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Berry, Isaac, Sr.
Birth Year : 1831
Death Year : 1914
Isaac Berry, Sr. was a violin player who was born a slave in Garrard County, KY. He was willed to one of his owner's daughters. The daughter married James Pratt, and the family moved to Missouri. With the permission of Mrs. Pratt, Berry ran away and James Pratt posted a $500 reward for Berry, dead or alive. Berry made his way to Ypsilanti, MI, [see George McCoy] by following the railroad tracks, the trip taking him three weeks. Members of the Underground Railroad helped Berry to make his way on to Detroit, then to Canada. Berry's daughter, Katy Pointer, was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, in 1864, and the family moved to Mecosta, MI, in 1877. Isaac Berry, Sr. was a blacksmith and a carpenter, he was the husband of Lucy, who was born in New York; both are last listed in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. The Berry family was among the early settlers of Morton Township in Mecosta, MI, where Isaac Berry built a school for Negro children and other structures. Isaac Berry, Sr. was born March 10, 1831 and died January 11, 1914 [source: Michigan Certificate of Death at Seeking Michigan, online digital archive]. For more see Negro Folktales in Michigan, edited by R. M. Dorson; and A northside view of slavery. The Refugee: or the Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada, by B. Drew (1856).
Subjects: Freedom, Migration North, Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Blacksmiths, Inheritance, Carpenters, Underground Railroad: Conductors, Escapes, Organizations, Research
Geographic Region: Garrard County, Kentucky / Missouri / Ypsilanti, Detroit, and Mecosta, Michigan / Canada

Boyd, Henry
Birth Year : 1802
Death Year : 1866
Henry Boyd, who was born a slave in Kentucky, was an inventor, carpenter, and a master mechanic. He invented the corded bed - The Boyd Bedstead. His profits from his carpentry work also allowed him to buy his own and his family's freedom. In 1843 he was among the most successful furniture makers in Cincinnati, Ohio. For more see The Mis-education of the Negro, by C. G. Woodson; Created Equal, by J. M. Brodie; C. G. Woodson, "The Negroes of Cincinnati prior to the Civil War," The Journal of Negro History, vol. 1, issue 1 (Jan. 1916), p. 21; and History of the Negro Race in America, 1619-1880 by G. W. Williams.
Subjects: Businesses, Inventors, Migration North, Carpenters, Mechanics and Mechanical Engineering
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio

Brooks, Thomas L.
Birth Year : 1861
Death Year : 1923
Brooks, born in Virginia, was the son of Maria and Thomas Brooks, according to his death certificate. He lived most of his life in Kentucky, and was a noted contractor in Eastern Kentucky. Brooks moved to Frankfort in 1881, where he was a highly sought after carpenter and contractor. His projects there included over half of the residence in the exclusive Watson Court area, the Columbia Theater, the auditorium and trades building at Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute for Colored Persons [now Kentucky State University], the Odd Fellows Building for African Americans, and the Baptist Church. Brooks was the secretary of the Capital City Lodge of the Odd Fellows, a member of the Knights of Pythias, a member of the United Brothers of Friendship, and was Grand Master of the B. M. C. He was the husband of Mary L. Hocker Brooks, and the couple shared their home on Blanton Street with Mary's parents and two nieces. Thomas L. Brooks is buried in Frankfort, his funeral was handled by Thomas K. Robb. For more see "Prominent business man," Baltimore Afro-American, 12/12/1914, p.5; and the Thomas L. Brooks entry in Who's Who of the Colored Race edited by F. L. Mather, 1915.
Subjects: Construction, Contractors, Builders, Migration West, Fraternal Organizations, Carpenters
Geographic Region: Virginia / Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky

Brown, Curlee Sr.
Birth Year : 1909
Death Year : 1976
Curlee Brown, Sr. was a civil rights leader in Paducah, KY.  He served as the President of the Paducah NAACP Office for more than 30 years, and he also had served as Vice President of the Kentucky NAACP. In the 1950s, Curlee Brown, Sr. led in the efforts to integrate public accommodations and the schools in Paducah, KY, and he won the lawsuit to integrate Paducah Junior College (now West Kentucky Community and Technical College). Curlee Brown, Sr. was born in Hollandale, Mississippi, and his family later moved to Paducah. Named in his honor are the Kentucky NAACP Curlee Brown Scholarship, and the Paducah NAACP Curlee Brown Award.  Curlee Brown, Sr. was a graduate of Western Kentucky Industrial College, and attended Western Kentucky Vocational School where he studied carpentry and cabinet-making. Both of the schools were in Paducah, KY and have since been merged into what is now West Kentucky Community and Technical College. Curlee Brown, Sr. was the son of Dave and Dora Brown, both of whom was born in Louisiana [source: 1910 U.S. Federal Census].


  See the image of Curlee Brown at the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights website.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Migration North, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), Carpenters
Geographic Region: Hollandale, Mississippi / Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky

Birth Year : 1758
Death Year : 1836
Caesar, born into slavery, was a carpenter. In 1733, he was inherited by James Robertson. Caesar accompanied Robertson on his journey to the Natchez District and on to Fort Nelson (Louisville, KY). When Robertson died, Caesar became the property of Philip Barbour, who then sold him to John Campbell. When Campbell died, his heir, William Beard, brought Caesar to Lexington, KY, where he lived for the remainder of his life. For more see The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. by J. E. Kleber.
Subjects: Explorers, Inheritance, Carpenters
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Carpenters (Louisville, KY)
Author W. H. Gibson, Sr. mentions the following African American carpenters in Louisville, KY: John Evans, Berry Evans, Jesse Merriwether, Willis Talbot, and John Jordan. For more see The History of the United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten, by W. H. Gibson, Sr.
Subjects: Businesses, Carpenters
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Cole, James H. and Mary D.
When James Cole died, he was the wealthiest African American in Michigan. He had been a slave born in 1837 in Mississippi. He had escaped and settled in Detroit. On his way to freedom, Cole passed through Kentucky and was aided by a slave family. He had been in Detroit a few years when he met a young girl who was a member of the Kentucky family that had helped him during his escape. Cole and the 13 year old girl, Mary D. (born 1850 in Kentucky), were later married; they would become the parents of several children, one of whom was Thomas A. Cole, the father of Florence Cole Talbert, a noted concert and operatic soprano, who performed in Kentucky in 1922. She was sponsored by the Progressive Choral Society of Bowling Green, KY. The recital took place at State Street Baptist Church. Talbert was assisted by Charles R. Taylor, a Howard University student, and R. Lillian Carpenter was the pianist. The Cole family fortune was earned by James H. Cole who was a carpenter, blacksmith, and real estate investor. James and Mary Cole are listed in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census. For more see P. Turner, "In retrospect: Florence Cole Talbert - Our Divine Florence," The Black Perspective in Music, vol.12, issue 1 (Spring, 1984), pp. 57-79. For more on Florence Cole Talbert, see "The Progressive Choral Society of Bowling Green, Ky...," The Crisis, April 1922, v.23, issue 6, p.274; Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890-1919, by T. Brooks; and The Negro Trail Blazers of California, by D. L. Beasley.
Subjects: Freedom, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Blacksmiths, Carpenters, Grandparents
Geographic Region: Mississippi / Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan

Dinwiddie, William Thomas
Birth Year : 1865
William T. Dinwiddie was born in Lincoln County, KY and he grew up in Danville, KY. After his graduation from the Danville Colored school, he completed a two year course at Knoxville College and later graduated from Meharry Medical and Dental School [now Meharry Medical College, School of Dentistry] in Nashville. Following his graduation, Dr. Dinwiddie became Chair of Prosthetic Dentistry at Meharry. He left Meharry to become a dentist in Lexington, KY. Dr. Dinwiddie had a large practice located in the medical building at 118 North Broadway. He was one of the first African American dentist in Kentucky. Dr. Dinwiddie was also a carpenter and master mechanic. In 1898 he married Addie B. Dinwiddie (b.1871 in Kentucky), his first wife, and in 1905 married Georgia McLaughin Dinwiddie (born 1875 in Danville, KY). For more see Evidences of Progress Among Colored People, by G. F. Richings at the Documenting the American South website; and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Negro Men and Women of Kentucky, by W. D. Johnson.
Subjects: Medical Field, Health Care, Migration South, Carpenters, Mechanics and Mechanical Engineering, Dentists
Geographic Region: Lincoln County, Kentucky / Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky / Knoxville and Nashville, Tennessee / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Jett, Alta M. and Richard E. Jett
Alta Margaret Boatright Jett (1920-2004) was born in Lancaster, KY; her family later moved to Indiana. She held a number of jobs, including domestic servant, credit officer at Montgomery Wards, and janitor. She was also president of the Mary B. Talbert Club and Vice Precinct Committee person for the Democratic Party, as well as a worker with the Girl Scouts, YMCA, and a mother's study group. Jett wrote obituaries and spoke on African American history. She was the daughter of Charles and Annie Farley Boatright, and the wife of Richard Ezekiel Jett (1917-2006), a carpenter and musician from Booneville, KY. Richard was the son of James and Mattie Jett. The Alta M. Jett Collection is housed at the Indiana Historical Society. For more see "Alta M. Jett in Guide to African-American History Materials in the Manuscript Collections at the Indiana Historical Society; "Obituaries," Palladium-Item, 05/23/2004, p. 3B; and Richard E. Jett in the Obituary section of the Palladium-Item, 07/23/2006, p. 3C.
Subjects: Civic Leaders, Historians, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Carpenters, YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association)
Geographic Region: Lancaster, Garrard County, Kentucky / Booneville, Owsley County, Kentucky / Richmond, Indiana

"Jim Crow" The Character
The origin of the minstrel character, Jim Crow, has been placed in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Louisville, Kentucky. The Kentucky version suggests that in 1830, Thomas D. Rice, a white man who was a blackface performer, was in Louisville acting and working as a stagehand doing carpentry and lamp lighting. A livery stable owned by a man named Crowe was located near the City Theatre where Rice performed; Crowe owned a slave named Jim Crowe who sang and danced while he worked at the stable. Rice studied Crowe's movements, his song, and his clothes, all of which were incorporated into Rice's stage performance of Jim Crow in Pittsburgh. Rice's performance was originally meant to be a brief diversion between acts; instead it was an instant hit with white audiences in the United States and England. "Jim Crow" became a permanent term in the English vocabulary and would have multiple applications. A Jim Crow song was published in 1830 by William C. Peters. Jim Crow acts and songs were the rave, and Rice was dubbed "Daddy Rice," "Father of American Minstrels," and "Mr. T. D. Rice of Kentucky." Thomas Rice was actually from New York but had spent a brief time in Kentucky at the beginning of his stage career. For more about the character Jim Crow, see the entry by J. D. Julian in The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. by J. E. Kleber; and Men in Blackface, by S. Stark. For more about Thomas D. Rice, see M. N. Ramshaw, "Jump Jim Crow! A Biographical Sketch of Thomas D. Rice," Theatre Annual, vol. 17 (1960).

