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    The Jubilee Singers. (1875). Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.
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Colored Member of the Capitol Police Force

From the October 1, 1867 issue of the New York Herald

James M. Murphy, a colored man from Nashville, Tenn., was today appointed by the Sergeant-at-Arms of the Senate a member of the Capitol police force.  He was recommended as a first rate man for the place.


Murfreesboro Notes (1 Mar 1907)

From the Nashville Globe – March 1, 1907

  • The pupils of Bradley Academy celebrated George Washington’s birthday last Friday, February 22.  A very interesting programmed was rendered.  Those on the programme were Misses Sallie R. Anderson, Vera Lee Coleman, Maggie Eules, Mary and Amanda McClain, Annie M. Prim, Darrow Reed,  Willie Todd.  Messrs. Percy Jordan, Richard Burks, Thos. Lillard, of seventh grade;  Lela Anderson, Laura Meeks and Henry Lee Brown, fifth grade;  Master Charley Howse and Lavada Brooks, fourth grade;  Elizabeth Murray and Whitmore Carney of third grade; Ada Lee Alexander and Burrus Miller, of second grade; Nick Patterson, Betha Meeks and Samuel Rucker, of first grade.  The decorations were of red, white and blue flags.
  • Mrs. Annie Ransom entertained the Ladies’ Embroidery Club Saturday evening, February 23, 1907, at her home.  After the business meeting was over an elaborate luncheon was served by John Ella Bass, consisting of chicken, beaten biscuit, salad, fruit salad, cake and coffee.  Those present were Mesdames Mamie Vaughn, R.B. Meeks, H.P. Scales, G.B. Brady, Walter Page, Horace Mitchell, Misses Nannie Ransom, Beulah Miller, Dilsy Butler, Matilda Green and Elma A. Williams.
  • Mrs. Clara Ewing and Mrs. H.P. Scales are on the sick list.
  • Mrs. Ollie Officer, of Sparta, Tenn., who has been at the bed side of her mother, has returned home.
  • Mrs. Harden is convalescent.
  • Mr. P.A. Bently, of Nashville, Mr. Williams and Mr. Ewing, of Franklin, were the guests of Mrs. Clara Ewing.
  • Misses Nannie and Bettie Keeble have returned to Chicago.
  • Rev. James Moore has returned from Paris, Ky., where he has been carrying on a series of meetings.
  • Rev. D.P. Pearson had a successful rally Sunday, raising $19.00
  • Mrs. Lula McMurray, of Chattanooga, Tenn., who has been very ill at the home of her mother, is improving rapidly.

