Moving to Cliffside
Beula was unsure of the exact date her parents, James Edward “Ed” and Louise Arms Atkinson, moved their family to Cliffside, but since she was about seven or eight years old, this would have been about 1906.
Ed’s brother and sister-in-law, Gill and Amanda Arms Atkinson, already lived in Cliffside with their children. They and Ed’s family had moved from the Landrum/Columbus area to the State Line Community about 1893. Then, Gill’s family moved from State Line Road to Cliffside, where Gill, his sons Ol, Vol, and other relatives helped build Cliffside Mill and the dam.
Beula said she once had a picture showing the workers, including some of the Atkinson family, standing before the dam during the time it was being built. The picture had become a little tattered when a man from Cliffside named “Bum” Goode saw it and begged her for it. She thought he wanted it so badly because some of the people in the picture were his family, so she gave it to him. She said she later regretted her generosity when someone told her that he wanted the picture because a dog shown in the picture had belonged to some of his family. (She never learned the name of the dog, and one wonders why it was in dog less Cliffside?)
Cliffside was already a humming enterprise when Ed moved his family to what would become River Street, which at that time was the only street across the river from the mill. They moved several houses up the road from Gill and Amanda, who lived nearer the river. At first, Ed went to work as a laborer, helping the carpenters and builders, and then for about two years, he helped run the Mill’s steam plant.
The family’s belongings were taken to Cliffside in two mule-drawn wagons. Beula said that either a neighbor or a relative brought his mule and wagon to help move the family. Her brother, Fred, rode on the back of one of the wagons to insure that none of their belongings fell off. Her sisters, Ola and Nell, rode in the wagons, but Earnest, Nora, and Beula made the trek afoot.
The family owned two milk cows, which had to be walked from State Line Road to Cliffside. Earnest and Nora each led one by a rope, and Beula was assigned to help Nora with hers. Beula said she was assigned to keep both cows moving, and carried a switch to use if they stopped, while Nora led the one for which they were responsible. The three of them walked the cows all the way from the Cal Moore Place, near Joe Scruggs’ store, to Cliffside. It was a slow, tiring trip, and the cows did not cooperate in getting there any faster. It was equally tiring for the cows, and first one and then the other kept stopping along the way to graze or to rest. If Beula’s switch failed to start them moving again, Earnest would take a stick and give the dawdler a whack on the rear. When they arrived in Cliffside, Beula was exhausted, and plopped down to lie on the porch. She remembered Earnest saying, “Let her rest. She walked all the way from the country to Cliffside, and she’s tired.”
Beula, having already started first grade when the family moved, switched to Cliffside School. Both Cliffside’s first schoolroom, in the end of the mill, and the second one, which was upstairs over the company store, had been outgrown. The third school, which Beula attended, was then in a separate school building.
In the statistics contained in Bud Crow’s 1910 Census, Ed is listed as a laborer, and as one of the mill’s oldest employees. Beula is listed among the youngest.
About 1911, after only a few years in Cliffside, Ed moved his family back to the country. However, each of his children came back to Cliffside at some time in their lives, some to work and some to live.