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Pop Up Museum @ The 2014 Lauderdale County Tomato Festival – Recap

14 Jul

As mentioned about a week ago Black Ripley sponsored a Pop Up Museum at the 2014 Lauderdale County Tomato Festival. We were there from about 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. I’d like to thank each and every person that stopped by to share their memories of the area.


Welcome Sign


From those memories I was able to learn a lot about the area.

Memories included:

- Tiny, the little person, who worked at either Joe’s or Pitts barbecue spot as a car hop

- A riot at Ripley High School the year of integration

- Life growing up in Arp, Golddust, Durhamville, and Orysa

- Stories of the Great Migration. Families moving North and sending their children back South to Ripley every summer

- Sharecropping on the Eugene Anthony, E.L. Queen, and Eylau farms

- Stories of “The Hole” and the people and businesses that were there

- Recollections of past Labor Days and the Miss Black Ripley Pageants

- Sitting in the balconies of local movie theaters and eating ice cream at the ice cream parlor that was located uptown

- Locating their childhood homes and current homes on a 1927 Sanborn Map

I’m sure all of these memories will make their way into a posting or two :)


There were a variety of items surpassing many years on display.

Geraldine Clay and painting

Geraldine Clay and drawing by her grandson of her life in Durhamville in the 1920s – 1930s

Miss Black Ripley Display

Miss Black Ripley Display with information on pageants from 1977 – 1979 along with pageant souvenir booklets. Also included were articles from the “10 Things” series.

Table Display

Table Display featuring Alex Haley’s Warner Bros records on Roots, a wooden nickle from JT Williams grocery, a school book published in 1890 from the area.

Table Display

Table Display featuring “Finding the Good” book by Lucas Johnson on the life of Fred Montgomery, home run baseball from a 2002 RHS baseball game and an article about the game.

Tent Set Up

Tent Set Up

Sanborn Map Display

Sanborn Map Display

It was a great day. I’m very grateful for the participation and encouragement that was received.




- Tiffany

- Photo Source: My Own

Pop Up Museum @ the 2014 Lauderdale County Tomato Festival

6 Jul
Pop Up Museum

Pop Up Museum


Come down and see me on July 12, 2014 at the 2014 Lauderdale County Tomato Festival. Bring an item that connects you to Lauderdale County history. Don’t have an item to share? That’s fine! Come on down and leave a memory or view maps of the area. Have a genealogy question? Come on down and ask!

Look for a special display on the historic Miss Black Ripley Pageants!

I look forward to seeing you there!


- Tiffany

Fourth of July at the Lauderdale County Jail

2 Jul

In the spirit of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday I decided to see if I could find any information on past Fourth of July holidays in Ripley. Reading through the Lauderdale County Enterprise I found the article below discussing events at the Lauderdale County Jail on July 4, 1917.

Lauderdale County Enterprise July 6, 1917

Lauderdale County Enterprise July 6, 1917

Using the US Census I found two Horace Walkers living in neighboring Haywood County, Tennessee. They happened to be father and son. Horace Walker Sr. was born in 1846 in North Carolina and was married to Mary Walker. Horace Walker Jr. was born in 1880 in Tennessee. In addition to these two Horace Walkers I also found another Horace Walker born in 1876 in Haywood County son of Thomas Walker.  Thomas Walker (B. 1850 North Carolina) could possibly be brother of Horace Walker Sr. (Horace Walker Sr. also had a son named Thomas), but more information and research is needed to make that connection. To make this easier I found Horace Walker Sr. (father), Horace Walker Jr. (son), and Horace Walker (possible nephew/cousin). An interesting note is that Horace Walker (possible cousin/nephew - B. 1876) and his wife Nervie were living in Lauderdale County in 1920. With that being said its unclear which Horace Walker found himself imprisoned in the Lauderdale County Jail on the Fourth of July. It could have very well been another Horace Walker who did not appear on my search of the US Census.

