July 24, 1862 – August 17, 1943

by: Joanne Bridges Cooper

            James Homer Miers (later changed to Myers) was a man of character and integrity coming from a time in the Deep South that cherished honor, family and pride in one’s work. He was born in Sumter County, Georgia, on July 24, 1862, the son of William C. and Martha Annie Hall Miers. William and Annie married in 1860 and are listed as husband and wife in the census for that year. However, the young couple would see a tragic end to their happy marriage and birth of twin boys, James and Jessie. William C. Miers died in a Richmond, Virginia hospital in 1862. Jessie died in childhood.

            Annie Hall Miers remarried a few years later. E.B. Webb took over the roll of father and made a good example for young James to follow. James was a hard worker, read his Bible faithfully, and attended church with the family in Sumter County.

            The land of Sumter County provided James with land to farm and a place to build a house of his own. He handpicked the lumber for his house and there was not a knot in any of the wood. James was very progressive and farsighted in the growing of crops. He cleared about 160 acres of virgin timber to develop his farm near Bottsford Crossroads in Sumter County. He used crop rotation before it became popular.

            James Miers also ran a general store near his home. He dispensed nuggets of wisdom and justice to his friends and neighbors during operation of the store. People who had differences would get “Mr. Jim” to listen to both sides and make a decision, usually instantly. For more complicated matters, he would take a day or two to think about it. So well respected was he that his decisions were considered to be the final answer and were abided by.

            James Miers was very handy around the farm and understood tools, machinery, and large and small engines. He could fix most anything and was patient and meticulous in his repairs. He kept his hand tools carefully, always sharpened and well oiled.

            He was active in Rehoboth Baptist Church located on Dawson Road, GA Highway 49 South, in Sumter County. The church history, A History of Rehoboth Baptist Church, 1845-1995, compiled by Fox Stephens and Jimmie Bass, is full of details about James Miers and his family. Mr. Miers served as church clerk, having been elected to that position on January 6, 1889 and his minutes are “in great detail and his handwriting excellent:”(p.8). He served as clerk for ten years, resigning on January 1, 1899. He was also a deacon, and his name appears as a leader in many conferences. He was prominent in all leadership positions and was named as delegate to several conventions (p. 35).

During his time of membership at Rehoboth, he changed the spelling of his last name from “Miers” to “Myers”. He did this to avoid confusion with another family with a similar name in order to expedite the delivery of mail and “keep the peace”.

            On September 15, 1891, he married Lula Virginia McWilliams, b. October 3, 1859, of Twiggs County, Georgia. Lula was a short, pudgy woman and must have fit just right with the dark-haired James who was about 5’5” and 125 pounds. They had three children: Annie Lou, b. August 7, 1893; James Frank, b. October 9, 1894; and Robert Monroe, b. November 13, 1895. Lula M. Myers would let her little daughter help cook by letting her stand on a stool to stir vegetables and make biscuits.

Tragedy struck James Myers within days after the birth of his third child, Robert. The child died shortly after birth, and Lula died on November 19, 1895, just a few days later. She and her baby are buried at Rehoboth Baptist Church and were the first two graves in the newest part of the cemetery.

            Knowing that his children needed a mother, James Myers set about to find one for them. He married Henrietta Dill on December 15, 1897, at the hotel in Fort Valley, Georgia. Henrietta was from Tuscogee, Alabama. She and James did not have children of their own, but she was a wonderful mother to Annie Lou and Frank.

            When his daughter married Henry Grady Bridges of Terrell County, Georgia, James Myers moved them into his house and played grandpa to their three children: James Albert, John Lunsford, and Robert Marvin, all born about one year apart.

            Again, fate was not kind to James, however, and he lost Henrietta after she had a fatal appendicitis attack. To further add to his burden, the cotton crops began to fail. Eventually, James Myers lost everything he owned due to the boll weevil. When his son-in-law left Sumter County to take a job in an automobile plant in far-away Michigan, James Myers decided to be with the family and sold off everything he could. He left Sumter County with the clothes on his back and all of his worldly belongings packed into a small wooden trunk. The trunk is still in the family today. He was able to get a job in the automobile plant with his son-in-law, starting over in a new “career” at about 60 years of age. He contributed to the family income and also managed to pay off every debt that he had in Sumter County, not wanting to shirk responsibility and blame “hard times” to get out of paying. He did it because it was the right thing to do.

            Eventually James Myers and his son-in-law, daughter and three grandsons moved back to Georgia, this time in Fulton County. James continued to live with his daughter, providing an excellent example of dignity and honor for his grandchildren, much as his stepfather had done for him. He helped around the family farm in Fairburn, was active in the Baptist church, and was respected in the community. He continued to read his Bible faithfully.

            However fate would deal James Myers one final blow. Physically, “Mr. Jim” was as fit as he had ever been, still slim and neat. In his final years though, he became senile and unable to take care of himself. He would wander off if not watched. He would try to read his Bible and would mark in it with a pen and write things in the margins, something he would have never done in earlier times.

On August 17, 1943, at the age of 81, James Homer Myers passed away. He is buried in Sumter County, Georgia, having come full circle.

Last update 06/26/2003