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The African American Civil War Memorial and Museum

1 Feb

I’ve written twice on the website about connections between Lauderdale County and the United States Colored Troops (USCT) here and here. While visiting Washington DC for a conference, I finally had the opportunity to visit the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum. Not only is there an excellent exhibit at the museum, but right across the street from the museum is the USCT Memorial complete with a statue and plaques that bear the names of every member of the USCT, who served in the Civil War.

Of particular interest to me was finding the name of Major Gilliland/Gilden/Bates who happens to be my children’s 4th great uncle. Major was enslaved by David Gilliland in Lauderdale County, Tennessee as referenced in his USCT records. He enlisted in the 4th Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery. Despite the cold and rain, I found his name.

Major Gilden

Major Gilden

After locating Major’s name I then began to search for Wallace Nixon’s name. Wallace Nixon enlisted in the 3rd Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery. I was able to locate him as well.

Wallace Nixon UCST

Wallace Nixon UCST

I am sure that there are other USCT troops from Lauderdale County and neighboring counties also featured there, but unfortunately, I could only remember these two names during my stop at the museum and memorial. If you are ever in Washington DC, admission to the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum is free, although they do request a donation.

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  • Tiffany
  • Image Sources: My Own

Newspaper Clippings – The Southern Christian Advocate Nov 18, 1880

13 Oct

With the end of enslavement, many freedmen and women set out to find their family and friends that they were separated from. One method of doing so was to place ads in newspapers seeking information on lost loved ones. One of these ads with a Lauderdale County connection is below.

"Lost Friends" November 18, 1880 in the Southern Christian Advocate

“Lost Friends” November 18, 1880 in the Southern Christian Advocate

What is interesting about this ad to me is that it was written in 1880, fifteen years after the end of enslavement. This ad and the countless others like it exemplify not only the brutality of slavery, but also the resounding commitment of those searching to find loved ones that they were for forcibly separated from.

I encourage you to check out the collection of adverstisements featured in the Southern Christian Advocate newspaper through the Historic New Orleans Collection – Historic New Orleans Collection

 

Tiffany

Source: The Historic New Orleans Collection – http://www.hnoc.org/database/lost-friends/index.html, newspaper clipping featured in the Southern Christian Advocate Nov 18, 1880 edition.

Lost Ripley – Miles Chapel

3 Sep

I first featured Miles Chapel on this site under a header titled “If Walls Could Talk”. It was my way of calling attention to important African American sites in Lauderdale County. It is with great sadness that I now write about Miles Chapel and refer to it as Lost Ripley, which is my way of letting people know about African American institutions in Ripley that are no longer standing. Last April I discussed with one of my professors my idea of adding Miles Chapel to the National Register of Historic Places and he was all for it. The church as well agreed that they would like to have it added. It would have been the fourth site in Lauderdale County to be added. This past August my professor and I were headed to Ripley to start the process of having the church added to the National Register. Unfortunately, due to a mold problem the existing chapel will be demolished. Thankfully, they do have plans to rebuild.

As someone who studies African American spaces I consider the demolition of the building as a great loss, but of course I hate to see any old structure torn down.

 

Miles Chapel (2013)

                                                        Miles Chapel (2013)

 

You can revisit Miles Chapel’s first appearance on the website here -> If Walls Could Talk – Miles Chapel

– Tiffany

Newspaper Clippings – Jackson Whig and Tribune August 23, 1873 edition

5 Mar

Below is a newspaper clipping from the Whig and Tribune (Jackson, TN) August 23, 1873 edition.

Whig and Tribune (Jackson, TN) August 23, 1873 edition

Whig and Tribune (Jackson, TN) August 23, 1873 edition

 

In looking at this article I began to wonder what exact place was within three miles of Ripley and honestly that could have been so many places. This event occurred towards the end of the Reconstruction period, so it’s not surprising that it happened. What is inspiring is that African Americans were busy building institutions in the area and that education was a priority, even though there were those who sought to ruin it.

1873 also happens to be the year that Sampson Keeble was the first African American elected to the Tennessee state legislature.

