Tag Archives: Ripley

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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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

Newspaper Clippings – Jackson Whig and Tribune August 23, 1873 edition

5 Mar

Below is a newspaper clipping from the Whig and Tribune (Jackson, TN) August 23, 1873 edition.

Whig and Tribune (Jackson, TN) August 23, 1873 edition

Whig and Tribune (Jackson, TN) August 23, 1873 edition

 

In looking at this article I began to wonder what exact place was within three miles of Ripley and honestly that could have been so many places. This event occurred towards the end of the Reconstruction period, so it’s not surprising that it happened. What is inspiring is that African Americans were busy building institutions in the area and that education was a priority, even though there were those who sought to ruin it.

1873 also happens to be the year that Sampson Keeble was the first African American elected to the Tennessee state legislature.

 

 

– Tiffany

– Source: Whig and Tribune (Jackson, TN) August 23, 1873 edition

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

The Death of Louis Rice

7 Aug

From the Washington Progress (Washington, North Carolina) January 17, 1901 edition.

Washington Press Jan 17 1901

Washington Press Jan 17 1901

Louis Rice’s crime was that of testifying in favor of his friend, Henderson House, in House’s murder trial. House had been accused in the murder of Duncan Goodrich, a white man, after a fight that occurred during gambling. House was lynched for the crime and his friend Rice was lynched March 23, 1900. What makes this interesting is that House was not lynched until September 18, 1900. The accused lived longer than his friend who testified for him.

You can read more about Henderson House here -> The Story of Henderson House – A Hanging in Ripley

When looking at the dates of the lynchings of Rice and House it occurred to me that this all took place in 1900. January 1900 was the date of what could be called Lauderdale County’s most infamous lynching, that of the Gingery Brothers. It is safe to say that after an incident like that that the people of the county would be on edge. It amazes me that Rice was brave enough to even testify in the trial given what the atmosphere of the county would have been like at this time.

My attempt to find out more about Louis Rice was unfruitful. Rice was a very common surname for Lauderdale County during this time. Unfortunately for my search I found more than a few Louis/Lewis Rices between Lauderdale and Haywood counties. Because he died in 1900 it is unlikely that he would have a death certificate.

So what do we know about Louis Rice?

Margaret Vandiver in her book, Lethal Punishment, points out some interesting things to note in both the cases of Louis Rice and Henderson House.

Louis Rice

– Had been described by various newspapers as a physician. Had also been described as having committed a murder himself prior to this.

– His only offense was taking too much of an interest in the case. Apparently, he had taken it upon himself to interview witnesses and submit affidavits through an attorney with more evidence that would have possibly proved House innocent.

– Some in Lauderdale County “greatly regretted” and “deeply deplored” his lynching.

Henderson House

– A petition was started by white citizens of Lauderdale County and Shelby County, TN to spare him the death penalty. Hundreds of signatures were sent to the governor. Whites of Lauderdale County and Shelby County, TN (where House’s family lived) believed another man, Alf Halliburton, to have truly been the shooter. Alf Halliburton had been acquitted of any wrong doing.

– Tennessee’s Governor, Benton McMillin, refused to commute the sentence despite the efforts of locals and House was ultimately lynched.

Rice was lynched for trying to free House and that cause was ultimately picked up by whites in Lauderdale County who later tried to do the same thing after Rice’s death.

 

Atlanta Journal Constitution March 24, 1900

Atlanta Journal Constitution March 24, 1900

 

– Tiffany

– Source: Washington Press (Washington, North Carolina) January 17, 1901 edition, Lethal Punishment by Margaret Vandiver p.46 – 48, The Atlanta Journal Constitution March 24, 1900 edition, US Census Records

PT Glass’ Will

24 Jul

If you’ve ever done genealogy for someone from Lauderdale County or even read something written about the history of Lauderdale County chances are that you’ve come across the GLASS surname. I’ve seen it quite a few times in my research and even have some individuals with the GLASS surname in my family tree.

While doing a bit of research I came across the will of PT (Presley Thornton) Glass. I was familiar with the name from reading history books written on Ripley and Lauderdale County. PT Glass had been a merchant in Ripley, secretary of Ripley Male Academy, a slave owner, fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War, a lawyer, a member of the Tennessee State legislature, a member of the United States Congress, and he even has his own Wikipedia page complete with a photograph of him. If you’ve ever been to Maplewood Cemetery you might have even seen his grave. In doing my research for another subject I had to do a bit of research on him and that’s when I discovered an interesting tidbit in his will upon his death in 1902.

PT Glass Will 1902

PT Glass Will 1902

“I give and bequeath to my former slave Prince Glass five dollars”

 

Adjusted for inflation that 5 dollars in 1902 would be worth 135 dollars today.

Naturally I wanted to find out more about Prince Glass. According to the 1870 US Census Prince Glass was born about 1852 in Tennessee (I also found his year of birth listed as 1847). His parents were Wallace Glass and Matilda Partee Glass. On the 1870 US Census his occupation is listed as farm laborer. By 1880 Prince had married the former Jennie Fitzpatrick and they soon had children named Eddie, Nellie, Prince Jr, Benj, and Katy. Prince died June 30, 1927 and is buried in Ripley, Tennessee.

Prince must have meant something to PT Glass if he left him money when he died. I noticed that PT Glass referred to Prince as his “former slave” instead of  laborer, so I am curious to know if Prince worked for PT in some form after slavery or what type of relationship that they had after slavery or even during slavery.

 

– Tiffany

Source: Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presley_T._Glass, Familysearch.org – TN Probate Court Books, 1795 – 1927, Lauderdale Wills 1885 – 1904 volume F, image 315, page 525

 

 

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 🙂

 

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