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Madison County African/American History

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser


PRE-CIVIL WAR       |     CIVIL WAR ERA      |       POST CIVIL WAR (1865)   




Source: Alton Telegraph, April 4, 1838
Ran away from the subscriber on the 10th day of April, 1837, from Saline County, Missouri, to wit, one man about 46 years of age, 5 feet 8 or 10 inches high, large and fleshy, lame, occasioned by his right ankle once being put out of place, walks with a cane in his right hand, one tooth out of his under jaw, in the middle; one woman about 23 years of age, tall, black and likely the wife of the above described man; one girl child, about 4 years old, black, smart and likely. Said three negroes left my farm in my absence and without cause. They were taken up in Adams county, Illinois, in June last, and committed to jail as runaways; the jail was broken on the 14th at night, and they turned out; the last account I had of them was about twenty miles east of Quincy, in a Dearborn wagon, drove by a white man; whither he conveyed them God only knows. As I have reason to believe they are yet in the State of Illinois, I hope the good people of the state, and the friends of justice, will notice and give information or take up said negroes. Any person who will take up said negroes and deliver them to L. J. Clawson, Alton, Illinois, shall receive the above reward ($250), and the traveling expenses paid; or if they will commit them to any jail so as I get them, and give information to L. J. Clawson or to the subscriber, Cane Creek, Saline County, Missouri, shall receive one hundred and fifty dollars. Singleton Vaughn.          [Note: It is unknown if the people were found and returned to Vaughn.]


Source: Alton Telegraph, November 5, 1842
Committed to the jail of Madison County, Illinois, October 1st, 1842, a runaway negro boy, apparently 15 or 16 years of age, who calls himself William Henry Adams. He is rather a dark mulatto, or of a copperus color, and is about 5 feet 1 1/2 or 2 inches high. His teeth appear to be sound in front, but not so white as is used in persons of his color. The upper teeth project a little beyond the lower. He is clad in an old cloth roundalmot, blue cotton pants, and a pair of old boots, all very much worn. He states that he came from St. Louis, Missouri, and that he belongs to one Dr. Adrian, residing at that place. Notice is hereby given to the owner, if any there be, that unless said slave is claimed, he will be dealt with according to the law in such case made and provided.
Signed by Andrew Miller, Sheriff of Madison Count, Illinois


Source: Alton Telegraph, May 24, 1845
The St. Louis "Era" of the 16th inst. contains the following paragraph, which we copy for the benefit of whom it may concern:

"A few days since a valuable negro boy belonging to Mr. Thomas Talbot of Bridgeport, Missouri, and who calls himself Isaac, ran away from his master and succeeded in making his way up to Alton, where he was to meet an Abolitionist who had promised to carry him off to Canada, but before he came across his Abolitionist friend, a gentleman who recognized him took him into custody and brought him to this city [St. Louis] and lodged him in jail."

We can assure the "Era" that the citizens generally countenance no such course as is exposed in the above paragraph. If the name of the Abolitionist, who in Missouri endeavored to entice away the slave in question is known, let it be given, that the public may put the saddle on the right horse. We are for letting every tub stand on its own bottom upon the subject of Abolitionism, and opposed to the innocent being made to suffer with the guilty. We have remained silent long enough under the attacks made on this city [Alton] and its people, not only by the Abolition paper published in Chicago, but by our neighbors in slave States. If there are a class of men in Alton who are engaged in enticing away slaves and running them off, we will go as far as he who goes farthest in ferreting them out and bringing them to justice. But we are opposed to prejudice being excited and kept up against Alton, because it is most unjustly, we believe, supposed there is such a band in existence in this city.


By Members of the Colored Baptist Church
Source: Alton Telegraph, January 16, 1852
The supper which came off on Thursday evening, under the direction of the members of the Colored Baptist Church in Alton, was pretty largely attended, and the arrangements made for the occasion were very creditable to those engaged in its preparation. A handsome table was spread the whole length of the capacious hall, under the Franklin House, loaded with every variety of tempting viands, and was partaken of by the whole company, quite a number of whom were white gentlemen. During the evening, Elder R. J. Robinson made a short and appropriate address, in which he alluded to the past condition and present prospects of the colored race, and stated that they had determined upon adopting and maintaining a high standard in their social condition, and a continual progression in civilization and refinement. After this, the choir struck up several pretty hymns, which were very well executed. Upon the whole, the affair speaks well in favor of the progress of the colored race in this vicinity. We learn that the receipts of the evening were about $130, a handsome portion of which will be appropriated towards the erection of a church.


Source: Alton Telegraph, December 3, 1852
“About noon on Thursday, Marshal Felps was advised that a gentleman living in this county had lost a valuable young male slave, and that the fugitive was probably secreted in Alton. With his usual promptitude, Felps dispatched officers Doban and Clemmer on the Altona, which left about four o’clock in the afternoon. The officers reached Alton shortly after six o’clock, and before they were ten minutes in the town, they came upon the runaway, whom they found engaged in opening oysters at Skinner’s Saloon. The poor fellow attempted to resist, swearing that he was “nobody’s n---- but his own.” Doban and Clemmer slipped on him a pair of handcuffs, and the Robert Campbell being very opportunely at the wharf, he was rushed aboard before even an effort at rescue could be attempted, and arrived here at nine o’clock, as at that hour he was safely locked up in the calaboose.”

We clip the above paragraph from the St. Louis Union of Saturday, and if the facts are as there set forth, we must say it is as high-handed an outrage as has been perpetrated in this city in many a day. We are willing that the citizens of Missouri, and of every other slave State, should be protected in all the rights they are entitled to under the laws of Congress or of this State, but when they go to the length of kidnapping by force, and removing beyond our limits without any trial or warrant of court, whomever they may suspect is a runaway slave, we enter our most emphatic protest. The authorities of St. Louis have for a long time been acting upon the assumption that their jurisdiction was as complete in Illinois, as within the limits of their own city, and we have frequently noticed the little respect they pay to the laws and legal sanctions of this State. The above case, however, exhibits an enormity of legal abuse which our citizens should not tolerate or endure.

Many of us do not appear to understand that we have any rights at all in these matters, or that there is any liability to abuse of human rights in thus permitting anybody who will, to come into our midst and carry away into slavery whomever he may lay a claim to. We should remember that under the laws of this State, human servitude is not recognized or known, and that until the contrary is proved before the proper officer, all man are regarded as freemen, and entitled to their natural liberty. Until this is done in the manner provided for under the Fugitive Slave Law, every man who attempts to carry away into servitude an inhabitant of the State is liable to prosecution, fine and imprisonment.

The high-handed manner in which persons, purporting to be fugitive slaves, are arrested and carried away under our very eyes is an insult to our city, and to our State. If such things are to be permitted, no free colored man is our midst is safe in the enjoyment of his natural liberty. We hope our citizens will be more careful and circumspect in future, and while they are willing to accord to the fugitive slave owner all the rights he is entitled to under the laws of Congress, that they will let no man be carried away from their midst until this proof of ownership is adduced before the proper tribunal.


Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, January 18, 1853
A very neat young mulatto woman was arraigned before Levi Davis, Esq., U. S. Commissioner, last evening, at the instance of the agents of a man named Leach, now residing in Memphis, Tennessee, to whose estate it was claimed she belonged. It seems that she was brought to Alton a little more than one year since by a son of Leach, for the purpose, as he stated, if freeing her, but it was shown that his son had no right thus to emancipate her, and as her identity was proved, she was delivered over into the hands of the agents, who will probably proceed down the river with her in their possession today. A great deal of interest was manifested in this case, and it was almost impossible to get near enough to hear any of the testimony. She was recently married to a young colored man in Alton named Shavers. It was intimated last evening that an effort would be made to purchase her freedom, but we have not heard with what success.

Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, January 19, 1853
The case of the woman, Amanda Kitchen, arrested on Monday under the Fugitive Slave Law, continued to excite a good deal of interest yesterday. A subscription for her purchase was started, and a handsome amount contributed for this purpose. It has been stated that the young woman was "not much affected" by the decision of the Commissioner. We are informed however that this is not the case - the poor creature betrayed similar emotions to those which might have been expected from a white woman - strange as it may seem to some.

P. S. It has afforded as much pleasure to learn since the above was written, that through the benevolent exertions of our citizens, the large sum of $1200, required for the emancipation of the young woman in question - which was deemed a very exorbitant charge - has been raised and paid over to the claimants, and that she has been restored to her husband and friends without any danger of further molestation.

Source: Evening Chronicle, Syracuse, New York, February 23, 1853
The Chicago Times says :
"On the 17th ultimo, an alleged fugitive slave was arrested by the United States Marshal, under the following circumstances: A young colored woman came to that city more than a year since, in care of a young white man, the son of her master, who resides at Memphis, Tennessee. The son brought her to Alton, and set her free. The party who came after her, proved her identity as the slave of the young man's father, upon which she was delivered over by the United States Commissioner. Was this the case of an escape on the part of the woman? If she were in the custody or under the control of the son, (which was probably the fact,) it was not; and neither the constitution or slave laws require the remanding of the person back into slavery, unless an escape is proved. We do not observe in the proceedings any inquiry on this point. The woman was married a few weeks previous to her arrest, to a young man of Alton, named Chavers. 'Her case excited the sympathy of the benevolent of that city, and they raised by contributions the sum of twelve hundred dollars, the price demanded for her freedom, and set her at liberty." The Alton Telegraph, of the 20th ult., contains the proceedings of a meeting of colored citizens, convened to express their gratitude, to their white friends for sympathy and assistance.

Source: Alton Weekly Courier, January 21, 1853
“Editors of Alton Telegraph:
We were pained to see in this morning’s Courier, a notice of the fugitive slave case that came off last evening before Commissioner Davis, stating “that the young woman was not much affected, if any, at her situation.” This statement is false, as the young woman was almost frantic, in view of her situation, until assured by her friends that she would be redeemed. The notice referred to evinces a degree of heartlessness on the part of the writer, which deserves the execration and contempt of every philanthropist. We are gratified, however, that the Courier’s heartless notice did not prejudice the public mind, as the ransom money was readily raised. Signed by Depot.”

The above appeared in yesterday’s Telegraph, and we have a word to offer in reply. Our statement is correct, in the main. We observed the woman during the trial, and she appeared quite unconcerned. Also, during the day while staying at the hotel, in charge of her owners, she repeatedly stated that she had always been well treated at the South, and had not so much objection to going back, except that she was now married and settled here, and of course desired to remain. The proprietor of the Franklin House will bear us out in this statement. This attack upon us is not warranted by the language we used. The following is the offending paragraph:

“The woman had been married to a young man in this town [Alton], by the name of Chavers, three weeks ago. The case was a clear one, and no doubt our citizens will abide by the laws of the country, and see them respected. It may be well to mention that the young woman was not much affected, if any, at her situation, so far as a looker-on could discern. The husband, also, acted very prudently, as well as the crowd of colored persons, and others, whom the circumstances had drawn together. A movement was made to purchase the freedom of the girl, late last evening.”

We can make every allowance for the excitement of “Depot,” under the circumstances, and he can have the full benefit of his froth. The Courier will ever uphold the laws of the country, and abstain from all that will improperly excite the people. We rejoice that the money was raised, and the woman freed, and that nothing occurred which would be cause of regret hereafter. Were we to pronounce “Depot” a gentleman, his communication in yesterday’s Telegraph would not be relied on to prove the assertion.

Fugitive Slave Case
Source: New York Daily Times, January 31, 1853
A fugitive slave was arrested in Madison County a few days since, and after a hearing of the case before the Commissioner, it was ordered that she be given up to the claimant. The owner of the woman offered to release all title to his property, provided the sum of $1,200 was paid him. The amount was soon raised by the citizens of Alton, and the young woman is now free. An Alton paper gives the following particulars of the case:

“Thirteen months since, a young man arrived at Alton with this woman. He had run away with her from Memphis, where she was owned by his father, a Mr. Leach. Some family difficulty had occurred, and he brought her up here [Alton] and left her, telling her that she was now free, which she in her simplicity believed. The girl lived here quietly, and married young Chavers, three weeks since. An old colored woman in this place [Alton] had formerly lived in Memphis, and in writing to her friends there, she casually inquired how Amanda came by her freedom. Everybody here [Alton] supposed the girl was free. This gave information in Memphis of her whereabouts to two negro traders by the name of McCullum, and they went to her owner, the father of the young man who ran away with her, and purchased his claim to her, taking a bill of sale, and also getting power of attorney, and all the requisite legal papers in the case. They came up to our city [Alton] and after a few days’ stay, fell upon the track of the girl, and brought the case before the U. S. Commissioner. Everything was perfectly plain – the girl admitted the main facts – and there was but one course to pursue. Commissioner Davis gave the slave over to the owners. The friends of the Chavers family, who are all respectable, ascertained the price of the girl – it was $1,200 – and they set about raising it. The family raised $100 by mortgaging their real estate, and the remaining $800 was given by the citizens of Alton, who came nobly forward to the work. The case was a very peculiar one, and excited very deep feeling; yet, no outbreak or even a disposition to do violence was manifested. Hard though it seemed, yet the people of Alton were determined to abide by the law.


Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, January 26, 1853
At a meeting of the colored citizens in Alton and vicinity, held at the colored Baptist Church, January 24, 1853, Rev. W. Bronner was called to the chair, and C. C. Richardson appointed Secretary. The Chair then addressed the throne of grace; after which, Harrison King stated the object of the meeting, followed by remarks from several friends. On motion of C. C. Richardson, H. King, O. Wilkinson, and the Chair were appointed a committee to prepare resolutions in accordance with the object of the meeting, which reported the following:

Resolved, That we, the colored citizens of Alton and vicinity, take this humble method of expressing our most grateful thanks to our white friends for the benevolent aid in assisting us to redeem our much esteemed friend and neighbor, Amanda Chavers, from a state of hopeless bondage; feeling that this is all we can do, in our humble stations, and hope that it will be received, although we feel that it is but a small remuneration considering the great feeling manifested towards the cause that lay so near our hearts to accomplish.

Resolved, That we return our sincere thanks to Messrs. H. S. Baker and G. T. Brown, Attorneys, for the able manner in which they defended the case.

Resolved, That the proceedings of this meeting be published in the Alton Telegraph and Alton Courier.

Signed, William Bronner, Chairman, and C. C. Richardson, Secretary


Source: Syracuse, New York Daily Standard, March 29, 1853
A Mr. Melvin, traveling recently in Madison County, Ill., stopped at a Negro settlement on the Wood River, and calling at one of the houses, the door was opened to him by a tottering Negro, aged 90 years. On entering he found a withered old Negro female, who turned out to be the mother of his venerable host. On enquiry he learned that she was 119 years of age. She gave her name as Chloe, and says that she is a native of South Carolina, having been there the slave of a farmer named Wilson. When very young she was stolen and carried away from home by a party of Cherokee Indians, from whom she subsequently escaped. She professes to remember perfectly well Lord Cornwallis and the British officers of note, who figured in the War of Independence. She is supported at present by her son, who in turn receives material assistance from a promising young stripling of forty-five or fifty.

Source: The New York Times, January 9, 1860
Death of Centenarians - A negro woman named Clara Wilson died near Alton, Ill., Dec. 13, at the age of 124. She settled near Alton in 1840, being then nearly one hundred years old. The Alton Courier says:

"She was born and raised in South Carolina, and her earliest recollections were of Charleston, in that State, which she remembers as a smart village, instead of the great city it now is. She grew up on the plantation, field work being her task so long as she was a slave.

Clara Wilson – Former Slave – Dies in Alton
Source: The American Almanac & Repository of Useful Knowledge for the year 1861; Vol. XXXII, 1861
Died: December 13, 1859, Near Alton, Illinois, Clara Wilson, said to be 125 years old. She was born a slave in South Carolina, and was carried to the western country about seventy years ago. She was ordinarily called "Granny Wilson," or "Granny Buck."


Source: The New York Times, September 6, 1854
(From the St. Louis Republican of Aug. 30)
The facilities afforded by this mysterious conveyance seem to be every day increasing, and it is a matter that demands the calm consideration of every slaveholder in our community. That we have abolition enemies among us tampering with slaves, not only affording them means to escape, but personally superintending them in their efforts, is now no longer a matter of doubt. This system of negro stealing, once a matter of so much risk, is now boldly done in our midst, and slaves are taken away in broad daylight and shipped to their place of destination. Steamboats and railroads are ready to convey them, while there are those in the city who, on an emergency, find the means of facilitating their egress by furnishing them with carriages and horses. This wholesale plunder will prove destructive to slave property in St. Louis and the adjoining river counties, unless steps of the most extraordinary kind are taken to prevent it.

We have reason to know that there is a regular agency established in this city [St. Louis], with two branches of the Underground Railroad. It is laid with black rails, but its conductors are white men. In other words, there are associations of negroes in the city who are in correspondence with the Abolitionists, who furnish them money and advice, and who are constantly running off slaves. Chicago seems to be the centralization of negro-stealing from this community, and we have the names of some of her citizens who are engaged in it. We have lately seen a letter from a negro woman who ran away from Mr. Sappy, giving an account of her escape, whereabouts (Chicago), and the manner in which it was done. She refers in the letter to other slaves in the city, calling them by name, whom she anticipates will shortly be on, according to agreement, and congratulates them upon their speedy release. Before closing her missive to her sable friend, this fugitive seems to be in raptures at the contemplated walk she is going to have on the Lake Shore, in the company of some white ladies. The letter was obtained just in time to prevent one or two of the parties from escaping. One of them, an old negro man, had a horse and dray, and was just ready to start for Chicago, when he was nabbed and locked up in jail.

A few evenings since, by the same management, several slaves belonging to Mr. Lewis, who resides near Howell's Ferry on the Missouri River, by the aid of some white rascals, had everything prepared to leave. A skiff was ready to run them to ALTON, with a white man to conduct them; but unfortunately an old negro woman, though tempted and almost promising to go, could not give up her home and her kind protectors, and told her mistress, Mr. Lewis being absent at the time, and the thing was frustrated. We have some other items, and shall revert to this subject again. In the meantime, we would advise those who have any interest in this kind of property to be wide awake.






Source: Alton Telegraph, July 18, 1862
We gather the following particulars of an outrageous case of kidnapping from the Jerseyville Prairie State:

“On Friday morning the 4th inst., as a negro by the name of Bob Williams, in the employ of Mr. G. Burwell of Jerseyville, was coming up from Alton with fireworks for the Fourth, he was stopped some six or seven miles from Alton by three men who jerked him off his wagon, threw him into theirs, and took him off, and nothing has since been heard of him. An Irishman who brought the team home says that he was coming on behind his wagon on foot, when he saw three men drive up to the negro and heard them ask him if he had any whiskey, one of them at the scene getting up on the wagon behind him. The negro told them he had none, when the man seized him by the back of the neck, and with the assistance of other two men, succeeded in getting him into their wagon. By this time, the Irishman had got along up to where they were, when the negro saw him and told him that his team belonged in Jerseyville, and that he wished he would drive it up here, which he did. We are of the opinion, however, that the Irishman was there for the occasion, as he does not tell a reasonable story.”

