs to pipe running water to his house from a spring. Neighbors saw him work on other inventions, but most ridiculed him for wasting his time on a flying machine, so he kept it quite secret.

However, when he did get a patent for his invention in 1874, he put an article in the St. Louis Globe of July 1875 and the Gainesville Eagle, some now thinking he was trying to get funds to build his flying machine. After he died in 1891 at 69, his wife sold his plans and machine to brothers named Redwine and they reportedly sold them to the Wright brothers.

Sylvia Dyer Turnage was the organizer of this recognition of her great, great grandfather and thanked her family for all their support and help. She said she first read about the flying machine in a family history book, but it was 25 years later when the 1874 patent for the flying machine was found through the internet.

Turnage turned a poem she had written about this unusual man into a song, which she sang accompanied by Sam Ensley on the guitar.

The highlight of the event was the unveiling of a road sign, one of three, dedicating part of 180 to Micajah Clark Dyer. This came about through efforts of Rep. Charles Jenkins in having the Georgia Legislature approve a proclamation honoring Dyer.

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July 4, 2006

Highway Name to Honor 1874 Flying Machine Inventor Micajah Clark Dyer

copyright 2006 Micajah Clark Dyer's Apparatus for Navigating the Air

There will be a dedication service for the naming of Micajah Clark Dyer Parkway on Saturday, July 15, 2006 at 3:00 p.m. at the Choestoe Baptist Church Family Life Center south of Blairsville, Georgia. The Parkway is being named to honor Mr. Dyer for his invention of a flying machine, for which he was granted a United States Patent in 1874. The portion of Georgia Highway 180 to be named is from the junction of the Gainesville Highway (U.S. 19 & U.S. 129) to the Georgia Highway 180 Spur which goes to Brasstown Bald Mountain at the Union and Towns County line. The public is cordially invited to attend.

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