Lizzie, wife of Frank King, Frank King and Mary King Holloman.
Frank & Mary King Holloman were children of Barnabas & Emily R. King.
>Emily Rhodes was the daughter of Ingram and Sarah Cox Rhodes.
Overmans & Kings
Clara King Jennett King & husband William King.
Clara first married Elijah Cox Stanton Jennett and they had one son, Norman Ethre
Jennett. Clara was the daughter of Barnabas & Emily R. King.
Norman Ethre Jennett was the son of Elijah Cox Stanton Jennett from
Wayne Co, NC, and Clara King, daughter of Barnabus King and Emily
Rhodes from Johnston County. These Jennett's descend from Joseph &
Abigail Peele Jennett.
THE STATE *Down Home in North Carolina
May 1977, Vol 44, No 12
Rediscovery of The "Sampson Huckleberry"
Norman Jennett introduced a potent
new weapon to the Democratic arsenal
By Dr H.G. Jones
Curator, The North Carolina Collection
Josephus Daniels and the Democrats called him the "Sampson
Huckleberry," Republicans and Populists had less complimentary
nicknames for him. Even those whom he satirized, however,
admitted his unusual talents and recognized that it was a status
symbol to be the subject of one of his cartoons.
He was, in fact, North Carolina's first important political
cartoonist, and after leaving the state, he became one of the
nation's leading journal illustrators. Yet, until now, not a
single North Carolina biographical work has bothered to mention
The search for Norman E Jennett began last year when I concluded
that his influence in the 1890's justified an entry in Bill
Powell's "Dictionary of North Carolina Biography." Strangely,
though, information on him was elusive, for just about every lead
petered out after the young man settled in New York. Even his old
friend, Josephus Daniels, who reminisced about Jennett's role
during the Fusion era, said nothing of importance about his
protege's national success.
Three letters to the editors, published in Raleigh, Clinton, and
Goldsboro, brought replies from readers who remembered or had
hears about the artist, and several relatives reported that
Jennett's son and daughter lived in California. Then one day a
letter arrived from Miss Charlotte Jennett of Santa Barbara, who
unveiled her father's career and sent to the North Carolina
Collection and the Southern Historical Collection his scrapbooks,
photographs, and some correspondence. North Carolina can now
rediscover one of its artistic geniuses.
Started on "The Caucasian"
Let Norman Jennett start the story with his own words: "My first
assignment came when Aunt Nancy Crocker, the reliable
neighborhood midwife, held me up by my heels and gave me a
walloping spank which opened my eyes and mouth and gave me to my
good mother and my Quaker father on the 10th of March 1877."
This entrance of Norman Ethre Jennett took place in his widowed
grandmother's unpainted house in the Grantham community of Wayne
County. His father was Elijah Stanton Jennett; his mother was the
former Clarissa (Clara) Rhodes King.
The boy was only a year old when his father died, and for the
next several years Clara and Norman lived with her mother, Emily
Rhodes King. Norman dutifully attended Bethany Friends Meeting
House on Sunday for religious instruction and during the week for
his schooling. He carried his Quakerism proudly throughout his
While Norman was still young, his mother married William Rufus
King, and the boy moved with them to Sampson County. Though the
youngster's education was limited to a few years in the common
schools, he showed particular talent for drawing and carving
likenesses of human figures on blocks of wood. A Barlow knife was
At the age of 15, Norman carried one of his wood sketches to
Marion Butler, then editor of the "Caucasian" in Clinton. Butler
inked the block and ran it with Jack Bennett's poem titled
"Summer's Comin" in the April 28, 1892 issue. The sketch of the
jaunty black man attracted considerable notice, and Butler hired
Jennett for a dollar a week to work around the office and
occasionally carve out other wood blocks.
Soon, however, the competing newspaper, the "Sampson Democrat,"
enticed the youngster away from the "Caucasian" and put his
talents to a new purpose. By then Butler was the leader of the
newly-organized Populist Party in North Carolina, and he became a
favorite subject for his former employee's drawings. Jennett's
carvings took on a decidedly political tone. One cartoon, for
instance, showed Butler selling out to the Republicans; another
pictured him as a giraffe reaching for the senatorial "plum."