It is said that the negro was hurried across the river to St. Charles, where his Rebel master was in waiting for him. One would think that the provisions of the fugitive slave law were sufficiently infamous and stringent to answer the purposes of the most reckless and unprincipled, but judging from this diabolical act, committed by the negro haters and secessionists of this neighborhood, there is too much regard for human rights even in it to suit their purposes. Driven on by their hatred to colored men and lust for gain, they seize and hurry on of the state, without even the shadow of a trial, a man who is guilty of no crime known to our laws. It is to be hoped that no effort will be spared to have the culprits arrested, tried, and the severest penalties of the law against kidnapping inflicted upon them. The editor of the Jerseyville Union, judging from the following remarks in his last issue, evidently knows who the guilty parties are – if he was not one of them himself, which is not unlikely, and should be arrested and confined until he reveals their names. Hear how coolly he speaks of the transaction:

“He was too poor to get back to his master in Missouri, and was worked too hard and fed too little to wish to stay any longer in a free state. He made his case known to some of our citizens who are opposed to the harboring of runaway negros, and they very kindly and in a Christian-like manner assisted the poor fellow back to a good home where he will probably be cared for.”


Source: Alton Telegraph, August 1, 1862
The colored people of St. Louis and Alton contemplate celebrating this day in an appropriate manner tomorrow. They have chartered a steamboat in St. Louis to convey them to Hop Hollow, just above Alton, where the exercises will take place. This is right and proper, and we hope they will have a pleasant and profitable time. It is an event well worthy of being celebrated, and it is well that these people have some occasion for meeting together to mingle their feelings and exchange thoughts with each other. And so long as they conduct themselves properly, no man has any right to interfere with them. They have been threatened on this occasion by some of the baser sort of whites in Alton, but we observe by last evening’s Democrat, which appears to speak as the organ of that class, that provided “they go quietly onboard the boat and make no demonstration as we are assured they will not – they need have no fears of molestation.” So we suppose they are safe from all trouble. We were not aware before that colored people were subject to any other condition than subjection to the laws like other men, but it may be that we are hereafter to have self-appointed rulers who will dictate to us what we shall do and what we shall not do. We shall see.

[NOTE: The British empire formerly abolished slavery in its colonies with passage of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833. The legislation went into effect in August 1834 whereby all slaves in the British Empire were considered free under British law.]


Source: Alton Telegraph, February 10, 1865
The colored citizens of Alton intend having a grand time on Friday next, expressive of their good feelings because of the repeal of the odious black laws of Illinois, by the Legislature. Their places of business will be closed at 12 p.m., and all are expected to meet at city hall, when a procession will be formed and will proceed through the principal streets of the city, returning again to the hall, when some of the ablest men of Chicago and St. Louis will address them. A salute of 62 guns – one for each member of the Legislature who voted for the repeal – will be fired during the day. It is very natural that they should feel exultant over the repeal of laws which have been so oppressive to persons of color, and we hope their celebration of the event will be enjoyed by all to the fullest extent. At night, there will be a dance, music and singing at city hall.

In 1818, Illinois was admitted into the Union as a free state, but slavery continued and free blacks were oppressed by a series of restrictive state laws that denied them fundamental freedoms. These Illinois Black Laws (also known as Black Codes) were observed from 1819 - 1865. Under these laws, blacks could not vote; testify or bring suit against whites; gather in groups of three or more without risk of being jailed or beaten; and could not serve in the militia and thus were unable to own or bear arms. Blacks living in the state were required to obtain and carry a Certificate of Freedom; otherwise, they were presumed to be slaves. The Illinois constitution also allowed indentured servitude at the salt mines in southern Illinois. The mines provided significant income for the state, and served as an American presence in what the United States government considered vulnerable frontier territory.

Illinois Black Laws were repealed in 1865, the same year the United States Congress ended the legal institution of slavery with the passage of the 13th Amendment.

In the State Legislature:
The Illinois General Assembly seemed ready to repeal the Black Laws in January 1865. Outgoing governor, Richard Yates, who had resigned to become a United States senator, urged the legislature to remove the laws from the statute as quickly as possible. He was one the few whites in the legislature who had always found slavery abominable. In 1864 Yates openly stated that he favored the abolition of slavery because he supported humanity, and he knew that the U.S. Constitution gave all Americans independence. He agreed with Jones, who had said all along that both the state and federal laws were in conflict with state and federal constitutions. Bills to repeal the laws were introduced in the Illinois general assembly on January 2, 1865. Petitions poured in from throughout the state, asking for the repeal of the now infamous Black Laws. Concurrently, the U.S. Congress debated the Thirteenth Amendment. Congress acted on February 1 and Illinois became the first state to ratify the amendment, abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude. On February 7, 1865, after the Senate and House had voted overwhelmingly in favor of the repeal, Governor Richard J. Oglesby signed the repeal of the Illinois Black Laws. The black celebration that followed in Springfield included recognition of Jones, who ignited the fuse in a cannon that blacks fired sixty-two times—one for each member of the Senate and House. Following, Jones and the group went to the local African Methodist Episcopal Church to continue the celebration, concluding with a speech by Jones.

Source: Alton Telegraph, February 17, 1865
The festivities of our colored citizens passed of yesterday without the least incident to mar the good feelings of the occasion. The procession, headed by the band of the 144th Illinois Infantry, formed at City Hall about half past twelve p.m., and proceeded thence to State Street, up State to Third, up Third to Belle, up Belle to Ninth, up Ninth to Alby, up Alby to Twelfth, up Twelfth to Henry, halting at the residence of Mayor Hollister while the band played “Rally Round the Flag.” The Mayor and General Stone made their appearance, when Mr. Hollister returned his thanks for their attention. Three rousing cheers were given for the Mayor and the General, when the procession again moved down Henry to Second [Broadway], and up Second to city hall.

The large room was soon filled by an attentive audience, and appropriate addresses were delivered by Mr. Jones of Chicago, William Gray and James W. Turner of St. Louis, and Rev. Mr. Embry of Alton. The following resolutions were offered and unanimously adopted:

We, the colored citizens of Madison County and State of Illinois, assembled en masse, do ordain and proclaim the following preamble and resolutions:

Whereas, the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Illinois, being in session on the 4th day of February 1865, did, by concurrent resolutions, repeal the infamous code of laws known as the Black Laws of Illinois, which laws being a transcript of the slave code of Virginia, conceived in interests of human slavery, were an emanation [release] from Hell, and although of no possible benefit to the State, they were the source of incalculable evil, and untold injury to us, giving license to the low and vile, to insult our women, despise our manhood, and abuse and wrong our people; therefore,

Resolved, 1st, That we hail with joy this epoch in the history of our State, and herald our congratulations to our fellow-citizens throughout this commonwealth.

2nd, That we tender our heartfelt thanks to those Legislators who, by their speeches and their votes procured the repeal of these laws, and express the desire that God may grant them to live in health, in prosperity, and great honor to see their children’s children, to the third and fourth generation,

3rd, That we tender our heartfelt thanks to our fellow citizen, John Jones, to whose persevering efforts and untiring zeal we are much indebted for the repeal of those laws.

4th, That we send our greetings to our fellow citizens who are soldiers in the field, and pray that God may bless and support them, and they be enabled to win many victories.

5th, That we send our friendly greeting to our fellow citizens of our sister State of Missouri, Maryland, and Tennessee, may they grow in population, in wealth, in happiness, until they reach the climax of greatness.

6th, That we owe paramount allegiance to the Constitution and laws of the United States, and are unconditionally devoted to the cause of the Union, and express the hope that there will be a continued and vigorous presentation of the war until the rebellion is crushed; to this end we pledge our all, our lives if need be, for freedom and the Union, in testimony of which, we ask most respectfully of the government, through his Excellency, Governor Oglesby, permission to raise ten companies of colored freemen of this State to be organized as cavalry, to be _____ered by colored men; and mustered in for the war, and we pledge ourselves to raise the minimum number in sixty days from the time such permission is granted.

7th, That we are determined to press this demand until granted, or until we are flatly denied.

8th, That we claim this, the land of our birth, as our native home, secured to us by the blood of our fathers, and the toil and sweat of our ancestors for more than two hundred years; we are, therefore, unalterably and inflexibly opposed to any and every scheme, plan or combination, havingthe view of colonization, deportation or concentration of our people anywhere, that our ideas of an American Nationality is in the union of all the States, each subject to the Constitution and paramount laws of the general government; that her authority shall be known, and her people spread, all over the broad continent of North America, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from Greenland to the Isthmus of Darion.

9th, That our faith is in the wisdom and goodness of God, that he can and will demonstrate, in this happy land, that all the nationalities of the earth are members of one common family, one under free government, righteous laws, impartially administered, may all live together happy, speaking one language and worshipping one God. May God bless American and her rulers; may she grow in knowledge, in wealth, in population, until a hundred million souls shall occupy her broad lands. May she be known as the cradle of liberty, the mistress of learning, the mother of science; that the poor and oppressed of every clime, from the rising to the setting of sun, may hail her as the freest, happinest, and most beneficent government on earth.

10th, That we request Rev. J. C. Embry to prepare a copy of those resolutions for the Christian Recorder and Anglo African.

A few pertinent remarks were made by Moses G. Atwood, Esq., Rev. Mr. Jameson, and Mr. Johnson, which were received with the greatest attention and respect. The speaking was continued until 5:30 o’clock p.m., when the meeting adjourned until 7 o’clock.

At the stated time, speaking again commenced, and was continued until 11 o’clock, when the seats were removed, and those so disposed enjoyed themselves in the many dances until early morn.






Source: Edwardsville Intelligencer, May 19, 1870
As advertised, the colored population of this county turned out en masse on Thursday last at the fairgrounds. There were probably between eight hundred and a thousand people in all, and the procession as it passed along Main Street was fully three-quarters of a mile in length. The day was pleasant and the proceedings passed off orderly and quiet. Several gentlemen spoke whose names were not on the bills. Our reporter informs us that the remarks made by Judge Joseph Gillespie were sensible and appropriate, and that the crowd paid the most strict attention. Dr. John H. Weir was called upon to speak, and it would seem that his remarks elicited considerable mirth. The doctor has always been a red-hot abolitionist and he went further than any other speaker on this occasion. Mr. Daniel Kerr talked for a while, and he said just what might be expected he would say. Mr. E. M. West was also requested to say something, and after a good deal of coaxing he consented to do so; and as there has been considerable comment upon what that gentleman said, as well as upon what he is reported to have said on that occasion, we have taken the pains to get his exact language. He made no allusion whatever to the 15th amendment. He said, that having been called on to say something, he accepted the call as a token of kind feeling on the part of those present, and was on his part reciprocated; that this day was amongst the happy days of his life to known that the institution no longer existed in the United States; that having been born in a slave state, amongst his earliest recollections were those in opposition to slavery, and that it had been a dream of his youth that he might live to see the institution of slavery done away from the fair page of American history. For our part we do not take this as an endorsement of the radical programme, or that it was an expression of approbation of the privileges lately granted to the negroes.


Source: Alton Telegraph, January 6, 1871 (review of 1870)
April 4, 1870: Colored men voted for the first time in Madison County, at the town election in Edwardsville.


Source: Alton Telegraph, January 6, 1871 (review of 1870)
April 13, 1870: The colored citizens of Alton and vicinity celebrated the adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment by processions, firing of cannon, and speeches and banquet at City Hall.


Source: Alton Telegraph, October 25, 1872
The colored Tanners of Alton, Upper Alton, and Rocky Fork had a grand torchlight procession in Alton last evening. After parading through the principal streets, the procession halted at the colored Baptist Church, where they were addressed by Andrew Jackson, I. H. Kelley, and W. H. Ellesworth, but the rain coming on brought their meeting to an early close. The Tanners made a fine appearance. There was a large turnout, and all were enthusiastic. The colored men will give a good account of themselves next November.


(This is an excerpt of "Talks With Old Settlers" by George T. Allen, M. D.)
Source: Alton Telegraph, December 31, 1874
"There were many noted fighting men about in those days. Does anyone remember James Henry? He was a shoemaker; but a stalwart, six-footer, who "neither feared God nor regarded man," when in his cups. Eventually he reformed and, for a time, was a leading man in the State, I have been told. Henry was a Kentuckian and a very bitter pro-slavery man. During one of his quarterly sprees, he fancied that Jarret, the slave of a lawyer named Conway, had insulted him. Henry demanded of Conway permission to punish Jarret. Conway's cowardice led him to grant the favor. Informed of this, Jarret hid away in the hay in my father's stable. I knew this and secretly fed and watered the poor negro, but a drunken hostler [man who tends to the horses], yet living, and whose name I can give, accidentally found Jarret, and to flatter Jim Henry, reported the fact to the desperate son of Southern chivalry. Jim Henry then provided himself with five hickory whips, fresh from the timber, a rope, his sword, his dagger - a regular bowie knife - and a pistol. He then sought and found Jarret, tied him, brought him out, stripped him of all clothing excepting his pants, and fastened him to the end of a horse-rack, on the public street, so as to compel him to stand on his toes. Henry laid his sword and pistol on the horse-block some three feet from his victim, and with the dagger in his left hand and a hickory in his right, commenced the castigation.

It was "Court week" and there seemed to me - a little boy then - five hundred men in town and all present and looking on! Henry wore out two or three, I think three, hickory gads on Jarret's bare back. With nearly every blow the blood ran. The poor negro would sometimes draw up and hang upon the rope and beg for mercy. Then Henry - the white brute - would draw the keen edge of his immense knife over the prisoner's naked abdomen and threaten to let out his bowels if he failed to stand it all, most manfully. Henry was a man of wonderful size and strength, and all knew him to be fearless and reckless. He dared any man to interfere and intimidated the Sheriff and constables and all the men present, with his sword, his dagger and his pistol.

If the man had been white, Henry would not have struck him the second blow and lived. The negro then had no rights the white man even pretended to regard. Just when the second or third whip had been used up, my mother first heard the poor negro's cry and she went immediately to his rescue. She appealed to all the men present, but unheeded. Then she retired to her kitchen, armed herself with a formidable carving knife and immediately advanced upon the enemy. Henry did not see her until she had nearly touched the negro; when he suspended his blow, in astonishment, but with still a threatening gesture. She raised the knife, cut the rope and ordered the sufferer into her own kitchen, where she dressed his wounds most carefully, with her own hands. Henry, watching her as she retired, raised his hand with the dagger in it, as she disappeared, and turning to the crowd, said: "A woman might tie my hands, but let a man thus try to oppose my will," swinging his dagger threateningly at the men.

I may be like some of the men who were there that day, but my mother was a true heroine!"

George Townsend Allen was a leading physician of Madison County, and was one of the first physicians in the village of Marine. His father, Rowland P. Allen, settled in Marine Township in the Spring of 1818. George T. Allen represented Madison County in the General Assembly in 1855, and served as a surgeon in the Army during the Civil War. He was later in charge of the U. S. Hospital in St. Louis for many years.

The heroine of this story was George’s mother, Sarah Townsend Allen. She was born April 5, 1789, and came with her husband and son (George) to the Marine settlement. When others coward under the brutality of the evil James Henry, she single-handedly stood up to him and stopped him from killing Jarret. Sarah died October 7, 1846 at the age of 57. George T. Allen died September 5, 1876, at the age of 63. His father, Rowland P. Allen, died December 6, 1858, at the age of 73. All three are buried in the Marine Cemetery, St. Jacobs, Illinois.


Freed from Slavery at Age 100
Source: Alton Telegraph, November 14, 1878
Benjamin Allen, a colored resident of Alton who has been mentioned in the Telegraph as voting at the late election, and who is supposed to be 111 years old, is a member of one of the “First families of Virginia,” as he was a slave formerly owned by William Allegre of that State. He was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, lived there until quite an old man, and then removed with his master’s family to Franklin County, Missouri, where he resided until after the war broke out. He was a man grown, when his first mistress, the wife of William Allegre, was born. After he came to Missouri, by the death of his original owned, he became the property of John Haynes, who was a strong rebel, though he did not join the army, rather inclining to bushwhacking.

Benjamin Allen was of such a venerable age, that for years before the Civil War, he was considered of but little service as a laborer, and was assigned light tasks. The advance of the Union forces into Missouri freed him, among thousands of others, and at the age of almost one hundred years, he stood relieved from shackles, “redeemed, regenerated, disenthralled by the genius of” American emancipation. He came to Alton during the second or third year of the war, and has resided while here with his nephew, William Walker, who kindly attends to the wants of the centenarian. The old man is rather feeble, but his mind is active and his memory of past events quite good. Of course, there is some question as to the exact number of his years, but from the best evidence procurable, he has reached the patriarchal age given above. He voted at the last election with the men through whose efforts he became a man, not a chattel, the Republican Party.


Source: Alton Telegraph, July 8, 1880
A shooting affair took place in Middletown, a short distance above the old Mutual Insurance office, a little after one o’clock Sunday. It appears that two colored young men named Charles Thompson and Bernard Denson had on several occasions personal difficulties, leading to blows. Saturday night they had a personal rencontre, and Sunday Denson procured a revolver, loaded it, and upon meeting Thompson, exclaimed, “You _____ _______, now I have you,” and commenced firing, discharging three shots. One missed the mark, one struck the left arm below the shoulder, and the other entered Thompson’s person on the left side of the breast, passing entirely through his body and coming out a few inches to the right of the spine, inflicting a dangerous, if not fatal wound. The wounded man was taken home, and Dr. Haskell was called and dressed his wounds. The sufferer still lies in a helpless state, and it will probably be some days before any change will take place.

After firing the shots, Denson, who is represented as being a quiet, peaceable young man, fled to the residence of Mr. D. O. Butterfield, for whom he had been working, and was taken in custody by that gentleman, who turned him over to Sheriff Cooper, the officer happening along shortly after the shooting on his way to Upper Alton. Denson was threatened with lynch law by a mob of enraged and excited men, who gathered at the place with the evident intention of taking the law into their own hands. Sheriff Cooper, however, conveyed the threatened man to the jail, and he was incarcerated behind the prison bars to await the result of Thompson’s wounds. Denson says that he was pursued by Thompson and another colored man named Henry Steeples, that they had threatened to whip him, and that he fired on Thompson in self-defense, both his opponents being more powerful than he was, and that he gave himself up as soon as he did the shooting.


Source: Alton Telegraph, July 15, 1880
At a meeting called at the United Brothers’ Hall on Fourth Street, July 8, the colored voters organized a Garfield and Arthur Club, No. 2, with the following officers: President, Samuel A. Hart; Vice-President James Brock; Secretary, Andrew H. Hardin; Assistant Secretary, C. W. Woodson; Treasurer David Kyles; Captain John W. Smith; Lieutenant George Brown; Sergeant J. Crawford; Corporal D. Jenkins; and Committees: First ward, Andrew Jackson; Second ward, John Watkins; Third ward, William Walker, Fourth ward, H. T. Bowman; Fifth ward, William H. Ellsworth; Sixth ward, M. M. Hardin; and Seventh ward, William Banks.


