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Brian Turner

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 ...

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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 ...

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Kate Tuttle

James P. Beckwourth, born of mixed-race parentage in Fredericksburg, Virginia, escaped an apprenticeship to a St. Louis, Missouri blacksmith and went west, taking a job with the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. He became an experienced trapper and fighter in the sparsely settled western territories. In 1824 the Crow Indian tribe adopted Beckwourth, who then married the daughter of the chief and earned such renown in battle that he was renamed Bloody Arm. Although he left the tribe after several years—and after earning honorary chief status—he continued a lifelong friendship with the Crows.

Criss-crossing the western and southern frontiers, Beckwourth worked as a guide, prospected for gold, served as a United States Army scout during the third Seminole War and was a rider for the Pony Express He also worked with California s Black Franchise League in an effort unsuccessful at the time to repeal a law barring blacks from ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

mountain man, fur trapper and trader, scout, translator, and explorer, was born James Pierson Beckwith in Frederick County, Virginia, the son of Sir Jennings Beckwith, a white Revolutionary War veteran and the descendant of minor Irish aristocrats who became prominent Virginians. Little is known about Jim's mother, a mixed-race slave working in the Beckwith household. Although he was born into slavery, Jim was manumitted by his father in the 1820s. In the early 1800s, Beckwith moved his family, which reputedly included fourteen children, to Missouri, eventually settling in St. Louis. Some commentators suggest that Beckwith, an adventurous outdoorsman, was seeking an environment less hostile to his racially mixed family.

As a young teenager, after four years of schooling, Jim Beckwourth as his name came to be spelled was apprenticed to a blacksmith Unhappy as a tradesman he fled to the newly discovered lead mines in Illinois s Fever ...

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Pellom McDaniels

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 ...

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Donald Scott

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Nathan M. Corzine

baseball player, was born Ulysses F. Grant in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the youngest of seven children born to Franklin Grant, a farm laborer, and his wife, Frances. The family had come to Pittsfield from Dalton, Massachusetts, possibly because of Franklin's death. In any event, census records indicate that Franklin was not with the family when it relocated to Williamstown, Massachusetts, in 1870. There Frances was employed as a domestic servant while her sons assisted in keeping house and worked as waiters in a local restaurant. While the Grants were not a wealthy family they made a comfortable life in Williamstown and may have even owned their own home.

Frank Grant however chose to seek his fortune on the ball field An outstanding baseball player he was already a local star when he pitched and caught for Pittsfield s amateur hometown team at the age of seventeen The ...

Article

John M. Carroll

boxer, was born in Frederiksted on the island of St. Croix, Virgin Islands, the son of a fisherman. His parents' names are unknown. His father became weary of fishing the waters of the Caribbean and, seeking better opportunities in the South Pacific, moved the family to Australia in 1873. Three years later, however, Jackson's parents tired of life in Australia and returned to the Virgin Islands. An adventurous youth, Peter stayed behind and became a boatman and sailor in the area around Sydney. He never saw his parents again.

A natural athlete, Jackson developed a marvelous physique competing in sculling matches and became an excellent swimmer. He got his start in boxing while working as a sailor for a shipping firm owned by Clay Callahan A successful American businessman and local boxer Callahan saw in Jackson a quiet polite young man who had the athletic skills and ...

Article

Gregory Travis Bond

athlete and educator, was born in Glencairn, Virginia, to Lindsay Jackson, a plumber, and Mary Jane (Smith) Jackson, a domestic worker. The family moved to nearby Alexandria, and while in high school Jackson worked as a barber's apprentice. In 1883 he entered the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute (now Virginia State University) in Petersburg, a segregated public college. While at school he became good friends with fellow Virginian William Henry Lewis. Jackson and Lewis were heavily involved in campus politics, and both left the school in 1887 after Democratic state legislators forced the school's president, the civil rights activist John Mercer Langston, to resign.

The following year, probably with Langston's help, Lewis and Jackson, who was known to his contemporaries simply as “Sherman Jackson,” entered Amherst College in central Massachusetts. George Washington Forbes another African American entered Amherst that year and the ...

Article

Philip Nanton

Boxer born in St Kitts on 11 May 1798. Kendrick moved to London around 1811, trained under Bill Richmond, and boxed for public entertainment between the years 1819 and 1826. He was described as tall, bony, and athletic, weighing around 13 stone, and ever seeking a fight. On one occasion, when he criticized the methods of Bill Richmond, he and the American started a fist fight in the street. Later he baited Tom Molineaux, and, on another occasion, stood at the door of the Fives Court during a benefit, threatening ‘to mill all the “big ones” ’.

