James and Sallie

James Vickers was born about 1799 in Georgia. It is not known at this time who James' parents or siblings were, or the exact location of his birth in Georgia. The Vickers name, however, appears to be of English, or possibly Irish origin.

James first appears on record in Jackson County of the Florida Territory in 1825. Florida at this time was organized as a Territory and did not attain statehood until March 3, 1845. Reference is made to the location of voting precincts in the History of Jackson County, Florida, by Jerrell Shofner:

For the council election of 1825, Jackson County was divided into two election districts. . . . There were only two precincts in this district: one at Vickers' Store where Owen Williams, Henry O'Neill and Doctor Desha were judges . . . (p. 28)

Vickers' Store is again listed as the first polling precinct in 1826 for the purpose of establishing a Territorial Government in Florida and electing thirteen members to form a Legislative Council. (Territorial Papers, Florida Territory, Florida State Archives, Tallahassee) There are two other Vickers on record in Jackson County during the 1820's and early 1830's: a John Vickers who served with James in the Militia, and a Joshua Vickers. It is not known for sure their relation to James, but they are most likely brothers or nephews. Neither appears in Jackson County records after the mid 1830's. It would seem that perhaps the Vickers Store may have been started as a family venture, but eventually ended up under James' proprietorship.

James is next listed on the Muster Roll of Captain Mooring's Company of Mounted and Infantry Volunteers of the Third Regiment of the Florida Militia called into service by Territory Governor William P. Duval, December 12, 1826. A description of the Volunteer Militia might serve to provide some local color as to James' military service:

These independent units could consist of troops of horse, and companies of artillery, grenadiers, light infantry and riflemen. They chose their own officers and wore such uniforms and equipment as their commanders designated. The men probably carried a variety of weapons and wore civilian clothes or a very basic type of uniform. Mounted volunteers provided their own horses. Each man had his favorite horse and trusty carbine to which not seldom he and his family might have been indebted for a dinner. These soldiers were canny woodsmen and could find their way by the sun and the tree bark. They wore homespun clothes and twisted palm leaf hats, and carried supplies for themselves and their horses tied behind the saddle. They lacked standardized arms and equipment, had an almost total disregard for authority and discipline, and were reluctant to perform perfunctory military service except for temporary emergencies. (The Florida Territorial Militia, by David Coles, Florida State Archives, in The Florida Genealogist, Winter, 1989).

James Vickers, single at the time, was mustered out in 1826-1827 in response to the murder of a family by the Seminole Indians. When James was not serving with the militia, it appears he operated the Vickers' Store (in addition to farming) just off what is now Highway 77 between Chipley and Graceville, in Jackson County.

James' name also appears as a signer of the Webbville Petition to Congress, dated January 11, 1828, requesting that a parcel of land be granted to the county for the use of schools. Webbville was formerly the county seat of Jackson County. James is listed in the Jackson County Tax Records of 1828 as having paid his $.50 poll tax. He is again listed in the 1833, 1834, 1835, and 1838 Tax Records of Jackson County as faithfully paying his taxes. James appears to have been a responsible citizen, participating in the affairs of his community.

Sarah "Sallie" Pelt was born in October of 1824 in Greene County, North Carolina. Her father, Anthony Van Pelt, Jr., had moved his young family of eight children from Greene County, NC, to Jackson County, Florida in the mid-1830's just as Sallie was becoming a teenager. Sallie's mother had recently died after the birth of her youngest sister about 1832. Sallie's father, Anthony Van Pelt, Jr., purchased eighty acres of land near the property of James Vickers. It was not long before James and Sallie met, and then married in 1840 to begin a family of their own in Jackson County. The eight children of James and Sallie Vickers were:

Nancy S. Vickers, born May 17, 1841
James "Jim" Linton Vickers, born April 14, 1843
Burton J. Vickers, born 1846
Sophronia "Rony" Ann Vickers, born August 1850
Sarah A. "Sallie" Vickers, born February 28, 1853
Jacob "Jake" Vickers, born December 5, 1855
Josephine "Josie" Frances Vickers, born July 1857
Charles "Charley" H. Vickers, born June 1861

In 1849, Sallie's father, Anthony Van Pelt, Jr. died, leaving a tract of eighty acres to his heirs. The deed to the eighty acres, dated December 15, 1849, was signed by James Vickers and his brothers-in-law, Jacob J. Pelt, David Williams, and Isaac Cooper, and sold for the sum of $61.50.

