Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Peoples Grocery



The Peoples Grocery was a grocery located just outside Memphis in a neighborhood called the "Curve". Opened in 1889, the Grocery was a cooperative venture run along corporate lines and owned by eleven prominent blacks, including postman Thomas Moss, a friend of Ida B. Wells. In March 1892 Thomas Moss and two of his workers, Will Stewart and Calvin McDowell, were lynched by a white mob while in police custody.

Leadup To The Lynching:

By the 1890's there were increasing racial tensions in the neighborhood and increasing tensions between the successful Moss and white grocer William Barrett, whose grocery, despite its bad reputation as a "low-dive gambling den" and a location where liquor could be illegally purchased, had had a virtual monopoly prior to Moss' venture.

On Wednesday, March 2, 1892, the trouble began when a young black boy, Armour Harris, and a young white boy, Cornelius Hurst, got into a fight over a game of marbles outside the Peoples Grocery. When the white boy's father stepped in and began beating the black boy, two black workers from the grocery (Will Stewart and Calvin McDowell) came to his defense. More blacks and whites joined the fray, and at one point William Barrett was clubbed. He identified Will Stewart as his assailant.

On Thursday, March 3, Barrett returned to the Peoples Grocery with a police officer and were met by Calvin McDowell. McDowell told them no one matching Stewart's description was within the store. The frustrated Barrett hit McDowell with his revolver and knocked him down, dropping the gun in the process. McDowell picked it up and shot at Barrett, but missed. McDowell was subsequently arrested but released on bond on March 4. Warrants were also issued for Will Stewart and Armour Harris.

The warrants enraged the black residents of the neighborhood who called a meeting where they vowed to clean out the neighborhood's "damned white trash", which Barrett brought to the authorities' attention as evidence of a black conspiracy against whites.

On Saturday, March 5, Judge Julius DuBose, a former Confederate soldier, was quoted in the Appeal-Avalanche newspaper as vowing to form a posse to get rid of the "high-handed rowdies" in the Curve. That same day John Mosby, a black painter, was fatally shot after an altercation with a clerk in another white grocery in the Curve. As reported in the paper, Mosby cursed at the clerk after being denied credit for a purchase and the clerk responded by punching him. Mosby returned that evening and hit the clerk with a stick, whereupon the clerk shot him.

The Peoples Grocery men were increasingly concerned about an attack upon them, based on Dubose's threat and the Mosby shooting. They consulted a lawyer but were told since they were outside the city limits they could not depend on police protection and should prepare to defend themselves.

On the evening of March 5, six armed white men (including a county sheriff and recently deputized plainclothes civilians) headed toward the Peoples Grocery. The white papers claimed their purpose was to inquire after Will Stewart and arrest him if he was there. The account written by five black ministers in the St. Paul Appeal said the men arrived with a rout in mind for they had first gone to William Barrett's place then divided up and surreptitiously posted themselves at the front and back entrance to the Peoples Grocery. The men inside, already anticipating a mob attack, were being surrounded by armed whites and did not know they were officers of the law.

When the whites entered the store they were shot at and several were hit. McDowell was captured at the scene and identified as an assailant. The black postman Nat Trigg was seized by deputy Charley Cole but shot him in the face and managed to escape. The injured whites retreated to Barrett's store and more deputized whites were dispatched to the grocery where they eventually arrested thirteen blacks and seized a cache of weapons and ammunition.

Reports in the white papers described the shooting as a cold-blooded, calculated ambush by the blacks and, though none of the deputies had died, they predicted the wounds of Cole and Bob Harold, who was shot in the face and neck, would prove fatal. The St. Paul Appeal said as soon as the black men realized the intruders were law officers they dropped their weapons and submitted to arrest, confident they would be able to explain their case in court.
On Sunday, March 6, hundreds of white civilians were deputized and fanned out from the grocery to conduct a house-to-house search for blacks involved in "the conspiracy". They eventually arrested forty black people, including Armour Harris and his mother, Nat Trigg, and Tommie Moss. The story in the black paper contended that Moss was tending his books at the back of the store on the night of the shooting and couldn't have seen what happened when the whites arrived. When he heard gunshots he left the premises. In the eyes of many whites, however, Moss' position as a postman and the president of the co-op made him a ringleader of the conspiracy. He was also indicted in the white press for an insolent attitude when he was arrested.

Upon news of the arrest armed whites congregated around the fortress-like Shelby County Jail. Members of the black Tennessee Rifles militia also posted themselves outside the jail to keep watch and guard against a lynching.

On Monday, March 7, Tommie's pregnant wife Betty Moss came to jail with food for her husband but was turned away by Judge DuBose who told her to come back again in three days.

