Thursday, August 31, 2017

A.M. Strange One of the Greatest Educational Leaders in Louisiana & Mississippi

A.M. Strange given name, Armstead Mitchell Strange was born on Oct 14,  1884, in Waterproof, LA.,  to Tillman Benjamin Strange and   Millie Hunter Strange.  His father Tillman was born in 1860 during slavery and died Jan 1927.  He was one of seventeen children some of his siblings in the 1900 U.S. census were: William, Ella, Bessie, Bula, Luther, Etta Lee, Gladys A, Mabel M, Leman L,  and Richelieu E. Strange. Armstead M. Strange was living in Collins Ward 6, in Covington, Mississippi on Bryan Avene. He was married to Henryene Strange. His occupation was teaching. He owned his own home in 1910.  A  young girl named Rosa Taylor and his sister Ella Strange were living in the house with  him and his wife. His brother Tillman ( Tilghman)  was born 1883. and moved to Chicago and became a physician. He died in 1920 at the age of 37 years old. He was buried in Lincoln Cemetery. One of his other brothers named Williams M. Strange, died in Chicago as well on Dec 1, 1932, by occupation he was a Postal worker.

Ten years later he and wife Henryene were living in Tupelo, Mississippi. On the 1930 and 1940 censuses, he was listed as mulatto. In 1930, they were still living in Tupelo, Mississippi, he had become the Superintendent of the school.  Living in the home with him and his wife: Lehman,  Riechilen, Truman and, Mabel Strange.

Prentiss Institute Rosenwald School, Prentiss, Jefferson Davis County
By 1940, Armstead and his wife were living in Chickasaw, Mississippi. He was teaching at Okolona Industrial School for the Colored. He  completed four years of college. Living in the house with him, where Majorie and Mary James Strange. A man named Frank Taylor was  79 years of age lived in the house as well.

He received his elementary education at Waterproof while his college studies were done at Alcorn College, where he finished in 1902. He was admitted as a freshman in the fall and completed his college work with the Bachelor of Science Degree. A.M. Strange came to Tangipahoa Parish via Collins, Miss.  He was one of the first of his family to earn an educational diploma, and he was instrumental in seeing to it that his brothers and sister did likewise. He is remembered as one with a very stern personality and believed in earning one's way. One family member recalled going to live with him in order to attend school and was greeted with, " Get a broom and start sweeping."

The school for blacks in Kentwood struggle along unto the fall of 1910. This is the year that Mr. Strange, who was principal at Collins, joined several local white businessmen, who donated money. Constructed Kentwood Industrial School for blacks. Mr. Strange raised the money, purchased the land, and erected the buildings, one of which was named for him.

The scholastic year 1911-12, marked the beginning of the County Training School Movement as far the Slater Fund is concerned. Professor A.M. Strange wrote to Dr. James H. Dillard, general agent for the John F. Slater Fund (a philanthropic fund for the advancement of Negro education), soliciting aid for a black school that would be located in Kentwood, Louisiana. Professor Strange established  Kentwood first County Training School for Negroes. After starting several such schools in both states, he labored for fifteen years at Tupelo, Mississippi.

He was elected to head the Coahoma County Agricultural High School in Clarkdale, Miss., which he did for one year.  In 1933 he was named the president of Okolona Industrial School, an American Church Institute School which he improved into a junior college. When he left to become president of the Ministerial Institute and College at West Point, Miss., where he built up a dilapidates school into a solid institution.

Several of my own family members attended the school. My uncle Jasper Harrell, Sr., and his brother Roosevelt Harrell, Sr. are two of my direct lineage that traveled from Amite to Kentwood to go to school. President A.M. Strange, who has served as president and principal of several Negro schools and colleges, died July 7th, at the age of 59. His funeral was held at Tupelo Baptist church with all the Negro ministers of the community officiating, assisted by Dr. Charles G. Hamilton of Aberdeen, his rector. President Strange was one of the great educational leaders of his people.  He started the first Rosenwald School in Jefferson Davis County, Mississippi.