I did not find an African American Charles Ed Moore on the US Census. I found a few white Charles Moores in Haywood County and one in Lauderdale County. This made me wonder if there was any separation based on race at the county jail. I would think that there was given the time period.

So on the Fourth of July 1917 at the Lauderdale County Jail shenanigans broke out amongst the prisoners. Looks like Charles Ed Moore might have gotten what was coming to him.





- Tiffany

- Source: The Lauderdale County Enterprise July 6, 1917 edition, US Census 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920

Colored Lodge – Benevolent Society

6 Jun

A while back I posted a newspaper clipping from the Nashville Union and American July 3, 1872 edition mentioning that the African Americans in Ripley had gotten together to form a Union League/Benevolent Society. You can find the original article here -> Newspaper Clippings – Nashville Union and American July 3, 1872.

Nashville Union and American July 3, 1872

Nashville Union and American July 3, 1872


While browsing through Sanborn Maps I noticed that one of the maps depicted a location known as the “Colored Lodge”. Could it have also been known as the Benevolent Society? Its location would have been right across the street from the First Baptist Church on Main Street next door to the present day location of Pitts Barbershop. I noticed that the Colored Lodge seems to be on the second story of this building with an undertaker on the first story. I’m curious to know who this undertaker might have been. Could this undertaker have catered to African Americans? The Hudson and Graham Funeral Home was not established until 1910 and Alex Clay of the Clay Funeral Home would have been a young child at this time.


Colored Lodge

Colored Lodge



By the 1891 Sanborn Map the heading for this location was no longer noted as “Colored Lodge”. The second story of this building was a furniture repair shop and the first story of this building was still occupied by an undertaker.


- Tiffany



Sources: 1887 and 1891 Sanborn Maps for Ripley, TN, Nashville Union and American July 3, 1872 edition

Closing Exercises for Ripley Colored Public School

12 May

One hundred and fourteen years ago a group of young African Americans participated in closing exercises for what was known at the time as the Ripley Colored Public School.


From the Lauderdale County Enterprise – May 25, 1900 Edition

Closing Exercises Ripley Colored Public School

The Ripley Public School will close the most prosperous session since its existence on Thursday and Friday night, May 31st and June 1st 1900. An elaborate program has been prepared and the teachers are sparing no pain to have everything an up to date affair thus showing their efficiency and the discretion of the board in electing them. The school is now upon on a graded system and working nicely. The program is as follows.

Part I

Overture                                                                                             Band


Invocation                                                                                           Rev. A.G. Currin


Is Patriotism a Sham?                                                                     Frederick Clay

The Gambler’s Wife                                                                        Maggie L. Russell

Duet – Father is Drinking Again                                                  Missus Tyus and Hightower

Recitation – Two Sisters                                                                Miss Jessie Hightower

We Are Coming                                                                                Anna B. Thornton

Solo – An Outcast                                                                            Mrs. Jennie Rice

Recitation – The Raven                                                                  Miss Fae Russell

Progress of the Negro                                                                     Fannie Dupree

Trio – There Are Friends That We Never Forget                     Misses Norvell, Pearl & Jessie Hightower,

Is It Wise To Begin Now?                                                              H L Dupree

Solo – I Am The Merriest Girl That’s Out                                 Miss Maggie L. Russell

Part II

Music                                                                                                    Band


Progress of Invention                                                                     Willie Peebles

Recitation – Brought Back                                                            Lela L. Crook

Solo – Boys Keep Away From The Girls                                     Howard L. Dupree

Recitation – Home Instruction                                                    Maggie B. Tyus

Trio – Friendliness and Sad                                                          Missus Thornton, Russell, Crook

Benefits of Education                                                                     W.D. Graham

Solo – Friends of my Youthful Days                                           E. Buchanan

The Coming Woman                                                                       Fannie Norvell

Solo – The Young Man Across The Way                                     Missus Jessie Hightower

Address                                                                                               Professor W.H. Fort – Principle Bruce Street High School Dyersburg

Awarding State Certificates                                                            Captain E.T. Hanks – Superintendent of Public Education

Song Of The Steeples                                                                        Dr. S.R. Clay


Friends and Patrons of the school are cordially invited to attend.


