Thursday, May 28, 2009

Family Group Record - Jesse Rambo and Mary Humphrey

Above ground graves of Jesse Rambo and wife Mary Humphrey, Friendship Primitive Baptist Church. Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia

This is the church his son Rev. Kinchen Rambo helped to organize. The church remains an active church in Lawrenceville, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. This cemetery is a few miles from the former home of Rev. Kinchen Rambo.

Husband: Jesse Rambo

Born: 9 Oct 1778 - Orangeburg District, Colonial South Carolina
Died: 16 Dec 1860 - Gwinnett County, Georgia
Buried: Friendship Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia
Father: Swan (Jr.) Rambo (Abt 1720-Abt 1800)
Mother: Jane Elizabeth Pinson (Abt 1724-Between 1800)
Marriage: 22 Oct 1801 Place: Barnwell County, South Carolina

Spouse: Mary Humphrey
Born: 15 Oct 1780 - Colonial Virginia
Died: 9 Aug 1862 - Gwinnett County, Georgia
Buried: Friendship Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia
Father: Ralph Humphrey
Mother: Sarah (Unknown)

1 M Kinchen (Rev.) Rambo
Born: 5 Feb 1802 - Barnwell County, South Carolina
Died: 21 May 1882 - Floyd County, Georgia
Buried: Floyd County, Georgia
Spouse: Mary Ann Pryor (1807-1891)
Marr. Date: 5 Jul 1824 - South Carolina
Last Modified: 28 May 2009


Uncle Jesse Rambo was an odd genius, full of eccentricities and quaint sayings. Everybody knew Jesse Rambo. Those who came to town had seen the old man, heard his queer talk, and went home and told about the strange little man they had seen. Therefore, everybody big, little, old and young, black and white, knew Jesse Rambo.

He was queer in his looks, queer in his talk, queer in his notions, queer in his habits, queer in everything. We miss the old man from our town with his good humor, his anecdotes, his droll sayings and expressions. Twelve years have passed since he died, yet all these are vivid in my mind. The memory of the man, what he used to say, how he used to look, how he used to act, comes back and makes me laugh.

To write properly of him requires a more graphic pen than mine. To portray his idiosyncrasies, which were all of him, is an undertaking that I feel incompetent to perform. He was a character such as I never saw before and shall never see again. That he was a man taken all in all we shall never look upon his like again is an aphorism to which all who knew him readily assent. A man of good property, good farm, many slaves, cribs full of corn, smokehouse full of bacon, yet he was always gong to starve to death. He would often speak of his poverty-stricken condition so piteously, and apparently so truthfully, that one was ready to believe it and sympathize with him, though he might know to the contrary.

Once when he was in our town bewailing his poverty and his inexorable fate of starvation, a stranger who was present was touched in his sympathy for the poor old man; and taking out his purse, said: "Old man, I am a poor man myself, but I am able to work and you are not." Thus speaking he handed him a dollar and continued: "If this will do you any good, you are welcome to it." Mr. Rambo drew back in surprise, and taking off his hat, said: "I thank you, sir; I am mighty poor, but will try to make out without charity."

He was close in his dealings, saving with his money, not much given to bestow charity, but was honest, wanting only his own, but wanted all of that. He was very friendly with Asa Smith. Smith had great confidence in him and generally divided his little trade with him at his store. He would frequently go behind the counter looking about. Smith's brother, John, slipped a ball of shoe thread into the pocket of his long-tailed coat to tease him. I never think of that old blue coat but what I think of "Old Gimes" and the stanza I learned when I was a boy:

"Old Gimes is dead, that good old man,
We ne'er see him more;
He used to wear an old blue coat
All buttoned down before."

Mr. Rambo did not find out about the shoe thread until he got home and did not know how it got there. He was very much perplexed and troubled. Finally he concluded that John Smith, "that mischievous rascal," did it. Next morning bright and early he went back to town, much discouraged, and asked John if he put that thread in his pocket. Smith expressed great surprise and greatly astonished that he, Mr. Rambo, should have taken the thread, that he had always thought him honest, had allowed him to go behind the counter when he pleased, had no idea that he would take anything, had missed the ball of thread but had not thought he took it, and would have to watch him thereafter. It was too serious with the old man to make a joke of it, and never while he lived did he forgive John Smith.

Forty-five years ago, the Hunnicutts lived in Lawrenceville and worked at the blacksmith's trade. Buck was then one of the boys and was fond of playing off on Allen Dyer, Jesse Rambo and others. It was summer time and crops were fine. Mr. Rambo had a field of fine corn near his house. Buck conceived the plan and another helped to carry it out. They procured two cowbells and went over to his house about a mile and a half from town. It was night and not far from bedtime. Buck went to one side of the field and his friend on the other side. First one and then the other would rattle his bell. The old man heard them and supposed his cornfield was full of cattle. He was in a great sputter, called up his Negroes, and they went in great haste to get them out. One bell would stop as they approached that side of the field, and the one on the opposite side would ring, then this one would cease and the other begin. In this way they kept the old man and his Negroes two mortal hours running from one side of the field to the other, he dealing out imprecations that the darn cows would destroy all his corn. One of the perpetrators of this joke has long since passed on, but Buck still lives. Let me say to him that was a trick well conceived and executed, but you served the old man mighty bad.

