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.