See image of Jim Crow character at the KET [Kentucky Educational Television] website.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Jim Crow, Carpenters
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Keene Industrial Institute (Keene, KY) / Beattyville Industrial Institute (Beattyville, KY) / W. H. Parker
Start Year : 1900
The Keene Industrial Institute was located in Keene, Jessamine County, Kentucky. The school was established by W. H. Parker, November 12, 1900, and the first session was held from January-May, 1901. Parker, from Alabama, was a graduate of State University in Louisville [later Simmons University]. He came to Keene in 1899 to build a school on the order of Tuskegee Institute. Keene Industrial Institute was established with donations; W. H. Parker traveled throughout Kentucky and to northern states attempting to raise additional funds. In November, 1901, the school was visited by Virginia Dox from Boston. It was an impromptu visit that was encouraged by Dr. W. G. Frost, President of Berea College. Virginia Dox had raised money for schools in the West and in Mexico. She encouraged W. H. Parker to continue his efforts and they would pay off in the long run. W. H. Parker received small donations from the community and larger donations from persons in nearby counties. The girls dormitory was donated by A. J. Alexander of Woodburn, Spring Station, KY. Money for a new building had been donated by Senator J. M. Thomas of Bourbon County. Students were charged $5 per month for board and tuition. The shoe-making department for boys was headed by W. H. Cornell from Alabama, and it was thought to be the first time in Kentucky that a Colored institution participated in the shoe sales market. The school also offered sewing and cooking for the girls. In 1902, some equipment had been gathered for a blacksmith department. The school was then referred to as a normal and industrial institute. The school staff members were W. H. Parker; W. R. Dudley; Mrs. Ellsa Jones, matron; Horace D. Slatter, English and normal; J. E. Bookware, shoe-making; Mrs. Eliza Gaines, sewing; Miss Hannah M. Webster, English and normal; Rev. J. H. Brooks, Chaplain, history, Bible and English. After struggling year after year to keep Keene Industrial Institute afloat, it was announced in March 1903 that the school would be moved to Beattyville, KY, during the summer. The new school was located on five acres of land donated by Judge G. W. Gourley of Lexington. An adjoining 45 acres was available for lease, and if the school proved to be successful for Lee County, then the 45 acres could be purchased by the school trustees. The leased land was used as a farm. Boys who could not pay their board and tuition could work off their fees at the farm. The instruction for boys included carpentry and blacksmithing, and they could make additional money cutting cord wood and getting cross ties for railroad contractors. Girls who could not pay their tuition and board outright could work off their fees in the laundry or by sewing and cooking at the school. Mrs. Lizzie Johnson, from Paducah, KY, was over the Laundry Department and the primary grades. Miss Mamie L. Brooks, from Paducah, was the music instructor. Mrs. W. H. Parker taught mathematics and grammar. The new school building opened in the fall of 1903. The motto was "Obedience is our watchword." Miss Alice Brownlow, a musician from Mobile, Alabama, and sister to Mrs. W. H. Parker, arrived in Beattyville in November, 1903 to take part in the school's Industrial Congress celebration. There were 30 students at the school, all boys and men from Kentucky and several other states, aged 11 to 28. In September, 1904, W. H. Parker represented the school during the Mount Pleasant Association Messengers and Ministers Meeting held in Lexington, KY. W. H. Parker was also a politician, serving as an alternate-at-large for Beattyville for the Kentucky Delegation to the 1904 Republican National Convention in Chicago, where Theodore Roosevelt was nominated as Presidential candidate and Charles W. Fairbanks the Vice-Presidential candidate. For more see "Industrial Institute," Lexington Leader, 04/07/1901, p. 2; "The First Year," Lexington Leader, 05/17/1901, p. 4; "Keene Industrial Institute Notes," 08/14/1901, p. 7; "Keene Institute," Lexington Leader, 08/22/1901, p. 4; "Keene," Lexington Leader, 10/12/1902, p. 2; "Keene Institute," 11/14/1901, p. 2; "Parker's Plan," 12/26/1901, p. 2; "Splendid work," Lexington Leader, 03/23/1902, p. 4; "Keene School," Lexington Leader, 04/19/1903, p. 1; "K. N and I. I. Notes," The American Baptist, 11/13/1903, p. 3; "Mount Pleasant Association," The American Baptist, 09/23/1904, p. 3; and "Lee County. Beattyville." Citizen, 11/05/1903, p. 8. See also entries for African American Schools in the NKAA Database.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Migration North, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Blacksmiths, Carpenters, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky, Shoes: Finishers, Makers, Repairers, Shiners, Stores
Geographic Region: Keene, Jessamine County, Kentucky / Beattyville, Lee County, Kentucky / Alabama

