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

Pianoforte Lecture

Nashville Globe
1 Mar 1907

Recital at Blind School by Miss Elizabeth S. Wells – The visitors, teachers and students of the Tennessee School for the Blind were highly entertained by a pianoforte lecture-recital given by Miss Elizabeth S. Wells in the chapel of that Institution last Wednesday afternoon at five o’clock. Miss Wells, who is so successfully teaching vocal and instrumental music at the school, is student of Fisk University. She possesses the characteristics of the Fisk musicians in that she delivers her numbers with skill and precision. She carefully explained each number of her program, making it even more interesting to the students as well as the . Misses Grass and Hukill, of Fisk, were present.

The programs were written upon cards the corners of which were draped with royal gold and blue and read as follows:

Polish Dance – Op. 3, No. 1……X. Scharwonka
Octave Study….A. Kullak
Nocturne in F-sharp, Op. 15, No. 2….. F. Chopin
Sonato No. 11… J. Hayden

Davidson County Teachers

Nashville Globe
1 Mar 1907

The Davidson County teachers held quite an interesting session February 9, 1907. The subject of Hodge’s Nature studies was discussed by Prof. W.R. Davis. A solo was sung by Miss Helene Lowe, daughter of Prof. C.B. Lowe. Many visitors were present, Prof. Wright of Buena Vista School gave a valuable talk to the teachers.

Wordless Wednesday – May 28, 2008

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!

Carroll Napier Langston, Jr.

Over on my genealogy blog, I’ve just posted some information on my overall impressions of FootNote.com and some of the potential I see with it. As I was exploring the site, I decided to do a search for information on Carroll Napier Langston, Jr. His paternal grandmother, Ida M. Napier Langston, was a sister to James Carroll Napier.

One of the collections I noticed in FootNote was one titled, Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1941-1948. In the course of my research, I knew that Carroll N. Langston Jr. had gone missing during WWII and his body was found a couple of weeks after he went missing. Wanting to see if I could find him in this resource, I did a search. His name is rather unique, so I was able to readily identify him in the results. I am deeply moved by what I found.

A report from September 19, 1944 provides an account from the person that found his body, Captain Samuel R. Center. While he was on reconnaissance with 5 others, he found a body that had washed up to the beach of the Adriatic Sea near Pineta, Italy on June 26, 1944. The account describes everything that they found on his body, information about how they buried him and a detailed description of where they buried him. On his person were items such as his ID tags, his pilot wings, a metal cigarette case, and his watch. They buried him “…about 750 feet south of railroad flag station no. 331, 200 feet from railroad track towards sea; 65 feet towards sea from second concrete post of barbed wire fence. Wow.

There were witnesses to the incident. — Lts. Maurice V. Easters, Ulysses S. Taylor, and Harold E. Sawyer. Lt. Sawyer reported that Carroll called in saying that he had engine trouble. Carroll was unable to keep up in flight, so Saywer left his route to fly with Carroll. Carroll was not able to keep the plane up, so decided to bail out, but something went wrong with his chute. It did not inflate all the way and Sawyer saw Carroll hanging on to the side of the plane. Sawyer could not stay with him because of low fuel, but notified Air Rescue. Carroll’s plane crashed about 10 miles off the coast of San Benedetti, Italy. The paperwork even includes a hand-drawn map of where his plane went down.

I really feel like I need a moment of silence after reading through all of this. Can you imagine finding this level of detail for a relative? These documents were previously confidential – I am so glad they have been opened up for public use.

If you have a FootNote account, you can view the images here.

Memoirs of Sylvia Olden Lee

Last month, using interlibrary loan, I was able to secure a copy of the book, Memoirs of Sylvia Olden Lee, premier African-American classical vocal coach: who is Sylvia. When I first learned of this book from an interview I read with Sylvia, I thought I would try and actually secure my own copy. However, it is so difficult to find at a good rate and goes for a couple hundred dollars!

