Archive | March, 2014

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)

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

1 Mar

5. Tom, Hiliary, and Sugar Hill

The building known as the Sugar Hill Library was built in 1842 by Joseph Wardlaw. It was the first framed home built in Ripley and it was built using hand hewn logs. In March of 1948 the home, donated by its current owners the WGL Rice family, began a restoration so that it could become the Sugar Hill Library. It operated as a library for 50 years and  currently it is home to the Lauderdale County Chamber of Commerce. The Lauderdale County Museum operates on the first floor.

Sugar Hill c1900

Sugar Hill c1900

So who were Tom and Hiliary and how do they fit into the history of the Wardlaw House also known as Sugar Hill?

Tom and Hiliary are the names of the two slaves owned by Joseph Wardlaw who were credited with building the house that is currently known as Sugar Hill. It is possible that Tom and Hiliary walked from South Carolina when Wardlaw relocated to the Ripley area.

Joseph Wardlaw died in 1863. I searched for his will to see if Tom and Hiliary were listed, but was unable to find a copy.

A check of the 1870 US Census turned up an African American male by the name of Hillary Wardlaw who was born in 1810 in South Carolina and was currently living in Ripley working as a day laborer. So far he seems to match the Hillary that built Sugar Hill. A check of the 1870 US Census also turned up an African American male by the name of Tom Wardlaw who was born in 1810 in Tennessee. Because Tom is a more common name for a male than Hiliary I am not certain that this is the same Tom who built Sugar Hill, but it very well could be him. Tom’s occupation was listed as farmer. Hiliary and Tom both had several children so it is possible that some of their descendants still live in Ripley, drive by Sugar Hill, and are unaware of the family connection.

So there you have it. Tom and Hiliary were the two slaves who built Sugar Hill in 1842. Their work is still standing 172 years later.

Sugar Hill c2014

Sugar Hill c2014

– Tiffany

Source: Lauderdale County from its Earliest Times by Kate Johnston Peters

Image Source: Sugar Hill c 1900 –, Sugar Hill c 2014 – my own