Archive | Meharry RSS feed for this section

Miles Vandahurst Lynk and the University of West Tennessee

13 Jun

My dissertation research on historically Black college and university (HBCU) architecture often leads me to places I did not expect.  It often leads me to defunct HBCUs, and one of these schools is the University of West Tennessee. I first discovered this school several years ago while reading GP Hamilton’s The Bright Side of Memphis book. This book featured a quick history of the school and its founder Miles V. Lynk. This past spring while researching the UWT I quickly discovered how intertwined the school and its founder actually were. You see in many ways Miles V. Lynk was the school and he also happened to be a native of Haywood County, TN.

              Miles V. Lynk

Lynk had quite the exciting life as detailed in his autobiography, Sixty Years of Medicine; Or, The Life and Times of Dr. Miles V. Lynk, an Autobiography.

A few quick facts about Lynk,

He was born in Haywood County, TN on June 3, 1871, to formerly enslaved parents

He received his certificate to teach school in Haywood County at the age of 13.

At the age of 17, he enrolled at Meharry Medical College.

He was named after two CME Church bishops, William Henry Miles and Richard H. Vandahurst

He published the first medical journal for African American physicians known as The Medical and Surgical Observer

In 1900 he founded the University of West Tennessee in Jackson, TN and later relocated the school to Memphis in 1907.

The State of Tennessee honored him and the University of West Tennessee with a historical marker in 1996 in Memphis at McLemore and Krayer Streets.

 

 

 His autobiography details his life growing up on a farm outside of Brownsville, TN. In the text, he describes the death of his father and his quest to find employment as a school teacher before enrolling at Meharry Medical College. Because he was looking for employment in Fayette County, Tennessee, Lynk soon discovered that his teaching certificate would only be accepted if he could find a white man to refer him.  Of this experience, Lynk stated, “That struck me like a bombshell as I had never been in the employ of a white man; in fact, my abhorrence for slavery was so great that I would never hire to one for money” (24). One of the men that Lynk reached out to for a reference happened to be the man who enslaved his father who then refused to give him a reference. Lynk described how this encounter influenced him and how he prayed to the Lord that he’d never have to do anything like it again.

 

 

By 1908 when the University of West Tennessee relocated to Memphis and was featured in GP Hamilton’s The Bright Side of Memphis Hamilton described the school as “two commodious and well-arranged buildings known as North and South Hall respectively… The grounds and buildings are valued at $15,000” (258). However, according to reports the school struggled and found itself described as “without merit” and “ineffectual” according to a report known as the Flexner Report written in 1910 which provided detailed accounts of medical schools.

 

 

Despite this, the UWT graduated about 155 students before closing in 1924. After living a very accomplished life, Lynk passed away in Memphis on December 29, 1956, at age of eighty-six.

 

Article on the University of West Tennessee in the Memphis, TN newspaper The News Scimitar January 16, 1920

Google Map showing the University of West Tennessee Historical Marker at the corner of McLemore and Krayer Streets

 

-Tiffany

 

Sources:

Flexner, Abraham. “Medical Education in the United States and Canada.” New York, New York, 1910. http://archive.carnegiefoundation.org/pdfs/elibrary/Carnegie_Flexner_Report.pdf.

 

 

Hamilton, Green Polonius. The Bright Side of Memphis: A Compendium of Information Concerning the Colored People of Memphis, Tennessee, Showing Their Achievements in Business, Industrial and Professional Life and Including Articles of General Interest on the Race. Memphis, Tennessee, 1908.

 

 

Lynk, Miles V. Sixty Years of Medicine;: Or, The Life and Times of Dr. Miles V. Lynk, an Autobiography. Twentieth Century Press, 1951.

 

Black Doctors in Lauderdale County, TN

22 Feb

While doing my usual research on the area I came across what is described as a list of “Negro Physicians of the County”. This list is included in the book titled “Lauderdale County in its Earliest Times” by Kate Johnson Peters published in 1957. The Black doctors of the area are listed as follows,

 

Williams

Dickey

Morgan

Clay

Coleman

Walker

I guess Kate was too busy to find out their first names? If you have been a reader of my blog for awhile then you know that the doctor named Clay in the book is actually S.R. Clay who was born a slave and was a graduate of Meharry Medical College in Nashville. I did a quick search and discovered the following about our Black doctors.

Dickey is the last name of John A. Dickey who is 1930 was married to Alhome (sp?) Dickey and who had a daughter named Gussie Dickey. They made their home on Church Street.

