This is a regular column for the one-on-one oral history interviews conducted by Sulema DePeyster, our Community History Specialist. Each article will feature the story of a Windsor resident and provide highlights from the interview, giving readers an inside look into the discussion that took place.
L to R: Delia Jubrey, Barbara Sales Trahan (sister), Dorothy Sharp Scott (grandmother), and Patricia Sales Narcisse (sister), c.1940. All photos courtesy of Delia Jubrey
Delia “Dee” Sales Jubrey was born in 1938 to Douglas Willard Sales and Marion Scott Sales. For most of her childhood, Delia lived in a two-room home on William Street in Windsor with her parents and two older sisters, Barbara and Patricia. She enjoyed growing up in this neighborhood, which she described as quiet and inhabited primarily by Black families. Many of Delia’s relatives lived close by on Cook Hill Road. She attended John Fitch School and H. Sidney Hayden School. During her second year at Windsor High, Delia and her family relocated to a new home in Hayden Station. She was often one of the only students of color in her classes and extracurricular clubs, which included the Tunxis Business Board and the Library Club.
“As far as growing up and going to school, no qualms. I knew I wasn’t going to the Sadie Hawkins dance. [laughs] There’s just things you know that [as] an African American, you knew you weren’t going to certain things. […] Not that there wasn’t any kind of racism or whatever, but it was subtle. You know what I mean? We all got along.”
Despite her general sense of camaraderie with her white peers, Delia recalled two separate incidents in which a fellow student called her a racial slur. The first incident took place at H. Sidney Hayden, and she still remembers a teacher taking both her and the other student aside.
“The only time I had any problems with prejudice was the darn kids at the school, and I remember one day, [at] the school behind the senior center that’s not there anymore, me and this young lady. A teacher appeared because she said the n-word to me, and she took us up to the room and she reprimanded the young lady. And then in high school, a white boy came up with the same thing.”
Careers in Connecticut
Delia Sales in the 1956 Windsor High School yearbook
After graduating from Windsor High School in 1956, Delia began working at Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance in Hartford. She married James Jubrey the following year and moved to Enfield where they raised their four children. When her youngest son was 5 years old, she returned to work as a maid for a pathway home in Windsor Locks. Two years later, she became a secretary for Hamilton Standard, a small airplane manufacturing company located at Bradley Field.
Her work as a secretary for Northeast Utilities (now Eversource) started in 1972 and continued until 1997. As someone who is eager to learn, Delia enjoyed the introduction of new technology during this time.
“The electric typewriter came into play, so the boss came over to me. I loved learning things, and I started typing away. When the electric typewriter came, oh my God! [laughs] And then later on in the 80s, [when] the computers came into play, I was all excited.”
She later retired from Kelly Services after 12 years of employment, which involved placements in locations such as Konica Minolta and the post office.
“Kelly Services [was my favorite job]. You know why? Because there was variety. […] I enjoyed working over at Hamilton, believe it or not, because it fascinated me. [W]hat fascinated me about Hamilton is that minds created this – for planes to fly.”
Many Windsor residents may be familiar with Delia, but some may not know about her great passion for researching her ancestry. She has been deeply committed to uncovering the extent of her extraordinary family history for the past 30 years. During our interview, Delia provided a glimpse of this process by sharing a series of binders used to store the resources she has collected. We discussed the current state of her research and what she hopes to learn more about in the future.
Delia first began her genealogical journey in 1991, with a special interest in the life of her fourth-great- grandfather, Thomas Sharp. Unlike many Black Americans, who often face challenges with genealogical research earlier than the mid-19th century, Delia can trace her lineage back to the year 1782: Thomas Sharp’s birth year.
“[He] supposedly was 85 years old when he died….He was a fugitive slave from New York. I’m saying New York because I heard that he swam part of the Hudson River [to get to Connecticut]. So I don’t know if that’s true or not.”
Thomas Sharp reported New York as his birthplace in both the 1850 and 1860 censuses. However, it is possible that he was originally born in the South and listed New York to avoid being recaptured.
