Archive | May, 2012

African American Confederate Civil War Soldiers

24 May

I remember watching the Who Do You Think You Are episode featuring Spike Lee. It was discovered that one of Spike Lee’s ancestors worked at a gun factory making guns to supply the Confederacy. Spike spoke of the conflict his ancestor must have had making guns to supply the Confederates who wished to keep his people enslaved. What about those African-Americans who served as soldiers?

I wrote about Louis Napoleon Nelson on this blog before. He is perhaps the most known African-American Confederate soldier from the West Tennessee area. He was very proud to have participated as a part of the Confederacy, even attending Confederate reunions in his full uniform. But what about the other African-American Confederate soldiers? Were they just as proud or did they feel conflicted? Below is a list of Confederate soldiers who applied for a Confederate Soldiers Pension while living in Lauderdale County, TN. In the coming weeks I hope to post information on the soldiers who applied for this pension while living in Haywood and Tipton counties as well.

E.D. Hawthorne –  Born in Haywood County TN in 1849. Claimed service with the 7th TN Cav. Co. L; Application accepted

James Maclin –  Born in Tipton County in 1840; Claimed service with the 7th Tenn Cav Co B; application accepted.

Louis Napoleon Nelson –  Born in Lauderdale County; Claimed Service with the 7th Tenn Cav Co M. Application accepted

Henry Read – Born in Haywood County TN in 1847. Claimed service with the 7th ten cav. Co. M. Application accepted

Wade Watkins –  Born in Haywood County TN. Claimed service with the 48th Tenn Cav. Application accepted

Nowell, Smith  – Born in Louisiana about 1847; claimed service with the 7th Tenn. Cav. Co. L; application accepted.


– Index to Tennessee Confederate Pension Applications by Samuel Sistler (Nashville, TN, Sistler & Assoc., 1994)

– Tennessee Colored Pension Applications for CSA Service –

– Tiffany


Roark Bradford – Author on Black Lauderdale County Experiences?

22 May

Roark Bradford was a White fiction writer. He was born in Lauderdale County, TN in 1896 and lived on his family’s cotton plantation in the Nankipoo-Knob Creek area. He went on to write several fictional stories of African-Americans. He was greatly influenced by the African-Americans who worked on his family’s plantation and the African-Americans he attended church with. Their stories became his stories and he used these stories to create his writings. It is thought that some of his writings were just re-tellings of Bible stories using the dialect of African-Americans at the time. He is said to have had a great interest in African-American dialect and culture.

So why is Bradford being mentioned on my blog? I stumbled across his name in some notes I had taken awhile back. I had written in my notes 

“Roark Bradford, Lauderdale County Author on Black Experiences”.

When I googled him this morning I have to admit I was less than thrilled. I have not yet done a thorough analysis of his writings, so I won’t go there now, but I can see how his writings would have been popular during the era in which they were written. I discovered a newspaper article that was written about Bradford with his participation. The article titled “Writer of Negro Stories Threw His Calendar Away. Roark Bradford, Author of The Green Pastures, Won’t Be Slave to Time” was published in the Milwaukee Journal November 4, 1941. What I found most interesting about the article were the portions of the article were African-Americans were mentioned.

I wonder if his “Negro playmates” Algy, Ed, and Sweet and Old Uncle Wes, who worked on his father’s plantation, know that they might have inspired some of his stories. I would be interested in learning more about his father’s plantation and the African-Americans who worked there. Who were these individuals that inspired Bradford’s stories? What were their lives like? What became of his playmates Algy, Ed, and Sweet? What church did he attend as a child that was integrated?

I look forward to discovering the answers to my questions on the life of Roark Bradford.

Source: The Milwaukee Journal. Tuesday, November 4, 1941. Article written by Austin Doyle (AP)

– Tiffany

Gingery Mob – Update

22 May

Over the weekend I visited my Mother in Law in Ripley, TN who first told me the story about the Gingery Mob. We began to talk history and I asked her again about the Gingery Mob. She told me the same story that she told me before, but she went on to say that at the time of the incident Henry Gingery’s wife Caroline was pregnant with another one of their children. She said after the incident the police hounded Caroline, dragging her into the police station demanding that she tell them where her husband was. She insisted that she did not know where he was, but the police of the town were relentless in their pursuit. This went on for a while until a man named Frank Montgomery stepped forward and came to Caroline’s aid. Frank asked that she be left alone because she did not know anything. The harassment of Caroline came to a cease and the Black community began to look at Frank Montgomery, a White man, in admiration. My Mother in Law said the Black community regarded Frank Montgomery as a good man from that moment on and were grateful to him. I am always drawn to stories where even during the Jim Crow era Whites stood up for Blacks and what was right.


Source: Oral History

– Tiffany

Lauderdale County Prisoners

18 May

While reviewing the 1900 US Census for Lauderdale County I came across something that I had never seen before. It was a listing of prison inmates at the Lauderdale County jail. Here is a list of those inhabiting the jail.

