FAMILY HISTORY OF JOHN SILVEY ATKINS
1882 Birth of John Silvey Atkins on May 26, probably at the Webster Atkins farm about two miles west of Waleska, Georgia, toward Pine Log Mountain and just before the intersection with the road to the Pleasant Arbor Baptist Church. His grandfather, Berryman Atkins (1816-1884), was buried at that church. His parents, were also buried there later. They were Webster R. Atkins (1847-1930) and Cassey (or Kassie) Malinda Carney Atkins (1849-1904). Webster, called “Web,” was short and fat, and his pretty wife Cassey had black straight hair like that of her Cherokee mother. Her father was an Irishman, Edmond Carney, son of Lott Carney.
John Silvey had three brothers and four sisters, who called him “Dock.” A family tradition says that an earlier “Dock” Atkins had fought in the Civil War, and this is supposedly in accordance with Pickens County records.
1886 Birth of Leila Florena Harmon on January 26. The Harmon farm was located on the road to the Pleasant Arbor Baptist Church.
Her parents, George Marion Harmon (1852-1931) and Mary Emoline Cook Harmon (1856-1945), were later buried at the Briar Patch United Methodist Church, now the Dogwood Hills Community Church, on the east side of Waleska, toward Canton, Georgia. George Harmon was a tobacco factory owner, sawmill owner, county commissioner, and game warden.
1904 After his mother died on May 11, Dock married Leila Harmon on December 13. They eloped to Jasper, Georgia, about thirty miles above Waleska. The marriage was opposed by her parents.
Dock had dropped out of school after the fifth grade. He played a five-string banjo at local dances. He was large-boned with olive skin, black eyebrows, and a heavy head of hair - snow white in later years. Leila had finished high school and started at Reinhardt College, a vocational school in Waleska where students worked part time. Her father had donated land for the school.
Dock made a living on his small one-crop farm. Then, on the side, he started buying animals, butchering them, and peddling the meat. The method of butchering was to hit the animal on the head at a spot between the horns will a ball-peen hammer, cut the jugular vein, castrate if a bull, skin to the knees, insert a stick in the Achilles tendons, hoist to let bleed, skin on down with a skinning knife, disembowel, and cut the carcase in half with a hand saw. He later purchased a regular meat saw.
1906 Birth of first son, Roy Oliver Atkins, on January 9.
1907 Birth of son, Arnold Kyndall Atkins, on October 27.
His father, Webster, remarried, after his wife’s death, to Sallie Cochran. They had twin girls, who both died in infancy.
1910 Dock and Leila’s house burned down. They made a temporary home in a log cabin. Birth of daughter, Linda Wyoline, on July 22.
1911 Death of son Arnold, almost four years old, of pneumonia. Arnold was buried at the Pleasant Arbor Baptist Church.
1912 Birth of son, J. S., on October 27 at Cartersville, Georgia. He was so named (with initials only) in the family Bible, but later changed his name to “John Silvey Atkins,
Jr.” The family had opened a butcher shop in Cartersville.
1915 Birth of daughter, Eva Doris, on May 31 in Adairsville. Probably Webster Atkins had moved to Adairsville before this date.
1917 Birth of daughter, Glennie Grace Emoline, on August 7 in Rome, Georgia.
1919 Birth of son, George Harmon, on November 18, so named in the family Bible, but later changed to “John Harmon Atkins.” This son, Harmon, was born in Van’s Valley, southwest of Rome, Georgia.
The family was living in Van’s Valley, where they ran a dairy farm for a while. The children went to school in Cave Springs.
They next moved to four different parts of Rome, Georgia, and opened meat markets. The last meat market was on the north side of the city. The oldest son, Roy, had a different job, but J. S. helped kill and pluck chickens in the meat market.
1923 Birth of daughter, Charlotte Imojean, on January 25, in Van’s Valley. Web Atkins visited his son Dock, coming by horse and buggy from Adairsville.
1924 Word received of “boom” prosperity in Florida. Dock and his son Roy moved to Tampa. Dock ran a meat market in an A&P grocery store at 601 Hillsborough Avenue. Roy had another job. He had dropped out of school after the tenth grade.
1925 Remaining family members moved to Tampa. They purchased a Star automobile.
1927 The Florida “boom” bubble burst. Chief of Police York gave Dock and Roy jobs on the police force. Roy was a motorcycle cop.
1929 Dock and Roy moved to Benbow, a plantation of Southern Sugar Company on Lake Okeechobee near Moore Haven. They got jobs as field foremen, supervising the cultivation and harvesting of sugar cane. The company was started by Mr. Dahlberg, a Jewish lawyer and promoter, and Mr. Bishop.
Dock made money on the side by driving automobiles from Tampa and Sebring and selling them, mostly to Negroes.
1930 Southern Sugar Company went bankrupt. Company workers were aided so as not to lose unpaid cars and household goods.
Death of Webster Atkins. His estate was usurped by his oldest son, Jim, who used the money to buy himself a farm in Alabama. He did not even provide a headstone for his father’s grave.
1932 Family moved to Moore Haven, Florida. They were helped in the move by Mr. Leveritt, a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses sect, who lent his Packard touring car. Leila was a Jehovah’s Witness by that time. Roy had a job as marshal.