City Items – March 1, 1907

From the Nashville Globe – 1 Mar 1907

  • Mrs. P.R. Burrus, Mrs. N.J. Anderson, Mrs. Ligon, Mrs. R.S. White, Mrs. Ferguson and Miss Lena Jackson, representing the esteem and love of many of their friends, came laden with good things Saturday night to the parsonage of Howard Church, making the hearts of the pastor and wife glad.  Rev. J. Bond says  “Come again.”
  • The Misses Franklin, of 78 Claiborne street, were called to North Nashville Tuesday morning to attned the funeral of their cousin, Carrie E. Cleveland.
  • Mrs. Elizabeth Becton, of 819 Stevens street, left for Battle Creek, Mich., Saturday night.
  • There will be a parlor concert on Wednesday evening, March 6, at the residence of Miss Mattie Matthews, 440 Eigth avenue, North, by the Willing Workers Club for the benefit of Tabernacle Baptist Church.
  • Miss Zenith McKatherine, who waited on her sick father until his death, never wearied, her kind hands were willing to do all they could to add to his comfort.  One year ago she left Walden University, and went to Lake Providence to attend her father, Mr.  Thom. McKatherine.  She did her duty lovingly and faithfully until the end.
  • Mr. I.W. Hydye, of 1606 Alberta Avenue, is suffering from influenza.
  • Mr. John Watkins arrived from New Orleans Tuesday night.
  • Mr. Jno. Langston Poole, of Meharry Medical College, leaves this week for Chicago.
  • The Meharry commencement has been changed from the first of April to the 29th of March.
  • Mrs. I.J. Jordan, of 514 Watkins street, who has been ill, is much improved.
  • Mr. William D. Boger was called to Marietta, Ga., last Saturday to attend the funeral of his grandmother who died last Friday.  He returned to the city Monday.
  • Prof. W.L. Cansler, though still confined to his room, is improving.
  • Quite a large number of Meharry boys left last Saturday for Chicago.
  • The Fisk Literary Club will hold its next meeting at the home of Miss Laura Stump, Twelfth avenue, North and Jackson street, March 7, at three o’clock.
  • Mrs. Myrtle Hicks and children have returned to their home in Indianapolis after a visit to her mother Mrs. Hill.
  • Mr. Eugene Clayton, of East Nasvhille, will leave in a few days for New York, Buffalo and Washington, D.C.  Mr. Clayton will be out of the city for about two weeks.
  • Attorney G.F. Anderson took a brief trip to Gallatin, Tenn., on legal business and it was quite successful.  He also made a trip to Livingston, Tenn.
  • The young ladies’ club of the First Baptist Church, East Nashville, will give their entertainment March 11.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Frank Carter were called to their home in Evansville, Ind., on the account of sudden illness of her mother.
  • The young men’s club of First Baptist Church, East Nashville, gave an entertainment Monday night which proved quite a success.
  • The death of Mrs. Mary Mason, mother of Miss Queenie Arnold, of East Nashville, was very sad.  The funeral took place Tuesday.
  • The Ladies’ Imperial Needlework Club met in regular meeting with Mrs. Napoleon Ransom, Wedndesday afternoon.  Several important topics were discussed, after which an article on “What women are doing” was read by Mrs. Herrod, which was very effective.  The ladies adjourned to meet next week with Mrs. J.H. Smith, of Phillips street.
  • Mrs. A.C. Gibson, of South High street, who has been reported very sick, is much improved.
  • Mr. Louis D. Bumbrey, who for some time was in the employ of the National Baptist Publishing Board, is in town.
  • Mrs. A.E. Montague, of 526 Fourth avenue, South, is slightly indispose this week.
  • The many friends of Mrs. A.J. Dodd will regret to learn that she is confined to her bed again.  At this writing she is improving.
  • Miss Annie May Neely has returned to the city after a month’s stay with her uncle in Columbia.  Mr. Harry McLawrine, who has been visiting his mother in Mt. Pleasant, accompanied Miss Neely back to the city.
  • Mrs. William Dopson, of 1892 Fourth avenue, North, is going to spend the latter part of the month in Columbia, Ohio.
  • Mrs. Ella Brown Beard passed away on the 22nd of this month.  Her funeral was held on the 24th at the Fifteenth Avenue Baptist Church.
  • Mrs. James Dismukes entertained Wednesday at her home, 516 Fourteenth avenue, North.  Mrs. Wm. Richardson, of 1207 Phillips street, and Mrs. W.M. Cannon and little daughter, Glenora, with a one o’clock dinner.
  • Born to Mr. and Mrs. George L. Stratton, of 1507 Fourteenth avenue, a girl.  Mother and daughter are doing nicely.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Richard Jackson were entertained at her home 315 Eighth avenue, North, with her many friends, Monday night, February 25, she being thirty-four years old.  Those prsent were Mesdames Warmack, Frierson, Burrus, Dozier, Young, Overton, Misses Josie Thompson, Bell, Messrs. Jordan, Overton.  Dr. B.F. Davis spoke to the guests on “Life is what you make it.”  A number of presents were received by Mrs. Jackson.
  • Mrs. Lyttleton Jones has been confined to her bed for several days, suffering from an attack of la-grippe.  Mrs. Jones and daughter, Mrs. Kate Steele are located at 707 Jefferson street and Seventh avenue, North.
  • Mrs. Eliza Davidson, who has been sick for the last two weeks, is very much improved.
  • Mr. Jno. L. Cheatham, of 819 Eighteenth avenue, is on the sick list this week.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Prince, of Patterson street, spent Sunday and Sunday night in Franklin with his mother, who is very ill.
  • Mrs. Whigsaw, of 1918 Broadway, is expecting her two sisters from Indianapolis soon.
  • Mrs. Rueben O’Neal, who has been sick for several weeks, is up and out again.  She wishes to thank her many friends for their kindness during her illness.

Napier wins Councilman position

Tom Wood, writer of Nashville history over at NashvillePost.com sent me the following article from the September 29, 1878 issue of the Colored Councilman. 



J.C. Napier, the councilman elect from the fourth ward, is considered by the colored people to be one of the most creditable representatives of their race, and this great popularity was exhibited yesterday, in his defeat of Mr. Chas. H. Saunders, one of the most popular young men in the city.  Councilman Napier is about twenty-four years of age, a bright mulatto, and is a graduate of the law department of Howard University, Washington D.C.  He left last night for Washington City where he will be united in marriage at the Congregational church in that city, next Wednesday, to Nettie, the only daughter of Hon. John M. Langston, colored, the United States Minister to the Replic of Hayti.  Nashville has not had a colored man in her city council since the days of Alden rule.

