Skip to content

James Davis Perkins

JAMES DAVIS PERKINS. Among the men of professional prominence and high personal character who have been foremost citizens of Marion for many years, few are more favorably known in Smyth County than James Davis Perkins, a leader of the bar at Marion, formerly commonwealth attorney of Grayson County and for the past twelve years United States commissioner of the Western District of Virginia.

Mr. Perkins is a descendant of an old English family that came to Connecticut in Colonial days imigrating to North Carolina in search of a more genial climate and ultimately acquiring extensive landed estates in Virginia. He was born on his father’s farm near Mouth of Wilson Creek, Grayson County, Virginia, February 3, 1856, youngest son of John H. and Lucy (Young) Perkins, and a grandson of Stephen and Ruth (Hitchcock) Perkins. Both grandparents were born in North Carolina, the grandfather in Ashe County and the grandmother in Rowan County, and both died in Grayson County, Virginia. The grandfather owned large estates in that county and in early days was somewhat famed as a hunter.

John H. Perkins was born in Grayson County in 1802, and died on his farm near Mouth of Wilson Creek, where he had spent the most of his life, in 1866. He was a man of prominence in many ways aside from his large agricultural interests, being a leading factor in the Whig party, a justice of the peace for many years and presiding justice of the old County Court. He married Lucy Young, who was born in Grayson County in 1820, and died on the home farm in 1880. They were active members of the Baptist Church. They had four children: Sarah J., who was the wife of Allen C. Hash, a farmer near the Mouth of Wilson Creek, and both are deceased; Leander N., who is a farmer near Boone, Watauga Count , North Carolina; William Young, who died at the age of seventy-two years at Soldier, Idaho, a farmer and miller; and James Davis.

James Davis Perkins enjoyed early educational advantages in Grayson County and afterward attended Jefferson Academy, at Jefferson, North Carolina, then Independence Academy in Grayson County, and Asbury Academy in Wythe County, Virginia. By this time his natural leaning toward the law had been noted, and his education was completed in the law department of Richmond College, from which he was graduated in the class of 1880, with the degree Of Bachelor of Laws, and in June of the same year was admitted to the bar.

For more than thirty years Mr. Perkins engaged successfully in the practice of his profession in Grayson County and was connected with many of the most important cases of litigation before the courts there, and served two terms, eight years, as commonwealth attorney of Grayson County. It was in 1914 that he came to Marion, where he has had many well connected clients, both individually and as a member Of the law firm of Perkins & Tunk. In politics Mr. Perkins is a republican. In earlier years he served four years as a clerk in the United States Pension Office at Washington, D. C., and in 1911 was appointed United States commissioner of the Western District of Virginia, and has borne the responsibility of this high office ever since.

Mr. Perkins married first, in June, 1881, at Independence, Virginia, Miss Emma Bryant, who died in 1896. She was a daughter of Hon. Lewis H. and Drusilla (Phipps) Bryant, her father for several terms representing Grayson County in the House of Delegates. Mr. Perkins has seven children: Claudia L., who is the wife of Capt. Charles H. Perkins, of the ‘United States Regulars ‘ now stationed at Honolulu, who was stationed at Camp Wright, Seattle, Washington, during the World war; John Parker, who is a resident of Marion, Virginia; Ruth, who is the wife of George Schweers, in the automobile business at Hailey, Idaho; Lewis Bryant, who is an attorney at law at Washington, D.C., having graduated from Columbian University at Washington, with the degree of Bachelor of Laws, and during the World war served in the quartermaster’s department at Washington with the rank of captain; Dan T., who is a resident of Charleston West Virginia; William B. who is a merchant at Troutdale, Virginia; and Donna, who is the wife of Jennings a Lewis, a merchant at Linville, North Carolina.

At Jefferson, Ashe County, North Carolina, in December, 1915, Mr. Perkins married Miss Callie Carson, a daughter of John H. and Lucy (Young) Carson, the latter of whom survives and lives in Jefferson, A:she County, North Carolina. The father of Mrs. Perkins was a merchant and died in North Carolina. Mr. Perkins is a member of Youngs Chapel Baptist Church in Grayson County while Mrs. Perkins is a member of the Methodist Church. Outside of giving encouragement to local enterprises, Mr. Perkins has few business interests at Marion, but he owns one of the most valuable farms in the near vicinity, comprising 175 acres of blue grass land situated just one mile east of this city. He is a member of Mouth of Wilson Lodge No. 129, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of which he is a past master, and belongs also to Fairwood Lodge, Odd Fellows, at Troutdale, Virginia.

Source: Virginia and Virginians, Vol. VI, p. 283.