A few interesting facts about the school at this point.

The school did not become officially known as Lauderdale County Training School until 1919 according to the 1985 Lauderdale County High School Reunion Booklet.

The list of graduates that I have of Lauderdale County Training School does not start until 1908, so exact graduates of earlier classes are currently unknown.

The principal during this time period is thought to be Professor M. L. Morrison. It is believed that he was principal from the early 1900s – 1912. He then served as principal again from 1944 – 1945.

It also appears that the school was around prior to 1900 due to this being noted as “the most properous session since its existence” by the Lauderdale County Enterprise.


I decided to see what I could find out about the speakers on the program. It is a good chance that they were students at the school.

Frederick Clay – There are 2 possible “Fred Clays” on the 1900 US Census for Lauderdale County. One Fred Clay was born in 1889 to Harry and Frances Clay making him about 11. The other Fred Clay, also listed as Frederick in some places, was born in 1886 to Hugh and Ellen Clay making him about 14.

Maggie L. Russell – Born in 1885 making her about 15. Her parents are Isaac and Corinna Russell.

Anna B. Thornton – Born in 1886 making her about 14. Her mother is Mary J. Houston (Thornton Washington).

Fannie Dupree - Born in 1886 making her about 14. Her parents are Calvin and Mary Dupree.

H L Dupree – also known as Howell L. Born in 1883 making him about 17. His parents are Calvin and Mary Dupree.

Lela Crook – Born in 1885 making her about 15. Her parents are James and Janie Crook.


I found the titles of some of the poems or readings a little interesting for a school program. The Gambler’s Wife was written in 1844 by Elizabeth Caroline Grey. Another interesting title was Father is Drinking Again, but I could not find anything that looked like it might have been a poem or short story with that title. I also noticed that The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe written in 1845 was on the list of readings.

Cheers to the Ripley Colored Public School (Lauderdale County Training School) on a successful year end ceremony.



- Tiffany

-Sources: Lauderdale County Enterprise May 25, 1900 edition, Lauderdale County Highschool 1985 Reunion Booklet



Hudson and Graham Funeral Home

5 Apr

Below is an ad that I found for the Hudson and Graham Funeral Home that catered to African Americans. This ad was featured in the 1958 Haywood, Lauderdale, and Tipton County Directory.


Hudson and Graham Funeral Home

Hudson and Graham Funeral Home


It’s unclear who exactly Hudson and Graham are and because this is an ad for 1958 I am unable to turn to the census to do a quick search. Does anyone remember the Hudson and Graham Funeral Home or where it might have been located?


- Tiffany

Source: Haywood, Lauderdale, and Tipton County Directory – 1958

More Tragedy for the Gingery Family – A Follow Up

11 Mar

A few months ago I wrote an article for the website titled “More Tragedy for the Gingery Family”. The original article can be seen at this link – >

As you know the Gingery Family story is one of the most popular stories on my blog. Whenever I mention the Gingery family to someone I am interviewing they always pause for a moment and get very serious when telling me what they know. Margarette was kind enough to share her family’s memories about her Aunt Lennie in the comments section of the original article.

Below is a write up from The Lauderdale County Enterprise describing the murder suicide involving Dupuy Gingery and Linnie Taylor Gingery.

Gingery Murder Lauderdale County Enterprise

Gingery Murder
Lauderdale County Enterprise

“A double murder or rather a murder and suicide was committed Wednesday morning at the home of Cush Gingery, colored, between Orysa and Henning. Gingery killed his wife and then himself. He is a brother of the two famous Gingery negroes who killed two officers near Durhamville several years ago and have never been apprehended.”