Professor Strange rendered distinguished service to Negro education. His legacy and service rendered should never be forgotten in the African American communities.  He left a monument in many institutions of learning and religion, but even more in the hearts of all who knew him.

I would like to thank my colleague Leonard Smith III for all the research he found on Professor Strange.  Leonard found his name and other records that were vital to this blog post.


Genealogist/Family Historian: Leonard Smith III

Death Notice, August 22, 1943

Souvenir Program " Tangipahoa Parish Training School Dillon Memorial High School, School Reunion 1911-1969


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Lettie Anderson Sewing Up Bloody Tangipahoa

Lettie Anderson, Gumbo Magazine
Lettie Andeson, nearly 90 years old, knows about Blood Tangipahoa,. She saw it every Saturday night. When the men got off of work at the lumber companies in Natalbany, they come down to Hammond for drinking, carousing and brawling in the streets. The blood flowed; Dr. Walter A. Reed and nurse Lettie sewed.

'We had plenty of patients, " she recalled. On Saturday nights, they'd start coming in. They'd come down from the mill in Natalabany, drunk and go to cutting on each other. We'd be up all night, sewing them up. We worked till time to go to Sunday School I'd want to  fall across the bed, by I say, "No, I'm going to go on to Sunday School." That's what I did. I bathed and went right on to Sunday School."

Dr. Reed, a native of Crystal Springs, Miss., who come to in the early 1900s and remained until his death in 1945, is believe to have been the first black doctor to settle here. Written histories of Tangipahoa Parish physicians list only white doctors, but those who remember him say he was well respected by his peers, Drs. Edwards, A.F. Gaters, and S.S. Anderson, which whom he had studied at Tulane.  Reed, usually dressed in hat and three-piece suit when he went on calls in his horse-pulled buggy or Model T, also had the respect of his patients, black and white. "My daddy's brother was S.S. Anderson, and I remember him talking about how Dr. Reed had helped him and what a wonderful doctor he was. Dr. Reed has taken advanced courses in the North, said Antoinette Yokum. " We had so many pneumonia cases, and my uncle talked about how Dr. Reed has helped save the lives of a lot of white people. He doctored on Dr. Gates when he had pneumonia."

But perhaps his most devoted supporter was Lettie, the gaunt hard-working and eager-to-learn young woman who began as his housemaid in 1918, became the nurse in his clinic and eventually nurse the doctor and his wife in their old age. 

She still lives at Reed's clinic, which he left to her, the small green Acadian-style house across the from First Guaranty Bank's main office. A large Bible rests on the table of her tidy, warm kitchen. Weeds and brush behind the house hide the old St. James Cemetery.  Where many of Hammond's first black settlers are buried. Anderson says she worked downtown on Thomas Street for more than 50 years, including about 25 years for the doctor and then 27 years for the South Central Bell Telephone Co. Nowadays, she can be seen walking along the street to pay a bill at Central Drugs or shop at the other downtown businesses. Her niece Fairy Dean Hannible teaches at Hammond Junior High, frequently visit and take her grocery shopping. 

Dr. Reed's oldest and only living child, W.A. Reed Jr., 87 lives in Meridian, Miss. and is a distinguished professor. He headed the black schools before integration and then Meridian Junior College. He lived with his father in Hammon for only two years. 

"My dad was the son of a prominent Baptist minister in the area of Crystal Spring, Miss.," he said.  He finished college at Jackson State and took medicine in New Orleans. It was different then; you worked with doctors. And he then he became efficient, he came to Hammond to practice medicine. I imagine somebody from the area influenced him to come to Hammond." 

Reed might also have been influenced by the fact that Hammond is about half between New Orleans and Bogue Chitto, Miss., the home of his first wife., the former Lillie Loving whom he had met at Jackson State. While he studied in New Orleans, his wife lived in Bogue Chitto and gave birth to their four children. W.A. Jr., Shellie, Edward, and Lillie. 