Lampton Street Baptist Church (Louisville, KY) [Spencer Taylor]
Start Year : 1866
Spencer Taylor, a carpenter, organized the church and led the services of the Lampton Street Baptist Church, founded in 1866 in Louisville, KY. Services were first held in Taylor's carpentry shop, located at the intersection of Preston, Jackson, Breckinridge and Caldwell Streets. The church services were later moved to a house that was built on Caldwell Street between Preston and Jackson Streets. A later Lampton Street Baptist Church building was completed by architect Samuel Plato. When the National Baptist Convention was held in Louisville in September 1928, the assembly of women at the Lampton Street Baptist Church was seriously urged by Nannie Burroughs to vote for the Republican presidential candidate, Herbert Hoover. The women had gathered at the church to conduct the business of the National Baptist Women's Convention, an organization founded by Nannie Burroughs in Louisville, KY, in 1900. The present day Lampton Baptist Church is located on 4th Street in Louisville, KY. For more see the "Lampton Street Baptist Church" entry in Weeden's History of the Colored People of Louisville, by H. C. Weeden; and in Negro Baptist History, by L. G. Jordan. For more about the 1928 Women's Convention, see L. G. Materson, "African American women, prohibition, and the 1928 presidential election," Journal of Women's History, vol . 21, issue 1 (Spring 2009), pp. 63-86.

See photo image of the Lampton Baptist Church in Louisville and the Zion Baptist Church in Georgetown, both on p.99 in the Golden Jubilee of the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky, at the NYPL Digital Gallery.
Subjects: Kentucky African American Churches, Ministers, Pastors, Preachers, Religion & Church Work, Women's Groups and Organizations, Carpenters
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Magowan, James E.
Birth Year : 1870
Death Year : 1933
The following information comes from the James E. Magowan archival file at the Montgomery County Historical Society and Museum in Mt. Sterling, KY. James E. Magowan was a successful businessman and a community leader. He was born in Montgomery County, the son of Amanda and John Wesley Magowan, and a brother of John, Noah, Susan, and Emily Magowan. The family lived in Smithville, KY. James Magowan, his brothers, and sister, Susan, all attended the Academy at Berea. As an adult, James Magowan was a real estate agent, loans and collecting agent, notary public, carpenter, contractor, and owner of the Magowan Theater and the colored skating rink in Mt. Sterling. James Magowan developed the Lincoln View Cemetery next to Olive Hill Cemetery in Smithville. The Lincoln View Cemetery opened on April 1, 1929, with James Magowan as president, his son, Jesse E., 1st vice president, and his wife, Lizzie, his daughter, Sarah, and his son-in-law and daughter, Watson D. Banks and Estella Magowan Banks, board members. James Magowan established a subdivision for African Americans next to the cemetery, and he owned and managed the waterline to the homes, charging a monthly fee for the service. He established the Mt. Sterling Colored Fair Association in 1909. He was owner of the James E. Magowan Grocery Store, which was located within the J. E. Magowan Hall (built in 1914) at the corner of East Locust and Fox Streets. James Magowan leased-out the grocery store and other space within the building. Additional information about James E. Magowan comes from "Achievements of the late James E. Magowan" on pp. 23-24 in Montgomery County Kentucky Bicentennial, 1774-1974, by S. A. Harris. James E. Magowan was a school teacher for six years. He led the effort to extend the gas line into Smithville, and in 1915 he was president of the organization that had a sidewalk completed from the city limits of Mt. Sterling to the entrance of Olive Hill Cemetery. James Avenue in Mt. Sterling was named in his honor. James E. Magowan is buried in the Lincoln View Cemetery in Mt. Sterling, KY.
Subjects: Bankers, Banks, Finance, Financial Advisors, Businesses, Civic Leaders, Communities, Construction, Contractors, Builders, Education and Educators, Colored Fairs, Black Expos, and Chautauquas, Undertakers, Cemeteries, Coroners, & Obituaries, Carpenters, Realtors, Real Estate Brokers, Real Estate Investments, Notary Public, Skating Rinks, Theater: Companies, Education, Exhibitions, Performers, and Performances in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Mount Sterling and Smithville, Montgomery County, Kentucky

