Chapter I -- My Ancestry


          My father’s name was William Miller and my mother’s name was Jane Gibson.  My father was born in Kentucky and my mother was born in Surry County, North Carolina.
          My father was the son of - - - - Miller, who was a stock raiser, and especially fond of fine horses, which he trained for the race track..
          My father was the eldest son of a large family, and after the death of grandfather Miller, he had the burden of a large family left upon him.  He had five brothers: Jackson, Robert, David, John, and Clayton, and two sisters: Susan and Peggy.  My grandfather moved from Kentucky to East Tennessee in an early day; and most of his children were born in Tennessee.
          In addition to those mentioned above, my father had five half brothers, whose names I am not able to give.  The half brothers, as I remember, lived in middle Tennessee.
          Grandfather Miller died before my father was grown, hence I know very little about the family history – only what my father could tell me.
         After settling in Tennessee, the gander broke out among the horses and killed most of them, which broke my grandfather up.
         As already stated, my mother was born in North Carolina.  Her parents moved to East Tennessee when she was in her teens, 15 or 16 years of age.  I remember she used to tell me of the move across the mountains in their ox cart and the screams of the panthers around the campfires at night.
          My grandfather Gibson was born in Ireland and came to this country with his parents in his infancy.  He died in Calhoun, McMinn County, Tennessee.  When I was a small boy, I remember him very distinctly having visited his home frequently during his illness.
          It was always a great pleasure to me to go to the Grandfather’s.  The Gibson family consisted of four sons: John, Gessy, Daniel Jordan, and William Pinkey and two daughters: Jane, my mother, and younger sister, Naomi Gibson.
          In religion, my parents were Presbyterians of the Cumberland faith.  They were members of that church, when I was a boy as far back as I can remember.  My father was an elder in the church for forty or fifty years.  He was a very industrious, honest, truthful, and upright gentleman in every sense of the word and was loved and respected by all who knew him.    He never aspired to office and so far as I know the only office he ever held was Captain of the Militia.
          In those days, the Militia were trained for military service by officers elected for that purpose.  They met regularly on “muster” day and had plenty of whiskey, and quite often, several fights on muster grounds.
          Grandmother Gibson was a strict member of the Methodist church.  I always loved her and at this date, I remember when I visited her, that she taught me to say the little prayer; “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my Soul to keep.  If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my Soul to take.”  And this: “I go to bed as to my grave, I pray the Lord my Soul to save.  If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my Soul to take.”  She died in Bradley County, east Tennessee, at the age of 63 and was buried in Flint Springs Cemetery.
          As previously stated, I was born in McMinn County, Tennessee, but my parents moved to Bradley County, Tennessee before I was old enough to remember anything.  In McMinn County, my parents lived by a man by the name of J. K. Boyd, who was a wagon maker.  My mother used to tell me that I would run away from home and go to Boyd’s shop and watch him make wagon wheels.  On one occasion, I left home and wandered off into the hills and when my mother missed me and went to look for me, she traced me across a stream which was frozen over.  We had a dog that I claimed as mine, named Bull, and on this occasion, after mother found my tracks on the ice, she called the dog and he came to her and then followed me into the hills a half a mile beyond where I crossed the stream on ice.
          My parents were just common poor people and lived on a rented farm.  They raised a large family.  I was the eldest child, and ten of us lived to be grown: seven sons and two daughters.  One sister, Lucinda, died at the age of ten.  My full name is James Lafayette, next to me was Perin, and then in the order of their ages: Andrew Jackson, Susan, Catherine, Samuel, John, Naomi, Robert, and Daniel David.  At this writing, four brothers and two sisters who reached manhood and womanhood have crossed over on the other side of the river, leaving myself, Andrew Jackson, Catherine, and Robert Franklin on this side of the river.  Two of my brothers were ministers of the gospel, Gibson Perin is a Methodist minister.