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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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...



Rob Fink

During the last half of the 1800s and the early 1900s, African Americans found their access to the sport of tennis limited. Tennis, like virtually every other sport in America at the time, was segregated. The majority of the courts in the country existed at white-owned country clubs and racquet clubs that refused memberships to African Americans. As colleges and schools began to form teams, these teams were also segregated, especially at southern schools. As a result, black tennis players sought alternative avenues for competition. One of the earliest opportunities for African Americans to compete in tennis occurred at historically black colleges and segregated high schools; the players at these schools played each other. The experiences of black tennis players followed the same racial patterns that occurred in other sports at the same time in America.

With the playground movement of the early 1900s public tennis courts allowed African Americans ...