Thursday, June 19, 2014

Frank Jackson - Keeping the Faith Alive

Happy Juneteenth Bloggers!

During the Civil War, South Carolina lost as much as 20% of its white male population in battle. Many of its plantations were burned to the ground. Freed persons of color were no longer considered as property but as human beings. When the fortunes of the former slave-owners were diminished, many of them left the area. In addition, several churches were abandoned as well. Prior to the war, prominent slave-owning families in SC had converted their slaves to Roman Catholicism and had them baptized. After emancipation, it was only logical that these freedpersons would remain tied to that religion. Here is a story about one of my early African-American ancestors and his role in the Catholic Church. 

Frank Jackson was born on November 15, 1855 in Barnwell, SC. Frank was the son of George Jackson b. 1833 and Maryann Green b. 1840. Frank had a younger brother named James Jackson b. 1859. From what I was able to uncover was that George and Maryann were not married to each other. By 1863, George resided in Aiken, was married to Jane and was the father of two sons Anthony and Preston Jackson.  Maryann resided in Barnwell, was married to John Graham and was the mother of two sons Benjamin and Edward Graham.

Poor Maryann was paralyzed and bed-ridden. Only young James lived with the Graham family. Frank was on his own by the age of 15. In 1870, he lived in the household of Ben Deedly of Bedloc, Barnwell and worked on the 8,000 acre Johnson farm. What is interesting to note that the foreman of the Johnson farm was James Morgan Jackson b. 1820, who is probably his grand uncle.

By his 18th birthday, Frank had earned enough money to own his own land. He relocated to the city of Walterboro, formerly a summer retreat for wealthy plantation owners, in the township of Blake, Colleton County, SC. Frank owned five acres of land next door to the Grahams and his brother James. In 1875, Frank married Louisa Lewis b. 1852. Frank helped raise Louisa's two sons Willie Smith b. 1870 and Henry Smith b. 1872 by a previous marriage. Frank and Louisa's children were Louisa Jackson b. 1874, James Jackson b. 1876, Kate Jackson b. 1878, Sarah U. Jackson b. 1883, George Jackson b. 1887, Cardoza Jackson b. 1888 and Annie Jackson b. 1890. Only 4 of their children lived past 1900.

Interesting side-note: George Jackson is my great-grandfather. He had a son named Frank Jackson and a grandson named George Jackson. So my family had five generations of alternating names between George and Frank.

When Frank and his family moved to Walterboro, he renewed his faith and practiced Catholicsm with the local residents. Frank's land is no more than a quarter mile from St. James the Greater Catholic Church located on Ritter Road. The church had burned down in 1856. By the time Civil War occurred plans for rebuilding the church were abandoned when white residents left the area. In the 1870s, a school house was built on the site called Catholic Hill by the free African-Americans who lived nearby. Residents used that building to educate their children and to pray. Frank helped build that school house.

By 1897 a new church was built. Frank was one of these parishoners mentioned in an old pamphlet that helped maintain and preserve the church for future generations. (Click the 3rd image to view his name)



Frank and his brother James remained close. They were neighbors in 1900. James was married to Nancy and had seven children of his own.


James Jackson died on November 20, 1916 from Bright's Disease. It was from his death certificate that I was able to identify his father's name. Frank Jackson died on November 21, 1926 of Dropsy. They are both buried in the church's cemetary on Catholic Hill. I have six generations of family buried there. To this day, my family still owns the land surrounding the church. To everyone, the church is a historic landmark. To me, its the house my great-great grandfather built.

A special thanks to Valerie Lewis-Mosely for providing me a copy of the St. James the Greater Church pamphlet. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

William T Young - The T is for TROUBLE

My dad rarely talked about his youth when he was alive. The only thing he left was a scrapbook with a lot of cool pictures. Luckily for me, he told my mother a few stories about his adventures in the Navy. And boy, he was trouble with a capital T!

William Theodore Young was born in Charleston, SC in 1935. He was the 2nd son to James and Frances Young. I get my brown eyes from him. William (he hated to be called "Bill") attended the segregated school district in Charleston County. He graduated from the all-black Burke High School in 1953. Here he is at the high school prom. Maybe someone can recognize this woman.

William was a teenage father when he graduated. Yeah, he got some girl in trouble. That's a story for another day. He enlisted in the Navy to pay child support. On November 5, 1953 he and his high school friends joined the 6th Naval District in Charleston. My dad served two tours of service (8 years) on the Andromeda Class Attack Cargo Ship USS Mathews AKA-96. He saw action during the Korean War.

I am looking for the descendants of these service men. I don't have their full names but my dad wrote down the following: (From left to right: My dad, Smith, Davis, Mack, Lobo, Louie and Samuel)

His rank was TN-Stewardsman. He was a cook on the battleship. He told us that his captain disliked the black guys on his ship. He and his buddies endured a beating once they crossed the equator and the captain called it a welcome initiation. What I did learn was that they got their revenge one night by spiking the captain's food with a laxative! Dad was thrown in the brig for that mess!

Ironically, he received two good conduct medals during his two terms. With his pay he sent money home for child support, his mother and grandmother. We even have fine china he shipped over to his late mother to this day.

Once the ship landed in other countries, my dad and his shipmates were treated very well by the locals. Dad especially liked Italy, the Phillipines, Japan and China. As you can tell by these pictures, they liked him too.

My dad did a lot of drinking and gambling on that ship. As you can tell, he was a hit with the ladies. I wouldn't be suprised if I run into some blasian Youngs one day. He told us in Japan there were co-ed public toilets with no partitions. It was no problem for women and men to share a bathroom. But their bathrooms consisted of a hole in the floor leading out to flowing river of sludge and human waste behind the building.


One night in Japan, he and his buddies played poker against some Japanese men and won big. The local ladies were all over them. A fight broke out and the Navy guys beat up the locals. What they didnt know was that they were fighting the Yakuza. Enraged, the losers left and called for back-up. The women told my dad and his friends to run for their lives! A chase ensued and most of the guys got away. My dad didn't. He was cornered by at least 4 guys. The only way he escaped was by jumping a fence into the sewer. There he stayed hidden for hours flowing downstream until the coast was clear. He got back to the ship hours late covered in feces. He was hosed down and thrown in the brig for being AWOL. Thanks for almost causing an international incident DAD! LOL!

Left to right: Scott, King, Wilkes, Young and Slaughter

William was discharged honorably from the Navy on November 4, 1961. He did not want to serve under that captain anymore. He was good at keeping in touch with his old Navy buddies for a while. After he left the Navy, he relocated to Brooklyn. He began working for the US Post Office, got married to my mother in 1962 and went on to graduate from Brooklyn College in New York with a degree in drafting. I find it amazing how certain skills get passed down genetically. My grandfather was in construction and built his own home. My father could draw and did carpentry on the side. I am an engineer and artist. My niece wants to be an architect. Funny how that works!

When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 my father, mother, god-parents and his cousin all attended his funeral.

(First pic: Dad, Frank Young and Gerald Murray. 2nd pic: Frank Young, Mom and Gerald Murray)

My dad died of cancer on November 11, 1995 which is federally observed as Veteran's Day. He is buried at Calverton National Cemetery in Long Island, NY. I always get lost when I go there to visit him until I see that tree near his grave. I normally lay stones or coins on his headstone. It's a fitting memorial for him.

Happy Father's Day dad, I salute you.