the first African American to integrate baseball, was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the second son of Nelson Askin and Sarah Lloyd. In 1844 Nelson Askin moved to Florence, a mill village in Northampton, Massachusetts, to open a livery. Across the road was the Northampton Association of Education and Industry, a utopian community whose ideals and practices ensured an integrated membership. Although the association disbanded in 1846, many members stayed in Florence, including Sojourner Truth and David Ruggles; their influence marked the village as a “sanctuary” for all, regardless of religion, class, or race. But in 1849, when Sarah Askin arrived in Florence with her six children, Nelson had already sold off parts of his property, and shortly thereafter the livery was seized by creditors. By 1850 Nelson had abandoned Sarah From then on Sarah took in washing to support her children who at the earliest ...
John Herschel Barnhill
horse trainer and show rider, was born on the Bass Plantation near Columbia, Missouri, to Cornelia Grey, an African American slave, and William Hayden Bass, the white son of the plantation owner. He was reared by his maternal grandfather, Presley Grey. By the 1890s his prowess as a horse trainer was known throughout the world of saddle horses. His horses won championships and well over 2,000 blue ribbons. He met five presidents, and he rode in several inaugural parades.
Tom was riding at age 4 and jumping at age 6. While working at the town hotel as a bellhop and buggy driver, he trained rogue horses part time. In 1879 he began working for Joseph Potts in Mexico as a trainer Saddle horses were highly prized during this era and Potts and his partner sold only the top of the line Potts s Thornton Star was one of the ...
professional football player, was one of six children born to Pink Bell, a textile millworker, and Janelee Cole, a domestic worker, in Shelby, North Carolina. As a boy, Bell worked alongside his father at the textile mill in Shelby, located in rural Cleveland County, moving bolts of fabric produced from the local commodity cotton. Cleveland County was known for producing more than eighty thousand bales of cotton per year during the 1940s. It was one of the largest cotton producing mill towns in North Carolina, as well as one of the richest. Bell enjoyed sports as a child, and he became a standout athlete at nearby Cleveland High School, where he received all-state honors as quarterback. Bell's excellent football skills and standout ability on the playing field made him one of the top athletes in the nation in 1958 and 1959 which made college football coaches like ...
educator, activist, and baseball pioneer, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, to Sara Isabella Cain, a woman from a prosperous mixed-race family, and William T. Catto, a Presbyterian minister. When Catto was about five years old, his father relocated the family to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after being “called” to the city by the Presbytery and after some time to the ministry of the First African Presbyterian Church, a historic black church formed by the Reverend John Gloucester, a former slave, in 1807.
As a youngster Catto attended a number of Philadelphia-area public schools, including the Vaux Primary School. By 1854, though, he was enrolled in the newly opened Institute for Colored Youth, the forerunner of historically black Cheyney University, just south of Philadelphia.
William Catto and other black ministers convinced the Quaker administration to focus on classical topics including Latin Greek and mathematics and not just ...
Larry R. Gerlach
baseball player, was born John Jackson in Fort Plain, New York, the son of John W. Jackson, a barber, and Mary Lansing. By 1860 the family had moved to nearby Cooperstown, where Fowler grew up and, for reasons unknown, began calling himself John W. Fowler. Sol White, Fowler's contemporary and a pioneer historian of black baseball, claimed that Fowler began his playing career in 1869 with the black Mutuals of Washington, D.C. In 1872 he joined the New Castle, Pennsylvania, club, thereby becoming “the first colored ball player of note playing on a white [professional] team.” Though a staple of baseball folklore, White's unsubstantiated claim seems implausible given Fowler's age (fourteen).
Fowler's first documented appearance as a player is with a white team in Chelsea, Massachusetts, in April 1878 After pitching Chelsea to a 2 1 win over the National League champion Boston in an ...
Negro Baseball League officer, was a graduate of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. Virtually nothing is known of his early or personal life—not where he was born,-nor precisely when, nor his parents' names and occupations, nor if he was ever married himself or had children. It is known that Leland played outfield for three seasons, from 1887 to 1889, with the Chicago Unions. He had actually started his baseball career with the Washington, D.C., Capital Cities in 1887, but when westward expansion of the black teams took place, he moved to Chicago, where he helped to form a total of five teams there.
Information about Negro League teams is in general sketchy, but it is known that from 1887 to 1890 the Chicago Unions operated part time as a weekend enterprise relying on passed hat contributions from the spectators to meet their expenses To attract top ...
Ramona Hoage Edelin
professor, coach, and civic leader, was born in Chester, South Carolina, the eldest of sixteen children of William Charles and Susie (Jackson) Lewis. Only five of the children lived past early childhood. Lewis's father was born on 11 March 1854, the son of an enslaved woman. He was permitted to obtain an education by learning with the white children of the household and, later, by attending public school. He later taught school in Chester County, South Carolina. He and Susie, always a homemaker, raised their surviving children in a two-story house and farm on York Road in Chester.
William Charles Lewis II attended the Brainard Academy in Chester, a private school of the Presbyterian Church. He graduated with a three-year trade certificate in harness making from Virginia's Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (later Hampton University) and in 1907 was a football player and coach ...
pugilist, first appeared on the London boxing scene in 1809. All that is known of his earlier life is that he was a freed slave, probably from Baltimore. He had come to Great Britain by way of working on the New York docks. No evidence supports the fanciful claims of the journalist Pierce Egan that he was descended from a warlike hero who had been the all-conquering pugilist of America.