Once Thomas Sharp arrived in Windsor, he began working for Abel and Chloe (Moore) Griswold. This is where he met their daughter, Wealthy Griswold, a white woman whom he went on to marry in 1826. Despite the absence of anti-miscegenation laws in Connecticut, it is still important to note how rare this story is. The Griswold family had a strong political influence in both New York and Connecticut that began in the 1600s with the arrival of half-brothers Edward and Matthew Griswold of England.
A Genealogical Journey
Edward Griswold settled in Windsor in 1639 and played a significant role in the early politics of the town. He is also Wealthy Griswold’s fourth-great-grandfather. Several descendants of Edward and Matthew Griswold went on to build a massive fortune, and others became notable political figures, including Matthew and Roger Griswold, the 17th and 22nd governors of Connecticut respectively. Essentially, Delia is distantly related to one of the most prominent families in Connecticut history.
Thomas Sharp’s land marked on an 1855 map of Windsor, which at that time included parts of what is now in East Granby.
Thomas and Wealthy Sharp settled in Turkey Hills, East Granby, and had six children together. Only three survived into adulthood – Seth Thomas, Nancy, and William. When asked about how the residents of East Granby may have responded to Thomas and Wealthy’s relationship, given the historical context of slavery at the time, Delia responded:
“I feel they were respected – both of them, the family. Because they were all farmers. [They] lived on Spoonville Road in East Granby. […] Like the article said, I don’t think there [were] that [many] problems because they were farmers.”
The article Delia refers to is a book entitled East Granby: The Evolution of a Connecticut Town that mentions Thomas Sharp by name. The excerpt details the concerns of East Granby residents about formerly enslaved people such as Thomas and how the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 may affect them.
“There were at least eighty-two blacks in Granby at the time, and suddenly the people of Turkey Hills must have thought: ‘Does the government expect me to help arrest my neighbors like Thomas Sharp who has lived here for twenty years?’ Men who had dealt with slavery only on an intellectual level now faced it on a personal level.”
Thomas Sharp remained in East Granby until he died in 1861. Wealthy Sharp continued to live there until her eventual passing in 1873. Although there are no graves marked with their names at East Granby Cemetery, Delia believes that this is the only logical place where Thomas and Wealthy could be buried.
Seth Carroll Sharp Jr., great-grandfather of Delia and grandson of Thomas Sharp and Wealthy Griswold, 1950s. | WHS collections 2009.32.15
Delia descends from Seth Thomas, the oldest son of Thomas and Wealthy. He married Jane Carroll in 1857 and had eight children, including Seth Carroll Sharp Jr. This is Delia’s great-grandfather whom she believes lived on Hazelwood Road in East Granby. Both Seth Sr. and Seth Jr. followed in Thomas’s footsteps by becoming farmers, with Seth Jr. in particular growing tobacco. Delia does not know which crops Thomas and Wealthy grew on their farm.
Seth Carroll Jr. married Delia Almira Babcock, Delia Jubrey’s namesake, in 1887. Delia’s grandmother, Dorothy Sharp, was born in 1874 to Seth Carroll Jr. and Delia Babcock and is one of eight children. She eventually married Edward Scott in 1910.
It is interesting to note that Samuel Scott, Edward’s father and another of Delia’s great-grandfathers, was a Civil War veteran. In fact, he was a formative member of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an organization that advocated for and represented people who fought for the Union. Samuel Scott was born to an enslaved family in Eastern Point, Virginia. It is reasonable to believe that he joined Union forces to fight for his freedom. After the end of the Civil War, Samuel Scott settled in Enfield where he remained for the rest of his years. He was Enfield’s oldest Black resident when he died in 1940 at age 96.
Among Dorothy Sharp and Edward Scott’s eight children is Marion Louise Scott, Delia’s mother. We now find ourselves in the present, eight generations after the marriage of Thomas and Wealthy Sharp. Delia currently lives in Windsor and has since 2002 after living in Enfield for 40 years.
To this day, Delia continues to investigate her extensive family history and is hopeful that she will find answers to questions that remain unanswered. “Before I go home,” she said, “I would like to learn a little bit more about Thomas Sharp.” Her greatest wish is to uncover the life of Thomas before he arrived in Windsor.
By Sulema DePeyster, Community History Specialist, 2022