From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Pool Halls and Employees, Kentucky

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This entry is a first step toward the history of African Americans in and from Kentucky who earned a living as owners and employees of pool hall establishments. In Kentucky, between the late 1800s and the late 1950s, African American men were employed in pool halls and there were a few who were proprietors. During the early decades of the 20th Century, the city of Louisville had the most African American owners of pool halls in Kentucky, followed by the city of Paducah and some of the smaller cities and rural communities around the state.

Some of the businesses existed for a decade or more, passing from one owner to another. The pool hall business was very much a man's business and the clientele were men. The pool halls were also segregated, though regardless of race, they were all pretty much viewed as shady places of gaming, gambling, and drinking.

Other names for the establishments were "pool rooms" and "pool parlors." Articles and books that mention the early pool halls tend to place them in the less affluent areas of a town or city with an atmosphere of crime, and it is not always clear what distinguishes a pool hall from a saloon with pool tables. The finer side of the term "pool hall" is "billiard room" which was often presented as a more civil space found within hotels and gentleman's clubs [source: Encyclopedia of Street Crime in America by J. I. Ross].

Within the billiard rooms, African American men were sometimes hired as porters. They were also hired as porters in pool halls. The research has not been fully explored looking at African Americans and pool halls as viable employment options, and the drawing power of pool halls as male spaces. Listed below are the locations of some of the earliest known pool halls in Kentucky that were owned by African Americans. Also included are the names of African Americans in and from Kentucky who earned their livelihoods as pool hall employees.

