Archive | August, 2013

2 Years Into This

26 Aug

I am happy to say that this past July 25 marked my 2 year anniversary of having this blog. When I first started this blog it was out of frustration and curiosity. I was trying to do my family’s genealogy and place them into the context of local history, but I had no idea what African Americans were doing in Ripley at the time. There were a few books out there, but none of them discussed African American life in West Tennessee in any detail. I got the majority of what I know from my Mother in Law who without a doubt is my biggest inspiration for what I do here. I can still remember the looks I got when I would go into the genealogy room of the library there. I even recall when someone at the the library asked me why I would want to know who owned my family in a very negative way, but I didn’t let that stop me.

I can say that this last year I have experienced a tremendous amount of growth. I redesigned the blog, purchased the domain name, printed my first business cards and really began to treat this as a second job and not just a hobby. I truly thank each and every one of you who have stopped by, commented, or emailed. There are so many more stories to share about African American life in Ripley and I cannot do it without each one of you who are kind enough to share what you know.

Goals for the Next Year:

1.) I plan to really step up the Saving our Stories part of the website. It got a little side tracked by my summer research travel, but its going to make a come back!

2.) I plan to do more with mapping. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to map the locations of former plantations? Using what I learned this summer at Virginia Tech I hope to make some progress on this.

3.) I plan to focus more on Henning. There is something about Henning that really has a hold on me.

4.) Who knows? But I am sure I will come up with another goal.


Again, I really, really appreciate my readers. Keep asking me questions. The more we collaborate the more information we can gather and provide for future generations.


As always, if you have a story to share please feel free to drop me a line at Tiffany (remove the space between the y in Tiffany and the @ sign).

– Tiffany


Negro Quarters

24 Aug

As I review the Sanborn Maps that I have for Ripley I cannot help but to notice a few things that stand out. For example, what exactly were the “Negro Quarters”?

Negro Quarters - Jan 1887 Sanborn Map

Negro Quarters – Jan 1887 Sanborn Map

My best guess is that obviously this is a place where African Americans lived. It appears to have only been designated as such due to its close proximity to the Court House Square as most buildings around the square were designated with their use.

With that out of the way I immediately wanted to know who lived there? How did they end up living in such close proximity to the square? Was it because they worked nearby at a local business?

From what I can tell the “Negro Quarters” correctly known as 310 and 311 Jefferson Street were simple 2 story structures. Between 1887 and 1891 when these structures appeared on the Sanborn maps their neighbors changed from general storage, printing, and lumber storage to a business called “Old and Vac” in 1891.  By 1896 these structures were no longer known as the “Negro Quarters” and were now known as the Dressed Lumber House with 310 Jefferson designated as the office.

Unfortunately the 1880 US Census for Lauderdale County does not hold many clues because the street names for the locations were not written in the margins like you can find for some censuses and the 1890 census no longers exists for this area. My next step is to comb through the census paying close attention to neighbors and looking for other things that may indicate a home close to the Court House Square.


– Tiffany

– Source: January 1887 Sanborn Map, Sheet 1.

The Unusual Death of Tom Rice

11 Aug

The book Lauderdale County from its Earliest Times has a lot of little tidbits about life in Lauderdale County. While reading the  book I came across a tidbit about a man named Tom Rice. What stood out about Mr. Rice’s tidbit is the way he died.


“Tom Rice (Negro). Tom swallowed a table fork in a fight, killing him”


Excuse me, he swallowed a fork? That sounds especially painful. I then searched for his death certificate. Because Mr. Rice died in 1910 he has one of the earliest versions of death certificates for Lauderdale County. The early death certificates list little to no information compared to later versions. His cause of death is listed simply as “choked”. According to his death certificate Mr. Rice was 70 years old at the time of his death having been born in 1840. At the time of his death he was married and he worked as a laborer. Further researched turned up a marriage certificate and census records for Mr. Rice. He was married to Rebecca Turner Rice and by 1900 they had four children, Kate, Annie, William and Mary. What is missing from the story is exactly what happened to Mr. Rice the day he died. Was he indeed in a fight? If so, who was he fighting with and where were they fighting? Since he died by swallowing and choking on a fork I wonder if they were at an African American eating establishment? If so, what was the name of that establishment? I sure hope he did not meet his death at home at his own dinner table.


