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Valentine, Lee A.
Birth Year : 1910
Born in Mayfield, KY, Valentine was an insurance salesman with the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, beginning in 1946. He was also responsible for leading the campaign to build a new 10-room elementary school for African American children. Valentine was vice president of the Elizabeth City Civic and Welfare League and publicity chairman of the NAACP chapter. For more see Who's Who in Colored America, 1950.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Civic Leaders, Insurance Companies, Insurance Sales, Welfare (Social Services) Organizations, Social Workers, Migration East, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
Geographic Region: Mayfield, Graves County, Kentucky / Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Van Dunk, Frances Gunner
Birth Year : 1894
Born in Lexington, KY, Van Dunk was a teacher from 1915-1918. She held several posts with the Y.M.C.A. before becoming an employee of the New York State Employment Service in 1938 and advancing to branch manager in 1944. For more on Frances Van Dunk see Who's Who in Colored America, 1950. For more on the Employment Service see The New Deal and the unemployed: the view from New York City, by B. Blumberg.
Subjects: Employment Services, Migration North
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / New York

Van Horn, James
Birth Year : 1804
Death Year : 1880
James Van Horn, a farmer, was among the wealthiest African Americans in Connersville, IN, prior to the year 1900. He was born in Pendleton County, KY, the slave of Josiah Thrasher. The Thrasher family is listed in the "Second Census" of Kentucky for the year 1800. In the 1820 Census Thrasher has one slave and in the 1830 Census no slaves. According to the History of Fayette County Indiana, James Van Horn escaped from Josiah Thrasher around 1825. Van Horn's mother was a slave, and his father was German. After his escape to Indiana, Van Horn stayed with John Thrasher, the son of his former owner, for about a year. Working various jobs, Van Horn was able to save enough money to buy his freedom and eventually purchased 121 acres of land. In 1842 he married Nancy Foster (b. 1822 in Ohio), and the couple had nine children. James Van Horn and his family are listed as free in the U.S. Federal Census as early as 1850 [name spelled Vanhorn]. Just prior to his death, Van Horn was a widower when he and his son Charles were listed as living in the same household in the 1880 Census. For more see James Van Horn on p. 326 of History of Fayette County, Indiana [available online at Google Books]. See also James Van Horn [and the misspelling James Van Home] in A History of the Thrasher Family by M. Thrasher.
Subjects: Freedom, Migration North
Geographic Region: Pendleton County, Kentucky / Connersville, Indiana

Van Leer, Darryl
Birth Year : 1961
Darryl Van Leer is an actor, vocalist, writer, and photographer. He was born in Madisonville, KY, and is a graduate of Western Kentucky University. He began his career on BET's "Bobby Jones Gospel Show." Van Leer has appeared in First Time, a Nickelodeon movie, and HBO's The Second Civil War and Up Against the Wall. He was nominated for a 1996 NAACP Theatre Award and was recognized by the National Association of Campus Activities. His one-man plays, which he wrote and produced, represent African Americans such as Malcolm X, Nat Turner, and Marcus Garvey. His more recent work is Rubycat Lawson’s Roadhouse Lounge. There are several videos of Van Leer's performances on YouTube. Darryl Van Leer is also a public speaker, a musician, and he has done stand-up comedy. For more see the Darryl Van Leer website.

See Darryl Van Leer in the YouTube video Roadhouse Lounge.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Authors, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Photographers, Photographs, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Madisonville, Hopkins County, Kentucky

Van Venison, Harold
Birth Year : 1907
Death Year : 1938
His hanging on June 3, 1938, was the last legal hanging in Kentucky. Van Venison was convicted of raping a white woman in Covington, KY, in August of 1937. The execution law changed from hanging to electrocution in February, 1938. The Kentucky Attorney General determined that the crime had occurred before the law changed; therefore, Van Venison should be hanged, June 3, 1938. According to his death certificate, Harold Van Venison was a janitor who was born in Aiken, SC, and he was the husband of Mattie Van Venison. For more see P. T. Ryan, Legal Lynching: the plight of Sam Jennings, pp. 172-173.
Subjects: Executions
Geographic Region: Aiken, South Carolina / Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky

Vance, Richard Thomas "Dick"
Birth Year : 1914
Death Year : 1985
Dick Vance, born in Mayfield, KY, was an arranger who also sang and played the trumpet. Vance's family move to Cleveland, OH, where he studied violin and later the trumpet. Vance settled in New York, where he played with a number of bands and toured with Frank Terry, Lil Armstrong, Kaiser Marshall, Willie Bryant, and Fletcher Henderson, to name a few. He was highly sought after for his ability to write arrangements. Vance wrote for bands that include those led by Fletcher Henderson, Cab Calloway, Don Redman, Billy Eckstine, Glen Gray, and Duke Ellington. Both his arrangements and trumpet playing found on many recordings, include Ellington '55, Stompin' at the Savoy, Coleman Hawkins, 1945, and Fletcher Henderson's Sextet, 1950. He was music arranger on the film No Maps on My Taps and music director on The Spirit Moves [volume 3]. See photo image, about midway down the page, of Dick Vance and other members of the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra brass section at the Keep It Swinging blog site. For more see "Dick Vance" in the Oxford Music Online Database; and Who's Who of Jazz.

  See image and hear Dick Vance on trumpet on the song "Stealn' Apples" by The Fletcher Henderson Band, a 1936 Blue Wax label, 78 rpm record - YouTube.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Mayfield, Graves County, Kentucky / Cleveland, Ohio / New York

Vancleave, Joseph
Vancleave was born in Lebanon, KY. In 1969, he was the first African American elected to the Lebanon City Council. For more see Kentucky Black Elected Officials Directory [1970], p. 5, col. B, published by the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights; and Not Without Struggle by J. B. Horton.
Subjects: First City Employees & Officials (1960s Civil Rights Campaign)
Geographic Region: Lebanon, Marion County, Kentucky

Vaughn, George L.
Birth Year : 1885
Death Year : 1950
George L. Vaughn was born in Kentucky, where he attend both elementary and high school. He was a graduate of Lane College and Walden University Law School [located in Tennessee, closed in 1925], and was later a 1st Lieutenant in the Artillery during World War I. Vaughn moved to St. Louis, where he practiced law and in 1916 became the first president of the Mound City Bar Association, a bar association for African American lawyers; the St. Louis Bar Association did not admit African Americans. In 1919, Vaughn helped found the Citizen Liberty League to help identify and elect more African Americans to public office. In 1936, Vaughn was appointed Justice of the Peace for the 4th District of St. Louis. Vaughn is most remembered for taking on the Shelley Restrictive Covenant Case, a landmark civil rights case involving J. D. Shelley, an African American who had purchased a home in a white neighborhood in 1945. The neighborhood association served Shelley with an eviction notice, and the St. Louis African American real estate brokers association hired Vaughn to fight the notice. Vaughn won the trial, but the case was then taken to the Missouri Supreme Court, which upheld the eviction. With the support of the real estate brokers association, Vaughn appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in 1948 the Supreme Court ruled in Shelley's favor. In 1957 the 660-unit George L. Vaughn Public Housing Project was named in Vaughn's honor. For more see "George Vaughn," in The Journal of Negro History, vol. 34, issue 4, (Oct., 1949), pp. 490-491; Lift Every Voice and Sing, by D. A. Wesley, W. Price and A. Morris; and "George L. Vaughn," in West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edited by S. Phelps and J. Lehman, vol. 10, 2nd edition. See the U.S. Supreme Court, Shelley V. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948), at the FindLaw website.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Civic Leaders, Housing Authority, The Projects, Lawyers, Migration West, Military & Veterans, Judges, Realtors, Real Estate Brokers, Real Estate Investments, Court Cases, Housing, Fair Housing, Open Housing, Housing Agencies
Geographic Region: Kentucky / St. Louis, Missiouri

