Sarah Jacobs, who moved to Wilson about 1905, supported her parents in their final years, sending them food via train and building a small house in Dudley proper closer to neighbors and family. My grandfather recalled:
Mama had the lot where the house was, where Grandma Mag [Margaret Balkcum Henderson (1836-1915)] lived. Had that house built for her. The house they was staying in was up by the railroad, was just about to fall down. Somewhere down up there by where the Congregational Church is. And she built that house down there next to Babe Winn. I don’t think it was but one room. The porch, one room, and a little shed kitchen, a little, small, like a closet almost, and had the stove in it. Then had a stove in the room where she was, one of them round-bellied stoves where you take the top off and put wood in it. I remember that.
Just recently, we discovered documents related to the purchase of these lots. They were in this envelope from the Wayne County Register of Deeds, postmarked 11 August 1941 and addressed to my grandmother at 1109 Queen Street in Wilson. (She penciled in updated addresses as she moved in the 1940s and ’50s.) Sarah Jacobs Silver died in 1938, and I imagine my grandmother received this letter pursuant to the settlement of her estate.
There was this promissory note for the purchase for $20 of lots 15 and 16 of block number 2. It is signed “Sary Jackobs” by someone other than Sarah Jacobs.
And then another, dated 16 October 1911 at Dudley, that she did sign. (Her address was given as 106 Elba Street, Wilson, which was an early designation for 303 Elba.) A notation scribbled in pencil across it confirms that she timely paid off the purchase price.
Death certificates are the official records of death, but often tell us very little about how the decedent’s family understood or experienced their loved one’s final illness and transition.
Jesse A. Jacobs died 6 July 1926 of apoplexy (or, as we would now call it, cerebral hemorrhage.) “Hernia inguinal” was listed a contributing cause. “Papa Jesse” reared my grandmother Hattie Henderson Ricks. He died when she was 16; he was her great-aunt Sarah Henderson‘s husband. Though his hernia, which apparently had strangulated, did not directly kill him, his suffering and the blame cast within the family after his death deeply impacted her.
Here’s what she told me:
“[Papa] was ruptured from the time I can remember.
“… He was supposed to have an operation. He was ruptured, and [his daughter] Carrie [Jacobs Bradshaw], she claimed she didn’t know it. And I said, now, I was the youngest child was there, and I knowed that all that stuff that was down ‘tween his legs was something wrong with him. And I had sense enough to know not to ask no grown folks or nothing about it. And I didn’t ask Mama. I didn’t say nothing, but I was wondering, ‘What in the world was wrong with him?’
“… And Papa, he was a good person, and they want to accuse him of going with the nurse up there at Mercy Hospital. I don’t know whether she was married or not, I don’t think she was married, but she was real light-skinned lady, smaller lady, and he went up there for something, probably his rupture – I know he had to go to the hospital for treatments or something. Anyway, the last time, Carrie came down and she was fussing about if she’d known Papa had to have an operation, she’d have come down, and he’d have had it. Instead of waiting until it was too late. Now the last week they wasn’t expecting him to live. But, no bigger than I was, I knew he had it. And she was grown, old enough for my mother, and then she talking ‘bout she didn’t know he was ruptured? Well, all his tubes was, ah – And he always had to wear a truss to hold hisself up. And when he’d be down, I’d be down there sweeping at the school, and he’d be out there plowing a field he rented out there, and he’d come up, lay down on the floor and take a chair and he’d put his legs up over the chair like that, and I’d wet the cloths from the bowl where was in the hall, some of the old dust cloths, and hand them to him, and he’d put them down on his side, and you could hear it ‘bluckup’ and that thing would go back there.
“But see it had got, his intestines, that tissue between there had bursted, and the doctor told him he needed an operation. So he was gon get it, but he didn’t have money enough to get it. Didn’t save up money enough to have the operation. So none of the children – all of them know, as large as his – but leastways he couldn’t hide himself, ‘cause even from a little child, I could see that for years, and I wondered what it was. ‘Cause I know everybody didn’t have it, at least didn’t have all that in their britches. [Pause.] And Carrie come down there, and she fuss Mama out about him not having the operation and this kind of stuff. And [Mama] said, ‘Well, we never had the money to get the operation. We tried to go and get it, and we’d pay on it by time.’ But, naw, he wanted, he was gon make something off the crop, and he’d pay. Pay it and have it then. But he never got the chance. So when they put him in the hospital and operated on him — say when they cut him, he had over a quart of pus in him. I think it was on a Thursday, and he lived ‘til that Tuesday.”
Interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, 1998; all rights reserved.
In this interview, Hattie Henderson Ricks (1910-2001) spoke of how she received news of the sudden death of her great-aunt, who was also her adoptive mother:
“Mama didn’t know she had a bad heart until two weeks before she died. She was always sick, sick all the time. She’d go to the doctor, and the doctor would tell her it was indigestion and for her not to eat no pork and different things she couldn’t eat. ‘Cause Mama was fat. She weighed 200. She wasn’t too short. She was just broad. Well, she was five-feet-four, I think. Something like that.
Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver, circa 1931.
“And so, but she loved pork, and she’d try to eat some anyhow ‘cause we always had a hog, growing up. All the time. So after they said she couldn’t, she tried not to eat no pork, much. Fish and chicken, we eat it all the time. But she was so tired of chicken until she didn’t know what to do. And I was, too. But Papa loved all pork, so he’d always get a whole half a shoulder or a ham or something and cook it, and she’d eat some. But when she went to the doctor, and her pressure was up so high, and he told her, ‘By all means, don’t you eat no pork. It’s dangerous to eat pork when your pressure is too high.’ And then that’s when she stopped eating pork.
“Well, it didn’t help none, I don’t reckon. She had that little bag. A little basket. A little, old basket ‘bout that tall with a handle on it. She had all kinds of medicine in there to take. She was going up to Mamie’s, and Mr. Silver told her, said, ‘Well, you just take your medicine bag.’ She’d been married to him a good while. He said, ‘Well, you shouldn’t go up there by yourself. Since I’m down here—’ See, she’d go up and stay with him a little while, and then he’d come back to Wilson and stay a while. So he said, ‘You just take your little basket there with your medicine in it.’ So, he said, ‘Well, I’ll go with you up there and then I’ll come back on to Enfield.’ So he went with her down there to the station. He was picking up the bags to go up there, told her to walk on up to the station and wait for the train. And he got a cab — C.E. Artis. Not C.E. Artis, not undertaker Artis but a Artis that drove a cab. This was another set of Artises.
“So, she went up there to the station in Wilson and got on the train. And she’d done told me to send her insurance and everything to Greensboro, ‘cause she won’t never coming back to Wilson no more. Because she’d done seen, the Lord showed her if she stayed in Wilson, she wouldn’t live. If she went ‘way from there, she could get well. So she was going to Mamie’s. And when she got off at Selma to change trains –- she’d just got to the station door. And she collapsed right there. And by happen they had a wheelchair, a luggage thing or something. The guy out there, he got to her, and he called the coroner or somebody, but he was some time getting there. But anyway, they picked her up and sat her in the wheelchair. They didn’t want her to be out ‘cause everybody was out looking and carrying on, so they just pushed her ‘round there to the baggage room.
“And so when the coroner got there, he said, ‘This woman’s dead.’ So they called Albert Gay, and he was working for Artis then. Undertaker Artis. And Jimbo Barnes. And called them and told them that she was dead. So, Mr. Silver couldn’t even tell them who to notify. He had Mamie living in Thelma, North Carolina, on McCullough Street, but didn’t know what the number of the house was. He was so upset. So they had to call the police for the police to go find Mamie Holt. On McCullough Street. And her mother, they said, her mother died. Well, she did die. But they said it was, I think, Thelma. Not Selma, but Thelma. ‘Well, where is Thelma? It can’t be my mother. ‘Cause my mother don’t live in no Thelma. I never heard of that place. She live in Wilson.’ But, see, it was Selma. They got it wrong.