James is also listed as having paid his taxes in the 1844, 1847, 1849, and 1850 Tax Records of Jackson County. He is listed as owning eighty acres of land in 1850. Taxable possessions mentioned in the 1856, 1857, 1858, and 1859 Tax Records include $300 cash on hand, carriages worth about $10, $400 in mules/swine/sheep/asses, $300 worth in horses, 100 cattle/swine/sheep valued at $375, and $50 in furniture. County and state taxes on these items ranged from $.75 to $1.60 annually. Throughout this time of building his family and establishing his home, James continued to operate the family store as well as farming his acreage. "Farming" is listed as his primary occupation in both the 1850 and 1860 Federal Census Records. With the approaching specter of War on the horizon, Jackson County recorded a Children's Census June 26, 1858 and July 18, 1859. James is listed as head of the household, approaching 60 years of age with two boys and two girls. By this time, daughter Nancy, at the age of 17, had married Andrew Franklin McCrary. The family also experienced the loss of two of their children: son Burton J., and daughter Rony Ann had died during the 1850's in their childhood. The four children noted in the Children's Census were Jim, 15 years old, Sarah, age 5-6, Jake, age 3, and Josie, just 1-2 years old. Charley, the youngest, would not be born until June of 1861.

In August 1861, James' son Jim, at the age of 18, enlisted in the Confederate Army and was off to War. As with all families during this time, the War years were difficult on James and his family. In his early sixties, James' health began to decline. As his son Jim was returning from the War (having lost his right arm below the elbow), James died in July of 1864. According to family tradition, young Jim, exhausted from walking all the way from Dallas, Georgia (west of Atlanta), approached his parents' home in time to see his father's casket being carried away. Shortly after returning home, Jim married and began a family of his own.

After the War and James' death, Sallie was left with the store to manage and a young family to raise. The store she entrusted to her brother, Jacob J. Pelt to manage until her next son Jake 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, miscellaneous hardware and even a Jew's harp! Jacob Pelt managed the family store until about 1880 when young Jake, then married, began to manage the store until his untimely death in 1912, and the Vickers' Store ceased operation.

In her later years, Sallie Pelt Vickers moved in with her son Jake's family. Her granddaughter Flossie remembered her sitting around in her rocking chair by the fire smoking a corn cob pipe. Wesley Call described his grandmother Sallie in this way:

I never did see my daddy's father but his mother lived with us for a good long time. She smoked a little 'ole . . . uh--what kind of a pipe was it you stick a reed in--I forgot what you call them pipes. Grandma, my daddy's mother, smoked one of them pipes in that cold weather up there. She'd take out a little knife and the tobacco was in--it was homemade tobacco--twisted--made a twist out of it and she'd sit in the rocking chair by the fireplace and take her little knife and cut up that tobacco and try to rub it in her hand like that . . . then fill her pipe up with it. I'd take a long splinter and stick in the fireplace. It was cold weather up there then through the winter every year. Light a splinter and hold it while she'd suck the fire in there and light her pipe, then sit there like it was the best thing ever happened to anybody-- happy as a lark--smokin' that little 'ole terra cotta pipe or whatever you call it.

Sallie passed away at the age of 72 in her son Jake's home October 15, 1896, and was buried beside her husband James in the Damascus Baptist Church Cemetery in Graceville.

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See also James Vickers, Jackson Co., FL

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

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