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Miles Chapel – Then and Now

23 Mar
Then - Miles Chapel (2013)

Then – Miles Chapel (2013)

 

Now - Miles Chapel (Feb 2016)

Now – Miles Chapel (Feb 2016)

 

Tiffany

Image Source – My Own

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Lost Ripley – Miles Chapel

3 Sep

I first featured Miles Chapel on this site under a header titled “If Walls Could Talk”. It was my way of calling attention to important African American sites in Lauderdale County. It is with great sadness that I now write about Miles Chapel and refer to it as Lost Ripley, which is my way of letting people know about African American institutions in Ripley that are no longer standing. Last April I discussed with one of my professors my idea of adding Miles Chapel to the National Register of Historic Places and he was all for it. The church as well agreed that they would like to have it added. It would have been the fourth site in Lauderdale County to be added. This past August my professor and I were headed to Ripley to start the process of having the church added to the National Register. Unfortunately, due to a mold problem the existing chapel will be demolished. Thankfully, they do have plans to rebuild.

As someone who studies African American spaces I consider the demolition of the building as a great loss, but of course I hate to see any old structure torn down.

 

Miles Chapel (2013)

                                                        Miles Chapel (2013)

 

You can revisit Miles Chapel’s first appearance on the website here -> If Walls Could Talk – Miles Chapel

– Tiffany

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

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

Lost Ripley – Lauderdale High School

22 Jun

Lauderdale High School was originally known as the Lauderdale County Training School. It was a school only for African Americans in Ripley and it dates back to the early 1900s and perhaps even earlier. The last graduating class of the school was in 1969, 15 years after Brown  vs. BOE declared separate but equal schools unconstitutional. As was the case with most schools for African Americans only it was closed and the students were sent to the previously all White Ripley High School.

Technically the building isn’t lost because it is still standing, but it is still a former shell of itself. Years ago I had read in the Lauderdale County Enterprise that there was a group trying to restore the school and turn it into an African American history museum.

I am not sure why the words “Ripley _____ High School” appear on the building. Maybe the school for African Americans was moved into the former Ripley Junior High School for Whites? Maybe the building was used as a junior high school after it ceased being Lauderdale High School?

If you would like to visit the site where African Americans in Lauderdale County were educated it is located on Spring Street.

 

Lauderdale High School

Lauderdale High School

 

– Tiffany

– Photo Source: My own

– Source: Lauderdale County Training School 1985 Reunion Booklet

Lost Ripley – Eylau Plantation

25 Apr

Eylau Plantation was the home of Dr. Samuel Oldham and his family. Dr. Oldham relocated to Lauderdale County from Virginia in 1827. Once they arrived Dr. Oldham purchased land from Columbia University (land speculators I suppose?) about 8 miles east of Ripley to build his farm. Eylau was built entirely by his slaves and completed in 1835. Eylau was a show place with fireplaces in each room and the like. It was built for entertaining with the first floor being converted into a ballroom.

Eylau Plantation

Eylau Plantation built by slaves and completed in 1835

Dr. Oldham is said to have treated his slaves kindly and they were provided with comfortable living quarters. Oral history has also stated that some of his former slaves are buried in the cemetery that was on the grounds of Eylau. Details in his will indicate that he did not want his slave families to be separated. He also mentions a few of his slaves in his will. They are as follows,

George Young from the Forest Home Plantation

Peter (a boy)

Jim and Bet (husband and wife)

After his death the slaves on the Eylau Plantation were divided equally between two of his sons. Special provisions were made for Jim and Bet. Dr. Oldham saw to it that they were allowed to stay in the home they currently lived in, that they were provided wood in the winter, and that the family always looked after them.

– Tiffany

– Source and picture: Lauderdale County From its Earliest Times by Kate Johnston Peters

Lost Ripley – Clay Funeral Home on College Street

17 Apr

Clay Funeral Home was a business started by Lauderdale County native Alex Clay. Clay was born in Lauderdale County, TN in 1882 and he passed in 1951. He was the son of Elias and Mary Jaroe Clay both former slaves. Clay Funeral Home was located at 168 College Street. He was one of the first graduates of Lauderdale County Training School graduating in 1908. According to the US Census prior to his work as an undertaker he worked as a farmer. Clay buried many of Lauderdale County’s Black citizens. It is also thought that Clay owned Canfield Cemetery located on Scott Drive in Ripley, TN. According to oral history the Clay funeral home was located behind a few homes on College Street, one of those homes belonged to Junius (June) and Cordelia Clay, who are believed to have been cousins to Alex Clay. The land on College Street were Alex Clay made his business was given to him by Chaney Jaroe, his grandmother. Prior to the Clay Funeral Home being in this spot this location was home to the bush arbor that was home to Miles Chapel CME Church before a lot was secured for this church on Elm Street. After his death he left all of his assets to his wife and children. I have not yet been able to determine the exact location of Clay Funeral Home. I also haven’t been able to locate picture of it. If you have pictures of it that you would like to contribute, please let me know.

 

 

– Tiffany

– Source: Oral History interview with Geraldine Clay, Lauderdale County From its Earliest Times by Kate Johnston Peters