Chester And Winnie Atkinson Miller
Chester Miller, born November 28, 1914, was the son of Hillary and Ida Henry Miller. On April 1, 1934, Chester married Winnie Atkinson. She was born in Overton County near the Muddy Pond Community on January 4, 1917. They were the parents of Jenell (June 28, 1935) who married Vernon Bilbrey; Norms Jean (February 27, 1939) who married Bluford Bowmen, Jr.; Pauline (1948) who married Roger Hull; Lowell (1950) who married Mildred Franklin and was later divorced; and Roger Dale (October 9, 1955) who married Sue Phillips.
Chester's father, Hillary, was the son of Leander Miller. According to the unpublished works of Carson Key, "Leander Miller took the first wagon load of tools into Wilder to open the Wilder mines." Hillary, known as "Pap" Miller to his grandchildren and subsequently to the entire neighborhood, was noted for his ability to tell stories. One of the stories told by Hillary that had a major impact on his grandchildren had to do with Indians who once stayed the night at his father's house. It seems that Hillary's father who lived on the old Emery road -- replaced by the current Highway 62 -- invited some Cherokees who were traveling the road to stay the night. The weather was snowy and cold -- a typical Cumberland Plateau winter night. Leander felt sorry for the Indian family and offered them shelter. They made their beds down in front of the cabin fireplace. Hillary, a small boy at the time, remembered that he would sneak and look around the door at them sleeping with their heads toward the fire. Hillary remembered that he didn't sleep much because he "was a little skeered having Indians in the house." To this day, his grandchildren wonder, as they retell the story, whether the Indians may also have been a "little skeered" since they slept with their heads to the fire.
The children liked the regular stories but they were more entranced by the tall tales for which "Pap" Miller was famous. Since he normally started the stories out by saying "I was down at Jimmie's," the stories were called "Jimmie Tales" by his grandchildren. Jimmie was one of Hillary's brothers Jimmie Miller (June 14, 1874 to February 27, 1952) who is buried at Camp Ground Cemetery along with his brothers William Burton (April 2, 1986 to August 21, 1978); Dillard (April 1882 to December 13, 1929); and Hillary.
Winnie Miller is the daughter of John and Biddie Frances England Atkinson. John and Biddie were married in 1902. Their children were Pearl, Esther, Winnie, Ollie, Stella, Corbet, Leamon, Claude, and Odell. Biddie Frances was reputed to have been "quite a beauty." John Atkinson (1878-1945), born in Kentucky, was the son of Francis (1841-1926) and Lucinda "Lucindy" Young Atkinson. Francis was one of the thirteen children of Lewis Atkinson (1808-1890) and Arcinia Wilson Atkinson (1811-1878) who are buried at the Westfelt Cemetery, Fentress County. Lewis was the son of Joel Atkinson of Virginia who was born in 1780. Joel Atkinson, the great great grandfather of Winnie Atkinson Miller, is buried in the Rotten Fork Cemetery, Fentress County, Tennessee.
Shortly after their marriage, Chester and Winnie moved to Cumberland County where he worked on the Federal construction projects of the Homestead Community. In 1935 they returned to Fentress County to live in Wilder's "Dog Town" while Chester worked in the coal mines. In 1941, the family moved to Dayton, Ohio where Chester worked for "Inland." When jobs became available at Oak Ridge, Chester and Winnie returned to Tennessee. Chester than joined the Army and when the war was over returned to Fentress County and the Camp Ground Community. The family subsequently moved from the Camp Ground area to a place on the Monterey Road (State Highway 62) where they established a small store, did truck farming, and Chester supplemented the family income by driving a school bus.
Chester was an early member of the Roritans and was involved in a number of community activities. He especially loved to play checkers and, according to one of his old competitors, Escol Norman, was quite good. He and Escol were said to have tied the world champion two years in a row. After Chester's death on March 30, 1971, Winnie continued to operate the store into the early 1980's. She now is enjoying her retirement while keeping track of children, grandchildren, and making a garden. She does take time off to visit with friends and relatives. As neighbors and friends can testify, Winnie Miller is an excellent neighbor, always available in time of need, and is a fine Christian Lady.
by Lloyd D. Bryant