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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.

Sign

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

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 ‚Äď 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

Who was Lation (Ligon) Scott? – Dyersburg, TN

1 Nov

While looking through the search terms that lead people to this site I noticed recently that there have been quite a few searches for “Ligon Scott Dyersburg”

Lation (or Ligon) Scott was murdered in Dyersburg, Tennessee December 2, 1917 after ten days on the run. He was tortured and then burned at the stake. His charge was that he had attacked the white woman that he worked for.

When I read of Mr. Scott’s torture and subsequent death it gave me chills. What I also think about is how people participated in the acts as if there was nothing wrong with what they were doing. According to the NAACP’s investigation of his death he was poked and prodded with fire pokers. He had his eyes burned with a fire poker, he was castrated, his flesh was branded and burned. Next, they lit a fire and watched him burn to death. Mr. Scott’s lynching was turned into a spectacle with many of Dyersburg citizens attending. There were descriptions of children leaving Sunday School to attend the lynching. One of the citizens was quoted as saying “The best part about it was the burning. This hanging kills too quick”.

You can read the NAACP Report in The Crisis here : http://books.google.com/books?id=Y4ETAAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA179&ots=ziyk_UG9ei&dq=ligon%20scott%20dyersburg&pg=PA183#v=onepage&q=ligon%20scott%20dyersburg&f=false

I wanted to find out who Lation (or Ligon) Scott was. I searched through US Census Records for Dyer County for 1900 and 1910 and found no record of him. I also searched for a death certificate and found no record of him there either. The article in The Crisis mentioned that Ligon was a preacher with the Holy Roller Church. It also mentions that he was included in the selective draft, so I searched for his World War I draft card and finally found him.

Lation Scott was born December 25, 1893 in Holly Springs, Mississippi. He had a 3 year old child and was living apart from his wife. He listed himself as a self employed farmer. He was living on what appears to say RFD #2 in Dyersburg. His draft registration card was completed June 5, 1917.

Using details in The Crisis article I decided to see if I could locate the area where the lynching took place. The article in The Crisis states the location as “a near by vacant lot, the corner of which adjoins the public square, and which is within a stone’s throw of two churches and the residences of¬†several ministers as well as of the Mayor of the town. It is the property, jointly, of several sisters, prominent women of Dyersburg. The court house and the post office, attractive new buildings, are in sight of the spot” (p. 181)

I then turned to the Sanborn Maps for Dyer County and discovered that maps were available for 1914. Sanborn Maps were not published again until 1929, so I decided to stick with the 1914 maps. As you know, Sanborn Maps show structures so it would be easy to identify a vacant lot. Do I know that the lot was still vacant in December of 1917? I do not, but at least I can find a starting point for further research using the 1914 maps.

Here is Court Square in 1914 with all lots adjoining Court Square outlined in red. (Sanborn Maps 1914 Index Key Sheet 1)

Court Square 1914

Court Square 1914

Using different sheets of the Sanborn Maps gives us a closer view of Court Square. The image below is Sanborn Maps 2 and 3 combined to give us a better view of Court Square including the buildings and vacant lots.

Court Square SB 2 and 3

Court Square SB 2 and 3

Combining the two maps lets me see that the only vacant lot near Court Square was at the corner of Mill Avenue and West Court indicated by the red dot on the map. Using the description in The Crisis we can see that (1) the corner of this lot does adjoin the public square, (2) it is near two churches (one of them shown) and (3) the court house and post office are in sight.

So if this in indeed the lot where this horrible crime took place then the address of that lot is 107 N. Mill Avenue.

So what is left?

Using the information on the WWI draft card a search for Mr. Scott on the US census should be tried again in an effort to locate his family members. I did a preliminary search for an African American male born in 1893 living in Holly Springs, MS with the surname Scott and there were a few hits, however none had the first name  Lation or Ligon. Perhaps he also had another name that he went by as a child. Also, newspaper accounts of this incident should be viewed to locate any clues such as the name of the family he worked for and those he associated with in Dyersburg.

Hopefully more can be done to discover Mr. Scott’s background, the family he belonged to, the identity of his wife and child, and where he might be buried.

– Tiffany

– Sources: The Crisis by NAACP Volumes 15 – 18, Sanborn Maps Dyersburg, TN 1914 (Index Key Map 1, Map 2, and Map 3), US Census Records for Dyersburg, TN 1900 and 1910, Tennessee State Deaths and Burials Index 1874-1955, US World War I Draft Registration Cards, Google Maps for 107 North Mill Avenue.

