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Pop Up Museum @ The 2014 Lauderdale County Tomato Festival – Recap

14 Jul

As mentioned about a week ago Black Ripley sponsored a Pop Up Museum at the 2014 Lauderdale County Tomato Festival. We were there from about 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. I’d like to thank each and every person that stopped by to share their memories of the area.


Welcome Sign


From those memories I was able to learn a lot about the area.

Memories included:

– Tiny, the little person, who worked at either Joe’s or Pitts barbecue spot as a car hop

– A riot at Ripley High School the year of integration

– Life growing up in Arp, Golddust, Durhamville, and Orysa

– Stories of the Great Migration. Families moving North and sending their children back South to Ripley every summer

– Sharecropping on the Eugene Anthony, E.L. Queen, and Eylau farms

– Stories of “The Hole” and the people and businesses that were there

– Recollections of past Labor Days and the Miss Black Ripley Pageants

– Sitting in the balconies of local movie theaters and eating ice cream at the ice cream parlor that was located uptown

– Locating their childhood homes and current homes on a 1927 Sanborn Map

I’m sure all of these memories will make their way into a posting or two ūüôā


There were a variety of items surpassing many years on display.

Geraldine Clay and painting

Geraldine Clay and drawing by her grandson of her life in Durhamville in the 1920s – 1930s

Miss Black Ripley Display

Miss Black Ripley Display with information on pageants from 1977 – 1979 along with pageant souvenir booklets. Also included were articles from the “10 Things” series.

Table Display

Table Display featuring Alex Haley’s Warner Bros records on Roots, a wooden nickle from JT Williams grocery, a school book published in 1890 from the area.

Table Display

Table Display featuring “Finding the Good” book by Lucas Johnson on the life of Fred Montgomery, home run baseball from a 2002 RHS baseball game and an article about the game.

Tent Set Up

Tent Set Up

Sanborn Map Display

Sanborn Map Display

It was a great day. I’m very grateful for the participation and encouragement that was received.




– Tiffany

– Photo Source: My Own


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


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.



– Tiffany

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

Book Review – Finding the Good by Lucas L. Johnson II

7 Jul

A few months ago I had the opportunity to attend the Writers Day¬† program at the Alex Haley Museum and Interpretive Center located in Henning, TN. While there I purchased a book called Finding the Good by Lucas L. Johnson II. It is based on the life of Fred Montgomery, a friend of Alex Haley’s, former Henning mayor, and former¬†curator of the Alex Haley Museum. I was so fascinated by the life of Fred¬†Montgomery that I read the book in one sitting. Not only is it a biography of sorts, but there are details of the author’s life included as well as history related to people and places in Henning, TN.

The book itself is titled after Alex Haley’s famous saying “Find the good and praise it”. There are many interesting parts of the book including the stories of¬†racist treatment from the men who employed Fred’s family as sharecroppers, Fred’s struggles with the deaths of his children, childhood stories about Fred and Alex, actions of the¬†local KKK,¬†details of early African American¬†education in Henning, TN, pictures of Fred and his wife Earnestine, and other stories that allow the reader to understand Henning, TN during the¬†Jim Crow era.


Finding the Good by Lucas L. Johnson II

Finding the Good by Lucas L. Johnson II


Mr. Fred Montgomery died July 12, 2006, but his memory will live on through this book and the countless lives he touched. I recommend this book to anyone looking to learn about African American life in Henning, TN.

Finding the Good on Amazon –


– Tiffany

– Image Source: my own

The Gingery Mob – Who Was the Accomplice?

9 May

About a year or so ago I wrote about an event known as The Gingery Mob in which the Gingery brothers, Henry and Roger, killed a police officer and his helper because their brother Reuben¬†was arrested for failing¬†to be vaccinated. Henry and Roger escaped, but their brothers Reuben and Frank were killed for their crimes. In addition to this a man from Henning identified as a neighbor of the Gingery’s was also killed for being an accessory to the crime.

Just who was the accomplice from Henning?

Sometimes the answer we are looking for is right under our nose and in this case it was. I have a list of the lynchings that occurred in the West Tennessee area, of course the listing is incomplete, but it didn’t occur to me until now to check that list and see who was hung around the time of the Gingery Mob. Wouldn’t you know it? My answer was on that list.

