Jesse was born in South Carolina in 1822.
In about 1846, Jesse married Mary Mariah Smith who was born July 24, 1825 in South Carolina.
They had five children:
William W. born about 1847, Hiram born about 1849, Frances Elizabeth “Fannie” born May 25, 1851, Margaret born about 1853 and Robert Benjamin “Shoat” born August 8, 1859.
Around the end of 1853, Jesse and his family as well as his wife’s parents, Hiram and Elizabeth Smith, Hiram’s brother Edwin Smith and family and
many others from the Darlington County, SC area traveled by wagon to Florida to settle in Wakulla County in a place that came to be known as Smith Creek.
Jesse was a farmer. The 1860 Agricultural Census says he owned 1,100 acres of land, had 2 horses, 4 milk cows, 8 other cattle and 40 swine. He had 300 bushels of Indian corn, 3 bales of ginned cotton, 50 pounds of beeswax and 200 pounds of honey. Jesse and Mary were members of Mt. Elon Baptist
Church which was started in 1854.
When the War Between the States began, Jesse
enlisted in the Confederate Army to fight for southern independence. On May 17, 1861 at
Newport, he enlisted as a private in Co. D, 3rd Florida Infantry. On March 14, 1862, he transferred to Co. I, 5th Florida Infantry and was promoted to Full 4th Sergeant.
Jesse died on November 9, 1862 of pneumonia at the FloridaHospital in Richmond, Virginia. He was 40 years old. He is buried in the Soldiers Plot in
Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.
Mary died in 1881 and she is buried in the Mt. Elon
Cemetery in Smith Creek.
Only two of Jesse and Mary’s children lived to grow
old. Hiram died before 1860 and it is believed that William and Margaret died during the 1860’s.
Frances married Thomas Evander Vause and Robert married Sarah Elizabeth Colvin.
While Jesse was away at war, he wrote letters home to his wife. His last four letters were saved by his family and in 1964 they were printed in the Magnolia Monthly magazine published by Elizabeth F. Smith in WakullaCounty.