Andrew Crockett – 46  (Jailer)


John Huddleston – 19

James Anderson – 15

Creed Smith – 15

James Coffer – 18

Charles Smith – 20

Sam Williams – 9

Edward White – 19

Thomas Gingery – 14

Jessie Gingery – 13

Mike Byars – 20

William Morehead – 18

Attwood Byron – 14

John Smith – 20

It’s interesting to note that all of the prisoners in the jail were African-American. It made me wonder if there was a separate jail for White people or if there just were no White prisoners at the time the census was taken. I also noticed that 2 Gingery males are listed in the jail. The date on the census is June 7th, 1900 and the Gingery Mob happened January 9, 1900. I wonder if these Gingerys are also the children of Thomas and Julia and what their crime was.

There is also a 9 year old in the jail. I’m very interested in learning what his crime was.

Source: 1900 US Census for Civil District 2, Lauderdale County, TN

– Tiffany

The Gingery Mob

18 May

About a year ago I was sitting with my Mother in Law looking through old photographs. She showed me a Polaroid and she turned and asked me “Do you know what the Gingery mob is? It happened in this house.” I told her no and she went on to tell me that the house in the photo was the oldest house left in Durhamville at the time the picture was taken. She had taken the photo shortly before the house was demolished. She also told me that it was the house where the Gingery Mob had taken place. I remember asking her if she was there. She responded that it happened before her time, but that as a child she often heard adults speak about what had happened down at that house.

According to the story smallpox had broken out and it was ordered that everyone be vaccinated. Reuben Gingery refused and it was ordered that he be arrested. He was arrested by Durhamville Constable W.D. Turner. He stopped at a store in Durhamville and asked that Marvin Durham accompany him back to Ripley where he was taking Reuben to jail. Reuben’s brothers Henry and Roger attacked W.D. Turner and Marvin Durham and killed them both in an effort to free Reuben. After the skirmish a mob stormed the Gingery house in search of the brothers. They found Reuben and another Gingery brother Frank and the mob hung them both. A neighbor of the Gingeries was also hanged as an accomplice. Henry and Roger escaped and were never caught.

Ever since she told me that story I had wondered about the Gingery family. Just who were the Gingery Brothers that committed that horrible crime? According to the 1880 US Census Henry and Roger Gingery were the sons of Thomas G. and Julia A. Gingery. On this census Henry was 12 years old and Roger was 6 years old. Other children in the Gingery household in 1880 include Frank Gingery, 4 years old, and Dolieoughfer (Reuben?) Gingery, 5 months old.

Henry Gingery would marry Caroline Dangerfield on 27 December 1890 according to Tennessee State Marriage Records. They would go on to become the parents of 4 children, Johnny, Fox, Winnie, and Hubbard. On both the 1900 and 1910 census Caroline listed herself as married although her husband had been gone for years and she was living with her parents.

According to the 1900 US Census Julia A. Gingery was widowed. She listed herself as a mother to 12, with only 5 children living. In the household with her were Maggie Gingery age 18, Dupuy Gingery age 11, and John Gingery age 9. Her two sons Frank and Dolieoughfer (Reuben?) Gingery were hanged for the crimes of their brothers and Henry and Roger Gingery were never heard from again.

On the 1860 US Slave Schedule there is a Jacob Gingery listed. Perhaps Thomas G. Gingery was a slave on Jacob’s plantation. I wonder what ever happened to Henry and Roger Gingery and if they knew what happened to their family due to their actions.


Source: Hellums, Clarice Haynes and Kara Haynes McCauley. Visions of Lauderdale County Past and Present. Memphis, TN Allan & Akin Printers, 1996.

– Tiffany

Newspaper Clippings – Spartanburg Herald August 18, 1937

18 May

On the list of lynchings that I posted on the blog there is an entry for Albert Gooden of Covington, TN. Here is a newspaper clipping detailing his lynching.

Source: Google News Archive Spartanburg Herald August 18, 1937


Fannie Clay – Honorable Mentions

18 May

Fannie Clay was born in Ripley, TN in 1891, the daughter of former slaves Elen Gilliland Clay and Hugh Clay. In 1910 she graduated from Lauderdale County Training School and relocated to Memphis, TN with her family. Fannie soon relocated to Chicago, Illinois where she met Bill “Bojangles” Robinson in an ice cream parlor. They were married January 27, 1922. Bill “Bojangles” Robinson was famous for being a professional tap dancer and actor of stage and film. He got his start dancing in local bars as a child. Bojangles was most famous for the series of movies he starred in alongside Shirley Temple. He was the first African-American to appear on film dancing alongside a White girl, Shirley Temple. During this time his wife, Fannie Clay, worked as his business manager. She is credited as playing a significant role in his success by working behind the scenes. Bill Bojangles affectionately nicknamed her “Lil Bo”. Unfortunately, they divorced June 25, 1943 due to his gambling, womanizing, and Fannie’s desire to have him slow down due to his heart condition. When they divorced Fannie is quoted as having said they “agreed to disagree and would still remain the best of friends”. In the 2001 movie titled “Bojangles” Bojangles was played by Gregory Hines and Fannie Clay was played by Kimberly Elise.

Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Fannie Clay

Source:  Image –  Google Images Archive

Source: Greenfield, Phil. “‘Mr. Bojangles’ Is Well-acted History Play Recounts Vaudeville Days.” Baltimore Sun. 11 June 1993. Web. 18 May 2012.

Source: Mancini, Ralph. “Day Of Remembrance For Tap Dance Pioneer.” Times Newsweekly. 24 May 2007. Web. 18 May 2012. <2007/052407/NewFiles/ROBINSON.html>.

– Tiffany