Tag Archives: sanborn maps

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 – 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


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Isabelle Court is known today as Mays Avenue and Ripley Grammer School has since been replaced by duplex housing.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,


Sources: 1927-1942 Sanborn Map for Lauderdale County (Map/Sheet 7)

Image Source: William Carson’s personal collection

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