"I think I was in the fifth grade when I came to Hammond," the son said. "He was established and has a house on Coleman Avenue. My mother was ill, and she passed away that year. My father married another lady,  Ella Church from Crystal Springs,. She was an unusual woman; you don't see many stepmothers taking such an interest in another woman's children. I often wonder why she did. When she came to Hammond, she was not impressed with the schools. During that time, people seemingly had pretty good money, but their homes were poor; they spent their money having a good time. She didn't like that. She wanted me to leave Hammond and go to Mississippi. I had finished the seventh grade. She got onto my father about me, and finally, she got on the train and carried me up to Jackson Preparatory School (now Jackson State University). It was part of the college and I lived there on campus. 

"So I was not with my dad too long. When I was there, he was just getting started in his work. He had a pretty good load, and he didn't have too much time to spend at home. The doctor's two daughters died shortly afer they finished school. 

Major Biographical References

A Reprint from
Gumbo Magazine, Sunday Star November 19, 1989

Magazine Courtesty of Melody Ricketts

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Bishop Willie K. Gordon, Sr. Talked About the Lynching He Saw in Amite, LA

Bishop Willie K. Gordon, Sr. and his wife
Alma "Mandy" Richardson Gordon
Bishop Gordon was that courthouse grounds when they hung five Italians who were charged with robbing the bank in Independence and shooting the president of the bank.  It was said that they hung all five because no one would confess the triggerman.

One day near what is now Pecora's Cleaners he saw two black men that had been lynched lying on the street on two pine boxes. 

One day I was walking east in Amite and crossed the path of another boy who was walking south he said. There were some cows on the sidewalk, and the other boy began to curse the cows in a loud manner. A white girl was offended and went and told a horse trader name Singleton about a nigger on the street and a white boy. 

When I got to the next block, several whites put me on their shoulders.  Got a rope and preparing to hang me until someone recognized me and told them who I was and they released me. My stepfather, Bass who fight white folks. Bass Wheat drove an ox wagon hauling logs from Montpellier to Roseland to the box factory. There wasn't  any other information mention in his interview.  I searched google to see if any other information was available on the lynchings. I found several names of men and one woman,  who was lynched in Tangipahoa Parish. Although, there are others who names weren't  recorded.

The two men that Bishop Gordon could have seen were Jerry Rout and Daniel Rout. Bishop Gordon was born in 1909, he would have been about 8 years old. I remember him telling me these same stories during an interview with him at his home. He was in his 90s at the time of the interview. 

Name of those lynched                              Location                                           

 Aps Ard                                                 Greensburg, Louisiana                                          
 Oct 1, 1909
Archie Joiner                                         Amite, Louisiana                                                    
 Jan 19, 1897
Charles Elliott                                       Ponchatoula, Louisiana                                        
Sept 21, 1900
Daniel Rout                                          Amite, Louisiana                                                  
July 29, 1917
Jerry Rout                                             Amite, Louisiana                                                  
July 29, 1917
Echo Brown                                         Amite, Louisiana                                              
August 9,  1899
Emma Hooper                                      Hammond, Louisiana                                        
 March 1, 1917
George Bickam                                    Ponchatoula, Louisiana                                      
April 17, 1907
Gus Johnson                                        Amite, Louisiana                                                  
 Jan 19, 1897
Gus Williams                                      Amite, Louisiana                                                    
 Jan 19, 1987
Isiah Rollin                                         Ponchatoula, Louisiana                                        
Sept 21, 1900 
Monsie Williams                                Tangiphaoa, Louisiana                                        
 Nov 16, 1905
Nathaniel Bowman                             Ponchatoula, Louisiana                                      
 Sept 21, 1900
William Bell`                                      Amite, Louisiana                                                
 April 2, 1898 


Reprint for the Grace Walker Collection, Amite Genealogy Library.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Mahalia Jackson the Greatest Gospel Singer Sung at O.W. Dillon High of Kentwood, LA

Mahalia Jackson
Mahalia Jackson, the greatest gospel singer, sung at O.W. Dillon High School in Kentwood, La., in the mid-60s.  Betty Lou Womack recalled the day Mahalia arrived at the school. Betty's parents couldn't afford to give Betty money to purchase a ticket to attend the musical concert. But she pushed her way into a  standing crowd outside, just to get a look at Mahalia.  "Just to see her get out of the car was enough for me," said Betty.  I remember how they laid out the carpet for her to walk into the gym of O.W. Dillon High, I'll never forget Betty said. "I was just happy to see her!"  She recalled the crowd gathering and waiting to hear the sound of  Mahalia Jackson's beautiful voice. "What an exciting moment for everyone on the campus Betty said!"  As she said, she will never forget that day. I know there are other people like Betty who were there. I want to hear their stories too!

