Monday, June 26, 2006


Joseph Thomas Maddrey Jr. – “J.T.” or “Jake” to friends and family – was born on March 5, 1900, into a large family that was well-established in the community of Seaboard, North Carolina. His father was a successful farmer, merchant, and landowner, active in local politics. His mother, Rowena, had founded the Seaboard Baptist Church a few years earlier, and wrote for the county newspaper.

Jake had two living step-brothers and three step-sisters – his oldest step-brother was 32 when he was born; his youngest step-sister was almost 17. He also had five brothers and one sister living under the same roof. His oldest brother Harry was 13 years old, Carl was 9, Oliver 7, Bailey 5, Marguerite 3, and Mitch turned 2 years old the day before Jake was born. Jake’s father was 57 years old, and wouldn’t live to see the boy’s thirteenth birthday.

Around the time of his father’s death, 22-year old Carl graduated from North Carolina State College, returned home, got married (to Martha Buffaloe), opened his own store (H.C. Maddrey Co.), and helped raise his younger siblings. It seems as if his grandfather, Richard Thaddeus Stephenson, was a major influence on Carl. Like R.T., Carl became a Freemason and was active in politics throughout the county and state-wide. According to his obituary, R.T. spent much of his time in the final years of his life at Carl’s store. No doubt Jake looked up to both of these men during his formative years.

In 1917, a few months after the United States declared war on Germany, Jake graduated from Seaboard High School. In March 1918, his older brother Bailey joined the service and left for Camp Jackson in South Carolina. His tombstone shows that he served in the U.S. Army, so I'm guessing that Jake may have followed his brother to war, and possibly returned home soon after Germany and the Allies signed an armistice on November 11, 1918. (This is pure speculation on my part, but it seems like the most logical time in his life for him to have served in the military. If he went to college in the spring of 1919, then he should have received his four-year degree in the spring of 1923.)

In 1923, Jake graduated from Wake Forest College with a Bachelor of Law Degree. A year later, on March 8, 1924, he married Florence Carter Suiter, daughter of John Arthur Suiter (1872 – 1924) and Susan Jones Stokes (1877 – 1949) of Garysburg. Their first child, John Wayland Maddrey, was born on November 4, 1925 in Garysburg. He was named after a younger brother, Wayland Barnett, who died of spinal meningitis. Jake and Florence's second child, Josephine Crocker Maddrey, was born on January 6, 1927.

In 1931, Jake was elected Mayor of the nearby town of Weldon, in Halifax County. He held the position until 1955, by which time both of his children had married and started families of their own. Wayland married Virginia Olivia DeFord of Princess Anne County, Virginia, and settled in Weldon. Jo married Albert "Bo" House and they settled in Scotland Neck (southeastern Halifax County), North Carolina. Later, Jake served many years as a Judge in the former Halifax County Recorder’s Court and two terms as Chief Sixth District Judge.

Jake died on April 3, 1979, and was buried in Weldon town cemetery. His wife passed away on February 26, 1996. She is buried next to him.

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