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 ...
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 ...
Dale Edwyna Smith
African Americans dominated the sport of Thoroughbred horseracing as trainers and jockeys in the sport's formative years. Prior to the American Revolution, horseracing most often involved two horses racing on quarter-mile paths; after the Revolution, as many as twenty horses might race on tracks of up to twenty miles. Slaves competed in colonial competitions, and Austin Curtis was freed after the Revolution for service to his country, including keeping American horses out of the hands of the British cavalry.
Most of the African Americans in the early years of horseracing were slaves some of them possessed equestrian skills from West African horse tribes but they led extraordinary lives as professional athletes and competed with white counterparts as early as the colonial era for rewards that included cash payments Although black slaves were offered as bets between gentlemen racehorse owners winning slave jockeys were permitted to travel across state lines which ...
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 N. Searles
cowboy, roper, and bronc rider, also known as Negro Add or Old Add, was born Addison Jones, reportedly in Gonzales County, Texas; his father and mother are unknown. The early life of Add is clouded in conjecture. He may have been a slave on the George W. Littlefield plantation in Panola County, Mississippi, and relocated with the Littlefields when they settled in Gonzales County, Texas, in 1850. It is also possible that he was born in Gonzales County and was purchased by the Littlefields after they arrived. There is no record of his youth and early adulthood.
There are many stories about Add in cowboy memoirs and biographies but the only name given is Nigger Add or Old Negro Add It apparently seemed of little consequence in cowboy country that Add had a last name Addison Jones s full name was revealed in print for ...
who lived in colonial Lima, the capital of the viceroyalty of Peru—a city located close to the Pacific Ocean. Almost no details are known about his birth and upbringing. Like other persons of African descent who lived in Lima either as slaves or free workers, Pizí embraced some Hispanic customs and traditions, including bullfighting. It was very common to observe black people in colonial Lima perform as bullfighters during special public festivities. In general, bullfighting took place in open rural and urban areas such as rural estates or urban squares. These spaces were generally referred to in Spanish as ruedo or arena (bullring), and coliseo or plaza coliseum One of the few details we know about Pizí s life is that he performed as a bullfighter at the inauguration of the first indoor bullring in colonial Lima known as Plaza de Acho one of the oldest on the American ...
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 ...
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 ...