HBTSA – 9.2: Hobson City, AL Heritage Bike Ride

Bike Ride T-Shirt / ©2015FLY/HUNT
Bike Ride T-Shirt / ©2015FLY/HUNT

The Town of Hobson City, Alabama will inaugurate a 10K (6.2 miles) recreational bicycle ride today (August 15). The Ride will be managed and marshaled by Atlanta based Bicycle Ride Across Georgia Dream Team Club (BRAG), the Metro Atlanta Cycling Club (MACC), the Alabama Bicycle Coalition (ABC), and the Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association (NEABA). Mr. C. C. Sykes, a prominent Black businessman, operated a bicycle shop in neighboring Anniston for more than forty years. An adaptation of a 1923 advertisement for Mr. Sykes’ business appears on the commemorative t-shirt for this years Heritage Bicycle Ride. MORE….

Scotland’s St. Andrews Golf Club: First Seven Female Members Include African American Golf Pro

Renee Powell, William J. Powell, Mary A. Walker (L-R)<br />photo: E.L. Fly
Renee Powell, William J. Powell, Mary A. Walker (L-R)
photo: E.L. Fly

This week African American golf pro, Renee Powell, becomes one of the first seven females in the world voted into membership of Scotland’s 260 year old Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. Renee joined the LPGA Tour in 1967 and played in more than 250 events. In 1979, she became the first woman to be a head professional at a golf course in the United Kingdom, at Silvermere, near London. Renee’s father, William J. Powell (1916 – 2009), designed, built and operated the Clearview Golf Club in East Canton, Ohio. MORE….

HBTSA-9: Black Towns & Settlements Workshop

Mayors (l-r) Johnny Ford, Alberta McCrory, Barbara Mallett, Bobbie Jones, Darryl Johnson, Ed Jones, Anthony Grant
Mayors (l-r) Johnny Ford, Alberta McCrory, Barbara Mallett, Bobbie Jones, Darryl Johnson, Ed Jones, Anthony Grant

Everett L. Fly and Ellen P. Hunt (Fly/Hunt) have applied their planning expertise to facilitate partnering discussions between eight historic southern Black towns from five states and scholars and experts from seven institutions in seven states. The process began in April of 2014 as a consultation to the Historic Black Towns and Settlements Alliance, Inc.:
Tuskegee, Alabama; Hobson City, Alabama; Eatonville, Florida; Grambling, Louisiana; Mound Bayou, Mississippi. MORE….

HBTSA-8.1: 500+ Graves Marked in Mound Bayou Cemetery Inventory

Ms. Myrna Smith-Thompson and AmeriCorps team assess headstone / photo courtesy of Ms. DeVoyce C. Morris
Ms. Myrna Smith-Thompson and AmeriCorps team assess headstone / photo courtesy of Ms. DeVoyce C. Morris

For the past two weeks an AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) team has been in the field documenting the historic Mound Bayou, Mississippi Cemetery and other historic properties. Ms. Myrna Smith-Thompson (International Order of Twelve Knights and Daughters of Tabor ) and Ms. DeVoyce C. Morris (Mound Bayou Historical Commission ) reported this week that more than 500 graves have been identified. Approximately one third of the graves do not have headstones or permanent markers. An up to date cemetery roster and grave count for the one hundred and twenty seven year old community was not available until the current project was initiated. The eight AmeriCorps team members are also

AmeriCorps team collects grave location field notes
AmeriCorps team collects grave location field notes

compiling information on the appearance and locations of the permanent headstones and monuments. In addition, twenty landmark trees (12 inch, or larger trunk diameter) are included in the documentation of the 5.7 acre cemetery tract.  The data will serve as the foundation for advanced genealogy and community history research and educational programs in the near future.

The cemetery dates from c.1890, and is a contributing property in the Mound Bayou National Register Historic District (48 acres) designated in 2013.

Everett Fly is providing historic preservation, cultural landscape interpretation and field documentation expertise for the project.

HBTSA-8: Mound Bayou Cemetery Clean Up & Inventory

Mound Bayou Cemetery and AmeriCorps Team
Mound Bayou Cemetery and AmeriCorps Team

The Mound Bayou Historical Commission and the International Order of Twelve Knights and Daughters of Tabor fraternal organization (est. 1872) is sponsoring an AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) project for basic documentation and clean up work of the historic Mound Bayou, Mississippi Cemetery and other historic properties.

The cemetery dates from c.1890, and is a

Mound Bayou Cemetery Memorial – photo courtesy of Mrs. Myrna Smith-Thompson
Mound Bayou Cemetery Memorial – photo courtesy of Mrs. Myrna Smith-Thompson

contributing property in the Mound Bayou National Register Historic District (48 acres) designated in 2013.   The total number of burials in the cemetery is not known, but preliminary observations by the AmeriCorps NCCC team indicates that there are more than three hundred graves. The team will spend the balance of the week in the field identifying and flagging as many graves as possible before beginning any clean up tasks.  The eight AmeriCorps NCCC workers are also locating the headstones, landmark trees, plots and plot dimensions by field measurements.  The oldest markers date from the last decades of the 19th century and include classical and vernacular monument styles.  Co-founders of the historic Black town, Isiah T. Montgomery and Benjamin T. Green, are buried in the cemetery.