The United States Sugar Corporation was started from assets of the old Southern Sugar Company. Dock got a field foreman job. But then he started selling cars full time.
1933 J. S. Atkins married Geraldine (Jerry) Cooper on February 22. Both graduated from Moore Haven High School. J. S. had a job in the USSC commissary warehouse at Clewiston.
1934 Birth of first grandson of John Silvey Atkins, named Dicky Lee, later changed to “Richard Lee Atkins.” He was born in Moore Haven at the Dock Atkins home on the
Roy married Helen Regan. They lived in Everglades City, where he was deputy sheriff, and later sheriff of Collier County.
1935 Dock Atkins and family moved to Labelle. He ran a sub-dealership for Ford in Clewiston.
J. S. and Jerry Atkins moved to South Bay, where he ran a commissary store for the USSC.
Wyoline married Carl Mygrant.
1936 Dock moved to Avon Park, where he sold cars for Wells Motor Company. Harmon had a job at Townsend Lumber Company, but he later went to work for Wells also.
Harmon stayed at Wells Motor Company, but Dock went on to other jobs at Badcock Furniture Company, at the Frigidaire appliance store (where he was recognized with an outstanding salesman award), and finally into real estate sales. He had a large two-story home south of the high school at 120 E. Cornell Street.
1938 Doris married Curtis Smith. Glennie married Harris Bussell.
1939 Harmon married Dorothy Weisheyer.
1942 Charlotte married Charles Laycock.
1958 Death of Roy Atkins on January 10 from sclerosis of the liver. Roy was the sheriff of Collier County at that time. He was buried in the city cemetery at Avon Park.
1962 Death of Leila Atkins (called “Mama Lee” by her thirteen grandchildren) on April 8.
1972 Death of John Silvey Atkins on March 19. (One leg had been amputated because of poor blood circulation, and it was saved at his request and buried with him.) He and Mama Lee were buried in the Avon Park city cemetery on Florida Highway 27.
Death of Roy’s wife Helen on November 17.
CHARACTER SKETCH OF DOCK AND LEILA ATKINS
Dock: Although he was almost illiterate, Dock Atkins was a very capable businessman. His lack of education made him always suspicious that others were trying to cheat him, and his hot temper and tendency to look for greener pastures caused his various job moves. Having survived the great Depression, he always calculated the money value of everything he saw. He and his brother Sol liked to get together and dream up wild business schemes. One of these ideas was to bottle mineral water from a spring in Waleska. (This is one plan that might have paid off.)
He was handsome and tried to preserve his looks by hair coloring as he became grey. He loved fatty foods, eating his bacon almost raw. He drank liquor and smoked heavily. Although his fiery temper caused shaky marital relations, he was very sentimental about family matters.
He was a diehard Democrat, having a large picture of Franklin D. Roosevelt in his living room. Every Republican and anybody else he disliked was a “son-of-a-bitch.” He
left religious observance to his wife. In his later years, when the astronauts were walking on the moon, he maintained that people had no business being there, since this might have some adverse effect on the moon’s function of controlling the tides and the times of planting, etc. He had no patience with anyone who refused to work for a living.
Leila: Mama Lee was jovial, clean, and a superb cook - as was displayed by her rather round figure. She loved gardening and had so many varieties of plants in her yard that it looked like a nursery. She had the old ideas about a woman’s place, and so she prayed with a napkin on her head. Her good education was demonstrated by the quantity of books in her house, but it was somewhat deficient if the bad spelling of names in the family Bible is considered. Her religion as a Jehovah’s Witness was so radical that it was disquieting to family harmony when her children all gathered for the holidays. She still loved to hear sung the Methodist hymns of her childhood. Her early death several years before her husband was a surprise to everyone.
Richard Lee Atkins, born March 1, 1934
Ann Cooper Atkins, born July 7, 1935
Donna Carlene Mygrant, born July 22, 1936
Barbara Jean Bussell, born October 6, 1939
Sue Annette Smith, born February 23, 1942
Robert Lee Mygrant, born October 7, 1942
Larry Dale Bussell, born January 8, 1943
Don Gary Laycock, born November 2, 1944
Beverly Joan Laycock, born December 4, 1946
Jeffrey Lynn Bussell, born November 27, 1948
Sharmon Marcia Atkins, born July 28, 1950
Quentin Wayne Atkins, born May 8, 1952
Roy Rodney Laycock, born November 23, 1961
PICKENS COUNTY RECORDS, JASPER, GEORGIA
B. T. Atkins married Maruetha (Martha?) F. Smith, May 22, 1900*
T. C. Atkins married Ader (Ada) Davis, July 3, 1904. (See page 84.)
J. S. Atkins married Leila Harmon, December 13, 1904. (See page 51.)
George Atkins married Emily Edins, January 4, 1914. (See page 86.)
M. F. Atkins married Beaula Keel, July 27, 1918. (See page 107.)
T. J. Atkins married Fairria Simmons, August 10, 1928. (See page 80.)
*This should probably read: “B. F. Atkins married Fanny Mae Smith.” (See page 64.)