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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.


Tyree Camp Fifth Anniversary

Nashville Globe
1 Mar 1908

Residence of Mrs. E.G. Coffey Scene of Gala Meeting. Spacious Parlors Crowded to Their Utmost – Members and Friends Listen to Addresses and Reports with Keen Interest – Much Good Accomplished.

Tyree Camp, a branch of an organization of societies of the St. John A.M.E. Church, celebrated its fifth anniversary at the residence of Mrs. E.G. COFFEY on Thirteenth avenue North, last Friday evening. A large number of friends had been invited, and when Mrs. Sara ROSE called the meeting to order the parlors were crowded with the Camp members and the guests. Mrs. RHODES stated the purpose of the meeting, and announced the first number on program which was an instrumental selection by Miss Brucie Mai EWING, the talented organist of the St. John A.M.E. Church. Miss EWING was equal to the occasion, rendering her selection with grace and ease. Prayer was offered by Rev. C.E. ALEXANDER, pastor of the Hubbard Chapel M.E. Church. Miss Mattie E. ALEXANDER, daughter of the Rev. ALEXANDER rendered an instrumental solo which was highly enjoyed by all.

Mrs. E.C. COFFEY, president of the Tyree Camp, was then introduced. She gave a brief history of the camp, noting its accomplishments during the five years it had been in existence. She told of the efforts put forth, and how friends of other churches had helped them in the struggle.

Miss Lizzie DICKERSON was the next to speak. Miss DICKERSON is secretary of all the several camps working in the interest of the church. She gave the statistics of money collected and how the same had been expended. Her statement showed that the camps have raised nearly $2,599 and had paid the whole, less expenses, on the church debt. Mrs. Lula ALLEN, who was one of the first to join in the Camp work, spoke words of praise and encouragement. Dr. M.J. GREGG, D.D., of Jacksonville, Fla., who is the corresponding secretary of the Allen Christian Endeavor Department of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, was the next speaker He said the twentieth century promised to be the woman’s age. The coming of Christ brought her emancipation, and in this age she has ceased to be considered as a beast of burden, but as truly man’s companion and helper. He spoke in glowing terms of the great accomplishments by the women of the St. John. A.M.E. Church and wished for them continued success.

Miss Vera L. MOORE, a member of the faculty at Walden University, rendered an instrumental solo. Miss MOORE’s rendition was above the average and brought forth great applause.

Bishop E. TYREE, for whom the Camp is named, was the next speaker. He said he had watched the work of the Camps with much interest and was proud to have his name identified with them. Bishop TYREE said since the time he received a telegram from Dr. WATSON, the secretary of the Church’s Extension Board to represent at the sale of the church, several years ago, and to save the property he had received many for acting as he did; but he considered the telegram from the Church Extension Secretary to mean what it contained and he acted. However, all were compelled to admit now that it was the best investment that had been made by the board during its history. He said the fact that the Baptists and other friends had helped the Camp members to save St. John A.M.E. Church was as it ought to be and it should be so in every struggle the race has. The dominant race has taken everything from us but the churches and school houses, and when one of them is in peril every Negro, irrespective of creed, should put his shoulder to the wheel and help push.

Dr. T.W. HAIGLER, pastor of the church for which the camp is working, was the last speaker. He said he has been given the new name of fussy pastor, but as long as the dollars continued to roll in he would continue fussing. He said he was very much concerned about the “something else” he had heard mentioned and would not be lengthy in his remarks, but would get out of the way for the “something else.”

Miss Vera L. MOORE rendered another of her choice selections and the exercises were brought to a close. The guests were invited to the dining hall where all were served to the sumptuous repast served in buffet style in courses, after which the fifth anniversary of Tyree Camp celebration passed into history.

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.