Anderson Gause was lynched January 16, 1900 just 7 days after the Gingery brothers. Could he be the accomplice?

I went a little further to substantiate my idea and I discovered newspaper articles linking Anderson Gause to the crime. According to the papers

“Anderson Gause¬†colored was lynched by a mob near HENNING Tenn for aiding two murderers to escape”

With my idea corroborated by published news accounts I figured that this was my guy the accomplice, but just who was Anderson Gause?

Ordinarily you would think that tracking down someone named Anderson Gause¬†would not be that complicated, but there were a lot of people with the last name Gause¬†in Lauderdale County at this time, Black and White. United States Census Records did not provide the best information because several people just listed themselves on the census as “A. Gause”. I then decided to check the Tennessee State Marriage records, but in those records I also found a lot of people named¬†“A. Gause” listed. So then I decided to check to see if there was an A. Gause listed in Bethlehem Cemetery, Canaan Cemetery, or Canfield ¬†2 places he possibly would have been buried since he was killed in Henning. I turned up no records on Find A Grave and of course no Tennessee State Death records because he died before death records became mandatory.

Just who was Anderson Gause? How did he help the Gingery brothers escape? Did he help them get onto a train? Take them by wagon to another city? Give them his horses? Did he even help them or was he just at the wrong place, at the wrong time while the community was looking to kill anyone who might have remotely had anything to do with the Gingery brothers? Who knows for sure, but as always I will be sure to share more information as it becomes available.

Anderson Gause Jan 20, 1900 - The Clifton Advocate

Anderson Gause Jan 20, 1900 – The Clifton Advocate

– Tiffany

– Sources: The Lynching Calendar:, The Clifton, Illinois Advocate Jan 20, 1900 edition

– Tiffany

Sources: 1880 US Census, State of Tennessee Marriage Records for Lauderdale County, Lauderdale County Enterprise Friday, September 24, 1926 edition

If Walls Could Talk: Miles Chapel CME

3 May

Miles Chapel CME was the second African American church in Ripley, TN. It was founded after emancipation and I have found dates of 1873, 1876, and 1886 as its dates of origin. The church first held meetings under a bush arbor on land owned by Chaney Jeroe on College Street. A location for the church was soon secured on Elm Street right near College Street, but when the railroad came through the church had to be relocated. It eventually found itself back on College Street, not far from the original location.

According to the plaque on the wall of the church it appears that this building was rebuilt in 1943. It is unclear if that was due to the forced move by the railroad or something else. Today it appears that the church might be inactive, but can you imagine what went on here when the church was active? Imagine all of the Sunday worship services, the church dinners and fellowships, the weddings, the baptisms, and even the funerals. As I stood outside of the church taking photographs I could almost feel the energy of all of the happy times that must have taken place there.

Miles Chapel

Miles Chapel

Early members of the church include Chaney Jeroe, Elias Clay and family, Alex Norvell, Ned Fuller, Richard Byrn, Smith Carson, Lawrence Tyus, Lewis Bord, Hester Burns, Hannah Sutherland, the Halfacre family, and many, many others. Interestingly it seems that a few members of this church also moved to Paducah, Kentucky and established a Miles Chapel CME church there as well.

I also found an ad placed in the Lauderdale County Enterprise on October 22, 1926 regarding Miles Chapel.

“Attention Colored Mid-Wives
Dr. M.E. Coleman, field agent of the vital statistic department of Public Health State Board, is in the county getting the vital statistics of colored babies and instructing midwives (colored).
All that do not get in touch with her will not be recommended
to the State. She will hold a meeting Tuesday, Oct. 26, at the Methodist
Church in Henning at 1:30, Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 1:30 at Miles Chapel
Methodist Church in Ripley. All midwives are urged to be present at one of
these meetings if they want to continue doing their work without getting into
trouble. adv.”

Do any of you have fond memories of Miles Chapel CME? If so, please share!

– Tiffany
Sources: Google Maps, church cornerstone photo my own, Lauderdale County From its Earliest Times by Kate Johnston Peters, Lauderdale County Enterprise October 22, 1926 edition via Lauderdale County, TN GenWeb