The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Margaret Jane Simmons Jessup

By Imogene Turman © 1986

Issue: 1986

Elder Delmon Nester and Margaret Jane Simmons Jessup.Elder Delmon Nester and Margaret Jane Simmons Jessup.Margaret Jane Simmons Jessup was born April 25, 1863. She was the oldest child of Jack Simmons. The Simmons family lived in the Westfield community of Surry County, North Carolina.

When Margaret was a small child, she was bitten by a copperhead snake. Her leg where the snake had bitten her soon turned black and was swollen quite large. A traveler came by and told her frantic parents to kill a chicken and cut it in half and cap it over her leg. As the chicken died, it would pull the poison out. The family did this and it worked. However, each year as the date of the snake bite drew near, her leg would swell and turn dark.

When Margaret was sixteen, she met Yancey H. Jessup. They were engaged during the Christmas of 1878 and married May 8, 1879. To Margaret and Yancey were born six children - Laura Jessup Love, Elijah Jessup, Samuel Jessup, Sara Jane Jessup Banks, Ezra Jessup and Joseph Edgar Jessup.

Margaret worked hard all her life. She never sat with idle hands. She knew how to do all the hard work and put every scrap of clothing to use.

Margaret and Yancey were to endure hardship and tragedy. About 1916, their home burned to the ground. Some years later, Yancey went blind. He had surgery for cataracts, which helped a little, but only to tell darkness from light.

The year Margaret was 47, it was very trying. Her oldest son Elijah (who was married to Sally Cruise) took appendicitis. The doctors didn't know how to handle the situation. He died April 3, 1907, leaving a wife and two small daughters. Margaret's youngest son, Edgar was born December 16, 1907. Margaret's oldest daughter, already grown with children of her own, lent her mother baby clothes.

The Jessup's second daughter, Sara Jane, married Fred Banks on January 19, 1908. February 5, 1908, the second son, Sammy married Mattie Bonnard. Ezra married Deller Terry on April 21, 1918.

On December 31, 1927, the Jessup's other son, Edgar, married Nancy Thompson and they lived with Margaret and Yancey.

Yancey died January 25, 1932. After that, Margaret made her home with her younger son until her death on April 10, 1948.

Elder Delmon Nester of Dugspur, Virginia preached her funeral. The photograph with this story pictures Margaret and Elder Nester together.