Arsenic in their Coffee

Trenton Evening Times (New Jersey)
29 Jul 1889

Dastardly Attempt to Poison the South’s Richest Colored Woman.  Nashville, Tenn., July 29 —- Lucy Bedford, aged 85, and Emily Parsons, her niece, both colored,  have been poisoned by arsenic which was placed in their coffee.  Miss Parsons died last night and Miss Bedford is in a critical condition.  Lucy Bedford is probably the riches colored woman in the south, having been given an estate worth $100,000 by the will of her former owner.  Four negro servants of Miss Bedford are under arrest on suspeicion of the crime, the object of which is unkonw.   It is said that on Miss Bedford’s death her property is to revert to relatives of her former master. 

Catherine Small a negro woman who had formally been employed as a cook, confessed that she put arsenic in the coffee in order to kill Gracey Hunter, a negress who now cooks for the old women, and whom Catherine accused of taking her place in their employ.  She is in jail. 

Dr. Chalmers Hairston

Photo of Dr. Chalmers Hairston, graduate of Meharry Medical College, as published in the July 1919 issue of The Crisis Magazine.

Source: Military Intelligence on Negro Subversion, 1917-1940.

Nashville Blacks in the Civil War

Yesterday,  someone posted this historical marker to WayMarker.com

I’ve seen this marker in person – a couple of months ago I visited the Adventure Science Center and the marker is passed as you approach the entrance.   The marker commemorates the efforts of blacks during the Civil War and the role they played in helping to build  Fort Negley and their larger role during the Battle of Nashville.  

In his book, African-American History in Nashville, TN: 1780-1930, Bobby Lovett has a whole chapter on the roles and activieties of blacks during the Civil War.   Throughout the chapter Lovett captures quotes from several people involved, including a quote from former slave Nat Love who recollects in his autobiography how slave children wanted to go fight for the Union. 

Doing a little background research on Nat Love, I learned that he was a well-known cowboy an had the nickname of “Deadwood Dick” although he apparently was not the only one with that nickname.   His autobiography is available in its entirety through UNC’s Documenting the American South collection.   Nat was born here in Davidson County in 1854, son of slave Sampson Love.  He and his family were slaves of Robert Love.  Nat has an entry at FindAGrave; I would love to find an obituary for him though – he died in 1921.

Former Chicago Visitor Marries

From the Chicago Defender – 1 Mar 1919 

As included in the Military Intelligence on Negro Subversion, 1917-1940 collection on Footnote.com

Announcement was received here several weeks ago of the marriage of Dr. John E. Burchess, Forest City, Ark., a recent graduate of Meharry Medical College, to Miss Thelma B. Williams, also of Forest City.  It will be remembered that Dr. Burchess was in the city two summers ago, at which time he was royally entertained by friends and admirers. 

New Footnote Database – Negro Subversion

Footnote recently released a new database, Military Intelligence – Negro Subversion.  These materials come from the War Department and includes their correspondence with other agencies.  These records concern activities of black civilian and military citizens from 1917-1941.   I did some preliminary exploration and found that the collection includes several issues of the Crisis Magazine, the magazine of the NAACP.  

I assumed there would be materials in this collection relevant to citizens of Nashville and I’ve already found a few items.  Here is an example, a death notice published in the May 1919 issue of The Crisis

Dr. Gordon Phipps, of Corsicana, Tex., is dead.  He was born at Hartford, Ky., January 4, 1859 and was a graduate of Roger Williams and Meharry Medical College.

Tombstone Tuesday: Bishop Evans Tyree

This past week or two, I’ve been contacted by several descendants of Bishop Evans Tyree whom I first encountered while walking Greenwood Cemetery.  After doing some research on him I started building his family tree and it was recently found by them.  I’m delighted in their interest and am glad they found the information of use! Before them, I’d even had a distant relative of his wife contact me as well. 



Bishop Evans Tyree was from Dekalb County, Tennesse.  There is an article from the Library 0f Congress’ Chronicling America archive that gives great information about him at http://is.gd/d0r.  This week, I created a FindAGrave memorial for he and his wife – maybe this will help even more descendants locate him. 

Since I occassionally like to look for new information, I’ve just taken a moment to explore Footnote some more and found another newspaper article about him.  In a 1901 article in the Chicago Tribune where he is mentioned as one of several clergy praying for President McKinley (after McKinley was wounded in an assassination attempt from which he would die a week later).


I also found that he was one of 5 complainants in a 1908 lawsuit agains the Interstate Commerce Commission for “unjust and unlawful treatment.”  The article from the February 27, 1908 issue of the Washington Post states that the five men, all Bishops with the AME Church, paid for 1st class accommodations passenger coaches but were given coaches that were “dirty and filthy and are not of first-class quality or description.”  I wonder what became of the suit; more research will be needed.