If Walls Could Talk: Morning Star Baptist Church

6 Oct

“In the year 1914, a faithful group of about seventy assembled themselves together on Russell Lane, using Sister Maggie Russell Burns’ lot as a place of worship, under the leadership of the late Rev. G.L. Harris, the organizer” – Lauderdale County From its Earliest Times by Kate Johnston Peters (p 89).

Morning Star Baptist Church received its name from Frank Williams who also served as an officer of the church. Deacons of the church included, Frank Reed, Clarence Rucker, Abe Partee, George Roll and Frank Williams. Pastors of the church included Rev. G.L. Harris, Rev. M.L. Young, Rev. Anderson, Rev. J.W. Lee, Rev. R.L. Reed, Rev. G.W. Tyus, John Maclin, Sol Huddelston, and Robert Washington. By 1955 the church was under the leadership of Rev. J.R. Halliburton.

In 1916 the church relocated from Russell Lane to a lot on what was known at the time as School Street which they purchased for $75.00. Church members and friends worked together to clear the lot and dig the basement of the church which they used for worship services. Sanborn Maps also reveal that the Morning Star Church building was also used as an annex for the Lauderdale County Training School.

Records indicate that School Street was renamed Handsome Street and was then renamed Spring Street, which it is still known as today. Today, Morning Star Baptist Church can be found on Scott Drive, not too far from its previous location on Spring Street.

In the 1980’s Mother Goose Daycare could be found in a building behind Morning Star Baptist Church.

Do any of you all have memories of attending Morning Star Baptist Church? Do any of you all currently attend there?

– Tiffany

– Source: Lauderdale County from its Earliest Times by Kate Johnston Peters, Google Maps

Negro Quarters

24 Aug

As I review the Sanborn Maps that I have for Ripley I cannot help but to notice a few things that stand out. For example, what exactly were the “Negro Quarters”?

Negro Quarters - Jan 1887 Sanborn Map

Negro Quarters – Jan 1887 Sanborn Map

My best guess is that obviously this is a place where African Americans lived. It appears to have only been designated as such due to its close proximity to the Court House Square as most buildings around the square were designated with their use.

With that out of the way I immediately wanted to know who lived there? How did they end up living in such close proximity to the square? Was it because they worked nearby at a local business?

From what I can tell the “Negro Quarters” correctly known as 310 and 311 Jefferson Street were simple 2 story¬†structures. Between 1887 and 1891 when these structures appeared on the Sanborn maps their neighbors¬†changed from general storage, printing, and lumber storage to a business called “Old and Vac” in 1891.¬†¬†By 1896 these structures were no longer known as the “Negro Quarters” and were now known as the Dressed Lumber House with 310 Jefferson designated as the office.

Unfortunately the 1880 US Census for Lauderdale County does not hold many clues because the street names for the locations were not written in the margins like you can find for some censuses and the 1890 census no longers exists for this area. My next step is to comb through the census paying close attention to neighbors and looking for other things that may indicate a home close to the Court House Square.

 

– Tiffany

– Source: January 1887 Sanborn Map, Sheet 1. sanborn.umi.com

Sanborn Maps

11 Aug

This summer I was introduced to what are known as Sanborn Maps. These maps were created by the Sanborn Insurance Company as insurance maps, but what they also did was go into detail about the structures on the maps. Details are listed such as what the structures were made of, if they had fireplaces, if they were more than 1 story etc. What I most enjoy about these maps is that they give you a way of putting together neighborhoods that are long gone.

For example, I never knew that the Morning Star Baptist Church was once located on present day Spring Street and used as an annex to the Lauderdale County Training School. All of this information I gained from a Sanborn Map of Ripley.

LCTS 1927 Sanborn clip

Feb 1927 Sanborn Map, Map #5 showing Lauderdale County Training School and Morning Star Baptist Church on Spring Street (previously Handsome Street)

Now I am also curious as to how Handsome Street became known as Spring Street.

Now for the limitations…

Sanborn Maps were only done for specific areas. From what I can tell maps were never created for Henning or Durhamville which is a shame given their close proximity to Ripley. It would have been interesting to discover the neighborhoods of Durhamville especially since that town’s original structures¬†have been lost to history.

Now for the possibilities…

Imagine just what can be¬†discovered and created¬†using a combination of Sanborn Maps, land deeds, and public memory? I’ve got a few ideas running through my mind and I cannot wait to try them out.

– Tiffany

– Source: Feb 1927 Sanborn Map of Ripley, TN, Map #5. sanborn.umi.com