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Ball, Richard
Birth Year : 1874
Richard Ball was an amateur cyclist from Louisville, KY. He was one of the competing African American cyclist in Kentucky, and said to be one of the fastest. In 1899, he went to Indianapolis to compete in a race. Ball was employed as a waiter at the Galt House Hotel [source: Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1898, p.116]. Richard Ball was born in Tennessee, the son of Mary Ellis, and he was the husband of Maggie Ball [source: 1900 U.S. Federal Census]. His past time as a cyclist, then called a wheelman, was not a main source of income for Richard Ball. In Louisville, colored wheelmen belonged to the Union Cycle Club, said to be the largest African American cycling club in the South [source: Ethnicity, Sport, Identity edited by J. A. Mangan and A. Ritchie, p.20]. Colored wheelmen were barred from membership and from participating in events sponsored by the Louisville Wheelmen, and from membership to the League of American Wheelmen (L. A. W.). The color line was an issue that came up at the biannual 1894 L. A. W. Convention held in Louisville, KY; Louisville attorney, Colonel William W. Watts, put forth the motion that would limit L. A. W. membership to whites only. The vote was split 108 for, 101 against, but a two thirds majority was need, so the motion was brought forward the following year and it passed. In June of 1894, the L. A. W. chairman explained that the vote had only denied Colored wheelmen membership, not the right to participate in L. A. W. sponsored races, nor did it impact a cyclist's amateur status. For more see Richard Ball in the column "Spokes from a wheel" on p.2 of the Indianapolis Recorder, 06/17/1899; Highway History: The Road to Civil Rights, The League of American Wheelmen, a Federal Highway Administration website; and "Colored wheelmen may race," The Roanoke Times, 06/15/1894, p.2 [article available online at Chronicling America].
Subjects: Migration North, Bicycles, Cyclist, Cycling, Wheelmen, Waiters, Waitresses
Geographic Region: Tennessee / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Craine, W. C. [William C.]
Birth Year : 1867
Death Year : 1919
William C. Craine, born in Harrodsburg, KY, is listed in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census as an actor. At the time, Craine was living in Chicago on Evanston Avenue in a boarding house along with other actors and entertainers. Craine, who was also a singer, a tenor, had sung with and managed the Shattuck and Mendelsohn Quartettes [source: "Principal comedians and vocalists engineering fun and song with the Big Minstrel Festival," The Freeman, 12/30/1899, p.9]. Craine was the principal tenor soloist with the Big Minstrel Festival in 1899. The prior year, he was with Harry Martell's Company "South Before the War" [source: "Stage. The Freedman post office," The Freeman, 10/15/1898, p.5, column 3, item 5]. While with the company, Craine was a special representative (writer) with The Freeman newspaper, and one of his articles appeared in the paper on 04/08/1899, p.5, column 3, item 1]. In September of 1899, Craine performed in Rusco and Holland's Big Minstrel Festival that opened in St. Louis, MO [source: "The Stage, edited by J. Harry Jackson. The Freedman post office," The Freeman, 09/16/1899, p.5, column 4, item 3]. Craine was with the Big Minstrel Festival until the winter of 1900 when he stayed in Boston, MA, but did not mention to the media that he was getting married [source: The Freeman, 11/03/1900, p.5]. William C. Craine was the husband of Bertha Simmons, who was an actress, she was born in Virginia; the couple married in Boston, MA on December 26, 1900 [source: Massachusetts, Marriage Register, 1900, p.327]. It was the first marriage for William (33) and the 2nd marriage for Bertha (35). They were married by Henry H. Jones, Minister of the Gospel, 80 Oakland Place, Brockton, MA. In 1901, William C. Craine was performing in Buffalo, NY [source: The Freeman, 07/13/1901, p.5]. He also performed at the Pan American, Toronto Minstrel Exposition and the London Canada Exhibition [source: The Freeman, 09/21/1901, p.5]. In 1904, Craine was director of the show titled "A Trip to Africa," starring John Larkin as the king and Dora Patterson as the queen [source: "The State by Woodbine," The Freeman, 10/29/1904, p.5]. The show did not receive a favorable review in The Freeman. [John Larkin would become the producer of the musical "A Trip to Africa" and in 1910, he and Sissieretta Jones were the stars of this successful show billed under the heading of "Black Patti Musical Comedy Company." John Larkin played the role of King Rastus and Raz Jinkins, and Sissieretta Jones (aka Black Patti) played the role of Princess Lulu. -- source: Blacks in Blackface by H. T. Sampson] And though the show was a success, by 1910, William Craine was no longer singing or performing professionally; he was a waiter and his wife Bertha was the housekeeper at a lodging home they managed on Acton Street in Boston [source: 1910 U.S. Federal Census]. William C. Craine is listed as a waiter in the Boston Directory, 1909, p.469, up to the 1920 directory, p.462; living first on Acton Street, then at 28 Holyoke. William C. Craine died in Winthrop, MA, March 11, 1919 [sources: Massachusetts, Death Index and "Gave home for aged people," Savannah Tribune, 10/30/1920, p.1]. He left the home at 90 West Cottage Street in Boston, MA, for the aged, to be run by the board of William C. Craine, Inc.: Rev. H. Jones, President; Mr. O'Bryant, Vice President; Mrs. Bertha Craine, Treasurer; Mr. A. H. Scales, Superintendent; and Rev. Mrs. S. E. Deveaux, Matron and Secretary. William C. Craine was the son of Phillip (born around 1827) and Susanna Jones Craine (c.1830-1879), according to information William C. Craine provided prior to his marriage. Looking at the 1870 U.S. Census, Susan Craine is listed without a husband, but with the children. At this time, no record has been found in the census of Phillip Craine who was a Civil War veteran and had been the slave of John Bush in Mercer County, KY, when Phillip enlisted in the U.S. Army on August 29, 1864, at Camp Nelson, KY [source: "Records of Musters made by Capt. U. C. Kenney,"  p.371, no. 1751, No. on roll - 18, in the U.S. Descriptive Lists of Colored Volunteer Army Soldiers, 1864]. Phillip Craine served with the 5th U.S. Colored Cavalry; he stood 5 feet 9 inches tall, was 37 years old, and was born on a farm in Mercer County, KY. He is listed on various records as the father of William Craine; Belle Craine (1855-1916), a grocer in Louisville, KY [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death Registered #1054]; Joseph Craine (1867-1925), a grocer and later a janitor in Louisville [sources: 1910 U.S. Federal Census and Kentucky Certificate of Death Registered #4634]; and George E. Craine (1858-1929), a musician and a storekeeper in Louisville, KY [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death Registered #4489]. The two other children, Pilandrer Craine and Anna Craine are included in the household in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census [last name spelled Crane]. After the death of their mother Susanna Craine in 1879 [source: Kentucky Death Records], William C. Craine and his brother Joseph were raised by their sister, Belle Craine [source: 1880 U.S. Federal Census - last name spelled Crane]. Both Belle and her mother Susan were laundry women; the family had moved to 4 Green Street in Louisville, KY by 1878 [source: Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1878, pp.176 & 177 - their last name is spelled Crane]. In 1891, Belle Craine served as secretary of Zion Temple No.1 [source: "Society Directory" on p.4, column 4, in the Ohio Falls Express newspaper, 07/11/1891]. Both Joseph and William were grown and on their own. William C. Craine had started working as early as 1882, he was a laborer according to Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1882, p.207. By 1884 he was a waiter at the Sandiford Hotel, then was a waiter at the St. Cloud Hotel, before leaving Louisville around 1889 [sources: Caron's Dirctory of the City of Louisville, 1884, p.209 through 1889, p.260 - the last name is many times spelled Crane or Crain]. 
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Care of the Elderly, Waiters, Waitresses
Geographic Region: Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Boston, Massachusetts