So, interlibrary loan would have to suffice. :-) I was interested in the book because I suspected from the article I read that Sylvia provided more details about her ancestors and it turns out that is correct. I came across Sylvia in my research on Nelson & Napoleon Merry – two black preachers of Nashville that were former slaves. I have blogged quite a bit about the Merry family on this blog and my main genealogy blog.

On the cover of the book is a picture of Sylvia and her daughter, in front of the picture of Nelson Merry that is hanging in the church which he was pastor. Sylvia’s daughter went to Vanderbilt and the picture on the cover was taken on her graduation day from Vandy back in the 70s. In the book Sylvia certainly does recount much of her family’s history and I learned quite a bit about the Merry’s.

Some Merry family history tidbits inlclude:

  • Nelson’s mother was Cherokee and with her 11 or 12 kids was forced to walk the Trail of Tears in 1838-39 from South Carolina going west. She stopped in Nashville and declared she wasn’t going any further. Her kids were sold off to various families
  • Nelson was sold to Betsy Merry who willed him to the First Baptist Church when she died
  • Nelson founded the Colored Sunday School Standard, Tennessee’s first Baptist newsletter
  • Nelson’s daughter Liz Merry was one of the First Jubilee Singers, but apparently was not in the famous picture because Nelson did not want her traveling through Europe on tour.

Very interesting book. How great it is that Sylvia’s story is captured.

Another tidbit on Nelson G. Merry

I blogged today about my new subscription to GenealogyBank. Well, I was doing some more searching and found this notice in the July 10, 1866 issue of Columbus Daily Enquirer out of Georgia.

“Nelson G. Merry, a negro preacher in Nashville, was brought before the civil authorities on the 3rd inst and bonnd over in a bond of $1000 to appear before the next term of the Criminal Court to answer a charge of violating the law of Tennessee against amalgamation, in marrying a white man to a negress.”

As I’ve posted before
, a descendant of Nelson’s brother Napoleon found me through this blog, and I’m helping her out as I can here and there with information.

Ladies’ Aid Circle

The Ladies Aid Circle
February 15, 1907
pg. 4

The Ladies’ Aid Circle of Clark Memorial Church celebrated their first anniversary, February 11, at the home of Mrs. Walter Shelby, 784 Tenth Avenue South. Prof. Thos. Hardiman paid a beautiful tribute to the ladies of the Circle. He made an excellent speech. He spoke of the good work the ladies had done for the church the past year. After Prof. Hardiman’s speech, a program was rendered by some of the best talent of the city.


Brison Venson Loses His Home

Loses His Home
Nashville Globe – February 15, 1907
pg. 4

Fire is very destructive when it breaks out in a tender place. The house owned and occupied by Brison Venson, at 158 Lafayette street, was considerably damaged by fire Thursday morning about 3 o’clock. The fire was well under way when the fire company arrived. The fire is said to have been caused by a defective flue. The loss has been estimated at $1,000, fully covered by insurance.

Prince Herman

Nashville Globe
February 15, 1907
pg. 3

The entertainment at Fisk University Friday night, Feb. 8, was a success in every way. Every teacher and student of Fisk, and hundreds of our best citizens, were present. The 800 people who were fortunate in squeezing into Livingstone Hall were more than delighted, while the 200 or more persons turned away from the door because there was no room inside missed a real treat. These and all others will, however have opportunity to see Prince Herman at his very best in a bran [sic] new programme at Meharry Auditorium the night of Friday, March 8th. This will eclipse all other programs, because the stage is sufficiently large to admit of many very special features.

Crowded houses have greeted Prince Herman and Duke Berryman this week, 2 nights at Second Baptist Church, 2 nights at Jackson Temple and 1 night at Trinity C. M. E. Church. Their engagements for next week as follows: Payne Chapel A.M.E. Church, Monday night, Feb. 18th, Hubbard Chapel M.E. Church, Tuesday night, Feb. 19th; Mt. Nebo Baptist Church, Wednesday night , Feb. 20;; Third Avenue Baptist Church, Thursday night, Feb. 21st; Seays Chapel M.E. Church, Friday night, Feb. 22nd.

Prince Herman advises his many friends to see The Merchant of Venice at Fisk University Friday night, Feb. 22nd.


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