Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver left two Bibles. One, a gift from her second husband, Rev. Joseph Silver, had originally belonged to his first wife, Felicia Hawkins Silver. The other passed through several hands before arriving in mine.
There are three inscriptions inside the front cover. “This book was give to Sarah Jacobs from Ganny Caroline 1920 of Wilson NC” — that’s my grandmother’s handwriting. Then, faintly: “Present by Mrs Caroline Vick of Wilson N.C. present in May 18th year 1904.” Then: “Gladys OKelley book give to her by Charity Pitt keep as long as I live no one to take it a way from me year 1913 Dec 23.”
Who are these folk?
Carolina Williamston Vick was born in Newton County, Georgia in 1844. How or why she came 425 miles north to settle in Wilson, North Carolina, may never be known, but a clue might lie in her maiden name. “Williamson” was a prominent southwest Wilson County family that included slaveholders. Did some migrate — or sell their slaves — South? In any case, Carolina was in Wilson by 1880 when she is listed in a household headed by 28 year-old Robert Vick. They are married and have three children, Alice, 18, Willie, 15, and Cora Vick, 3. (It appears that the older two were Robert’s step-children.) By 1900, Carolina was living in the 700 block of Green Street (around the corner from the Elba Street house) and spent the reminder of her life living with a rotating series of children, grandchildren, in-laws and lodgers and serving as a midwife to women in the community. “Granny Caroline” died in July 1925, when my grandmother was 15 years old.
As for Gladys O’Kelly (or Gladys O. Kelly), the nine year-old that so vigorously assorted her ownership in 1913 — see below.
The Bible’s frontispiece introduces another owner:
Unfortunately, her name is too common to begin to identify her.
As was custom in good quality Bibles of the era, the book’s text is halved by a shiny section of maps and illustrations and charts. My grandmother filled blank pages and the backs of leaves with the births and deaths and marriages of her family, her handwriting gradually shifting from a barely recognizable, youthful, curlicued version to the one I know so well.
The “Births” page introduces another family. Or maybe families. Gladys O’Kelly is there, and there are two Carolina Vick entries.
The others seem to be members of an extended family I found in the 1880 census of Hillsboro, Orange County, North Carolina: Yunk Strayhorn (45), his wife Patsey (36), son Isaac (18), son-in-law Louis Pitt (25) and daughter Charity Pitt (23), children Rose (24), Jane (17), Henry and Reuben (13), Sandy (23) and Clara (21), and grandchildren Richard (3), Adeline (12) and Margaret (9). (Lewis Pitt married Charity Strayhorn in Edgecombe County in 1872 and moved to Wilson.) Little Gladys O’Kelly? She seems to have been the daughter of Rose Strayhorn’s daughter Gatsey and her husband, Reubin O’Kelly, both of Orange County.
And then there are Madison Perry, son of Carolina Vick’s daughter Cora, who married Isham Perry, and the Shiverses:
I’ve been unable to find all the Shiverses, and what I have found doesn’t align cleanly with the dates inscribed here (for example, John and Nicey Shivers, born about 1872 and 1880, are listed in the 1900 census with six-month-old daughter Kizzy), but this appears to be a family that lived in Greenville, Pitt County at the turn of the 20th century.
I don’t hope to be able to reconstruct how this Bible bounced all over eastern North Carolina like this before coming to rest with my family, which has had it nearly 100 years. I share it here in hopes that descendants of the other families who cherished it will find themselves in its pages.