– Tiffany

– Source: Lauderdale County from its Earliest Times pg 117. State of Tennessee Marriage and Death Records, US Census Records for Lauderdale County, TN


Sanborn Maps

11 Aug

This summer I was introduced to what are known as Sanborn Maps. These maps were created by the Sanborn Insurance Company as insurance maps, but what they also did was go into detail about the structures on the maps. Details are listed such as what the structures were made of, if they had fireplaces, if they were more than 1 story etc. What I most enjoy about these maps is that they give you a way of putting together neighborhoods that are long gone.

For example, I never knew that the Morning Star Baptist Church was once located on present day Spring Street and used as an annex to the Lauderdale County Training School. All of this information I gained from a Sanborn Map of Ripley.

LCTS 1927 Sanborn clip

Feb 1927 Sanborn Map, Map #5 showing Lauderdale County Training School and Morning Star Baptist Church on Spring Street (previously Handsome Street)

Now I am also curious as to how Handsome Street became known as Spring Street.

Now for the limitations…

Sanborn Maps were only done for specific areas. From what I can tell maps were never created for Henning or Durhamville which is a shame given their close proximity to Ripley. It would have been interesting to discover the neighborhoods of Durhamville especially since that town’s original structures have been lost to history.

Now for the possibilities…

Imagine just what can be discovered and created using a combination of Sanborn Maps, land deeds, and public memory? I’ve got a few ideas running through my mind and I cannot wait to try them out.

– Tiffany

– Source: Feb 1927 Sanborn Map of Ripley, TN, Map #5.

More Tragedy for the Gingery Family

8 Aug

I have featured stories about two of the Gingery brothers, Roger and Henry, on the blog before related to the mob action taken against the family following the deaths of W.D. Turner and Marvin Durham who were taking Reuben Gingery to be vaccinated. I’ve since discovered a new story related to the Gingery family based on search terms used in search engines that lead readers to this website.

Dupuy Gingery was born about 1888 to Tom and Julia Gingery. At the time of the mob action he would have been around 11 years old. At this age he would have seen two of his brothers, Reuben and Frank, hung and his other two brothers Roger and Henry vanish. Later in this year his other brothers (more research is needed to fully confirm that they belonged to the same household), Thomas (14) and Jessie (13), were both in jail in Lauderdale County, Tennessee. Using available records it appears that Dupuy might have had a bit of a rough childhood. The 1900 US Census lists him as being a day laborer while his neighbors his age are listed as school students. This is easy to understand given the fact that all the men in his family with the exception of his younger brother John were gone.

On January 15, 1911 Dupuy married Linnie Taylor. Linnie Taylor was the daughter of William Taylor. On Dupuy’s WWI draft card he indicated that he was working as a farmer on William Taylor’s land and that he and Linnie had 2 children under the age of 12. Using the records I can see that after this things took a turn for the worse.

On July 4, 1917 according to the cause of death on his death certificate Dupuy shot and killed his wife Linnie and then shot and killed himself. He was 29 years old. She was only 22.

On the 1920 census his children, Roger and Marvin, are listed under the household of his father in law William Taylor. Their names are listed as Roger Gingery Taylor and Marvin Gingery Taylor. It appears as if maybe Dupuy named his son Roger after his older brother who had vanished following the mob incident.

When I heard of this incident I was saddened. Dupuy and Linnie were both so young and they left behind 2 young boys. In addition this family had already experienced so much tragedy.

– Tiffany

– Sources: Tennessee Marriage Records, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920 US Census Records, Tennessee Death and Burial records

Sleepy John Estes

8 Aug

I started back at work this week and I happen to be parking at a new parking garage that has a southern music theme. I went to get on the elevator and guess who I spotted?


None other than Lauderdale County’s own Sleepy John Estes painted on the elevator doors.

– Tiffany

– Photo Source: my own