I started asking other people who attended  O.W. Dillon High School, if they remember her singing at the school? Some said yes, and others couldn't recall at all.  Quite a few individuals stated that it was after they graduated. Betty, recalled it like it was just yesterday.  One of the people I spoke to told me I needed to talk to the daughters of Collis Temple, Sr. Their father Mr. Temple was the second principal of the school. 

Betty Lou Womack
Following O.W. Dillon principalship as a leader,  Mr. Temple worked hard as principal to continue building on the foundation that Professor Strange and Professor Dillon started.  Mr. Temple invited Mahalia Jackson to sing at O.W. Dillon High. His daughter pointed out that her father worked hard to give African American students and the community cultural enrichment.  Each year the town of Amite held an annual fair.  Before integration, segregation didn't allow black and white people to attend the festival on the same day.  Saturday was known as "Nigger Day," that was the day that African American people could attend the fair.  Mr. Temple wouldn't allow his children to attend the festival on that day for that reason according to one of his daughters. 

He became inspired to start a fair on the school campus so that African American people could be treated with respect.  Mr. Temple met with entertainers, vendors and marching bands and invite them to participate in the school event.  African-Americans in Kentwood and surrounding communities would look forward to their annual event. 

Mahalia Jackson was one of the singers among many entertainers that performed at O.W. Dillon High School. She was born on October 26, 1911,  and died in Chicago, Illinois, in 1972.  If anyone who attend the concert to hear Mahalia sing, I would like to hear your story. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Phil Garrison A Native of Ponchatoula, Louisiana

Phil Garrison
Phil Garrison was born in St. James Parish, Louisiana to the union of Paul and Eave Garrison, and migrated to Ponchatoula. He was born on September 14, 1889. He passed away on December 4, 1957,  in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. Garrison was 68 years old when he died He was employed as a machinist at  Louisiana Cypress Sawmill company in Ponchatoula.

Phil met and married Josie "Madie" Cain Garrison. There were several children born to their union. Dr. Kingsley B. Garrison and Lovie D. Garrison is the two I can recall him talking about. There were others.  

During an interview with his son Dr. Kingsley B. Garrison, he informed me that his father was involved in civic duties in the community. His father belonged to the Masonic Lodge. He pointed out that his father was a man of integrity and didn't like to tell lies. He would tell you the truth no matter what.  

One thing that came to mind as he talked about his father, "how good of a listener his father was!" Dr. Garrison proudly displayed a photograph of his father in his WWI uniform. Because his father had some levels of education, he wanted all of his children to get an education.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Rev. Lee Woodridge of St. Helena Parish, Louisiana

Rev. Lee Woolridge
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Kingley B. Garrison

Rev. Lee Woodridge was born in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana. He was born on June June 11, 1889. He was self-employed as a  farmer in Montpelier, St. Helena Parish, Louisiana. He was married to Selina Woodridge. He passed away in August of 1976.  Rev. Lee is buried in Bear Creek Cemetery, also known at Mount  Zion and Greater Refuge Temple Cemetery. Rev. Lee Woolridge was the father of Laura Knighten, Irene Lee, Clara Woolridge, Mary Brown, Rosa Lee Brown, Della Mae Woolridge Garrison.