“So then Mamie went down to Smitty’s house and had Miss Smitty send a telegram to me. On the phone. Charge it to her bill, and she’d pay her: ‘IS MAMA DEAD LET ME KNOW AT ONCE’ She asked me if Mama was dead. And when I got that telegram, Annie Miriam and all them, a bunch of kids was out there on the porch, and so at that time, Jimbo or one of ‘em come up. And when I saw them, I knowed something. I had just got the telegram. Hadn’t even really got time to read it. And he said, ‘Well, you done got the news.’ And I said, ‘The news? Well, I got a old, crazy telegram here from my sister, asking me is Mama dead, let her know at once.’ He said, ‘Yeah, we just, we brought her back from Selma.’ I said, ‘What in the – ‘ Well, I went to crying. And Albert Gay or some of the children was ‘round there, and they was running. Everybody in the whole street almost was out in the yard – the children got the news and gone! That Mama had dropped dead in Selma. So I said, well, by getting that telegram, I said, that’s what threw me, honey. I wasn’t ready for that. I’d been saying I reckon Mamie’ll think Mama was a ghost when she come walking in there tonight. Not knowing she was dead right at the same time.”
Mr. Silver — Rev. Joseph Silver Sr. helped establish the Holiness denomination in eastern North Carolina, founding Plumbline United Holy Church in Halifax County in 1893. Rev. Silver married Sarah Henderson Jacobs, herself an evangelist, in Wilson on 31 August 1933. The couple alternated between his home in Enfield and hers in Wilson.
Interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved; photo of Sarah H.J. Silver in personal collection of Lisa Y. Henderson; photo of Rev. Silver courtesy of Ancestry.com user lexxee52.
Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. worked as a janitor at Five Points (later Winstead) School and did gardening odd jobs at the home of school superintendent Charles L. Coon. His great-niece Hattie Henderson Ricks, whom he adopted, told this story:
“Papa was up there cutting grass. ‘Go in the house, and ask ‘em for some water, a pitcher.’ Talking ‘bout my daddy wanted some water. And the first time I ever seen a grapefruit was there. I said I’d never forget that. ‘Cause I went in that house and asked for some water, and I said ‘Daddy said’ – I called him Papa. Anyway, ‘he wanted to know if he could have some water.’ And the lady said, ‘Yeah,’ and she got a pitcher and a glass. And I took it on out there, and then I just sit on the steps. So Papa stopped and drinked him some water. But I was just standing there while they was fixing the water, and I looked on that table, and all ‘round the table there by the plate they had a salt cellar and half a grapefruit and a cherry sitting in the middle. And that thing just looked so pretty, looked so good. And I said, ‘Unh, that’s a big orange!’ I said, ‘Well, next time I go to the store I’m gon get me one, too.’ And sho’ nuff, I asked Papa, when we left – I don’t remember whether it was, it wont that particular time, but we come out and were on our way to Edmundson’s store in Five Points, and he wanted me to go in and get a plug of tobacco. Part of a plug. And tell Old Man Edmundson to put it on the bill. So he waited, he was out there on a wagon, he had a little horse, and I went in and told Mr. Edmundson Papa wanted a, whatever amount it was, he didn’t get a whole plug, ‘cause I think it was three or four sections to a plug of tobacco, and for him to put it on the bill, and I said, ‘He said I could have a orange. And put that on the bill.’ And it was boxes sitting up – I’ll never forget it – the boxes sitting up with all the oranges sitting up in there. And I got the biggest one out of the group. The one that wasn’t even orange. I made sure I was gon get me a big orange! I got that and come on back out there and got on the wagon and coming from Five Points to almost home, I was peeling that thing and peeling it ‘til I got it off, and it was sour, ‘Ugh, that’s a sour orange!’ I never seen a orange that sour. And I said, ‘Now, that didn’t look like, that’s a light-complected … yellow.’ But it was still like a orange, and it was so big.