Vaughn, Postelle A.
Birth Year : 1901
Death Year : 1988
Born in Hopkinsville, KY, Vaughn became a teacher and principal in North Carolina and Indiana schools. He began working for the Pennsylvania State Employment Service in 1938 as a senior interviewer, advancing to the position of office manager in 1943. The service was located at 253 N. Broad Street in Philidelphia, PA. In 1941, Vaughn was supervisor of Negro Research and Placement when he gave testimony to the Select Committee Investigating National Defense Migration. Vaughn was also author of several articles, including "Stone Wall and Brown Hands," Brown American, 1940. He was the bridge editor for the Philadelphia Tribune. For more see Testimony of Postel Vaughn 5787, Statement by Postelle A. Vaughn 5787, and Testimony of Postelle A. Vaughn, resumed 5792, in Hearings Before the Select Committee Investigating National Defense Migration, House of Representatives, 77th Congress, Part 14, Trenton Hearings, June 27 and 28, 1941; and Who's Who in Colored America, 1950. For more on the Employment Service, see Public Employment Service in the United States, by R. C. Atkinson, et al.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Employment Services, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Migration East
Geographic Region: Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky / North Carolina / Indiana / Pennsylvania

Vena, Cyrus, Jr.
Birth Year : 1829
Death Year : 1918
Vena was a carpenter, contractor and builder and also one of the first African American city council members in Xenia, OH, serving two terms. Vena was born in North Middletown, KY; he is listed as a free person in the 1840 U. S. Federal Census. He married Sarah J. Warnell in 1849 prior to the couple's move to Xenia, where Vena built a number of noted buildings. The couple had had seven children when they left Ohio and moved the entire family to Los Angeles, CA. Vena was head janitor in the LA Hall of Justice for 30 years. For more see p. 135 in The Negro Trail Blazers of California, by D. L. Beasley.
Subjects: Construction, Contractors, Builders, Migration North, Migration West, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Carpenters
Geographic Region: North Middletown, Bourbon County, Kentucky / Xenia, Ohio / Los Angeles, California

Veney, Anderson
Birth Year : 1845
Death Year : 1894
Veney was born in Kentucky. When he was a child, the Veney family members were slaves who eventually escaped from Kentucky to Canada, led by Anderson's stepfather, Levi Veney. The family settled in Amherstburg, Upper Canada; the city of Amherstburg had been a major tobacco growing territory that attracted escaped slaves from Kentucky who had knowledge of raising tobacco. As an adult, Anderson Veney remained in Amherstburg, where he had been a barber, but not making much money in that trade, he became a ship steward. When his first wife died, he moved in with a woman named Mattie or Martha, and she took his last name. In 1892, while in Cleveland, OH, Anderson Veney began having severe headaches, was forgetful and had a difficult time sleeping. He became convinced that his wife was cheating on him, and a few months after he returned to Amherstburg, he killed her. In court, Anderson was defended by African Canadian lawyer Delos Rogest Davis of Amherstburg and Mahlon K. Cowan of Windsor. Veney's sanity was argued back and forth, and the final verdict was that he was sane when he killed Mattie and should therefore be hanged. In one version of the story, the federal cabinet reviewed the case, and rather than hang an insane man, it commuted Veney's sentence to life in prison; in less than a year he died of phthisis in the Kingston Penitentiary hospital. In another version, Veney was hanged in 1893. For more see Anderson Veney in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online [free, full-text on the Internet]; Smith: New Canaan Black Settlement, Ontario, Essex County at ancestrylibrary.com; and Disorder in the court: trials and sexual conflict at the turn of the century, by G. Robb and N. Erber.
Subjects: Barbers, Executions, Freedom, Migration North, Court Cases
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada

Vernon, George Kemp
George Kemp Vernon was a noted chef aboard special trains and coaches. Vernon was from Louisville, KY, a graduate of Central High School. He studied cooking in Italy, France, Spain, and Germany. In 1905, he was referred to as the "...noted young chef of Chicago and Louisville" in the article "New York City news," in Broad Axe, 07/15/1905, p.1; Vernon was visiting friends at 149 W. 53rd Street in New York. A week later, there was an article in the same newspaper announcing that Vernon had been hired by the New York Pullman Company for service to the private cars [source: "Special New York letter and comment," Broad Axe, 07/22/1905, p.2]. Vernon had been the personal chef of Francis S. Peabody [info.], the founder of Peabody Coal in Chicago. In 1908, Vernon was employed by J. Pierpont Morgan [info.] on a special car in California. An article about George K. Vernon was published in the Courier-Journal (Louisville) in 1908 and reprinted in the Freeman within the article "Louisville, KY.," 03/28/1908, p. 2. See also "We are indebted to the Los Angeles elite chronicler...," Los Angeles Herald, 02/25/1908, column 4, p.4,
Subjects: Bakers, Cooks and Chefs, Migration North, Migration West, Railroad, Railway, Trains
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / New York / California

Vertrees, Peter
Birth Year : 1849
Death Year : 1926
Peter Vertrees was born in Edmonson County, KY, his mother Mary E. Skaggs, was white, and his father, Rev. Booker Harding was the mulatto son of Jacob Vertrees. Peter Vertrees was raised by his grandfather Jacob Vertrees and his wife Catherine. Peter Vertrees served with the Confederate Army in the 6th Kentucky Calvary during the Civil War; he was a servant to his uncle, J. L. Vertrees, an enlistee who was white and a physician. Peter Vertrees left Kentucky to live with his uncle Judge J. C. Vertrees in Tennessee. He would become one of the first students to attend Roger Williams University. He would become a teacher and a preacher, and a respected community leader in Sumner County, TN. In 1880, he was a 31 year old widower living in Gallatin, according to the U.S. Federal Census; his wife, Amanda L. Dowell, had died in 1872. He had next married Sarah Head and the couple had three sons. In 1901 he married Diora Wylie (b.1875 in TN), according to their Marriage Bond, and the couple had three children, according to the 1910 U.S. Federal Census. They would later have two more children. Peter Vertrees was principal of the South Gallatin School, and for 60 years he served as pastor of the First Baptist Church. He was actually pastor of more than one church, and was president of two benevolent societies that helped pay for medical assistance and burials. He opened schools for African Americans within the churches where he was pastor. He founded the East Fork Missionary Baptist Association with 28 churches in Tennessee. A historical maker honoring Peter Vertrees was placed at the corner of South Water and Bledsoe Streets in Sumner County, TN. For more see the Negro Baptist History, 1750-1930 by L. G. Jordan; and Peter Vertrees, by Dessislava Yankova at the rootsweb.ancestry.com website.


Subjects: Civic Leaders, Education and Educators, Military & Veterans, Religion & Church Work, Migration South, Benevolent Societies
Geographic Region: Edmonson County, Kentucky / Gallatin, Sumner County, Tennessee

Vick, McDonald
Birth Year : 1955
In February 2006, the University of Kentucky (UK) named McDonald Vick its Chief of Police. Vick's previous position was Chief of the North Carolina Central University police department. He had been there since 1995 as a police officer, earning both his bachelor's and master's degrees in criminal justice from the school. Vick had also spent 20 years with the Durham Police Department. In July 2006, McDonald Vick resigned from the University of Kentucky after it was revealed that he had paid a subordinate $25,000 to drop a sexual harassment complaint in 1998. For more see C. Kirby, "UK's new police chief is 'best of the best': first African-American picked from 80 applicants," Lexington Herald-Leader, 02/02/2006, City&Region section, p.C3; and B. Ortiz and L. Blackford, "UK police chief Vick resigns under cloud," Lexington Herald-Leader, 07/14/2006, p. A1.
Subjects: Corrections and Police
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Durham, North Carolina

