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Alcohol Not Served to Women at Bars
Start Year : 1938
End Year : 1974
In January 1952, there were three arrests: Miss Frankie E. Maxwell, owner of the Top Hat Tavern in Louisville, KY, and her bartenders Lloyd A. Phillips and George Smith. Each was charged with selling cocktails to females at the bar. The Kentucky Law § 2554b-188, which had been in effect since 1938, stated that, "[n]o distilled spirits or wine shall be sold, given away or served, on premises licensed under this Act for the sale of alcoholic beverages at retail for consumption on the premises, to females, except at tables where food may be served." Maxwell, Phillips and Smith were charged a reduced fine of $100 each for the offenses, but their attorney asked for the $300 fine so that the cases could be appealed. In 1974, § 2554b-188 was repealed. For more see "Café manager fined for serving drinks to women at bar," The Louisville Defender, 01/05/1952, vol. 18, issue 41, front page & p. 2; and 244.320 Females to be served only at tables [Repealed, 1974].
Subjects: Alcohol, Businesses
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Aunt Charlotte and King Solomon
Aunt Charlotte was a slave brought to Lexington, KY, in the late 1700s. She was freed and inherited property after her owners died. She supported herself by selling fruit and baked goods at the open market. She and William "King" Solomon had known each other in Virginia, and Aunt Charlotte's story is tied to his in the literature. Solomon was a white vagrant who supported his drinking with wages earned as a digger of cisterns, graves, and cellars. In the spring of 1833, as punishment for his vagrancy, local officials put Solomon up for sale as a slave for one year; at the end of that year he was to return to court. Aunt Charlotte purchased Solomon for $13; she outbid two medical students who were investing in a future cadaver. Aunt Charlotte set Solomon free, and he promptly managed to get liquor, later making his way back to Aunt Charlotte's home, where he passed out on a Thursday. He woke on a Saturday to find that many had died or were dying of cholera while others were evacuating the city. Aunt Charlotte was preparing to leave, but when Solomon refused to go, she would not leave him. People were dying quicker than they were being buried--the gravediggers had deserted the city. Solomon took up his shovel and began burying the dead. His dedication probably prevented further spread of the disease. Both Solomon and Aunt Charlotte survived the epidemic. When Solomon returned to court, the judge shook his hand and others thanked him for his heroic deeds. Solomon died in the poorhouse in 1854; he is buried in the Lexington Cemetery. In 1908 a large tombstone was placed at his grave. It is not known what became of Aunt Charlotte. For more see "King Solomon of Kentucky" in Flute and Violin and other Kentucky Tales, by J. L. Allen; and "King Solomon, Heroic Gravedigger" in Offbeat Kentuckians, by K. McQueen.
Subjects: Alcohol, Freedom, Undertakers, Cemeteries, Coroners, & Obituaries, Inheritance
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Virginia

Churchill, Edward A.
Birth Year : 1926
Edward Churchill was born in Louisville, KY. He was the first African American state manager and sales promotion manager for Brown-Forman Distillers Corporation. For more see Profiles of Contemporary Black Achievers of Kentucky, by J. B. Horton.
Subjects: Alcohol, Businesses
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Columbia (KY) Temperance Society
Start Year : 1840
Columbia Temperance Society in Adair County, KY, was probably the first white temperance society in Kentucky to have an African American member. The organization was formed in 1839 at the Baptist Church. In 1840, there were 139 members of which 44 were women, one of whom was a slave. Columbia was the first Kentucky town to prohibit the sale of alcohol. For more see Mythic Land Apart, by J. D. Smith and T. H. Appleton; and V. Kolbenschlag, 1839 entry in "Walking tour of Columbia," Columbia Magazine, issue 13 [available online].
Subjects: Alcohol
Geographic Region: Columbia, Adair County, Kentucky

DB Bourbon Candy, LLC [Robyn C. Stuart and Johnnye Smallwood Cunningham]
Start Year : 2005
DB Bourbon Candy, LLC is a successful home business located in Frankfort, KY. While there are many candy companies and makers of bourbon balls in Kentucky, DB Bourbon Candy is believed to be the only African American owned company of its kind in the state. The owner is Robyn C. Stuart, daughter of the late Johnnye Smallwood Cunningham. The company's original candy recipe belonged to Johnnye Cunningham who would make bourbon balls during the holidays for family and friends. The bourbon balls were rolled in powered sugar. Cunningham passed away in 2002, and her daughter, Robyn Stuart, began making the bourbon balls, dipped in chocolate, for family and friends. In tribute to her mother, Stuart expanded the treats into a candy business with 38 different flavors besides bourbon. Also available are chocolate covered grapes, pineapples, and strawberries. DB Bourbon Candy clients include the Kentucky NFL Hall of Fame and Barnstable-Brown Derby Gala. The business is about giving back to children; in memory of Johnnye Smallwood Cunningham, DB Bourbon Candy,LLC gives toward school supplies for children in need. Johnnye S. Cunningham was born in Lexington in 1937, about a year after bourbon balls were created in Kentucky. Both the candy and the bourbon are unique to Kentucky, approximately 95% of the bourbon in the United States is distilled in Kentucky. For more about the DB Bourbon Candy, LLC business, see the first half of "Sweet Treats" program #441 on Connections With Renee Shaw, a Kentucky Educational Television Production [available online]; and visit the website DB Bourbon Candy, LLC. For more about the history of Kentucky bourbon balls see Kentucky Bluegrass Country by R. G. Alvey.
Subjects: Alcohol, Businesses, Bakers, Cooks and Chefs
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky

Joe Louis Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, and Joe Louis Bottling Company
Start Year : 1952
End Year : 1953
Beginning in 1952, Joe Louis Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 86 proof, was a short-lived venture by then retired heavyweight boxer Joe Louis. He was owner of the Joe Louis Distilling Company in Philadelphia, PA, where the label was produced for about a year. The whiskey was bottled in Kentucky, and the last line of the bottle label read "Joe Louis Bottling Co., Lawrenceburg, Kentucky." By January 1953, the label read, "Joe Louis Distilling Co., Lawrenceburg, Kentucky." Miniature pairs of boxing gloves of various colors were used to promote the whiskey. The gloves were stamped with the Lawrenceburg bottling and distillery name. The whiskey was sold in different volumes, including fifths, pints, and half pints. Lucky Millinder [info] organized a band in 1952 to promote the whiskey. For more see "Lucky Millinder," Jet, 10/02/1952, p. 22; "Joe Louis launches new whiskey business," in Jet, June 19, 1952, p. 45; advertisement with Lawrenceburg Distilling Company name in Jet, 01/29/1953, p. 68; and advertisement in Arkansas State Press, 08/01/1952, p. 8.

See photo image of billboard ad for the whiskey at the Amistad Research Center American Missionary Association website at the Louisiana Digital Library.

Subjects: Alcohol, Boxers, Boxing
Geographic Region: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania / Lawrenceburg, Anderson County, Kentucky

Negro Woman's Christian Temperance Union in Kentucky [Sojourner Truth WCTU]
Start Year : 1905
End Year : 1963
The earliest Negro branches of the Kentucky Woman's Christian Temperance Union (KWCTU) were organized around 1906 in Pineville, KY, with 15 members, and in Hopkins County, KY, with 30 members (three men were honorary members). Each branch was a sub-unit of the white branch of the KWCTU in the area. The development of Negro branches was a big step for Kentucky; it came about much later than Negro branches in some other states but had finally happened. The national Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was founded in Cleveland, OH, in 1874, for white women. Their goal was to promote abstinence from alcohol in order to make women and families safe from the destruction resulting from alcohol use. WCTU is the oldest voluntary, non-sectarian women's organization. Chapters were formed throughout the U.S. and Canada. As more of the branches did work with the Negro populations, it was decided by the national union that there needed to be Negro branches to work with their people. The Work Among Negroes Department was formed in 1883. On the state level, the Kentucky Woman's Christian Temperance Union (KWCTU), was formed in 1881 by Mrs. Judson, who lived in Ohio, and Julia Shaw was elected president. The first state convention was held in Lexington in 1881. Though there was some work with Negroes in Kentucky, the membership was not opened to Negro women until a discussion of the topic during the KWCTU Executive Committee Meeting in 1905. It was voted that KWCTU branches would be requested to organize auxiliary unions among Negroes. In 1945, the Negro auxiliary branches were separated from the KWCTU and reorganized under the Kentucky Sojourner Truth Woman's Christian Temperance Union, with Mrs. Elizabeth B. Fouse as president. The Sojourner Truth Union was a second union in Kentucky, an auxiliary to the national WCTU. In 1956, Mrs. Decora A. Williams was president of the Sojourner Truth Union. During the KWCTU Executive Meeting, May 10, 1963, a motion by Mrs. T. E. Bowen was passed to accept Negro women members rather than have the union segregated, if the Negro women agreed. Below is a list of some of the Negro unions that were formed in Kentucky, 1906-1963.

