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Glenn Allen Knoblock

was a native of South Carolina. Baker was likely born enslaved, but nothing is known of his early life. In 1880, at the age of twenty-two, he was living in Effingham, South Carolina, with his eighteen-year old wife Lavinia and earned a living as a farmer. Nearly two decades later Baker's life, and that of his family, would be turned upside down and end in tragedy as a result of a political appointment following the presidential election of 1896.

By 1897Frazier and Lavinia Baker were living in Lake City, South Carolina, their family having grown to include six children, daughters Cora, Rosa, Sara and newborn Julia, and sons Lincoln and William. In the spring of 1897Frazier Baker received a political appointment from the newly elected president, William McKinley as postmaster of the predominantly white community of Lake City How Baker gained ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

wheelwright, politician, and postmaster, was born a slave in Athens, Georgia, to parents whose names have not been recorded. Little is known about the first three decades of his life, other than that he worked as a wheelwright for his master, a carriage maker. Davis learned to read and write while still a slave, skills that helped propel him to the forefront of black political leadership in Reconstruction-era Athens, alongside the tailor, William Finch.

Davis attended one of Georgia's earliest freedmen's conventions in Augusta in January 1866 and rose to prominence as captain of Athens's first black fire company. His reported “coolness and energy” in dealing with a major fire in Athens in 1866 was probably a factor in his election as one of Clarke County's two black delegates to Georgia's constitutional convention, which sat from 1867 to 1868 In the first elections ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

politician and public official, was born in Georgetown, South Carolina, the son of a slave mother owned by the white planter E. H. Deas of Charleston, where the youth lived in 1860. Little is known of his childhood or early education in the small Sumter County town of Stateburg, where Edmund Deas moved after the Civil War and lived until the early 1870s.

By 1874, Deas had moved to Darlington, South Carolina, where he became active in Republican Party politics. Though not yet able to vote, he served as precinct chairman and campaign worker that year for the black Republican U.S. congressman Joseph H. Rainey, seeking reelection in the 2nd district, and by 1876, had become a federal constable in South Carolina. In 1878 he became chairman of his party's congressional district committee, serving for eight years, and in 1880 he was elected ...

Article

Robert F. Jefferson

postmaster, labor organizer, civil rights advocate, and community leader, was born in Hillsboro, Texas, the eleventh of twelve children of William Henry McGee and Mary Washington. The occupations of his parents are unknown. After his mother died in 1914, Henry moved to Chicago where he lived with his older brother, the Reverend Ford W. McGee—a future bishop of a South Side Holiness Church—for three years before returning to Hillsboro to rejoin his family. Then, Henry returned home to rejoin his father in Texas before the family relocated to Kansas City, Missouri.

After graduating from high school, Henry returned in 1927 to Chicago, where he attended Crane Junior College by day and worked the night shift as a substitute mail clerk in the Chicago Post Office. After earning an associate's degree in 1929 McGee had aspirations to continue his education but like countless ...

Article

Crystal L. Joseph Bryant

lawyer, assistant postmaster, businessman, and state legislator, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, to a slave father and a prominent white woman.

Sources suggest that Paige escaped from Norfolk by way of the Underground Railroad at the age of nine or ten, hiding in a vessel leaving the port. The waters of the Chesapeake and its tributaries were often used as passageways to the North. Paige then traveled to Boston, where he made contact with the family of Judge George Ruffin, who had also moved from Virginia. Paige was educated in Boston, trained to be a machinist, and later returned to Virginia after the Civil War.

Considered to be one of the wealthiest African Americans in postwar Virginia Paige owned property in both Norfolk County and Norfolk City and had established an extensive law practice that included both black and white clients He served in the ...

Article

Alexander J. Chenault

politician, the first black and the longest serving postmaster in Mississippi, was born on 11 March 1856 in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi, near what is called the Cowan settlement. He was born a free person of color, as were his parents, Louis Piernas, a brick layer by trade, and Adelle Labat—with some of his male relatives having fought with General Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans. Piernas's father was born in Havana, Cuba, and his mother was born in Haiti. Devoutly Catholic, Louis was christened, baptized, and married Mary Louise Barabino at Our Lady of the Gulf Church in Bay St. Louis. In 1868 he began attending a private school for colored children in the church s yard attended by free mulattos and ex slave children studying French and English One of six children as a child he worked with his uncle in the oyster business He ...