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Bishop, Daisy H. and Charles Maceo
Daisy Carolyn Hitch Bishop (1897-1990) and Charles Maceo Bishop (1898-1990) resided in Paris, KY, for most of their lives. Daisy was born in Falmouth, KY, the daughter of Carrie B. and Edward J. Hitch. Charles, a musician, was born in Paris, the son of Georgie A. Small Bishop (1874-1953) and Charles W. Bishop (b. 1867). Charles Maceo was a World War I veteran. He and Daisy were married November 30, 1919, and initially lived with Daisy's family in Newtown, an African American community in Paris. Charles Maceo learned to play music while a student at Western School for Colored children in Paris. He played drums, saxophone, and piano. His mother, Georgie A. Small Bishop, encouraged him to play music; her father, George Small (1822-1879?), had also been a musician. He was killed when Georgie was a child and her mother, Martha Wallace Small (b. 1832), raised the family alone. At the age of 15, Charles Maceo began teaching music, saving $1,500 by the time he graduated from high school. His services were in demand throughout Central Kentucky, and he also performed in nearby states. Charles Maceo performed with local orchestras and with night club and gambling house bands in Bourbon County and surrounding counties. He played (volunteered) during services at the Martin and Hurley Funeral Home from the day the business opened up till the death of the owner. He also played for churches, at the insistence of his mother. Charles Maceo Bishop was organist for the St. Paul Methodist Church for more than 50 years, beginning in 1918.
Read about the Daisy Carolyn Bishop oral history interview, and the Charles Maceo Bishop oral history interview, both available at the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item records in the SPOKE Database.
Subjects: Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Religion & Church Work, Undertakers, Cemeteries, Coroners, & Obituaries, Gambling, Lottery
Geographic Region: Falmouth, Pendleton County, Kentucky / Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky
Combs, Richard "Tallow Dick"
Combs, a barber, was from Beattyville, KY. He was one of the ten men initially charged with complicity in the murder of William Goebel. While on his deathbed, Goebel had been named Governor of Kentucky following a very controversial and contested governor's race. Richard Combs was the only African American linked to the murder; though there was testimony during the trial that two Negroes had been hired to kill Goebel. W. H. Watts, a Negro janitor of the Adjunct General's Office in the Kentucky Executive Building, also testified in the case [it had only been since 1872 that Negro testimony was accepted in a Kentucky court]. Goebel had won the Democratic nomination for governor in 1899, was shot and mortally wounded January 30, 1900, while outside the Kentucky State Capitol Building, and died February 3, 1900. A senator from Kenton County, KY, he was sometimes described as ruthless, at other times as a reformer. As a reformer, he pushed for a number of changes, including more rights for women and Negroes, and he wanted to do away with lotteries and pool halls. For more see William Goebel in the Kentucky Encyclopedia; "Goebel suspects indicted," from Frankfort, KY in the New York Times, 04/19/1900, p. 1; "Prison cell for Powers," New York Times, 08/19/1900, p. 1; The First New Dealer, by U. Woodson; and V. Hazard, "The Black testimony controversy in Kentucky, 1866-1872," The Journal of Negro History, vol.58, issue 2 (April 1973), pp. 140-165.
Subjects: Barbers, Corrections and Police, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Gambling, Lottery
Geographic Region: Beattyville, Lee County, Kentucky / Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Kenton County, Kentucky
Gambling Houses (Newport, KY)
Beginning in the late 1800s, Covington and Newport, KY, were known for their gambling and prostitution houses and organized crime. Newport was referred to as "sin city." One of the African American gambling houses in the area was the Alibi Club, owned by Melvin Clark in 1952. The club was acquired by Screw Andrews (Frank Andriello) when Clark was kicked out of Newport after shooting and killing Andrews' casino manager. Clark returned to Newport in 1954 and opened the Coconut Grove. He was later killed by Screw Andrews. Other casinos and clubs that catered to African Americans were the Congo, the Copa, Golden Lounge, the Rocket, York Streets, the Sportsman, and the Varga. For more see Newport, the real sin city, by J. Laudeman; Syndicate wife: the story of Ann Drahmann Coppola, by H. Messick; Sin City Revisited: a case study of the official sanctioning of organized crime in an "open city", by M. DeMichele, G. Potter, Justice and Police Studies, Eastern Kentucky University; Cathie John's website, Gambler shot gangland style in Newport; and D. Baker, "Builder was in business with kin of crime figures," Kentucky Post, 11/02/2002, News section, p. K1.