  • 1906 Pineville (Bell County)
  • 1906 Hopkins County
  • 1907 Carlisle (Nicholas County) - Mrs. Sadie Hall
  • 1907 Lexington Negro Woman's Christian Temperance Union established a Colored industrial school in the old Good Samaritan Hospital on East Short Street. The school had a day nursery, and plans included having Negro nurses for baby care. The goal of the school was to prepare Negro children to go into the field of labor [source: see Lexington Leader below].
  • 1908 Henryville (Nicholas County)
  • 1911 Princeton (Caldwell County)
  • 1912 Paducah (McCracken County)
  • 1912 London (Laurel County)
  • 1914 Lexington, Beauchamp #2 (Fayette County) - Mrs. C. M. Freeman
  • 1915 Pembroke #2 (Christian County)
  • 1917 Winchester #2 (Clark County)
  • 1918 Nicholasville (Jessamine County)
  • 1923 Violet Whyte was paid for organization work in Winchester, Mt. Sterling, Wilmore, Nicholasville, and Harrodsburg
  • 1932 Middlesboro (Bell County)
  • 1939 Beatrice Laine, from Richmond (Madison County), endorsed as National Organizer among Negroes
  • 1939 Esther B. Isaacs, a Negro worker sent to Kentucky by the national WCTU
  • 1945 Negro KWCTU auxiliary branches are reorganized under the Kentucky Sojourner Truth Woman's Christian Temperance Union
  • 1949 Paducah (McCracken County) Sojourner Truth WCTU
  • 1952 Henderson (Henderson County) Sojourner Truth WCTU
  • No date - Jessamine County; Louisville Local No. 2 (Jefferson County) - Mrs. Annie Rice, President; Lexington Sojourner Truth WCTU (Fayette County) - Mrs. Ballard and Mrs. Elizabeth B. Fouse
For more, see the chapter by F. E. W. Harper, "The Woman's Christian Temperance Union and the Colored Woman" in Standing Before Us, by D. M. Emerson, et al. The chapter is a reprinted article from the African Methodist Episcopal Church Review, July 1888; A Glorious Past & a Promising Future, by P. Woodring; and "Industry," Lexington Leader, 08/31/1907, p. 8.
Subjects: Alcohol, Education and Educators, Women's Groups and Organizations
Geographic Region: Kentucky