- Tiffany

- Source: The Lauderdale County Enterprise July 6, 1917 edition

From the Bottom Documentary

10 Mar

I recently discovered a documentary titled “From the Bottom” discussing the life of Ulysses “Rip” Gooch, a Lauderdale County native. A trailer for the documentary can be found on and I have included it below.

If you would like to purchase the documentary it is available through using the following link ->




- Tiffany

Native Son – Alex Haley

9 Mar

As we all know Alex Haley is a very important piece of Lauderdale County, TN history. The story of his family who settled in Henning after emancipation is known through Roots the book and Roots the television miniseries. Haley was hailed as the first African American to ever trace his history back to the village in Africa where his ancestors had once lived. I’m sure that we’ve all seen Roots the miniseries and that some of us can even recite lines from the miniseries. There is no denying the effect that Haley’s Roots had on America. Haley can be seen as the father of modern genealogy because his story encouraged the nation to trace their roots. After Roots was published Haley lived a very busy life traveling to lectures and book signings supporting Roots. As a child I attended Haley’s wake in Memphis, TN and as you all know I have volunteered at the Alex Haley Museum and Interpretive Center in Henning, TN.

I was approached by Adam Henig, author of Alex Haley’s Roots: An Author’s Odyssey and I decided to read his book and interview him. What I enjoyed most about the book was its truth. It did not gloss over the complexity of Haley and it also did not leave out details about the plagiarism accusations that Haley faced.

Overall, I am pleased to have read the text and pleased to have met Adam Henig. Despite Haley’s complexities and the accusations leveraged against him I have a great deal of respect for him and his work and still feel inspired by him and his work to trace my family’s roots and the roots of other families.

You can listen to my interview with Adam Henig below.

You can click HERE to purchase Henig’s book. You can also find out more details by visiting


Would You Like To See A Movie?

1 Mar

Throughout the years Ripley had its fair share of movie theaters calling the downtown/Court Square area their home. Over the years Ripley had the following theaters,

Roxy Theater the year Rice Park Opened

Roxy Theater the year Rice Park opened

The Strand Theater (0wned by a Memphis based company)

The Roxy Theater

The Dixie Theater

The Webb Theater (owned by Aubrey Webb)

As with most theaters during segregation African Americans paid the same fare as everyone else, but could only sit in the balcony.

I’m curious to know if these theaters ever played popular African American movies of the time, but I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that.

According to a former Ripley resident,

“The Webb Theater was my favorite, but most folks like the Strand the best. Seemed like the Roxy was only around for a little while. I used to pay 9 cents to see a movie. I don’t know how they made any money charging 9 cents. They used to have a little stand that sold snacks and black people could go and get snacks and then you had to go to the balcony. I remember one day me and [name removed] were sitting in the balcony at the Webb. I think we went down there together. He took a water pistol and was shooting water down on the white people. He did it a few times. Then Aubrey Webb come up to the balcony with a flashlight and kicked him out! Don’t remember how they figured it was him doing it. I stayed and watched the movie.”

Dixie Theater - July 13, 1917

Dixie Theater – July 13, 1917

Strand Theater January 21, 1944

Strand Theater January 21, 1944

Advertisements from the Dixie Theater and the Strand Theater featured in the Lauderdale County Enterprise

Other area theaters included

The Savoy and The Capitol - Dyersburg

The Gem and The Ritz - Brownsville

The Gem, The Paramount, The Lyric - Jackson

The Pix – Henning

The Halls Theater – Halls

Do any of you all have memories of these theaters? Which movie theater was your favorite? What movies did you see there? Who did you go to the movies with? Does anyone remember the locations of these theaters?

- Tiffany

Sources: Lauderdale County Enterprise July 13, 1917 edition (Dixie Theater) , Lauderdale County Enterprise January 21, 1944 edition (Strand Theater),,

Image Source: Lauderdale County from its Earliest Times by Kate Johnston Peters (Roxy Theater)


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