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The 1978 Miss Black Ripley Pageant

9 Sep

Anyone remember The Miss Black Ripley Pageants?

As I have looked for information on them,  I cannot help but think of what a source of pride these pageants were for the Black community. Starting in 1977 with sponsorship by the Nathaniel Lodge No. 216 and coordinated by James T. Pitts of Pitts Barbershop, these pageants featured Black female contestants in a swimsuit competition, talent competition, formal wear competition, and a question and answer competition.

The first year of The Miss Black Ripley Pageant was 1977 with Jackie Springfield being crowned winner.

The second year, 1978, the pageant was coordinated by James T. Pitts with assistance from Linda Russell, Christine Shaw, and Linda Cooper. On April 16, 1978 at 6:00 pm the Ripley High School Little Theater hosted the pageant. It was also sponsored by The Nathaniel Lodge No. 216. The contestants of the 1978 pageant were Johnnie M. Parker, Mary Owens, Carolyn Graves, Rose Parker, Rose M. Bonds, and Geraldine Clay.

In 1978 the pageant was won by Geraldine Clay with Rose Bonds, Carolyn Graves, and Rose Parker as runner-ups.

New Miss Black Ripley 1978

New Miss Black Ripley 1978

          From The Lauderdale County Enterprise April 26, 1978 Edition

 The 1978 pageant booklet contains the names and advertisements of various additional sponsors and businesses such as Berg and Shafer, Thompson’s Mortuary, Pitts Barbershop, Malone’s Bar-B-Q, Rozelle Criner Furniture Company, Halls Flower and Gift Shop, and Montgomery and Son Plumbing among others. Stroll through the 1978 pageant booklet below.

– Tiffany

– Source: 1978 Miss Black Ripley Pageant Booklet, The Lauderdale County Enterprise April 26, 1978 edition

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Best of Black Ripley Awards 2014

29 Jan

In keeping with last year I am back with 2014’s Best of Black Ripley Awards. This is just a way to document the Best of Black Ripley for the past year. This year I am going to highlight the most read posts on the website.

1. 10 Things You Didn’t Know About African American Life in Ripley – #1 Ripley was known for the largest African American Labor Day Celebration in the United States

Just like last year this was the most read post on the blog. Labor Day certainly does hold a special place in the heart of people from Ripley. This post was also the most shared post from this site on Facebook.

You can review the original posting here:
10 Things you Didn’t Know About Black life in Ripley, TN –  1. Ripley was known for the largest African American Labor Day Celebration in the United States

 

2. Lost Ripley – Eylau Plantation

This one was a complete surprise! I was not expecting this one to appear on the list for the most read posts at all. Eylau Plantation was the home of Dr. Samuel Oldham and family. According to the book, Lauderdale County from its Earliest Times by Kate Johnston Peters, Eylau was a show place for the Oldham family. Peters also notes that Oldham treated his slaves kindly (as kindly as you could treat someone you treat as property I suppose).

You can review the original posting here:

Lost Ripley – Eylau Plantation

 

3. Runaway Slave – Memphis Daily Appeal February 21, 1857

The third most read post was the Runaway Slave post in the Memphis Daily Appeal. I always save runaway slave postings whenever I come across them. I cannot help but to think of the desperation and fear that those individuals must have felt as they made their way towards freedom.

You can review the original posting here:

Runaway Slave – Memphis Daily Appeal February 21, 1857

 

4. 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Black Life in Ripley, TN – 2. The Madison County Area was once involved in a plot to capture a slave thief named John Murrell.

Although this post does not directly involve Ripley, it did take place in the area and is an interesting story involving the Henning family, namesakes of Henning, TN. The story involves plots of slave stealing and inciting slave revolts and helped to create one of the biggest legends in West Tennessee history in John Murrell.

You can review the original posting here:

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Black Life in Ripley, TN – 2. The Madison County Area was once involved in a plot to capture a slave thief named John Murrell. 