Source: Alton Telegraph, October 6, 1881
The Most Worthy Grand Lodge Independent Order of Odd Fellows of America of African descent, which held a three day session in the U. B. of F. Hall, closed on September 29 with a public installation and entertainment. The following named officers have been elected for the ensuing year:

Grand Warden – John Brown
Grand Secretary – F. F. Vandaburg
Treasurer – Charles Woods

Appointed officers:
W. H. Willet, Grand Chaplain
William Carper, W. G. Marshal
Vincent Syms, W. G. Conductor
Charles Robenson, W. G. Guardian
James A. Murphy, W. G. Herald


Source: New York Times, March 30, 1883
St. Louis, March 29 -- A terrible murder is reported here from Alton, Ill. Six miles from there is a negro settlement, the largest in the county. Henry Depugh and Henry Ross, cousins, lived there together in a little hut. They were unmarried. The hut is about half a mile from any house. They were last seen alive on Tuesday afternoon. Yesterday morning they were found dead in the hut by a neighbor. Ross was lying on the bed, with several cuts in his abdomen. Depugh was lying on the floor, his brains scattered against the side of the hut. His head and shoulders were terribly lacerated, as though he had been killed by a shot from a gun. There was no evidence of a struggle on the part of Ross; he was killed while sleeping. The hut's interior was not much disarranged. Two guns and several other articles are missing. It is said that Depugh had money, but none was found on the premises. The men were evidently murdered, and the position of Ross indicates that they did not kill each other. Who did the deed is still a mystery. Both men were honest and industrious. Depugh is the son of the Rev. Mr. Depugh, a colored Baptist preacher. Coroner Yonree went to the place and held an inquest, but no light was thrown on the tragedy. It is claimed by some that the object of the murder was revenge, and that testimony can be produced implicating persons living in the vicinity.

Source: New York Times, January 17, 1885
Edwardsville, Ill., January 16 -- William Felix Henry, colored, was executed here today for the murder of Henry Ross and Henry Depugh, both colored and both single men. The two men were found murdered in their house at Rocky Fork, about six miles from Alton, in March 1883. The crime was traced to W. F. Henry, who was arrested, convicted, and afterward confessed his guilt. During the last four days the doomed man appeared to find great consolation in religion, and was almost constantly attended by clergymen. Last night he did not sleep, but passed the time playing on the French harp, telling stories, and singing songs. This morning he dressed carefully, and at 8 o'clock the death warrant was read to him. The Rev. Mr. Depugh, father of one of his victims, visited the condemned man, took his hand and forgave him. After joining in a prayer, the doomed man was pinioned and led to the gallows. The black cap was adjusted, and at 1:12 P.M. the trap was sprung and 12 minutes later the man was dead.


Source: The Evening Republic, Buffalo, New York, August 13, 1884
Anderson Riley, formerly a slave in Virginia, died recently near Alton, Illinois, claiming to be 111 years of age.


Source: The New York Times, January 15, 1890
Correspondents who have snuffed the battle from afar, as it were, have sent out more or less blood-curdling accounts of a race war at the little village of Upper Alton, Illinois. To ascertain just what the row was all about, The Time's correspondent visited the seat of war and discovered a most peculiar state of affairs. Alton is in Illinois, twenty-five miles from St. Louis, and the place of residence of many prominent St. Louis business men. Upper Alton, the immediate scene of the trouble, is a suburb of Alton proper. In this place the trouble that has now reached a crisis has been brewing for a long time. The Constitution of Illinois specifically provides that no person of school age shall be refused admission to any public school in the State on account of color. It is said that the Constitution of no other State in this Union goes so far, most of them stopping with the guarantee of equal educational facilities to persons of all races. In some places in Illinois mixed schools are, and always have been, maintained under this provision of the Constitution, which was adopted in 1871. This is the case in the town of Alton proper, a fact which has made the resistance in Upper Alton the more conspicuous. In other places the colored people have made fights for their constitutional rights, and have never been met by an adverse decision. In Illinois, petitions for writs of mandamus are included in the brief category of cases which can be opened in the Supreme Court itself, and this circumstance has been construed as favorable to the negroes. To dodge this, the School Board of Upper Alton districted the city so as to include pretty nearly all the negroes in one district. In January, 1888, John Peair, a colored day laborer of Upper Alton, brought the first suit in the Supreme Court to compel the school board of Upper Alton to admit his two children to the white school, irrespective of grade, qualifications, or the place of their residence, or the subdivisions of the school district arbitrarily fixed by the board. Security for costs was not deposited at the time, however, and for that reason the suit had to stand in the Supreme Court until last Spring, when the money was raised by subscription. A decision altogether favorable to the negroes was ordered, and a writ of mandamus issued directing the Upper Alton school board to admit Tony and Cora Peair to any school in the district. Nothing was said about any other child than the two on whose behalf the petition was filed. At the time the mandamus was ordered, no money was on deposit in the office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court to pay for its issuance, $75 being the lawful fee. This was not forthcoming until December last, when it was paid and the writ, directed to the Sheriff of Madison County, Illinois, was issued. Then followed a series of attempts at compromise and temporary settlements, and finally there was a split among the negroes. The colored folks began to wonder why the dearly prized and hard-won writ of mandamus, which should admit at least the Peair children, did not come. They said they had raised the money, $75, and given it to Peair to pay for the writ soon after it was ordered from the Supreme Bench, and that he had taken it and paid his taxes with it. This charge made Peair furious. He denounced his followers as ingrates and withdrew his children from the colored school, but his defection did not break the agreement.

The colored male Principal and his white lady assistant, Miss Rhoda Bartlett, continued to teach the greater portion of the twenty-five negro children who attended the frame schoolhouse in "Salu Addition," which is the local name of the quarter of Upper Alton, in which almost every family of its entire colored population lives. Then there were more compromises, and the school board fixed up a system of grading that would, in effect, keep the negroes out of the new high school, in which they most desired admission. This was coupled with concessions that made the white people indignant, and they said, in effect: "No matter what the board does, our children shall not go to school with negroes." The trouble matured last week and was met by the negroes with an assertion that they would stand on their legal rights. Accordingly, on Wednesday, twenty black children demanded admission to the high school. They were admitted, but not assigned to classes, and at recess the white children drove them from the grounds like sheep.

On Thursday both sides contented themselves with talking, and on Friday the blacks took action. About three hundred negroes, from six to sixty years of age, marched on the school. The column was stopped at the school door by the posse of constables, who placed their refusal to admit them on the grounds that such mixed crowds could not be allowed within the school yard, and by the exercise of great firmness they forced all the intruders outside the enclosure except about twenty-five, who said they were there to attend school. It was while this informal process in ejectment was being carried out that the relations of the opposing factions became strained to the last degree. Some of the colored men made menacing motions as if to draw weapons from their pockets, but none were actually shown. The threats of violence still continuing to come from "Salu Addition," Principal Powell on Saturday night applied to the Town Council of Upper Alton for a guard of special officers to assist in maintaining order about the school enclosure. Six reputable citizens were appointed and were instructed by the Council not to permit any groups of grown persons of any race or either sex to loiter about the approaches to the school yard or in the street in front of it. This order they obeyed to the letter. Colored children were permitted to enter the school yard, but they were met at the door by the principal, who refused to admit them until they had passed examination in the district of their residence. Mr. Kelley, who has been teaching the colored school, has quit in disgust, leaving the negroes without a teacher, and they are more than ever determined to get into the white school. The situation is decidedly critical.

Interviews with colored people developed little except declarations that they "was gwine ter git inter de white man's school or know de reason why." The School Board consists of three Republicans and two Democrats. Its President is Mr. George W. Dudley, a prominent business man of St. Louis, and one of its members is the Rev. G. W. Wagner, a minister of the Methodist Church. The other three members are wealthy farmers, two of whom, Gillam and Lowe, are Democrats, and one, Major Moore, a Republican and prominent member of the Grand Army of the Republic. Professor Powell is a man of very quiet and courteous bearing, and seems to possess the friendship of both whites and blacks. He served through the war in the Twenty-Sixth Illinois Volunteers, in the Fifteenth Army Corps with Logan, under Sherman in the West, and is a Republican "from away back." "If the School Board orders me to receive colored children into my school without discrimination, I will either obey or resign my position," he said, in answer to a question, adding: "I have no personal ends to serve in this matter."


Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, June 3, 1890
Blind Boone, the colored pianist, gave a recital at the Methodist Episcopal Church last evening. The numbers on the programme embraced selections from the classics as well as lighter music, and even the old-style plantation melodies. The request of the manager that someone play for Boone to imitate, was responded to by Mr. L. D. Yager, who gave Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, which was imitated by Boone. The company left for Springfield this morning.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, Saturday February 11, 1893
From the Edwardsville Democrat –
We learn that the Mary A. Boone, colored, who died in Alton recently, over one hundred years old, and to whose last will and testament reference was made in the last issue of the Democrat, was in the early 30's a resident of Edwardsville. She was then the wife of James Crow, who was familiarly known by the sobriquet "Jim Crow." They resided in a one-room log house which at that date stood where the long brick house stands now occupied by Edward Dippold and family, in lower town. After the death of Crow, she married Boone, also a negro, of Alton, and it was he and not she, that was brought to the northwest country by Daniel Boone. There are probably not more than two persons here about at present, cognizant of the foregoing facts, Mrs. Jane Buckmaster of Alton, and Mrs. S. J. Torrence, of this city [Edwardsville].


Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, Tuesday, May 2, 1893
Henry Harrison, colored, was arrested this morning for being a participant in the shooting scrape at Bowman's barber shop last Sunday afternoon. A fight occurred over a game of craps and several shots were fire by Harrison. He will be given a trial tomorrow.


Source: Utica, New York Morning Herald, May 28, 1896
At Alton, Illinois, on May 25, Richard Carter and his wife Nellie went through a marriage ceremony for the third time with no divorce intervening. Carter is a colored man, and was married in slavery times. After the war he was legally married In Virginia, but soon after the courthouse was destroyed, together with the record of his marriage. In the meantime, he had lost his marriage certificate, and has since depended on the slave marriage, of which he had proof. When the supreme court decided adversely to slave marriages, Carter decided he would again go through a ceremony, so his children would be sure to inherit the competency he has saved. Carter is a mulatto of more than average intelligence.


Source: Syracuse, New York Daily Journal, August 14, 1897
By the death of Rev. James Crawford Embry, one of the Bishops of the African Methodist Church, the negroes of the country have lost one of their best friends. Bishop Embry was born in Knox county. Indiana, on November 2, 1834. He received his early education in the schools near his home, and when 20 years old went West, where he wandered for several years, finally settling at Galena, IIIinois and beginning study for the ministry. During 1862 he made a number of unsuccessful efforts to enter the Union army as a soldier, but eventually entered the service to carry stores from a supply-boat on the Mississippi to General Grant's army. Later he was transferred to a hospital steamer, and while on duty there assisted in carrying a large number of wounded soldiers to the North. In the latter part of 1883 he left the service and entered the African Methodist ministry, his first charge being at Alton, Illinois. There, he attended Shurtleff College to study Greek. In 1876 Mr. Embry was elected Secretary of Education by the General Conference and two years later he was appointed treasurer of the church fund by the Bishops. In 1880 he became manager of the book-publishing house of the church in Philadelphia, and in 1884 was made general publisher for the church - one of his duties being the editing of the Christian Record. Mr. Embry was elected to the Bishopric of the Seventh African Methodist Episcopal district in May, 1800.


Source: New York Times, September 5, 1897
Alton, Illinois, September 4 -- There is much excitement here over two deeds of vandalism perpetrated in the course of the last week. On Wednesday morning, Lincoln School in Upper Alton was destroyed by an incendiary, and last night the new Lovejoy School building in this city [Alton] was greatly mutilated. Both schools were used for the education of colored children, and the outrages are thought to be the work of irresponsible colored people, who resent the separation of their children from those of white people in the public schools. The law-abiding element of the colored population has decided to appeal to the courts, and has secured counsel to contest the legality of the separation system. All the members of the School Board are Republicans, and the fight is being made on party lines.


Source: Alton Telegraph, July 21, 1898
Professor W. H. Crawford, as he is known on the stage since he became an actor, gave his mammoth production of "Faust" in U. B. O. F. Hall last week. Crawford is known about town and at Hotel Madison, where he slings a mop and carries trunks upstairs, as "Spread," which is an abbreviation for Spread Eagle. He used to be porter on the boat, and will make the boat immortal by bearing its name. He will be known to fame hereafter as Prof. Crawford, for it was under this title he gave his play last night.

"Spread" advertised himself quite extensively as "Mephisto's only rival," and showered himself with quite a few bouquets incidentally.

The great play came off last night. "Spread" does not confine himself to Goethe's lines, but has composed lines of his own which he says are more thrilling, have more wailing of lost souls, and more fireworks. In fact, he thinks they are a vast improvement over the original. He got his ideas from a dream he had one hot night when he had been "having a time" at a camp meeting, and the dream was a lurid one. He saw old Mephisto [an evil spirit to whom Faust, in the German legend, sold his soul] just as he is in real life, and says his portrayal is identical with the dream.

"Spread" was arrayed last night in a flaming red suit of tights, with his ebony face painted a carmine [dark red color], and an electrical sword in his hand. "Spread" tells the story best himself. He was standing up there on the stage with the sword raised in hand, and was muttering an incantation that fairly boiled the blood of the audience. John Sprow, Jasper Rice, and a few others represented the lost souls in the "Broken" scene, as "Spread" says, and his curses were being mingled with a horrid shower of red fire. "Spread" is inclined to realism, so he introduced a big firecracker to represent the thunder. The show was at its height of interest with “Spread” in the "Broken" scene, the audience in sympathetic tears, and the hall full of smoke, when the firecracker exploded. The police heard it, and thought a row was in progress up in the hall, and seeing the smoke from the red fire pouring out of the windows made a rush for the place. "Spread's" incantation was thus rudely interrupted, and the effect spoiled. "Spread" said today the show was a great success and that he has offers from New York theatrical people to open a two weeks season. He has not accepted.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 16, 1899
The Eighth Illinois regiment, colored, arrived yesterday from Santiago at Newport News, on the transport Cheater. The regiment is now on its way to Chicago where it will be mustered out of service. There are about a dozen young colored men in the regiment from Alton, North Alton and Upper Alton. In the death report from Cuba yesterday, the name of John Combs, of Alton, a member of the regiment, appeared as having died of dysentery at Santiago. Comb's mother lives on Upper Belle Street. She has not heard from her son since he left for the war. Combs probably took sick at Santiago and was unable to leave for home with the regiment.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 18, 1899
The relatives of John A. Coombs, the colored soldier who died at Santiago, have as yet heard nothing from the authorities as to the young soldier's death. They have written to Washington to get the particulars. The dispatch from Havana published in the daily papers simply stated that Private John A. Coombs, of the Eighth Illinois Regiment, had died at Santiago from dysentery. The relatives cling to the hope that there was another John Coombs in the regiment but this is not probable. A half-brother of Coombs called at the Telegraph office last evening to obtain further particulars, but nothing could be given him. He said the young man's folks had not heard from him since he left for Cuba last July. He was only eighteen years of age. Of at least one hundred soldiers and sailors who left their homes in Alton to go to the war, this is the first death among the entire number.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 4, 1899
About a dozen members of the Eighth Illinois colored regiment arrived home this morning, after an absence of ten months in the service of the U. S. Government. The regiment was organized in Springfield last summer, and in the neighborhood of fifteen young, colored men from Alton and vicinity joined the regiment, and were scattered throughout the different companies. The entire organization consisted of colored men, from Colonel down, the first time in the history of the United States of a regiment being officered by colored men. Among those who returned this morning were John Hunter, Alex Johnson, John Crawford, Ed Adams, William Wilson, Henry Long, Olem Pain, Gus Smith, Tony Pear, Wilson Miller and Henry Miles. They were met at the depot and welcomed by a large number of relatives and friends. A reception and banquet in their honor will be given on Friday night.

The regiment has a good, clean record and the members received much commendation for their excellent behavior on their journey through the south, in contrast with the boisterous conduct of other regiments. The soldiers went to Santiago to perform garrison duty after the surrender of the city, and to relieve the worn-out soldiers who had gone through the Santiago campaign. They have been in Chicago two weeks, and, like all other soldiers who return, are glad they are home well again. One member of the regiment from Alton, John A. Coombs, died at Santiago. He was the only Alton soldier or sailor, out of over one hundred who took part in the late war, who died while in the service of his country.






Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, Friday, June 30, 1899
Charles Smith, colored, was shot about 2 o'clock this morning by Surry Sharpe, also colored, in an old deserted house near George Street, between Seventh and Eighth Streets. Sharpe shot Smith with a revolver, the bullet taking effect in Smith's left hip. Dr. Taphorn attended Smith and says he is not seriously hurt. Sharpe was arrested and is now in jail. He served a penitentiary term for killing Fred Crow at the glassworks a few years ago.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 16, 1900
Upper Alton News - The funeral of an aged colored woman known as Aunt Jane Griswold will be held at 2 o'clock in the Baptist Church at Salu tomorrow. Mrs. Griswold was past eighty years of age and as may be said of most of the older residents of Salu belonging to the negro race, she was at one time a slave. She was the mother of the blind colored minister, Mr. Griswold.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 7, 1900
Doc Shannon, a colored resident of Salu, died last evening at 8:30 o'clock, after a lingering illness. Deceased was sixty-six years of age, and leaves a widow with a large family, six children being under thirteen years of age. He was at one time a slave, and lived near Palmyra, Missouri. He ran away from there and came to Quincy, Illinois, where he enlisted in the Union army. After the war he came to Alton, and has lived here ever since. The funeral arrangements have not been completed, but it will probably occur on Friday from the A. M. E. church, of which he was a member.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 9, 1900
The funeral of Doc Shannon took place this afternoon from the A. M. E. church. Pallbearers: Louis Comely, Thomas Lytel, A. Hamilton, L. Leadbetter, Henry Holdman and James S. Johnson.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 13, 1900
A hurry call for a doctor was sent to Dr. Schussler's office last evening from Keiser & Co.'s stables. William Parrish, the night hostler [person who takes care of horses], colored, drank one-half an ounce of laudanum to free himself from earthly troubles, and he would have succeeded in his attempted suicide but for the fact he took too much of the poison. Parrish intended to crawl off to an obscure corner of the stable to die, but he fell before he could hide himself after drinking the laudanum and he was found by a fellow employee whom he had sent for the poison. Dr. Schussler administered remedies that brought Parrish around, and he was sent to his home in North Alton to his wife, who was the cause of the trouble. Parrish said he had a quarrel with his wife, and that he thought life not worth living. He will recover. Dr. Schussler said the amount of drugs taken was enough to kill several men.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 31, 1900
The heart of one old colored man, Andrew Adams, was made glad today by the receipt of a pension from Uncle Sam for injuries and disease he contracted while in the government service during the war between the States [Civil War]. A large sized envelope came to his address this morning, and on taking it to a friend he found that it contained a draft for $265, with vouchers for his next quarterly pension, which will amount to $6 a month. Adams has been in indigent circumstances.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 14, 1901
George Wright, colored, who is under conviction for burglary, was released from the Chester penitentiary about two months ago on parole, and he has been living with Justice Few since. He says he likes Mr. Few and his family, but he does not like Alton and would rather live in the penitentiary where it is warm than to hustle on the outside for a living in winter. Justice Few turned him over to Chief Volbracht, and the latter locked him up and telegraphed the prison authorities to come and get him. He will probably be taken away tonight.