Magowan, John Wesley [Brooks]
Birth Year : 1842
Death Year : 1895
John W. Brooks was a slave born on the Magowan Farm in Montgomery County, KY. In 1864, Brooks and seven other African Americans left the Magowan farm and headed to Louisville to join up with the 109th Regiment, Company A of the United States Colored Infantry. After the Civil War, Sergeant Brooks returned to Montgomery County and took the last name Magowan. He married Amanda Trimble, supporting his wife and children through his trade as a carpenter. John W. Magowan was one of the more prosperous African Americans in Montgomery County. The family lived in Smithville, and four of the children attended Berea Academy. John and Amanda's sons, Noah and John D. Magowan, were the first African Americans to establish a newspaper in Mt. Sterling, KY: The Reporter. Another son, James E. Magowan, was a successful businessman and community leader in Mt. Sterling. John Wesley Magowan died of consumption [tuberculosis] on February 3, 1895. This entry was submitted by Holly Hawkins of the Montgomery County Historical Society, and comes from her work included in the Civil War display at the Montgomery County Historical Society Museum in 2011. See the death notice for John Wesley Magowan in the Mt. Sterling Advocate, 02/05/1895, p. 1, col. 3. There are several Magowan families listed in the U.S. Federal Census noted as Black and living in Montgomery County, KY.
Subjects: Fathers, Freedom, Military & Veterans, Carpenters, Tuberculosis: Care and Deaths
Geographic Region: Mount Sterling and Smithville, Montgomery County, Kentucky

Meachum, John Berry "J. B."
Birth Year : 1789
Death Year : 1854
John Berry Meachum was a slave born in Kentucky who later lived in Virginia. He was hired out and eventually purchased his freedom and that of his father, who was a Baptist preacher. Meachum and his father moved to St. Louis, MO, leaving Meachum's wife and children enslaved in Virginia. For the next eight years, Meachum worked as a cooper and carpenter, saving enough money to purchase his family in 1824. (In some sources, Meachum and his wife, Mary, a slave from Kentucky, are said to have gone to Missouri together.) Two years later, Meachum was ordained a minister and became pastor of the First African Baptist Church, a position he held until his death in 1854. He had helped found the church, which eventually grew to have more than 500 members. Meachum also owned slaves; he had more than 20 slaves, most of them children who worked to purchase their freedom. Meachum was considered a leader among the freemen and slaves; during his time, he was the most outspoken advocate in Missouri for the education of African Americans. Meachum's church was one of five in St. Louis that offered education under the guise of Sunday School. Each Sunday, more than 100 freemen and slaves (with permission) attended classes in the dark basement of Mechum's church. White sympathizers helped teach the classes and provided supplies for the school. One of the students was James Milton Turner (see the Hannah Turner entry). In 1847, although the abolitionist movement was gaining strength in Missouri, it became illegal for African Americans to receive educational instruction or to attend school. It was also illegal for African Americans to lead church services unless a white officer were present. Meachum's school was soon closed. The school was reopened on a steamboat in the Mississippi River; the boat was built by Meachum. For more see The Baptists in America (1836), by F. A. Cox and J. Hoby [available full-text at Google Book Search]; D. D. Bellamy, "The Education of Blacks in Missouri prior to 1861," The Journal of Negro History, vol. 59, issue 2 (Apr., 1974), pp. 143-157; and D. L. Durst, "The Reverend John Berry Meachum (1789-1854) of St. Louis," The North Star: a Journal of African American Religious History, vol. 7, issue 2 (Spring 2004), pp. 1-24 [pdf].

See the image and additional information about John Berry Meachum at the First Baptist Church of St. Louis website.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Education and Educators, Freedom, Migration West, Ministers, Pastors, Preachers, Religion & Church Work, Carpenters, Sunday School, Free African American Slave Owners
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Virginia / Saint Louis, Missouri