Subjects: Gambling, Lottery
Geographic Region: Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky / Newport, Campbell County, Kentucky
Kentucky Gambling Law, Negroes
Start Year : 1836
Gambling with cards and dice greatly increased following the American Revolution. Every state had passed laws to curtail gambling, particularly among the "lower classes" where such vices were thought to create theft, idleness, and other immoral indulgences. In 1836, the Kentucky penal code was amended to include gambling between Whites and African Americans. "Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, That all persons hereafter gulity of playing with a free Negro, mulatto or slave, any game at cards, or with dice, or any other game whatever, whereby money or property is won or lost, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined therefore, at the discretion of a jury, a sum not exceeding fifty dollars, upon the presentment of a grand jury." From Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, December Session, 1836, Chap. 430-AN ACT to amend the Penal Laws, 305-306. See also, P. D. Jordan, "Lady Luck and her Knights of the Royal Flush," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, vol. 72, issue 3, pp. 295-312.
Subjects: Gambling, Lottery
Geographic Region: Kentucky
Sammy McKnight, from Paducah, KY, was a burglar, pimp, and hustler in Harlem, New York. He was sometimes called "The Pimp" or "Pretty Boy." He was one of the two people most trusted by Malcolm Little (who later became known as Malcolm X); they lived in the same boarding house. Sammy and Malcolm were partners in crime until a fight erupted between Malcolm and Sammy's girlfriend, and Sammy, with gun in hand, chased Malcolm down the street. They later reconciled their differences somewhat, and in 1945, it was Sammy who called Malcolm Jarvis, Sr., [also know as "Shorty"] to come get his friend Malcolm Little out of New York. Shorty, a musician, lived in Boston. In New York, West Indian Archie had put a contract out on Malcolm Little due to a misunderstanding about a numbers hit. After serving time in prison and becoming a member of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X returned to New York in 1954; McKnight had died in the meantime. For more see the "Sammy McKnight" entry in The Malcolm X Encyclopedia, edited by R. L. Jenkins; and The Other Malcolm, "Shorty" Jarvis, by M. Jarvis, et al.
Subjects: Migration North, Gambling, Lottery
Geographic Region: Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky / Harlem, New York City, New York
Birth Year : 1822
Death Year : 1901
The Mordecai family in St. Louis, MO, was once among the richest African Americans in the city. The family is included in the 1858 pamphlet by Cyprian Clamorgan titled The Colored Aristocracy of St. Louis, pp.51-52. The family was led by Samuel Mordecai who was born in Frankfort, KY, around 1821; he was the son of Harry Mordecai, a free Black man. Cyprian Clamorgan estimated in 1858 that Samuel Mordecai, then living is St. Louis, was worth about $100,000. Samuel Mordecai was a businessman, a professional gambler, and a barber. His business, located at Fourth and Pine Streets in St. Louis, was a bathhouse and a dressing saloon. He had been a boatman, working on riverboats, the same as Charles Lyons who was also born in Kentucky and lived in St. Louis. Samuel Mordecai had come to St. Louis in the late 1830s or early 1840s with Montgomery Blair who was a white lawyer. Samuel Mordecai would marry Mary Eagleson on June 8, 1843 [source: Missouri Marriage Records in Ancestry.com and Ancestry Library Edition]. The family is listed as free in the 1860 U.S. Census: both parents, three daughters, nephew Louis Clamorgan, and three other young women of whom Fannie Heckly was born in Kentucky. Samuel Mordecai owned $14,000 in real estate and his wife Mary owned $400 in real estate. Everyone in the household is listed as a "Mulatto" in the census record. Samuel Mordecai died in St. Louis, MO, on July 17, 1901, and was buried in the Calvary Cemetery [source: City of St. Louis Certificate of Death, No. of Burial Permit 5896; and Archdiocese of St. Louis Catholic Cemeteries Burial database]. For more see J. Winch, "Cyprian Clamorgan and The Colored Aristocracy of St. Louis" in Proceedings of the Meeting of the French Colonial Historical Society, v. 21, Essays in French Colonial History (1997), pp. 249-264; and The Clamorgans: one family's history of race in America by Julie Winch.