Decker, Charles E.
Birth Year : 1913
Charles E. Decker, a Republican, was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 1946 and finished his term in 1948. He was unsuccessful in his bid for re-election. Decker was the only African American from Evansville [Vanderburgh County] to be elected to the Indiana Legislature. Decker also served as president of the Vanderburgh County Congress of Industrial Organizations (C.I.O.). He was the first Negro arbitrator for an Indiana labor dispute [source: p.64 in The History of Evansville Blacks by D. W. Sprinkles]. Decker was a member of the International Harvester Local 1106 in Evansville in 1952, and was one of the leaders to head the Indiana Republican party campaign for votes. Beginning in 1953, Decker was appointed director of Fair Employment Practices Commission. He is mentioned on several occasions in the organization's newsletter and he is also listed in the Roster of State and Local Officials of the State of Indiana. Charles E. Decker was born in Kentucky, the son of Edward and Inez Decker, according to the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, the family of four lived on William Street in Evansville, IN. In 1930, Charles E. Decker was a waiter at a hotel in West Baden, IN, and in 1940, he was a waiter at a hotel in Evansville, IN [source: U.S. Federal Census]. He was the husband of Eloise Decker. For more see Charles E. Decker on p.13 in the online publication "Hoosier History: This Far By Faith: Black Hoosier Heritage: Early Rural Communities," a Indiana Humanities Council website [.pdf]; "Indiana County elects first state assemblyman," The Afro-American, 11/24/1946, p.27; and "GOP names labor leaders in drive for workers' vote," Indianapolis Recorder, 08/30/1952, p.1.
Subjects: Migration North, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Legislators (Outside Kentucky), Union Organizations, Waiters, Waitresses
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Evansville, Indiana

Eubanks, Henry T.
Birth Year : 1853
Death Year : 1913
Henry T. Eubanks, born in Stanford, KY, was elected to the Ohio General Assembly in 1903 and 1908. Prior to his election, he had worked as a waiter in Louisville, and several other cities, and he had a barber shop in Cleveland. He was the first African American vice president of the Ohio League of Republican Clubs. For more see H. T. Eubanks in The Biographical Annals of Ohio. 1902- by W. A. Taylor et al. [available full view at Google Book Search]; and A Ghetto Takes Shape by K. L. Kusmer.

