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    The Jubilee Singers. (1875). Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.

Descendants of W.T. Hightower

Tonight I was contacted by another descendant of W.T. Hightower, a merchant from Nashville. This is the second descendant in the past six months.  I love it!

With that, I decided to look again at the family of William Thomas Hightower Sr. and I found a couple of more census records to add to their tree

With some more online searching, I located a reference to W.T. in the book Evidence of Progress Among Colored People by G.F. Richings, published in 2005.  In the book, it mentions that “W.T. Hightower started a business as a dealer in old rags and iron with a capital of 25 cents.  He now owns a large brick building and a beautiful home.”

Many others from Nashville are also mentioned in the book, including J.C. Napier, Preston A. Taylor,  Dr. R.F. Boyd, and others. I’ll have to look at this more closely.

Biographical Sketch: W.T. Hightower

Once again, I am finding the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America newspaper collection to be absolutely fascinating. While doing some random looking last night in the pages of The Colored American, a black newspaper they have digitized from 1899-1904, I found an article that provides short biographies of some Nashville notables; including the subject shown here, William T. “W.T.” Hightower.

I was recently contacted by a descendant of William T. Hightower who had located the obituary I’d posted from the Nashville Globe of W.T.’s brother, Brown Hightower.

So, as I do whenever I’m contacted by someone, I feel compelled to do a little bit of information seeking. :-)

This specific article in the Colored American from August 22, 1903 states that W.T. was a very successful businessman who at this point had been in business for 25 years. He owned $17,000 worth of real estate and did $10,000 worth of business a year.

I’m still in the early stages of the investigation, but I will share additional information as I locate it!

The Passing of a Useful Citizen – Brown Hightower

The Passing of a Useful Citizen – Brown Hightower
Nashville Globe – February 1, 1907
Pg. 2

In the death of Mr. Brown Hightower, Nashville loses one of its oldest, most useful and best known citizens. He was one of the first colored men to begin a mercantile business in the city. For years he successfully conducted a junk store at 215 Fourth avenue, South. Mr. Hightower’s health began failing last summer, but after having been confined to his bed for several weeks, he recovered sufficient strength to return to his place of business. His friends were hopeful that the worst had passed and that his life would be spared for several years longer; but on Wednesday morning, January 23rd, he fell in the yard at his home on Lewis street. His wife rushed to him and found him suffering from a stroke of paralysis. She and other friends assisted him into the house and put him to bed, notified his brother, Thomas Hightower, and called a physician. Everything possible was done to make the suffer comfortable and to relieve his pains, but at noon his soul took its departure and winged its sainted flight up to the hills of light, there to rest forever in the bosom of God.

Seldom in the history of Nashville have so many sorrowing friends gathered to do honor to the memory of the departed as assembled in the Second Baptist Church. Friday evening, Jan 25th to do honor to Mr. Hightower. His pastor, Rev. B.G. Taylor got up out of his sick bed that he might be present at the funeral. The floral offerings were profuse and very expressive sorrow for the dead and sympathy for the bereaved. The rostrum was crowded with city pastors and other distinguished individuals. The officers of the church were the pall bearer. Miss Georgia Sanders read resolutions of condolence. The Sons’ and Daughters’ of Israel, the society of which Mr. Brown Hightower was a member, turned out in a body. The church choir was at its best; Rev. Preston Taylor had charge of the funeral, and he not only directed it with a masterly hand but was of valuable service to the pastor in handling the large audience. The pastor, Rev. G. B. Taylor, took for his text Job 5:26: “Thou shalt come to thy grave in a [text cut off in my copy]… Rev. Mason was especially eloquent in his portrayal of the resurrection of the just and the eternal happiness of those who die in the Lord.

At the conclusion of these services, the body of the lamented dead was followed by the family and a large number of friends to its final resting place in Mount Arrarat.

A Paper by Miss Georgia A. Sanders
Mr. Brown Hightower was a member and officer of Hopewell Lodge, No. 2, Sons and Daughters of Israel. He was one of the chartered members who helped to organize this number five years ago. He was a good and faithful officer and would at all times respond very liberally to the financial needs of the lodge. He carried with him sunshine and laughter where’er he went, usually possessing a bright cheerful countenance. As soon as he would enter our Lodge room every one would begin to smile, and very soon the hall would be filled with laughter. He served the lodge very faithfully as Worthy Sentinel until his death. Oh but how we shall miss him. No more shall we hear those cheering words of consolation, for his voice is hushed in death, and his spirit has gone to the God who gave it; his soul is anchored in the heaven of rest, where there is no sorrow, sickness, nor death. In his death the Sons and Daughters of Israel have lost a Christian brother and a faithful officer. But we can only bow our heads in humble submission to God and say, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh blessed be the name of the Lord.”

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