A New Political Weapon
The young man's funny characterizations of the Populist leader
attracted the attention of Democratic Governor Elias Carr who
recommended Jennett to Josephus Daniels, the unofficial press
agent for the Democratic Party. The "News and Observer" was not
prosperous enough to afford a cartoonist, but Daniels agreed to
hire the eighteen-year-old as an office boy with the privilege of
drawing cartoons occasionally. The first "News and Observer"
cartoon bearing his signature appeared in August, 1895. Hundreds
were to follow.
Having worked with wood blocks previously, Jennett now perfected
a technique of drawing a picture with a pencil, cutting it onto a
chalk plate, then making the cut from molten metal. Crude though
it was, a new weapon was introduced into the political campaigns
of the 1890s. Jennett's cartoons against the Fusionists became a
popular feature in the "News and Observer" and won him the
attention of leading Democrats. He became a youthful hero of the
party before he was old enough to vote.
For subject matter, Jennett devoured the editorial page and
immersed himself in the views of Daniels and the party leaders.
Because the race issue was the chief weapon of the Democrats,
many of the caricatures associated the Republicans and Populist
with blacks. For instance, the caption of a cartoon showing
Governor Daniel Russell listening to James H Young, a Negro
newspaper editor, read, "The Source of the Governor's
Inspiration." Charges of governmental corruption and railroad
influence during the Fusion administration were also favorite
Still, Jennett himself looked upon his work as art, not politics,
and some Fusionists took great pleasure in being caricatured.
Said Raleigh's Republican postmaster, Tom Bailey, "The oftener I
am in the News and Observer, the more influence I have with the
Republicans. They think you do not make a man's caricature unless
he is influential." Jennett delightedly accommodated him.
To New York
The attention showered upon him as a young cartoonist increased
Jennett's defensiveness concerning his lack of schooling and
absence of professional art training. As a result, he sent
samples of his work to the National Academy of Design in New
York, and to his great satisfaction the academy offered him a
scholarship, provided he paid a small entrance fee.
But the young man had no money for room and board, and Daniels
was not in a position to aid him. Suddenly Jennett had an idea.
He sat down in September, 1896, and wrote a letter to Julian S
Carter, well known Durham industrialist and Democratic Party
benefactor. He presented his case for a loan. Placing the letter
in an envelope, Jennett simply drew a pen portrait of Carr on the
cover, affixed a stamp, and dropped it in the mail. No name, no
As Jennett had anticipated, the letter promptly found its way to
Carr who, though favorably disposed toward aiding the youth,
informed him that the "uncertain and disquieting times" made it
unsafe for him to offer assistance before the end of the year. In
fact, it was not until February 3 of the following year that Carr
finally sent Jennett a check for $50, thus enabling the
cartoonist to make use of the free pass that Daniels had obtained
from the railroad. In New York, Jennett lived frugally and from
time to time received additional loans from Carr.
Within a few months after his arrival in the big city, Jennett
had sold drawings to the "Southern Tobacco Journal," the
"American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record," the "Evening
Journal," and the "New York Herald." After studying at the
National Academy, he enrolled in 1898 in the William M Chase
School of Art, and his cartoons began appearing in other
publications such as "Life (the "old" Life)," "Ainslee's," and
The Campaign of 1898
He continued to draw for the "News and Observer" when requested
by Daniels. For instance, in March, 1898, Daniels wrote Jennett,
"I want you to draw me a picture of the Siamese twins,
representing Governor Russell as one of them and Col. Andrews as
the other. Make Governor Russel say 'If you want to hold office,
whip Joe Daniels,' and make Col. Andrews say 'The News and
Observer must be destroyed.'"
As the legislative race shaped up in the summer of 1898, Daniels
urged Jennett to return to North Carolina to assist in the
campaign. On August 6 the "News and Observer" carried a headline
reading, "Jennett to Return/The Huckleberry Cartoonist to be in
Raleigh on Monday/Radicals Must Look Out/News and Observer's
Cartoons to be Revived." In the text of the article the paper,
reviewing Jennett's previous work, said "...in the public eye,
his cartoons gave the paper such popularity that all members of
the staff had to take a subordinate position. Even the 'old man's'
stuff was thrown out of the forms to get in one of Jennett's
When the campaign was over and the Democrats had won a sweeping
majority in the General Assembly, the party stalwarts raised $63
in appreciation for Jennett's role in the "redemption." In
transmitting the gift, Attorney James H Pou wrote, "...your work
in the campaign has received the approval of the public and no
man now hesitates to say that it was one of the powers that
brought about the revolution."