 

 

– Tiffany

– Source: Whig and Tribune (Jackson, TN) August 23, 1873 edition

Newspaper Clippings – The Indianapolis News September 19, 1873

20 Feb

The following article was featured in the Indianapolis News September 19, 1873 edition.

Indianapolis News Sept 19 1873

Indianapolis News Sept 19 1873

I wish that there was more available information about how she ended up in that predicament. I hope she was able to recover.

 

– Tiffany

– Source: The Indianapolis News September 19, 1873 edition

Best of Black Ripley Awards 2014

29 Jan

In keeping with last year I am back with 2014’s Best of Black Ripley Awards. This is just a way to document the Best of Black Ripley for the past year. This year I am going to highlight the most read posts on the website.

1. 10 Things You Didn’t Know About African American Life in Ripley – #1 Ripley was known for the largest African American Labor Day Celebration in the United States

Just like last year this was the most read post on the blog. Labor Day certainly does hold a special place in the heart of people from Ripley. This post was also the most shared post from this site on Facebook.

You can review the original posting here:
10 Things you Didn’t Know About Black life in Ripley, TN –  1. Ripley was known for the largest African American Labor Day Celebration in the United States

 

2. Lost Ripley – Eylau Plantation

This one was a complete surprise! I was not expecting this one to appear on the list for the most read posts at all. Eylau Plantation was the home of Dr. Samuel Oldham and family. According to the book, Lauderdale County from its Earliest Times by Kate Johnston Peters, Eylau was a show place for the Oldham family. Peters also notes that Oldham treated his slaves kindly (as kindly as you could treat someone you treat as property I suppose).

You can review the original posting here:

Lost Ripley – Eylau Plantation

 

3. Runaway Slave – Memphis Daily Appeal February 21, 1857

The third most read post was the Runaway Slave post in the Memphis Daily Appeal. I always save runaway slave postings whenever I come across them. I cannot help but to think of the desperation and fear that those individuals must have felt as they made their way towards freedom.

You can review the original posting here:

Runaway Slave – Memphis Daily Appeal February 21, 1857

 

4. 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Black Life in Ripley, TN – 2. The Madison County Area was once involved in a plot to capture a slave thief named John Murrell.

Although this post does not directly involve Ripley, it did take place in the area and is an interesting story involving the Henning family, namesakes of Henning, TN. The story involves plots of slave stealing and inciting slave revolts and helped to create one of the biggest legends in West Tennessee history in John Murrell.

You can review the original posting here:

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Black Life in Ripley, TN – 2. The Madison County Area was once involved in a plot to capture a slave thief named John Murrell. 

 

5. Lost Ripley – Clay Funeral Home on College Street

And lastly, the 5th most read posting on the site for 2014 belongs to the former Clay Funeral Home on College Street. The Clay Funeral Home was founded by Alex Clay and served the black community in Ripley faithfully. After the original posting, Mr. William Carson provided the site with actual pictures of the funeral home. That type of collaboration is exactly what is needed to preserve the stories that make up this site.

You can review the original posting here:

Lost Ripley – Clay Funeral Home on College Street

You can view the posting with pictures of Clay Funeral Home here:

Lost Ripley – Clay Funeral Home – Follow Up

 

There you have it! Those were the most read posts for 2014. What would you like to see featured on the website in 2015?

 

– Tiffany

African American Schools in Lauderdale County

16 Dec

In 1962 a survey report of the Lauderdale County schools was published. The following schools are listed as African-American schools and there were 2555 students enrolled between these schools.

Lynn*

Elcanaan*

Knob Creek*

Rosenwald*

Durhamville*

Fort Pillow

Gold Dust Consolidated

Halls Consolidated

Johnson Consolidated

Lauderdale County High

Lillian Fountain

Palmer Turner

The survey report lists several of the deficiencies of these schools. For example, Lauderdale County High School was deficient because several students did not have textbooks in their classrooms and the library did not have an adequate amount of books given the number of students among other things.

Does anyone have any memories of attending these schools?

* indicates Rosenwald Schools

Source: Lauderdale County Schools Survey Report 1962 by Tennessee Department of Education

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