Monday, December 13, 2010

John Lloyd Axsom, Sr.

John Lloyd Axsom was born on December 2 1919 in Draper, Rockingham County, North Carolina. He was the third child of Andrew Houston Axsom and Nannie Dove Tolbert Axsom. He was the grandson of Ephraim Rayton Axsom and Sallie Will Chaney Axsom. Ephraim and Sallie moved from Surrey County, NC to Danville, VA in the early 1900s.
Andrew, Lloyds father, moved from Danville to Draper, NC in search of employment. He went to work for Marshall Field and Company. while living in Draper, he met and married Dove Tolbert. Andrew and Dove had nine children-seven boys and two girls.
During the early years of their marriage, Andrew always farmed in addition to working in the mill. Supporting nine children on mill wages was difficult. Farming was a means to provide food for the family as well as provide a little extra income, still, the family suffered many lean years.
Andrew and Dove moved quite a few times while their children were growing up. That made it difficult for the older children to get settled in school; furthermore, education was not stressed. When Andrew and Dove were growing up, it was expected that children go to work as soon as they were old enough. Old enough was often as young as eight years old. Dove was working in the mill when she was only nine! Fortunately, about the time Andrew and Dove started their family, social reform brought an enactment of several child labor laws that placed restrictions on the employment of children under a certain age.
Most of the Axsom boys worked in the mill at one time or another, but they were an industrious lot and soon developed skills that allowed them to pursue other avenues. Lloyd went to work in the mill when he was sixteen.
Lloyd met Mildred Thompson, a native of Patrick County, VA when he was eighteen and she was seventeen. At the time, Mildred was dating Lloyd's friend and first cousin, Mouar Wilson. Lloyd quickly stole her away. Mouar pouted for awhile, but he and Lloyd soon became best friends again.
Lloyd and Mildred were married in Draper on January 28 1939 at the home of Lloyd's uncle, Andrew J. (Jack) Talbot. Their first child, John Lloyd Axsom, Jr. (J.L.) was born on November 26 1940. Soon after, Mildred contracted tuberculosis and spent 16 months in a sanatorium. While Mildred was in the sanatorium, her mother and dad, who still lived in the mountains of Virginia, kept the baby. Lloyd would make the long trek up "Lovers Leap Mountain" in a Model A Ford to visit J.L. On one trip he was accompanied by his uncle, Turner Jarrell. On the way up and down the mountain they had somewhere between 16 and 21 flat tires-depending on who is telling the story. They made the last leg of the journey riding in on the rim.
Mildred recovered from her bout with tuberculosis and was reunited with her family. A second child, Norma Jeanne, was born on February 19 1946.
Over the years, Lloyd held various jobs, but he seemed to find his niche in law enforcement. He had a geniune love for people and had a reputation of being honest and just. He went to work for Rockingham County as a deputy sheriff in 1952. The next year, he was appointed Chief of Police of Spray, NC. He served in that position from 1953 to 1959 and returned to the Sheriff's Dept. in late 1959 or early 1960. HE resigned the Sheriff's Dept in the fall of 1963 and opened a small restaurant in Spray, NC. He also owned and managed three laundromats over a period of about ten years.
Lloyd was a handsome man. He was 5'11' and weighed about 220 pounds. He had dark hair, gray eyes, a distinctive cleft chin, and a winning smile. He was meticulous about his dress adn looked especially handsome in his uniform.
Lloyd was also a talent musician. He began playing a guitar at an early age and sang in a clear baritone voice. In the 1940's, he and several friends formed a bluegrass band called The Dixie Mountaineers, and played at various social functions. The band could also be heard on the local radio station every Saturday afternoon. Lloyd's voice was preserved as a result of old records cut during that time.
On January 16 1964 Lloyd died of complications resulting from gall-bladder surgery. He was 44 years old. His untimely death was a terrible shock to his family and friends and was followed by a tremendous outpouring of love and support from all segments of the community. Lloyd is buried in the Dan View Cemetery in Eden, NC. His son and daughter maintained their residences in Eden.
Norma Axsom Zanetti

Note: The towns of Leaksville, Spray, and Draper consolidated in 1967 to form the City of Eden.

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