Jerome Maples: Gadsden Family Ties
Jerome Maples was born in Tallahassee in 1991 but spent his childhood living in Gadsden County. His early years were spent in St. John north of Quincy, but he also lived in Greensboro and Chattahoochee as his family moved around frequently. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Jerome became an active participant in Florida’s politics while working under Florida State Senator, Loranne Ausley. Jerome also worked on the re-election campaign of Judge Kathy Gardiner, the first African American judge to be elected in Gadsden County. Jerome currently works for the Gadsden County School District as the Public Relations Coordinator overseeing the District’s public relations.
Growing up the youngest of ten siblings, Jerome has strong family ties to Gadsden County. In the 1950s, Jerome’s grandfather built two homes in Quincy. One of the homes served as the primary residence for his grand grandparents, a two-bedroom brick structure built just a few doors down from their church in St. John. The lot was chosen to be closer to both the church and friends. This home still stands today and can be found in Quincy’s Historic District. The other home Jerome’s grandfather constructed, a wooden structure, is no longer standing. Nonetheless, Jerome’s sister still lives on the land today. Of his ten siblings, four still reside in Gadsden County.
In 1962, Jerome’s father, Jerome Maples Sr., was involved in a tragic accident while attending a Sunday school picnic at Lake Talquin with the Blessed Hope Missionary Baptist Church. A boat carrying Jerome’s father, 17 other children, and their Sunday school teacher sank 300 feet from shore. Jerome’s father was the only survivor, rescued by a fisherman who was able to pull him from the lake. The tragedy brought national attention to Gadsden County and brought the community together in mourning. A memorial to the victims of the drowning can be found at the Blessed Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Quincy.
Though his father never stepped on a boat again, fishing was a way that Jerome was able to bond with his father. Jerome recalls spending most of his time outdoors as a child, doing everything from fishing with his father to playing with his siblings. One Christmas, Jerome’s older siblings all received bicycles and he, the youngest, received a tricycle. He fondly remembers riding all around his neighborhood with his siblings.
To Jerome, Gadsden County is a place where neighbors know each other and have each other’s backs, always looking out for one another and having their best interests at heart. Gadsden County’s rural landscape allows its residents to experience true country living, and the people reflect that hardworking and humble lifestyle. Jerome is just one story from Gadsden, a place where he says all people can make something of themselves and still respect their roots.