See photo image of H. T. Eubanks on p.420 in The Biographical Annals of Ohio. 1902- by W. A. Taylor, at Google Books.
Subjects: Barbers, Migration North, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Legislators (Outside Kentucky), Waiters, Waitresses
Geographic Region: Stanford, Lincoln County, Kentucky / Cleveland, Ohio

First African American Police Women in Lexington, KY
Birth Year : 1925
Death Year : 1949
It was previously written that the first three African American police women with the Lexington, KY, police force were hired in 1949. Below is the correct information. Apologies for the earlier errors.


Susan Layton Tabb was the first African American woman to join the Lexington (KY) Police Department, she was a matron as early as 1925 [source: R. L. Polk and Co.'s Lexington (Kentucky) Directory 1925, p.11]. Prior to her hire, the only other African American employee at the police department was Edward Norris, the janitor [source: p.15 in Lexington City Directory 1923]. Susan L. Tabb was born between 1884 and 1890 in Kentucky, and she was the wife of William H. Tabb. The family of four had lived in Ashland, KY, where Susan was a waiter in a restaurant and her husband was a chef at a hotel, according the 1910 U.S. Census. By 1920, Susan L. Tabb was a widow living in Lexington, KY, where she was a public school teacher and the family lived at 112 Georgetown Street [sources: 1920 U.S. Federal Census; and p.641 in R. L. Polk and Co,'s Lexington (Kentucky) Directory 1921]. She was a policewoman from as early as 1925 up to 1941, according to Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory. In 1936, she attended the National Urban League Conference in Buffalo, NY, June 3-6, 1930 [source: "Colored Notes" in the Lexington Leader, 06/10/1930, p.14]. Susan Layton Tabb died December 11, 1941 in Lexington, KY and is buried in the Highland Cemetery [source: Certificate of Death Registrar's #28388]. She died from a medical condition. Tabb last lived at 360 Chestnut Street in Lexington, KY, and she was thought to be 60 years old at the time of her death. She was the daughter of Leanna Scroggins Layton and James Layton.


Augusta M. Strong was the second African American woman to join the Lexington (KY) Police Department. She became a policewoman as early as 1943 [source: Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, 1943]. Strong was born March 4, 1913 in Lexington, KY, and died July 9, 1967 [sources: Kentucky Death Index; and U.S. Social Security Death Index]. She was the wife of Joseph P. Strong. Prior to becoming an employee with the Lexington Police Department, Augusta M. Strong was a saleswoman with Mammoth Life and Accident Insurance Company in Lexington, KY [source: p.580 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY. City Directory 1939]. She and her husband lived at 600 W. Maxwell Avenue. According to the 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Augusta M. Strong had completed four years of college and was employed as a secretary at a doctor's office. Her husband was an insurance agent, and they lived in rented rooms.  By 1943, Augusta M. Strong was with the Lexington Police Department where she was employed until about 1947 when she and her husband were living at 930 Whitney Avenue [source: Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory 1947, p.537]. The couple is also listed in the 1948 city directory. In 1949, Augusta M. Strong traveled oversees for a year, U.S. Passport #6988. Her home address was given as Rt.6, Lexington, KY, and her birth location was Lexington, KY. She left the United States by way of Seattle, WA, on June 16, 1949 aboard the USAT Ainsworth bound for Yokohama, Japan, and returned to the United States on September 9, 1950 aboard the USNS General Daniel I Sultan, 1st class [sources: List of Outward-bound Passengers, List No. 6. United States Department of Justice. Immigration and Naturalization Service; and List of In-bound Passengers, List No.108. Treasury Department. United States Customs Service]. Strong arrived in San Francisco, CA by way of Yokohama, Japan. According to the passenger list, Augusta M. Strong was still married in 1950. In 1954, she was a nurse at the Community Infirmary [source: Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory 1954, p.568].


