Loudie was the youngest of Lewis and Mag Henderson’s children, the one who never left home, the one who scarcely had time to do so, for she died at 19, but not before making her mark in the form of her children Bessie and Jesse. Loudie died in childbirth and, had circumstances been different, her children’s father might have reared them, but that was not to happen in that place and time. Their father was a white man, a lifelong bachelor farmer named Joseph Buckner Martin and called Buck. If his love for his second set of children, also by a colored woman, is any indication, he felt for Loudie and her two, but there was a long way between loving one’s yellow babies and taking them in, and so Lewis and Mag and their daughter Sarah (who would have a child of her own by a white man) reared them.
Jesse Henderson, then called Buddy, followed his aunt Sarah and her husband Jesse Jacobs to Wilson. They and Jesse’s younger children by his first wife settled into a L-shaped, three-roomed bungalow on Elba Street, a block off black Wilson’s best residential address and a few blocks over from the main business drag, East Nash Street. Jesse found work at Jefferson Farrior’s livery stable on Barnes Street, perhaps through a Dudley connection who worked as Farrior’s maid. When Big Jesse brought his wife’s nephew Jesse into the livery, Farrior christened the younger man “Jack” to cut down confusion. (The name stuck so well that some of his children never knew anything different, and a rumor grew that Farrior was Jack’s real daddy.)
Jack I almost knew. Our lives overlapped, and we could have met, but I was a child when he was a sick old man, and before my sixth birthday, he was gone. I know his children, and I have his few photographs, and I will have to be content with that. He is below, with open collar and cheroot.
Photograph of Jack Henderson, friend and dog in the collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.