Ponchatoula, Louisiana African American Educators

Photo Courtesy: Ella Mae Ashe Badon
Right to Left: Gideon Carter, Riley Wilson, Mary Lee Carter, Curtis Warner, Anna Starwood, Genois Reeve, Otis Watson,  Ella Badon, Lillen James, Laura Knighten, Edna Bean and Wilona Terrence.
Sitting from Left to Right
Joan Seals, Estelle Cable, Viola Carter, Florida Smith, Elizabeth McCray, Ethleen Fleet, Ruby Ashe Lowe and  Lovie D. Garrison

From Slave Shackles to Becoming the First African American Mayor of the City of Ponchatoula in 1873

Rev. Arthur Tasker
Rev. Arthur Tasker was elected and served two terms as Mayor of the City of Ponchatoula, Louisiana.  He married a woman named Sarah. He was elected to serve his first term as mayor in September of 1873. Rev. Arthur Tasker was a very prominent man during the Reconstruction period in Ponchatoula. He was born circa 1829-1835 in Virginia or Maryland. During slavery, he was a slave of Widow McCarroll. As a slave, McCarroll hired   Tasker out to work for different people. 

He began to teach the Gospel to the freedmen in and around Ponchatoula. On October 12, 1867, he established a church. 1867 proved to be the year that the African Methodist Episcopal Church was established through out the parish of  Tangipahoa, several miles away,  Greater St. James church was established by a former slave named Charles Daggs in the same year. Charles Daggs was imported on a ship called the Tribune in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1835.  He stated on his pension application that he was owned by the Governor of Louisiana Henry Johnson. Charles Daggs served in the Navy during the Civil War.

The church was also used as the school. The church was the first school for many African Americans in rural town across the states. The African Methodist Episcopal churches believed in the power of education. They wanted their children and grandchildren to get an education and not go through what they went through as slaves. 

Rev. Tasker's son Clinton Tasker decided to walk in his father footstep. He was elected to the Town Council in the City of Ponchatoula, Louisiana. Clinton married a woman named Martha, they moved to New Orleans, Louisiana and started their own family. Clinton and his wife named their son in namesake after his grandfather.  On July 14, 1874, in Hammond, Louisiana a large number of Republicans of Tangipahoa Parish assembled at the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The meeting was called to order by Rev. Charles Daggs and prayer were offered by Rev. Arthur Tasker. On a motion, Rev. Arthur Tasker was called to the chair, and Charles H. Jackson. The meeting was addressed by Mr. Jackson, Mr. Burton, Rev. Arthur Tasker and Rev. Charles Daggs. They all explained the object of the meeting. The meeting addressed that a J.B. Wands was violating their rights and trying to take entire control of their political affairs. The Republican groups had not granted him the permission to do so. 

I'm learning so much about the history of prominent African-American men in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. Recalling the stories I heard about my grandfather Jasper Harrell, Sr., oral history told to me by my family members. During election time, my grandfather would take it old pick up truck and take African Americans in Amite to the voting polls.

Robert "Free Bob" Vernon, a former slave donated land for Mt.Cannan School and church in Arcola, LA., He purchased large tracts of land. He gave each one of his children a hundred acres of land when they got married.

Oliver W. Dillon a principal of Tangipahoa Parish Color Training School, the oldest training school in the nation for African American students. There are so many African-American men and women who had contributed so much to our parish that hasn't been documented. 

The meeting then proceeded to organize a Parish Executive Committee, when the following

President-Rev. Arthur Tasker
Vice Presidents-Parker Loving,  Albert Potter, Charles Daggs, Louis Baham

Charles Foster
Wesley Erabbam
Anthony Broomfield
Robert Veron
Solomon Wheat
Aaron Penn
James B. Cason
Levi Lloyd
Fred Butler
Charles H. Jackson
R.M. Lanier
M.H. Singleton

Sources: 136th Church Anniversary of the Tasker African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
               Arthur Tasker: Ponchatoula's First African American Mayor by Jim Perrin
               Mrs. Ella Mae Badon
               Melody Ricketts
               Hammond Newspaper
               Amite Genealogy Library

The Little 25 Women Club of Ponchatoula and Hammond, Louisiana

Little 25 Women Club
Right to Left: Mrs. Ella Ashe Badon
Standing Left to Rights: Mrs. Ruby Ashe Lowe, Mrs. Laura Knighten
Source: Mrs. Ella Mae Badon

Altruist Civic Organization An African American Organization in Tangipahoa Parish

Mrs. Ella Mae Badon: Sitting on the left
Laura Knighten sitting on the right end.