 

5. Lost Ripley – Clay Funeral Home on College Street

And lastly, the 5th most read posting on the site for 2014 belongs to the former Clay Funeral Home on College Street. The Clay Funeral Home was founded by Alex Clay and served the black community in Ripley faithfully. After the original posting, Mr. William Carson provided the site with actual pictures of the funeral home. That type of collaboration is exactly what is needed to preserve the stories that make up this site.

You can review the original posting here:

Lost Ripley – Clay Funeral Home on College Street

You can view the posting with pictures of Clay Funeral Home here:

Lost Ripley – Clay Funeral Home – Follow Up

 

There you have it! Those were the most read posts for 2014. What would you like to see featured on the website in 2015?

 

– Tiffany

Colored Lodge – Benevolent Society

6 Jun

A while back I posted a newspaper clipping from the Nashville Union and American July 3, 1872 edition mentioning that the African Americans in Ripley had gotten together to form a Union League/Benevolent Society. You can find the original article here -> Newspaper Clippings – Nashville Union and American July 3, 1872.

Nashville Union and American July 3, 1872

Nashville Union and American July 3, 1872

 

While browsing through Sanborn Maps I noticed that one of the maps depicted a location known as the “Colored Lodge”. Could it have also been known as the Benevolent Society? Its location would have been right across the street from the First Baptist Church on Main Street next door to the present day location of Pitts Barbershop. I noticed that the Colored Lodge seems to be on the second story of this building with an undertaker on the first story. I’m curious to know who this undertaker might have been. Could this undertaker have catered to African Americans? The Hudson and Graham Funeral Home was not established until 1910 and Alex Clay of the Clay Funeral Home would have been a young child at this time.

 

Colored Lodge

Colored Lodge

 

 

By the 1891 Sanborn Map the heading for this location was no longer noted as “Colored Lodge”. The second story of this building was a furniture repair shop and the first story of this building was still occupied by an undertaker.

 

– Tiffany

 

 

Sources: 1887 and 1891 Sanborn Maps for Ripley, TN, Nashville Union and American July 3, 1872 edition

Hudson and Graham Funeral Home

5 Apr

Below is an ad that I found for the Hudson and Graham Funeral Home that catered to African Americans. This ad was featured in the 1958 Haywood, Lauderdale, and Tipton County Directory.

 

Hudson and Graham Funeral Home

Hudson and Graham Funeral Home

 

It’s unclear who exactly Hudson and Graham are and because this is an ad for 1958 I am unable to turn to the census to do a quick search. Does anyone remember the Hudson and Graham Funeral Home or where it might have been located?

 

– Tiffany

Source: Haywood, Lauderdale, and Tipton County Directory – 1958

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), movie-theater.org, cinematreasures.org

Image Source: Lauderdale County from its Earliest Times by Kate Johnston Peters (Roxy Theater)

Lost Ripley – Clay Funeral Home – Follow Up

20 Nov

As part of the Lost Ripley series I wrote about the Clay Funeral Home owned by Lauderdale County native Alex Clay. Clay Funeral Home was located at 168 College Street. A descendant of the Clay Family, William Carson, was kind enough to share his photos of the funeral home with us.

Clay Funeral Home

Clay Funeral Home

Clay Funeral Home

Clay Funeral Home

Using Mr. Carson’s photos and Sanborn Maps I am able to locate the position of the funeral home on College Street. It also helps that this Sanborn Map has the street number of “168” in front of the structure.

Clay Funeral Home on 1927-1942 Sanborn Map

Clay Funeral Home on 1927-1942 Sanborn Map

Isabelle Court is known today as Mays Avenue and Ripley Grammer School has since been replaced by duplex housing.

Clay Funeral Home is no longer standing, but it once stood in Ripley as a testament to the African American business community.

The original article on the Clay Funeral Home can be found here -> https://blackripley.com/2013/04/17/lost-ripley-clay-funeral-home-on-college-street/#comments

 

Thank you,

Tiffany

Sources: 1927-1942 Sanborn Map for Lauderdale County (Map/Sheet 7)

Image Source: William Carson’s personal collection

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