A History of the Akins Family by Joe L. Akins:
“My grandfather, Lewis Akins, was born in Buncombe County, North Carolina in 1794 and grew to manhood, marrying Vicie Nicholson.
Their first child, my father, was James Akins, born June 15, 1821. Martha Anderson, my mother, was born June 5, 1830 in Yancey County, North Carolina. The two families came to Georgia in my father’s and mother’s early childhood. They were married on August 13, 1846.
My father farmed 160 acres of land known as a “lot” on Reece’s Creek, five miles north of Blairsville in Union County, Georgia.
For four years they lived in a dug-out. Later they built a one-room dwelling, 16 X 18 from hewn logs, where their four children were born. Mary Catherine was born May 9, 1853; William Henry, their third child, August 25, 1858; Joe Lane, their fourth, on November 30, 1860.
The war between the States began, and my father volunteered for service. He left home on July 1, 1861. He came home once during the year and later, was killed in the battle known as the Seven Day Fight at Malvern Hill near Richmond. He was wrapped in blankets and buried near a large white oak tree by another soldier named Groves. Later, his body was moved to the cemetery near Richmond where all the Rebel soldiers were buried that were killed in that particular battle.
My mother was left with the four children on a farm which was considered good for that country.
The two oldest children became ill with meningitis in May of 1865. Catherine died a few weeks later.
My mother was left with the two young children and her mother, who lived to be 90 years old. My only brother, William Henry, and my Grandmother Anderson both died in 1872.
All my Anderson relatives and the most of the Akins family are buried in Pleasant Grove Cemetery in Union County, Georgia. In 1876 my mother sold her half of our farm of 160 acres for the sum of $150. J.V. Lance was appointed my guardian and sold my half to the highest bidder for $205.
We hired Mart Parson to move us to Yancey County, North Carolina to my mother’s people, where we lived for eight months. Jim Erwin came from Georgia and moved us back. For two nights we stopped at J.V. Lance’s. I then walked seven miles and waded Notla River and hired to Bill Thomas for 24 cents a day and worked four months up to January 1, 1878 in Dooly District.
My mother and I moved in the house with my great uncle, Billy Poteet. He furnished the rations, my mother did the house-work, I made the crop and gave me one-fourth. In July of that year we moved to Young Cane in a rent house that belonged to Henry Hughes. I went back and gathered the crop. Then we moved across the river on the Manus farm in Ivy Log District in 1879. We lived with Mr. Manus for one year, working the land for the fourth again. We moved back to Young Cane in 1880, and I bought a farm from Bill Mason, north of the John Wallace Mill on the river. We lived in a two-room house. I hired a horse with which to make a crop for ten dollars and paid it with 20 bushels of corn. I made the biggest crop for a boy ever made in Union County and had to help my sick mother with the house-work. I planted part of this crop when it was snowing. In August of that year, I took my mother so she could stay with Mrs. Henry Hughes, while I was gone with the Hughes boys and girls to Young Cane camp meeting. There I met Zada Brackett, one of Dave Brackett’s twin girls. On January 9, 1881 she became my wife. I was 20 years, one month and nine days old and weighed about 120 pounds. I was a runt. The late Steve Hunt and I were married in a double ceremony at Jack Kelley’s near Providence Church by Justice of the Peace, Mr. Wild.
I sold my home to Lish Duncan and moved to Acworth, Georgia that fall. I made two crops there. In 1883 my mother, wife and one child went back to Union County, and I came to Honey Grove in Texas and lived 8 months and went back to Georgia. I found that I had made another mistake. In August 1884, I hired Tom Henson to take us to Cleveland [Bradley Co.] Tennessee, where we took the train to Waco, [McLennan Co.] Texas. I worked in town for a month and I saw that wouldn’t do. I then moved to Robinson [McLennan Co. TX], where I hired to Jim Robinson, working on a farm. My wife and one child were sick and in May 1885, I sent them back to her father. The following August I went back to Georgia. There I moved from one rent house to another and worked for “Tom, Dick and Harry” and was paid either in “chips or whetstones,” seldom in money. In the spring of 1887 I left my wife and three children with my mother in a one-room house on John Patterson’s land. I went to Leadville, [Lake Co.] Colorado---not on a vacation. I got work at once at three dollars per day. I worked for two weeks and caught the measles for a month. When I was able to work my job had been taken. I heard of a job at Soda Springs which seemed three miles away, but on arriving I had walked 11 miles. The job was snaking cross-ties out of the snow covered mountains which I was unable to do. Seaborn Pless and I went back to Leadville and made arrangements to ride a freight train over the Rocky Mountains to Romley, [Chaffee Co.] Colorado, to a cabin that Fate Bowling lived in. We stayed there two nights and he got us a job in the mines. I took a severe cough from working 1500 feet underground, and because of this I was transferred to a saw mill where I worked for a month or so. It began snowing in October and Seaborn, Tom Martin and I went back to Georgia. I got a tax collecting job with John Patterson in 1887 and 1888.