Susan Jesscelia Garr joined the Lexington (KY) Police Department in January of 1949 and remained with the Lexington Police Department almost three decades. She was there in 1960 when she lived at 440 Bamberger Road in Lexington, KY [source: p.242 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory 1960]. She retired in 1977 when she lived at 1167 Oakwood Circle in Lexington [source: U.S. Public Records Index, v.1; and Polk's Lexington City Directory 1977, p.272]. Susan J. Garr died May 3, 1990 and is buried in the Lexington Cemetery [sources: see Find A Grave information; and "Obituaries" in the Lexington Herald-Leader, 05/05/1990, p.B14]. Susan, whose name was sometimes written as "Susie," was born December 7, 1918, in Lexington, KY, the daughter of Theodore Sr. and Kate Gay Garr [source: Kentucky Birth Index]. She was the sister to Theodore Jr., Elinor, Naomi, Clara, Olga, Katie, Viola, Leonard, and Rowena Garr [source: 1920 & 1930 U.S. Census]. The family lived on Lee Street in 1930, and both Theodore Sr. and Theodore Jr. were employed as paper hangers with an interior decorating business. Susan J. Garr was a graduate of LeMoyne College in Tennessee, and while she was a student, she had lived with family in Memphis and was employed as a maid with a private family [source: 1940 U.S. Census]. Susan J. Garr was also the choir director at Quinn Chapel in Lexington, KY.


   See photo image of Susan J. Garr on p.47 in Images of America: Women in Lexington by D. Scaggs. 


Subjects: Corrections and Police, Waiters, Waitresses
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

George, Frank Pendleton
Birth Year : 1874
Death Year : 1922
Frank P. George was prominent in Chicago, and even more so during his career as a stage performer and manager at the Oakland Music Hall. He died in 1922 and is buried in Lincoln Cemetery in Chicago. Frank P. George did not come from a family with wealth. He was born February 9, 1874 in Winchester, KY, the only son of Hubbard P. and Ruth Wills George [source:, Cook County, Illinois Deaths Index]. The father, Hubbard P. George, was a veteran of the U.S. Civil War; he was about 19 years old when he enlisted July 14, 1864, 1st U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery [source: U.S. Colored Troops Military Records,]. After his war service, in 1875, Hubbard P. George worked as a carpenter in Springfield, OH; he was a boarder at 114 E. Main Street in Springfield and his family was in Kentucky [source: p.61 in R. C. Hellrigle & Co.s Springfield, Urbana, Piqua, Sidney, and Bellefontaine City Directories 1875-6]. Around 1879, Hubbarb P. George moved his wife and four children from Winchester, KY to Springfield, OH. All are listed as mulattoes in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, and everyone in the household was born in Kentucky. Hubbard P. George was born around 1846 and he had probably been a slave. He died November 27, 1886 in Springfield, OH [source: Find A Grave], and his first wife, Ruth Wills George was born in 1856 and had died in 1883. They are buried together in Springfield. Hubbard P. George, had been a saloon owner and former policeman. He married his second wife, Dora Wade, in May of 1886, six months before he died [source: last paragraph in the column "At Hymen's alter," Springfield Globe-Republic, 05/21/1886, p.4]. In 1887, Widow Dora Wade George applied for Hubbard George's pension for her and their son James [source: U.S. Civil War Pension Index,].


Hubbard George's children by his first wife included Nora, their oldest daughter, who was a singer and stage performer in Springfield, OH [sources: "The Champion city," Cleveland Gazette, 05/30/1885, p.2; and "Missionary Society," Cleveland Gazette, 01/14/1888, front page]. In 1892, Nora George was back in Winchester, KY, and she made several trips to Chicago [sources: "Educational Meeting," Cleveland Gazette, 03/12/1892, p.2; and "To Aid the Negro," The Freeman, 07/09/1892, p.2]. By 1894, Nora George was living in Parsons, KS [source: "Miss Florence Turner...," Parsons Weekly Blade, 01/06/1894, p.3], she was a school teacher and her name appears in the society section of the newspaper on several occasions. In 1895, Nettie George moved to Kansas to be with her sister Nora, and Nettie would be attending high school in Parsons [source: "Local and personal news," Parsons Weekly Blade, 11/09/1895, p.4]. Nettie George had come to Kansas from Kentucky; at some point after her parents' deaths, Nettie had moved back to Winchester, KY. She had a brief stay in Kansas, then returned to Winchester, KY, where she was a school teacher [source: 1900 U.S. Census]. All of her moves to and from Kentucky took place years before she became the well know newspaper journalist Nettie George Speedy. There was also a third sister named Mary George.  At this time no additional information has been found on Mary George


While his sisters were in Kentucky and Kansas, Hubbard and Ruth's only son, Frank P. George, was in Chicago and he had been there since at least 1896 [source: 4th division in the column "That True Friend," Cleveland Gazette, 02/01/1896, front page]. In 1898, he was referred to as "Chicago's noted dramatic reader" in the Illinois Record, 01/01/1898, front page. He performed at private events and societal events that were mentioned in the Negro newspapers. His prominence gained him membership into the Chicago Top 400. Frank P. George was moving up in the Chicago world, and in August of 1898, it was printed in the newspapers that he had foolishly challenged Julis Avendroph for the reign of societal leadership [source: 4th paragraph in the column "Chicago Weekly Letter," Illinois Record, 08/13/1898, p.3]. By the year 1900, Frank P. George, was in the U.S. Navy, 49th Infantry, Philippine Islands [source: U.S. Census; and see "Black Americans in the U.S. Military from the American Revolution to the Korean War" a New York State Military Museum website].


