Wednesday, April 30, 2014

52 Ancestors: "Big James" Young

My grandfather John James Young was born on April 30, 1899 in Goethe, Hampton County, SC. He would have been 115 years old had he lived this long. He was the youngest of 12 children born to Alfred and Charity Malery-Young. He always said he was born in an Indian reservation but I couldn't find a record of it. It was this rumor that made me uncover that our family is in fact of Creek Indian descent.

John James Young was raised by his sister, Ada Young-James, after the death of their parents in 1900. I haven't found out what killed both parents. Several of his brothers and sisters died at a young age as well. His siblings nicknamed him “Dugey” as an infant. It is likely he took the middle name of James to match his sister’s surname. He was known as John J. Young in 1910 Goethe, Hampton, SC census. John was also a World War I veteran just like his brother Zeke. After the War, he was employed as a truck driver for a seed store. At the age of 20, John first married Georganna Cole b. 1906 and had one daughter Mable Young in 1921 (She was the grandmother of the rapper Swizz Beatz). That relationship was short lived. In 1929, John married Frances Jackson b. 1909 in Charleston, SC. He met Frances through his sister Josephine Young-Jackson. Frances and Josephine were both nurses and Josephine also married a Jackson family member. Frances raised Mable in their household as one of her own.

By the 1930 census, John was known as James Sr. and resided in District 21, Charleston, SC with his wife Frances, daughter Mable and infant son James Young Jr. b. 1929. (Pictured below: He is affectionately known as Little James and granddad was Big James). During his employment as a truck driver, James Sr. was in an accident that left his right leg severely injured. He would walk with a limp for the rest of his life.

James Sr. was also a skilled carpenter. In 1930, he built a double home on his own for his family at 1407 Orrs Court in Charleston, SC. The Young family grew to add 4 more children including: my father William Young, Robert Young, John J. Young and Catherine Young-Dean. Every day James would gather wood and bricks to build the main and guesthouses over the period of several years. As his children grew up, they helped complete the Young family home. James became a chauffeur after the accident. Frances Young died of breast cancer on June 30, 1956 in Charleston, SC. Big James never remarried. James Young Sr. died of cancer on May 27, 1989 at the age of 90.

Happy Birthday Granddad!


  1. This is a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I wish I knew him and he knew Daddy, they would of told each other a lot of stories. What happened to the house now? I hope ya'll kept that in the family. Love that picture, he sure was enjoying himself that day. Thanks for letting us see this. Wonderful Story!

  3. Lovely tribute to your grandfather!

  4. Wonderful tribute to honor your grandfather on his birthday!

  5. Thank you for sharing again. I love ancestral tributes.