Henderson

Studio shot, no. 197: the Henderson-Taylor family.

This is not, strictly speaking, a studio shot, but it was taken by a studio photographer, Ray J. Dancy. Dancy made a house call to photograph Roderick Taylor Sr., Hattie Henderson, and their children in the front room of the Hendersons’ home at 1109 Queen Street, ca. 1944.

Cheers to the Class of 1952!

My father loved some Darden High School and Darden High School Alumni Association and kept a stack of these in his trunk for whomever he encountered that might have wanted one. It’s a list of every known graduate of Darden from 1924 until it closed its doors as a high school in 1970. 

I didn’t attend Darden, but I grew up in the glow of its glory. Memorial Day weekend is synonymous with Darden Alumni Reunion. My father was a founder and an early president of the Association, and his class celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. Jean Wynn Jones lovingly spoke on their behalf at his funeral, and several of his classmates helped carry flowers from the church.  

 As I continue to celebrate and honor my father’s legacy, I raise a toast to the Class of 1952! 

Class of 1952 Darden High School

Coaching legend Henderson dies at 87.

By Paul Durham, Wilson Times.

“Rederick Caswell Henderson, the Wilson native who built a basketball powerhouse at Rocky Mount Senior High, died Friday at the age of 87.

“Reggie Henderson, as he was known, was a 1952 graduate of Darden High in Wilson and a U.S. Air Force veteran. He played basketball at St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, where he met the love of his life, Beverly Ann Allen. [Actually, they met in Wildwood, New Jersey.]

“Aside from his time in the Air Force and in college, Henderson lived in Wilson his entire life while coaching at the main out-of-town rival school. Like his neighbor and friend Harvey Reid Jr., the coach at Douglass, Elm City and Fike high schools in compiling the most wins in NCHSAA history, Henderson built his own legend at Rocky Mount Senior High. He led the Gryphons to NCHSAA 4-A championships in 1978 and 1982 and his 1981 team lost by three points in the state 4-A final. The star of the 1978 Gryphons was Buck Williams, who was one of the top recruits in the nation as a senior. Williams played at Maryland before starting his long NBA career as the league’s Rookie of the Year in 1982.

“Henderson’s first coaching and teaching job was at Spaulding High in Spring Hope before spending time at both Wilson and Parker junior highs in Rocky Mount, where he coached future North Carolina legend and 1979 NBA Rookie of the Year Phil Ford.

“Henderson stepped away from coaching in 1983 to spend more time with his family. The Hendersons’ oldest daughter, Lisa, was in college at the University of North Carolina and Henderson said he realized that he had missed out on some of her high school years and didn’t want to do the same for youngest daughter, Karla.

“He returned to coaching in 1988 but retired for good after the 1992-93 school year.

“As much as Henderson was known for his successful basketball teams and star players, the quiet, yet intense, coach was better known for setting high standards off the court for his players and creating a family environment.

“‘Coach was a father to a lot of us,’ former point guard Reggie Barrett said in a 2018 interview with the Times. ‘For those who might not have had a father in the home, he was a father. You could go to him to talk about personal stuff. … If you didn’t have lunch money, he would help you out.’

“Henderson was the recipient of many coaching honors during his illustrious career but one of the biggest came last November when he was inducted into the Twin County Hall of Fame. He was the first inductee in 17 years of the hall’s existence who was not a native of Nash or Edgecombe counties.”

Rest in peace, Rederick C. Henderson.

I know East Wilson because my father knew East Wilson. He was born in a house on Elba Street, was raised on Queen and Reid Streets, and was educated at Samuel H. Vick Elementary and Charles H. Darden High School. He played basketball at the Community Center, spent whole Saturdays watching movies at the Ritz Theatre, and knocked on the back door of Hines Barbershop to get spending money from his father. Long before Black Wide-Awake, my father introduced me to so many of the people and places that have made their way into this blog’s 4000 posts. Even as his final illness progressed, he loved to ride through the streets of East Wilson, pointing and narrating, peeling back layers of time to expose the pentimenti of our shared birthplace.

My father transitioned Friday night, surrounded by the four women who loved him most — his wife of 61 years, his two daughters, and his granddaughter. We are heartbroken, but blessed that we could comfort and care for him as he has done for us always. I honor his life and legacy here. Rest in power, Daddy.

Family ties, no. 7: “They’ll skin a flea for his hide and tallow.”

Wilson’s emergence as a leading tobacco market town drew hundreds of African-American 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 seventh 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.)

——

As discussed here, after Jesse A. Jacobs Jr.’s death, Sarah Henderson Jacobs married Rev. Joseph C. Silver. Sarah died just a few years later, and in 1943 Rev. Silver married Martha C. Hawkins Henderson Aldridge.

Shortly after Rev. Silver’s death in January 1958, his widow Martha sent my grandmother Hattie Henderson Ricks (who had formerly been known as Hattie Jacobs) a letter addressed to her workplace, the Eastern North Carolina Sanatorium. Martha Silver mentioned their mutual family connections and offered advice on reclaiming household furnishings that Sarah Silver had brought to the marriage.

P.O. Box 193 Nashville

N.C.   c/o Brake

Feb. 2, 1958

Dear Hattie –

You heard of Rev. Silver’s death Jan. 7th although I didn’t notify you as I was sick and still is sick but not confine to bed. Sarah had some things in the home.  A bed which I am sure you wouldn’t care for and a folding single bed which I am going to get but my main reason for writing you she has an oak dresser and washstand that Rev. Silver told me you wanted and said he told you you could get it if you would send for it so it is still there and it is good material if you want it. Amos has already seen a second hand furniture man about buying it. The Silver’s will “skin a flea for his hide and tallow.” The Aldridges holds a very warm place in my heart and always will. If you wish to do so you may write to Rev. Amos Silver Route 3 Box 82 Enfield and ask him if your mother Sarah’s furniture is still there. There is also a carpet on the floor in the living room you need not mention my name. I am very fond of Johnnie Aldridge of Dudly. Come to see me whenever you can I think you might get with Reka at Fremont some times, she and Luke come to Enfield to see me occasionally  I am going to write Reka next week. I married your great uncle Rev Joseph Aldridge write me

Your friend and great aunt by marriage.

M.C. (Aldridge) Silver

——

Martha Silver, seated second from right, with her husband Joseph’s children Daniel W. Aldridge, Allen Aldridge, and Mary Aldridge Sawyer, seated, and William J.B. Aldridge, Milford Aldridge, Lillie Aldridge Holt, George M. Aldridge, and Joseph L. Aldridge. Occasion unknown, but well after Joseph Aldridge’s death in 1934.

Though Martha Silver was not a Wilson native, she and her second husband Joseph Aldridge (my grandmother’s great-uncle, Johnnie Aldridge was her uncle) were married in Wilson. Rev. Silver (who would become Martha’s third husband) performed the marriage ceremony on 16 December 1925. C.E. Artis applied for the license, and William A. Mitchner, Hattie Tate, and Callie Barnes were witnesses. I have seen no evidence that either Martha or Joseph lived in Wilson, and I do not know why they chose to be married there. C.E. Artis was Joseph Aldridge’s nephew, but there are no obvious relationships between either bride or groom and Dr. Mitchner, Hattie Tate (she was Artis’ next-door neighbor — was she simply a stand-in?), or Callie Barnes (who was a close neighbor of my grandmother on Elba Street).

Letter and copy of photo in personal collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.

This Veterans Day.

My grandmother’s sons — Lucian J. Henderson, Jesse A. Henderson, and Rederick C. Henderson — served in the United States armed forces in the decade after World War II.

My uncle Lucian was first. He qualified as an infantry rifleman after basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama, then shipped for Japan.

From Yokohama, he sent his mama in Wilson this hand-painted silk handkerchief.

I thank Private Henderson, Private Henderson, and Airman Henderson for their service.

From the personal collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.

Family ties, no. 5: I wish it was so that I could come to you & family.

Wilson’s emergence as a leading tobacco market town drew hundreds of African-American 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 fifth 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.)

——

Sarah Silver died of a massive heart attack on a train platform on 8 January 1938 while on her way from Wilson to Greensboro, North Carolina. After receiving the news via a shocking and confusing telegram, my grandmother sent word of Sarah’s death to other relatives. One went to Sarah’s widowed sister-in-law Carrie L. Henderson Borrero, who replied via letter immediately:

Sunday Jan. 9. 38

My Dear Hattie

I received your telegram to-day. 1 P.M. it was certainly a shock to me you & family certainly have my deepest sympathy & also from my family.

I did not know your mother was sick you must write later and let me know about her illness.

It is so strange I have been dreaming of my husband Caswell so much for the past two weeks he always tells me that has something to tell me & that he feels so well so I guess this is what I was going to hear about your mother.

I wish it was so that I could come to you & family but times are so different now seems as if we cannot be prepared to meet emergencies any more but you must know that my heart & love is with you & family.

I am just writing to you a short note now will write you again. Let me hear from you when you get time to write

From

Your Aunt in law

Carrie L. Borrero

322 E. 100th St.  N. Y City

Letter in personal collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.

Family ties, no. 4: I pray for the whole family.

Wilson’s emergence as a leading tobacco market town drew hundreds of African-American 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 fourth in a series of excerpts from 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.)

——

A few months after my grandmother passed away in January 2001, my father, mother, sister, and I converged on her little rowhouse at 5549 Wyalusing Avenue, Philadelphia, to clean it out. In a drawer of a large steel desk in the basement, I found a packet of papers. In them, a letter I’d never known existed, from my great-great-grandmother Loudie Henderson‘s brother Caswell C. Henderson to their sister, Sarah H. Jacobs, who reared my grandmother. It is dated 16 August 1926 and was mailed to Sarah in Greensboro, N.C., where she was visiting their niece, Mamie Henderson Holt.

Though he does not say so directly, Caswell Henderson seems to have been responding to the news of the death of Sarah’s husband Jesse A. Jacobs about five weeks earlier. Sarah has asked him to come to North Carolina, for a visit or perhaps permanently, but he cannot, pleading health and finances. (Caswell worked as a messenger for the United States Custom House in lower Manhattan.) He is hopeful, though, that soon they will be together to “help one another.” He expresses the importance of his family by sending greetings to his great-nieces (my grandmother Hattie and her sister Mamie) and inquiring after niece Minnie Simmons Budd, who had migrated to Philadelphia from Mount Olive, North Carolina. Of course, while “prayers are wonderful when said in all sincerity from the heart,” the prayers of his friends could not keep Caswell C. Henderson forever, and he died 16 January 1927.

Family ties, no. 3: she said she wont going back.

Wilson’s emergence as a leading tobacco market town drew hundreds of African-American 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 third in a series of excerpts and adaptations of 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.)

——

Mamie Henderson Holt (1907-2000), taken not long after she married.

My grandmother arrived in Wilson as a baby in early 1911, shortly after her mother died. Her three-year-old sister Mamie remained in Dudley with their great-grandparents, Lewis and Margaret Balkcum Henderson, until their deaths. Mamie finally came to Wilson when she was about eight years old, but her adjustment was difficult. The sisters were delighted to be united, but Jesse Jacobs did not like Mamie and treated her badly.

My grandmother told the tale of her sister’s escape from Wilson often, and I recorded it several times. Here, a composite, using her own words, that sets out the story in all its heartbreaking emotional complexity.

In late 1922, Sarah H. Jacobs separated from Jesse Jacobs, taking Hattie and Mamie to Greensboro, N.C., where they moved in with Sarah’s aunt, Julia “Mollie” Henderson Hall Holt. Sarah’s health was poor, and she may also have been seeking better care and support. Jesse soon arrived, however, begging Sarah to return to Wilson. [He did not rely on his persuasive skills alone. To read about Jesse’s rootwork reinforcement, see here.]

“[Papa] come up to Greensboro and talked to Mama, and so she promised him she’d come back, [but] Mamie wouldn’t come home. She said Papa told her, said, ‘If your mammy ever leave here and take you with her, don’t you never come back here. Don’t never set foot in this door.’ He told Mamie that. But he told me, if I wanted to stay with him, I could stay, and if he didn’t have but one biscuit, he’d divide it and give me one half, and he’d have the other half.

“But I know Mama was sick, so she come up to Greensboro, and he asked her ‘bout coming back.  And she told him she would come back, but she got sick. Mama didn’t work all the time, she wasn’t able to work, and so staying with A’nt Molly and them always looking at her and talking — wasn’t half-talking to her, and so she knew she had to get out from there, she wont paying no rent. [So] we moved in this house, and we hadn’t been in there but ‘bout a week, and Mamie wouldn’t come [to this house.]  She stayed over there with A’nt Molly and Sadie [Hall Whitfield Farrar, Molly’s daughter.] And so that’s where I come on back to get Mamie and tell her about [going back to Wilson], and so Mamie said she wont going back.

“So [when I was] over there to Sadie’s house, I said to ‘em, I said, ‘What, y’all having a party tonight?’ And didn’t know Mamie was getting married that night. Mamie didn’t even tell me. And so they said, ‘Yeah, yeah. Yeah, we gon play some cards.’  And they wanted to get rid of me. Because they hadn’t told us nothing ‘bout it. And so the house was all clean, Sadie’s house was all cleaned up, and tables sitting all around the room. Well, they played cards all the time, so I didn’t think nothing ‘bout it, [but] they had to wait ‘til I left so Mamie and Bazel [Holt] could get married. And didn’t tell me a word about it. And they were getting married that night. Sadie went with Mamie to the courthouse to get the license and everything, and so Mamie didn’t want to come back to Wilson ‘cause Papa wasn’t good to her. He was always snapping at her or something, and he’d throw things and hit her or …. And so she said she marry a dog before she’d come back to Wilson. So Bazel, I don’t know how they got into it, but Bazel was staying with Sadie and A’nt Molly. We all was staying down A’nt Molly’s house ‘cause Molly married Bazel’s uncle [Walter Holt.] So Mamie married Bazel. To keep from coming back. But Mamie was 15 when she got married.  She told Bazel she wont coming back home.

“And so [the next] day, Mama didn’t feel like going to the restaurant where she had over there, and so I sat there looking out the window, and I said to Mama, ‘Mamie’s coming up, and she’s got a suitcase! I wonder where she’s going.’ So she came on in, and she told Mama that she had got married last night and was coming to get her clothes. And Mama told her she ought not to let her have them. ‘You didn’t tell me nothing ‘bout it. If you was gon get married, and you’d a told me, [you could have] got married and had a little social or something.’ And Mama was mad with her because she got married. Mama had told her that, ‘If you don’t go back, I’ll put the law on you and make you go back ‘cause you underage.’  And that’s how come Mamie didn’t let her know nothing ‘bout nothing. So Mamie just got her clothes. Some of ‘em. And crammed ‘em in a suitcase and went back over …. And, now, she … had just met [Bazel], and he told her, ‘Well, we’ll get married if you want to stay here. We’ll get married.’ And so he married her. That night. But I didn’t know they was getting married that night, and so I fussed her out and: ‘How come you didn’t let me know where I could have stayed to the wedding? I wanted to see you get married.’  ‘Well, it wont no wedding – we was just getting married! Getting that old piece of paper. [‘Cause] I’m not going back to Wilson, so – you know Uncle Jesse don’t like me nohow. And I don’t want to go back to Wilson.’ So that’s how come Mamie got married.”

“That old piece of paper.” Mamie told the registrar she was 19 years old (she was 15) and that her adoptive parents were dead (they were not.) A Baptist minister married the couple on Valentine’s Day 1923 at the home of Henry Farrar, the husband of Mamie’s cousin Sadie Hall Farrar. Sadie’s mother Julia “Mollie” Henderson Holt was a witness to the ceremony.

Hattie Henderson returned to Wilson with Sarah H. Jacobs, but she and her sister Mamie remained exceptionally close throughout their long lives. Mamie and Bazel had six children together and were together until his death in 1954. Trips to Greensboro to visit my great-aunt and cousins were a staple of my childhood and a testament to the sisters’ bond.

Hattie Henderson and daughter Hattie Margaret Henderson with Mamie Henderson Holt, center, late 1940s, probably during a visit to Greensboro.

Interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson adapted and edited for clarity. Copyright 1994, 1996. All rights reserved. Photos in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.