After his time in the service, Frank P. George returned to Chicago. In 1905, he was married and was still counted among Chicago's 400 Afro-American leaders [source: "Patronesses and managers of Frederick Douglass Centre Charity Ball," Broad Axe, 04/29/1905, front page]. In 1907, he was among the Afro-Americans whose opinions were sought in reference to the mayoral election [source: "More prominent Afro-Americans come out in favor of the re-election of Edward F. Dunne as Mayor of Chicago," Broad Axe, 03/09/1907, p.2]. Frank P. George's popularity did not preclude the media from telling of his personal trials; in December of 1907, Mr. and Mrs. Frank P. George's marriage was on the rocks and the couple separated [source: paragraph 13 in the column "Chips," Broad Axe, 12/07/1907, p.2]. The following year, 1908, Frank P. George and Mrs. C. C. Lewis teamed together for a dramatic reading, vaudeville, and dance at the Oakland Music Hall in Chicago [source: "Frank P. George," Broad Axe, 03/07/1908, front page]. A month later, it was announced in the newspaper that Mrs. Anna B. George had sued her husband, Frank P. George, for a divorce [source: 9th paragraph in the column "Chips," Broad Axe, 04/04/1908]. 


Frank P. George was not an exceptionally wealthy man. He was a working man, a dining car waiter with the New York Central Railroad at the LaSalle Street Station, according to the census records, and he is listed as "single" in the 1910 U.S. Census. And, though his marriage was on the rocks, his entertainment career was on the rise, and in 1911, he was billed as the "popular manager and dramatic reader" at the Oakland Music Hall [source: theater news on p.5 in the Freeman newspaper, 03/25/1911]. Frank P. George was preparing for the performance of his play "Danabagay," [sometimes spelled Danebegay] and the play was to be augmented by Garfield Wilson's Orchestra. Frank P. George also managed other entertainers; in November of 1911, he was the manager of violinist Miss St. Claire White who was to perform in Cleveland, OH [source: 3rd paragraph in the column "Chips" in Broad Axe, 11/28/1911, p.3]. "Danabagay" was still being performed in 1913 [source: "Announcement in Advance of Frank P. George's Danebegay," Broad Axe, 11/01/1913, p.3], but his fame ended around 1913 when Frank P. George's name was rarely mentioned in the Broad Axe newspaper. In 1918, Frank P. George listed on his WWI Registration Card that he was a dining car waiter, and his sister, Nettie George Speedy, who also lived in Chicago at this time, was his closest next of kin. In the 1920 U.S. Census, Frank P. George was listed as a widower, and he was still employed as a waiter with the railroad company. On March 25, 1922, Frank P. George died [source: Illinois, Cook County Deaths, in FamilySearch]. 
Subjects: Migration North, Military & Veterans, Railroad, Railway, Trains, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Waiters, Waitresses
Geographic Region: Winchester, Clark County, Kentucky / Springfield, Ohio / Chicago, Illinois