“From then on I didn’t want no big orange. Now I always get little oranges. Today I don’t buy no big orange. ‘Cause the little ones is sweeter than the big ones. But, honey, that was a grapefruit, and that was the first I’d ever known it was a grapefruit. We ain’t never had no grapefruit. And so, I told Mama that was a, ugh, sour orange. And I told her ‘bout what the Coons had on their table when I went up there. And she said, ‘Well, that was a grapefruit.’ ‘A grapefruit?,’ I said, ‘well, what’s a grapefruit?’ And she said, ‘It’s like a big orange. But you have to put sugar on it most time. It’s a little sour. It’s got a little twang to it.’ She said, ‘But your daddy didn’t never like none, so I don’t care that much about it.’ And I said, ‘A grapefruit? I got myself a grapefruit.’ I said, ‘The cherries, where they get the cherries?,’ I said. ‘That little red thing where was on there.’ She said, ‘Well, you buy ‘em in bottles from the store.’ But, anyway, it was sour, but I learned the taste, you put a little sugar on it, makes a little bit sweeter. I swear, Lord, I think about those things that I did when I was little.”
The house with the grapefruit was at 109 North Rountree Street in Wilson’s College Park neighborhood. Charles L. Coon’s house has been demolished, but was catalogued in Bainbridge and Ohno’s Wilson, North Carolina: Historic Buildings Survey (1980):
“This house was built c.1915 for Wilson’s foremost educator, Charles L. Coon. He served as superintendent of the Wilson Graded School from 1907 until his death in 1927 and was County School superintendent for the last fifteen years of this period. Coon, credited with the creation of a model school system in Wilson, also served on the North Carolina Child Labor Committee, the State Teachers Assembly, the editorial board of the North Carolina Historical Review and was the author of North Carolina Schools and Academies 1790-1840 and Public Schools of Wilson County. His house is sturdy and simple. The tile roof is unusual in a house of this vintage, and it enriches the texture of the facade. The front porch was constructed in typical Bungalow style, with square flared columns supporting the overhanging hipped roof.”
Hattie H. Ricks, circa 1920, probably a few years after she first tasted grapefruit.
Plug tobacco is made by pressing cured tobacco in a sweet (often molasses-based) syrup. The resulting sheet of pressed tobacco was cut into “plugs.” Edmundson likely carried locally manufactured product.
Adapted from interview of Hattie Henderson Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved.
… Mama’d make us go to Holiness Church and stay down there and run a revival two weeks. And we’d go down there every night and lay back down there on the bench and go to sleep. … Mama’d go every night. And they’d be shouting, holy and sanctified, jumping and shouting.
Mr. Silver, he had a bunch, he had 11 children, and his son had a whole bunch of ‘em. Joseph Silver. … When Mama got married there on Elba Street, there at the house. Yeah. He come up there … He was a little short brown-skinned man, and he was a elder and the head of the church where was down there in Halifax County.
On 31 August 1933, Sarah HendersonJacobs of Wilson married Rev. Joseph Silver of Halifax County at her home in Wilson [303 Elba Street]. The ceremony was performed by Holiness minister J.H. Scott and witnessed by S.B. Thomas, Eleanor Hooker and W.M. King. Silver helped establish the Holiness church in North Carolina, and Jacobs was a Holiness evangelist.
Sarah Silver died 8 January 1938. Five years later, on 8 September 1943, Rev. Silver married Martha C. Aldridge in Goldsboro, Wayne County. Rev. Silver had performed the marriage ceremony for Martha, nee Hawkins, and her second husband, Joseph Aldridge, in Wilson on 16 December 1925. C.E. Artis applied for the license, and William A. Mitchner, Hattie Tate and Callie Barnes were witnesses.
REV. JOSEPH SILVER DIES AT HIS HOME AT 100 YEARS OLD
Reverend Joseph Silver, Sr., well known and highly respected Negro minister, died Tuesday at his home in the Delmar community, on Enfield Route 3. He celebrated his 100th birthday anniversary last July 22 at a large gathering of friends and relatives. Rev. Silver had been in poor health about four years and had been confined to his bed for the past four months.
Funeral services will be held from the Plumbline Holiness Church, Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. The body will lay in state at the church an hour before the funeral. The Rev. L.G. Young, of Henderson, will preach the funeral and burial will be in the family plot. Among those expected at the final rites are Bishop M.C. Clemmen of Richmond, Va., and Bishop H.B. Jackson of Ayden.