On Tuesday, March 8, lawyers for several of the black men filed writs of habeas corpus but DuBose quashed them. After news filtered out that the injured deputies were not going to die the tensions outside the jail seemed to abate and the Tennessee Rifles thought it was no longer necessary to guard the jail grounds, especially as the Shelby County Jail itself was thought to be impregnable. But, as Ida B. Wells would write in retrospect, the news that the deputies would survive was actually a catalyst for violence for the black men could not now be "legally" executed for their crime.

The Lynching:

On Wednesday, March 9, at about 2:30 a.m. seventy-five men in black masks surrounded the Shelby County Jail and nine entered. They dragged Tommie Moss, Will Stewart, and Calvin McDowell from their cells and brought them to a Chesapeake & Ohio railroad yard a mile outside of Memphis. What followed was described in such harrowing detail by the white papers that it was clear reporters had been called in advance to witness the lynching.

At the railroad yard McDowell "struggled mightily" and at one point managed to grab a shotgun from one of his abductors. After the mob wrested it from him they shot at his hands and fingers "inch by inch" until they were shot to pieces. Replicating the wounds the white deputies had suffered they shot four holes into McDowell's face, each large enough for a fist to enter. His left eye was shot out and the "ball hung over his cheek in shreds." His jaw was torn out by buckshot. Where "his right eye had been there was a big hole which his brains oozed out." The Appeal-Avalanche added his injuries were in accord with his "vicious and unyielding nature."

Will Stewart was described as the most stoic of the three, "obdurate and unyielding to the last." He was also shot on the right side of the neck with a shotgun, and was shot with a pistol in the neck and left eye.

Moss was also shot in the neck. His dying words, reported in the papers, were, "Tell my people to go West, there is no justice for them here."

Aftermath:

Cover of Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases
 
The murders led to increasing grief and unrest among the black population, along with rumors that blacks planned to meet at the Peoples Grocery and take revenge against whites. Judge DuBose ordered the sheriff to take possession of the swords and guns belonging to the Tennessee Rifles and to dispatch a hundred men to the Peoples Grocery where they should "shoot down on sight any Negro who appears to be making trouble." Gangs of armed white men rushed to the Curve and began shooting wildly into any groups of blacks they encountered, then looted the grocery. Subsequently the grocery was sold for one-eighth its cost to William Barrett.

The lynching became a front page story in the New York Times on March 10 and countered the image of the "New South" that Memphis was trying to promote. The lynching sparked national outrage and Ida B. Wells' editorial embraced Moss' dying words and encouraged blacks to strike out for the West and "leave a town which will neither protect our lives and property, nor give us a fair trial in the courts, but takes us out and murders us in cold blood when accused by white persons." This sparked an emigration movement that eventually saw 6,000 blacks leave Memphis for the Western Territories. At a meeting of one thousand people at Bethel A. M. E. Church in Chicago in response to this lynching as well as two earlier lynchings (Ed Coy in Texarkana, Arkansas and a woman in Raiville, Louisiana), a call by the presiding minister for the crowd to sing the then de facto national anthem, "America (My Country, 'Tis of Thee)" was refused in protest, and the song, "John Brown's Body" was substituted. The widespread violence and particularly the murder of her friends drove Wells to research and document lynchings and their causes. She began investigative journalism by looking at the charges given for the murders, which officially started her anti-lynching campaign.

Source: wikipedia.com

Robert Reed Church



Robert Reed Church (June 18, 1839 – August 29, 1912) was an African-American entrepreneur, businessman and landowner in Memphis, Tennessee who began his rise during the American Civil War. He was the first African-American "millionaire" in the South. His total wealth probably reached $700,000, not a round million. Church built a reputation for great wealth and influence in the business community. He founded Solvent Savings Bank, the first black-owned bank in the city, which extended credit to blacks so they could buy homes and develop businesses. As a philanthropist, Church used his wealth to develop a park, playground, auditorium and other facilities for the black community, who were excluded by state-enacted racial segregation from most such amenities in the city.


Charles B. Church, His Father

The son of a mixed-race mother and white father, Church began working as a steward when his father, a steamboat owner, took him along on his route between Memphis and New Orleans. Robert Church bought his first property in Memphis in 1862. He was well established by 1878-79, the years of devastating yellow fever epidemics which resulted in dramatic depopulation in the city. With property devalued, Church bought numerous businesses as well as undeveloped land, with the long-term view of their appreciation as the city recovered. He built his great wealth on this real estate. He purchased the first $1000 municipal bond to help the city recover from bankruptcy after it was reduced to a Taxing District.

Early Life:

 

His home at the corner of Lance and Lauderdale in Memphis, TN.

