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Beam, Ulysses S. and John W. Beam
Dr. U. S. Beam (1868-1942) was the first African American physician to practice in Lima, OH. Born in Kentucky, he was an older brother of Dr. Augustus G. Beam. Both were graduates of the Louisville National Medical College and maintained a medical practice together in Lima, OH, for a brief period in 1906. Dr. U. S. Beam had previously practiced in Muncie, IN, moving to Lima in 1892. He was a wealthy doctor in Lima, where he spent the remainder of his life except for a brief period when he was forced to returned to Kentucky in 1909. Dr. Beam left Lima after his brother, John W. Beam (born in KY -d.1909), a lawyer and real estate agent, was arrested for the murder of widow Estella Maude Diltz, who was white. There were rumors of a lynching party being formed, and Dr. Beam, whose wife was white, feared there would be retaliation towards him. Also, the U.S. Marshall had a subpoena for Dr. Beam pertaining to another matter. Dr. Beam closed his medical practice and fled to Kentucky with his father, Hines Beam, who had come to Lima to secure an attorney for his son, John. In November 1909, John W. Beam was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in the Ohio Penitentiary; it was reported that he committed suicide while in prison, December 1909. Dr. Ulysses Beam returned to his practice in Lima, where he is listed in the U.S. Federal Census for 1910, 1920, and 1930. He died at his home in 1942 and was buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Lima, OH. For more see "Dr. Beam Gone," Lima Times Democrat (05/26/1909), p. 8; and "Dr. Beam dies in home after long illness," The Lima News (10/12/1942), p. 4. For more on John W. Beam's case, see "Suicide faked by slayer to avoid possible lynching," Chicago Tribune (05/25/1909), p. 2; "Declare Beam sane in every single particular," The Lima Daily News (10/25/1909), p. 1; "Beam sentenced by Judge Bailey," The Lima Daily news (11/05/1909), p. 5; and "Thomas Dillion helped Beam pave way to eternity," The Lima Daily News (12/14/1909), p. 1.
Subjects: Lawyers, Medical Field, Health Care, Migration North, Corrections and Police, Realtors, Real Estate Brokers, Real Estate Investments, Court Cases, Suicide
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Muncie, Indiana / Lima, Ohio

Britton, Thomas M., Sr. "Tom"
Birth Year : 1870
Death Year : 1901
Well known jockey Thomas "Tom" Britton, Sr. was born in 1870 in Lexington, KY, the son of Laura and Henry Britton. He was the husband of Pearl Jackson Britton (1873-1904, born in KY), and they had a son named Thomas Britton, Jr. [source: 1900 U.S. Federal Census]. Tom Britton, Sr. rode in the 1892 Kentucky Derby aboard Huron, owned by Ed Corrigan, and came in second place, six inches behind Alonzo Clayton riding Azra. Britton had won the Tennessee Derby in 1891 aboard Valera, and the Kentucky Oaks aboard Miss Hawkins. He was thrown against a fence and knocked unconscious when he fell while riding Miss Dixie in a Chicago race in June of 1891. It was written in the Milford Mail newspaper that Britton's mind had been affected by the injury, and since then he was sometimes referred to as "Crazy Britton." He continued racing and won the 1892 Tennessee Derby aboard Tom Elliott. Though a successful jockey during the earlier days of his career, Britton began having more serious troubles around 1895 when he lost his racing license. April of 1895, the Committee on Jockeys of the Turf Congress allowed Britton to have a two-month permit that was to be continued if his conduct was satisfactory. Britton was ruled off the track at Latonia in November of 1896, and it was recommended that his license be revoked. He had been ruled off the track five months earlier because of his involvement in a fraudulent ticket operation. In 1900, he was racing in Newport, KY, riding aboard Banbury, when both horse and rider took a spill. By 1901, Britton was down on his luck, he was broke and living in a room in a boarding house in Lodge Alley in Cincinnati, OH, when he committed suicide. Thomas M. Britton, Sr. is buried in African Cemetery #2 in Lexington, KY. For more see "The Chicago races," Sandusky Daily Register, 06/27/1891; "The Congress rules," New York Times, 04/12/1895, p.6; "Jockey Tom Britton," Leader, 11/20/1896, p.5; "Jockey Tom Britton," in the Daily Racing Form, 07/03/1896, p.2, and 07/04/1896, p.1; "Jockey Tom Britton," in the Daily Racing Form, 05/23/1900, p.1; "Took his own life," Leader, 05/20/1901, p.7; "Britton had great ability," The Milford Mail, 08/31/1905, p.3; and "Negro riders of renown," Daily Racing Form, 02/17/1922, p.2.
Subjects: Jockeys, Horsemen, Horse Breeders, Trainers, & The Derby, Suicide

Claybourne, Jack
Birth Year : 1910
Death Year : 1960
In 1941, Jack Claybourne won the Kentucky Negro Wrestling Championship from Hallie Samara in Louisville, KY. The following year he lost the title to King Kong Clayton. Jack Claybourne won the Negro World Heavyweight, and the Light Heavyweight Wrestling Titles in the United States. He was a recognized champion in Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Jack Claybourne was born in Mexico, Missouri, according to author T. Hornbaker in Legends of Pro Wrestling. Jack Claybourne committed suicide in Los Angeles, CA on January 7, 1960. For more on Jack Claybourne see D. Burkholder, "Black History Month: Pro Wrestling's Black Stars, Part 1," OnlineOnslaught.com, 02/05/02; Jack Claybourne in Obsessed With Wrestling; and Black Stars of Professional Wrestling by J. L. D. Shabazz.


Subjects: Wrestling, Wrestlers, Suicide
Geographic Region: Mexico, Missouri / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Los Angeles, California

Hathaway, Isaac S.
Birth Year : 1872
Death Year : 1967
Isaac S. Hathaway was born in Lexington, KY, the son of Robert Elijah Hathaway and Rachel Scott Hathaway. His father, Robert E. Hathaway, had been a slave of Garret Davis, a U.S. Senator from Bourbon County. Isaac S. Hathaway was a sculptor; the Booker T. Washington and Carver Washington half dollars were designed by Hathaway, the first African American to design a U.S. coin. He constructed a model for the Wayne suicide case in 1904 and made reproductions for the Smithsonian Institute of the Bath-Furnace meteorite that fell in Sharpsburg, KY, in 1904. He was the first African American to be shown in a movie newsreel working professionally. For more see Who's Who in Colored America, 1950; and Isaac Hathaway, a pioneer in sculptor! a website by The African American Registry. See also the NKAA entry for the Isaac Scott Hathaway Museum in Lexington, KY.

  See photo images at "The Hathaway Family and Isaac Scott hathaway" at the University of Kentucky Department of Anthropology website.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Sculptors, Movies and Films, Suicide
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Hughes, Green Percy
Birth Year : 1881
Death Year : 1930
Hughes was born seven miles outside of Paris, KY, the son of William Henry Hughes, from Vermont, and Delphia Finch Hughes, from Indiana. Green P. Hughes was the husband of Sue B. Hughes, born 1887 in KY, and the family of six lived on Walnut Street in Louisville, KY in 1920, according to the U.S. Federal Census. In 1921, Green Hughes founded and organized the successful business, Domestic Life and Accident Insurance Co., in Louisville, serving as its president. He had retired from the insurance business when he committed suicide August 7, 1930, according to his death certificate, and is buried in Louisville. For more see Who's Who in Colored America, 1927.
Subjects: Businesses, Insurance Companies, Insurance Sales, Suicide
Geographic Region: Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Isom, Bob and Albert
The Isom brothers, Robert L. "Bob" (d.1897) and Albert "Bert", were Kentucky jockeys. They were referred to as light-weight jockeys, and are remembered as riders for Jack Chinn, owner of Lissak [the horse was sold to Sidney Paget in 1898]. The lesser known of the Isom brothers was Albert who was a jockey as early as 1895 when he and Bob rode for the Burns and Waterhouse Stable in San Francisco, CA. Albert also rode for various horse owners at the race courses at Latonia, the New Louisville Jockey Club, Newport, Lexington, and the Oakley Race Course near Cincinnati, OH. Bob Isom, the better known of the two brothers, rode the two-year-old Kentucky horse Lissak to victory in San Francisco in 1894; it was the first time Lissak had raced in California. The following year, June of 1895, Bob Isom rode the horse to victory in the Detroit $5,000 International Derby [not a real derby] held in Detroit, MI. Bob Isom had been a jockey as early as 1894, he rode in San Francisco in December of that year and there was a bumping incident that later resulted in a fight and Bob Isom stabbed jockey Robert Combs. August of 1895, Bob Isom was in Lexington, KY, when he was thrown while exercising a yearling colt owned by Judge J. R. Jewell. In May of 1896, it was reported that Bob Isom was dying from consumption, but in August of 1896, he rode aboard the horse Billy C and was narrowly defeated by Cal Leonard aboard Antidote. The race took place at Kapioloni Park in Hawaii; Bob Isom had been sent to Hawaii to recuperate from his illness. The following year he rode at both Oakley and Ingleside [California]. Bob Isom died of consumption [tuberculosis] in San Francisco, November of 1897, and his body was shipped to Lexington, KY for burial in African Cemetery No.2 [source: KY Certificate of Death #2385]. For more see "The turf," The Salt Lake Herald, 11/20/1894, p.2; "California racegoers..., The San Francisco Call, 05/22/1895, p.5; "Lissak won a derby," New York Times, 06/26/1895, p.6; "The Detroit Derby," Daily Racing Form, 07/28/1896, p.1; "Albert Isom attempts suicide," Central Record, 08/17/1899, p.4; "Stock and turf news," Bourbon News, 12/02/1898, p.5; see the Daily Racing Form; "Done in 1:04," Hawaiian Gazette, 08/04/1896, p.5; "Fight between jockeys," Galveston Daily News, 12/02/1894, p.4; "Jockey Isom injured," Columbus Evening Dispatch, 08/23/1895, p.9; "Gossip from the turfmen," The Daily Review, 05/03/1896, p.2; "Bob Isom, the jockey, dead," New York Times, 11/18/1897, p.4; "Bob Isom...," Semi-weekly Interior Journal, 11/19/1897, p.3 [top of column 4]; "Death ended career," Courier-Journal, 12/18/1904, p.29.
Subjects: Jockeys, Horsemen, Horse Breeders, Trainers, & The Derby, Tuberculosis: Care and Deaths, Suicide
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / San Francisco, California

Jones, Gayl A.
Birth Year : 1949
Born in Lexington, KY, Gayl A. Jones is a noted author. In the 1970s she published Corregidora, Eva's Man, and White Rat. She is also a poet, short story writer, and novelist. She was a faculty member at the University of Michigan. Jones left the school in 1984 and lived for a while in Europe. She published The Healing in 1998, the year of her husband's suicide, after their return to the U.S.; they had settled in Lexington. Gayl Jones is the daughter of Franklin and Lucille Watson Jones. She is a graduate of Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Connecticut College (B.A.), and Brown University (M.A. & Ph.D.). For more see "The Saddest Story," Time Canada, vol. 151, issue 9, p. 42; The Bloomsbury Guide to Women's Literature, edited by C. Buck; In Black and White. A guide to magazine articles, newspaper articles, and books concerning Black individuals and groups, 3rd ed., edited by M. M. Spradling; and World Authors 1990-1995, by C. Thompson.

See photo image of Gayl A. Jones at the University of Michigan website.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Poets, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada, Suicide
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Flint, Michigan / Europe

Kirtley, Edward
Death Year : 1910
It was reported in the Richmond Climax newspaper that Edward Kirtley was thought to be one of the first African Americans to commit suicide in Kentucky. Kirtley had previously been arrested for selling teachers' examination papers and was under $1,000 bail bond in Frankfort, KY. He was arrested a second time for jumping bail and is said to have committed suicide at the Lexington Police Station at about 2:30am on January 6, 1910; the cause of death is not listed on the death certificate that has Kirtley listed as a female. According to the article in the Bourbon News, Kirtley died from having ingested strychnine [source: "Negro Suicide," The Bourbon News, 01/07/1910, p.5]. Edward Kirtley was buried January 7, 1910 in Campbellsville, KY. He had been a student and later taught at the Richmond Colored School. Kirtley was a school teacher in Barbourville in 1908 [source: "Colored School," Mountain Advocate, 12/25/1908, p. 1]. For more see "First Negro Suicide" on p.5 of the Richmond Climax, 01/12/1910; "Suicide in Police Station," Leader, 01/06/1910, p.6; "The Colored school..." in the column "Local Loom" on p.3 of the Mountain Advocate, 08/07/1908; and Certificate and Record of Death Registered #15. 
Subjects: Education and Educators, Suicide
Geographic Region: Campbellsville, Taylor County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky / Barbourville, Knox County, Kentucky

Sanford, Perry
Birth Year : 1832
Death Year : 1905
Sanford, a former slave from Kentucky, was the last surviving witness to the invasion by armed men from Kentucky in search of runaway slaves at the Quaker Settlement in Cass County, MI. The Quakers resisted, the attack failed, and shortly thereafter the Fugitive Slave Law was passed by Congress. In 1905, Sanford was not expected to survive from the four inch gash he had made in his throat while a patient at Nichols Hospital in Battle Creek, MI. Sanford was in the hospital due to a stroke; he was partially paralyzed, and it had taken him more than an hour to open the knife with one hand and his teeth. Sanford had come to Michigan as a young man, he is first listed in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census as a 28 year old laborer living in Bedford. By 1880, he was married to Elvia Sanford who was born in 1845 in Indiana, and the couple lived in Calhoun County, MI. In 1897, Sanford remarried, his second wife was Mary Sanford, born 1843 in MI, and the couple lived in Battle Creek. For more see, "Aged Colored man tries suicide," Oakland Tribune, 05/08/1905.
Subjects: Freedom, Migration North, Suicide
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Battle Creek, Calhoun County, Michigan / Cass County, Michigan

Turner, Samuel
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, Undertakers, Cemeteries, Coroners, & Obituaries, Gambling, Lottery, Suicide
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

 

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