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Jackson "Daddy Jack" Washington

February 1827 -- 1925

Jackson “Jack” Washington was born enslaved at Fort Hill Plantation, now Clemson University in February 1827. In 1854, after slave owner John C. Calhoun's passing, Mrs. Floride Calhoun moved from Fort Hill to her new home "MiCasa" in downtown Pendleton; she took Jack with her where he worked as her butler and personal servant. Mrs. Calhoun said that Jack was never happy unless playing the fiddle. The 1870 U.S. Census lists his profession as “violinist”, although the 1869 Militia Roster for Pendleton shows Jackson Washington working as a farmer for Thomas Dawson. After emancipation,“Daddy Jack” -as he became known around town- and his string orchestra were paid to play at dances, often held at the assembly room at Farmer’s Hall orin one of Pendleton's hotels. One of the more popular dances of the time was the Lancers Quadrilles, a rather difficult line dance, consisting of five different “figures” that were not called out but indicated instead by a change in the music. As tradition dictated, he would play an eight-bar prelude for each “figure” to start, and if the dancers were unable to identify the “figure” he played, he would stamp his foot and start over. Jack often played for gatherings hosted by the Smythe family at Woodburn Farm where his son worked.


Ada, born at Woodburn in 1869, was a house servant and her mother Martha was a house slave on the plantation when J. E. Adger owned it. Jackson and Ada had 11 children, including Hattie, Pauline, Eliot, Catherine, Alice, Mattie, Booker, and Annie. Pauline died young, leaving three children. Two of Jackson and Ada’s children, Hattie and Eliot, moved to Cleveland, OH as adults and the rest continued to live in the Pendleton area. The 1930 Census shows their daughter Catherine Washington married to Otto Jackson, one of the first Black brakemen on the Blue Ridge Railroad, and living in Pendleton with their children. Otto provided the land for Riverside School built in 1954 as part of the state’s plan to provide newer, higher quality schools for Black students. Daddy Jack's legacy lives on in Pendleton to this day.


Text by Jaqueline Reynolds

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