Letter from James R. Clemins To the Alton Evening Telegraph
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 23, 1901
Editor of the Telegraph:
Under the caption "The Negro Vote," the editor of the Evening Republican makes the usual appeal to the colored vote. "We or Mr. Davis fought for you" is and has been the political "clap trap" of every partisan, when appealing to the negro for his suffrage. What if Mr. Davis was a soldier? Is it not a fact that the negro was a soldier? Did not our grandfathers help to place the flag in the sky at Concord and Valley Forge? In a supreme moment of our nation's history, when the governments of the old world believed it had gone down in the whirl wind of civil war, and had already "cast lots for our vesture," the negro - our fathers and brothers - bared his breast to that storm of death and Hell, and by a bravery rarely equaled and seldom excelled helped to keep the flag in the sky at New Orleans, Port Hudson and the bloody Fort Pillow, the "Golgotha" of the Civil War. He wrote on the pages of history, with his own rich, red, red, blood, his love for the Republic. Was it not the negro soldier whose ebony face caught the dying vision of the wisest and noblest memory of the Western world, Abraham Lincoln, and fulfilled his prophecy on the heights of Cuba and kept the "jewel of liberty" in the family of freedom?

The ballot is the diamond of American liberty; it alone expresses the confidence of man in government and in the great doctrines of political economy. With it in his hand every American is a sovereign, every American an equal. Let Mr. Davis and his coadjutors, regardless of their politics, remember that the negro is a man, and must be appealed to as other men. "We fought for you" has had its day in court and deserves its place on the back fence among men's cast-off clothing and women's last year's shirt waists. If one party or "gang" is using money, the other is using beer, and both are culpable. The negro voter, like the white voter, will get his share of both.

Mr. Editor, no Duke or Lord is prouder of his title than I am of the fact that I am an American citizen. The blood of the soldiers of two wars courses through my veins, but it is an insult to my intelligence, my manhood, my education, my race, to put up the "patriotism" of a soldier as a claptrap to catch votes, and then appeal to me as you would to a demagogue, "we fought to free you."
James R. Clemins, Pastor, A. M. E. Church


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 18, 1901
Few people have possibly known that Illinois is fast becoming the center of industrial training for colored children. Like Booker T. Washington of Alabama, George A. Brown of Danville is building up a grand work for his race. Mr. Brown is spending considerable time in St. Louis, Hannibal, Quincy and Alton, and is awakening quite an interest among the people of both races, his last visit here [Alton] being to take some boys to Danville where they can be taught trades. Mr. Brown is the youngest son of the late Bishop John M. Brown of Washington, D. C. He was editor and proprietor of the first and only negro journal in the State of Wisconsin.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 11, 1902
Jim Cook, the colored mascot of the C. & A. local yards - the lamp lighter and tender all downtown citizens know - celebrated his 38th birthday last night with a grand party in the (colored) K. of P. Hall [Knights of Pythias]. There was music vocal and instrumental and there was dancing until an absolute divorce between the soles and the uppers of some of the dancers’ shoes was threatened. And refreshments! They, too, were provided in liberal quantities and great varieties. There was a big crowd and a fine large time and James is happy over the success of the affair - a success that no Bradley-Martin that ever was could eclipse.

Jim Cook is a Pundit, a Mahatma and a Thrice Born. And he is a little bit of the Russell Sage order also. He was 38 Monday, and the world did not look to him like so easy a victim as it did when he was 18. Therefore, Jim concluded to finance the party and the scheme worked admirably. He charged each guest 10 cents admission. No complimentaries were issued and no credit given. He had a great time celebrating his birthday and got paid for doing it too. What Caucasian aristocrat can do any better, or even as well as that?


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 30, 1902
William Martin, the Upper Alton negro who was tried yesterday for murdering Louis Ledbetter, was found guilty of murder, and his punishment was fixed at 30 years in the penitentiary. The case went to the jury at 11 o'clock last night and the jury reported this morning. Judge Dunnegan, for the defense, gave notice that a new trial will be asked. Martin shot Ledbetter one year ago. The bullet entered the back of Ledbetter's head. The jury could not understand how a self-defense case could be made when the man was shot in the back of the head. Ledbetter was shot at a Sunday School sociable given by the Upper Alton colored Baptist Church.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 20, 1902
Powhattan Perkins, an Upper Alton incorrigible negro lad, aged 10, assaulted his grandmother with a baseball bat Thursday evening and nearly killed her. His victim is Mrs. Julia Boyd. Mrs. Boyd had been instrumental in having her grandson sent to the reform school at Pontiac because he was incorrigible and a thief. He was sent home from Pontiac some time ago and has lived with his grandmother ever since. Yesterday young Perkins attacked his grandmother with a baseball bat and beat her on the head. Marshall H. A. Scovell arrested the boy and put him in the Alton jail for safe keeping. This morning he was taken to Edwardsville and will be sent back to the reform school for a long period of punishment. Powhattan is known throughout Upper Alton as a vicious lad, and he will be punished to the limit of the law for his latest offense. On account of Mrs. Boyd's age, her injuries are serious. [Note: Julia Boyd did not die from her wounds, but died in 1915.]


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 14, 1902
The St. Louis "Buffalos," a colored club numbering several hundred members, came to Alton and are enjoying a picnic at Washington Garden. A portion of the visitors, headed by a brass band, paraded the streets before going to the park.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 31, 1902
Wilson Miller, a colored boy who was the son of W. D. Miller, the colored pension agent, arrived home this morning from Samar province in the Philippines, where he has been serving in the army. He found on his return that his father had died during his absence, and he decided to re-enlist in the army at once. Miller saved $1,400 in the army in four years, and is well pleased with army life. He was in the 25th Infantry, Company H, which went to Samar province to avenge the massacre of the 9th Infantry. He will probably return to the Philippines and says he desires to enlist in his old regiment. Wilson says that there was no way to spend money in Samar province, and that he allowed his pay to accumulate without drawing for 18 months at one time.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 4, 1902
Thomas Marshall, colored, lost one of his eyes this morning while sledging rock in the Armstrong quarry near the water works pumping station. Marshall had struck a rock a blow with his hammer, and a small piece of rock was broken off and struck him on the eye. The eyeball was mashed and knocked out of his head. Dr. W. R. Smith attended him, and says that the eyeball is ruined and will probably be taken out of Marshall's head. It was replaced by the attending surgeon in the hope that it could be kept in the socket without injuring the other eye. Marshall is an old resident of Alton and is well known.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 1, 1903
Manager W. M. Sauvage has completed arrangements for the appearance of a home talent company at Temple Theatre, April 20. The company consists of colored people, and the play was arranged by Miss Cordelia Jones. Cordelia will appear in her own play at Temple theatre on the evening announced, and will have a leading role. The play has little or no plot, and is designed merely to amuse the audience. Last evening a reception was given at her home on Easton street by the author, Miss Jones, to the members of the Jolly Octoroons company. Mr. and Mrs. Louis Jones were the entertainers. A dinner was served and everyone had a pleasant time. Miss Jones says that after the successful presentation of her play at the Temple, she intends to take it out on the road and may make fame for herself and some of her actors and actresses. The proceeds of the play at the Temple will be used to buy costumes for the participants in the play. Mr. W. M. Sauvage will be the manager.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 21, 1903
Positively the greatest attraction of the season at the Temple, the author, Cordelia Jones, says, is the Jolly Octoroons, which will be at the Temple this evening. Cordelia says she wrote the play for laughing purposes only, and that she has built up a good show which will be taken on the road next season. The play is full of bright, catchy songs, and every part of it will be taken by home talent. Society young people who have danced to Cordelia's music many a time will have the first floor of the Temple. The author will appear in the play as one of the leading characters and will make her debut tonight as an actress. The show will be well worth seeing, those who have seen it say, and there will be a big attendance.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 22, 1903
Upper Alton News - The colored people of all the Altons and surrounding towns are preparing to hold an "old time celebration" at Washington Garden on September 22, in honor of Emancipation Day. Congressman Rodenberg has consented to deliver an address at the garden at that time, and it is the intention to make the occasion the greatest ever given here on Emancipation Day.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 4, 1903
John Watkins, a laborer and a negro, was asleep under a box car in the Big Four yards at the foot of Ridge Street last night about 10 o'clock, when an engine bumped into the string of cars and struck him. Watkins suffered bad injuries on his head, and Dr. Fisher found it necessary to amputate his right arm which was badly mangled under the car wheels. He was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital where it was said today he would recover. Watkins was employed by R. J. Lockyer.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 5, 1903
There was a fierce pistol battle yesterday at a graders camp near Wanda between negroes. Some 28 shots were exchanged, but the bullets glanced off the heads or flattened against them and nobody was hurt.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 22, 1903
Rhoda Jackson, the Alton colored woman who, with her children, are committed to the Poor Farm every now and then, has escaped from that place again. She owns a little shack in Alton and would prefer to live there with nothing to eat or wear, than stay on the County Poor Farm where she is well fed. The Edwardsville Intelligencer says: "When employees of the Wabash uptown station went to the yards yesterday morning to seal Lehigh Valley freight car No. 67877, they found a woman and four children asleep within. The woman was Mrs. Rhoda Jackson of Alton, who is mentally unbalanced. She had wandered away from the County Farm with the intent of returning to Alton, and had camped for the night with her children in the box car. She was taken back at once to the county farm. The desire to return to her former residence manifests itself every once in a while in her condition, and about a year ago she left one day and succeeded in reaching Alton."


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 24, 1903
Sandy Freeman, the well-known colored man, has purchased a forty-acre farm from John Levi at Melville.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 27, 1904
Dan Wright, probably the most notorious desperado in this part of Illinois, was instantly killed Friday night by a charge of buckshot fired into him by Lawrence Slaughter, a well thought of colored man, who was defending his own home and family against the intoxicated desperado. The load of shot lodged in Wright's right shoulder and neck and he fell, his hand clutching a knife in his pocket which he was trying to draw "to cut the throat" of Slaughter.

Wright had been paying attention to Slaughter's daughter, Sarah, aged 15, and the girl had repeatedly spurned his proposals of marriage. Slaughter also refused Wright admission to the house, but being much smaller in stature could do little to prevent the physical giant having his own way in the house. Thursday night, Wright called at the Slaughter home and persisted in forcing his attentions on the girl. Finally, when she persisted in refusing him, Wright pinned her against the wall with one powerful arm and with the other struck her a blow in the face that nearly rendered her unconscious. The father is weak from rheumatic trouble and had no ammunition in the house to use in his firearms. Wright left the house vowing to return the next night to fix them.

Slaughter bought some powder and buckshot, loaded up two old army muskets and a revolver, and laid in wait for Wright behind locked doors. Wright came back according to promise, very drunk and noisy. On the street car he was insulting and abusive to passengers and was evidently looking for trouble. He went straight from the street car to the Slaughter home and there demanded admission. He was begged to go away peaceably, but Wright insisted on entering, saying he would cut Slaughter's throat and would run him out of his house. Slaughter then told his daughter to throw open the door. She did so, and the father brought his gun into position for action. Wright, holding a knife in one hand, was advancing through the door. As he was on the threshold, Slaughter fired and Wright fell dead outside the house. Slaughter gave himself up to Constable Harry Streeper, and the Alton police would not even lock him up. He was allowed to stay in the police station all night. There is real relief in police circles that Wright's career is ended. He was notoriously bad, an ex-convict, and had a reputation for looking for trouble.

Slaughter was visited in the detention room at police headquarters last night and congratulated on his work in killing Wright. Presents of money were made him and offers made to procure him anything he desired in the eating and drinking line. Wright was so generally recognized as being a "bad man," that his taking off is looked upon as a blessing by those who knew him best.

Deputy Coroner C. N. Streeper said this morning he will hold an inquest over Wright's body tonight. There is little doubt that the jury will render a verdict of justifiable homicide, as all the evidence obtainable indicates that Slaughter killed Wright in self-defense. Until exonerated by the jury, Slaughter is being detained at police headquarters. There is considerable talk of raising a fund to be presented to Slaughter, as he is suffering from rheumatism and unable to work at present. (see story below)

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 22, 1904
Clay Osborn, a young Upper Alton negro, has written a song entitled "Poor Dan Wright, the Brave Man is Gone." Osborn has had his production printed in the shape of a small hand bill and is offering it for sale about town. The song includes about fifteen verses, and the writer is now endeavoring to have it set to music.

The Death of Lawrence Slaughter
Claims He Was Haunted by Dan Wright's Ghost
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 9, 1906
With his mind almost wrecked with worry over having been compelled to kill Dan Wright, a notorious negro character who died with his boots on in Upper Alton several years ago, Lawrence Slaughter, a negro resident of Upper Alton, died last night. He claimed that he was a victim of a hoodoo and that he was being haunted by Dan Wright's ghost. At times during his illness, he would become wildly excited and would start fighting an imaginary foe with terrific vigor. Physicians said that Slaughter died from dropsy, but people who knew him well say that his bad health was the result of a physical breakdown from worry. It will be remembered that Dan Wright, a notorious and dangerous negro character, was slain by Slaughter in Upper Alton while Wright was trying to force entrance to Slaughter's house to kill him. The career of the bad man, suddenly ended by Slaughter, was so bad that Slaughter was hardly even taken into custody. He was held at police headquarters in Alton after surrendering himself, but was fully exonerated the next morning and the police and other Alton people who knew Wright well were disposed to raise a fund for his health. Indeed, a cash bonus was started and a number of people voluntarily walked into the police headquarters and gave him money, ostensibly to aid in his defense, but really as a thank offering for killing Wright. Slaughter never did recover his peace of mind, although fully justified and he imagined that the ghost of Wright was haunting him and only waiting for vengeance.

[NOTES: Daniel Wright is buried in the Milton Cemetery, and Lawrence Slaughter is buried in the Upper Alton Oakwood Cemetery. According to the Telegraph, August 28, 1906, the "colored population" of the Salu area of Upper Alton was very superstitious, and some would never go around Slaughter's home after he killed Dan Wright.]


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 23, 1904
Alton will soon see a theatrical event that will make all others pale in comparison. The "Black Four Hundred," a colored social and theatrical organization, will give a grand ball in Naval Militia Hall the evening of February 15, and after that will give a minstrel show. The names of the bright particular stars will give assurance of the merit of the attraction to be. Daisy Langford will be gorgeous that evening and will sing a touching solo, "I am, but I wish I wasn't." Dolly Ridden and Levi Brooks will do some great end men turns; Smoky Williams and Long Charley Mayfield will give some monologue character sketches. The other members of the troupe are Willie Williams, Dave Searles, Frank Baker, Willie Hennington, John Lewis, "Pank" Hughes, who will pink-pank on a banjo, George Dooley, Charley Hatcher and George Jacobs, all stars. Rehearsals for the big event are going on in U. B. O. F. hall now, and there will be a time. Perhaps Temple Theatre may be procured for the show, and Dalay will be advertised as the star. The officers of the club are Charles Hatcher, president; Daisy Langford, vice-president; Willie Hennington, secretary; David Searles, treasurer; Levi Brooks, general manager.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 23, 1904
Harry Adams, better known as "Cobe," colored, went to the river and jumped in to drown himself Tuesday night, because the dice were against him. Cobe won $80 at craps a few days ago and lost it the next day at the same game. Some of Cobe's friends ran in loaded dice on him, and the fact that trusted friends should relieve him of his new-found riches seemed sufficient justification for Cobe's action. Capt. Fluent caught Cobe after he had jumped in the water from the Fluent dock and dragged him out again. Cobe feigned death and refused to be revived until he was carried to the police station and stretched out on the floor of the station. Someone suggested they send for a doctor, but Captain Ashlock felt his pulse and pronounced him all right. Cobe refused to open his eyes or make a sign of life until someone suggested that they send for Will Bauer to measure him for a coffin, and send for Cal Streeper to hold an inquest. Cobe then coughed three times to cut short such graveyard talk, and in a few seconds was standing on his feet. He was locked up for the night in the calaboose.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 30, 1904
Jacob Love, the Alton negro whose trial on an indictment charging the murder of Samson Cooper, the gypsy prince, at Alton last fall, was concluded in the Circuit Court Tuesday evening, was found guilty about 8 o'clock, and his punishment was fixed at life imprisonment in the penitentiary. The relatives of Cooper promised to be here for the trial, and made dire threats as to what they would do if their father's murderer was not hanged. It is probable the verdict of the jury will be accepted by Love without any further effort to free himself, as he is penniless and cannot pay attorneys. This verdict is only another bit of evidence that Madison County will not hang a murderer, and that juries cannot be obtained in the county to vote for capital punishment.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 2, 1904
Rev. Solomon Griswold baptized twenty-six colored people yesterday afternoon in the Wood River near Milton bridge. The ones baptized were taken in as members of the Second Baptist Church. The baptism was attended by a great number of colored people from Alton and vicinity.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 4, 1904
Joseph Boyd, a colored fortune teller living on West Seventh Street, is quietly celebrating his 102nd birthday today. He was born, he claims, in Virginia in 1802, and lived an ordinary lifetime there before coming to Illinois where he has lived another ordinary life time. He is active for his age and walks downtown and home again daily without being fatigued. His appetite is good, his digestion is ditto, and his conscience is easy at all times so that his sleep is undisturbed. He bids fair to live many years yet.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 27, 1904
The colored folks had what they call a "bush meeting" yesterday at Rocky Fork, and it was a successful one in point of numbers as well as in religious enthusiasm. It was an all-day affair, and hundreds were present - all of the surrounding country being represented. Refreshments were taken along and partaken of between services.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 15, 1904
Mrs. Caroline Edwards of North Alton was taken to the County Poor House Monday morning by Assistant Supervisor George Russell. She says she is 109 years old, although she does not look it, and she asked to be taken care of by the county authorities. Mrs. Edwards, if she is 109, and she is very positive of it, is remarkably well preserved. She is able to walk as well as a woman of 60 and has all her faculties. She is unable to support herself and has long been a county charge.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 15, 1904
Henry Mayo, who claims to have been the dry-nurse of Governor Yates, was the camp cook for John C. Fremont in his trip of exploration in the West, and was for many years distinguished in Alton because he was the only negro Democrat in the city, has been employed by the Democratic campaign committee, he says, to make a trip out through the county, working in the interest of the Democratic nominee for Congress.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 10, 1905
Mrs. Lizzie Scott, widow of Jacob Scott, one of the best known and most respected colored residents of Alton, died at her home, 1708 Piasa Street, Thursday afternoon after a long illness. Mrs. Scott was engaged for many years as a nurse, and she served in many of the best homes in Alton. Her services were always in demand whenever any social events of importance were to take place, and she had sincere friends among the people for whom she worked for many years. Her husband, too, was a highly respected resident of Alton, and at the time of his death he was mourned by many friends too.

Mrs. Scott was a quiet, unassuming woman who always did her best whatever she was called upon to do. She had lived in Alton more than fifty years. Mrs. Scott was born in Frederick, Maryland, and was over 84 years of age. She came to Alton in the ante-bellum days [before the Civil War], and it is related by old acquaintances that at one time, before the Civil War, when a fugitive slave came to Alton and was captured here, the citizens of Alton made up a purse to buy the freedom of the fugitive, who was a woman. Mrs. Scott, who was then working as a domestic in the family of the late Dr. B. K. Hart, had saved some money and she contributed $100 toward the fund to buy the slave woman's freedom. The funeral will be held Saturday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock from the family home.


Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, June 28, 1886
"Poor Old Hominy Tom," was a colored man, who, about 30 years ago, sold hominy on the streets - hence the name. He was fond of using words of many syllables, and was quite a character in his way; was well known to all of our old citizens, some of whom contributed the funds to erect the stone that marks his grave. He used to cry: "Huh's your good hominy! It don't need any recommendation and will be disposed of for an adequate compensation. Good hom - i - ny, good hom - i - ny! Come and buy!"