Vinegar, Alexander C. "Peter"
Birth Year : 1842
Death Year : 1905
Alexander C. "Peter" Vinegar is believed to have been born free in Midway, KY. Peter came to Lexington, KY, after the Civil War and was made pastor of the Main Street Colored Baptist Church, where he remained for 20 years before leaving to preach in other locations. In later years he had no church but would preach every Sunday in the Lexington courthouse yard, in front of the Phoenix Hotel, or other parts of town. Huge crowds of both whites and blacks would gather to hear him speak. He also held revivals in surrounding counties. He was remembered for his sermons: "When Gabriel Blow Dat Ho'n," "Kill Old Speck," "Hold Dat Tiger," and "Down Where de Columbine Twineth, and de Whangdoodle Moaneth for Its Mate." Peter Vinegar is buried in the 7th Street Colored Cemetery No. 2 in Lexington. For more see P. B. Estes,"The Reverend Peter Vinegar, Southern Folklore Quarterly, vol. 23, issue 4, pp. 239-252.

See photo image of Alexander C. "Peter" Vinegar in Explore UK.
Subjects: Kentucky African American Churches, Religion & Church Work
Geographic Region: Midway, Woodford County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Vital Statistics: Emancipation, Medical Field, & Race Extinction
Following the Civil War, it was again predicted that the effects of emancipating slaves in the United States would result in the extinction of the race. A report was given at the State Medical Society of Kentucky in 1869 on the reproductive capacity of women and how physical labor increased reproduction. Statistics from the southern states compared the number of African American children born during slavery to the decreased rate after slavery. It was also suggested that there was an infant mortality rate of 50% within the first year of all live births among African Americans. Immorality was thought to be the cause of the decreased birth rate and sterility. The matter was such a serious concern that it was one of the reasons the State Medical Society of Kentucky presented a petition to the Kentucky Legislature to re-enact the law requiring the registration of births, marriages, and deaths. For more see "The probable effect of emancipation in producing the ultimate extinction of the black race in America is foreshadowed ...," Weekly Georgia Telegraph, 10/22/1869, issue 15, col E; "Vital Statistics," Medical and Surgical Reporter, 1869, vol. 20, p. 194 [available full-text at Google Book Search]; R. R. Hogan's Kentucky Ancestry; and An American Health Dilemma, by W. M. Byrd and L. A. Clayton.
Subjects: Freedom, Genealogy, History, Medical Field, Health Care
Geographic Region: Kentucky

Voting Rights in Kentucky, 1792-1799 - Free Negro, Mulatto, Indian Males
Start Year : 1792
End Year : 1799
Kentucky became a state in 1792 and the first state constitution had no restrictions on the voting rights of all free men, including African Americans. "Article III. § 1. In elections by the citizens, all free male citizens of the age of twenty-one years, having resided in the State two years, or the county in which they offer to vote one year next before the election, shall enjoy the rights of an elector;..." [source: p.5 in "First Constitution of Kentucky. (1792)" a .pdf at procon.org (available online)].   However, when the 1799 constitution was written, the voting rights were rescinded. "Section 8. In all elections for representatives, every free male citizen, (negroes, mulattoes, and Indians excepted,) who at the time being, hath attained to the age of twenty-one years, and resided in the state two years, or the county or town in which he offers to vote one year next preceding the election, shall enjoy the right of an elector;..." [source: p.29 in "The Old Constitution of Kentucky" found in The Revised Statutes of Kentucky by C. A. Wickliffe, S. Turner, and S. S. Nicholas, 1852 (available online at Internet Archive)]. According to the Second Census of Kentucky, there were free Negroes and Mulattoes and 40,303 slaves in 1800. Voting rights were regained for African American males with the ratification of the 15th Amendment, February 3, 1870. Voting rights for African American women and all other women were gained with the ratification of the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920. 
Subjects: Voting Rights
Geographic Region: Kentucky

Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (online)
Voyages is a free and interactive resource that documents the slave trade from Africa to the New World between the 16th and 19th centuries. It provides information on almost 35,000 trans-Atlantic voyages and includes data on individual Africans who were transported to the New World. This project was made possible through the collaborative efforts of various sponsors and institutional partners.
Subjects: National Resources
Geographic Region: Africa / New World

 

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