Thompson v City of Louisville [Shuffle Dancing]
Start Year : 1959
On January 24, 1959, Sam Thompson, an elderly African American man, was arrested for loitering while doing a "shuffle dance" in the Liberty End Cafe in Louisville, KY, and for disorderly conduct. Thompson was waiting on a bus and had been in the cafe for about half an hour, dancing by himself. The dance was neither vulgar nor disrespectful. The cafe owner said that Thompson had not purchased anything, but that he did not object to his presence; Thompson had been in the cafe several times before and had caused no problems. Regardless, two police officers, doing a routine check, approached Thompson and asked him to explain why he was in the cafe. Thompson said that he was waiting on a bus, then gave his address, showed that he had money, and presented the bus schedule. Thompson was arrested for loitering while doing a "shuffle dance"; the cafe did not have a license for dancing. When Thompson became argumentative while being led from the cafe, he was charged with disorderly conduct. Thompson did not raise his voice or use offensive language nor did he engage in any type of a physical altercation. He had been arrested 54 times prior to the January 24 arrest. Thompson hired an attorney and demanded a judicial hearing because of what he described as prior baseless charges by the police. During his hearing, it was found that Thompson had actually purchased food and drunk a beer while in the cafe. He owned land and had worked for the same family for 30 years. The Louisville Police Court found Thompson guilty of loitering and disorderly conduct and charged him $10 per charge. Thompson's appeals for the case to be thrown out and for a new trial were denied, so Thompson took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. It was found that a "shuffle dance" was not illegal in Louisville, and the criminal convictions were reversed on due process grounds because the convictions were devoid of evidentiary support. The action was remanded to the lower court. The case was decided on March 21, 1960. When news of Thompson's case being taken to the U.S. Supreme Court was reported in newspapers around the country, there were articles that exaggerated the number of times that Thompson had been arrested, some depicting him as a vagrant and loitering drunk and others poking fun at the Kentucky "shuffle dancing" case before the Supreme Court. For more see Thompson v City of Louisville ET AL., No. 59, Supreme Court of the United States, 362 U.S. 199: 80 S. Ct. 624; 4L. ED. 2d 654; "Court of last resort," Times Record, 01/18/1960, p. 12; and "Shuffle dancing case before the Supreme Court," Stevens Point Daily Journal, 01/13/1960, p. 9.
Subjects: Alcohol, Court Cases
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

True Reformers
Start Year : 1872
End Year : 1930
The True Reformers began in 1872 as an affiliated organization for African Americans who were not allowed to become members of the Independent Order of Good Templars in Kentucky. The initiative is said to have come from Colonel John J. Hickman (who was white), from Lexington, KY. Hickman is remembered for his temperance advocacy and leadership in the United States, and the Good Templar lodges he organized in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and the Isle of Man. Hickman did not oversee the True Reformers in Kentucky and other southern states, these were independent lodges managed by African Americans, and the lodges limped along during the first decade, several folded. In 1881, William Washington Browne, a former slave born in Virginia, was elected head of the Grand Fountain of the True Reformers in Virginia, and he is credited for the revival of the True Reformers. He developed the Virginia organization into a successful fraternal insurance society that owned businesses, including a bank and the newspaper The Reformer. The structure of the Virginia organization was applied to True Reformers in northern cities and in cities located in upper southern states. The True Reformers continued to exist until the early 1930s, around the beginning of the Great Depression. William Browne's success with the True Reformers was due to his ability to redirect the True Reformers away from temperance and prohibition, to more practical issues that African Americans faced. The organization was a trend setter for the operation of other African American fraternal organizations and it impacted the insurance business by redefining premium terms and benefits, and how they were handled by a national organization. True Reformers promoted self-help and introduced African Americans in 20 states to business, management, and entrepreneur practices. The True Reformers Hall in Louisville, KY, was located at 822 W. Walnut Street, according to the 1909 city directory. For more see D. T. Beito, "To advance the "Practice of Thrift and Economy": fraternal societies and social capital, 1890-1920," Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Spring 1999, vol.29, issue 4, pp.585-612; see the entry "Grand United Order of the True Reformers" in Organizing Black America by N. Mjagkij; The Black Lodge in White America by D. M. Fahey; and Twenty-Five Years History of the Grand Fountain of the United Order of True Reformers, 1881-1905 by W. P. Burrell and D. E. Johnson. For more on Colonel John J. Hickman, see his entry in History of Boone County, Missouri by the St. Louis Western Historical Company, 1882, pp.881-883 [available at Google Book Search]
Subjects: Alcohol, Bankers, Banks, Finance, Financial Advisors, Businesses, Insurance Companies, Insurance Sales, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Fraternal Organizations
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Virginia / United States


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