Robert Reed Church was born a slave in 1839 in Holly Springs, Mississippi, as the son of Emmeline, a mixed-race woman from Virginia. His mother was a slave and his father was Captain Charles B. Church, a white steamship owner from Virginia who operated along the Mississippi River.
 According to family accounts, Emmeline was the daughter of an enslaved "Malay" Malagasy princess and of a white planter from Lynchburg.
Robert's mother Emmeline died in 1851, when he was 12. His father Captain Church began taking Robert along on his river journeys to and from New Orleans. The youth worked as the steward of the steamship's mess hall, picking up business acumen and contacts, including future Louisiana political leader James Lewis and saving money earned. In 1862 Robert Church bought a bar in Memphis, which he eventually traded for a saloon and billiard room. (He must have been free by then to buy property, and his father may have vouched for him.) In 1860, the black population of the city was 3,000, but it rapidly increased as fugitive slaves fled from rural plantations to Union lines in the occupied city. Church had many customers for his businesses and became influential in the developing black community, which reached 20,000 by 1865.
The next year, postwar tensions in the city erupted in the Memphis Riots of 1866, when a white ethnic Irish mob attacked South Memphis, killing 45 blacks and injuring many more, and destroying houses, churches and businesses. The dramatic demographic changes had resulted in competition among ethnic Irish, who dominated the city's police and fire departments; decommissioned black Union soldiers who had been stationed nearby, and other African Americans. Church was shot and wounded in his saloon during the riot. A total of two whites died.

Real Estate Empire:

By 1878-79 Church had acquired considerable wealth. Familiar with the high death tolls from the 1873 yellow fever epidemic, he moved his family to safety outside the city during the even worse epidemic of 1878, as well as the following year. As the city was depopulated by the flight of 25,000 people during the 1878 Yellow Fever epidemic and death toll of more than 5,000, the land was devalued. Church saw a great opportunity in Memphis real estate and had the resources to buy up property holdings throughout the city. He acquired commercial buildings, some residential housing, and bars in the red-light district, as well as undeveloped land. It is estimated that in later years he was able to collect approximately $6,000 a month in rent from his properties.
Multiple sources refer to Church as the first black millionaire, although it is now generally accepted that his wealth reached about $700,000.  Popular myth holds that Church bought the first $1,000 bond that aided restoration of the city's credit after the epidemic, but city records do not support that.
With his immense wealth, Church funded the development of high-quality facilities for black Memphians, who were excluded by the state law of racial segregation from many white institutions at the time. He developed a public park, a playground, a concert hall, and an auditorium. Church used the properties for related philanthropy: he helped sponsor graduation ceremonies, political rallies, and shows in the parks for the city's African Americans. He also hosted and funded a free annual Thanksgiving meal for the black poor. In 1906, Church, Josiah T. Settle, M. L. Clay, and T. H. Hayes established the Solvent Savings Bank, Memphis's first black bank, and Church served as founding president. He ensured that blacks could gain access to loans for businesses and homes, to advance their lives.


Beale Street First Baptist Church

Personal Life:

Not much is known about Church's personal life. He rarely, if ever, wrote personal correspondence, and never made a public speech, despite his wide popularity and influence in Memphis.
Church married three times. His first wife, Louisa Ayers, was of mixed-race, born into slavery. They both supported education for their two children, a daughter and son. Their daughter Mary Church Terrell was one of the first black American women to earn a college degree. She became a teacher, then a principal, as well as a civil rights activist. In 1909 she was a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and in 1896 the first black woman to be appointed to the school board of a major city (Washington, DC).  Church and Louisa divorced.
Secondly he married Anna Wright. They also had a son and daughter. Their son Robert Reed Church, Jr. became a businessman, taking over his father's enterprises. He became politically influential, establishing the Lincoln League in 1916 to work to register black voters, in part by paying their poll taxes. Within a short time, he signed up 10,000 new black voters in Memphis, and worked with E.H. Crump and his machine politics. Church served as an adviser to Republican presidents in the 1920s but declined any political appointments.  Church eventually married a third time, after Anna died.
The senior Church generally chose to stay outside the politics of his era, which enabled him to maintain influence among both white and black Memphians. He was chosen as a delegate for William McKinley to the 1900 Republican Convention.

Death:

Church died August 2, 1912, after a brief illness. He is buried in Elmwood Cemetery on the south side of downtown Memphis.



Source: wikipedia.com

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Reminising - Dad's 1940 Ford

1940 Ford

1940 Ford, excerpt from ad below. Image courtesy of Lov2XLR8.no.

[Editor’s note: This “Reminiscing” story, edited by Richard Lentinello, comes to us from Hemmings Classic Car reader Thomas Murphy.]