Mr. Rambo, while a splutterer, was an inoffensive man. I never heard of his doing any harm to any one or to their property but once. Robert Craig, who was his neighbor, had a bull that was large and fat and went where it pleased, a twelve rail fence to the contrary notwithstanding. One day Mr. Rambo heard him coming down the lane, bellowing furiously, and visions of destroyed cornfields flitted through his mind. Gathering his old shotgun, he met him up the lane, the bull on the outside, he on the inside. Approaching within a short distance, he fired through the crack of the fence, giving him a full dose of blue pills in his flank, contrary to the dignity and comfort of the bull and the peace and quietude of Mr. Craig. When the animal went home, the owner found that he was shot and soon ascertained that Mr. Rambo did it. Mr. Craig, hot as pepper, went over to see about it. The following colloquy took place:

"Rambo, did you shoot my bull?"

"Was he in your field?"
"Was he doing any mischief?"
"Where was he?"
"In my lane."
"Then why did you shoot him?"
"I was sick that morning and in an ill humor."
"Well, sir, the next time you get sick I want you to go to Dr. Russell and get a dose of medicine and not shoot my bull again, and as you are poor, I will pay for it."

He used to say he never bet but once in his life. When he lived in South Carolina, and soon after his marriage, a big, awkward, lightwood-smoked, spraddle footed piney woodsman, without shoes, his copperas breeches reaching half way from his knees to his ankles, marched up to his cabin with a rifle and took a seat in the yard. He soon began to tell of his exploits as a marksman, the number of deer and turkeys he had killed, and that he would never shoot a squirrel except in the eye. Just at this moment, a rooster walked across the yard. The hunter said he could shoot off his comb without otherwise touching it and that he would bet a dollar on it. Mr. Rambo thought it an impossibility, was sure he could win his money and covered the bet with the first and only money he had ever earned. The man raised his rifle, clucked to the chicken to attract its attention, fired, shaved off its comb as it it had been cut with a knife. Mr. Rambo's dollar was gone. That broke him from gambling.

Mr. Rambo came to this County about 1820. He came from piney woods, not far from Charleston. He had been very poor, but by industry and frugality became well off. He never spent money, except for the education of his only child, Rev. Kinchin Rambo, a Baptist minister, long a citizen of this County, now a resident of Floyd County. He saved his money and was a money lender. His friend, Mr. Cleveland, in whom he had great confidence, once wanted to borrow some money. Mr. Rambo was in town and it was not convenient for him to go home to get it. Mr. Cleveland wanted it right then and said he could write his wife an order for it and he would send and get it. "That would do no good," said Mr. Rambo, "she might think it a forged order." So he sent Perry, Mr. Cleveland's colored man, his old pocket knife, and the $500 were sent.

He was a Baptist when I first knew him and was regular in his attendance at his church at old Redland, complying strictly with all its ordinances, but fell from grace and died out of the church.
In politics, he was a Democrat dyed in the wool both warp and woof. He never split his ticket. He would have considered it worse than sacrilege to have voted for a Whig or any one who was not a Democrat.

I might give many other anecdotes of Jesse Rambo. I might tell of Bob Coker wanting to go home with him from town one day and the old man's many excuses for him not to go. First, his wife was sick and couldn't have company, and of Bob's saying he was a very quiet man and would not be troublesome; that his cook was sick, too, and of Bob saying that he was a first rate cook and would do the cooking; that he had nothing in the world to eat but cowpeas, and Bob saying that he liked cowpeas better than anything in the world; of the old man's evident despair in trying to get rid of him; of Bob finally stepping into the grocery to get another drink to give the old man a chance to run, of how he did run, and how he made tracks over the hill towards home, leaving a blue streak behind him. Further space will not admit of more on this line.

The meanest and most diabolical act I ever knew perpetrated in our County was the robbery of Jesse Rambo. He was a little old man. His family consisted of himself, wife, and Negro slaves. It was believed generally that he had money, and he did; but the day before the occurrence, he had taken the most of it and deposited it with Hutchins, Cleveland, or Spence. I have forgotten which. Five or six men went to his house late at night disguised. Two guarded the Negro houses to keep them in. The others went into the house and demanded the key to the safe; they blindfolded the old man, hit him with a stick and used violence on Mrs. Rambo by choking her. The old man could hear her gurgling her throat in the effort to breathe, and he begged them to spare her but kill him if they would. I have heard of honor among thieves, of magnanimity of highwaymen, but the attack on Mr. Rambo and the violence to his wife were the most fiendish that ever occurred in the County. It was currently believed that at the time and that opinion is still entertained that the perpetrators of this foul deed were partly at least of our own citizens, men who stood well in general estimation, men who probably often prated their honesty, integrity, uprightness and fair dealing. And if this should meet their eye, let me say: Ye hypocrites, your sins find you out. A day of retribution will come. You will yet call for the rocks and mountains to fall upon you and hide your naked deformities from the presence of an indignant and offended God.

Finally, Jesse Rambo was as queer and unique in personal appearance as he was in sayings and actions. He was about five feet eight inches in height, weighed about one hundred and ten pounds, was erect and fidgety, clad generally in summer in a longtail blue surtout of homespun manufacture, copperas pants with legs stuck in his stockings, with cow leather shoes tanned in his own trough and made by his Negroes, a pair of brass-rimmed spectacles always on, and for many years a high-topped hat of the beegum style given him by Mr. Spence, and a little old blue cotton "umbrella" carried in his left hand when not stretched over him.

I thought I could describe him better when I commenced, but like Dr. Hall's morning gown, he was non de script in all his parts and I have made a failure.

The queer old man is sleeping in his grave and I shall not disturb him. I always liked him for his oddities, his good nature, and his great flow of quaint humor. It was a great freak in nature when he was made. The world has seen but one Jesse Rambo and will never see another.
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