Source: Alton Telegraph, July 1, 1886
Thomas Eustace, or "Hominy Tom," was once a slave, and by his labor purchased his freedom and that of his wife. He was respectful in his manner and clean and neat in his appearance. His "Sarvent Missus" always made him welcome among his lady customers, who liked to hear him recommend in his flowing words his "Flint corn hominy beat with a pessel." At the time of his death, he lived in a log cabin that stood upon the lot now the property of Dr. McKinney, corner of Seventh and Alby Streets. On the night of his death, the writer called in after ten o'clock and offered to stay with him, as he was alone. The old man objected, as "a yaller boy said he would come, and I guess he will, sir." In the morning, poor old Hominy Tom was found on his knees beside his bed, dead. He was buried by the Baptist church, of which he was a member. The tombstone was erected by his white friends. Signed by A. G. Wolford.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 18, 1905
The Telegraph has received the following letter, which is self-explanatory:
"In the northern portion of Alton City Cemetery, in that part known as the "old cemetery," stands an old weather-worn tombstone, on which is carved a brief legend that is so worn by the action of the elements that it is scarcely legible except as one stands at an angle, which will throw the letters in shadow. It reads: 'Erected by the Citizens of Alton to the Memory of Poor Old Hominy Tom.'

No dates, or further inscriptions are on the stone, but at its side is a grave marking the resting place of Josephine Washington. Further than this one is unable to read, owing to the dimness of the lettering. Who was "Hominy Tom?" And also, who was "Josephine Washington?" Both must have been well known in the early history of Alton."

"Hominy Tom," perhaps had no other name, at least he was known by no other. He died over forty years ago in a large two-story house at Seventh and Alby Streets. He was a public character in Alton, making his living by selling hominy, and he had quite a profitable trade. One cold morning he was found frozen to death in his house. Everyone knew old Hominy Tom, and he was everyone's friend. The writer, when a boy attending the public schools, used to meet "Hominy Tom" on the way to and from school and elsewhere. It was no uncommon thing to see a crowd of boys surrounding "Hominy," plying him with questions in order to hear him use large words, in answering their questions. With his bag of hominy thrown over his shoulder, he would stand as long as the boys stood and talk to them in good faith. If he wished to say that a thing should be done at once, he would say: "Boys it should be done instantaneously." Or if something had been done by several persons about the same time, he would use the word "simultaneously," etc. He was a good, kindly old man, whom everybody liked.

The house in which he lived stood where the residence of Mr. John T. McClure now is, only it was on a hill ten to twenty feet higher than the ground now is. "Hominy" lived in the house alone. The late A. G. Woford passed by "Hominy's" house in going from his home to his business place. He noticed that he had not seen smoke coming from the chimney for a day or two. Mr. Wolford forced the door in, and found poor "Old Hominy Tom" dead in his bed, frozen stiff. It was supposed he died from natural causes, and that the body was frozen after death, as the mercury had been as low as 25 to 30 below zero about the time of "Hominy's" death. He was buried by his white friends, and afterwards the monument was erected by the same people.

The Telegraph cannot give any information as to who this particular Josephine Washington was, and what part she sustained in the early history of the city.

[NOTES: Hominy Tom was a kind, gentle old negro, a freedman, who went from house to house in Alton selling homemade "lye hominy," and captivating his customers and children by the use of "big words." It was said he could inject more uncommonly used words into a three-minute sales talk than a Philadelphia lawyer could put into a 10,000 word brief. After he made the sale, the housewife didn't know if she paid for the hominy or for his conversation - in either case, she had not been cheated. Tom would enter a front gate, bucket in hand, and make his way to the back door of the house. He and his regular customers understood one another. The trip from the front gate to the back door was always slow enough to give the housewife ample time to acquire a nickel or dime from the glass tumbler on the top shelf of the cupboard, and place it in her apron pocket. And then the conversation began. As the old man lowered the bucket of hominy in his right hand to the ground, his hat would come off in his left. There would follow the four and five syllable words from Tom, suggesting to the customer that they would like to buy some of his hominy. Conspicuously clutching the coin in her apron pocket, the woman at the door might inform Tom that neither she nor her family ever ate hominy. But Tom knew better. Last week she had taken ten cent's worth from him, and would do so again this week, after Tom had spoken a sufficient number of his choicest words. Tom would talk until the housewife would produce a dish into which he dipped a tin cup full of hominy. The same process would be repeated at the next house. Hominy Tom lived in a log house on top of a hill on Alby, between Seventh and Eighth Street. It was there he manufactured the product from which he derived the fore part of his name. The hominy was made by soaking the grains of corn in lye water, to swell them and crack the hulls. Tom made the lye himself from wood ashes. After the hulls had come off and floated to the surface, nothing remained to be done except washing the finished product.

Hominy Tom became a local institution, as much a part of home to those early inhabitants of the town as were the hills over which he carried his bucket of hominy. He died in the late 1850s and was buried in Alton City Cemetery. His customers, who had become his friends, erected a marble headstone.]


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 5, 1905
Judge John E. Hillskotter of the county court held a session of the county court in Alton last evening to inquire into the sanity of the wife of Lucas Valley, colored, who had become violently insane and could not be restrained. She was adjudged insane and committed to the asylum at Jacksonville. The woman is said to have become insane following an illness during which she gave birth to a child and also "got religion." In her weakened state of body, the woman's mind was in none too good condition, as she had been ill for over a year. Before she had sufficient time to recover from her weakness following the birth of her child, she was immersed as a baptismal rite, and although the water had been slightly warmed for the occasion, the shock proved too much for her and her reason became unbalanced. All day yesterday she raved wildly in a room adjacent to the police station. She has been growing weaker and weaker until now she is hardly able to speak, but the wild paroxysms of insanity continue unabated. It has been necessary to restrain her by physical force.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 22, 1905
Capt. J. N. Ashlock of the night police was summoned last night to go to Peter Joest's place, Fourth and William Street, to investigate whether or not old "Auntie" Jennie Hensley was dead in Joest's storeroom. She was seen going into the place, and when an investigation was made the door could not be opened. It was found that the old colored woman had lain down against the door and gone to sleep. She was taken back to her own shanty, and today was sent to the poorhouse at Edwardsville to pass the remainder of her days. Since the death of her husband, the old woman has had a hard time getting along.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 11, 1905
W. H. Waterford, colored, who is employed in the shoe shop of J. T. Miller on Piasa street, says that yellow fever can be cured in almost every case if tea as hot as can be taken without burning be drunken copiously by the patient. The particular kind of tea is made of smartweed, which grows wild in abundance everywhere north and south. It is as hot as red pepper, he says, and induces perspiration and this drives out the fever germs. Hot water strongly impregnated with salt and drank at frequent intervals also tends to hasten or helps the restoration of health. Mr. Waterford says that in 1878 he was in Memphis, Tennessee, when the yellow fever invaded the city and hundreds of persons died before the epidemic was finally subdued by the authorities. He was engaged in nursing victims until he became a victim himself. He cured himself with hot water and salt and hot tea made of smartweed, and says he cured hundreds of others afterwards with the remedy. He says he would place a patient in a sort of jacket on a bed of mustard and vinegar, and he would bind a plaster of mustard and vinegar about the ankles of the patient also. All this was for the purpose of preventing or delaying congestion, keep the blood circulating and inducing perspiration. Mr. Waterford, who claims to be 92 years of age, talks very intelligently and much that he says about himself is verified by others who have known him for a long time. He works every day at the bench, is hale and hearty and is another living example of how little Dr. Osler knows about the usefulness of persons over 60.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 12, 1906
The league house, a brick structure on Weigler Street recently purchased by Messrs. Tonsor and Meyers, which is being wrecked to make room for a fine, modern flats building, was one of the sure enough landmarks of Alton. It was built in the woods far from other houses in 1845, and everything used in its construction was handmade. The brick is in good shape and can be used again, and while the handmade cedar shingles cannot be used again they are sound as a dollar. When Contractor Schuelle began the work of wrecking the building, he found there was a double roof thereon, the original cedar shingle roof being a couple of feet below the more modern roof, which had been put on some time later when an addition was built to the rear of the house. The builder and owner of the house was a colored man named Johnson, and he was considerable of a character himself. He was born in Scotland and was never a slave. He was a Free Mason, and one of the first in Alton it is said, and he was an educated, industrious, respected citizen.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 18, 1906
The discovery of an old program for the graduating exercises of the class of 1873 of the Alton High School has made it possible to enroll the entire class of that year in the list of alumni. All other records of that year were lost until yesterday, when Alderman George T. Davis, who was a member of the class, discovered the commencement exercises program, and turned it over to the secretary of the Alumni Association, L. J. Hartmann. The program recalled a strike of the members of the graduating class of the year 1873. There were fourteen members of the class, Hattie Hardy, George T. Davis, Clara Lapp, Charles Newton, Nellie Hanson, Mary Rutherford, Ida Hardy, George Challacombe, Lillie Matthews, Sara E. Hudson, Kate Laird, Lizzie Morgan, Lizzie Sawyer, W. T. Breckenridge, Josie Hazzard. Charles Newton, deceased, who was a member of the class, was colored, and was the first colored person ever graduate from the High School. Because of racial prejudice, there was a strike of part of the members of the class, and four of them refused to take part in the graduating program or appear on the platform. Their names did not appear on the program, but afterward they received their diplomas. The High School alumni association is desirous of getting the names of any members of earlier classes than 1873, if they can be had.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 21, 1906
Andrew Johnson, a negro boy aged 13 years, arrived in Alton last night on the Spread Eagle from St. Louis, and says that he is waiting here for the Gaskill Carnival Company, which will be here next week. The boy is small for his age and is well educated, being able to read well. He is bright and very talkative. When taken to the police station he claimed that his home was in Georgia, but that his father sold him to the Gaskill Carnival Company for $1. The boy says that he is employed in doing the "basket" trick in the Gaskill shows. The boy crawls into a basket and lays very close around the outer edge of the inside of the basket, while a man passes a sword through the basket repeatedly, giving the impression the boy had disappeared. The Johnson boy said that he ran away from the Gaskill shows, but would join them again when they come to Alton.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 15, 1906
A. J. Hyndman, colored, founder of the Rocky Fork A. M. E. Church, died at 9 o'clock Thursday night after a long illness, aged 68. He was a veteran of the Civil War. The A. M. E. church at Rocky Fork was founded in 1862, and immediately afterward Hyndman enlisted in the Union army and served three years. He returned to Rocky Fork after the war and lived there ever since, respected by all who knew him. He leaves three sons and four daughters. The funeral will be held tomorrow afternoon from the Rocky Fork Church.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 20, 1906
Lewis Bradshaw, a 75-year-old negro who lives in two piano boxes in an old quarry near the Eliot hose house, was arrested this afternoon for keeping two dogs without a license. He refused to give up his dogs to be killed, and pleaded hard with the Chief of Police to have his pets spared. Bradshaw declared that if the law was going to deprive him of his pets, he would take a solemn oath never to vote again in any election. One of the dogs was a descendant of a dog that saved his life, and he said that he would not sacrifice his dog for anything. The old man said he would gladly work on the streets for the sake of his dogs, but that they must not be killed. He pleaded so hard that he finally won over the police officer and Magistrate Rose, and they agreed to let him go on condition he would take his dogs outside of the city and stay away. Bradshaw has one of the most unique homes in the city. He bought two piano boxes, and in one of them he sleeps and in the other he does his cooking. He is comfortable and happy in the little house he made of the two boxes. He said that he bought the boxes, and that someone had taken out the pianos and he and his dogs were the only music there was in the old cases. He left the police station reiterating his promise to leave the city and take the dogs away with him, agreeing to exile rather than to losing his dogs.

[Editor's note: At this time in history there was a huge crackdown of unlicensed dogs. There had been attacks on people by dogs running loose.]

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 21, 1906
Lewis Bradshaw, the old colored man who consented to exile himself from Alton rather than have his two dogs killed, had his piano-box house moved yesterday afternoon to a point up the river. First the combination bedroom and parlor was loaded on to Charley Wood's wagon and taken to its new site, and then the kitchen and dining room was loaded on the wagon and moved. It developed last evening that Bradshaw's two dogs were licensed, and that the $2 necessary had been paid to the authorities several days ago, but Bradshaw did not know it evidently. John W. Tonsor said this morning: "I paid $2 for the license for Bradshaw's dogs myself several days ago when I paid for the license of our own dog, and I have the receipt therefore. Bradshaw, who is a hardworking, inoffensive old man, does not have to move outside the city on account of non-payment of dog license, for that is settled."

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 23, 1906
Charles Bradshaw, an old negro who built a cottage out of two piano boxes and lived in them, one box serving as a sleeping room and the other as a living room for himself and seven dogs, was moved to the hospital last night after refusing to accept any aid from Dr. Squires, who offered to have him sent to the hospital. Bradshaw preferred to stay in his piano box home where he had set it up, near the water works pumping station, after he was ordered to move outside the city because he could not, nor would not pay license on or kill his dogs. He was found lying in a clump of weeds suffering from being overcome by heat, and Dr. Squire was called. He told the old man he must go to the hospital or die. Bradshaw asked if his seven dogs could go with him, and when he was told no he said he guessed he could not go to the hospital. The water works crew gave him assistance and after the doctor's visit they said they would give him his medicine. When he was carried to the water works pump house, the seven dogs followed him and they crawled all over his body and laid on top of him while he lay so weak he could not move his hands. When he was given something to eat by the water works men, he took a few bites and then had the remainder laid down beside him, telling his dogs not to touch it. Although the whole pack of dogs was almost starved, having stayed beside their old master faithfully while he lay ill several days, they would not eat a mouthful of what he had laid down on the floor, but stood around eyeing it hungrily with a very evident desire to eat it but unwilling to disobey the master's command. Last night when the old man was unconscious and could no longer object to being separated from his faithful pets, he was picked up and moved to the hospital in the ambulance.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 5, 1906
Charles Bradshaw, the negro who was taken very ill from his piano box home near the water works pumping station to St. Joseph's hospital several days ago, has left that institution but he is yet far from well. He wanted to get home, and was anxious about his dogs which he feared would suffer during his absence. Bradshaw is a remarkable old man. He knows the Bible by heart, and likes to argue with colored people about the genuiness of the Book, and about the certainty of future rewards and punishments according to the deeds.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 8, 1906
Charles Bradshaw, the colored man who lives in a piano box house built by himself, near the water works pumping station, has bought a houseboat and will sell his present residence. He and his dogs will take possession of the houseboat at once and may drift down to Kentucky this winter. He says the story that he intended to tramp to his old home in Kentucky is untrue.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 10, 1907
Lewis Bradshaw, an old negro who says he is 76 and has been living with his dogs in a house built of two piano boxes on the river bank just outside the city limits, complained to the police yesterday of a systematic larceny of his possessions which ended Saturday night with someone stealing his piano box home and carrying it away while he visited a friend. Bradshaw makes a specialty of raising coon dogs, and he was very much attached to them. He moved out of the city because he could not pay taxes on his dogs, but would not consent to their being killed. Bradshaw claims that he was obliged to do without strong locks on his humble home, and that people began lifting his household furnishings until the house was stripped so bare he had to go to a neighbor's to spend the night. He found that his house had been loaded on a wagon and carted off during the night, and would like to have the property restored to him.

Louis Bradshaw Returns From Kentucky
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 24, 1908
Louis Bradshaw, the 75-year-old colored man who lived in a piano box house on the river front for years, and moved his house outside the city limits a few years ago to keep from paying licenses for the numerous dogs kept by him, has just returned from Kentucky in the vicinity of Hickman, just below Cairo. He drifted down there last summer with his dogs and his wood saw to visit scenes of former days, but he didn't like the looks of the scenes or of the numerous changes time has worked. His former friends and acquaintances are very few also, and a couple of months ago he decided to return to Alton. He walked most of the way and sawed wood for several people enroute to make expense money. He slept out every night, building a campfire when the air was too cold to do without, and he arrived in Alton in fairly good health, the grip having missed him entirely. He was accompanied by three of his faithful dogs, and they helped to keep him warm at nights by snuggling up close to him. Bradshaw cannot read, but he knows much of the Bible by heart and can quote Scripture correctly from any part of it at will. He says, in explanation, that he had the Bible read to him at different times when he was a younger man and never had any difficulty in remembering what was read to him. Notwithstanding his great age, he still has little or no difficulty in remembering what he hears or what is read to him, and is very glad daily to have someone read the current news from papers. He is hale and works almost every day when the weather will permit at all, his favorite vocation being sawing wood.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 28, 1908
Louis Bradshaw, the piano box colored man whose walk from Hickman, Ky. was recently published in the Telegraph, received a letter this morning from C. Young, a fruit grower and shipping living at Richview, Illinois, asking Bradshaw for his picture. Also, for a letter giving the exact number of miles he walked. "You will not lose anything by doing as I request," writes Mr. Young. H. O. Tonsor has arranged for Bradshaw to have his picture taken with his dogs around him, and Mr. Young will get what he asks for. Bradshaw is 75 years old and is today sawing wood like a forty-year-old.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 11, 1908
Andrew Bradshaw, an 80 years old man who has lived in Alton for many years, stated this morning to a Telegraph reported that he will leave Alton with his dogs forever this evening, and will make the trip back to his old Kentucky home near Hickman, on foot. One day several months ago he says while away from home working, someone stole his house bodily, and he never was able again to locate it. He then purchased a tent, he says, and a few weeks ago when he returned from work one night he found that too was stolen. Since then he has been unable to rebuild a piano box house or buy a new tent, and has been living "outside mostly."

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 30, 1908
A colored man named Bradshaw who left Alton several months ago because the authorities wanted to tax him for his colony of dogs, declared that shingles may be easily cured if you take the proper course. The proper course, according to him, is for the patient to leave home secretly some dark night, in quest of a black cat without a white hair on its body. It must be in the dark of the moon, and if the night is black and stormy so much the better. After finding the black cat minus the white hair, the shingles victim must kill it. It must then be skinned and the juice taken from the inside of the skin must be rubbed over the rash. Then the victim must sneak home and go to bed. In the morning he will be cured.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 2, 1906
William Scott, colored, was bound over to the grand jury today on a complaint of his nephew, Charles Hatcher, charging him with assault with intent to kill. Scott assaulted Hatcher with a long knife, while drunk, threatening to cut his throat. Hatcher, who is smaller than his powerful assailant, managed to defend himself until he could escape and sustained only one cut on his hand. Scott is Hatcher's uncle, and they live in the same house.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 26, 1907
Rocky Fork, a negro settlement for many years near Godfrey, has become completely transformed in the color of its population, and today there is little to remind the old residents nearby of the one-time thickly settled negro village which flourished there from a time shortly after the emancipation proclamation was issued. Of the several hundred negro people who lived there at one time, only seven families remain, and their numbers are not great. The old Methodist Church there, which was in a flourishing condition, supported by several hundred negroes, seldom, if ever, has any services in it, and the few remaining negro children no longer attend a school by themselves, but are so few in number they attend the white schools.