Merriwether, Jesse [Mount Moriah Lodge No.1]
Birth Year : 1812
Death Year : 1892
Merriwether [also spelled Meriwether and Meriweather] was born a slave and freed in 1847 under the condition that he go to Liberia. Merriwether went to Liberia as a delegate of the Convention of Free Negroes of Kentucky in 1847. He returned to the U.S. in August 1848 and wrote an unfavorable report for emigration to Liberia. He also secretly established the first African American Masonic Lodge in his house on Walnut Street in Louisville, KY. Mount Moriah Lodge No. 1 was initially located in New Albany, IN, for three years. There was fear that there would be prejudice against the lodge in Kentucky, and the meetings were attended in secret. After three years the lodge was moved to Louisville. A core of the lodge remained in New Albany for the members who lived in that city. Jesse Merriwether was also a carpenter, he was the husband of Phoebe Merriwether, b.1828 in KY. He is the author of A brief history of the schools, public and private, for colored youths in Louisville, Ky. for fifty years, from 1827 to 1876, inclusive. In 1889, Merriwether was selected as a possible candidate for the legislature for the 6th District of Kentucky. For more see The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. by J. E. Kleber; and for more about the beginning of the lodge see p.42 The History of the United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten, by W. H. Gibson, Sr. See also the paragraph beginning Jesse Meriweather of Louisville... in the article "The Race Doings," Cleveland Gazette, 06/29/1889, p.1.
Subjects: Authors, Liberia, Liberian Presidents & Diplomats, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Fraternal Organizations, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada, Carpenters
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Liberia, Africa / New Albany, Indiana

Rudd, Robert R.
Birth Year : 1860
Death Year : 1930
Robert R. Rudd was from Bloomfield, Nelson County, KY, and grew up in Ohio. He was born July 25, 1860, the son of Charles H. and Jemima Rudd, and it is not known if he was ever enslaved [source: 1880 U.S. Federal Census & Rudd's death certificate]. The family of six was living in Springfield, OH, as early as 1870 [source. U.S. Federal Census]. Robert R. Rudd was a carpenter as a civilian. In the military, he was captain of the "I" Company of the 48th Infantry during the Spanish-American War. Rudd's military career had begun in 1875, when as a teen he served with the Ohio National Guard, then later became a captain in 1881. The 48th Infantry began as a volunteer unit, one of the temporary regiments that was finally authorized by Congress. African American volunteers had not been accepted at the recruitment stations, so they formed their own volunteer units and appealed to the President of the United States and to Congress for military acceptance. The 48th Infantry served mainly in the Philippine Islands between 1900-1901, where some of the men died of diseases such tuberculosis and small pox. After the war, the 48th Infantry was mustered out of the service as a volunteer unit. Captain Robert R. Rudd was well respected for his command; he did survive the war. Rudd died January 20, 1930 in Springfield, OH, he was single and had lived at 727 Garfield [source: Ohio Certificate of Death, File #580]. For more about his service life, see the Robert R. Rudd Papers, 1875-1906, at the New York Public Library, Schomburg Center. For more about other African American men who served in the 48th Infantry during the Spanish-American War, see On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier II, by I. K. Schubert and F. N. Schubert.
Subjects: Migration North, Military & Veterans, Carpenters
Geographic Region: Bloomfield, Nelson County, Kentucky / Ohio

Terry, Woodford H.
Birth Year : 1871
Death Year : 1960
Woodford H. Terry was a plumber and carpenter who was a furniture maker in Bowling Green, KY for a few years. In Clarksville, TN, he was the chief builder at The American Tobacco Company plant. In 1909, Terry moved to Los Angeles, CA and did general contracting work. There was a new builders law enacted in California in 1912, and that year Terry passed the General Builders License exam. He constructed a number of buildings in California, including the Vernon Avenue A. M. E. Church in Pasadena, CA, and the Trinity Baptist Church in Southern California. Woodford H. Terry was the son of Henry and Rachael Eggner Terry. He was born in Birmingham, KY, a town that was intentionally removed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) during the development of Kentucky Lake in the 1940s. Long before the town disappeared, Woodford H. Terry's family moved to Clarksville, TN, where Woodford attended the city schools. He earned his master's certificate in plumbing in 1894 via a correspondence course at Smith Trade School located in Nashville, TN. He was also an apprentice carpenter with American Tobacco Company in Clarksville, TN. In 1908, Terry vacationed in California and liked the area so much that he moved there the following year. In 1910, he married Jessie Sayers and the couple had three children. [Jessie Sayers Terry was the first African American member of the City Housing Commission in Los Angeles, CA.] In addition to his work as a plumber and carpenter in California, Woodford H. Terry was also the director and treasurer of the Unity Finance Corporation. He died in Los Angeles on December 27, 1960 [source: California Death Index]. For more see Woodford H. Terry on p.13 in Negro Who's Who in California, 1948 edition; and Two Case Studies of African American Architect's Careers in Los Angeles, 1890-1945: Paul R. Williams, FAIA and James H. Garrott, AIA by W. H. Henderson.
Subjects: Bankers, Banks, Finance, Financial Advisors, Migration West, Migration South, Carpenters, Plumbers
Geographic Region: Birmingham, Marshall County, Kentucky (no longer exists) / Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky / Clarksville, TN / Los Angeles California