Rev. Silver began preaching in 1893 when he he organized and built Plumbline Church. Among other churches built by his ministry are ones at Ayden and Summitt, near Littleton. He was an organizer of the United Holiness Church of America and served on the board of Elders until his death.
Rev. Silver was married three times; first to Felicia Hawkins, who died in 1931, then to Sarah Jacobs of Wilson, who died in 1938; and last to Martha Aldridge of Goldsboro, who survives. In addition to his wife, Rev. Silver is survived by five sons N.D. and Samuel Silver, of Washington, DC; Gideon, of Pittsburg, Pa.; Joseph, Jr., of Halifax and A.M. Silver of Route 3, Enfield; three daughters, Epsi Copeland and Roberta Hewling, of Enfield, Route 3, and Emma Goines, of Pittsburg, Pa. Eighty grandchildren, 109 great-grandchildren, and 17 great great grandchildren also survive. [Newspaper clipping from unnamed source, 10 January 1958.]
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
J.H. Scott — John H. Scott died 18 November 1940 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 February 1874 in Halifax County to Alex Scott and Cathrin [no last name]; was married to Sarah Ann Scott; resided at 311 Lane Street; and was a Holiness preacher.
W.M. King — In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: redrying plant janitor William M. King, 67; wife Annie, 64, washwoman; daughter Mary Lucas, 28, laundress; and son-in-law Herman Lucas, 26, redrying plant day laborer.
C.E. Artis — Columbus E. Artis, an undertaker. [Note: Artis’ mother Amanda Aldridge Artis was Joseph Aldridge’s sister.]
On 27 November 1895, Jesse Jacobs married Sarah Henderson in Wayne County, North Carolina. [The photo probably commemorated their wedding.]
In the 1900 census of Dudley, Brogden township, Wayne County: farmer Jessey Jacobs, 42; wife Sarah D., 28; and children Aner S., 17, Redis J., 15, Carie, 13, Docter, 8, Hatie, 6, and Anie B., 3.
In the 1908 and 1912 Wilson city directories, Jesse Jacobs is listed as a laborer living at 106 Elba Street.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Jesse Jacob, 53, deliveryman for stable; wife Sarah, 35; daughter Annie Belle, 15; and boarders Jesse Henderson, 17, Herbert Jones, 23, both stable laborers, and Nina Fasin, 32, a housemaid.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 606 Elmo [Elba] Street: school janitor Jessie Jacobs, 60, wife Sara, 52, and daughters [great-nieces] Mamie, 12, and Hattie May, 10.
Jessie Adam Jacobs died 6 July 1926 at the “colored hospital” in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 25 December 1862 in Sampson County, North Carolina, to Jesse A. and Abbie Jacobs; was married to Sarah Jacobs; resided at 303 Elba Street; and worked as a janitor in city schools.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 303 Elba, laundress Sarah Jacobs, 49, and daughter [great-niece] Hattie Jacobs, 19, a servant for a private family.
Sarah Henderson Jacobs died 8 January 1938 in Selma, Johnston County, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was 55 years old, married to Joseph Silver, and was born in Wayne County to Lewis Henderson and Margaret Carter, both of Wayne County. Informant was Hattie Jacobs of 303 Elba Street, Wilson.
Original photograph in the collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.
This tag, shown front and back and dated November 1933, was found among personal papers of Hattie Henderson Ricks, who lived in Wilson from 1911 until 1958. Most likely, her adoptive mother (and great-aunt) Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver purchased a mattress, box spring, stove and other items for their home at 303 Elba Street. ($87.50 is about $1650 in 2016 currency.)
Dock Davis Jacobs was born about 1890 in northern Sampson County to Jesse A. Jacobs Jr.and his first wife Sallie Bridges. In 1895, soon after Sallie’s death, Jesse married Sarah Henderson Jacobs, who reared Jesse’s children. The Jacobses moved from Dudley in southern Wayne County to Wilson circa 1905.
The 1908-09 Wilson city directory lists:
[106 is now numbered 303 Elba. The *, by the way, denoted a “colored” person.]
