Debby Summey: Getting to know you
I’ve known Geraldine Jayroe for many years. Because she’s been giving history tours of Georgetown for over thirty years (Swamp Fox Tours), I just figured she was Georgetown born and bred. Actually, she got here in a roundabout way.
One of Geraldine’s sons, Kevin Jayroe, is a history buff. Kevin believes, as do I, that finding out where you came from and how you got here is fascinating.
Maybe your folks are just plain, ordinary people who never made the history books. Well, they did make history ... they made your history, and you wouldn’t be here without them.
Geraldine Long was born in Savannah, Georgia to Katherine Hewett Long and Early Elmer Long. Elmer worked on a tugboat and Geraldine was their first child.
Bear with me as I dig a little deeper into Geraldine’s family history, because it all comes full circle in the end.
Geraldine’s mother, Katherine Hewett, was born in Brunswick County, N.C. The 1920 Federal Census Record shows Katherine, not yet a year old, residing in Lockwoods Folly, Brunswick County. Geraldine’s maternal grandparents, Victoria Robinson Hewett and Anson Wiley Hewett, were both born in Supply, N.C.
Wanting to know more about the history of this area in Eastern North Carolina, I went online and learned that in the early 1800s, roads were built connecting Wilmington to Shallotte in North Carolina, and then were extended to Georgetown because of the Naval stores in this area.
Trade by river became a better alternative and in the early 1820s a trading post was established on the Lockwoods Folly River, near the road between Wilmington and Shallotte. The trading post was called the “Old Georgetown Way.” In the late 1860s, the locals renamed it “Supply”, supposedly because that’s where they acquired needed supplies.
So was Geraldine destined to end up in Georgetown?
Her family moved here, from Savannah, when Geraldine was five years old. She remembers living on Hazard Street and building “toady frog houses” and villages in the cool dirt underneath their house.
She also remembers putting a note in the window for the “ice man” when it was time to buy another chunk of ice for their icebox.
The family later moved to Maryville and theirs was one of the first houses built in that area. Geraldine’s father, Elmer Long, worked for the Soil Conservation Agency and sometimes took the children along when his crew was digging ponds. Her mother often cooked a chicken pileau so they’d have something for lunch when out on a dig. One time, Geraldine was afraid to tell her parents that she’d lost her shoes in the mud while playing on the banks of a pond.
In 1959, tragedy struck. Geraldine’s father was hired to work at Weymouth Plantation in June of that year and had moved the family there. In November he was accidentally killed when he was mistaken for a deer. His widow and children moved back to Maryville and Geraldine completed her education at Winyah High School, graduating in 1961.
That same year, Geraldine attended a family gathering at Nightingale Hall Plantation. A young man named Richard (Dickie) Olin Jayroe arrived at the gathering by boat, and the rest is history.
They met, fell in love, married, and first lived at Dickie’s mother’s home, Benvenue Plantation. Benvenue has also been known as Bienvenue, French for welcome. Now you know how Geraldine’s shop at 814 Front St., Bienvenue Home Accents, got its name. I’ll have to devote another column to the rich history of Benvenue Plantation and the Jayroe family.
Want to know more about your own family history? There are many online sources, but to get the poignant stories, ask your relatives ... now.
To Geraldine Long Jayroe ... thanks for the memories!
I may be reached at (843) 446-4777 or email at email@example.com.
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