Kentucky

    1. Ashland, KY (Boyd County) – Pool Parlor at 113 Broadway owned by Edward Franklin – The Marion Directory Company's Directory of Ashland and Boyd County Gazetteer for the Year 1908-1909, p.231
    2. Bowling Green, KY (Warren County) - Pool Hall at 129 E. Main Street owned by Thomas Harris - Bowling Green, Kentucky City Directory, 1922, p.313
    3. Danville, KY (Boyle County) - Elite Pool Hall at 130 S. 2nd Street owned by brothers Leon and Orestes Richardson - Polk's Danville (Boyle County, KY.) City Directory 1958, p.98
    4. Earlington, KY (Hopkins County) - Pool Hall owned by Henry King - 1930 U.S. Census
    5. Frankfort, KY (Franklin County) - Pool Hall at 412 W. Clinton Street owned by Grant Owens - Caron's Frankfort Directory for the Years 1914-1915-1916, p.316
    6. Frankfort, KY (Franklin County) - Pool Hall at 511 Washington Street owned by Will S. CastlemanCaron's Directory of the City of Frankfort, Ky for 1917-1918-1919, p.322
    7. Harlan, KY (Harlan County) - Pool Room tender Elmes Tunes - 1940 U.S. Census
    8. Harlan, KY (Harlan County) - Pool Room tender John Tunes - 1940 U.S. Census
    9. Hopkinsville (Christian County) – Pool Room at 104 East 6th Street owned by Clarence J. Babbage – Caron's Directory of the City of Hopkinsville, Ky. 1916-1917-1918, p.393
    10. Hopkinsville (Christian County) – Pool Room at 20 ½ East 6th Street owned by Peter Postell, Jr. – Caron's Hopkinsville Directory for the Years 1912-13-14, p.392
    11. Lexington, KY (Fayette County) - Pool Hall at 186 Deweese Street owned by Haydon Young - R. L. Polk & Co.'s Lexington (Kentucky) Directory, 1925, p.860
    12. Lexington, KY (Fayette County) - Crystal Pool Room at 186 Deweese Street owned by Thomas Rutherford and Clem B. Lewis - Polk's Lexington (Kentucky) City Directory, 1931-1932, p.170
    13. Lexington, KY (Fayette County) - Lougard Pool Hall at 238 Vertner Avenue managed by Sam Tilford - Lexington City Directory, 1923, p.543
    14. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Billiards Store clerk George Warden - 1880 U.S. Census
    15. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Pool Hall at 548 E. Jacob Avenue owned by Robert Elliott - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1913, p.1859
    16. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Pool Hall at 906 W. Walnut Street owned by Robert Claxton - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1913, p.1859
    17. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Pool Hall at 629 W. Magnolia Avenue owned by John Fields - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1913, p.1859
    18. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Pool Hall at 416 South 9th Street owned by John Hall - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1913, p.1859
    19. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Pool Hall at 446 South 10th Street owned by William Walker - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1913, p.1860
    20. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Pool Hall at 425 South 12th Street owned by Henry Wallace - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1913, p.1860
    21. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Pool Hall at 1032 W. Chestnut owned by B. F. Ball - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1921, p.2112
    22. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Pool Hall at 1026 South 15th Street owned by Frank Barrett - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1921, p.2112
    23. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Bowman & Smith Pool Hall at 1101 W. Chestnut Street - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1921, p.2112
    24. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Pool Hall at 320 Cassin Street owned by Jacob Brooks - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1921, p.2112
    25. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Pool Hall at 449 South 7th Street owned by Thomas Brooks - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1921, p.2112
    26. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Pool Hall at 442 South 7th Street owned by Joseph Buford - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1921, p.2112
    27. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Pool Hall at 629 W. Magnolia Avenue owned by Roy Carr - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1921, p.2112
    28. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Pool Hall at 124 W. Liberty Street owned by Dud Evans - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1921, p.2112
    29. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Pool Hall at 102 E. Liberty Street owned by James Grundy - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1921, p.2112
    30. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Pool Hall at 1014 Cedar Street owned by Benjamin McLemore - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1921, p.2113
    31. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Pool Hall at 932 South 12th Street owned by Ralph Neil - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1921, p.2113
    32. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Pythian Parlor at 611 South 10t Street - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1921, p.2113
    33. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Pool Hall at 323 Pocahontas Street owned by Edward Shaffer - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1921, p.2113
    34. Louisville, KY (Jefferson County) - Pool Hall at 900 W. Walnut Street owned by John Steward - Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1921, p.2113
    35. Madisonville, KY (Hopkins County) - Pool Hall at 213 W. Center Street owned by Charles Wooldridge - Waltrip's City Directory of Madisonville, Kentucky, 1932-1933, p.197
    36. Middlesboro, KY (Bell County) – Nineteenth Street Pool Room at 326 North 19th Street owned by T. J. Dorum – The Middlesboro, Kentucky City Directory, 1912-13, p.178
    37. Middlesboro, KY (Bell County) – Pastime Pool Room at 401 North 19th Street – Baldwin Brothers' Middlesboro Kentucky City Directory, 1926, p.125
    38. Owensboro, KY (Daviess County) – Pool Hall at 109 Frederica Street owned by Ed Thomas – Owensboro City Directory for 1911-1912, p.313
    39. Owensboro, KY (Daviess County) - Pool tender Joseph Bell - Owensboro City Directory for 1899-1900, p.38
    40. Owensboro, KY (Daviess County) - Pool Room at 109 Frederica Street owned by Othello Salisbury - Owensboro, Kentucky City Directory, 1922-1923, p.266
    41. Paducah, KY (McCracken County) - Pool Hall at 124 Kentucky Avenue owned by Thomas Gilliam - Caron's Paducah Directory for the Years 1914-1915, p.710
    42. Paducah, KY (McCracken County) - Pool Hall at 741 Harris Street owned by W. P. Grogan - Caron's Paducah Directory for the Years 1914-1915, p.710
    43. Paducah, KY (McCracken County) - Hughes & Gauses Pool Hall at 505 7th Street - Caron's Paducah Directory for the Years 1914-1915, p.710
    44. Paducah, KY (McCracken County) - Lowe Brothers at 827 Washington Street - Caron's Paducah Directory for the Years 1914-1915, p.710
    45. Paducah, KY (McCracken County) - Pool Hall at 124 Kentucky Avenue owned by John Armstrong - Caron's Directory of the City of Paducah, Ky. for 1918-1919, p.576
    46. Paducah, KY (McCracken County) - Pool Hall at 116-118 Kentucky Avenue owned by A. G. Strauss - Caron's Directory of the City of Paducah, Ky. for 1918-1919, p.576
    47. Paducah, KY (McCracken County) - Pool Hall at 900 Washington Street owned by Arthur Blakley - Caron's Directory of the City of Paducah, Ky. for 1920-1921, p.643
    48. Paducah, KY (McCracken County) - Pool Hall at 1006 South 9th Street owned by William Hall - Caron's Directory of the City of Paducah, Ky. for 1920-1921, p.643
    49. Paducah, KY (McCracken County) - Pool Hall at 705 Jackson Street owned by Frank Minor - Caron's Directory of the City of Paducah, Ky. for 1920-1921, p.643
    50. Paducah, KY (McCracken County) - Pool Hall at 621 Adams Street owned by Henry Minor - Caron's Directory of the City of Paducah, Ky. for 1920-1921, p.643
    51. Paris, KY (Bourbon County) - Pool Hall at 727 Main Street owned by Albert Bacon - W. H. Hoffman's City Directory of Paris, Kentucky, 1917, p.209
    52. Paris, KY (Bourbon County) - Pool Hall at 102 Turner Street owned by Thomas B. Kelly - W. H. Hoffman's City Directory of Paris, Kentucky, 1917, p.209
    53. Wheelwright, KY (Floyd County) - Pool Hall operator Thomas Falkner - 1940 U.S. Census
    54. Winchester, KY (Clark County) - Pool Hall at 117 W. Washington Street owned by Theodore Brent - Caron's Directory of the City of Winchester, KY. for 1911-12-13, p.241
    55. Winchester, KY (Clark County) - Pool Hall at 35 W. Washington Street owned by I. B. Drummer - Winchester, Kentucky City Directory, 1924-1925, p.232
    56. Winchester, KY (Clark County) - Pool Hall at 119 W. Washington Street owned by James Skinner - Winchester, Kentucky City Directory, 1924-1925, p.232 

 

Outside Kentucky

 

    1. Bannock, ID - Pool Hall porter Samuel Grundy (b.1881 Kentucky) - 1920 U.S. Census
    2. Chicago, IL - Pool Hall porter Brownlo Chenault (1885-1921) from Kentucky - Cook County, Illinois, Deaths Index
    3. Denver, CO - Pool Hall owned by Edward R. Page (b.1869 Kentucky) - 1920 U.S. Census
    4. Des Moins, IA - Pool Hall porter Robert Jackson (b.1899 Kentucky) - 1920 U.S. Census
    5. East St. Louis, IL - Pool Hall owned by William Dobson (1886-1923) from Kentucky - Illinois, Deaths and Still Births Index
    6. El Paso, TX - Pool Hall operator Henry Carter (b.1876 Kentucky) - 1940 U.S. Census
    7. Kansas City, MO - Pool Hall porter Ben Ingram (b.1875 Kentucky) - 1920 U.S. Census
    8. La Junta, CO - Pool Hall janitor Rufus R. Moore (b.1875 Kentucky) - 1920 U.S Census
    9. Lamar, CO - Pool Hall worker Thornton Green (b.1877 Kentucky) - 1920 U.S. Census
    10. Mason, IA - Pool Hall helper Edward Calhoun (b.1886 Kentucky) - 1920 U.S. Census
    11. Mt. Vernon, IL - Pool Room operator Daniel Yaeger (b.1878 Kentucky) - 1940 U.S. Census
    12. Oklahoma City, OK - Pool Hall porter Abraham H. Baker (b.1873 Kentucky) - 1920 U.S. Census
    13. Urbana, OH - Pool Room owner William Sublet (b.1891 Kentucky) - 1940 U.S. Census


For more information see Pool: history strategies, and legends by M. I Shamos; and see "Rack 'em up" in Black Enterprise, December 1989, pp.115-118.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Boyd County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Warren County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Boyle County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Hopkins County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Franklin County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Harlan County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Christian County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Bell County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Daviess County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about McCracken County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Bourbon County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Floyd County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Clark County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Ashland, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Bowling Green, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Danville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Earlington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Frankfort, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Harlan, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Hopkinsville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Madisonville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Middlesboro, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Owensboro, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Paducah, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Paris, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Wheelwright, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Winchester, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

References

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Castleman, William Saffell Jr. "Will"
NKAA Source: The Marion Directory Company's directory of Ashland and Boyd County gazetteer for the year 1908-1909
NKAA Source: Bowling Green, Kentucky city directory, 1922
NKAA Source: Polk's Danville (Boyle County, Kentucky) city directory (serial)
NKAA Source: Caron's Frankfort, KY. city directory for 1932-1933
NKAA Source: Caron's directory of the city of Frankfort, Ky. for ...
NKAA Source: Caron's directory of the city of Hopkinsville, Ky. for ...
NKAA Source: Caron's Hopkinsville directory for the years 1912-13-14
NKAA Source: R. L. Polk & Co.'s Lexington (Kentucky) directory, 1925
NKAA Source: Polk's Lexington (Kentucky) city directory
NKAA Source: Lexington city directory...(serial)
NKAA Source: Caron's directory of the city of Louisville (annual)
NKAA Source: Waltrip's city directory of Madisonville, Kentucky, 1932-1933
NKAA Source: The Middlesboro, Kentucky city directory, 1912-13
NKAA Source: Baldwin Brothers' Middlesboro Kentucky city directory, 1926
NKAA Source: Owensboro, Kentucky city directory, 1922-1923
NKAA Source: Caron's Paducah directory for the years _____
NKAA Source: W. H. Hoffman's city directory of Paris, Kentucky
NKAA Source: Caron's directory of the city of Winchester, Ky. and county residents of Clark County for the year _____ (serial)
NKAA Source: Winchester, Kentucky city directory, 1924-1925 : containing a general alphabetical list of names, a classified business directory, a street directory, a R.F.D. directory and much useful miscellaneous information
NKAA Source: Pool: history, strategies, and legends
NKAA Source: Black enterprise (periodical)

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Pool Halls and Employees, Kentucky,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed October 19, 2017, https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/3109.

Last modified: 2017-10-11 13:22:56