Thompson, Jr., Eddie James
Birth Year : 1935
Death Year : 2016
Eddie James Thompson, Jr. was a professional boxer, a carpenter, and a political activist in northern Kentucky. It is believed that he was the first African American to run for Mayor of Covington, KY, though unsuccessful in his 1979 bid. However, he had been sucessful in 1963 when he became the first African American admitted to the Carpenters Union in Cincinnati, OH. He was also founder and owner of his construction company, American Urban Contractors. He was president of the Model Cities Advisory Board in Northern Kentucky in 1972, and the executive director of the Housing and Urban Development Corporation in Northern Kentucky in 1977. Eddie James Thompson, Jr. had also been a professional boxer. He fought out of New York and had a record of 17 wins with 6 KOs, 9 losses with 3 KOs, 2 draws. He fought in the welterweight division and had his debut win in Boston, MA in 1956 against Eddie Connors. His last fight was a loss to George Benton in 1962 in Philadelphia, PA. Most of his fights were in the United States, except a 1960 win in Lombardia [or Lombardy], Italy against Italo Scortichini, and a 1959 loss to Baby Colon in Havana, Cuba. Eddie James Thompson, Jr. was a graduate of Lincoln Grant High School in Covington where he played several sports. He attended Kentucky State College (now Kentucky State University) before leaving for his boxing career in New York. He had been Covington's African American boxing champion, having fought at St. Joseph Catholic Church Gym where he was a Golden Gloves Champion in 1956.  Eddie James Thompson, Jr. was born in Forrest City, AR. When he was three years old, his parents Rev. Eddie Sr. and Mallie Edmonson Thompson, moved the family to Covington, KY. In 1940, the family lived in the rear of 341 W. 9th Street and Eddie J. Thompson, Sr. was a laborer [source: p.391 in William's Covington (Kenton Co., Ky) City Directory 1940-41]. For more information see Eddie James Thompson, Jr. in the obituary section of the Mount Vernon News, 10/13/2016 [available online]; the Eddie Thompson entry in; and the middle column of the "Boxing" entry on p.107 in The Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky.  
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Boxers, Boxing, Construction, Contractors, Builders, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Carpenters, Housing, Fair Housing, Open Housing, Housing Agencies
Geographic Region: Forrest City, Arkansas / Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky / New York

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

Washington, Edith Stubblefield
Birth Year : 1948
Edith Stubblefield Washington was born in Almo, KY. She grew up in Toledo, OH, and spent summers with relatives in Kentucky. She is a Certified Construction Specifier. In 1997 Washington was named the first African American woman Fellow of the Construction Specifications Institute, becoming in June 2003 its first African American woman president. She has been active in the construction industry for more than 30 years and has owned and operated her own consulting firm, Stubblefield Group, Inc., since 1994. She is a specifications consultant for architectural and engineering firms in the United States and abroad. For more see L. Deen, "Edith Washington: from carpenter's helper to head of the CSI,", 02/05/04; and Who's Who Among African Americans, vols. 11-17.
Subjects: Construction, Contractors, Builders, Migration North, Carpenters
Geographic Region: Almo, Calloway County, Kentucky / Toledo, Ohio


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