Subjects: Barbers, Businesses, Migration West, Gambling, Lottery
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / St. Louis, Missouri
Negro Gig: Four, Eleven, Forty-four
Start Year : 1892
4-11-44 was also referred to as the Negro gig, the coon gig, or the washerwoman's gig. The numbers were a favored combination for "policy" because of the promise of a large payout; the number sequence rarely hit. "Policy" was an illegal gambling system for players who paid a small sum each week to select three numbers. If all three numbers hit, it was referred to as a "gig"; the payout was about $10 per winning ticket. This was a lot of money in 1892 when the numbers hit in the Frankfort Lottery drawing in New York City. The policy shops [gambling houses] took a hard hit, losing about $20,000. The lotteries were actually outlawed in New York State in 1834. The numbers thereafter came from New Jersey, until lotteries were outlawed there in 1840. After that, the numbers were drawn in Kentucky, Missouri, or Louisiana, then sent by telegraph to the headquarters in New York. The 4-11-44 number sequence hit in 1886 in Chicago and paid out about $3,000, considered a big hit to the policy houses. In 1898 the sequence hit two days in a row in Chicago. By the early 1900s, the odds of winning at policy were 7,878 to 1. The game was often referred to as being common in African American communities within cities. Around 1915, Sam Young, remembered as the father of Policy, named his Policy wheel the Frankfort, Henry, and the Kentucky. The wheel was located in Chicago. Policy evolved into the numbers game. For more see "A shock to the policy shops, 4-11-44 comes out and the players win something like $3000," Chicago Daily Tribune, 12/24/1886, front page; "Policy players win on 4-11-44: famous gig comes two days in succession and there is joy on the levee," Chicago Daily Tribune, 02/05/1898; "Four, Eleven, Forty-four," New York Times, 08/14/1892, p. 20; "Policy Sam Young Rites held Friday," Chicago Defender, 05/22/1937; R. M. Lombardo, "The Black Mafia: African-American organized crime in Chicago 1890-1960," Crime Law & Social Change, vol. 38 (2002), pp. 33-65; J. Burnham, "Gambling," Encyclopedia of Recreation and Leisure in America (2004), vol. 1, pp. 373-382; and T. Sellin, "Organized crime: a business enterprise," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 347: Combating Organized Crime (May 1963), pp. 12-19.
Subjects: Gambling, Lottery
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Louisiana / Missouri / New Jersey / New York City, New York / Chicago, Illinois
Death Year : 1891
Shaw's birth date was in the late 1820s. He was a free man born in Kentucky who moved to Memphis, TN, around 1852. He owned a saloon and gambling house. Shaw has been described as a radical Republican political leader and as the most powerful African American leader in Memphis. He was defeated in a run for Congress in 1869. He spoke up for the rights of African Americans, for integrated schools, and against poll taxes. He served on the City Council and the County Commission and was elected wharf master. Shaw was also a lawyer and editor of the Memphis Planet newspaper. For more see "Ed Shaw" in the article "Free Blacks had impact on county history - Historian traces roots of black population," Commercial Appeal, 10/14/1993, Neighbors section, p. e2; and in the History of Memphis at cityofmemphis.org.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Lawyers, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Migration South, Gambling, Lottery
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Memphis, Tennessee
Death Year : 1901
Dr. Turner's death in 1901 was the first suicide on record for an African American in Kentucky. It was thought that he hanged himself due to the shame of being indited for vending lottery tickets. His half nude body was found in the early morning, in the highest tree, 50 feet above ground, in Flora Park in Louisville, KY. The park was located at South and Ormsby Streets. Turner's death was also reported as a lynching. For more see "Suicide: of Dr. Samuel Turner this morning," Newark Daily Advocate, 06/29/1901, p. 1; "He hanged himself high," The Atlanta Constitution, 06/30/1901, p.2.
Subjects: Lynchings, Medical Field, Health Care, Parks & Resorts, Undertakers, Cemeteries, Coroners, & Obituaries, Gambling, Lottery, Suicide
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky
Young, Ada Johnson and Samuel "Policy Sam"
Ada Johnson Young was born in Kentucky around 1886, she was the wife of Samuel Young who was also known in Chicago as "Policy Sam" and the "Father of Policy". Samuel Young was born around 1868 in Alabama, died in 1937 in Chicago, and was buried in Louisville, KY. He is remembered for bringing the illegal numbers game "Policy" to Chicago. According to the U.S. Federal Census, Ada and Samuel Young lived in Chicago on Dearborn Street in 1910; they were two of the four lodgers at the home of Henry Bates. Samuel's employment was given as bondsman. Ada was listed as a mulatto from Kentucky, and Samuel was listed as a black man from Tennessee [he had previously lived in TN]. The two other lodgers at Bates' home were Pearl and Robert Reed. Pearl, a hairdresser, was also from Kentucky. By 1920, Ada and Samuel Young had their own place on State Street and were the parents of two children. Samuel's occupation was still recorded as bondsman in the census. Ten years later, Samuel and the children were listed in the census as living with Ada's brother's family on Rhodes Avenue in Chicago; Ada's name was not included as a member of the household. Both Samuel Young and his brother-in-law, Albert Johnson, were said to be employed as bondsmen of appearance bonds. [Appearance bonds are posted for the release of a defendant or a witness who is in legal custody. The bond, which can be cash, propety, or collateral, is posted to secure the individual's required appearance in court.] For more see "The Last of the Policy Kings: game unnoticed in 1915 becomes richest racket," Chicago Defender, 08/23/1952, p.1; "Policy Sam Young rites held Friday," Chicago Defender, 05/29/1937, p.5; "Policy Sam shot in card game holdup," Chicago Defender, 12/22/1928; and see NKAA entry Negro Gig.
Subjects: Migration North, Gambling, Lottery
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois