On July 13, 1923, at the age of 83, William Redding Byers answered his last roll call. 85 years later a group of family he never knew, gather to pay him respects. I have long said that when I passed I did not want some stranger speaking about me at my service; ironically, I stand here to do just that.

When I started working on the family research for this family and found there was a member that had fought in the War of Northern Aggression, immediately my first thought was does he have a gravestone marking his service? That was in 2005, now almost 3 years later we can say he does.

The road to find Redin's resting place has been a long one, but one filled with luck and the kindness of others. With no family members that I could find that knew where he was buried I was fortunate that he passed when he did. If it had been but just a few years earlier there would have been no death certificate to tell me where he was, but fortunately there was one and even more fortunately it was filled out the way it was supposed to be and it included his interment.

What do we know of Redin? We know he was born in 1840, the first child of William and Mary Roper Byers in Pickens Co SC. We know he was married around age 18 to Elizabeth Banks around 1858. We know that they had at least 7 children that lived to adulthood and had their own families, several of which are represented here today.

We know in August of 1861 Redin enlisted for the Cause and served until surrender in May 1865.

We have no way of knowing what kind of communication he had during the war, if any, with his family. I wonder if Elizabeth knew he'd been wounded before he came home? We do know, that like so many of his comrades, he could not write, so there were probably few if any letters home. I often wonder what that time period must have been like for the families. We can read books and watch documentaries on how things were, we can catch glimpses from diaries but until its been lived I sincerely doubt there is true understanding of what kind of hell it was and how either he or Elizabeth felt when he finally made it home.

We know that for some reason he moved his entire family from SC to GA in 1867, and that shortly after his own father and stepmother joined him. One thing we'd like to know is why. What is it that brought them to N. Ga a few short years after the war ended? We know he moved into an area already populated with many Byers, what we don't know for a fact is if he was related to them. I must suppose he was as they lived among each other, attended church together and were buried in the same cemeteries, but we have no proof, yet.

All of his children, 3 boys and 4 girls married here and had families, two children moving away, one to Oklahoma in the land rush and one to Arkansas. Another thing we know is that for the most part, a Byers lives a very long time. There are of course a few exceptions, but the majority of them lived well until their 80's and those of you standing here are a result of those lives.

We know that in his older age he married for a second time and after that Mrs. Byers passed he lived with his children, various ones at different times. We know that in 1923 he was here and we know all of his children were living and that he had one sibling left alive.

It seems so sad to me that with as large as the family was and is, that that is pretty much all we know about Redin. We don't even know what he looked like other than he was a redhead.

I do know one other thing, in my heart, that today Redin is looking down at all of his family gathered here in his honor and probably wonders what all the fuss is and to him I just want to say, Thank you. Thank you for what you provided your family and your country and persevering in a way that allowed generations of Byers to endure. I have met a lot of Byers family members the last 5 years, and I can honestly say that if there was one word that describes a Byers, it's caring, very rarely do I see a family that cares as much as the Byers family does, and that had to come from somewhere.

Shannon Bradley Byers
September 2008