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

Obituary: Geneva Windham McKissack

Recently, I was contacted by a relative of Geneva, so have been doing some additional research on the McKissack family. Here is Geneva’s obituary:

McKISSACK — Thursday, Jan. 11, 1951, at a local hospital.  Mrs. Geneva Windham McKissack.  Survived by husband, Mr. Calvin L. McKissack; sister, Mrs. Melvin Sears, Birmingham, Ala; brother , Mr. Lewis Windham, Birmingham, Ala.; foster son, Mr. Lamar Mitchell; a host of relatives and friends. The body will lie in state at her late residence. 1503 Edgehill ave. from Friday evening 6 o’clock until Saturday afternoon 1 o’clock.  Funeral service will be held at Capers Memorial C.M.E. church Saturday, Jan. 13, 1951 at 2 o’clock. The Rev. L.A. Story officiating.  Active pallbearers are her nephews: L. Winter McKissack, Moses McKissack IV, Lamar Mitchell, Calvin McKissack, Lemuel McKissack, Samuel McKissack, DeBerry McKissack, and L. Winter McKissack Jr.  Honorary pallbearers , The Arora Assembly, Le Vingt et Un club and Associates of McKissack and McKissack.  Flower ladies: Cleaners Club, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Vagabond Club, Le Vingt et Un Club. Internment Mount Ararat cemetery. Queen Anne Funeral Home of Pulaski, Tenn. in charge with the assistance of the funeral directors of Nashville. — Nashville Tennessean, January 11, 1951.

Editorial note:  Capers Memorial Church was designed by the McKissack family.

Dwight Hillis Wilson (1909-1962)

Towards the beginning of the month I helped the Society of American Archivists locate a photograph of Dwight Hillis Wilson Sr. (1909-1962).  Mr. Wilson was an established archivist with the Allied Forces Records Administration in Washington, DC.   Born in Raleigh, NC on October 18, 1909 & educated at Shaw University & Howard College,  Mr. Wilson was the first archivist of Fisk University.

The Society of American Archivists is celebrating their 75th year this year; as part of the festivities, they are creating a series of trading cards of notable members.  Mr. Wilson is among them, however, they did not have a picture – nor did Fisk.  I was intrigued by their call for help and within half an hour of searching, had a phone number for Mr. Wilson’s son, Dwight Wilson Jr.  The next day, I made contact with him and he graciously sent the SAA the following two pictures of his father.

Dwight Wilson Sr. with son Dwight Jr.

Dwight & wife Gheretein

Thank you Mr. Wilson for sharing these pictures of your family.

A Hanging in Nashville

Today is Martin Luther King day and there are many activities going on around Nashville to celebrate the holiday.   While we still have far to go, let’s not forget how far we’ve come.

Hanging in Tennessee — The first legal execution ever witnessed in the county in which Nashville, Tenn., is situated took place when three negroes were suspended from the same scaffold.  The execution was witnessed by about two hundred people.  The condemned men were Babe BATTISE, Ducer THOMPSON and Abe PETEWAY.  There were about three hundred people outside the jail while the execution was going on.  PETEWAY killed an old white man named WRENN on the night of May 31, 1900.  BATTISE and THOMPSON were hanged for the murder of Cain THOMPSON, a negro spotter for the police, two years ago.

St. Petersburg Times Newspaper. July 27, 1901. Accessed via Google News Archive.


It has been awhile since I posted to this blog, but I just had to share this story.  This morning as I was perusing my Google Reader items, I came across a blog post from the Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections blog.  The blog post discusses a hymal of gospel songs originally published by Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, that was republished in the book Gospel Pearls by the National Baptist Convention Sunday School Publishing Board.

Given my experience with the African-American history of Nashville, I immediately recognized the name of the company as it was founded here in Nashville and I’ve read many a newspaper article about them and their employees; I’ve even visited the grave site of the company’s founder, Rev. Richard Henry Boyd.

As I kept reading the blog post, Nashville is never mentioned, but then I read the name of the woman who compiled Gospel Pearls — her name was Willa Townsend, and she even included one of her own hymnals in the publication.  I recognized her name immediately too as I’d done some work on Willa’s family tree as I’d been contacted a couple of years ago by descendants of hers who found me via this blog.  Willa Hadley was married to Dr. Arthur Townsend, a graduate of Meharry Medical College.   A notice of their marriage appears in the 1902 issue of the alumni newsletter of Meharry, available on their website.

