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

Another Fisk Jubilee Singer Gone

taylorgeorgia

Photo from NYPL Digital Library

Sunday I took another visit to Greenwood Cemetery, an African-American cemetery here in Nashville.  While photographing tombstones, I saw the one for Georgia Gordon Taylor.  Georgia was one of the original Fisk Jubilee singers, and wife to Rev. Preston Taylor, the founder of Greenwood Cemetery.  She and Preston married on May 7, 1890. Georgia passed away almost 100 years ago on June 7, 1913.

I also looked up her obituary – this is what appeared in the June 13, 1913 issue of the Nashville Globe.

“Another Jubilee Singer Gone”

On Saturday morning the death angel came into the city of Nashville and removed from her midst one of her most highly respected women, Mrs. Georgia Minor Gordon Taylor. She had suffered for several months, and the end was not a surprise to those who had some knowledge of the condition, and in fact she realized several months ago that it was only a question of time with her. It was only five hours between the time that Mr. William Brewster was found dead when Mrs. Taylor breathed her last. Mrs. Taylor was one of the best known characters in this city, and she enjoyed both a national and international reputation as a Jubilee Singer.

A useful life was closed last Saturday morning when Georgia Gordon Taylor entered “Brith Mansions above.”  We were girls and schoolmates and members of the choir of thirty at old Fisk in 1868-1871. We labored together as soprano singers in concert tours to raise funds for Fisk in her poverty.  When George L. White asked for volunteers to go north to sing for money out of the hearts and pockets of the people for our school, Georgia was among the first to offer her sweet flute-tone voice in the service.  There came a time that we must have a name; special prayer was offered in which our leader, Mr. White, tarried at the mercy seat all night, and toward morning he opened his Bible to the scripture about the Jew’s year of Jubilee and later he came in with a beaming face and said, “Children, you shall be called ‘Jubilee Singers.”‘

TaylorGeorgia_headstone

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.

Trip to Greenwood Cemetery

This past weekend I took a trip to Greenwood Cemetery – a black cemetery here in town. I went looking for the grave sites of the Napier family whom I’ve been researching. I knew there to be at least 12 members of the family there so I wanted to go take pictures of their graves as only three of them were previously on FindAGrave. In tow with me were both Kalonji & Kaleya. Kaleya pretty much has no choice :-) but I’m pleasantly surprised whenever Kalonji says he wants to go – i mean really, how many people really like to go hang out in cemeteries!

It was quite an experience. By walking around looking for the Napiers, it was like a who’s who in black Nashville history. The first noticeable grave when you drive into the cemetery is that of Rev. Preston Taylor, the founder of the cemetery who had a big funeral business and was accomplished in many other things as well. I saw the headstone of others I’ve come across in my study of Nashville as well – Bishop Evans Tyree and his wife, Dr. Charles Spurgeon, Dr. Arthur Townsend, Arna Bontemps, both of the Boyds and their families. I also found others that I’ve not yet gotten very familiar with, but make good candidates for the future.

I did not take a lot of pictures, but most of the ones I did take I have added to Find A Grave – here is a link to the listing there. Adding to FindAGrave is wonderful way to contribute to the genealogy online community. I highly encourage others to do it. I am planning to go back out there in a few more weeks to take more pictures.

But, back to the reason I went there – the Napiers. I found everyone I was expecting to find. James Carroll Napier (who I call JC), his wife, Nettie and their adoptive daughter/biological niece Carye were there and already in FindAGrave. This week, I’ve added the most of the rest of their family buried in the family plot-I am realizing now I missed at least one person. The links will take to each person’s FindAGrave page.

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.”

Preston Taylor’s ad

January 25, 1907 ad

Preston Taylor has and ad…
Taylor & Co. — Funeral directors and embalmers. Carriages for hire.

Sudden Death

Sudden Death
January 25, 1907
Pg. 5

Mr. Brown Hightower, who resided on Lewis street, dropped dead in his yard Wednesday. He had been ailing for a year or more, but was able to attend to his duties. He worked at his place of business. The deceased was a brother of Mr. W. T. Hightower, whose shop is on Fifth avenue, South. Mr. Hightower was a member of Rev. Mr. Taylor’s church in South Nashville, and leaves a large circle of acquaintances.

Sunday at the Second Baptist Church

Sunday at the Second Baptist Church
Nashville Globe – January 18, 1907
Pg. 6

Sunday, January 20, will be an important day at the Second Baptist Church, corner Stevens and Deluge streets, South Nashville, of which Rev. G. B. Taylor is pastor. This church will have a big rally the entire day. The purpose of the rally is to raise money to cancel the indebtness on the church and furniture. They have recently installed a very handsome quarter sawed oak pulpit, three beautiful gothic top, plain leather upholstered pulpit chairs, one marble top communion table and an entire set of the latest quarter-sawed oak church pews. These pews are possibly the newest in Nashville. The seat is curved bottom and back, straight seating, affording a comfortable, clean and up-to-date church pew. All of this furniture was secured from the Church Supply Department of the National Baptist Publishing Board, and Rev. Taylor is loud in his praises of the satisfaction given. A very unique program has been arranged for Sunday. Rev. R. H. Boyd will speak in the afternoon and Dr. E. W. D. Isaac at night. Other ministers have been invited to participate. Mr. Henry A. Boyd has been invited to act as Master of Ceremonies for the occasion. It is expected that South Nashville will turn out in full, as this new furniture is quite an addition to the church.

Party Leaves for Florida

Nashville Globe – January 18, 1907 (pg. 5)

Party Leaves for Florida — Rev. Preston Taylor, the Fourth avenue undertaker, and Mr. R. E. Watkins left the city Monday morning, Jan. 14, on the 2:25 train for Daytona, Fla., where they will spend several days as the guests of Rev. J.C. M. Combs. En route they made stops at Birmingham, Ala., Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Fla. Rev. Combs was formerly a Nashville citizen, but moved to Florida several years ago. He came to Nashville on the sad mission of interring the remains of his wife in Greenwood Cemetery.

Rev. Taylor and Mr. Watkins will spend about two weeks among the balmy groves of the Peninsula State before returning to Nashville.

A Presentation

Nashville Globe -January 18, 1907

The members of the Lea Avenue Christian Church presented their pastor, Elder Preston Taylor, with a handsome suit of clothes, hat and gloves before leaving for Florida. Elder Taylor has done a grand work at Lea Avenue Christian Church and his members try to show their appreciation in some way.

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