I made a crop on the Liza Dillard farm in 1889. I left my family there in September and walked to Chattanooga, Tennessee. On September 10, I bought a return ticket to Springfield, Missouri, thinking I could sell it to Jeff Chastain’s sister. She didn’t want to go back, so I have that ticket. I worked three or four days helping Jeff cut his corn. But I saw I couldn’t do any good there so I started back to Texas for the third time.
I walked four miles to the railroad without funds to buy a ticket. I began my trip by walking down the M.K. & T. Railroad. Sometimes I got a chance to ride a freight train for $1.00. The last day and night I paid two dollars for a ride to Denison [Grayson Co TX] . I got off at 5 a.m. September 24. I didn’t have food or water on this trip. In 30 minutes I hired to Jim Smith to come to Trenton [Fannin Co. TX] to pick cotton. He left us at the depot till he got his mail. We started to the country on foot. On the way, he took out of his pocket a pint of whiskey and presented it to me first---as I looked the oldest. I said, “Mr. Smith, I don’t drink,” which was the first time I had ever refused. My partner, before leaving Chattanooga, and I had bought a pint of whiskey and before we had gone 20 miles, we had finished the bottle. I said then that I’d never drink another drop of whiskey, and I didn’t for 45 years---and then under a doctor’s orders. I have been dry from that day till this.
I picked cotton 14 days and made 14 dollars. I then hired to Bill Teel to bail cotton and stayed four years. Two of these years I made a crop on the halves. I then bought mules and implements and paid the third and fourth. My wife and four children came the last of that year, 1889. We lived in a 16-foot-room for 13 months in Fannin County, Texas. We then got a four-room house for the remainder of the years that I ginned. I made from one to seven dollars per day.
Next, I rented a farm one mile north of Trenton from a saloon man who said he wanted a man who would work so he wouldn’t have to support him, but before I moved, I bought a piece of land. I sold my mules and tools and paid him what money I could spare on this 30-acre tract, and still owed $700 and never moved to his farm. I then bought mules and tools and stayed with the saloon keeper, Bill Sanders, for six years. I then swapped this little farm to Sanders for part of this farm I lived on.I lived there for two years. I sold this farm and bought the farm I lived on in 1890 and 1891. I lived there three years. I sold it and bought a larger farm and failed to get a title and again rented from the saloon keeper. The next year I bought a bottom-land farm and lived on it six years and made money every year despite it’s being covered in water 20 times in one month. I sold this farm and moved one mile east of Leonard [Fannin Co. TX] where I paid $86 an acre for one of the best farms and a seven-room, two-story house. We moved there in January of 1910. I had my wife and nine children out of the twelve children born to us. I had good mules, tools, cows and hogs, but I owed $1,000 dollars on this farm. That year I made $2400 on the cotton, 800 bushels of corn, over 2,000 bushels of oats and plenty of hay for the stock. We lived at this place four years. I paid $5,500 for another farm west of Leonard, joining the corporation, with a five-room house. We moved there in 1914 and three years later built a ten-room house at a cost of $2,100. From there we came to Denton [Texas] January 1, 1925. We had disposed of the farm at a small profit.