Rocky Fork is but little heard of in the present day, only when a funeral of some of the old families wends its way thither is the public reminder that once the place was a populous negro settlement. The negroes who first settled there were given work by the late A. T. Hawley, who employed them clearing his land. They built cabins and earned a living by working for farmers in the neighborhood. Most of the Rocky Fork negroes were from the south and followed agricultural pursuits during their slavery. They worked for various farmers until they began to drift away to the city. The place was the scene of a murder many years ago, when Felix Henry killed a son of Rev. Henry Depugh, a former colored Baptist clergyman at Alton. The cemetery is slowly filling up, although the road to it is hard to travel, especially when country roads are not good.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 2, 1907
Residents in the vicinity of Seventeenth and Market Streets were startled this morning about 10 o'clock by the cries of a woman in anguish, and investigation showed a negress wielding a heavy whip with which she was beating a white woman over the head, shoulders, face and body, making the latter dance a jig or a side-step at every blow, as well as causing her to cry out in pain. The white woman is known in the locality as "Maud," but the name of her assailant could not be learned. Railroad men and others who ran to the scene of the fracas say it started over the refusal of the white woman to give the colored one a nickel. The women appeared to be acquainted, and when the white woman refused the money, the colored one drew the whip from under her shawl and began business. Arrests will probably follow.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 4, 1907
Mrs. Clara Mosby, the colored woman who horsewhipped Maud Logan, white, at Seventeenth and Market Streets Saturday, was fined $10 and costs this afternoon in the police court.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 3, 1907
The grand lodge of the colored Knights of Pythias of this state will meet in Alton, July 9, 10 and 11. There will be a grand boat ride on the 10th, and a banquet in the evening of Thursday. There will be a parade at 2:30 o'clock. Capt. R. L. Jones of this city, formerly of St. Louis, will be grand marshal of the parade and will bring his command of uniformed Knights from St. Louis to take part. The parade will march over various streets to the cemetery, will pass around Lovejoy's monument then down Monument Avenue to Second Street [Broadway].


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 26, 1907
H. W. Crawford, porter at the Madison Hotel, known in the hotel world as "Spread Eagle" because he one time portered on that steamer, will try to eclipse his fame as a porter with a higher fame as a Shakespearean reciter. Alton people will remember when he essayed the role of Faust and had his performance rudely interrupted in city hall by Kinney Martin hanging on the electric light cord and breaking it off so Crawford could not have the lights turned on to illuminate the show. Since that day Faust has been a back number, and Crawford has been studying Hamlet. Now he claims he can take all the parts in the play and given an intelligent reading. He will start on a tour of the United States, he says, if Proprietor Daniels of the Madison can get someone else to meet the trains, and Crawford expects to return next fall to Alton loaded with honors and incidentally with considerable money. He claims that the east is clamoring to hear him, the only negro reader of Shakespeare, and he admits that he can give the most intelligent version of Hamlet given by anyone.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 13, 1907
Andy West, with his wife, departed today for a tour of California. West is a hardworking negro who has been saving money for fifteen years to gratify his ambition to go west and visit California. He completed saving his pile, and taking his wife whom he married about five years ago, he departed at noon today on the Big Four Flyer. He expects to travel in comfort while on the trip and will see all of the country he can. He was escorted to St. Louis by some of his envious admirers and West was given a sendoff by them as that of a hero departing on an errand of conquest. He worked as a laborer at the lead works and in other manufacturing plants around Alton. The trip is a deferred honeymoon, as he made no wedding trip when he married his wife five years ago.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 16, 1907
The colored Knights of Pythias of Illinois assembled this afternoon to begin their annual Grand Lodge session at the city council chamber in the Alton city hall. There are present about 150 delegates from the forty-three constituent lodges in the State, representing about 2,200 members. The grand lodge officers who are present are: Dr. Allen A. Wesley, G. C., of Chicago; Dr. A. W. Williams, V. G. C., of Chicago; W. O. King, G. P., of Bloomington; Frank B. Waring, G. K. of R. S., of Chicago; S. L. Beatty, G. L., of Champaign; Dr. E. S. Miller, G. M. E., of Chicago; Lawrence A. Newby, Grand Attorney, of Chicago; Charles A. Bowler, G. M. at A., Chicago; S. J. Carr, G. I. G., of Cairo; W. H. H. Pitts, G. O. G., of East St. Louis; Maj. Gen. R. R. Jackson, G. M. of E., Chicago; Dr. W. T. Jefferson of Chicago; W. H. Hammons of Alton, grand trustees.

The delegates began arriving last night. C. B. Knight, District Deputy Grand Chancellor, had charge of assigning them to places for entertainment during their stay in Alton. Many of the colored families threw open their homes and the delegates were sent to them without any delay and everyone was taken care of within a short time. Mr. Knight received many commendatory remarks about his efficiency in providing places for the delegates. Among the most distinguished visitors attending the grand lodge is Col. John R. Marshall of Chicago, who commanded the 8th Illinois Volunteers during the Spanish American War. It is the most distinguished body of negroes ever assembled in Alton.

The Court of Calanthe, the woman's branch of the order, is holding sessions in the colored Knights of Pythias Hall on Second Street [Broadway], west of State Street. There are seventeen courts of this branch represented. The opening program of the grand lodge was given this afternoon. The Grand Chancellor, Dr. A. A. Wesley, called the grand lodge to order. After the preliminary opening exercises, Charles Holden, mayor pro tem, gave the welcoming address, and the response was made by the grand chancellor. Rev. J. S. Stone gave the welcome in behalf of Lincoln Lodge, which was responded to by the supreme representative, E. D. Green, who is also past grand chancellor. Harry Coates gave the welcome of the Alton colored people, which was responded to by L. Jones. The Courts of Calanthe were welcomed by Mrs. R. A. Sommers and the response was given by Irene L. Camp. At the evening session, which will be in Turner Hall this evening, the degrees of past grand chancellor will be conferred on all eligibles present. Thursday will be Lovejoy Day, and exercises will be held at City Cemetery, to be preceded by a street parade. Tomorrow will be the day for the Uniform Rank and a full regiment of members from St. Louis will be up to parade.

The first mention in the newspapers of a Colored Knights of Pythias organization in Alton was in 1905. The Knights of Pythias held “Friendship, Charity, and Benevolence” as their motto and mission. The organization, founded by Justus H. Rathbone in Washington D.C. on February 19, 1864, promoted the cause of universal peace and harmony between men, while also providing community services such as insurance, burial services, and other activities for members. Because of discrimination, with African-Americans not allowed in the organization, they formed their own organization of Colored Knights of Pythias. The Alton branch met in a 3-story brick building at 127 West Third Street. In 1907, a large delegation of members met in Alton, first gathering in the Alton city hall. Among the distinguished members was Colonel John R. Marshall of Chicago, whom commanded the 8th Illinois Volunteers during the Spanish-American War. The Alton organization would hold meetings, dinners, and parades, and would march to the Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy monument to pay their respects. The last mention of the Colored Knights of Pythias organization in the Alton newspapers was in 1914.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 16, 1907
James Lewis, a negro, was arrested Saturday night for stabbing his wife. He claimed she had a bad temper and when she was in a tantrum she would scream. He stuck a knife in her to stop her screaming, but the experiment did not work. When the trial of Lewis was called, the woman would not appear against him, and he pleaded guilty and was fined for disturbing the peace.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 18, 1908
Sam Becker, who is a colored man, and a very large one at that, and who has lived in the vicinity of Alton since the [Civil] war, and is said to have been a middle aged man when he came here, visited Alton Saturday for the first time in many months, and he was given a hearty welcome by his many friends, white and colored. He lives in Godfrey and has been noted for years as a hard worker. Men who knew him years ago said today that in the days when the wheat crops were cut with "cradles" instead of reapers, Sam was equal to four or five ordinary men in the harvest field, and apparently did not know what it was to get tired. He reared a family of 12 or 13 children, Peter Meyer the well-known Godfrey farmer says, and all of these now living are old men or women. Just how old Sam really is no one seems to know, but it is said that it can be proven that he is 100 years of age anyway, the exact age being placed at 103 years. He is now engaged in chopping wood for the Alton Paving, Building and Fire Brick Company, and is still able to cut 5 cords of wood daily [a cord is wood is usually 4x 4 x 8 feet stacked]. He is of a happy disposition and his white friends say he was never known to have a "grouch" about anything.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 23, 1908
Tom Franklin, an aged negro who is said to be over 100 years of age, has worked every day of his life, he says, and will not stop working. He does odd jobs and chores such as cleaning yards and chopping wood. He was a worker in tobacco for many years of his life, even when a slave before the war, and holds the unique record of having never at any time tasted the weed. He has a family of several children who also have children. He says that he has never been sick a day in his life.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 1, 1908
The opening session of the Wood River Baptist Association which convened in the Union Baptist Church this morning in its seventieth annual session, was characterized by lengthy discussion on the racial needs of the negro people. There was the greatest feeling of peace and an intent to promote good will between the white and the black races. The opening address of the president, Rev. T. L. Smith, D. D. of Quincy, Illinois, on the subject of "Racial Needs," called forth speeches from Rev. E. H. Barton, Dr. E. Hall, and Rev. Crunshaw. The clergymen all agreed that the white people at large are friendly to the colored race and all that the negro needs to do is to act like men and race hatred would die out.

The Wood River Association is the oldest negro church association in the United States, in continuous existence. It includes seventy churches in southern Illinois. This afternoon a discussion was carried on in which illiteracy among the preachers was spoken of and the necessity of a better educated clergy was emphasized. There are about 70 delegates present. It was stated that one of the efforts of this gathering would be to cool down racial prejudice and to discountenance the inflaming of the minds of one against the other.

The devotional exercises were conducted by Rev. H. Lockwood of Bunker Hill, Ill., after which the president appointed the following committees: Enrollment - Rev. E. H. Borden, J. W. Muse, William Ruffin. Resolutions - Revs. G. C. Mason, G. A. Turner, A. W. Williams, S. P. Cheer, S. J. Griswold, J. J. Bolsway. Finance - Revs. B. H. Shoop, E. M. Jones, T. F. Tackett, G. A. Duncan and K. Lockwood. President's address - Rev. Crunshaw, S. P. Cheer, J. W. Muse, G. C. Mason, E. H. Borden, L. M. Mason, H. Lee, J. Gamble, J. Deshield, B. M. Hurd, E. Hall, J. S. Hamill.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 2, 1908
Wednesday morning Rev. Dr. Twing extended a hearty welcome to the city of Alton and expressed his appreciation of the Rev. J. A. Barton, now deceased, and Rev. G. C. Mason, B. D., the present pastor. The work is progressing rapidly. Dr. Twing spoke of the relationship between the races and said the remedy lies in the Christian Spirit. Relative to the school question locally, both races must be careful. Rev. Borden replied in terse language. Mr. Borden said, the true way to handle the races is by the contact life. "We are here as Christian gentlemen. We present a Christian family. True thinking must be done rather than hustling. I'm a believer in mixed schools and mixed teachers, yet if such cannot be gotten, then take racial teachers for the problem. Colonize the negro criminal and take his labor to support worthy colored persons. Pass a law which will give justice to the rapists without respect to color. Let the white preachers inform the white press and business men to treat the colored men 'honorably.'"

Rev. J. H. Duncan spoke eloquently of the rise of the colored man. The election of the officers took place which resulted as follows: Rev. S. C. Manuel, D. D., President; Vice-President, Rev. J. A. Crockett; treasurer, Rev. J. W. Truse; recording secretary, Rev. J. H. Nichols; corresponding secretary, Rev. J. W. Gaines; added members, Rev. S. J. Griswold, Rev. G. A. Duncan.

Rev. J. A. Turner discussed the need of a social settlement among the slums. Said Mr. Turner, "Who is responsible? I fear both races are." Rev. Dr. N. Alexander held the audience spellbound by a sermon last night on "Crisis in Our Lives." Rev. G. W. Washington preached a gospel sermon on "Love." Professors Brown and White of Louisville, Ky., teachers of the Eckstein Northern College, introduced seven orphan boys who are working their way in school. The Union gave the boys $7.11. The boys played music sweetly, as they have a brass band.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 8, 1909
At the meeting of the board of education last evening, a delegation representing the Afro Citizens Association waited on the board to present a lengthy petition they had been authorized to present. The petition recites that the school situation in Alton is one in which public sentiment transcends the majesty of the law, and that when some ambitious statesman would champion the rights of the colored people, his star sets; when men of political sagacity would take the side of the negro race, they are relegated to the rear. Then the petitioners proceeded to set forth their wishes. They ask that Douglas, Lovejoy, and Washington annex schools be enlarged, and at least three more teachers be employed; that a member of the colored race be put on the school board, and that the truant officer enforce the attendance of negro children at the schools. It was claimed the negro schools were over-crowded and too many grades were being taught by the teachers.

Supt. Haight showed by the school records that invariably there are less pupils enrolled in the colored schools than in the white school rooms, and that white teachers have as many grades in their rooms as the negro teachers. It was voted that the committee which had waited on the board furnish to the superintendent of schools the names of the truant negro children, and their addresses, and they would be compelled to attend school. It was stated that, in-as-much as many negro children had never attended school, there was no record of them, and therefore the committee must lend assistance in getting them to attend.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 23, 1909
Two white men, Frank Brown and George Hinshaw, and a colored man, a former slave, now old and bent, named Vene Henderson, left Alton Wednesday for Alabama for the purpose of finding a couple of copper kettles filled with gold buried in or near a swamp during the rebellion by Henderson's master - a man named Henderson, and wealthy. Henderson often told of the buried treasure, but no particular attention was paid to his story until Brown and Hinshaw heard it in detail. Henderson carried the two kettles from the plantation mansion during the war to the place where they were buried, and his master and the latter's son were with him. The Federal soldiers were crowding things about that time, and the money was buried for safety. The two masters of Henderson fled to the Confederate lines and were killed before the war closed. Henderson was taken by Union soldiers and brought north, where he has been since. He has lived in Alton for many years, but it was several years after the war before he learned of the death of his master, and it then dawned upon him that he is the only living person who knows of the location of the money.

Brown, Hinshaw and John White began to sit up and take notice after Henderson told his story without variance, time after time, and finally he offered to take them to the place if they would pay expenses. They accepted the offer, and John White, of Cherry Street, who claims to have located considerable buried treasure in this part of Illinois and in adjacent Missouri counties during the past five or six years with the help of divining rods, sent one of the latter along with the white men to expedite the finding of the money. Henderson, if the money is found, will be given a sufficient sum of it to keep him comfortable the balance of his life.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 4, 1910
Henry Martin, an Upper Alton negro, is the real iron man at the glass works. "Press," as he is generally known, has a record of doing more work than any other person in the city of Alton and vicinity. Eight hours a day is not in his schedule. He works double eight hours and then some. It is said on good authority that for years Martin has been holding two men's jobs at the glass works, and he gets paid every payday for working double time. He works night and day, and each working week he puts in eleven days, according to men who work with him. He starts in the morning at 7 o'clock, and works during the day shift, then he gets busy when the night shift starts to work and he works as long as the night shift does. He snatches a few minutes sleep as he can. When lunch time comes he eats a small lunch, then drops down to sleep. He can go to sleep instantly. When it is time for him to wake up for work, he gets busy again. He wastes no time in play, but puts in every minute he can get in sleep.

Martin was drawing pay for two $1.50 days every day for a number of years. He does what is known as "carrying in" work in No. 8 on his regular shift, and on his extra shift every day he takes a place wherever vacant. Martin claims that on Sunday he does not sleep much. He gets up early Sunday morning and gets busy taking care of his place he has bought in Upper Alton. He raises chickens and takes much pride in them. He has a wife and several children. Martin claims that he took a job at the lead works, but his wife insisted upon his quitting and going back to his old job at the glass works. Martin is sick now. The long strain of hard labor has caused him to feel bad, and he is not working, but he expects to get back to holding down the two men's jobs again soon. Martin may well lay claim to being the most industrious man in Alton. The long hours of work have taken all superfluous flesh off him, but until recently he felt well enough.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 30, 1910
George Lowry, a negro who was one of a gang of men who were unloading a lot of iron pipe for the Alton Plumbing and Heating Co. at a car on a switch at the Bluff Line freight depot, fractured his right arm Saturday morning in a successful effort to save the life of a little girl. Two little children, brother and sister, Hazel Bennington (aged 6), and Joseph Bennington (aged 4), were at play around the car where the men were at work. The men would raise the heavy bundles of iron pipe to the top of the side of the car and would then drop them to the soft ground where they were gathered up and loaded on a wagon to be removed to the warehouse of the owners. The two little children were close by the car, and when the men were about to drop a big bundle of pipe over the side of the car, one of them, Lowry, saw the girl underneath just as the signal to let go was given. Will Scott was on the other end of the bundle with a third man in the middle. Scott did not see the girl, nor hear the cry of Lowry until too late. He had let go of his end and it started to drop. Lowry, who still had hold of the heavy weight, hung to it and the end that Scott had hold of dropped to the ground with a jar that broke Lowry's wrist square. The instant that Lowry held on before the pipe got away from him gave enough time for the child to get out from underneath and she was saved. The little boy was close too, but would probably have missed being hit. The men who witnessed the accident say that they are sure the little girl would have been crushed to death, had not Lowry stayed the fall of the pipe long enough for her to jump away.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 12, 1910
Rev. Washington M. Chavis, an 11-year-old boy preacher, has been entertaining some large gatherings at the Second Baptist Church in Upper Alton this week. Rev. Chavis is a colored lad, and was ordained a Baptist minister at the age of seven years. He is known as the Boy Wonder. He has a strong voice and knows much of the Bible by heart, and his sermons are very interesting. Many white people have been at the church to hear him, and many colored people from Alton have been coming up all week to attend his meetings. He has been conducting evangelistic meetings here and has been very successful getting several conversions each evening. He will be here until next Sunday night. Sunday afternoon he will baptize all her converts in Wood river.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 13, 1910
Hampton Whiteside, an Upper Alton negro, a hardworking man, has at last received a wooden leg which he has been long delayed in receiving. When Whiteside lost his leg, some of his friends at the glass works made up a collection to buy him a wooden leg, and when the money was collected it disappeared. A new collection was made up, after a year, and this time the order for the leg was not filled because of strikes in the factory, and for other causes which could not be avoided. In the meantime, Whiteside's wife left him, going away with an able-bodied man. He was left on the mercy of a kindhearted woman of his race. Dr. J. M. Pfeiffenberger interested himself in Whiteside's behalf, and he got the leg for him at last, and now Whiteside is learning to walk on it.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 26, 1911
Samuel Ashcraft, a negro, learned to his sorrow that banks are good places to keep money, and that belts around the waist and old satchels are bad places. John Anderson was bound over to the grand jury by Magistrate Lessner Friday, on a charge of stealing $255 from Ashcraft.

