Jake and Addie

Jacob "Jake" Vickers was born December 5, 1855, in Jackson County, Florida, the sixth of the eight children of James and Sarah "Sallie" Pelt Vickers. Jake's family owned and operated the Vickers' Store just off Highway 77 between Chipley and Graceville. "Farming" is listed as the family's primary occupation in both the 1850 and 1860 Federal Census Records. Sometime in the 1850's two of Jake's older siblings, Burton J. and Rony Ann, died. It is not known if this loss occurred before Jake's birth in 1855 or shortly after.

Jake was three and four years old, respectively, when the Children's Census of Jackson County was taken in 1858 and 1859. When Jake's older brother Jim Vickers enlisted in the Confederate Army in August 1861 at the age of eighteen, Jake was only five years old. The War years were difficult for all families in the Florida Panhandle, and Jake's family was not exempt. With his father's declining health during the War years (James Vickers was in his 60's), and his elder brother away at War, Jake's family faced hard times in increasing measure. Jake's father died in July of 1864, leaving his young wife Sallie (about age 40) with children Sarah, age 11, Jake, age 8, Josie, age 7, and Charley, age 3, and a store and farm to manage.

It appears that Jake's mother asked her brother Jacob J. Pelt, to manage the family store until Jake, who was age 8 at the time, would be old enough to take it over. During the 1870's, Jacob Pelt stocked the family store with items such as tobacco, whiskey, candy, shoes, clothes, ticking, quinine, strychnine, sulphur, violin strings, and miscellaneous hardware.

Margaret Adeline "Addie" O'Conner was born January 27, 1863, in Jackson County, Florida, the seventh of the eleven children of William "Bill" and Elizabeth Jane Hollis O'Conner. Bill and Jane O'Conner had moved from Dale County, Alabama (where they had married in 1848) to Jackson County, Florida about 1859. Addie was born just eight months after her father Bill enlisted in the Civil Infantry of the Confederate States Army in May of 1862.

Jake Vickers and Addie O'Conner must have met during Addie's teenage years in the late 1870's, possibly on one of Jake's trips into Marianna. They were married February 5, 1880, in Jackson County, and began to raise their own family. Their ten children were:

John Bunyan Vickers, born January 14, 1881
D. Sherman Vickers, born January 14, 1883
Clyde Vickers, born April 8, 1884
Belle Vickers, born May 5, 1886
Wesley Call Vickers, born April 27, 1888
Malzie Vickers, born February 24, 1890
Gordon Vickers, born September 27, 1892
Flossie Vickers, born January 15, 1894
Pocohontas "Polkie" or "Mamie" Vickers, born March 12, 1900
Lewie Vickers, born April 9, 1904

It would appear that Jake took over the family store from his Uncle Jacob J. Pelt about the time he and Addie were married in 1880. The Vickers' General Store thrived under Jake's management and with his sons doing most of the farm labor (corn and cotton mostly), Jake began to put on weight. His children Wesley Call, Flossie, and Lewie, all described him as a heavy set man weighing 220-240 lbs., chunky build, with reddish hair. He had a small moustache and would only shave every once in a while. Jake would often tickle his kids with his whiskers! Lewie remembered Jake selling just about everything in his country store, from women's hats to horse collars. Most people called him "Uncle Jake." He was "well off" because of the store, but was described as "stingy" by his children.

Addie was remembered as a good mom, making all the meals (she was a wonderful cook) and caring for the garden. Jake did like good food, and with Addie's cooking he never lacked! Jake, being on the stingy side with his possessions, would often hoard his money. It is said he would stash hundreds of dollars in the rafters or bury it in holes in the ground as he did not trust the banks. Wesley Call remembers some hard feelings toward his father when he had to go barefoot to school as Jake would not provide him with a pair of shoes. Jake himself went barefoot almost everywhere. He didn't care much about clothes. He had only one Sunday suit which, it is said, he almost never wore. Jake's sons all had to wear shorts. Whereas Jake was sometimes prone to forget the physical needs of his children, Addie would go to the store and take things out to care for the kids. [picture of Addie]   [picture #2 of Addie and great-grandson Dewayne Burch] [picture of Jake]

Their son Wesley later recalled that in those days babies were delivered by granny women. When a baby would come along, the other children were told by the granny that the baby was found in a "hollow log." Sometime in the 1890's Addie took sick with typhoid fever and was treated by "Old Doc Farrior" [Dr. J. R. Farrior], their family doctor, who would make house calls in a horse and buggy. Addie fully recovered from the fever. Jake and Addie did experience the loss of two of their children, however. Gordon died just before his first birthday in 1893, and Sherman died at the age of 22 in 1905.

After his sons left home Jake had to take up the slack with the farming. This labor, as Flossie remembers, caused Jake to lose a few pounds! One story passed down describes how Jake would sit in his store waiting for customers. When he would see or hear a wagon pulling up, he would run out the back door, grabbing a hoe or rack on the way and begin working the garden out back, so that the customers would think he had been working hard for some time!

Jake's holdings included the Vickers' General Store, 320 acres (at least 50 of which were improved and cultivated), 14 stock cattle, 19 sheep/goats, 20 hogs, and 2 horses. The store was located a quarter mile or so from the road, with the house and garden just behind the store. In 1901, the Chipley Banner newspaper mentions Jake as one of the members of the School Board in Jackson County. The Banner also mentions that Jake usually came to Chipley on Thursdays on business.

Jake's older brother Jim was known by all--family and the community as well--for his humor and for being a practical joker. Apparently Jim had played a practical joke on Jake, and Jake, perhaps being on the serious side, did not appreciate the joke. This caused a major rift between the two brothers for a number of years--to the point that Jake would have nothing to do with Jim and would not even speak to him. On one occasion Jake and his son Wesley Call were working outside their home/store when Jim rode by in his horse drawn wagon. Wesley remembers Jim calling out "HEY JAKE!", for meanness Wesley supposed, as this had a very negative effect on Jake, who stiffened with anger at his older brother.

Addie was a good Christian woman, attending the Baptist Church all her life. Flossie remembers that her father Jake "got religion" in the spring of 1912, a few months before his death. He was baptized and began closing his store on Sundays. As Jake's health began to deteriorate, he felt he had to make things right with his brother Jim. Jim came to visit Jake and the two brothers were reconciled. Nothing more was ever said about Jim's practical joke on Jake, and the two were brothers again!

Jake died a few months later September 12, 1912, at the age of 56 and was buried in Damascus Baptist Church Cemetery not far from his mother and father. After Jake's death, Addie lived off the goods and supplies in the store for some time. From time to time Addie would find some of the money that Jake had stashed here and there around the house and yard. On one occasion she had a worker replacing a section of her porch roof. The worker discovered over $300 hidden in the rafters! When the worker informed Addie of the money he had recovered for her, she gave him a whopping $2 reward!

Addie experienced another loss less than a year after Jake passed away. Her daughter Clyde, who had married a few years earlier, was terribly burned when a gasoline iron she was using exploded. She lived about three weeks after the accident before succumbing to the burns. Her daughter Ruth, about age 5 at the time of her mother's accident, eventually married a man named Henly and resided in Jacksonville, Florida.

In 1926, a Vickers Family Reunion was held in Chipley. All of Addie's children and grandchildren were present for the reunion. The grandchildren recall the figs Addie would place on the hot tin roof to dry out. Addie would make wonderful fig cakes and bars for the children. The grandchildren also recall being taken to a nearby place to play called Rock Hill where they could scramble around the huge boulders on the hill. Addie's grandson Fred remembers eating so much homemade ice cream at the reunion with his cousins that he got sick!

She eventually decided to sell the store, and most of the property. From that time on Addie stayed with her children, living a few months at a time with each family before moving on to the next. Addie lived until 1957 when she died April 18, at the age of 94. She is buried beside her husband Jake at the Damascus Baptist Church Cemetary just outside of Graceville in Jackson County, Florida.

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Kelly G. Vickers, 50 Trembly Bald Drive, Toccoa, GA 30577

Phone 706-886-0012, Email kvickers@tfc.edu