Tom's mother died when he was nine days old and he and his brother Williard were raised by their grandparents, Moses B. and Perlina Atkins. Tom was a blacksmith at Waltonville, as was his father and his grandfather before him. When Tom became unable to work he closed his blacksmith shop and his tools were sold. A lot of them are now housed at the Historical Village on North 27Th Street in Mount Vernon, Illinois. They are on display there and some of them are used on weekends in the summertime.