On 16 Nov 1923, Jesse A. Jacobs and wife Sara filed a deed filed for the sale of 303 Elba to Jesse’s children Carrie Blackwell, Jean Daniel Jacobs, Doc Jacobs, and Annie Bell Gay in consideration of $1. The Jacobses had purchased the property in 1908.
Jesse Jacobs died in July 1926, and Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver in January 1938. On 15 April 1938, Dock Jacobs filed a deed with Wilson County Register of Deeds office recording the sale for $20 of his undivided interest in the house to his informally adopted sister, known then as Hattie Jacobs (and later as Hattie Henderson Ricks.)
Dock Jacobs died 9 December 1944 at his home at 126 West 143rd Street, New York City.
Original photograph in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.
From an interview of Hattie Henderson Ricks (1910-2001) by her granddaughter Lisa Y. Henderson in which she explains the method Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. used to bring his estranged wife Sarah Henderson Jacobs back home to Wilson, and the aftermath:
“The one I heard about at that time was Doctor Buzzard. And he was in the country. And you had to go to him. He didn’t come to you. You go to him. And you had to take some kind of clothes that you wear next to you, if you and your boyfriend or your husband falls out and had a misunderstanding, well, he could take the clothes you wear next to you and put something on it. It looked like, the thing what I opened where came out that tree looked like little roots, just little stems from a tree, and it was on a white piece of cloth, and it was just wrapped up in it and where Papa bored that hole in the tree, and it had a bottle stopper, it was a half-a-gallon stopper. It come in a jug, one of them little cork stoppers. Well, when he bored that hole in the tree, he took that little piece of rag or clothes or whatever. Mama was – I reckon it was Mama’s. He didn’t know whether it was her clothes or whose. But he got some rags and put in there, and he wet on it for nine mornings. He’d go wet on that tree. And he corked it up with the stopper. But I reckon he must have taked the stopper out when he wet in it.
“And so Mama claimed she got sick. So she was talking to some old witchcraft person or something, he’d know what to do for her, and I think she got somebody to take her. And he told her a whole lot of junk and mess, and that’s when he said, “You look in any – you got any trees in the yard?” And she said, yes, she had a apple tree and a peach tree. So when she come home was telling it, Mama said something, and Papa said it was one of them trees out there. He had put some stuff in it, not to kill her but to make her sick. And so I said, “Well, if it’s out there, I’m gon find it.” And sho ‘nough, I went out there and saw that cork and stuff sticking up in that tree, the peach tree. I went back in the house and got the ice pick. And I prised the stopper out and sho ‘nough it was some rags and a little piece of cloth was wrapped around this little sticks and things was in there. And I was scared then after that. I said, “Lord, this here mess! What is this stuff?” And Mama claimed that when I taken the cork stopper outn that tree, she said seem like something just went all over her. That could have been a tale, but that’s what she said – seem like something fell off her. So she got better. And so, she outlived him.”
Doctor Buzzard — I have not been able to identify a local Doctor Buzzard. The original, apparently, was in South Carolina, and many practitioners adopted the name.
Sarah Henderson Jacobs— in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Jesse Jacob, 53, deliveryman for stable; wife Sarah, 35; daughter Annie Belle, 15; and boarders Jesse Henderson, 17, Herbert Jones, 23, both stable laborers, and Nina Fasin, 32, a housemaid. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 606 Elmo [Elba] Street: school janitor Jessie Jacobs, 60, wife Sara, 52, and daughters [great-nieces] Mamie, 12, and Hattie May, 10. In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 303 Elba, laundress Sarah Jacobs, 49, and daughter [great-niece] Hattie, 19, a servant for a private family. Sarah Henderson Jacobs died 8 January 1938 in Selma, Johnston County, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was 55 years old, married to Joseph Silver, and was born in Wayne County to Lewis Henderson and Margaret Carter, both of Wayne County. Informant was Hattie Jacobs of 303 Elba Street.
Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. — in the 1908 Wilson city directory, Jesse Jacobs is listed as a laborer living at 106 Elba Street. Jessie Adam Jacobs died 6 July 1926 at the “colored hospital” in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 25 December 1862 in Sampson County, North Carolina, to Jesse A. and Abbie Jacobs; was married to Sarah Jacobs; resided at 303 Elba Street; and worked as a janitor in city schools.
Interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson adapted and edited for clarity. Copyright 1994, 1996. All rights reserved.
From an interview of Hattie Henderson Ricks (1910-2001) by her granddaughter Lisa Y. Henderson:
“‘Cause I know I used to go with him out to the school. I swept out the Five Points School. Out there for three years to get a bicycle. So I could ride back and forth out there. I hadn’t got the bicycle this morning. But I run all the way from over there from where we lived on Elba Street out there past Five Points going out there Edmundson’s store about a mile up that road where that school, whatever school that is, Five Points School. I went out there three years and swept up that whole building by myself. And when the wind would blow and the door would slam, I’d run and get under the table, the teacher’s desk, and peek out and see. They said the cemetery was there, before the school, and I was scared to death. Papa’d be down there in the front, be a-plowing, and so I’d rather be around him and do anything rather than stay with Mama. She was just the fussy kind. So I’d just rather be round him all the time. I’d follow him everywhere he’d go. On the old wagon. They all called me a tomboy.
“And so I went with him. Up there to First Baptist Church, help him dust the seats, and he’d run the sweeper and all that kind of stuff. And when he was over to another school up there, the college. He used to be janitor to the college. And then he had the school out there at Five Points. Winstead School out there at Five Points. That was the last one he was to. Then he died. And I would be the one at all those places. Go cut Professor Coon’s grass, I’d be right with him.
“I went out there – I was in school ‘cause I run all the way from up the school, came by the house, get me a bite to eat and run from there to clean to Five Points School where was out there – white folks. And sweep up that whole building by myself. Papa’s down there in the field, up there by – uh, what is the people be putting them … they had chains on their legs and had the white stripes … convicts. It was a place up there. And I’d go ‘round there and sweep that whole building up by myself. Papa was gon get me a bicycle so I could ride over there. ‘Cause, see, he had the horse and wagon, and so he was already over there, and he had been there by where the pigpen was down by that little stream, that little ditch. And I’d come back on the wagon at night with him. But he was plowing, ‘cross the street over there where he had a acre of cotton. Old Man Price was in a house over on one corner, and the school over here. And Papa was working, plowing that garden where was on the side. Professor Coon let him have whatever he put in it. He would buy all the stuff to go in the ground, if he would just work it. The part there where was to the children’s playground. But they had it barred off, the children didn’t actually go over in that part. So he’d plant that, and then me and Mamie had to get up two o’clock in the morning, go down there and pick up potatoes. Light night. It’d be so bright you could see ‘em. He’d plow it up, turn that ground over, and all them old potatoes down there, we’d put them in baskets, and what we couldn’t see ‘fore it got real daylight, we had to go out there and pick ‘em up when it got day.”
Five Points School — now Winstead Elementary School, operating in a newer building on the same land on Downing Street at Ward Boulevard. Five Points School was one of two white graded schools in Wilson in the 1920s.
Papa — Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. (1856-1926) migrated from Dudley, Wayne County, to Wilson circa 1905. He worked first as a hostler for Jefferson D. Farrior, then as a janitor at a church, Five Points School and Atlantic Christian College, and performing odd jobs for the school superintendent.
Edmundson’s store — the 1920 city directory of Wilson lists Andrew J. Edmundson, grocer, South Goldsboro at the corner of Mill Road, Five Points.
Mama — Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver (1872-1938) was Hattie Henderson Ricks’ grand-aunt and adoptive mother. Sarah migrated from Dudley to Wilson with her husband Jesse A. Jacobs.
Convicts — The state of North Carolina operated a road camp in Wilson County just south of the Wilson city limits, beyond Five Points. The site is now home to the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Highway Division 4. For the history of North Carolina’s prison systems, which included convict camps whose inmates built the state’s roads, see here.
Old Man Price — unidentified.
Mamie — Mamie Lee Henderson Holt (1907-2000), sister of Hattie Henderson Ricks.