Births Deaths Marriages, Migration, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Rest in peace, Alice Henderson Mabin (1920-2017).

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Cousin Zeke in 2013, age 93.

I happened to be in Wilson when the news came. Cousin Zeke had passed peacefully at the age of 97.

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Cousin Zeke at right, with sister Bessie and their father Jack, circa late 1920s.

Alice “Zeke” Henderson Mabin was born 22 January 1920 in Wilson to Jesse “Jack” Henderson and Pauline Artis Henderson. Despite their ten-year age gap, she and my grandmother were close pals in the years before Zeke relocated to Norfolk, Virginia — where she met husband Joseph W. Mabin — and eventually Baltimore, Maryland.

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Cousin Zeke in front of the family’s home on East Vance Street in the early 1940s, with sister Doris Henderson Ward behind.

Cousin Zeke returned to Wilson four years ago as her health began to fail. She had no children, but was well-loved by her many nieces, nephews and cousins.

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Right to left: Cousin Zeke, her husband Joe, and her sisters Bessie Henderson Smith and Mildred Henderson Hall in Mildred’s den on Queen Street in Wilson.

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Sisters Zeke and Bessie on their sister Mildred’s porch, 1986.

 

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Education, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Photographs

The class of ’52.

Sixty-five years later …

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Wilson Daily Times, 29 May 1952.

When I was home earlier this month, my dad and I did a count. About one-third of his graduating class of 75 has lived to see this anniversary. The Class of 1952 included parents of several of my close childhood friends. Though none of us attended, we were blessed to grow up under the Darden umbrella.

Best wishes to the ’52 Trojans! May you celebrate many more!

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North Carolina, Oral History, Paternal Kin, Photographs

It is a glory to her.

My father’s mother told me:

And so Mama was working at the factory, and I used to go up there and look at her. And so that’s when I first cut my hair. I went there, and the lady was asking Mama at the table where she worked to, and she didn’t say nothing to me, and she said, “Unh, who is that child with all of that long hair?” And she took one of my plaits and held it up. I had it in three plaits. I’ll never forget it. I had one down here used to come here. Yeah, it come down to below the shoulder. Like I plait it up, and it be from there. Two plaits here and then this one down across. And I always put that one behind my ear. ‘Cause I didn’t like it parted in the middle. Seem like it just wasn’t right in the middle. So I asked Mama ‘bout cutting my hair, could I cut my hair. ‘Cause everybody: “How come you don’t cut your hair? ‘Cause you’d look pretty in a bob.” I don’t know. I just wasn’t half combing it. And it was nappy. Like I’d go to try to comb it, and knots would be in there. And then I’d get mad with it. Then I’d take the scissors and clip that little piece off.   And then all that other part would come off. And so I wondered, “Mama, could – ” “It’s your head. It’s your hair. I don’t care if you cut it off.” And so one day, a fellow stayed up there on Vick Street was a barber downtown, a colored fellow, Charlie Barnes or whatever his name is. So he passed there one day, and I asked him, “Would you cut my hair for me?” And he said, “Yeah.” Said, “You come on down to the shop.” And I said, “Where is the shop?” And he went on and tried to tell me, and then he stopped there one day, and he told me, he said, “You say you want to get your hair cut?” He said, “You got too pretty a hair to cut.” And I said, “Yeah, but I can’t half comb it.”   He said, “Well, anytime you want to come on down there, I’ll cut it for you, if it’s all right with your mama. You ask your mama?” I said, “Yeah, she allowed me to cut it.” So sho ‘nough, I went around there one Saturday morning, went down there. And so, he turned around and cut off my plaits on both sides ‘cause I had two plaits there. He cut them off, and then he put some kind of stuff on it and then somehow fluffed it all up. Awww, I thought I was something. I reckon I was ‘bout 12, 13 years old. After then I cut it off in a boyish bob.

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With the boyish bob.

She also said:

I got a plait of [Hattie’s] hair and a plait of my mama’s, Bessie’s hair, and then mine. I was looking at that the other day, and I looked at it, and I said, “Huh, it was that long?” Rudy, Rudy Farmer took that picture. ‘Cause I – He saw my hair. I was standing there with my housecoat on. I still got that thing now. And, “Goodness! I didn’t know your hair was that long!” We were staying on Reid Street. And he said, “I’d sure like to have a picture of that.” And I said, “Well, you got a Kodak?” And he said, “Yeah! You’d let me take a picture?” I said, “Yeah.” And so he went home and got it and took a picture of it. I was standing up in one and sitting down in one.

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The standing up picture.

Those plaits of my grandmother were kept in a small soft green valise with all her photographs. We visited her in Philadelphia every summer, and usually one of the first orders of business was to “see the hair.” They captivate me no less now than they did then. Perhaps even more, now that I know exactly what I’m seeing.

My grandmother’s plait, an astonishingly heavy rope measuring a full thirty inches, is essentially one of the braids shown above. Tired of the headaches brought on by carrying that weight, she cut it at the nape of her neck about 1957. It is coffee-brown with silver strands, bound at one end, as are the others, with thread.

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Hair piled high, early 1950s.

There are actually two plaits from my grandmother’s mother Bessie Lee Henderson (1891-1911), most likely cut just before or at her death at age 19. The longer measures just over two feet; they are a lustrous deep brown, a shade lighter than her daughter’s and smoother to the touch.

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Bessie Henderson a la Gibson Girl.

Hattie Mae Jacobs (1895-1908) was Bessie’s first cousin, daughter of Sarah Henderson Jacobs and an unknown white man. Hattie died at age 13, and her slender, blondish-brown braid was likely cut on her deathbed, too.

The last plait is something of a mystery, but I am fairly certain that it belonged to another Henderson who died in her teens — Bessie’s mother Loudie (1874-1893), my great-great-grandmother. The tradition, then, may have started when her mother Margaret wove a narrow braid and clipped as it a memento of her youngest daughter’s short life. It measures 25″ and is dark brown with a hint of auburn.

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The plaits — Bessie’s, Hattie’s, probably Loudie’s, my grandmother Hattie’s.

——

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With fiancé Jonah Ricks, not long before she cut her hair.

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Hattie Henderson Ricks (1910-2001) at age 90. After years wearing it just below ear length, she let her hair grow out again in her final years.

 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.  

I Corinthians 11:15

Interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved. Bottom photo by Lisa Y. Henderson.

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North Carolina

Who was Lawyer Henderson?

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This is a snippet of the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County, North Carolina. It’s difficult to read, but there, on the third line, living in a house on South Mercer is 28 year-old Lawyer Henderson. When asked where he had been living five years earlier, Lawyer responded, “Dudley, Wayne County.”

…Dudley?

There was but a single rooted family of Hendersons in the Dudley area, all descended from my great-great-great-great-grandfather James Henderson. I have no knowledge of anyone named Lawyer, born about 1912, in the family. There is, however, a Lawyer Henderson, born about 1912, listed in the 1920 census of White Oak township, Onslow County, North Carolina. His parents were Cal and Rose Henderson. I do not recognize the family and suspect they are descended from people formerly enslaved by white Hendersons in Onslow.

For now then, it seems a coincidence that Lawyer Henderson lived briefly in Dudley and then in Wilson.

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