Everett Fly is providing historic preservation, cultural landscape interpretation and field documentation expertise for the project.

HBTSA-7: UNC to host mayors of historically Black Southern towns Feb. 25-26

Center for the Study of the American South, Chapel Hill North Carolina
Center for the Study of the American South, Chapel Hill North Carolina

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will host a symposium and planning session for the mayors and municipal staffs of six historically black Southern towns Feb. 25-26.

The symposium, held at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History, will address current challenges in the areas of legal and government issues, oral history collection, entrepreneurship and cultural tourism, archive development and preservation, foodways and community health….MORE

Historic Black Towns Alliance-6: Historic Resources Archival Preservation

1915 Tuskegee Institute class photo and municipal documents -<br />photo courtesy Chaitra Powell
1915 Tuskegee Institute class photo and municipal documents -
photo courtesy Chaitra Powell

Three of the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) top archivists have visited historic Black towns to conduct preliminary field assessments of historic records, documents, photographs, art works, artifacts and oral history sources. The archivists met with residents and government officials. Dr. Bryan Giemza,Ph.D., Director of the University of North Carolina Southern Historical Collection, visited Eatonville, Florida and Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Biff Hollingsworth, Collecting and Outreach Archivist, visited Grambling, Louisiana and Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Chaitra Powell, African American Collections and Outreach Archivist, visited Tuskegee, Alabama and Hobson City, Alabama.  A sample of historic materials from each community….MORE

 

Historic Black Towns Alliance- 4: 115 Years – Hobson City, Alabama

First Hobson City mayor and council c.1901 – photograph courtesy of The New York Public Library: www.nypl.org
First Hobson City mayor and council c.1901 – photograph courtesy of The New York Public Library: www.nypl.org

Mayor Alberta McCrory and the residents of Hobson City, Calhoun County, Alabama will celebrate their 115th Founder’s Day on August 15th and 16th of this week (details at Hobson City Hall: 256-831-4940).   In addition to being the oldest incorporated Black municipality in the state (chartered 1899), it is one of fewer than twenty five incorporated African American towns remaining in the United States.  The town charter was signed by forty nine registered male voters, according to the requirements of the Alabama state constitution at the time.  The adjacent photograph shows Hobson City’s first elected officials, and the 1900 Federal Census provided occupation information: Young Pyles (standing, left; occupation – farm laborer), Peter Doyle (seated, left; occupation-farm laborer), Jesse Cunningham (standing, center; occupation – farmer), Edward Pearce (standing, right; occupation – carpenter), C.C. Snow (seated, right; occupation – laborer), and Mayor Samuel L. Davis (seated, center; occupation – Mayor of Hobson City)….MORE

 

 

 

Historic Black Towns Alliance – 3: Landscape Design

1910 Tuskegee gardening students outside greenhouse – photo courtesy Tuskegee Archives
1910 Tuskegee gardening students outside greenhouse – photo courtesy Tuskegee Archives

Black landscape designers and gardeners have been present in America since the colonial days of this nation.  Wormley Hughes, African American slave, was trained as a “gardener” on Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Virginia plantation for more than thirty years, beginning in 1794.  James F. Brown, escaped Negro slave, was the head “gardener” for the prominent, and classically styled, Mount Gulian estate in Dutchess County, New York from 1829 to 1864.  It is well documented that Mr. Brown often corresponded with the renowned White 19th century landscape designer and gardener, Andrew Jackson Downing.  Once Black Americans were able to own land, gardens became conscious, and integral, components of Black towns and settlements in all regions of the United States. The Tuskegee Institute 1899-1900 catalog listed courses in the Agriculture Division for men and women.  Separate courses were listed for “Horticulture” and “Market Gardening”, while “Floriculture and Landscape Gardening” were combined into a single course.  All were offered in a progressive sequence over two years of study.  The women’s second year, fall term, “Floriculture and Landscape Gardening” course description reads as follows:

Systematic botany, bouquet making, harmony of color, form and size of

flowers, laying out of private and public grounds, road, parks, walks, and

streets; entomology of the flower garden.

These and four other courses provided classroom and field training that addressed topics ranging from proper use of tools to sustainable practices and techniques.

Historic Black Towns Alliance – 2: Architecture , Land, & Cultural Landscape

1912 advertisement courtesy Tuskegee University Archives
1912 advertisement courtesy Tuskegee University Archives

Across the United States the presence of historic architecture is being used too often as the singular measure of the importance of a settlement or town.  Some argue that a limited number, or absence, of styled buildings in a settlement or town indicates that there is not much important value or substance in the civic and cultural life of the community. Some use the current locations of architecture, buildings that follow academic design styles, to define the most important area to preserve in a community.   Without a doubt, architecture is an important source and expression of American culture, but it is not the only authentic asset or legitimate historical reference.

The advertisement for Mound Bayou, Mississippi in the adjacent frame appeared in the 1912 edition of the Negro Yearbook published by Tuskegee Institute in Macon County, Alabama.  It is telling to note the number of land related words, such as real estate, town, and acres, that appear in the copy.  The words town and community are also emphasized.  It is clear that the land and community were Mound Bayou’s most important resources. …MORE

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