On July 12, 1956, a group of women met and formed the Ladies' Mystic Club, with the idea of encouraging, through community support, "Finer Womanhood," and education. It adopted the name it now bears, the Altruist Civic Organization." The Charter members were: Mmes, Christine Greenup, President; Ella Mae Badon, Vice President, Esterlee W. Spain, Recording Secretary; Lizzie Mae Seals, Financial Secretary; and Venola Simmons, Treasurer.

The original Club members were comprised of Mmes, Bessie Johnson, Mildred Davis, Elena Martin, Dorothy Reeves, Ruby Lowe, Willie Mae Williams and Helen Parker. Later Mary D. Carter, Lillie Muse, Elizabeth McCray, Ceola Clark, Ola M. Porter, Gladys Denhan and Ms. Ora L. Jackson joined the group.

The idea of sponsoring a Debutante Cotillion was presented by Mmes, Mildred Davis, and Elena Martin. All agreed, and on March 8, 1958, the first Debutante Cotillion was held at the Greenville Park Gymnasium. At this Cotillion, twelve charming young ladies were presented to society. Over a period of 35 years, with the cooperation and support of all concerned, they presented over 500 outstanding, talented and beautiful young ladies not only in our parish but in neighboring parishes and states. Many are making remarkable contributions throughout America.

They have given many academic scholarships that have helped hundreds of debutantes further their education, and find themselves a respectable place in our society. They received outstanding support from the parents, debutantes, escorts, sponsors, friends, relatives and business firms. They help the civic organization accomplish their goals. It took many hands, hearts, and minds, working together t in love to get the job done. Thus the Altruist Civic Organization is like a little acorn which grew into a mighty oak in our little city.

Not only did they present debutantes with scholarships. They gave donations to charity organizations and help those in distress.  God had wonderfully blessed them throughout 1989. They gave four scholarships this year, Queen Altruist 1989, Miss Siltanise McCraney received a $2,040.00 scholarship; First maid, Wauthisha Wells received a $1,730.00 scholarship; Second Maid Yolanda M. Davis won a scholarship for $1,086.00; and Third Maid, Miss Wondearia Foster got a $500.00 scholarship. 

Mrs. Lizzie Mae Seals recieved the Award of Appreciation for 35-year consecutive years of dedicated services. Mrs. Ethel Douglas White of New Orleans received a plaque for having presented three daughters throughout the years.

Oueen Altruist 1990, Miss Alkena Rene' Alford received a $2, 468.00 scholarship. It is their desire that the Altruist Civic Organization will live on: and make an even greater contribution to a changing and challenging society. 

Sources: Altruist Civic Organization " Through the Years"

Ponchatoula Color School Teacher Recalls the Days of Segregation & Integration

Mrs. Badon and her class: Photo Courtesy of Mrs. Badon
Ella Mae Ashe Badon was born to the union of Joseph Ashe and Elizabeth Robertson Ashe.  She is one of three children and the mother of two sons. One of her son's passed away. She attended Tangipahoa Parish Color Training School in Kentwood, Louisiana. "I finish school at 16 years old, I made two grade at one time," said Mrs. Ella. When she started teaching at the Ponchatoula Color School. She taught second grade and coach the boy basketball team at Ponchatoula Color School in the old wooden building. Mrs. Badon is a lifelong resident of Ponchatoula and is well respected throughout the community in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. One of her former students Dr. Kingley Garrison informed me of Mrs. Badon during one of our interviews.  She taught Mr. Garrion in second grade. 

Her sister Ruby Ashe Lowe also was an educator at Ponchatoula Color School. Mrs.  Ruby died at age of 90 years old in Hammond, LA. Some of the collections I looked at belonged to Mrs. Ruby Lowe. Mrs. Ruby was the first one in her family to attend college, her mother Elizabeth worked hard to help her two daughters get an education. 

I had the pleasure of interviewing her about her life, her accomplishments, and integration. She was eager to share what she could recall about the way life was back in the day according to her. I sat there listening and audio recording her. She was very detailed about the information she was sharing. Mrs. Badon, starting reminiscing and thinking about people she hadn't talked about in many years. So many memories started flowing about the community, the schools, civic organization clubs, and the black churches. 

