Ephraim Watkins 1841-1898
The Man Who Named Peach

The Truth and the Folk Lore
of the Man Who Named Peach

Ephraim Watkins seems to be the folk lore of our family's history. Some say 
they like the folk lore better than the truth but the truth does need to be told. He
was born in Giles County, Tennessee on 11 Oct 1841, but raised in Limestone
Alabama in the Ardmore area.  He was the son of David Watkins born is South
Carolina and Rhonda Myers Galipen (a widow) born in North Carolina and
grandson to John Watkins who came to Giles County about 1811.

Ephraim Watkins
Ephraim served in the CSA joining in Athens Alabama in 1861. He was captured in 1862 in the battle of Island #10 in the middle of the Mississippi River. Now folk lore has it Ephraim befriended a young Federalist who let him escape one night swimming the Mississippi River with his shoes in hand. He lost his shoes swimming the river and had to walk home barefooted. He is said to have traveled at night with fear of being recaptured. The Federal soldier had given Ephraim a compass so he could find his way home, so by moon light Ephraim headed south though Kentucky he met a Man Newton Hodges who had a daughter Mary Jane. Ephraim fell in love, but continued his journey home. In the early part of 1864 Ephraim is said to have returned to Kentucky and married Mary Jane. Now the true story of Ephraim. He was captured in 1862 on Island #10, but in 1863 he was swapped as a pow in Vicksburg Mississippi. Returning home he married Mary Jane Hodges born in Limestone County, Alabama and his first child was born on 16 Oct. 1864 Lankin Boston Watkins (Boss Watkins). In 1870 you find Ephraim in Lincoln County, Tennessee living next to his brother Wilson listed as a Mill helper, probably on the Elk River. You find in the Census of 1870 Ephraim his wife and two children, Lankin and Willie Geer. In 1880 he has returned to Limestone County and his family has grown adding four more children Jasper born in 1870, Rault born in 74 and twins Vela and Virgie born in 1877. In the latter part of that year Ephraim went to the western side of Giles County to a place that was then called Hawkins Mill on Sugar Creek on the Lawrence County line. There he acquired a Damn made of wood from a Mr. Hawkins and 305 acres in Giles County with the help of a widow named Mrs. Lillian Lanier. While entering the name of his land and mill in Lawrence County and Giles he was ask the name, He said he would call his mill he called it Peach Rolling Mills, The name Peach is still there today for the area. There in 1884 another child was born Verlie Magmary Watkins. In 1896 Lankin B. who was married and had a wife with child was shot in the back on his mule going to a still, as legend tells it, by a Federal Deputy Marshal Clarke. Now family folk lore has it that this Federal Marshall was at a bar in Minor Hill bragging about the raid on this still and that he had killed Boss Watkins, some one told him to get out of town before Ephraim heard he was there or the odds against him living until sunup was slim. Family stories go on to tell he lefttown that night asking for a transfer and it was granted to Arkansas. Ephraim disappeared for a few weeks and upon his return home and the people around town heard the Federal Marshall was found floating face down in the Arkansas River. A good story some say but all folk lore. Now what really happened was Ephraim went to Florence Alabama since that is in the County where the shooting took place filed murder charges against the Marshall and he was prosecuted in Birmingham Alabama on Federal charges of murder. The Marshall was actually acquitted I have in my possession the original transcript which in his on defense the Marshall stated, "Yes I shot Boss Watkins in the back but I did it in the line of duty." Family history tells us Ephraim was an honest man but also one of business. He seemed hard to deal with as he stuck by his ways. In 1891 his wife died and in 1892 he remarried to Sarah Ann Bass the daughter of a preacher. Ephraim and Sarah had three children, Jerry born in 1892, Rose in 1893 and Logan in 1894 only one living to adulthood. Rose died at birth and Jerry was accidentally killed with a pick axe to the head on the Norwood farm near Peach 1917 at age 17. Ephraim died in 1898 and is buried at Mt. Zion Cemetery just across the Giles County line in Lawrence County, Tennessee. Family folk lore tells us Ephraim buried a lot of Gold on his land although not a coin has ever been found. His second wife Sarah raised Logan to adult hood and she died in 1935. Logan Cal Watkins married Clara Mai Petty and raise 4 children to adult hood in the house Ephraim built in 1884. The oldest my father Marlin Edward Watkins (1916-1981). The mill is gone at Peach along with the General Store run by William Hammonds and others, along with the Blacksmith Shop run by Jesse Forsyth, but the home that Ephraim built in 1884 still stands and in use and owned by the Watkins family. The only other home in the area in use is one owned by Ephraim's daughter and her husband, Mr. & Mrs. Clyde Green. The memories of Peach go through me though every time I return home to where I was born in 1949. Ephraim Watkins home Built Around 1884 By Michael E. Watkins

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Submitted by Mike Watkins