About Thomas Nixon Van Dyke
Thomas Nixon Van Dyke and his family were very strong Confederates and when the Union forces got control of East Tennessee, Judge Van Dyke had to take refuge in another state (having been ordered away by the federal forces). He served in the Confederacy with the rank of major. Ten children were born to Judge Van Dyke and his wife.
In 1847, the faltering Hiawassee Railroad Company elected T. Nixon Van Dyke as its President. He was successful in gaining public confidence, paid off outstanding debts, and brought some semblance of order to its business and operations. By 1848, the name of the Company was changed to East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad. By 1852, the railroad was completed and in operation from Dalton, GA to Loudon, TN. Further reorganization took place, but on June 20, 1855, the first train ever to enter Knoxville puffed in on East Tennessee and Georgia tracks. [Roots of Roane County, TN, by Snyder E. Roberts - page 51]
Thomas Nixon Van Dyke obtained his law degree in 1825 in Tuscalosa Ala. In 1829 he was elected ass't clerk of the House of Representatives of Alabama for 4 sessions. In 1833 he moved to Athens, TN (McMinn County) where he practiced law. He was one of the first directors of the East TN & GA Railroad Co. He was President of the Bank of Tennessee, Athens Branch for 2 years. In 1854 he was elected Chancellor of the Chancery Division of the State of Tennessee for 8 years.
In 1864 he went to the Civil War and held prisoner at Camp Chase near Columbus, Ohio for 4 months. Upon his release he went to Quincy, Illinois to join his family.
They moved back to Athens in 1873. He was appointed Special Judge of the Supreme Court of Tennessee. In 1879 he was appointed comissioner for the celebration of the Battle of Kings Mountain.
The family resided at their estate in Athens, called "Prospect Hill", until 1887 when they moved to Rome, GA to be with their son, Robert until he passed away.