Biography of Dr. Nathaniel Polhill Jelks

Dr. Nathaniel Polhill Jelks, fourth son of James Oliver Jelks and Mary Polhill, was born July 18, 1845, in Hawkinsville, Pulaski County, Georgia, where he died March 28, 1911. When six years old his family moved to Oglethorpe, Georgia, after two years moving to Hamilton County, Florida, where he received his early education, later studying in Augusta, Georgia. In 1863 he entered the Confederate Army, enlisting in Company I, Second Florida Cavalry, under General Jones, a gallant command guarding the interior of the State. He was wounded at the Battle of Natural Bridge, Florida, March 6, 1865, in which the enemy was defeated. After the Confederates laid down their arms, he surrendered with his command at Baldwin, Fla.

When peace came again to the land, he entered upon the study of medicine, and was graduated at Bellevue Hospital Medical College, New York, in 1868. He immediately began the practice of medicine in Hawkinsville, Ga. In this profession he gained distinction and success, was a member of the Georgia Medical Association, and at one time president of the South Georgia Medical Association. As a physician he was devoted to his profession, and no one ever lived up to its high code of ethics more closely than he, not swerving from them in the remotest degree.

In addition to his profession he was for many years connected with the drug business, and was one of the leading planters of the county. He was active in civic matters, serving his people whenever and wherever he could. He was one of the earliest members of the board of education that established our present system of public schools. His love and fidelity for his profession were only equaled by that for his church. For a number of years prior to his death he was a deacon of the Baptist Church, and it was his religious life that shone brightest of all his virtues.

December 6, 1870, he married Kathleen Lamkin, daughter of James L. Lamkin, a prominent planter, and Sarah Dillard Lamkin. To them were born seven children. The oldest, Kathleen, was educated at Hamilton College, Lexington, Ky., and at Shorter College, Rome, Ga. She died August 25, 1931.

The second child was Edwin Lamkin, who was born October 29, 1874, in Hawkinsville, Ga. He is a graduate of Mercer University, Macon, Ga., and of Bellevue Medical College, New York. After serving as an interne in Brooklyn Hospital, he located in Quitman, Ga., and has been for years not only a successful physician but also one of the most useful citizens in Brooks County. He is extensively engaged in farming and the culture of pecans in both Brooks and Pulaski Counties.

November 12, 1913, he married Alma Albritton, a member of one of the most prominent families of Quitman. A friend of his boyhood pays him this tribute: “He is a well rounded man, handsome in person, strong of intellect, forceful of character, pure in heart, upright in life, and honest in his dealings.”

Lily, the third child of N. P. Jelks, is a graduate of Hawkinsville High School and Shorter College, Rome, Ga. Later she studied at the University of Tennessee and Columbia University. After graduating she became a teacher, being connected first with the public school of her own town, later going to Waycross, Ga., where for a number of years she has been principal of one of the elementary schools.

Needham Polhill, fourth child, was born May 29, 1880, in Hawkinsville. He graduated with honors from Hawkinsville High School when only fifteen, later attending Mercer University. He chose pharmacy as his profession, and became a member of Jelks-Anderson Drug Company. In this business he remained until death, February 22, 1920. In addition to his drug business, he had large farming interests in the county. Though retiring in nature, he numbered his friends by the score, for he possessed a brilliant intellect and a keen sense of humor, and his integrity was unquestioned.

December 12, 1912, he married Kate Smith, daughter of one of Hawkinsville’s leading physicians.
Mary, the fifth child, was educated at Cox College, Atlanta, Ga. She died December 3, 1902.

Maude, the sixth child, was graduated at Cox College, Atlanta, Ga., and resides at the old home in Hawkinsville.

Ruth, the seventh child, received her education at Bessie Tift College, Forsyth, Ga. She has for several years been connected with the A. C. L. Railroad, Waycross, Ga.

December 20, 1892, Dr. Jelks was married a second time to Kate Pate, daughter of A. C. Pate, a distinguished judge of Pulaski County. To her two children were born. The first child, Pate Anthony, was born November 4, 1894. He was the first volunteer from Pulaski to offer his services in the World War, having enlisted May 31, 1917, in the Machine Gun Company, 121st Infantry, Thirty-first Division, at Camp Wheeler, Macon, Ga. He was promoted to corporal, and served overseas from October 5, 1918, to June 15, 1919. He was discharged at Camp Gordon, Atlanta, Ga. He died July 12, 1925.

Georgia, the second child, attended G. S. C. W., Milledgeville, Ga. July 10, 1921, she married David P. McGriff, cashier of the Planters Bank, Hawkinsville, Ga., whose grandfather, P. T. McGriff, was ordinary of Pulaski County for forty-one years. Their children are Katherine and David Patrick, Jr.


Baggott, Rev. J. L. Biographies of Pulaski County Georgia. Daughters of American Revolution. 1935.

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