THE SARA ELIZABETH BENNETT
AND JOHN HENRY HIXSON FAMILY
24 MAY 1999
John Henry Hixson, who was erroneously listed as ‘Hickson’ in the Dade County, Georgia census of 1870, married Sara Elizabeth Bennett, daughter of Henry Killian Bennett and Mary McDonough.
The earliest account of John Henry is one of our family legends about his involvement in the Civil War. At the beginning of the conflict, John Henry intended to join the Confederacy. On his way to enlist, his possessions, including his horse, new bridle, and new saddle were taken as Henry later described, “by thieves of the Confederacy”. He became so incensed that he refused to enlist and avoided service as long as possible. With the union army “closing in” on the area and because of his previous encounter with the Confederates, he chose to join the Union Forces. Before this happened, the Confederate Army was going to arrest him if he did not join their side and he temporarily eluded a Confederate patrol by hiding at the house of his brother, Andrew Hixson. When the patrol came to Andrew’s house, John Henry hid under a pile of animal hides. He made his way to the (Tennessee?) river. There he explained his plight to the ferry man. Based on the ferry man’s advice, John Henry “got out about a mile downstream”. He was escaping through a cornfield when he was shot at a few times but not hit. John Henry eventually made his way to a Union army where he enlisted and served in an artillery company.
After the war, John Hixson purchased over 42 acres from Henry K. Bennett and built a two-room log cabin where John and Elizabeth raised their children: Lenora, Luverna, John E., James A., and Edna. A parlor was added “after the girls got to courtin’ age”. In addition to the well, the out-buildings consisted of a large barn, a smoke house, a storage shed, an outhouse, and a work shed containing a furnace which James A. used for his blacksmithing trade. Their fields and pastures were down the ridge and across Slygo Road where Interstate 59 now runs. The cabin was occupied into the 1960’s, a tribute to the building skills of these early pioneers.
Lenora and her husband, William Dugan, had three children: Vernia, who married Polk Cole; Bessie, who married Felt Moore; and Ethel, who married John Hughes.
Luverna “Verna” married George Washington Killian and moved to Jasper, Tennessee in Marion County with Vann, who was George’s son by a previous marriage. This is where George and Verna’s children: Virginia E., Lottie, Willie, Bessie E., Ulys Marvin, Clyde, Homer, Birdie Alphia, and Una were born. The family moved to Chattanooga about 1908 where some of their decedents still reside.
Verna would often take the children out of the city for trips back to Slygo Valley. Whether it was in response to threats of typhoid or influenza during the summer months, or merely a reason to visit her relatives, she and her children would find transportation. They traveled Highway 11 toward Trenton until Morganville where they walked over the mountain to Slygo Valley. They stayed with Verna’s relatives for several days or weeks at a time.
James A. never married. He was a blacksmith by trade and had his work-shed on the Hixson property. I remember exploring this shed and was fascinated with the implements James Hixson had forged with such simplistic tools.
John E. and his wife, Dessie, moved to Texas where they continued to farm as they had done in Georgia.
Edna and her husband, John “Babe” Sanders, had four children who lived to adulthood: Alva, who married Arman Hayes; Madeline “Johnnie” who married Gary Holmes; Bess, who married Mr. Miller and then Elmer Burns; and Ethel.
Albitina Hixson was an equal heir to Henry Hixson’s property and may have been the sixth child of Henry and Sara Elizabeth.