Wilson’s emergence as a leading tobacco market town drew hundreds of migrants in the decades after the 1890s. Many left family behind in their home counties, perhaps never to be seen again. Others maintained ties the best way they could.
Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver and her husband Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. left Dudley, in southern Wayne County, North Carolina, around 1905. They came to Wilson presumably for better opportunities off the farm. Each remained firmly linked, however, to parents and children and siblings back in Wayne County as well as those who had joined the Great Migration north. This post is the eighth in a series of excerpts from documents and interviews with my grandmother Hattie Henderson Ricks (1910-2001), Jesse and Sarah’s adoptive daughter (and Sarah’s great-niece), revealing the ways her Wilson family stayed connected to their far-flung kin. (Or didn’t.)
When Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. married Sarah Henderson in Wayne County in 1895, his children ranged in age from newborn to 14 years old. When Jesse and Sarah Jacobs moved 40 miles north to Wilson circa 1905, the youngest children, Doctor and Annie Bell, came with them, and even the eldest, James Daniel Jacobs, settled briefly in the Elba Street house.
Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory (1908).
“Jeem Daniel. Jeem Daniel Jacobs. He and Roxie lived down in Clinton down there, and he come to Wilson when they got married, before they had a family. I remember that. They talked about me coming to visit, but he used to come up to bring tobacco. I remember, ‘Why in the world he had to come all the way to Wilson – ‘
James D. and Roxie Simmons on their Sampson County farm, circa 1950.
“I just do remember him, by him – lots of times they would come by the house, see Papa, wanted to know how he was doing, and whatever. They didn’t stay no time, had to get back and see what time they was gon sell tobacco. So, I don’t know whatever became of him. Now, Mamie [Henderson Holt, her sister] went down when Jeem Daniel got married. He married Roxie, a girl named Roxie, and they was still down there in Clinton, wherever, somewhere down … Anyway, I know it wasn’t Mount Olive, and so Mama, when she got pregnant, Roxie got pregnant, then Jeem Daniel wanted Mamie to come down there and stay with his wife. He said, ‘I’ll pay for her to look after her, stay with her in the house,’ ‘cause he was working down in the field and needed someone to look after her. So Mamie went down there to stay. Didn’t stay, but I never did go down there. I never did see ‘em, after that, except Jeem Daniel brought up some corn one time to see Papa ‘cause he was sick.”
In the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jacobs James D lab h 106 Elba
In the 1910 census of Brogden township, Wayne County, N.C.: John Brewington, 27; wife Hattie, 25; children Lillie, 3, and Kirby, 1; and boarder James D. Jacobs, 30, farmer.
On 22 November 1916, James D. Jacobs, 35, married Roxie Simmons, 25, in Sampson County, N.C.
In 1918, James Daniel Jacobs registered for the World War I draft in Clinton, Sampson County. Per his registration card, he was born 2 February 1881; worked as a farmer; and his nearest relative was Roxie Jacobs.
ln the 1920 census of South Clinton township, Sampson County: farmer Jimmie Simmons, 43; mother Pennie, 77, widow; brother-in-law James D. Jacobs, 37; sister Roxie, 33; and nephews Jessie W., 2, and Chacie, 1 month.
In the 1940 census of South Clinton township, Sampson County: farmer James D. Jacobs, 58; wife Roxie, 55; children Chasie, 20, Redick, 17, Macy, 16, Rillie, 14, Lifton, 10, and Jessie, 22; and granddaughter Glacinie, 2.
In the 1950 census of South Clinton township, Sampson County: farmer James D. Jacob, 68; wife Roxie, 64; son Jessie W., 33, widower; granddaughter Glacenia, 12; son Lifton, 20, and daughter-in-law Mary E., 18.
James Daniel Jacobs died 6 April 1952 in Fayetteville, Cumberland County, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was born 3 February 1883 in Sampson County to Jesse Jacobs and Sallie Bridges; lived near Clinton, Sampson County; was married; and was a tenant farmer.
Photo courtesy of Carla Carter Jacobs.