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Uncle Jimmie Night

From the Surratt House Archives -- A photocopy of an unidentified newspaper article, but labeled "1952":

"Uncle Jimmie Night"   No story of Surrattsville would be complete without the story of James Hawkins, or "Uncle Jimmy" as he was known to hundreds of students.  After serving as custodian for thirty-three years, an affair was planned in his honor known as "Uncle Jimmie Night".  It was the culmination of thoughts in the minds of a great many in the community for a long time, to give homage to this kindly old man, so well known and so well loved.  Therefore, in April 1949, when "Uncle Jimmy" was soon to be seventy-nine years old, the Surrattsville Athletic Association sponsored a party for him.

Presentations were made to "Uncle Jimmy" by the elementary grades, by the high school and by the Athletic Association.  He was given a new accordian for he had long wanted to entertain the pupils with selections on an old battered one down in the "boiler room" at school.  Alumni on visiting Surrattsville always went to the boiler room to see "Uncle Jimmy".  Mr. Ernest Loveless, Jr., Chairman of the Planning Committee was most emphatic that in the "Archives" shown at the Dedication and Homecoming next Wednesday an honored place must be reserved for "Uncle Jimmy.  What manner of man was this that everyone knew so well and revered?  We are indebted to the Program for "Uncle Jimmy Night" for the following excerpts"

'Born April 15, 1870, on Mr. Phil Marbury's plantation on Thrift Road, "Uncle Jimmy's" mother was a slave cook in the Marbury family and his father was a slave hand and carpenter on Mr. Coe's plantation at Piscataway. "Uncle Jimmy" walked four miles to school at T. B..  When he as about 23, he married and had five sons and five daughters.  When "Uncle Jimmie" was forty years old he bought the land and house on Thrift Road where he lived up until the time of his last illness.  He passed away in the Fall of 1950.

About the time he bought his home, he began working a "little plot of ground" for Mrs. McKay, principal of the old Surratts School.  She talked to him about being a janitor and in 1915 he started a job that was to last many years.  During his early years along with his other duties he cared for the horses and buggies that the children used for transportation.  During all those years as janitor "Uncle Jimmy" missed only ten days of work.