Archive | September, 2013

Genealogy Saturdays at the Alex Haley Museum and Interpretive Center

29 Sep

Looking for genealogy help? What better place to get it than from the Alex Haley Museum and Interpretive Center in Henning, TN. On Saturdays the museum has their resident genealogist, Dr. Pam Sirmans and her staff (including myself) at the museum to assist the public. Each appointment lasts an hour and there is no charge. You will walk away from each session with a copy of your family tree and copies of family records. Even if you are not at the start of your genealogy journey, please stop by. Dr. Sirmans and her staff have helped many advanced genealogists break down brick walls.

 

While there support a local museum and take a museum tour. The cost is around $6.00 for adults.

http://www.alexhaleymuseum.org/

 

 

– Tiffany

What About the Ladies?

23 Sep

“A survey of women workers for Tennessee in 1935 found that black female workers, most of them concentrated in West Tennessee, made a median wage of $5.65 a week in all occupations, less than half the median wage of white women” – Southern Labor and Black Civil Rights by Micheal K. Honey

So what were women doing to earn their $5.65 a week in Ripley? ($5.65 a week x 52 weeks in a year = 293.80 a year)

A quick look at the 1940 US Census reveals the occupations of those employed.

 

Ella Adams – Age 44, Laundress, 40 hours per week, Income in 1939 $250.00

Frances Claybrook – Age 19, Cook in a private home, 50 hours per week, income in 1939 $108.00

Nellie Alexander – Age 48, Cook/Maid in a private home, 54 hours per week, income in 1939 $198.00

Willie B. Alexander – Age 36 (been working 26 years), cook in a private home, income in 1939 $130.00 (worked 26 weeks)

Pearle Bands – Age 32, maid, 21 hours per week, income in 1939 $208.00

Jessie Henderson – Age 42, cook, 40 hours per week, income in 1939 $156.00

Laura Sullivan – Age 35, cook at a cafe, 60 hours per week, income in 1939 $250.00

Alcie Taylor – Age 50, laundress, 20 hours per week, income in 1939 $78.00

Ella B. Tyus – Age 32, laundress, 48 hours per week, income in 1939 $364.00

Magalena Vaughn – Age 50, cook, 42 hours per week, income in 1939 $260.00

As you can see from this small collection of ladies their yearly income varied. One even made it beyond the $5.65 per week mark. What stands out to me is that their occupations were basically the same. Cook, laundress, or maid were the occupations African American women could look for during this time. Could you imagine graduating from Lauderdale County High School, but having to become a maid or work in another position of servitude? Do any of you have oral histories from your family detailing how your grandmother or great grandmother made a living?

 

-Tiffany

– Source: 1940 US Census Records for Lauderdale County, Tennessee, Southern Labor and Black Civil Rights by Micheal K. Honey

Lynching of Albert Gooden – Follow Up

17 Sep

I hesistated to share the rest of the information I had found on Mr. Gooden’s lynching because I found it on a website with a very strong message that I could not vouch for due to lack of knowledge on the subjects being discussed. Just to be clear there is a lot of other race related information on this site and I do not know whether it is true or not. My interest in this site is strictly on the story of the aftermath of the Albert Gooden lynching.

This site states,

“After the Lynching and murder of Albert Gooden, Sheriff Vaughn and the Lynch  mob had rounded up two of Gooden’s brothers, Edd Gooden and Braxton Gooden to Lynch them. But sometime happen on that night when the lynch mob was fixing to carry out the lynching. With the help of someone shooting into the crowd of the lynch mob from a distance, Edd and Braxton Gooden manage to escape the lynch mob. Meantime the  two brother left Tipton county and moved up North to keep from being Lynched. Braxton Gooden changed his name somehow after he left tipton county and never came back to visit family, until the year of 1997, when one of his other brothers passed, Spillmon Doc Gooden. But was only there for a day and a half, still being in fear of his life. Out of the two brothers that was almost lynched by the Tipton County Sheriff lynch mob, Braxton is still living up North, Edd Gooden passed in 1993 in Cleveland Ohio.”

If this is true it adds an interesting element to the Gooden story, because very much like the Gingery story I covered on this blog the lynch mob in that instance as well went after the brothers of the suspected killer who may or may not have had anything to do with the crime involved.

Stories like these always catch my attention because they involve individuals fleeing the area due to racial intimidation. Can you imagine living with this type of fear? Not being able to return to your home and family because people are looking to murder you? Ed Gooden, the father of Albert, died in 1941, so these two brothers were not even able to return home to bury their father.

 

– Tiffany

– Source: http://tiptoncounty-racism.com/albert_gooden.html (disclaimer – I make no claims towards the accuracy of other information on this site. My interest in this site is purely on the Albert Gooden story)

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Black Life in Ripley, TN

17 Sep

#4 Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of Franklin Roosevelt 32nd President of the United States, spoke out against the killing of an African American soldier in Ripley, TN.

“Early in 1944, a disgruntled Tennessean, WT Straub of Memphis, charged that Eleanor Roosevelt was indirectly responsible for a shoot-out between black soldiers and two white law enforcement officers in Ripley, Tennessee, in which one soldier was killed and an officer wounded.” – page 161, Days of Hope by Patricia Sullivan

Why Eleanor Roosevelt? WT Straub had mailed her newspaper clippings of the story involving the incident with the African American soliders and the White police officers that had taken place in Ripley, TN. Because Mrs. Roosevelt had taken a firm stand against segregation she had become an easy target for White supremacists.