According to the story told by Ashcraft, when in the police court, Ashcraft, a gas maker at the glass works, had no confidence in banks. He is a saving man, and in five years he had laid up $525. He always divided his money into three parts. One part he buried in the woods when he came to Alton, $200; another part he hid elsewhere; and $255 he kept concealed in a belt around his waist. His work is hard and his job a hot one. He perspired so much his belt became saturated with sweat and the money became soaked. He took the money out of his belt when he went to his boarding place and hid it in a satchel. He claims that Anderson searched the satchel and that he took the money. Ashcraft works for $2 a day and says he never received any more. He supports two children in Tennessee and saved $525. He said today after the trial that he would dig up the money he buried and would gather up all he had hidden away and would keep his money in the bank hereafter. Anderson denied having committed the theft, but it is claimed that he told of having a good sum of money and Magistrate Lessner bound him over to the grand jury.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 24, 1911
John Williams, colored, age about fifty years, probably holds the local record for doing hard work longer than anyone else, without a vacation. He has shoveled coal for thirteen years in succession, and has during the time unloaded from cars, from thirty-five to forty tons daily. He used to receive eight cents a ton for the work, but after the cost of living increased so much, his pay was increased to ten cents a ton. At that he makes from $3.50 to $4 per day. He takes no vacations and works on Sundays. The only rest he gets is when no car of coal is on hand. Sometimes this gives him a half day in which to loaf and rest, but never more than a half day it is said. During his thirteen years of coal shoveling service, he has worked for the Sparks Milling company, Stanard Milling company, Luer Bros. Packing Company, and his present employers. He has been faithful in his work at all these places, and has moved with his hands and a shovel during this time about 187,200 tons of coal. He is a six-footer, has arms and muscles like a prize fighter, and knows nothing about sickness. His habits are good and his fifty years of life bear on him very lightly.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 29, 1911
Principal William Wilhite of the Upper Alton colored school was strapped this morning by Grant Martin, a negro, who charges the colored school teacher broke a three foot rule over the head of his sixteen year old daughter while punishing her. Martin did the strapping with the same strap that he had given Mr. Wilhite three years ago to use on the pupils of the school who were mischievous. Yesterday, it fell to the lot of Martin's daughter to come under the ban of Principal Wilhites rules in the school room, and she was whipped with the three-foot rule. When she came home, her father picked up the strap, which Wilhite had returned to him, and started out. At the corner of Salu and Broadway Streets he met the teacher, and raising the teacher's overcoat up he gave him a number of blows with the strap, and as Martin is a giant in size, the blows were feeling ones. Martin then went before Justice Ford, pleaded guilty to assault, and paid a fine of $3.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 20, 1911
Mrs. Caroline Edwards of Alton, colored, who claims to be the oldest woman in the United States, will have a birthday on Christmas day. She will be able, if she lives to eat her Christmas dinner, to announce that she claims to be the only living person "who has seen Washington." She avers she had seen the great man over one hundred years ago, and as Washington has been dead 112 years, it does not require a very apt scholar to realize that she would be, if true, a very old woman. She counts her age by going back to important events in the far days to establish a basis to calculate from. She has sent out a number of invitations to her friends and acquaintances to a dinner she will give to celebrate the day.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 12, 1912
The Baltimore-Alton Athletic Club, a negro club on Rock Street conducted by John Cooperwood, alias Baltimore, was fined $40 and costs by Magistrate Lessner yesterday, for selling liquor without a license. The main evidence was furnished by Charles Ballard and Jasper Rice. Cooperwood, after hearing Ballard's testimony against him, denounced Ballard as the Benedict Arnold of his race and people. It developed that an elaborate attempt to evade the law had been planned by a state corporation being formed. Every person who got drink there was taken in as a club member, and if he had no money he gave a 60-day note for his initiation fee, $1. Frank Waters, the secretary-treasurer, was referred to as the bartender, but Waters insisted his title was Steward. There was an intricate system of buying and serving drinks, but Cooperwood admitted that the man who failed to contribute to the club after drinking would be kicked out or expelled from membership. Rice and Ballard bought bottles of beer and whisky at the club, and they were used as evidence. Ballard was a strong witness against Cooperwood, his rival in business.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 2, 1912
John B. Coppinger, probate clerk, has been rummaging among the old Madison County records the past few days, and has brought to light some most interesting data of the old people who did business in the county capital at that time. One indenture tells of Edward Coles freeing two negroes given to him by his father. Edward Coles became the governor of Illinois in 1822. The record shown below was made several months after his removal to Edwardsville to live, which was in March 1819, he having been made registrar of land office. Following is the record taken from the books, and gives some idea of how the slaves were freed in that day: (From the records of Madison Co.):

On the 17th day of November, 1819, Edward Coles by petition and later order of court, freed the slaves then in his possession, consisting of three men, three women, and four children, giving to each of them their freedom, attached is one of the orders, the same order was entered relative to each slave:

“Whereas my father, the late John Coles of the county of Albemarle in the State of Virginia, did in his last will and testament give and bequeath to me certain negro slaves, among other Robert Crawford and his sister Polly Crawford; the said Robert being a Mulatto man about five feet seven inches high, and now about twenty-five years of age; and the said Polly being a Mulatto woman about five feet one inch high, and now about sixteen or seventeen years of age. And whereas I do not believe that man can have of right a property in his fellow man, but on the contrary that all mankind were endowed by nature with equal rights, I do therefore by these presents restore to the said Robert and his sister Polly that unalienable liberty of which they have been deprived; and I do hereby renounce for me and my heirs forever all claim of every description whatsoever to them and their services; and I do hereby emancipate and set free the said Robert Crawford and his sister, Polly Crawford. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal, this the fourth day of July in the year of Christ one thousand eight hundred and nineteen, and of the Independence of the United States the forty-third.
Edward Coles (Seal). In the presence of Hail Mason and Jacob Linder. Madison county, State of Illinois.”

“Personally appeared before me a Justice of the Peace for the county aforesaid the above named Edward Coles, who acknowledge the foregoing to be his act and deed for the purposes therein mentioned. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 17th day of November 1819. Signed by Hail Mason, J. P.”

“Witness whereof, I as clerk of the Court of Madison County, have this day entered the same on record this 19th day of November 1819. Jos. Conway.”

Another record taken from the books, three years earlier, in 1816, shows the contract entered into by the slaves and the length of service they agreed to, sixty years being stated in this. A bloody war, however, intervened in the case of this slave woman, if she lived till that time:

“Be it remembered that on this day personally came James Reynolds of Madison county and Territory of Illinois, before me, Josias Randle, clerk of the court for the county of Madison, and black woman by the name of Aggy, 22 years of age, late brought to the said territory by said Reynolds. The said black woman, Aggy, agreeing to and with her said master, James Reynolds, to serve him faithful during the term of sixty years from this date, and the said Reynolds enters into bond with surety as the law directs. Jos. Reynolds, April 29th, 1816, time of service 60 years. Date when Aggy will be free, 1876.”


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 10, 1912
Thomas Jackson was arrested upon the complaint of two witnesses, Joseph Drake and Harold Johnson, whom Jackson has assaulted grievously because they disturbed his slumbers by talking and otherwise making a noise, all of which Jackson was not altogether in the wrong, for he stood up for his rights. All are colored. Jackson is employed in the power house on Piasa Street as a fireman. He went to his room last night, tired and sleepy. He was occupying a room in which also Johnson and Drake slept. He was not able to go to sleep, though he courted the drowsy-eyed goddess with all his power. He was kept awake by the constant stream of conversation from the bed of the other two occupants of the room. He talked to them, but all to no good. He at length arose, donned his clothing, and then he lighted upon the two young men and gave them a beating. He was arraigned in the police court this morning and fined for his little act of self-right assertion.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 23, 1913
A negro woman named Libbie Hamilton, wife of Ed Hamilton, caused a sensation twice by running naked through the streets in the east end Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning. She weighs about 300 pounds and is about 5 feet 4 inches in height. Relatives say that she became mentally deranged because she was not given the privilege of seeing her mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Otey, who was buried last Sunday.

The children say that their mother died at the home of a daughter, and that of the thirteen children, only - the one daughter at whose home the old woman died - was allowed to see her until they saw her in church at the funeral. This is given as the cause of the woman's insanity. She was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital from where she escaped Wednesday afternoon without any clothes on her, and she ran through the streets. She is said to have gone to the City Cemetery and there she dug down in the grave of her mother. She was recaptured and returned to the hospital, and during the night she pulled a nail out of the window sash with her teeth, breaking one of her teeth. The window had been nailed shut. The woman then climbed out the window and escaped.

Libbie was seen at the home of Ed Ford on Bloomfield Street Thursday morning, stark naked, and peering in the window. She refused to enter the house of Ford, her brother-in-law, and was captured again after a hard struggle. She is a large, powerful woman, and difficult to handle. Six men were needed to capture and bind her with ropes. She was covered with a bed comforter and then hauled to police headquarters where she was locked up. Some clothing was provided for her there, and it was decided to take her to the poor farm at Edwardsville for safe keeping, as she is hopelessly deranged in her mind.

Her sister, Mrs. Jacob Shaw, who is authority for the statement as to the cause of the woman's insanity, says that a few days ago the insane woman attempted to kill her with a large butcher knife. Mrs. Shaw dodged the blow with the knife, the blade entering the door, and then Mrs. Shaw knocked the crazy woman down with a chair and held her down until help could be secured. The insane woman has been married twice but has had no children. At police headquarters the only shoes that could be found for her were not mates. One was a man's shoe and she refused to put it on. She drove out of the place some of the relatives who had helped to take her captive this morning and bind her with ropes. Mrs. Demuth and Deputy Sheriff Peter Fitzgerald took her to Edwardsville


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 17, 1913
Never in the history of the city of Alton was there so many negro candidates on a ticket at any election in Alton. There are two for constable - David Searles and Ike Adams; one for justice of the peace - John “Chicken" Lawrence; and one for alderman of the seventh ward - Sidnew Bowles, who was spoken of as a candidate for postmaster because he came from Champ Clark's district, but has decided to compromise by trying for alderman.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 27, 1912
When the home of John North, a negro farmer, burned on his farm, seven miles north of Upper Alton, the latter part of last week, forty neighbors of North’s, mostly all white farmers, came to his place and with axes and a neighborly kindness that kindled determination, went into the woods and started cutting logs for a new log house for the negro man and woman and their seven children. North's home burned suddenly and nothing was saved, even North's purse with some savings being consumed by the flames. While the men were hewing the oak logs, and others were laying the foundation and setting the logs in place, their wives came to the North place with food and clothing and arranged comfortable shelter for the family in the outbuildings at the place, which were saved.

North is one of the few negro farmers residing in that vicinity, and when the great misfortune of his home burning came to him and his family, his white neighbors responded willingly and without his asking them to do so, they have built for him a new house large enough to care for his family until he can afford better quarters. Not all of the forty men could spend all of their time building the new house, but they never had a crew of less than twenty-five men working on the house, and the last and finishing touches are being put on the past two days. On the same day of the fire the forty men had raised the log house four feet from the ground. The example of neighborly interest and kindness equals any of the old western stories of neighborhood organizations to overcome calamity and the farmers are proud of what they have done for their colored neighbor, John North, and he does not owe them a cent.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 28, 1913
There's a real, old-fashioned negro camp meeting going on out on the Alton, Jerseyville & Peoria line at the farm owned by Adolph Wuerker, and it is being conducted by Rev. C. W. Thompson of Campbell Chapel, A. M. E. Church of Alton. Sunday there were present about 250 people, and the attendance was about equally divided between the whites and the blacks. There was only one drawback, and that was the supply of ice cream and soda pop, which ran out early in the afternoon and the crowd could buy nothing, but that will not happen again, as the camp meeting is turning out a bonanza and the concessionaires have plenty of money with which to buy more refreshments for the future. Old fashioned "shouting" was a feature of the meeting.

One sister, according to Rev. Thompson who has seen old fashioned shouting, beat anything he had ever seen. She took possession of the meeting for a while, and it became necessary to restrain her. She was "happy," and she showed it. Others joined in and many of the audience were raised to a state of high frenzy as they walked up and down "shouting" and giving all the old fashioned, regulation manifestations of "getting religion."

The fly in the ointment is that someone is suspected of running a blind tiger close at hand, as there was visible evidence that some of the people attending had recently been where they could get something to drink that was similar to the stuff that was so hard to identify up at Batchtown in Calhoun County. It looks, smells, tastes, and acts like booze, and Rev. Thompson has a constable on the ground who has his eye of suspicious parties, and he wants to find the goods on them. The one skiff on the "lake" at the camp meeting could have been multiplied by three yesterday, and would have been kept busy all day. There was something doing every minute, as when there was no religion being dispensed, there was a crowd hunting for something to eat and drink and before long the crowd began to get all there was on the grounds in the line of refreshments. Rev. Thompson says that he is looking forward to a big time this week and next Sunday at the camp meeting.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 27, 1912
A negro waiter on the excursion steamer "Belle of the Bends" was given the limit last Sunday evening, in the line of punishment. He was put off the boat in Calhoun County, but he lost no time there. The inhabitants of Hardin, according to a resident of that place who was in Alton today, gave him time to leave and they provided a boat for him to leave in, and taking him across the river they pointed their fingers in the direction of Fieldon in Jersey County and told him the roads were good for walking and to keep his face and his feet addressed to the east. The negro had made some trouble on the boat and the officers deemed that the only punishment would be to land him in Calhoun County - a country that has never had any negroes in it - at least not for long. Negro hands on steamboats always fear such a fate as being landed in that county, and it is seldom that a captain resorts to such extreme measures.

So, when the boat was nearing Hardin, the offending negro was told he would have to get off. He begged and he pleaded for mercy, but none was given him. The stage plank was run out, the negro was pushed out on the plank by the mate, and then the mate, standing with a revolver in hand, told the negro to jump off, and he did, hesitatingly, however. The village marshal of Grafton shouted for the mate to come back and get the negro, but the mate shouted, "You take care of him." The village marshal saw there was no hope of getting the negro back on the boat, so as the boat steamed off up the river. At about 5 o'clock, the marshal took a boat, made the negro get in and then took him across the river. The "Belle of the Bends" did not land at Hardin on the down trip, and it may not land any more this season at Hardin. The negro has not been heard from since he struck out across the country for Fieldon.


Source: Alton Telegraph, September 18, 1913
Samuel Baker, said to be one of the oldest colored men in Madison County, and who is claimed by many old residents to be over 100 years old, is in a very low condition at his little shanty on Locust Street, in Salu addition to Upper Alton. He has been bedfast more than a week. The county physician visited him a few days ago when relatives of the old man requested him to do so and the physician stated he could do nothing for the aged colored man. Sam Baker has been a well-known character for many years about Alton. Men who knew him forty-five years ago say he appeared just as old then as he has in the last year or two. Baker is a very tall man and he has been a great wood chopper in his day. He started work chopping wood for the brick plant at North Side when the plant was built and he has worked for the company almost constantly ever since as a wood chopper. Last winter he attempted suicide by cutting his throat, but failed in the attempt.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 2, 1913
William Bird, a colored Spanish American war veteran, applied to the Alton post of the G. A. R. this afternoon for transportation to the Old Soldiers' home in Quincy. He became angry when refused, saying that he thought that an old soldier who took his chances in war ought to be protected when he was aged and ill. An attempt was made to explain to him that there was no Spanish American war veteran organization in Alton that would give him assistance, and that he should appeal to the city authorities. He said that he came away from the home to visit friends in Alton where he used to work, and ran out of money. He slept in the police station last night.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 31, 1913
The members of the Lincoln Anniversary Association, an organization of negroes for the purpose of conducting celebrations of historic events that relate particularly to the negro race, will observe the 51st anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation going into effect. There will be a banquet at night in the Union Baptist Church. Henry B. Hunter is the head of the organization. The plan is to feed all ex-slaves and all old soldiers, white and black, free of charge. They are inviting all such to attend and participate in the program. To defray the expense of feeding ..... [unreadable] planned to see "tags" tomorrow morning and afternoon on the streets. A charge of 10 cents for each tag will be made, and the solicitors will approach all people who happen to be on the street, white or black. The members of the committee ask that contributions be made to assist them in defraying the cost of their celebration.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 9, 1914
A company of colored soldiers is being organized in Alton for the purpose of fighting. Charles Townsend is organizing the company and accumulating rifles and ammunition, and he is going to call the soldiers The Alton Regulators. "We sure will regulate too," he said to a Telegraph reporter last evening, "and after them fellers get through taking our regulating medicine, they will be good Mexicans, believe me." He says there are many colored men, young and not so young, who are willing and anxious to show Uncle Sam and President Wilson that they are with them heart, soul, and body, when it comes to another nation trying to do things to Uncle Samuel.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 13, 1914
The mystery as to where the continuous dog yells that are heard on Alton's streets for the past two days has been solved. The cause of the yelping is 8-year-old Albert Barbee, son of William Barbee, of Ninth and Piasa Street, a boot black, who has been practicing up on the real old fashioned dog yell, until he can put the proper pitch into his voice so as to deceive the most investigative persons. Barbee cannot tell how he makes the noise. He offers to show all who inquire how it is done, and opens up his large mouth, lined with two rows of massive shiny teeth, and starts emitting a series of shrill terror filled yells that would make one think all the dogs in town were being mixed up in a fight and were getting whipped. He has been accumulating a lot of pennies and nickels from interested spectators who think that such exhibitions are well worth the price, and do not begrudge the money they give him for his efforts. One man who listened to the boy giving the imitations of an injured dog said that it sounds just like a dog under a street car. All the agonizing sounds that a dog in distress would make are included in the range of sounds that come from the throat of this lad, who is beginning to be known as Jo-Jo the dog boy.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 30, 1914
The members of the "Civic League," composed of Alton's colored ladies, were entertained at the home of Miss Francis Barbour last evening. Rev. Geo. A. Brown being present, suggested that the League secure the services of Madame J. Snowden Porter of Chicago, who is a probation officer of Judge W. M. Pinckney's court of Cook County. A vote was taken and the speaker will be asked to talk on "Mother and Children," Wednesday evening, Nov. 18th. The League, whose president is Mrs. Anna Gillis; vice president, Mrs. Sadie Coats; secretary, Miss Florence Barbour, has its reading rooms for colored boys on Easton Street, and bids fair to do much to bring the young colored men and boys into a place where much good can be done for the uplift of the race. Rev. and Mrs. Brown have promised to do all they can through Campbell Church to advance this movement.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 22, 1915
Today there walked into the Telegraph office Prof. W. H. Crawford. He is a portly colored man, a traveler, and admits that he is the champion of the universe in quoting from the Bible and from Shakespeare. A number of years back Crawford was a porter on the Spread Eagle [steamer], and as long as he lived in Alton, he was known as "Spread Eagle." He portered afterward for the Madison Hotel, and there he found plenty of time to study the Bible. He memorized 1,000 verses of the Bible, and can repeat them without error. Then he took up the study of Shakespeare. He advertises himself as "Prof. Crawford, the world's renowned Dramatic Artist who appears in the role Shakespeare's master plays - Julius Caesar, Richard the Third, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Merchant of Venice, Dunbars Poems." Crawford says that he has been in Africa, hobnobbing with native African princes, and he has been traveling over the world giving his recitals. He says he sings in the tongues of 27 of the native tribes of Africa. Crawford has gone through many experiences, one of which is living on an occasional meal of fried boa constrictor. He will give an entertainment in Alton Wednesday evening. When in Alton, Crawford used to impersonate the Devil in a play he had prepared, Faust, which had very little bearing on Goethe's great master piece, but was really an expression of what Crawford thought Goethe ought to have said. He says he has abandoned producing Faust, and is giving his whole time to the entertainments mentioned. He quoted 250 verses from the Bible Sunday, just to show that he was still in form.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 30, 1915
Mrs. Carrie Samuels, colored, who died at the home of her daughter at 302 Mildred Avenue this morning, leaves 187 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. Alton has long held a reputation for being the stork city, but this old woman, who was very well known in Alton, breaks all records so far as is known in this vicinity. She had great-grandchildren all over the country. Mrs. Samuels was born in Georgia in the days of slavery. After the Civil War, she came to Alton and made her home here for the past fifty years. There was no exact way of telling her age. Some claimed that she was very close to one hundred years of age, but her close relatives say that they do not believe she was over eighty. Mrs. Samuels is survived by two daughters, Mrs. Missouri Scott of Pin Oak; and Miss Carrie Eerxsion of Alton; and three sons, Walker Elbert and Arthur Samuels, all of Edwardsville. The funeral will be held on Sunday afternoon from the North Alton church to the Upper Alton Cemetery.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 25, 1916
Henry Valley, colored, was taken into custody Monday evening by the police after a number of reports had been made to the police headquarters about the way the boy was being treated at his home. Night Captain John Nixon made an investigation and found that the father, John Valley, had built a stock down in the cellar for the boy when the child refused to attend school. A neck yoke had been constructed by the father and this was placed around the neck of the child and then nailed to the wall so that the child would have to stand erect. Neighbors complained that the boy was kept standing for hours at a time. His father told the police Monday evening that he had tried everything he knew and could not make the eight-year-old son attend school. The police will investigate the case and may make some arrangements about having the boy sent away to a training school.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 3, 1916
B. B. Bowler, colored, aged 90, will be given the 'possum offered by Overseer of the Poor, Joe Hermann, for the man who had the best garden from seed supplied by the Overseer of the Poor this spring. Notwithstanding his great age, the colored man had the best garden and is entitled to the prize. In the spring, Overseer of the Poor Joe Hermann believed that it would be possible for him to cut the cost of keeping the county dependents if he supplied them with seed and allowed them to plant their own gardens. This plan was followed out with the understanding that an o'possum was to be given to the man having the best garden, and a goose to the woman. The name of the woman has not been announced as yet. The awarding of the o'possum to Bowler brought out the fact that Bowler claims he is the father of thirty-one children. He has been married several times, and claims that the children are scattered all over the United States. In his old age he did not have one child out of the entire lot that would look after him, and he has been forced to seek aid from the county. He is still able to do some work, and says he feels almost as young as a boy.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 22, 1916
With the exceptions of the officers of the Muny Dance committee and some of the women who have been acting as chaperones for the Muny dances, all white people will be barred from the Muny dance at Crow's Hall on next Wednesday evening. Word to this effect was given out today by the members of the Muny Dance Association. It was feared that so many white people would go out of curiosity that it would be impossible for all of the colored people who desired to go to attend the dance. The dance will be conducted along the same line as the other dancing parties given by the association. It promises to be one of the largest dances that they have given this year.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 1, 1916
The Alton Colored Club, composed of 279 members, all voters, have addressed a letter to Mayor Edmond Beall requesting him to become a candidate for Mayor of the City of Alton in the spring. The communication thanks him for the municipal dances and for giving the colored people representation on the police force, and urges him to be a candidate in the spring. It is signed by the present of the club, Rev. Brown.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 11, 1917
Ft. Sam Houston, San Antonio, Tex., Dec. 11 - Out of fourteen negroes executed by hanging near Camp Travis this morning at 7:17 o'clock for participation in the rioting at Houston, Tex., last August 21, one was an Alton negro - William Breckenridge, First Class private. Forty-one negroes were given life sentence; one was given sentence of two years and eight months; three were given sentences of two years; and five were acquitted by the court martial which tried them. Four corporals, one sergeant and First Class Private William Breckenridge were among those who paid the extreme penalty for their part in the murder of white civilians, white army officers, and white policemen at Houston, Tex. when a battle followed the attempt of a policeman to drive away from the vicinity a negro woman who had been ordered to leave. The execution of the men who were sentenced to be hanged followed soon after the finding of the verdict. The court martial verdict was that the guilty men should be hanged.

