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 James Lewis “Prof” Rollings

James Lewis “Prof” Rollings

South Pittsburg, Marion County, Tennessee, USA
Death 8 Jul 1961 (aged 82)
Altamont, Grundy County, Tennessee, USA
Burial Pelham, Grundy County, Tennessee, USA
Plot on the hill
Memorial ID 54151340 · View Source
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Known as "J.L.", "Judge", "Prof", and to his children and grandchildren "Pap". I don't think anyone ever called him James or Jim.

His mother died when he was only 10 months old, in May 1880. His father was an alcoholic ne'er-do-well who did try his best for his children. His sister Lydia Aurania also died young; 8th/youngest daughter was named Lydia Jane in her honor.

Mr. Rollings was a remarkable character.

An early example is his leaving home on muleback and attending college without having been to high school. He had to do some fancy talking to be admitted. His classmates ridiculed him, getting up a petition that he be required to "dress better" ... and ate their words when he became their teacher within a couple of years.

"Prof" settled in Altamont Tennessee and married Pearl Cox. She passed away of appendicitis, leaving 6 children behind. The youngest was only about 6 months old. His eldest daughter Louise (roughly 12) did her best; but baby Ashley was farmed out to relatives for a time.

The widower found love again with the much younger Eva Walker, marrying her in 1919 when he was 40 and she was 17. (Louise was 15 by then). They had six children together. His dozen children have birth years ranging from 1904 to 1941.

"Prof" became a county judge and later the Grundy County Superintendent of Schools.

"Judge" began his religious life as a Baptist, but converted during college days to the Church of Christ. For most of his life he was a member of the Altamont Church of Christ. Stories are still told of his enthusiastic loud off-key hymn singing and his habit of reading a newspaper during the sermon.

He had a great fondness for hot lemonade and for reading books with his shoeless feet propped up, wriggling his toes with pleasure during especially good parts of the book.

For years he was the despair of Miss Eva for his habit of bringing the jury home for lunch without warning (they had a strict hour-long break) and for bringing home any and all stray hobos to stay for indefinite periods of time. The girls learned from earliest childhood to never come to breakfast in their nightgowns; never knowing who would be sitting at the table! Eva finally solved the problem by bringing home her own "stray", an itinerant chair-mender. When the Judge came home and found a stranger relaxing in HIS chair, that was that.

One fine day he brought home his own coffin. To his dismay, his wife did not agree that it would be just the thing to take his afternoon naps in (!!). She wouldn't even let it in the house. About that time a man died whose family had no money for even the simplest burial, so the Judge gave away his beautiful handcrafted casket.

He died in 1961 of complications of diabetes. His faithful beloved dog Jack was inconsolable and soon followed his master into death.

He is buried next to his first wife just outside Pelham, Tennessee. Their youngest child is on his other side. Their oldest child is in a cemetery about one mile away. His widow and seven of his children are buried several miles away up the mountain in Altamont. One is buried in Alabama. Two are still living.

18 February 2016 edit: The son named for Pap provided me with documented research about names and their spellings. Pap's father spelled his surname RAWLINGS, as had his grandfather James Lewis Rawlings of North Carolina. As adults, Pap and Uncle Jack legally changed their surname spelling ... without double-checking with each other. Pap and all descendants are ROLLINGS. Uncle Jack and descendants are ROLLINS. All the genealogist descendants should buy stock in headache medicine manufacturers. There is *another* ROLLINS family in Grundy County with almost no genetic connection, wherein some birth certificates were misspelled ROLLINGS. :)

Many thanks to Julie Sullivan for sponsoring my "Pap's" memorial!


Epitaph is the King James Bible rendition of Revelation 20:6. It's in all caps and spaced oddly, I'm putting a more "normal" version here.

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Gravesite Details Actual place of birth is Battle Creek, TN. This town no longer exists and the area is now part of South Pittsburg. (Thanks to JulieSullivan for the present-day information)

See more Rollings memorials in:

  • Created by: Tangent
  • Added: 26 Jun 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 54151340
  • J.Sullivan
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for James Lewis “Prof” Rollings (3 Jul 1879–8 Jul 1961), Find A Grave Memorial no. 54151340, citing Warren Cemetery, Pelham, Grundy County, Tennessee, USA ; Maintained by Tangent (contributor 47280236) .