I hope to do more research to find out who the additional doctors were.

 

– Tiffany

Source:  “Lauderdale County in its Earliest Times” by Kate Johnson Peters

Higher Education

16 Dec

As a graduate of Tennessee State University which is an HBCU (Historically Black College or University) I began to wonder about Black college graduates from Ripley and the surrounding areas during segregation. Of course these individuals would have had to have attended HBCUs. I decided to do a search of Tennessee’s HBCUs to see if I could find graduates from the Ripley area.

I decided to start with a quick search of Tennessee State University commencement records.

1932 Graduates of Tennessee State University
Dupree D. Davis – Jackson, TN
James C. Jones – Henning, TN
George A. Newbern – Jackson, TN

1935 Graduates of Tennessee State University
Johnnie Turner Baker – Dyersburg, TN
George Charles Newbern – Dyersburg, TN

1936 Graduates of Tennessee State University
Kathaleen F. McCadden – Elementary Education – Covington, TN
Ida Belle Powell – Home Economics – Jackson, TN
Arthur Lee Robinson – Agriculture – Dyersburg, TN

Other Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Tennessee include,

Fisk Univeristy – Nashville
Lane College – Jackson
Lemoyne Owen – Memphis
Knoxville College – Knoxville
Meharry Medical College – Nashville

Over the course of the next few weeks I hope to do more research into the Black college graduates from this area.

Source: Tennessee State University Digital Archives Records – http://www.tnstate.edu/library/digitalresources/commencements.aspx

– Tiffany

SR Clay – Follow Up

23 Oct

A few months ago I wrote about Simeon “S.R” Clay on this blog. From that point on I wondered what had happened to Simeon. As we know he graduated from Meharry in 1899 and moved back to Ripley, TN. I found a US Census entry for him on the 1900 census, but had been unable to locate him on any further censuses.

 Well I found SR Clay and his family. While reviewing old photographs that I had taken of Canfield Cemetery in Ripley I came across a photo of his tombstone. He and his wife Mintie both passed in 1906 according to their tombstone, just six years after they had moved back to Ripley. What happened to them? The State of Tennessee did not require the completion of death certificates until 1908.

 I then began to look for their children. I easily found his daughter Nannie on the 1920 Census. She was listed as living alone in Ripley, TN. She was the head of her household and she owned her home. She also worked as a teacher in the public school. According to the tombstone she passed in 1924. SR Clay’s daughter Elvise died in 1919 according to the tombstone. I have not yet been able to locate any records on her.

 

– Tiffany

Source: Tombstone Picture – my own

Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Year: 1920;Census Place: Ripley, Lauderdale, Tennessee; Roll: T625_1751; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 94; Image: 685.

SR Clay – Ripley, TN Physician

26 Jul

While reading the Lauderdale County, TN Physician’s Register starting in 1889 I noticed that Meharry Medical College was listed. Meharry Medical College is a historically Black medical college located in Nashville, TN. Because of this I knew that the physician listed as a graduate of that college was an African American. It turns out the physician listed was Simeon “S.R.” Clay who lived in Ripley, TN. According to the 1900 US Census he was born in Tennessee in October of 1864 prior to the end of slavery. His mother was Nancy Thornton Taylor born 1841 in Virginia and his stepfather was William Taylor born 1850 in Tennessee. On the 1880 US Census the family was living in District 9, Haywood County, TN. When SR enrolled at Meharry Medical College he listed his home as being in Ripley, TN. SR completed medical school in 1899. Meharry has pictures of all of the graduates, but the names are not clear enough to determine which picture is SR. By 1900 SR Clay was married and living in Ripley, TN with his wife Mintie Williams Clay and their children Minerva and Minnie Clay. The 1900 US Census also lists that Mintie was a school teacher and that they owned their home free from mortgage.

I am actively searching for more information regarding his life and story. He was born a slave, completed medical school, and came home to Ripley, TN to practice medicine.

SR Clay Meharry Catalogue Listing

-Tiffany

 

 

 

Sources

1. Lauderdale County Court Clerk Physician Register TN State Archives Microfilm roll #17

 2. “MMC Archives.” Meharry Medical College Library. 28 May 2008. Web. 25 July 2011. http://library.mmc.edu/catalogues/MMC_1899_color.pdf.

3. Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. 1880 U.S. Census Index provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

4. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.

5. Dodd, Jordan R. Tennessee Marriages, 1851-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000.