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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 ...

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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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Jane Poyner

Boxer and ex‐slave from Tennessee, United States, who made a number of trips to England to fight. Dobbs was born into slavery in Knoxville, Tennessee, and picked cotton until he was 15. A slight man, standing 5 feet 8½ inches and weighing just 9 stone 9 pounds, he trained as a lightweight and welterweight. During his illustrious career he fought over 1,000 matches, not retiring until he was 60. In 1898 he made his first trip to England, where, in an infamous fight with Dick Burge he was offered a bribe by a bookmaker of £100 a huge sum in those days to lose the fight He agreed to the deal and was provided with laxatives before the match but switched with a friend who bore some resemblance to him and who was willing to take the medication Dobbs won the match On the same trip he knocked out ...

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Monica R. Saunders

Oliver Lewis was born the son of a slave woman during the period preceding the Emancipation Proclamation. Although little is known about his early years, Lewis grew up to become one of the most renowned African American jockeys in horse racing history. Using various accounts and histories from the period, however, speculation about how Lewis came to be such an adept horseman becomes possible.

After the Civil War sharecropping replaced slavery as a means for plantation owners to maintain control over their newly liberated slaves Some sharecroppers worked 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 slave times the title of jockey allowed an African American many freedoms that others were denied African American jockeys both during and after the Civil War ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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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Dennis Brailsford

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 ...

Article

Pellom McDaniels

jockey. Isaac Murphy was born Isaac Burns within the converging contexts of slavery and the beginning of the American Civil War on David Tanner's Pleasant Green Hill Farm in Clark County, Kentucky. Murphy's mother, America, an enslaved domestic servant, and his father, Jerry Burns, an enslaved laborer who would later become a Union soldier and die of camp fever at Camp Nelson, Kentucky, left no record of an official marriage or narrative of their lives together. After Emancipation, Murphy's mother migrated with her son and daughter to the growing urban center of Lexington, Kentucky, where they began a new life as freedmen.

Murphy's adherence to Victorian definitions of morality, self-control, and integrity—endorsed by his mother and reinforced by his community—would shape his definition of manhood and masculinity, which would be the foundation of his future success as a jockey and as a man.

In 1874 Murphy s mother apprenticed ...

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Robert Fikes

Isaac Murphy was born Isaac Burns on a farm near Frankfort, Kentucky, the son of James Burns, a bricklayer, and a mother (name unknown) who worked as a laundrywoman. During the Civil War his father, a free black, joined the Union army and died in a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp. Upon the death of his father, his widowed mother moved with her family to Lexington, Kentucky, to live with her father, Green Murphy, a bell ringer and auction crier. Accompanying his mother to work at the Richard and Owings Racing Stable, the diminutive Isaac was noticed by the black trainer Eli Jordan, who had him suited up for his first race at age fourteen. His first winning race was aboard the two-year-old filly Glentina on September 15, 1875 at the Lexington Crab Orchard Standing five feet tall and weighing only seventy four pounds Murphy had by the ...

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Robert Fikes

jockey, was born Isaac Burns on a farm near Frankfort, Kentucky, the son of James Burns, a bricklayer, and a mother (name unknown) who worked as a laundrywoman. During the Civil War, his father, a free black, joined the Union army and died in a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp. Upon the death of his father, his widowed mother moved with her family to Lexington, Kentucky, to live with her father, Green Murphy, a bell ringer and auction crier. Accompanying his mother to work at the Richard and Owings Racing Stable, the diminutive Isaac was noticed by the black trainer Eli Jordan, who had him suited up for his first race at age fourteen. His first winning race was aboard the two-year-old filly Glentina on 15 September 1875 at the Lexington Crab Orchard Standing five feet tall and weighing only seventy four pounds Murphy had by the ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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John B. Holway

Negro League baseball player, was born Norman Stearnes in Nashville, Tennessee, the son of Will S. Stearnes and Mary Everett. Although his daughter once said that he acquired his nickname because he flapped his elbows when he ran, Stearnes believed a protruding stomach during childhood was the reason. One of five children, he pitched for Pearl High School until “around 15 or 16 years old,” when his father died. He then worked at any job he could find, including slopping pigs, driving wagons, delivering groceries, and general cleaning.

In 1921 Stearnes played professionally with the Montgomery Alabama Gray Sox in the Negro Southern League a sort of black minor league After playing for a year in Memphis Tennessee he was picked up by the Detroit Stars of the Negro National League one of the two major black leagues The Stars players worked in an automobile factory when ...

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Elizabeth Kuebler-Wolf

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 ...

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Shterna Gurkow

was born John Arthur Taylor, Jr. in Hartford, Connecticut to John Arthur Taylor, Sr. and Etta Taylor. John Arthur, Sr., a Virginia-born lather in the building trades, came from a large accomplished family of ten children, most of whom excelled in the arts. His mother, Etta, grew up in South Carolina.

Johnny, as the younger Taylor was best known, started his pitching career in Hartford’s Junior League with The Hornets in 1931; however, he later joined the track team at the city’s Bulkeley High School, where he took part in the high jump and pole vault competitions. In his senior year Taylor switched back to baseball under the tutelage of coach Babe Allen. On 2 June 1933 Taylor was pitching perhaps the most famous game of his high school career in which he struck out twenty five batters in nine innings while only giving up one hit In ...