Grainger, Porter Parrish
Birth Year : 1891
Porter P. Grainger was a prolific songwriter, a pianist and arranger, and on occasion a singer. He can be heard playing piano on records of noted musicians and singers during the 1920s and 1930s. Porter Grainger was born in Bowling Green, KY, on October 22, 1891; he and his sister Ursula were raised by their grandparents, Patience and Joseph Coleman, in Hickory Flat, Kentucky [sources: 1900 U.S. Federal Census, where the last name is spelled "Granger"; and World War II Draft Registration Card #2841, 1942]. Much has been written about Porter Grainger's musical career, but not much is known about his life prior to 1916. In 1908, Porter and his sister Ursula were living in Bowling Green on State Street; they were among the seven persons with the last name Granger listed on p. 122 of the Bowling Green, Ky. City Directory, 1908, vol. 1. At the time, Porter was a porter at Farnsworth & Stout. By 1912, Porter Grainger was living in Louisville, KY, working as a waiter, and in 1913, his name again spelled as "Granger," he was working as a laborer [sources: p. 518 in Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville, 1912; and p. 537 in Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville, 1913]. On November 7, 1914, Grainger, living in Chicago, married Alies Kieth [source: Cook County, Illinois, Marriage Indexes]. According to All Music Guide to the Blues, edited by V. Bogdanov, et. al., p. 206, Grainger's professional music career started as early as 1916. On his World War I Draft Registration Card #89, dated June 5, 1917, Porter Granger (he spelled his name without an "i") listed his occupation as a composer of songs in Chicago, IL. He was still living in Chicago in 1920, according to the U.S. Federal Census. By 1924, he was living in New York where he and Robert Ricketts were partners in Grainger & Ricketts, located at 1547 Broadway [source: p. 1010, Polk's Trow's New York, 1924-25: Boroughs of Manhattan and Bronxs, vol. 134]. Grainger & Ricketts is listed under the heading of "Music Publishers and Dealers" on p. 2727 of R. L. Polk & Co.'s 1925 Trow's New York City Classified Business Directory: Boroughs of Manhattan and Bronx. Grainger also worked for Bessie Smith: in 1928 he was the musical director, composer, and arranger of her musical show, Mississippi Days. He was also the writer of her first released recording, Tain't Nobody's Biz-ness If I Do and Alberta Hunter's Downhearted Blues [source: I Went Down to St. James Infirmary, by R. W. Harwood, pp. 13-20]. Grainger published a number of musical scores and performance scripts. He worked with a number of performers, appearing on recordings such as Fats Waller and His Rhythm, 1926; Ethel Waters, 1938-1939; Edna Hicks,1923; Duke Ellington: the Beginning, 1926-1928; The Duke in Harlem, 1926; and many, many more. In 1929, he was the piano accompanist for singer Mamie Smith in the movie, Jailhouse Blues. In 1940, Porter Grainger was a boarder at the home of Viola Albury on 7th Avenue in New York City [source: U.S. Federal Census]. It is not known when Porter Grainger died; one of his last documents was his 1942 World War II Draft Registration Card. For more listen to the recording of Porter Grainger: in chronological order, 1923-1929, published by RST Records in Vienna, Austria (which has hundreds of other recordings); see the musical score 'Tain't Nobody's Bus'ness If I Do: blues, by Porter Grainger and Everett Robbins, and the many other scores; De Board Meetin: the script and music, by Porter Grainger and Leigh R Whipper; and the Leigh Rollin Whipper Papers at the New York Public Library. Porter Grainger and B. Ricketts were the authors of the musical score How to Sing and Play the Blues Like the Phonograph and Stage Artists, written in 1926.


See "Mamie Smith - Jail House Blues (1929) .MPG" on YouTube.



Listen to radio broadcast of Billie Holiday singing "T'ain't nobody's business if I do" written by Porter Grainger & Everett Robbins.  


See photo image of Porter P. Grainger in "I Went Down to the St. James Infirmary" blog dated Monday, March 29, 2010. (see notes below)

*NOTE: Porter Parrish Grainger (also spelled as Granger) should not be confused with Percy Grainger.

*NOTE: Robert Ricketts, partner in Grainger & Ricketts, was born c. 1885 in Ohio and his parents were born in Kentucky [source: 1930 U.S. Federal Census]. Robert Ricketts was African American and is listed as 40 years old in the 1925 New York State Census. Robert Ricketts died November 26, 1936 in Manhattan, NY [source: New York Death Certificate #25601].
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Waiters, Waitresses
Geographic Region: Bowling Green and Hickory Flat, Warren County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / New York, New York

Griffin, William, Sr.
Birth Year : 1879
From Paris, KY, Griffin was a railroad dining car waiter. He was the husband of Lorena Griffin and the father of James S. "Jimmy" Griffin (1917-2002), who became the first African American sergeant of the St. Paul, Minnesota, police force in 1955; captain in 1970; and after a discrimination lawsuit, deputy chief in 1972. For more see Jimmy Griffin, one of St. Paul's finest!; and Jimmy Griffin, a son of Rondo: a memoir, by J. S. Griffin and K. J. C. McDonald.
Subjects: Fathers, Railroad, Railway, Trains, Waiters, Waitresses
Geographic Region: Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky / St. Paul, Minnesota

Hillman, John W.
Birth Year : 1848
Death Year : 1911
Hillman was born in Trigg County, KY, the son of Dan Hillman. After slavery ended, he moved to Covington and worked at several hotels as a waiter and steward, then later became custodian of the City Building of Covington, or, as author W. D. Johnson characterized it, Hillman was considered the first city official. Hillman was the husband of Ellen W. Hillman, born 1850 in Virginia. In 1880, the family lived on Pike Street in Covington, according to the U. S. Federal Census. In 1910, John was a janitor in a bank, and his son Fred was a filing clerk at the bank. For more see Biographical Sketches of Prominent Negro Men and Women of Kentucky, by W. D. Johnson.
Subjects: Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Waiters, Waitresses
Geographic Region: Trigg County, Kentucky / Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky

Hunter, Zella M.
Birth Year : 1890
Zella M. Hunter was born in Newport, KY, and would become a noted pianist in Chicago. She is mentioned on p.122 in The Creation of Jazz: music, race, and culture in urban America by B. W. Peretti. Zella Hunter was the oldest child of Eula Gray Hunter and John Hunter, who were both from Missouri. Her parents were married in 1888 [source: 1900 U.S. Census]. The family may not have been in Kentucky long, they traveled; Zella was born in Kentucky, the next daughter, Vivien, was born in Missouri, their third daughter, Wanema, was born in Illinois, and their son John was born in Iowa. The family would settle in Mason City, Iowa, were Zella's father was employed as a train porter [sources: 1900 U. S. Census; and 1905 Iowa State Census]. In 1908, Zella Hunter was about 19 years old when she played piano at the Bijou Theatre in Mason City, Iowa [source: p.114 in R. L. Polk & Co.'s Mason City Directory 1908]. The prior year, she had been a clerk at F G Murphy [source: p.105 in R. L. Polk & Co.'s Mason City Directory 1907]. In 1909, she was a pianist at the Star Theatre in Mason City, which was also the year that she married Fred Russell [sources: p.128 in R. L. Polk & Co.'s Mason City Directory 1909; and 1910 U.S. Census]. The couple lived with Zella's family; her mother was head of the household and Zella's father, John Hunter, had died. Zella's husband Fred Russell was about 11 years older than her, he was born in New York, and was employed as a waiter, and later was a porter, both in Mason City, Iowa [sources: 1910 U.S. Census; and p217 in R. L. Polk & Co.'s Mason City Directory 1910]. In 1913, Zella was in Chicago, she played at the Pompeii Cabaret and is mentioned on p.597 in Blacks in Blackface by H. T. Sampson. She is also mentioned on p.28 in Alberta Hunter: a celebration in blues by F. C. Taylor and G. Cook. By 1920, Zella was a widow and she was using her maiden name Hunter, she was living in Chicago and playing piano in a band [source: 1920 U.S. Census]. She later married Oley? Wilson, he was an actor from Virginia, and Zella played piano in an orchestra [source: 1930 U.S. Census]. Zella Hunter was never recorded as a musician, though she found steady work as a pianist in Chicago according to author B. W. Peretti. Zella Hunter Russell Wilson's death date and location are not known at this time.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Waiters, Waitresses
Geographic Region: Newport, Campbell County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Mason, John
Mason was an escaped slave from Kentucky who became an Underground Railroad conductor. He had escaped from slavery in the 1830s, when he was about 12 years old, and settled in Ohio, where he later worked as a waiter to pay his way through Oberlin College, graduating in the 1840s. Soon after, he became an Underground Railroad conductor. It has been estimated that he helped more than 1,000 slaves to freedom in Canada. Mason was later captured and returned to his owner in Kentucky, who sold him to a buyer in New Orleans. Mason later escaped, taking another slave with him, and made his way to Canada. For more see The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom, by W. H. Siebert, et al. [available full-text at Google Book Search]; and chapter 5, "Egypt's Border," in Front Line of Freedom, by K. P. Griffler.
Subjects: Freedom, Migration North, Underground Railroad: Conductors, Escapes, Organizations, Research, Waiters, Waitresses
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Canada

McKenney, Warren
Birth Year : 1892
Warren McKenney, at the age of nine, was the youngest person to ever be sent to the State Penitentiary in Frankfort. He had been sentenced to five years for grand larceny. Kentucky Governor Beckham overruled the prison sentence and had McKenney removed from prison and sent to the State Reform school near Lexington, KY. He is listed in the 1920 U.S. Census as a single man who was rooming in Lexington and working as a waiter. McKenney was born in Kentucky. For more see "McKinney Warren" article in The Adair County News, 10/23/1901, p. 4.
Subjects: Corrections and Police, Waiters, Waitresses
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Peyton, Atholene Mary
Birth Year : 1880
Death Year : 1951
The following information was submitted by Dr. John van Willigen, retired Professor of Anthropology at the University of Kentucky.