Kendrick's most impressive performance arose when he presented himself, uninvited, at a private sporting dinner in Westminster, on 11 May 1819 offering to fight any of the heroes present The dining table was cleared away and a purse of 25 guineas was put up for the fight ...

Article

Nazneen Ahmed

The first recorded black boxer in Britain. Lashley fought Tom Treadaway, the brother of a celebrated fighter, Bill Treadaway, at Marylebone Fields on 13 June 1791 The match lasted 35 minutes and ended when Treadaway was knocked unconscious he never recovered from his injuries In match commentaries ...

Article

Luke Nichter

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 ...

Article

Monica R. Saunders

jockey, was born the son of a slave woman sometime during the period shortly before the Emancipation Proclamation. There is little known today about the early years of Lewis, who grew up to become one of the most renowned African American jockeys in horse racing history. Using other accounts and histories from the period, however, speculation about how Lewis came to be such an adept horseman is possible.

After the Civil War sharecropping replaced slavery as a means for plantation owners to maintain control over their newly liberated charges Some of these sharecroppers were used as stable hands and exercise boys for the plantation owners racehorses The most proficient of these boys for most of them were barely fourteen or fifteen were chosen as jockeys a highly desirable position Even during slavery times the title of jockey allowed an African American many freedoms that were refused his fellows African ...

Article

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 ...

Article

David Dabydeen

African‐American boxer who gained a significant reputation in England. Molineaux was born in Virginia and was the slave to a wealthy playboy who frequently used him in fights against other slaves. In one particular event Molineaux's master bet $100,000 that he would defeat another slave in a match and promised to grant him his freedom should he win. Molineaux won and left for England in 1803, where he met and subsequently trained under Bill Richmond, another African‐American boxer of consequence. Molineaux's first match in England was against Tom Blake, whom he knocked out in the eighth round. Richmond prepared Molineaux for his important fight against Tom Cribb, an opponent whom Richmond had never managed to defeat. In December 1810 the match between Cribb and Molineaux took place at Copthorne near East Grinstead and after 39 rounds Molineaux lost The fight was an especially trying one ...

Article

Al-Tony Gilmore

Tom Molineaux was born a slave, probably in Georgetown, District of Columbia, on March 23, 1784. Molineaux was the name of the slave-owner family that owned Tom, his parents, and his four brothers. Strongly influenced by his father, Zachary, who is credited as the founder of boxing in the United States, Tom took up the sport at an early age. After his father died, fourteen-year-old Tom took his place as chief handyman around his master's estate. Several years later, his owner promised him the sum of $100 and his freedom if he were successful in defeating the slave of a neighboring planter in a boxing match. Intent on winning his freedom, Molineaux accepted the match and won.

With the prize money and his newly gained freedom Molineaux headed for London England where he had been told fame and fortune were to be won in boxing Arriving in London at ...

Article

Graham Russell Hodges

The birthplace of Tom Molineaux (Molyneaux) is variously reported as Virginia; Staten Island, New York; and Baltimore, Maryland. Little is known about his early life except for reports that he worked on the docks in New York City. During that time he must have learned the skills of a boxer. In 1810 Molineaux appeared in London, where he met Bill Richmond, a legendary African American boxer and manager who operated the Horse and Dolphin Tavern on Saint Martin's Lane. The tavern was a well-known hangout where boxers and the “fancy,” as English fans were known, watched boxing exhibitions. Richmond, who was well connected to wealthy patrons, was impressed by Molineaux's methods and publicized his talents so well that, after two warm-up matches, one after a bullbaiting and the other against an aged boxer, Tom Black, Molineaux was set to battle the champion, Tom Cribb.

The two ...

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David Dabydeen

African‐Americanboxer who settled in Britain and became the first black boxer of international repute. Richmond was born in Cuckold's Town near New York and was a servant to a British general based there who later became Lord Percy, the Duke of Northumberland. In 1777 Percy sent Richmond to Yorkshire to study, after which he became an apprentice to a cabinetmaker in York. He taught himself how to box and subsequently turned to prizefighting in London.

Richmond apparently created his own style of sidestepping and dodging the bull rushes of opponents. He was a formidable fighter despite his small physical structure. In 1805 he defeated two respected fighters the Jewish boxer Youssop and Jack Holmes otherwise known as Tom Tough and his reputation took off A major fight with Tom Cribb one of England s most feared boxers and a future national heavyweight champion saw an ignominious defeat ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

Edward Rose may have been born in Kentucky, near Louisville, most likely of African, Indian, and white ancestry. The date of his birth remains 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 It appears that Rose left New Orleans after the police broke up his gang eventually settling in St Louis where in the spring of ...