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    The Jubilee Singers. (1875). Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.
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Professor F.G. Smith

Yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday post contained a picture of Prof. F.G. Smith – a former principle of Pearl High School.   The picture was taken from the August 23, 1903 issue of the Colored American, a black newspaper out of Washington D.C.  Prof. Smith was from Selma, Alabama and attended Fisk University graduating in the class of 1877.  At the time of this article, he had been principle at Pearl High School for 8 years.

This article mentions several accomplished businessmen of Nashville, one of which I have blogged about before.   The accomplishments of Prof. F.G. Smith are many; some taken from the article include:

  • through the combined efforts of his and the teachers the school was ranked as one of the first high schools in the south for the exclusive education of blacks
  • Prof. Smith liked continuing education – took a course at Meharry in Medicine & Pharmacy, as well as a course in Shorthand & Typewriting from Fall’s Business College
  • was the first man in the state of TN to pass the State Board of Pharmacy held at Vanderbilt University
  • held three degrees but was humble, never attaching degrees to his name
  • was an accomplished orator

In looking through posts I’ve made so far, I found one mention of Prof. F.G. Smith from notes of Pearl High in February 1907 noting that he’d named the high school’s valedictorian and salutatorian.


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!

Bishop Evans Tyree

The 1903 issue of Meharry News (see the Meharry Library Archives page) features a short article about Bishop Evans Tyree giving a short talk “full of practical suggestions and and humor.” Recognizing the name, I looked through some of the previous posts here on this blog. I found mention of him so far in two places here and here.

Bishop Evans Tyree was born in De Kalb County, Tennessee on August 19, 1854 to slaves Harry & Winnie Tyree. [1, 2] He progressed rapidly in the African Methodist Episcopal church, becoming an elder by the age of 22. The wonderful Documenting the American South collection of the University of North Carolina, has a picture of him from a book by Horace Talbert titled The Sons of Allen: Together with a Sketch of the Rise and Progress of Wilberforce University, Wilberforce, Ohio.

So far, in about 30 minutes of searching, I have learned that he was married to a woman named Ellen and they had at least the following children – Evans Tyree Jr., Carrie B. Tyree, Anna Alberta, and Herman F. I know they had at least one other daughter from Anna’s obit whose first name is not mentioned, but she married a Eugene Allen. It appears that Evan Sr. died here in Davidson County November 12, 1920 [3] It is getting late tonight, so I’m not going to go into the census records quite yet, but let’s just say I have added the Tyree family to my persons of interest now in Black Nashville history 🙂

One last departing image from the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America digitized newspaper collection. This sketch of Bishop Evans is from the July 28, 1900 issue of The Colored American, a newspaper of Washington D.C. It is amazing that they are digitizing their old newspapers like this!

[1] State Library of North Carolina. Selections from An Era of Progress and Promice, 1863-1910. Bishop Evans Tyree, DD, MD – http://statelibrary.dcr.state.nc.us/iss/EraOfProgress/Bios/tyree.gif
[2] Leonard, John William and Marquis, Albert Nelson. Who’s Who In America. 1903. http://is.gd/aN3.
[3] TN State Library & Archives. TN Death Index 1920. http://is.gd/aNu.