Jennett continued to draw for various national publications, and
for several months in 1899 he worked for the "St. Louis Star." He
returned to New York, however, and for two years was an artist
for the "Brooklyn Eagle." In 1900 he painted six scenes which
were exhibited by the Mutual Life Insurance Company at the Paris
Again in 1900 he spent several weeks in Raleigh drawing cartoons
during the campaign for passage of the suffrage amendment and
election of Charles B Aycock. This was in response to Daniel's
statement that "Your work two years ago helped us to carry the
state, and the people of the state looked upon you and Aycock as
the great leaders. They are going to make him governor and you
will earn the lasting gratitude of the state if you can come back
and help us carry the Amendment this year."
In 1901 Jennett joined the "New York Herald" as an artist,
working simultaneously for the companion "Evening Telegram." In
addition to his usual artwork, his colored comic strip about a
lovable clown, "The Monkey Shines of Marseleen," became a big
hit, and in 1906 McLoughlin Brothers published a selection of the
strips in a hardback book by the same title. Three years later an
entirely new edition was published by Cupples and Leon.
Among Jennett's other activities during the long period of his
association with the "Herald" and "Evening Telegram" were the
creation of the Pathe Freres' rooster; a comic strip called "The
Arrow-Plane Girlies" for "McCall's;" and a series of drawings for
"Judge, Book Notes," and other magazines.
After sixteen years with the "Herald," Jennett left in 1917 to
become art director of two new magazines, "Aerial Age" and
"Flying." In his five years with these publications, he
contributed significantly to the popularization of aviation. One
of his humorous creations during the war was the strip,"Our
Sammies in the Air."
In 1923, Jennett became assistant art editor for the MacFadden
Publications empire, illustrating articles by popular authors
such as Fulton Ousler, drawing cartoons, and preparing
advertising copy. His artwork was seen by millions of readers of
the magazines issued by Bernarr MacFadden's empire.
Jennett retired in 1939 and thereafter devoted much of his time
to painting in oils and watercolors. Several of his works were
exhibited in New York, New Jersey, and California.
Relations between Jennett and Daniels remained warm over the
years. In 1906, congratulating his former employee on the
publication of "The Monkey Shines of Marseleen," Daniels wrote,
"Nobody rejoices in any success that comes to you more than I do,
and I often wish that this town were large enough so that you
could be here on the News and Observer and we could always work
together." As secretary of the navy, Daniels wrote, "(Your note)
recalled very pleasant days and a friendship I treasure. It gave
me the opportunity to talk to my boys about you, your fine spirit
and the fine stuff of which you are made." And, as ambassador to
Mexico, Daniels wrote, "We think and talk of you often and of
course you know that you are always in the favored nation clause
of our friendship."
Their collaboration was renewed by correspondence in 1939 when
Daniels began writing his "Editor in Politics," in which he
devoted an interesting but not altogether accurate discussion to
Jennett. At the request of his old boss, the cartoonist returned
to his drawing board and followed Daniel's instructions to the
letter. For instance, in a drawing depicting the first flight of
the Wright Brothers, Daniels insisted that his cousin, John
Daniels, and Captain Adam Etheridge were the "only two who had
anything to do with the Wright's first flight." Jennett showed
only the four men in the drawing made especially for the book.
Among the other sketches Jennett made for Daniels at that time
was a self-portrait of the artist at work at the "News and
Norman Jennett kept in touch with a few members of his family in
North Carolina and from time to time visited them and old
friends. Most of his kinsmen on his father's side now spell their
last name as Jinnette or Jennette.
Married in 1901 to Helen Mary MacGuinness, a native of Ireland,
Jennett established a home in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. Nearly a
half century later, however, they moved to California to be near
their two children, Norman Ethre Jennett, Jr., and Charlotte
Clara Jennett. Helen Jennett died in 1967, and her husband, who
progressed from wood blocks to the most sophisticated artistry in
journalism, lived until January 17, 1970. Both are buried in the
Santa Barbara Cemetery.
Now, in the hundredth year of his birth, the "Sampson
Huckleberry" had earned his place on the roster of North
Carolinians who rose to prominence in their professions.
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