The early 20th Century produced the earliest Kentucky cookbook written by an African American. The author, Miss Atholene Peyton, had deep roots in Louisville, where her Peytonia Cook Book was published in 1906. Her work has attributes consistent with the domestic science movement, which influenced many aspects of the food-related occupations of the pre-World War I era. Most recipes in the Peytonia Cook Book are presented in the format that was introduced by the famous Boston Cooking School cook books. As is typical of domestic science oriented cook books, the recipes are described as thoroughly tested and presented with standard, precise measures. And like other cook books with this orientation, the Peytonia Cook Book had didactic purposes. Peyton includes a teacher’s discussion of waitress service oriented toward employment in upper-class homes or elegant restaurants. It is the work of a culinary expert, not a housewife. She includes some branded products in some recipes including Quaker Oats, Vissman’s bacon and sausage, White Seal ginger ale, Cox’s gelatin, Burnett’s flavoring extracts, and Baker’s Chocolate. In a few cases Miss Peyton expresses advice about the nutritive qualities of some ingredients. The Cookbook itself includes a very warm introduction by Miss Nannie H. Burroughs, Corresponding Secretary, of the Woman’s Convention, auxiliary to the National Baptist Convention. Atholene Peyton, born in Louisville, was a 1898 graduate of Louisville’s segregated Central High School, where she later became domestic science teacher and advisor to the Girl’s Cooking Club. She also taught domestic science at the Neighborhood Home and Training School for Colored Boys and Girls in Louisville and the summer session of the National Training School for Women and Girls in Washington, D. C. Miss Peyton was listed in the U.S. Census as a teacher, and her father, William T. Peyton, was listed as a physician.


*Additional information: Atholene Peyton never married; her mother was Mary Pope Clark Peyton [source: Death Certificate, Register's No. 2065, Atholene Peyton].
Subjects: Authors, Bakers, Cooks and Chefs, Education and Educators, Waiters, Waitresses
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Riggs, Arthur J.
Birth Year : 1855
Death Year : 1936
Arthur J. Riggs was born in Shelbyville, KY, the son of Rachel and Lloyd Riggs. In 1860, the family was free and is listed in the U.S. Federal Census. Arthur Riggs is regarded as one of the founders of Elkdom among African Americans. He took the last name Riggs after being freed from slavery; his family had been owned by Reverend John Tevis, a Carmelite minister. Riggs worked a number of jobs, including a stint at the Galt House in Louisville, KY, and later left for Cincinnati, where he was employed as a waiter at the Grand Hotel. He helped organize the Knights of Pythias Lodge in 1896 and served as Grand Chancellor of the State. Riggs and B. F. [Benjamin Franklin] Howard of Covington, KY, established the Negro Elks Lodge in Cincinnati. Riggs's participation in the Elks cost him his job as a Pullman Porter; he had gained access to the white Elks Ritual, which was used in establishing the Negro Elks Lodge. Riggs was later run out of Cincinnati and settled in Springfield, OH, with his family. He lived under an assumed name. With assistance from lawyer William L. Anderson, Riggs had learned from the Register of Copyright of the Library of Congress that the Ritual had no copyright; therefore, it was redrafted and copyrighted to Riggs in 1898 for the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World. As the organization continued to grow and add form, Riggs received more threats. He left the Elks then for two decades. B. F. Howard took over the management of the organization and moved it to Covington, KY. Riggs died prior to the 37th Grand Lodge meeting in August 1936; his death is mentioned in the April 15, 1936 issue of the Springfield Daily News. For more see History of the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World, 1898-1954, by C. H. Wesley.

See photo image of Arthur J. Riggs at the Elks Photo Gallery website.
Subjects: Migration North, Pullman Porters, Fraternal Organizations, Benevolent Societies, Waiters, Waitresses
Geographic Region: Shelbyville, Shelby County, Kentucky / Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky / Cincinnati and Springfield, Ohio

Webb, Christopher
Birth Year : 1825
Webb was a waiter at the Gothic Hall Saloon in Buffalo, NY, when in September 1847, two slave catchers from Covington, KY, claimed that Webb was an escaped slave and attempted to take him back to Kentucky. Webb declared that he was free. Members of the community came to Webb's rescue and the slave catchers fled. African Americans in the community formed a vigilante committee to watch for other slave catchers, and legal action was taken against the town constables and a lawyer who had assisted the slave catchers. Webb was awarded $90 for damages and his court costs were paid. Webb's rescue was the second of two successful attempts by the community to prevent slave catchers from capturing African Americans in Buffalo. According to the 1850 U.S. Federal Census, the following persons were within 25 year old Christopher Webb's household: 28 year old Ann Webb from Kentucky; 41/2 month old Richard, born in New York; 25 year old Sarah Andrews from Connecticut; and a 26 year old man named Charles from Kentucky. In the 1860 Census, Christopher was a cook and Ann was a washerwoman, they had two sons, Richard and Henry, and the family lived in Middletown, NY. For more see J. Richardson, "Buffalo's Antebellum African American community and the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850," Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, vol. 27, no. 2 (July 2003), pp. 29ff.; and chapter 5 of The Teachers Voice, by R. J. Altenbaugh.
Subjects: Freedom, Migration North, Court Cases, Waiters, Waitresses
Geographic Region: Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky / Buffalo, New York


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