In the beginning ...
The start came in the 1800's near Hope Hull Alabama...
Dennis Jake Jemison, the patriarch of our family, was born three years after slavery to the union of Wash and Amy Jemison on the Dickett Bibb Plantation near Hope Hull, Alabama. Amy was a slave girl who was smuggled under the seat of a carriage by Abe Lincoln to the Dickett Bibb plantation, where she worked. Wash was brought by Dickett Bibb in Mobile, Alabama because he was a good breeder. Wash left six sons in Mobile.
Wash married Amy and they had four children. They were Bessie, David, Eliza and Dennis. The year Dennis was born (1868) they also had a child named Jane given to them when Dennis was born, Wash was a free man. In 1873 Wash walked away from his family leaving Amy with five children. Dennis was five years old at the time. No one knows why he left or where he went, since Wash was never heard from again.
Amy continued to work for Dickett Bibb in his home and the children helped with the farm work. in later years several things happened:
David left home and was never seen or heard from, Eliza married Litt Burton, Bessie married Payton Pruitt.
Dennis attened school only through the thrid grade, then had to quit and go to work to help his mother. As the years passed Dennis, while at a picnic, met a beautiful young lady whose name was Ella Felder. Ella lived with her brother, Billy Felder, who had raised her. Ther mother had died after being bitten by a black widow spider when Ella was a baby and their father died before Ella's birth. Ella also had another brother, Walter, and two sisters, Annie and Georgia.
Months passed and Dennis courted Ella by walking with her to church and picnics. Dennis asked her brother Billy for her hand in marriage. Billy gave his consent and blessing to Dennis and Ella. After they married, Dennis took his bride home to live with himand his mother Amy. They lived with mother Amy until they had five children.
Dennis and Ella took their five children and moved to Bill Graves Plantation. Dennis soon became ill with the Chicken Pox, which in those days was a deadly disease. Bill Graves sent Dennis to what was once used as servants quarters to be quarantined and warned Ella not to go near him. Ella who knew no bounds, refused to heed these warnings. She knew that there was neither food nor water at the house where Dennis was and that her husband would surely die without nourishment to sustain him. With her oldest child Hannah and five of her friends, including Wilson and Frances Asbury, they took medicines to treat Dennis. The medicines they took consisted of axle grease from his wagon, teas from his yard and sulfur mixed with lard. At night Ella and Mr. Asbury would go to Dennis and treat him with the medicines and give him food and water.
Ella's efforts, determination and prayers paid off. Dennis got well and resumed farming for many years. When Grandmother Amy could no longer work and take care of herself because of old age, Dennis moved her into his home. He and Ella, along with their children, saw to her needs until she passed away. Dennis and Ella had 22 children, some of whose names appear below:
Bessie & Billie
They also had other children who passed away when they were quite Young. The late Hannah Wheeler of Birmingham, Alabama was the oldest of the children, and the late Rev. Wilson J. Jemison, who was pastor and founder of Young Peoples Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit was the youngest of the children. Dennis and Ella raised their children and 17 grandchildren on Bill Gravers Farm near Hope Hull, Alabama. Once all of the grandchildren were grown, Dennis and Ella moved to Pittsburg, Pa. in 1938, where Dennis said, "God has been so good to me".
During a prayer meeting at his daughters Annie's home in Pittsburg, Dennis found the Lord. After accepting Christ, he moved back to Montgomery, Alabama in 1942 on Holt Street and was a member of Abraham Lodge 367 Masonic Order. He attained the rank of Past Worship Master Mason. At a Masonic meeting in 1944, Dennis got up to address his brother Masons to thank them for the pension they had awared him. At that moment Dennis suffered a stroke and fell to the floor. Dennis passed away five days later at the home of his son, Solomon. God had taken Dennis away from us to be with him in His kingdom. ( Well done, faithful servant!)
Sadly, there are no children of Dennis and Ella still living, however, the fruits of those that have passed on are reflected in you who are present here tonight, so we should all take pride in our heritage and let us continue to be one family, one union.
Written by: Janie Mae Lee