Mrs. Ella Mae Ashe Badon
She pulled out her class reunion book of O.W. Dillon where she graduated in 1943. She told me I came to her at the right time because she had just put the booklet in the trash. Mrs. Badon didn't think that anyone wanted the books, records, and handwritten notes.  I was gleaming with joy when she said that she would allow me to assist her with preserving her collection for the studies of African Amercian history in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. 

I talked with her son Musheer Badr Abudl-Jabbaar about the importance of persevering her rich collection that is vital to the history of Tangiphaoa Parish, Louisiana. Especially the City of  Ponchatoula. 

She attended Leland College a college for blacks,  the college was established in 1870 first in New Orleans and then moved to  Baton Rouge. but earned her degree at Southern University in Baton Rouge.

On July 12, 1956, a group of women met and formed the Ladies' Mystic Club, with the idea of encouraging, through community support, "Finer Womanhood," and educational attainments. In the year of 1958, a new name was given the organization. It adopted the name it now bears, the "Altruist Civic Organization." The Charter members were: Mmes, Christine Greenup, President; Ella Badon, Vice President; Esterlee W. Spain, Recording Secretary; Lizzie Mae Seals, Financial Secretary; and Venola Simmons, Treasurer.

Mrs. Ella Mae Badon is one of the many prominent African-American women in the City of  Ponchatoula. She helped to shape and mentor many students both black and white to become all that they could become.  One of her photo albums of full of pictures of her former students, both black and white. A lady of class, respect and wisdom she is. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Legacy Ernest Father Left Him

Ernest looking at his muscadine bushes
Photo Credit: Antoinette Harrell
Ernest Frazier, Sr.,  recalls the days he worked in the field with his father. He started out by  watching the smaller children under a tree, before he was called to work in the fields with everyone else at the age of about six. He has planted and harvesting every kind of produce you would want to eat. 

He walked around the garden with Eddie Ponds, the owner of the Drum Newspaper in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, talking about how hard the weather has been on his crops this year. With all the rain this summer, his crops didn't do as well as it normally would. Ernest planted strawberries, peanuts, sugarcane,  and sweet potatoes this year. He said the ground was to wet too work in the garden as usual.  His sweet potatoes are ready for harvest, but the ground was to wet to get in there with his tractor. He said this was one of the worst season he had seen in a long time due to the excessive amount of rain we have been getting everyday in Tangipahoa Parish. 

I had to ask Ernest if he went by the Farmer's Almanac? "His response was yes!" I tested it out one day, he said.  I planted two rolls, one according to the Farmer's Almanac, and the other roll the day before. The roll I planted according to the Farmer's Almanac did great. The roll I planted the day before didn't yield any produce. 

 Eddie Ponds with  The Drum Newspaper
and Ernest looking at the calendar
The original Farmer's Almanac founded in 1792. The Old Farmer's Almanac is a reference book that contains weather forecast, tide tables, planting charts, astronomical data, recipes and articles on a number of topics. 

I asked Ernest what did the early farmers do if they couldn't read the Almanac, he said they went by the moon. The moon told them when to plant, when to harvest, and when to preserve and store for longer shelf life. "They knew when to plant the seeds," said Ernest. The old people were wise, I can't tell it like they could. "I still go by my calendar," he said.

Ernest father had a smokehouse and packing house for his produce behind his home. He talked about the legacy of farming that his father passed down to him. He pointed out that there aren't that African American men who are still planting. I know several African American men who are still planting; Charles Holmes, Ernest Wheat, Sr., and a man I call Mr. Herman. 

His father Willie C. Frazier was known through out the community as Mr. W.C. Frazier.  Ernest mother was named Lizzie Coleman Frazier.  Ernest married Jo-Ann Lewis Frazier and they gave birth to two sons. They are the grandparents of four grandsons. Although none of his sons are following in his footsteps, he feel that it's important to pass the knowledge of agriculture to other who may want to plant and grow their own food. "There is nothing like the taste of fresh produce," said Ernest. Although he do purchase what he do not grow from some local farmers and the local supermarket for produce. 

