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Jun 25, 2019 - 1:56:18 PM
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1161 posts since 7/26/2015

Does anybody have info about the fiddler Willie Adkins or the banjoist Tillie Adkins? All I know is that Willie and Tillie put out some recordings with a sort of J.E. Mainer meets the Coon Creek Girls vibe that I love. I know almost nothing about them.

Edited by - soppinthegravy on 06/26/2019 00:02:23

Jun 28, 2019 - 4:58:19 PM
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2449 posts since 10/6/2008

There's got to be someone out there who knows something as it looks like they recorded fairly recently--speaking from the perspective of someone who was born in 1960. :)

I did a little bit of looking, but didn't find much easily.

Do you think they were husband and wife? Brother and sister? Other? I had a hard time telling what the age difference might be just looking at the album cover that's online.

What do you estimate their birth years might be? What's the latest that you know they were alive?

Jun 29, 2019 - 10:47:49 AM
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2449 posts since 10/6/2008

Looks like Tillie was alive in 1985 and probably still living in the Nashville area. (It's possible Willie was, too, but just didn't perform in the show mentioned in the newspaper.)

"Local Talent Plays Bell Witch," The Leaf-Chronicle (Clarksville, Tennessee), 2 August 1985, p. 12, cols. 1-2; digital image, Newspapers Publisher Extra (https://www.newspapers.com/image/367145827/ : accessed 28 July 2019). Tillie Adkins was a "special guest."

And both were alive in 1984.

"13th Edition of Fan Fair To Make Biggest Spash Yet," The Tennessean (Nashville, Tennessee), 3 June 1984, p. 133, col. 2; digital image, Newspapers Publisher Extra (https://www.newspapers.com/image/367145827/ : accessed 28 July 2019). Willie & Tillie Adkins were to play the 6 pm "Reuionaires Show."

Edited by - Cyndy on 06/29/2019 10:53:42

Jun 30, 2019 - 4:45:45 PM
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2449 posts since 10/6/2008

Here are two more clues:

Thomas Goldsmith, "Bell Witch Opry Is Old-Timey Hit," The Tennessean (Nashville, Tennessee), 8 June 1983, p. 40, col. 2; digital image, Newspapers (https://www.newspapers.com/image/111709936 : accessed 30 June 2019).

Looks like Tillie was in Madison (near Nashville) in 1983 and was likely in Defeated (Smith County) in her early years.

"Telly Adkins came from Madison to give the crowd a rousing banjo and vocal version of Kitty Cline. Adkins, whose banjo playing and performing style seem to owe a debt to Uncle Dave Macon, hails originally from Defeated, Tenn., which she said is close to Difficult and Pleasant Shade."

The problem is, I can't tell about how old she was from the photos I see online, and so I haven't been successful finding a good match in a census year (up through 1940). Guesses on her birth year would be of help.

Someone who lived in Madison in the 1980s is sure to remember her ...

Edited by - Cyndy on 06/30/2019 16:46:07

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