I quit farming in 1919. I farmed 30 years in Texas. I retired at the age of 60. I loaned my money to the banks and when they started to fail, I bought government bonds. Then FDR’s [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] administration’s interest become less and I cashed bonds and bought rent houses which paid pretty good till FDR set rent prices. My wife died November 29, 1942 and in 1944, I divided my estate of over $46,000 dollars with my children. The rent on the houses was too low so I disposed of them. I lived alone four years, two months and eleven days. In June 1944, I went back to Georgia for a month. I stayed at the Akins Hotel for three weeks. I wrote occasionally to Susie Kelley’s daughter, Belle, the widow of my boyhood friend, Bill Casteel. She had no idea of getting married again, but would answer my letters. On October 14, 1946, I proposed to her by letter. Fourteen days later an answer came,telling me she had no intentions of getting married again. I felt let down, but I wrote her again, and then she agreed to write me because I had written her. I enjoyed her letters. I was soon writing every day. On the 8th day of January she wrote me that she would come sometime in March. Eight days after she made the decision, February 10, she left Georgia and arrived in Fort Worth the next morning. I met her with some friends and at 9 p.m. we were married by Dr. Hubbard, witnessed by fourteen friends and Bernice Sudderth and Joe Hughes, two of my grandsons. Both my wives were born in one mile of each other. Zade’s father and Belle’s Grandmother Kelley were brother and sister. I had known both the Parsons and the Kelleys all my life. While on a visit to Georgia in 1934, my wife, and daughter, Bonnie, and I spent a day and night with Bill and Belle and went to see Aunt Betsy Parson, who was Belle’s grandmother, and was then 102 years old. She was too blind to see me, but she knew my voice. Knowing the families as I did, I did not think I was making a mistake to get Belle to marry me. So far I think she will be the woman for me.
About my children:
Jim was born February 10, 1882, married Callie Wilson. They had three children. Jim died in December 1918. Their children were Wilson, J.D. and Emma Jean.
Ode was born September 14, 1883. He married Sarah Wilson and reared seven children, Fay, Fred, James Roy, Lucille, Ode Jr., Geraldine and Jack.
Homer was born September 16, 1886. He married Ella Card and they had one child, Homer Jr. His second wife was Ethel Calloway.
Jessie was born November 21, 1888. She married Nuge Sidderth and they reared five children, Bernice, Doll, Morris, Glenda and Kathryn.
Ida Faye, our first child born in Texas in 1891, lived 14 months and died, being buried in Burns Cemetery near Trenton.
Ina Mae was born January 31, 1893. She was married to M.F. Hughes. They had four children, raising two, Wyndle and Joe K.
Joe T. Akins was born February 28, 1895. He married Violet Morgan. They had one girl, Thelma, and twin boys, Terry and Jerry (the only twins in the family).
Y.B. was born January 1, 1898, married Lois Malding. They had one child, George. His second wife was Ann Witherow.
Doc was born January 21, 1901, married Mary Happel. They have one girl, Zada, and four boys living, Pat Jr., Johnny Joe, Jimmy, Homer, and one boy dead.
Bonnie was born August 18, 1905, married R.N. Lukens. They have one foster-child, Helen.
I have 27 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
My great grandfather came from Ireland. My education is limited, having gone to school only 63 days. I acquired a little of the “3 R’s” at night by a pine knot light. From experience and observation, I’ve acquired a little knowledge. My hobby since retiring from manual labor is writing my kin and friends. My custom for years has been walking to town twice daily unless prevented by illness or bad weather. I enjoy having my friends stop in to see me with the friendly salutation “Howdy Uncle Joe.” I also appreciate having our song leader at out downtown Bible class, which I have been a member of for 17 years, say “We will sing Uncle Joe’s song today----”The Way of the Cross Leads Home.”
I have been a Mason for 56 years. I took all the degrees they offered and have been Master four times. I was present at the Grand Lodge 40 times in 43 years. I have the 50-year pin.
I have been interested in politics since 1876 when Tilden and Hayes ran for President.I’ve been a Democrat and I’ve never crossed the ticket, but I will never vote for John L. Lewis again. I’m now near 87 years old. I have seen bad times and good times. The present is the worst time in the history of my life.---Joe Lane Akins, Denton, Texas, September 11, 1947.
[Joe Lane Akins died August 16, 1951 and is buried at the Leonard Cemetery, Fannin Co. TX]