Ernest standing in front of his father home
Ernest went inside of his pick-up truck and came back with a calendar and Farmer' Almanac to show us. He said he prefer the calendar over the Almanac. He find that it is easier to use. He went on to say that he think that we are in for some major changes with the  weather that will affect the produce, fishing and hunting of wildlife. He is the only one of his parents offsprings to carry the tradition of planting on. Ernest do not sale any of his produce, he shares it with his family and friends. Just like his father, sharing is part of that legacy that was taught to him by his father. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Jackson, Gordon, Harrell, Temple, Richardson Family Reunion

Emma Vining Offsprings
This past weekend our family came together to celebrate our family in St. Helena Parishes, Louisiana. There were many new family members to meet. It was good to see family members who hadn't seen each other, spending time together.  Lot's of family history was shared by genealogist Antoinette Harrell, a descendant of Thomas and Emma Vining Richardson. Over a hundred offsprings of Thomas and Emma Vining Richardson and, Jim and Emma Vining Williams was in attendance. Emma was born in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana to Allen and Rosa Hart Vining on October 1, 1885.  She passed away in June of 1964 at the age of 78.  Emma lived at Rt 3 Box 93 N. Amite, Louisiana. 

Thomas Richardson was born in on September 20, 1853, to Carrie Richardson. Carrie and her child Thomas were slaves on the Benjamin and Celia Bankston Richardson plantation. Thomas married Amanda Breland Richardson, they had five children; Thomas, Annie, Golene, Sophia, and John.  Thomas and Amanda both are buried in Rocky Hill Cemetery in St. Helena Parish.  Thomas is my direct lineage, he was born around 1884. 

Emma had eight children, four from the first married to Thomas and four from her second marriage to Jim.  The children of Thomas and Emma were; Alexander, Josephine, Rosabell and Alma "Mandy" Richardson. The children of Jim and Emma were: Jimmy, Ethel, Dorothy, and Arthur. 

Oliver Jackson, Jr., chaired this year's family reunion, he is the son of Ethel William Temple.  When his mother died my grandparents Jasper Harrell, Sr. and his wife Josephine Richardson Harrell adopted Oliver as their son.

Christopher Gordon spoke briefly talked about his grandparents Willie K. Gordon, Sr, and Alma "Mandy" Richardson Gordon.  Willie and Alma had seven children; Willie, Frank, James Earl,  Charles, Adam, Robert, and Barbara.

Emmitt N. Richardson, Sr. talked about his family. He is the son of Alexander and Melissa Wheat Richardson. Alexander and Melissa had ten children; Thomas, Walter, Helestine, Samuel, Pete, Emmitt, Joseph, Nathaniel, Earl Lee and, Darnell Richardson. 

Amanda Breland Richardson
Isabel Harrell Cook, the daughter of Jasper and Josephine Richardson spoke about the family. Jasper and Josephine Richardson Harrell had ten children; Jasper, Jr, Catherine, Roosevelt, Frank, Isabel, Leon Charles,  Henry, Herbert, Raymond, and Delores. 

Johnell Temple talked about his family, he is the son of  Walter and Ethel Williams Temple. Two sons were born to the marriage; Johnell and Cleveland Temple. Oliver Jackson was reared by Walter, just like he was his biological son.

Eddie Jackson, III  spoke about his family. He is the grandson of Rosabell Richardson Moore. His father Eddie Jackson, Jr., was the only child Rosabell had. Eddie had his mother, sisters, niece, and nephew joined him. Eddie Jackson, Jr. was the person in our family that took all the family photographs and videos. After he passed away no one could find any of his images or video footage. 

It was great seeing so many young people there who wanted to know more about their family history. Alex Richardson, III, and Shan Gordon shared so many photographs with us. Many family members brought delicious food and good tasting dessert to eat.  The family reunion committee worked very hard to make your reunion a success. Every table displayed 8x10 photographs of the Richardson and Williams family.  On Sunday morning we all went back the church our ancestors attended. The church was known as Gordon Chapel Church of God in Christ.