Breckenridge is a son of James Breckenridge in Alton, and among people of his own race is well known. His father received word that the son was among those involved in the Houston rioting, and had been arrested and was being held for trial, immediately after the rioting occurred. Little has appeared in the press dispatches as to the individuals who were among the guilty until today, when the press dispatches carried the names of the negroes who had been executed. So far as officially known, this is the first execution of American soldiers on American territory since the war began. The execution was on the government reservation at Camp Travis. None but the military officials knew of the plans for the execution until this morning, so quiet were the plans kept. The verdict was returned November 30.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 26, 1918
Cornelius Hosmer, representing Tuskegee Institute, who has been visiting in Alton, addressed the children of Douglas school this morning. He explained to them the work of Tuskegee school for negroes and what it was doing for the negro race. He outlined to the pupils the splendid facilities the school has to carry on its work, and its need of support by the people of the negro race.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 3, 1918
Here is a human-interest story from Staunton brought to Alton by Joe B. Crivello, the well-known traveling man. Staunton, like Calhoun County, has not allowed a colored person to live in the town or linger in it, if one happened to wander in. Colored visitors were always driven out and warned to stay out. But last Tuesday among the drafted men from Macoupin County who entrained at Staunton were two colored youths, one from Bunker Hill, the other from Shipman. These two were afraid to go to Staunton and told the members of the exemption board so. They tried to beg off and join the Macoupin forces somewhere else. This could not be done, and the two young colored men gritted their teeth and concluded if they had to go to war, fighting might as well start at Staunton as in France, only that Staunton could not provide the enemies they wanted to fight. At Staunton they were met by a delegation of citizens - these two, marched up the main street, with Old Glory flying over them, and cheers filling the air for them. They were taken to a club room and dined on the best eatables Staunton could provide, and until their train left for the training camp, these two young men were treated royally. All the young soldiers were treated well, but these colored boys were singled out as deserving of capocial consideration. They were brothers in this war for human liberty throughout the world, and all the prejudice Staunton ever had against colored people dissolved or turned into good will and admiration. The two young men were probably the most surprised persons on earth too, but at the same time the most delighted.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 15, 1918
Last week when former Mayor Edmond Beall was returning from the Fosterburg Red Cross picnic, he met Rev. Higgins, pastor of the Upper Alton A. M. E. Church. He got to talking about the weather and was hoping for rain. The former mayor told the negro preacher he believed that the preachers could do a great service for the world if they would get busy and start prayers for rain. The former mayor said he would give $5 to see a good rain. Rev. Higgins agreed to start praying at once for rain. This morning the former mayor received a telephone message making an appointment to meet someone, the name not being understood, down town. When the former mayor came down he met Rev. Higgins, who presented his claim for the $5. It was not just exactly a bill, as Rev. Higgins, being new as a rainmaker, has had ___ billheads printed. But he assured Mr. Beall that he had prayed long and wrestled mightily for rain and that he had no doubt that the rain which fell Tuesday afternoon was a direct answer to his pleadings. Mr. Beall made good and paid the $5 over to Rev. Higgins, and told him to keep on and get some more rain, and more quantity next time.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 14, 1918
J. D. Davis, who conducts a barber shop on Belle Street, shot and instantly killed another negro who had called at his door at 5:45 a.m. today. Davis said after the shooting another negro was with the man he killed, but that he did not know either of them. The negro who was killed was well dressed, had a pocket full of 10 cent cigars, wore a diamond ring. Deputy Coroner Bauer believed that from the amount of cigars in the pocket of the dead man, he might have been robbing some place before he was killed by Davis. The killing savors somewhat of a feud.

Davis, who conducts a negro barber shop, is said by those who know him to run an orderly place and to refuse admittance to rough customers. He had ejected some rough ones, and not long ago some of his shop windows were smashed under a bombardment of rocks, hurled by someone who had a grudge against him. Davis accompanied the body of his victim to the morgue of the deputy coroner, and there he declared he did not know who the man was he had killed, nor did he know what was the cause of the early morning visit the man made to his house. He had seen him before.

Davis said he was roused from sleep by the ringing of his door bell at his home, 134 Atkinson Street. Davis says that whenever he is roused from bed at night he always takes the precaution of getting a revolver and having it ready for business when he opens the door. This was one time his precaution stood him well. He said that he opened the front door and stepping back a bit to guard against a surprise, he asked what was wanted. Two men were there, both negroes. One of them, he said, had a revolver and pointing it at him said, "I've got you now." Davis says he waited for no further proof of hostility on the part of his visitor. He fired a shot and the bullet struck the man in the forehead, killing him instantly. Davis slammed the door and waited inside for the sound of the movements of the body on the other side of the door to cease, then looked out and satisfied himself he had killed the visitor.

When the body was searched at the deputy coroner's office no money was found. On the person was about a half a box of cigars, a diamond ring, but nothing else of value. A card bore the name of J. A. Cunningham, and bore a receipt for $1. Deputy Coroner Bauer did not hold Davis. He released him until such time as the coroner's inquest would be held. Investigation of the shooting today disclosed that the dead man was J. A. Cunningham, who had been chauffeur for R. H. Levis, and who recently smashed up the automobile of Arthur Levis after taking it for a joy ride while the owner was away and knew nothing of his having the car. Cunningham had been under indictment for the taking of the car and had been away from town. His wife and child live in Alton, and he had come back last night to see them.

One man said that last night Cunningham laid in wait behind a door and seized him as he passed, exclaiming, "I've got you now." Cunningham did not want to rob that man and he merely used that form of salutation. Chief of Police Fitzgerald was at first inclined to think that Cunningham got into the wrong house when he called at Davis' home and that Davis, thinking his unexpected and unusual greeting, shot and killed Cunningham.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 30, 1918
Julius Keene, a colored farmer from Missouri Point, who has been farming a small place north of Upper Alton the past season with his family, including his wife and two small children, had a very narrow escape Sunday morning from being burned to death in their home when they awakened and found the house on fire. Keene says when he woke up the ceiling in the room was all ablaze and the entire roof of the house was roaring in flames. The house is situated on a 20-acre tract of ground three miles north of Upper Alton. It is the farm formerly owned by Alonzo Miller, who sold it to Buck Lessner. The Lessner family resided there until they sold the property to some Bulgarians at Granite City. Dr. Starkoff, the Granite City Bulgarian doctor, is the owner of the property now.

When the Keene family awoke and found the house burning, Mr. Keene tried to put the fire out, but he soon found it was impossible. Then he and his wife set to work getting the things out of the house. All they succeeded in getting were their clothes, a few bedclothes and the cookstove. The stove was badly broken, however, as there was no one to help Mr. Keene, and he broke the stove trying to get it out in a hurry. The house stands off to itself, and no one in the neighborhood knew of the fire until the next day, besides the Keene family. The family is now in town to reside until they can make arrangements for getting back to the place. The Granite City physician did not know up to this afternoon about the fire, as he does not understand the English language over the telephone very well, so no one made an effort to notify him.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 26, 1919
Eleven young colored men who left Alton almost a year ago to enter the military service have been arriving home from France. they saw service in the fighting in the Argonne and when the armistice was signed they were on the Metz front. Robert Mosby, who wrote frequently to the Telegraph during his absence, paid a visit at the Telegraph office today. There were 31 of the boys went away at the time Mosby did, and they were separated after leaving here. Mosby and seven others left this country on June 5, and arrived in France June 28. They were put up near the fighting front in August, and stayed along the front all the remainder of the time until after the war was ended.

Mosby says that although the Alton boys saw active service, where they had to shoot and shot fast to stay, there was not one of the eleven Alton boys who were in his division who got hurt. Mosby brought home a hand grenade for Mayor Sauvage. He said that he had many souvenirs, but he was unable to bring home what he wanted to bring. The soldiers were told the accommodations for carrying souvenirs home were limited. Mosby had to leave behind a helmet he had acquired, and that is one of the chief sorrows of his heart. Mosby says that he was a liaison man, carrying messages back and forth between the units. The other Alton boys were on the front line in the most active of service. All the Alton boys of his group came back in good shape.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 25, 1920
A dapper looking colored man who gives the name of William Johnson, his occupation as shoe repairer, his home in Alabama, also in Baltimore, was behind the bars today on a charge made by Mrs. Al Hickman, colored, that Johnson was getting money from her husband on the promise to give him a charm that would bring terrible suffering to the wife. Just why the husband should want to bring any trouble to his wife, Chief of Police Fitzgerald could not understand, as the wife is a hard-working woman, a valuable asset in these days of high cost of living. The woman told the police that her husband had given Johnson $8 and this money was to be used to buy a charm that would everlastingly embroil the wife in trouble. It was supposed, she said, to make her see toads and rats and snakes, and finally to die in horrible agony. Of course, if the prohibition law was not being enforced, Johnson might easily have filled the prescription, and the only guess at his plan now is that he was just trying to get some of Hickman's money. At police headquarters, Johnson said he knew nothing of charms, never dealt in them, in fact, didn't believe in them, and said he was certainly no voodoo doctor.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 11, 1920
"Two Saints of God," a white man and a colored man, returning home from baptizing a woman in the Mississippi River Friday night, were met by the husband of the woman, who indignant over the loss of interest in her home as her interest in the "Saints of God" increased, undertook to beat up the two head "Saints" and break up their attentions to his wife. Harvey Bailey, a young colored man with two children and a wife, was arrested after the assault. His accusers each had good sized lumps on their heads where Bailey's fists had punished them, and both had been knocked down.

Bailey told after the arrest that the pastor of the "Church of Christ and Saints of God," a colored man, named S. W. Anderson, who runs a little church at Fletcher and Highland, had been coming to his house trying to convert his wife to their belief. Soon a white man named W. F. Doman reinforced Anderson, and together they took up so much of Bailey's wife's time trying to get her "sanctified," she didn't have any time to cook his meals, keep the house clean or take care of the children. Doman's wife, a white woman, began coming too. They stayed most of the time and had Mrs. Bailey worked up to a frenzy. Protests against their breaking up the Bailey home were of no avail. Anderson would always reply he was "carrying her to God," referring to Mrs. Bailey. But when Anderson and Doman went to Bailey's house, carried away the 7 months old baby and 2-year-old child with Mrs. Bailey, took them all to the river and there baptized the Bailey woman, that was too much. Bailey discovered what had happened and waited for their return. He "popped" Anderson in the eye and knocked him down, then when Doman rushed in to help, knocked him down too. The police were sent for and Bailey quietly submitted to arrest, and after he told his story was allowed to go home on his own recognizance on the promise that he wouldn't cause any more disturbance, and would appear in the police court at 9 o'clock this morning.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 20, 1920
Recollections of the Indian Wars, utterances of Jefferson, Monroe and the early presidents, and the Year of Falling Stars are the daily privileges of "Grandma" Jane Durham, a negress living at 109 West Ninth Street, and at 109 years of age, claiming the title of Alton's oldest citizen. The aged negress declares she was born in 1811, near Richmond, Virginia. While this assertion is viewed with skepticism by some of her hearers, it is pointed out that she has a daughter, Eliza Hall, living in Bloomington, who is 89 years old, and her youngest daughter, Martha Jackson, is 72, and lives with her mother. Blind and slightly paralyzed, the centenarian is the recipient of many gifts from her visitors, to whom she recounts freely tales of the Civil War and the heated days of slavery in Virginia, carrying on an interesting conversation despite her afflictions, which have not affection her intelligence nor memory.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 20, 1921
Jane Durham, an aged negro woman whose family claim she had passed her century mark by eleven years, died this morning from old age at her home, 105 West Ninth Street. It was said that she was born in 1810, a slave on a plantation in Virginia, afterward West Virginia. She leaves two daughters, one of them 89 years of age and the other 82. The deceased lived with the 82-year-old daughter, Martha Jackson, and the other daughter, Betty Hall, lives at Bloomington. The two daughters appear to be very old. Members of the family say that there were five generations living in the family, and that the death of this aged woman leaves only four.

The Telegraph's authority for the age of the woman said that she frequently referred to having seen "the stars fall," an event that happened back early in the 1830s, when there was a remarkable display of "shooting stars," and many an aged negro, whose age was not kept accurately and whose knowledge of figures were insufficient to enable them to keep a close track of their ages, give a clue as to how old they are. Those who knew the deceased testify that she had the appearance of great age and many of them readily credit the claim that she had passed the century mark. She came here after she was freed from slavery. All her years as a slave she had lived on one place, the property of one family.


Woman "Wore the Scarlet Letter"
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 22, 1922
The funeral of Miss Cecil Baker in the Upper Alton colored Methodist Church was made the occasion, yesterday afternoon, for a very unusual proceeding. It seemed that Cecil, who died from tuberculosis leaving a two-year-old infant, had before her death made a disclosure of the identity of the father of the child. A short time before her death she had called to her bedside a few dozen friends, including the wife of the man she accused of being the parent of her baby, and facing death, she said that she had kept the secret before through fear. She said that the father of her child had threatened her with dire vengeance and that in her terror, she had always refused to reveal his identity, but when she had nothing more to fear, she said, she wanted to make known for whom she was wearing the "scarlet letter." It turned out to be almost an exact replication of Hawthorne's celebrated story, for the man she named was a preacher-pastor of a colored church.

Tuesday afternoon, when the funeral services were held, there were two colored preachers present, one of them the pastor of the church, Rev. Gray, the other a blind preacher, Rev. Grizzle. What happened to the "Arthur Dimmesdale" of this story was something that will live long in the history of the colored Methodist Church in Upper Alton. Rev. Gray, the pastor, and the blind Rev. Grizzle, called names right out in the funeral service. They denounced the accused parson, both of them did, and they proclaimed to the audience their belief that through her suffering and disgrace the deceased had earned a place in glory, while the preacher, the author of her disgrace, had earned a place "in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone." Those who heard the excoriation that was inflicted on the preacher, who was not present, by the two officiating clergymen, said that it was one of the most drastic moments they had ever experienced. The speakers told of the deathbed statements of the girl who was lying in her coffin there, and her accusations against the preacher.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 26, 1922
Blind Boone, the celebrated negro pianist, played to a good-sized audience in Crowe's hall last evening under the auspices of the Model A. M. E. church. Notwithstanding the heated atmosphere of the hall, the crowd was deeply interested and stayed to the end of the program. Boone was late in arriving. He had been driven over from Columbia, Missouri, his home, and was late in arriving, the program being delayed in starting until 8:45. Arrangements were made for him to come back here soon and play at an entertainment under the auspices of Campbell chapel, A. M. E. church.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 12, 1922
When the crowd of white people were rebuked last evening at an old-fashioned camp meeting being conducted by negroes, for showing undue levity over the antics of those who were "getting religion," the crowd felted away rapidly. One explanation of why picture shows have not been prosperous in Alton has been rival attractions and the tent meeting on Highland Avenue has proved a great attraction for an immense number of white people who drive over there in their cars. Last night the crowd became impatient for the holy dancing to begin. This dancing is a feature of the religious services, the dancers keeping it up until they fall exhausted. They are dragged to one side and someone else takes the place of the fallen one. The dancing had not started up with the usual vim, and the crowd kept calling for the dancers to start. That gave ground for a rebuke, which was administered by a white woman who said she was a missionary student from Granite City and was shocked at the lack of consideration of those who were disturbing the religious gathering of the negroes. Two Salvation Army representatives also rebuked the audience, and after that there was a rapid thinning out of the crowd. The spectators melted away fast and long before the usual time for the ending of the entertainment, the crowd had disappeared.


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