Molyneaux appeared at Bill Richmond s Horse and Dolphin tavern in St Martin s Lane The tavern next door to the Fives Court where sparring exhibitions took place was a natural magnet for a big tough aspiring fighter Richmond himself an African American was well established in the ring and had a high reputation among wealthy backers He was so impressed by the newcomer that he set about promoting him with such success that after only two ...
Michael L. Krenn
bare-knuckle boxer, was born William Richmond in Staten Island, New York. Both Richmond's mother and his father were Georgia-born slaves whose master eventually took them north to live near New York City.
In 1777 during the early stages of the American Revolution, New York City was occupied by British forces. In a manner not entirely clear from the historical record, Richmond, then only fourteen years old, attracted the attention of Major General Earl Percy, who later became the duke of Northumberland. Legend has it that Richmond impressed Percy by taking on and soundly beating several British soldiers in a fight at a New York tavern. After witnessing Richmond's prowess with his fists, Percy began to arrange other fights against British soldiers to entertain his fellow officers.
Percy sent his young protégé back to England where he was apprenticed as a carpenter After a few years of school and learning ...
Lisa E. Rivo
mountain man and Indian interpreter, may have been born in Kentucky, near Louisville, most likely of African, Indian, and white ancestry. The year and date of his birth remain unknown, as do the names and occupations of his parents. It is possible that Rose was born a slave. The details of Rose's life have been gleaned from the narratives and records of others, including Washington Irving, who claimed that after leaving home as a teenager, Rose became a kind of roving bandit, “one of the gangs of pirates who infested the islands of the Mississippi, plundering boats as they went up and down the river … waylaying travelers as they returned by land from New Orleans … plundering them of their money and effects, and often perpetuating the most atrocious murders” (Astoria ch 24 It appears that Rose left New Orleans after the police broke up his ...
Erin D. Somerville
Equestrian and man of letters, favourite of the Duchess of Queensberry and contemporary of Ignatius Sancho and Olaudah Equiano. Born on the Caribbean island of St Kitts, he was brought to England at the age of 10 and given to the Duchess of Queensberry as a gift. Under the Duchess's direction Soubise became an accomplished fencer and equestrian, serving as assistant to the Italian fencing master Dominico Angelo Malevolti Tremamondo.
Soubise is best remembered as a fop in London high society. Claiming to be an African prince, he was known for entertaining audiences in fashionable London clubs with comic songs and amateur theatre. He often escorted aristocratic women to the opera and was rumoured to be sexually engaged with the Duchess—a relationship depicted in an engraving by William Austin of the pair fencing (1773).
While Soubise regarded himself as a talented letter writer and poet of ...
slave, jockey, and horse trainer, was born Charles Stewart, most likely in the first years of the nineteenth century, in Pocahontas, Virginia, the son of a free, mixed-race man named Charles Stewart, a sailor, and an enslaved woman, Sally Vaughan, who was owned by a man named Enoch Vaughan. Charley's parents were not married at the time of his birth. Enoch Vaughan died when Charley was a baby, and for several years he lived with the free members of his father's family, residing with his aunt Mary Stewart. When Charley was about twelve years old Enoch Vaughan's daughter Lizzie Pace sold him in order to pay her husband s gambling debts Stewart later recalled that his father was out of town when this sale occurred and thus did not have the opportunity to buy his son This was only the first of ...
Paul A. Frisch
hotel waiter, baseball entrepreneur, and social activist, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the youngest of the three children of Sarah Thompson. His father's name and occupation are not recorded.
In 1871 Thompson began his career as a hotel waiter at the Ocean House in Cape May, New Jersey. The last decades of the nineteenth century were a time of increasing de facto and legal racial segregation. Most black nonagricultural workers were engaged in unskilled labor, as they were excluded from more highly paid skilled occupations. The occupation of hotel waiter held a high level of prestige in the black community because such employment was relatively clean, safe, and steady, but more intangibly, because it offered access to a privileged stratum of white society that on occasion presented further opportunities for advancement. By 1878 Thompson had been promoted to head waiter. In October 1884 Thompson joined the Hotel Brotherhood ...
Larry R. Gerlach
baseball player and writer, was born in Mount Pleasant, Ohio, the son of Moses Walker, a minister and physician, and Caroline O'Harra. He grew up in Steubenville, Ohio, and in 1879 enrolled in historically integrated Oberlin College after two years in the school's preparatory program. The catcher on Oberlin's first varsity baseball team in 1881, Walker was the first African American to play white intercollegiate baseball. In 1882 and 1883 Walker played baseball and attended law school at the University of Michigan. Though an acclaimed ballplayer at both schools, he graduated from neither.
“Fleet,” as he was popularly known, began his professional baseball career in 1883 with the Toledo Blue Stockings of the Northwestern League. In 1884, when the league champions joined the major league American Association, Walker became the first black major leaguer in history. His younger brother Welday “Weldy” Wilberforce Walker signed ...
baseball player and activist, was born Welday Wilberforce Walker in Steubenville, Ohio. He was the fifth of six children born to Moses W. Walker, a physician and minister. He was reared, along with the rest of his siblings, by Caroline (O'Harra) Walker, but Weldy's death certificate lists his mother as Maria Simpson. This information was supplied to the coroner by Walker's nephew Thomas Gibson, who in the early 1920s claimed not to know Weldy's mother's identity. It is unclear whether the change in Gibson's information evidences newfound knowledge, a disclosed Walker family secret, or fiction. Walker's first name likely paid homage to the local pioneer Alexander Welday (although when and why Walker changed its spelling is unknown), and his middle name likely honored the English abolitionist William Wilberforce.
Steubenville where Walker would spend most of his life was a racially progressive town known for ...