I cannot wait to share this new information with her descendants!


In Loving Memory: Mrs. Mary Holt

From the May 20, 1960 issue of the Nashville Globe

Mrs. Mary Holt

In Loving memory of my dear wife; Mrs. Mary HOLT, who passed away one year ago, May 25, 1959.  Sis.  HOLT was the wife of the Rev. R.E. HOLT, pastor of the Olive Baptist Church.  And a devoted member of the said church.

Sleep on dear Wife
” ‘Tis God who thought best
To take you from this world of sorrow
To a lovely place of rest.”

Day by day I’m striving to meet you
In that fair Heavenly home,
” ‘Tis the land where all is happiness
Up there where sorrow is unknown.”

Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Angels guard thy sleeping clay.
I am working forward
To see you resurrection day.

Rev. R.E. Holt, husband
Church and Family

Deaths: May 20, 1960

From the May 20, 1960 issue of the Nashville Globe

  • BEDFORD, Mrs. Hattie – May 14, at a local nursing home
  • CECIL, Wade – May 10 at a local hospital
  • COLLIER,  Mrs. Daisy – May 14 at a local infirmary
  • COPELAND, Rev. Thornton – May 16 at a hospital in Detroit, Mich.
  • CROOK, Mrs. Katie – May 9 in Chicago, Ill.
  • CURTIS, John Bowing – May 8th at a local hospital
  • FOWKLES, Mrs. Annie Bell – May 17 at her home 1720 Jefferson St.
  • HAMPTON, Mr. Thomas – suddenly May 16 at a local hospital
  • HARRIS, Mrs. Rhoda Ann – May 9 at a local infirmary
  • HARVEY, Mr. William McKinley – suddenly May 13 at a local infirmary
  • KNIGHT, Mr. Willie Rogers – suddenly May 15 at a local hospital.
  • MALONE, Mrs. Mary Kate-Lyda – May 14 at a local infirmary
  • SAMPLE, Mr. William – May 16 at his residence 594 J.C. Napier Cts.
  • SIMS Sr., Mr. Harvey R. – May 15 in Phoenix, Arizona
  • SWANSON, Miss Georgia Lee – suddenly May 9 at a local infirmary
  • TERRY, Dr. Maggie E. – May 15 at residence of sister 2107 Osage St.
  • WATSON Sr., Mr. Cain – May 9 at his residence in Cincinatti, Ohio

Nashville Retrospect – the new newspaper in town

Nashville has a new newspaper and I love it!  Last month, my husband came home with a copy of the Nashville Retrospect and I thought it was one of the best ideas I’d seen in awhile.

The Nashville Retrospect was just started a few months ago and each issue contains several newspaper articles from Nashville’s newspapers of past.  It includes a variety of stories and pictures from old news headlines and makes for entertaining reading.  As a proponent of the genealogical and historical value of old newspapers, I was ecstatic to see this paper and plan on sending off for a subscription at the beginning of the new year.

Contributions to the paper come from a number of Nashville residents, a few whose names I am already familiar with.   There is a nice  “Contents Timeline” feature as well which displays all the stories in the issue in chronological order.  There are marriage notices, death notices, interviews with elders in the community, and advertisements of all kinds.  The librarian in me immediately wants to start indexing it, but alas, it is not a project I can even think of having time for right now.  I wonder if there is a library in town that will?

I can’t wait for my next issue!

News from Jackson

The following items are from the Afro-American Sentinel, a newspaper published in Jackson, Madison County, Tennessee.  The Tennessee State Library & Archives has only one issue on microfilm – October 11, 1890.  The following news items are excerpted from page 3.

