Mixsonian

A TRIBUTE TO WILLIAM AND JULIA HARRIS MIXSON

(Written by French Mixson, a Great Grandson, in 1958)

My father told me that my great grandfather Mixson never told much about his past life but did say that his father was Elijah Mixson of Beaufort County, North Carolina, and that both parents died when he was a very small child and that an uncle, Joseph Gautier, had partly raised him. In his early 'teens he went to Georgia and worked a few years, returning to his uncle's home when he was 21 and married his boyhood sweetheart, Julia Harris, another orphan his uncle had taken in to raise. William bought two or three tracts of land not far from his birthplace and here they lived four or five years, and here their first two children were born. Julia had three brothers, two of whom went west and were never heard from again. The third brother, William Harris, who had never married, made a will in 1832 in which he gave all his property, both real and personal and including a legacy left him by his grandmother Barrow, to his brother-in-law, William Mixon and designated him as Executor. The will was filed for record that year. Soon thereafter William sold his lands and had moved to Monroe County, GA by early 1833. Here they lived about twenty years and here their oldest daughter Mary was married to Peyton C. Edge in 1851. Mary died the next year from childbirth, but the baby, who was named Elizabeth, lived and was raised by her grandparents, William and Julia Mixson. She became a woman of remarkable vitality and of real good memory. She married J. C. Cotter, who d. in a flu-pneumonia epidemic in January, 1905, she died about 1947. William sold his lands in Monroe County, Georgia, by or before 1853, loaded his wagons with his family, their personal belongings, his shoo tools, food for his family and food for his livestock, and began a westward journey seeking a new location. The wagons were pulled by oxen, and the wagons of those days had wooden spindles with a steel plate embedded at the top and bottom, the wood hubbed wheels held in place by a steel pin. Believe it or not, the wheels were lubricated with tar instead of grease, and before starting, one would have to go to each wheel and 'break' it loose From the tar to keep the wheels from locking and sliding. The women and children rode in the wagons while William and the boys and the slave walked and drove the oxen and the cows that were taken along to furnish milk so necessary for the children. The party usually camped by a stream at night but never retiring before William had offered a prayer of Thanksgiving. One night a wild beast came near the camp, frightened the livestock and the only cow giving mill- broke loose and disappeared into the wilderness. Before sunrise the next morning William and others were up trying to trace the cow. He found a trail that led over a hill from a creek. He reached top just in time to see the sun peeping over the top of another hill in the distance. Then he heard the tinkling of a bell he had made and tied around the neck of his cow. He also heard the crowing of wild chickens, and while standing there he saw a definite gray smoke to the far north and to the far west and surmised that there must be a settlement there. He rounded up his cow and hurried back to tell Julia what he had seen and heard. Following a road that turned to the right off the course they had been following, they reached the settlement and found everything they had hoped for, many good people, a Methodist Society, and best of all, they needed a man of William's trade in the community. The land was rolling, not too fertile, but did contain phosphorus and potash which was lacking in so many places. There were the chestnut trees that had helped feed the Indians - the trees later killed by a blight all over the country. Here William bought lands and made this his home for the rest of his days. The following year William sent his oldest son and his slave back to Georgia to get some sugar cane, which in time became a delight to all the people in the community. The years of 1860 to 1865 was a very trying period for William. He was so outspoken against his State seceding from the Union and the division in his Church over the slavery question, and which he did not approve as practice, there was some strong opposition to him and there was talk of lynching him. William was a Christian but he was no coward, he made himself a blade of steel and said if any mob came for him he would certainly get at least one of them. It so happened about this time, one of his sons, Barzillo came home from the Army, heard of the plot, found that a few men were hiding in a cottonhouse nearby, drinking, and he went there and pulled a board of the house and gave each one of them a sound beating and bemeaned them for plotting to harm his father while he and his brothers were away fighting for their country. That broke up the lynch plot. William was a bighearted man and very forgiving. During the last months of the war, food got scarce, and some of the wives and widows of those who hated him came to him begging for corn to be ground into meal for bread. He never turned one down. He said if his State did secede his sons would not wait to be drafted but would volunteer instead and serve in the Army. He had four sons to go and another son went to Troy to enlist on his 18th birthday, but reaching there was told that the war was over and he could return home. At the end of each day, William closed his shop door, knelt at his anvil, using it for an altar and asked God to return all his sons to him without injury. His prayers were answered. When the war was over and the slaves set free, old George, the negro slave asked William to keep him on and stay with him as long as he lived. This was done, and when old George died he was buried in the Churchyard Cemetery where William and most of his family were buried.

William's wife, Julia must be given credit for bearing his children and being his helpmeet. She, like many other old women of her day, smoked homegrown and homecured tobacco in an old clay pipe with a stem made from a reed. After her husband's death (she outlived him by fourteen years) she spent a lot of time with an old Mrs. Cotter (she died about 1903 at the age of 102 years) spinning, weaving, knitting, and talking, and when tobacco got scarce-during the "in between seasons", they would take a few puffs, smother out the pipe and lay it aside to be lighted up again later from some coals they always kept banked in the ashes in the fireplace. This was a great pasttime for them.

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