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John Garst

the inspiration for the “Frankie and Johnny” song, was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Her parents were Cedric Baker and his wife Margaret (maiden name unknown), and she had three brothers: Charles, Arthur, and James. Charles, who was younger than Frankie, lived with her on Targee Street in 1900. In 1899 Baker shot and killed her seventeen-year-old “mack” (pimp), Allen “Al” Britt. St. Louis pianists and singers were soon thumping and belting out what would become one of America's most famous folk ballads and popular songs, “Frankie and Johnny,” also known as “Frankie and Albert,” “Frankie Baker,” and “Frankie.”

At age sixteen or seventeen Baker fell in love with a man who, unknown to her, was living off the earnings of a prostitute (this kind of man was known as an “easy rider,” a term made famous by W. C. Handy in his ...


Julie Winch

writer, adventurer, and perennial litigant, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the grandson of Jacques Clamorgan, a French entrepreneur and land speculator. Jacques died in 1814, leaving as his heirs the four children he had fathered with his various slaves whom he then emancipated. One of those children, Apoline, was Cyprian Clamorgan's mother. Apoline never married. Instead, she lived with a series of white “protectors.” A Catholic by upbringing in a deeply Catholic community, she presented each of her children for baptism at the Old Cathedral and revealed to the priest the name of the father so it could be entered in the baptismal register. However, she did not live long enough to have Cyprian baptized, and the identity of his father died with her.

Clamorgan and his siblings, Louis, Henry, and Louise, were left in the care of a white neighbor, Charles Collins ...


Donald Yacovone

abolitionist, printer, journalist, and civil rights litigant, was born in the heart of Boston's black community on Beacon Hill, the second of Sarah Easton Roberts and Robert Roberts's twelve children. Both parents were active abolitionists—his mother was the daughter of James Easton, the successful black Massachusetts businessman and reformer, and his father was an author and household manager for the elite white families of Christopher Gore and Nathaniel Appleton. Roberts's father had been born in Charleston, South Carolina; he moved to Boston in-1805 and married in 1813. His second son, named-for the famed Benjamin Franklin, reflected the family's commitment to the principles of the American Revolution and foretold his career as a printer.

As a young man Roberts became a shoemaker s apprentice but after completing his training whites refused to hire him They refused I suppose merely on account of ...