Afro-American Sentinel
October 11, 1890

Local News

  • You must register today or lose your vote in Nov.
  • Colored people pay your pole taxes and get a recept for the same, so you can vote in Nov.
  • All the books needed for Lane Institute and the public schools will be found at Harris’ Book Store.
  • Rev. A.W.  Wayman, D.D., Bishop of the diocise of Kentucky and Tennessee, will preach at the A.M.E. church Thursday night Oct. 16, ’90.  Let everybody turn out and hear one among the greates preachers of the age.
  • The Sentinel desires all its readers to send in for publication personal notes, notices of parties, and all entertainments.  This is news, and we want to print the news.
  • The contract for plastering Berean Baptist Church was awarded to Mr. J. Wesley Banks.  West is one of our boys, he always get there.
  • Just look how Walter Mitchel smiles, it is another little 10lb brakeman, about a week old.
  • Mr. W.H. Day of the 10th district was in town Thursday and left his subscription for the Sentinel one year.  That tells what he think of colored interprises come again.
  • The Saw Mill, for Mose Black and ond 2 miles east was started successfully today.  The builders are in the Southern Engine Works at Jackson, Tenn, all credit to them.
  • The law compels every voter living in the city of Jackson or in the 15th civil district to register in order to vote.  Today is the last day.
  • Have you heard the news? If you have not, you are way behind the times.  Well, here it is. B. Friedlob has just received his mammoth fall stock of dry goods, notions, bats, caps, boots, shoes, clothing, ladies’ and gents’ underwear, millinery, etc.  Nothing like it was ever seen in Jackson before.  If you don’t believe it come and see and be convinced for yourself.  Seeing is believing, and if you see you are bound to believe.  Don’t forget the firm.  — B. Friedlob
  • The Sentinel must be in the hands of 2,000 readers in this town and county before January 1st.
  • Republican candidate for Governor Louis T. Baxter, of Nashville.
  • We call attention of our readers to the large and well selected stock of books of all kinds for sale at Harris’ Book Store, 115 Main street.
  • The fair grounds is rapidly getting into shape.  It will be a daisy.  Wonder if the street car company will extend their tracts to the gates.  It will be big money in their pockets if they do.
  • There will be a Savings Bank established by the colored people of Birmingham.
  • The colored people of Lynchburge, Va. has established dry goods store.  It is conducted by Jas. Mitchell.
  • Be sure to tell every one you see, to pay his pole tax.  Let <…> pull out in November.
  • Say boys if you are dry call around boys and see Davis and Cain, they have the stuff to wet you with, corner Shannon and Lafayette Sts.

Personal Mention

  • T.B. Davy of Hardin was in to see us this week.
  • J.G. Parker, of Carrol paid the Sentinel a visit while attending the Convention.
  • D.S. Anderson of the 12th district of Madison, gave us a call.
  • D.W. Ellis of Denmark, gave us a plesant call Monday and left his subscription.
  • Rev. W.M. Cowen, is in the city visiting home folks.
  • Rr. Wash Currethers and family moved to Memphis, Tuesday, where they expect to make thier future home.
  • F.H. Nichols, delegate from Hardin county, was in to see us.
  • T.H. Bledsoe, delegate from Carrol county, paid us a call, and left his subscription for one year.
  • Rev. F.M. Hamilton editor of the Christian Index left, Monday morning for a weeks stay in Atlanta.  He expected to stop in Birmingham.
  • Mr. Tom Stegall was circulating among his friends this week.
  • B.D. Daulton, of Carrol, gave us a call.  Reports Carroll as being a reliable old county.
  • Mrs. Chilton who has been confined at her home for sometime, we are glad to note is able to be out again.  She gave us a pleasant call Thursday morning.
  • Mrs. Sarah J. West and Mrs. Maria Austin gave the Sentinel a very pleasant call  and left their subbscription.  Thanks. Call again ladies.
  • Miss Laura B. Thomas  is confined to her bed, but is better this week.
  • J.M. Cooper of Henderson county was in to see us Tuesday.  He gave a good report of the colored people.
  • Mrs. Nannie Miller has returned from Canada where she was visiting relatives at her former home.
  • Miss Mamie Parker a handsone young lady; who has been attending Lane Institute, will leave Saturday for Fulton.  Miss Bell Moore will accompany her.

