James Oliver Jelks, Jr., was born July 4, 1839, the second son of James Oliver Jelks, whose ancestors came to this country from Wales, and of Mary Polhill, of Burke County, Georgia.
Mr. Jelks, Jr., was a pioneer merchant of Hawkinsville. He erected the first building used exclusively for storekeeping, and established the general mercantile business of J. 0. Jelks and Brother in 1865, one of the first business firms to be organized there after the War Between the States, in which he enlisted in Company G, Eighth Georgia Regiment. This firm was located at the corner of Commerce and Jackson Streets, in the building which still stands there.
In 1863 James O. Jelks married Elizabeth Charlotte Philips. To them were born five children. The oldest, Exum Nathaniel, now lives in Pompano, Florida, where he is engaged in the hotel business. He has four sons: Dr. Edward Jelks, of Jacksonville, Fla.; James E., of Pompano, Fla; Oliver R., of Valley Mills, Texas; and Howard C., of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and three daughters: Charlotte, of Miami, Fla.; Ruth, of Monroe, Ga.; and Marie, of Pompano, Fla.
The second child of J. O. Jelks was Mary, who died in 1925. She was first married to R. G. Lewis and, after his death, to E. Y. Mallary. Her oldest child, Nat Lewis, died in 1918. Her other three children, still living, are: Martha Lewis Kaderley and Jelksie Lewis, of Macon, Ga., and Blanche Mallary Binns, of Roanoke, Va.
Thomas M., the third child of J. O. Jelks, is now living in Miami, Fla. His older daughter, Anne Payne Jelks Dillard, lives there with her father and mother. His younger daughter, Mary Jelks Stovall, lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
James Oliver Jelks, the third, died in Hawkinsville at the age of twenty-one.
Charles Mallary, the youngest child of James and Charlotte Jelks, died in infancy.
In 1876, after the death of his first wife, Mr. Jelks married Mollie Way. To them were born two daughters, Leonora and Anna.
Leonora resides in Macon with her mother, Mrs. Jelks, who has survived her husband many years. Anna is now Mrs. W. L. McKenzie, of Montezuma, Ga. Her one son, Clovis, also lives in Montezuma.
While James Jelks had little formal education in schools, he was a well educated and truly literary person. He read widely and traveled rather extensively for a person of his day. He made annual trips to Florida and New York, and also visited Cuba and Canada. Some accounts of his trips published in the Hawkinsville papers at the time are still preserved and enjoyed by his grandchildren because of the charming and interesting style in which they were written. He died in 1895. Those who knew him always loved him, for he was a man of high ideals and gave his best to his home and his community. The Baptist Church numbered him as one of its most loyal members and liberal supporters.