Mrs. Roosvelt’s response:

“These articles are sad reading for you – not me.”

This stunned the City of Memphis and the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper demanded an explanation. Mrs. Roosevelt’s secretary responded with:

“Mrs. Roosevelt meant that not she, but the South is responsible for things like that because of the condition there caused by discrimination against the Negro. Certainly she was not responsible for them. If she’d died in her cradle, conditions there would still be the same as they are.”

So just who was the African American soldier that died in Ripley whose story made it to the White House?

I haven’t been able to find him. My guess is that he might have been a soldier visiting home or he was a soldier at the base in Dyersburg, TN who happened to be in Ripley at the wrong time. I have found records of soldiers based in Dyersburg, TN dying in Ripley mainly through things such as plane crashes or other Army related incidents. At this time there was a lot of hostility towards African American soldiers because these soldiers were asserting their natural rights to freedom. These soldiers even had their right to vote protected when civilian African Americans did not! My next step here is to search through the Commercial Appeal archives at the University of Memphis library.

I did find an entry for a W.T. Straub in the 1940 Memphis City Directory. The directory indicates that he was employed as a conductor.

So just who was this soldier? I hope to have more information for you soon. So far my searches have turned up empty.

– Tiffany

Sources: page 161, Days of Hope by Patricia Sullivan, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 27 January, 29 January 1944.

Lynching of Albert Gooden – Follow Up

10 Sep

I covered the kidnapping and lynching of Albert Gooden of Tipton County about a year ago. That article can be found here.

https://blackripley.com/2012/05/18/newspaper-clippings-spartanburg-herald-august-18-1937/

While on the internet I did discover more information about Mr. Gooden’s death along with a photo. Interesting tidbits from the article,

  • Mr. Gooden owned an illegal gambling house
  • Two shootings took place that night, one victim was Jack Bolton age 24 African American male and the other was  Night Marshall Chester Doyle, a Deputy Sheriff in Tipton County
  • Quotes from the Covington Leader Newspaper and The Atlanta Daily World
  • The Tennessee Governor offered $5000 for information on Mr. Gooden’s killer

Please check out the article and photograph here: http://panafricannews.blogspot.com/2006/10/two-case-studies-in-race-terror-during.html

Interesting to note I couldn’t locate a death certificate on Mr. Gooden.

There is also an article on Elbert Williams of Haywood County on the Pan African News site. I’ve been writing a piece on him to be published on this site in the future.

Thanks,

Tiffany

Source: PanAfrican News – http://panafricannews.blogspot.com/2006/10/two-case-studies-in-race-terror-during.html,

West Tennessee and the Great Migration

2 Sep

The Great Migration is commonly known as the time period of 1915 – 1970 when an estimated 6 million African Americans fled the South to the North, the West, and the Mid West. These African Americans were in search of a better life, free from the poor jobs, poor education, and Jim Crow that was standard in the South. Often we see African Americans leaving the south due to potential retaliation and threats on their life from Whites on some action they might have taken. What this migration did was allow the children who made this journey to flourish in ways that might not have been possible had they stayed in the South.

The African Americans of Ripley and West Tennessee also followed the trails of The Great Migration. Many of these African American families moved to Detroit, Chicago, and other northern and midwestern cities. In my own family I can count 6 of 8 siblings leaving Ripley behind for Detroit.

So what do these patterns of migration tell us?

During this period of time little pockets of West Tennessee could be found in several different cities. The small towns of Ripley, Brownsville and others spread their culture and way of life to several places.

A quick search on Ancestry.com turned up records of thousands upon thousands of African Americans who left West Tennessee for the North. Here are a few of them.

1. Elias Norvell born 1871 in Ripley, TN son of Alex and Polly Norvell. On the 1930 US Census Elias can be found in Willoughby, Ohio with his wife Elsie and their four children.

2. Rawlings Bond was born about 1888 in Haywood County, TN son of Haywood and Mary Bond. His WWI Draft Registration Card completed in 1917 indicated that he was a self-employed farmer. Rawlings and his wife Bessie Southall Bond make an appearance on the 1920 US Census in Haywood County, but by the 1930 US Census they had relocated to Detroit, Michigan where Rawlings was now employed as an Expressman in the Cartage (transporting goods) industry.

3. Love Campbell was born about 1893 in Brownsville, TN. His 1917 WWI Draft Registration Card indicates that he was married and employed in a workhouse in Jackson, TN. On the 1930 US Census Love makes an appearance as a lodger living in Detroit, Michigan working as a laborer in an auto plant. On the 1940 US Census Love is still in Detroit and is now working as a cement mixer at a construction company.

As you can see the job opportunities that existed in the North were far better than any jobs to be found in West Tennessee. Can you imagine barely scraping together a living as a sharecropper on someone else’s land and then going to Detroit and securing a job in an auto plant? The good fortunes of these individuals more than likely influenced close family and friends to join them. Interestingly, many of those who migrated first made their homes in boarding houses and can be found on the US Censuses as lodgers.

The stories of these 3 individuals barely scratches the surface of the stories of those who left West Tennessee for other areas. In the future I plan to do a more in depth study on the West Tennessee participants of the Great Migration.

What about your own family? Do you have relatives who left West Tennessee for the better conditions in other parts of the US?

 

 

– Tiffany

– Sources: US Census Records 1880 – 1940, Tennessee State Marriage Records, WWI Draft Registration Cards

– Image Source: http://www.centerstage.org/portals/23/images/Great-Migration.jpg