Biographical Profile: George Washington Moore

MOORE, George W •• hlngton, clerCYman;
born at Nashville, TeDD., Nov.
9, 1864: son of William Moore and
Elizabeth Corry, slaves, who were
leplly married after slavery was abol·
Ished: A.B., Fisk Unlv., 1881, A.M.,
1884: B.D., Oberlin Theological Semi·
Dary, 0., 1883: (D.D., Howard Unlv.,
1908); married Ella Sheppard, of
Nashville, Dec. 20, 1882; she was of
the original Jubilee Singers; 2 children:
George S. (M.D.), ClintoD Fisk
R. Began to exhort In little mission
connected with first echool he attended:
preached ID Howard Chapel,
Nashville, 1876: ordained Congregational
ministry, 1877: while In Ober·
lin Seminary past’lred 1st Congregational
Church, Sullivan, O. ; In
charge 3 churches under Ohio Home
Missionary Society, summer, 1882:
pastor LlncolD Memorial Church,
Washington, D. C., 1883-92: professor
of biblical history and literature, How·
ard Unlv., 1887-92; delegate to
World’s Sunday School Convention,
1889, and delivered address in City

MOORE, George Washington, clergyman;  born at Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 9, 1864: son of William Moore and Elizabeth Corry, slaves, who were legally married after slavery was abolished: A.B., Fisk Univ., 1881, A.M., 1884: B.D., Oberlin Theological Seminary, 0., 1883: (D.D., Howard Univ.,1908); married Ella Sheppard, of Nashville, Dec. 20, 1882; she was of the original Jubilee Singers; 2 children:  George S. (M.D.), Clinton Fisk R. Began to exhort in little mission connected with first echool he attended: preached in Howard Chapel, Nashville, 1876: ordained Congregational ministry, 1877: while in Oberlin Seminary past’lred 1st Congregational Church, Sullivan, O. ; in charge 3 churches under Ohio Home Missionary Society, summer, 1882: pastor Lincoln Memorial Church, Washington, D. C., 1883-92: professor of biblical history and literature, Howard Univ., 1887-92; delegate to World’s Sunday School Convention, 1889, and delivered address in City Temple, London, Eng.; began as field missionary with American Missionary Assn, New York, 1892, later appointed supt.  in charge southern church work with headquarters at Nashville. Trustee Tillotson College. Fisk Univ. Republican. Address:  926 17th Ave. N., Nashville, Tenn.

Source: Mather, Frank Lincoln. Who’s Who of the Colored Race; A General Biographical Dictionary of Men and Women of African Descent. <http://books.google.com/books?id=RFZ2AAAAMAAJ>

Biographical Profile: George Sheppard Moore

MOORE, George Sheppard, phyal·
clan: born at NashvUle, Tenn., Sept.
27, 1883: son of Rev. George W. aDd
Ella (Sheppard) Moore: A.B., Fisk
Unlv., Nashville, Tenn., 1906: M.D.,
Northwestern Unlv. Medical College,
Chicago, Ill., 1910: Interne Freed·
men’s Hospital, Washington, D. C.,
1910-11: married Julia Alberta Merrill,
of Nashville, Oct. 13, 1906: a
children: George C., Sarah E., Julia
A. Practiced In Nashville slnee June
1, 1911: professor of mental and nep
vous diseases Meharry Medical College
(WaldeD Unlv.). Republican.
Congregationalist. Member Tenn. Col·
ored Medical Assn., Rock CIt7 Medical
A88n., KDlghts of Pythlas. Home:
10a4 17th Ave. N. Ofllce: 424 Cedar
St., Nashville, Tenn.

MOORE, George Sheppard, physician: born at Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 27, 1883: son of Rev. George W. and Ella (Sheppard) Moore: A.B., Fisk Univ., Nashville, Tenn., 1906: M.D., Northwestern Univ. Medical College, Chicago, Ill., 1910: interne Freedmen’s Hospital, Washington, D. C.,  1910-11: married Julia Alberta Merrill, of Nashville, Oct. 13, 1906:  3 children: George C., Sarah E., Julia A. Practiced In Nashville since June 1, 1911: professor of mental and nervous diseases Meharry Medical College (Walded Univ.). Republican. Congregationalist. Member Tenn. Colored Medical Assn., Rock City Medical Assn., Knights of Pythias. Home: 1034 17th Ave. N. Office: 424 Cedar St., Nashville, Tenn.

SOURCE: Fisk University. Catalogue of the. Nashville, Tenn: The University, 1898 <http://books.google.com/books?id=tfE2AAAAMAAJ>