One memory that I will never forget is about my father’s 1940 Ford Opera Coupe. It had the jump seats in the rear which, when not in use, folded up parallel to the sides of the rear compartment. Back in 1950, those jump seats were usually occupied by my brother and I; I was just five years old at the time.
My father was one of the original hot-rodders. The Ford had a flathead truck V-8 block which was bored out – apparently truck blocks allowed for thicker cylinder walls for purposes of over boring. The engine was equipped with a 3/4 racing camshaft, high compression Granatelli aluminum cylinder heads, a four-barrrel carburetor, exhaust headers and dual exhausts and Lincoln Zephyr gears for the second gear.
That old Ford would wind out to 90 miles per hour in second gear before shifting to third was required due to those Zephyr gears. There was not much on the street in 1950 that would touch it. The Ford looked stock, being a black 1940 Deluxe Coupe. Only two rusty exhaust pipes sticking out the rear belied it was not stock.

One day we were on a touring vacation in Canada in the Fall of 1950. We were stopped on a gravel road which had an overhead stop light hanging from a wire traversing the intersection on a four-lane road. What pulled alongside us at the light was a brand-spanking new Powder Blue Oldsmobile “Rocket 88” fastback coupe. The Olds still had the price and equipment sticker on the rear-side window. When I looked over from my jump seat out the side rear window of the Ford, the driver of the Olds was smiling like a Cheshire cat and glancing at his buddy in the passenger seat, while revving the Oldsmobile’s engine.
When the light changed, my father, who was never one to ignore a challenge for a race, took off. From the light we were side by side with the Oldsmobile. In First gear we were fender to fender, and the Olds owner was looking a bit quizzical at our evenness. Bear in mind that the loser of this gambit would be eating the winner’s dust from the gravel road. In Second gear I remember the Ford winding out to 90 miles per hour, and it ended up two car lengths ahead of the now vanishing Olds when the shift to Third gear occurred.
So much for the much-heralded Rocket 88 Oldsmobile. That ’40 Ford was fast!

Source: Richard Lentinello on Jul 12th, 2017

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Glenview Historic District Is A Neighborhood In Memphis, TN



Glenview Historic District is a neighborhood in Memphis, Tennessee that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district in 1999.The neighborhood is between South Memphis and Midtown and bounded by the Illinois Central Railroad on the west, Lamar Ave on the east, Southern Ave on the north and South Parkway on the south.

Glenview was one of several suburban residential subdivisions in Memphis that were created during a building boom in the early 20th century. Architecture is representative of suburban development of that period, including bungalows, cottages, Foursquare, Colonial, Dutch Colonial Tudor and Spanish Revival styles.

Glenview has many well-kept houses and is majority African American. It is also home to Eternal Peace Missionary Baptist Church, The Willet Apartments and Glenview Community Center. Home sizes range from about 1,000 square feet (93 m2) to 3,000 square feet (280 m2).

Source: wikipedia.com

The Anderson Coward House, Memphis, TN

 Anderson-Coward House.JPG

The Anderson-Coward House, also known as Justine's Restaurant, is a historic mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, USA.

History

The mansion was built circa 1852 for Nathaniel Anderson, a planter. It was designed in the Italianate architectural style. It was purchased by H.M. Grosvenor, until it was acquired by William C. Coward as debt settlement. It was passed on to his son, William Holliday Coward. After his death in the early 1900's, it was inherited by his daughter Ida and her husband, Robert O. Johnston, a lawyer and banker.

The mansion was repurposed as a restaurant in 1958.

Source: wikipedia.com

First Baptist Church, Lauderdale, Memphis, TN

First Baptist Church MEMPHIS.JPG

The First Colored Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, also known as First Baptist Church—Lauderdale, was built in 1939 in a vernacular Colonial Revival style, with design attributed to Rev. Thomas O. Fuller.
Front of the church
 
It is a rectangular brick building with brick laid in common bond. It has a limestone fence separating its parking area from the street, which is a c.1890 fence from the former Second Empire-styled Sanford house on the property.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. It was deemed significant for its association with Thomas Oscar Fuller (1867-).

Source: wikipedia.com

Annesdale Neighborhood In Memphis, TN



This home is located off of Peabody Avenue in Memphis in the Annesdale Neighborhood in Memphis TN.


This is another home that is located on Peabody Avenue in the same neighborhood. It is called a foursquare style home.


You will also find in this neighborhood the oldest Cemetery in Memphis. This is where many of the Confederate Soldiers are buried as well as the Yellow Fever Victims.


This is the Church Tomb, located in Elmood Cemetery. Robert Church was one of the first Black Millionaires in Memphis.