Tag Archives: Black Experiences

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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The African American Civil War Memorial and Museum

1 Feb

I’ve written twice on the website about connections between Lauderdale County and the United States Colored Troops (USCT) here and here. While visiting Washington DC for a conference, I finally had the opportunity to visit the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum. Not only is there an excellent exhibit at the museum, but right across the street from the museum is the USCT Memorial complete with a statue and plaques that bear the names of every member of the USCT, who served in the Civil War.

Of particular interest to me was finding the name of Major Gilliland/Gilden/Bates who happens to be my children’s 4th great uncle. Major was enslaved by David Gilliland in Lauderdale County, Tennessee as referenced in his USCT records. He enlisted in the 4th Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery. Despite the cold and rain, I found his name.

Major Gilden

Major Gilden

After locating Major’s name I then began to search for Wallace Nixon’s name. Wallace Nixon enlisted in the 3rd Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery. I was able to locate him as well.

Wallace Nixon UCST

Wallace Nixon UCST

I am sure that there are other USCT troops from Lauderdale County and neighboring counties also featured there, but unfortunately, I could only remember these two names during my stop at the museum and memorial. If you are ever in Washington DC, admission to the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum is free, although they do request a donation.

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  • Tiffany
  • Image Sources: My Own

Newspaper Clippings – The Pittsburgh Courier July 9, 1932 Edition

29 Jul

Below is a letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Courier from Pastor SHM Lee of the St. Paul AME Church in Youngstown, Ohio.

The Pittsburgh Courier 9 July 1932 page 10

I found Wallace McClish/McCleish in the 1940 US Census living in Brownsville on Church Street with his wife Inez. His occupation is listed as “traffic police”. By 1960 McClish had relocated and was living in Memphis, Tennessee as an employee at an apartment complex. I wonder what compelled him to leave his field of law enforcement. A quick search for Tom Devine in the Haywood County and Lauderdale County areas yielded no results.

 

– Tiffany

Source: The Pittsburgh Courier July 9, 1932 edition page 10, 1940 US Census for Haywood County, Tennessee, 1960 Memphis City Directory

Camp Shiloh – Memphis, TN

7 Mar

Camp Shiloh, also known as The Colored People’s Camp, in Memphis, TN was a contraband camp for runaway slaves during the Civil War. Camp Shiloh was located in South Memphis. It is thought that due to the camp being majority female that their spouses had enlisted in the United States Colored Troops and that some were stationed at nearby Ft. Pickering. Camp Shiloh had over 300 houses as well as schools and churches. In 1863 a list was taken of the former slaves living there. The list was known was the Register of Freedmen. On the list were the names of the slaves and their ages, their occupation, the names of their former owners, their health status, and where they were from. I scanned the list for the names of slaves from our area and some of that information is below. I have copied the names exactly as they were listed, so some names may be spelled incorrectly.

You can search for other names on this list by clicking the following link.

http://www.lastroadtofreedom.com/documents/12.pdf

 

Ellen Buchanan 33

  • Owned by Mary Maclin of Haywood County, TN

Winnie Clay 45, Washington Clay 20, Vina Clay 18

  • Owned by Joseph Clay of Haywood County, TN

Jane Carter 40, Emily Carter 18, Sandy Carter 10, Buck Carter 6

  • Owned by Samuel Oldham of Haywood County, TN

Mary Curry 38

  • Owned by James Curry of Haywood County, TN

Albert Cox 42

  • Owned by Samuel Cox of Haywood County, TN

Carolina Burton 30, Alice Burton, Mark Burton 8

  • Owned by John Burton of Haywood County, TN

Margaret Green 26

  • Owned by John Drake of Haywood County, TN

Lutisia Miller 18

  • Owned by William Miller of Haywood County, TN

Ann McLamore 18

  • Owned by Sugar McLamore of Haywood County, TN

Angeline Noel 20

  • Owned by Joseph Clay of Haywood County, TN

Caroline Olden 55, Amelia Olden 10, Isabel Olden 18, Nellie Olden 63

  • Owned by Samuel Olden of Haywood County, TN

Ann Reed 24

  • Owned by John Burton of Haywood County, TN

I became interested in the lives of these former slaves after the end of the Civil War. Did they stay in Memphis or did they return back to Haywood County? I found a few leads, such as an Albert Cox living in Haywood County in 1870 on the US Census, but of course there is no definite way to determine that this was the same Albert Cox who had been at the Shiloh Camp.

 

– Tiffany

Sources: Register of Freedmen – http://www.lastroadtofreedom.com/documents/12.pdf

Information on TN Contraband Camps – http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entry.php?rec=305 and http://lastroadtofreedom.org/uploads/3/1/1/7/3117447/tennessee.pdf

 

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

Moses Briggs – 100 Year Old Slave

12 Aug

In 1860 the United States required that each slave over 100 years old be identified on the 1860 Slave Schedules. I searched for our favorite towns and discovered one 100 year old slave living in Haywood County.

Moses Briggs

Moses Briggs 1860 Slave Schedule for Hiram Bass

Moses Briggs was the slave of Hiram Bass and he is identified as being a 100 year old male. What stood out to me was that Moses did not have the last name of his current slave owner. Taking the last name of your present slave owner was not always something that slaves did. In this instance the Briggs surname could possibly be used to identify a former owner.

Often slave owners would provide additional notes about the slaves. A note on Moses is listed below.

Moses Briggs Notes 1860 Slave Schedule

Moses Briggs Notes 1860 Slave Schedule

I believe that it states “Moses (collects, cultivates?) a hatch of cotton for him”. What do you think it says? Also, what stood out to me was the term “hatch”. Anyone familiar with how much cotton a “hatch” might have been?

 

Hiram Bass died in 1863 and in his will he left Moses to his wife Eliza. Moses is described in Hiram’s will as “Old Man Moses”. This also means that Moses lived to at least 103 years of age. Eliza died in 1867 after emancipation. I could find no results for Moses on the 1870 census. My hope is that he lived long enough to see emancipation.

 

– Tiffany

– Source: 1860 US Slave Schedules for Haywood County, TN, Hiram Bass’ Will via familysearch.org, Eliza Bass’ will via familysearch.org

Miss Rice Park 1979

10 Aug

Anyone recognize any of these lovely ladies?

The Miss Rice Park competition was held in conjunction with a fashion show titled “Beautiful People in Fashions” to raise funds to improve Rice Park. Proceeds from this event went towards completing payments on a concession stand and tennis court construction. This event was held at Ripley High School and admission was $2 per person.

 

Miss Rice Park

Miss Rice Park – Lauderdale County Enterprise April 5, 1979 edition

Miss Rice Park Contestants – Cynthia Harris, Sharon Watkins, and Trenice Currie.

Little Miss Rice Park Contestants – Kenya Toles, Vera Thompson, and Angela Pierson

 

And for the winners…

Miss Rice Park Winners

Miss Rice Park Winners – Lauderdale County Enterprise April 12, 1979 edition

Little Miss Rice Park – Kenya Toles

Miss Rice Park – Cynthia Harris

 

 

 

– Tiffany

– Source: The Lauderdale County Enterprise April 12, 1979 edition, The Lauderdale County Enterprise April 5, 1979 edition