Extra! Extra!

Recently, while reading “And the Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank,” I learned that “extras” were published by big daily newspapers to share new information about things like the Leo Frank murder trial that gripped Atlanta in the early 20th century.

Having majored in journalism in college, I should have already known that. OK, let’s be honest, being a live, breathing person, I should have known that. But for some reason, other than knowing that paperboys back in the day hollered “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” I never gave it much thought.

This week, I want to share some “Extra! Extras!” — basically, stuff I learned from readers and other sources after posting articles. I love it when people post comments, especially when they have more information on the subject.

So, here goes.

Graves and Lambs

Four Little Lambs: the Stephens Children

After posting this article, I heard from Bob Stephens, great-grandnephew of the four Stephens children. He said the children’s father, James Stephens, bought the statue that overlooks the graves in Italy.

William Harrison Brooks: Cotton Mill to Battlefield

After writing about William Harrison Brooks, readers told me there was a photo of Brooks in the office at Old City Cemetery. So, of course I had to check that out.

Brooks Photo
William Harrison Brooks. Old City Cemetery.

When I got there, Ted Delaney, the cemetery director, showed me the photo and also a photo of Brook’s little sister, Ida. (See photo below.) Blog reader Wayne Fitzgerald told me Ida died of typhoid in December 1914. She’s buried next to her brother at Old City Cemetery.

Above Ida’s photo hangs the little girl’s wooden school ruler. Ida etched her name on it. Below Ida’s photo, hangs a photo of Brooks’ (and Ida’s) parents, Henry and Callie. (See photo below.)

According to notes from the cemetery’s files, the photo was taken around 1943. At the time, Henry worked at Lynchburg Cotton Mill and his wife ran a boarding house.

I also gathered this information from the cemetery’s files:

Because of his red hair, Brooks was nicknamed “Cock Robin.” He also was called “Harry.” He was unmarried and was, according to cemetery notes, “killed by a sniper on a [railroad] track in France.”

Brooks was originally buried in France. He was re-interred at Old City Cemetery — then called Methodist Cemetery — on Oct. 16, 1921.

‘White Negro Girl’ Helen Walker

After posting the story of Helen Walker, an albino African-American girl who appeared in sideshows and museums in the 1860s as the “White Negro Girl,” I was contacted by Ed James.

James is the great-grandson of the woman who his family calls “Nellie.”

James, who is currently working on a presentation about Walker’s life, said, “She was married three times and outlived five of her six children. She was a remarkable and intelligent woman. Despite her difficult start and lots of tragedy, she lived a productive life and was even involved in the suffragette movement.”

Wow!

Since I wrote that post, I also learned more about Major John Burnell, the showman who “managed” Walker and her twin brother, Henry. I believe he’s the man pictured with the twins in the third photo on this website.

It appears to have been commonplace for showmen to use military titles like “Major,” “Captain” and “Commodore.” I’ve found no evidence that “Major Burnell” ever served in the military. According to advertising, newspapers and other records, during the 1860s, Burnell was traveling with various sideshow acts and operating museums in St. Louis, New Orleans and Pittsburgh.

It doesn’t appear he had time to fight in the Civil War.

According to an article in The New York Clipper, an entertainment newspaper of the day, Burnell died of consumption on May 16, 1881. The paper reported that he left his widow in “very destitute circumstances.” The following week’s issue of the Clipper invited readers to make donations to help her.

Recently, I also talked with Beth Macy, author of the New York Times bestseller “Factory Man.” Her next book, “Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South,” will be released on Oct. 18.

I mention this because “Truevine” has striking similarities to Walker’s story.

“Truevine,” set in the early 1900s, tells the true story of George and Willie Muse. The albino African-American brothers were kidnapped in Virginia’s tobacco country and forced to perform with circus sideshows for two decades until their mother found a way to rescue them.

You can watch a book trailer for “Truevine” on Macy’s website.

I can’t wait to read it!

Other photos of interest:

Ida and Ruler
Ida Brooks and her ruler. Old City Cemetery.
Brooks Parents
Brooks’ parents, Henry and Callie. Old City Cemetery.
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Dan Ray Justice: Hometown Hero

Dan Ray Justice: Hometown Hero

On October 28, 1939, a skinny kid named Dan Ray Justice scored the first touchdown at Lynchburg’s brand new municipal football stadium.

Justice, a sophomore at Washington and Lee University, was no stranger to football fans in Lynchburg, Virginia. He’d played high school ball for the hometown team, E.C. Glass High School, and was even named “Best Athlete” his senior year.

Captain Photo - football- cropped
Justice in the Critic Crest, the E.C. Glass yearbook, 1937. Jones Memorial Library.

While it’s likely many of the 12,000 spectators who came out for that first game at Lynchburg City Stadium knew Justice and had seen him play football in high school, what they couldn’t know as they took their seats in the bleachers was that Justice would be the hero of the game.

On that fall afternoon, the W&L Generals were playing Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute, now commonly known as Virginia Tech. Tech, then nicknamed the Gobblers, was reportedly a much-bigger team and was expected to win.

From the beginning, the game’s outcome seemed a foregone conclusion — that is, until Justice picked up a Tech fumble late in the first period and turned what was supposed to be a throttling by Tech into a David and Goliath story.

Here’s how The Ring-tum Phi, W&L’s semi-weekly newspaper, later described it:

Capitalizing on a Gobbler fumble on their own 31-yard line in the waning moments of the first period, the General offense shifted into high and before the mighty VPI forward wall realized what had happened diminutive Dan Justice cut back over his own right tackle to cross the double marker for the only six-pointer of the game.

The article goes on to say that “Lynchburg’s pride and joy, diminutive Dan Justice” was the game’s stand-out player:

Justice scored the only Big Blue touchdown, did most of the passing, ran the ball one out of every three times, and gave probably the finest exhibition of punting the Lynchburg stadium will see in a long time.

Near the end of the third quarter, the Generals found themselves in a bit of trouble. Justice, standing in the end zone with the wind at his back, calmly booted to the VPI 24-yard line, a distance of 74 yards.

W&L went on to win 6-0.

1937 senior photo
Senior photo, 1937, E.C. Glass. Critic Crest, Jones Memorial Library.

It would be nice to say this story has a happy ending, that Justice was carried around the field atop the shoulders of his teammates and that he graduated from W&L and went on to marry, have children and live a long, happy life.

It doesn’t.

Justice did finish at W&L, but when World War II broke out, he enlisted in the U.S. Marines. He served as a second lieutenant with the 12th and 3rd Marine divisions until he was killed in action during the second Battle of Guam on July 23, 1944 (sometimes reported as July 22).

He is buried in Honolulu, Hawaii, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Even though he died on a battlefield far from home, Justice wasn’t forgotten. Since 1946, Washington and Lee has presented the Dan Ray Justice Memorial Football Award to its most-valuable offensive player. Lynchburg alumni of W&L also erected a monument to Justice at Lynchburg City Stadium.

City Stadium Monument - Copy
The monument, now located in the stadium’s entrance plaza.

Hopefully, with these efforts, the “diminutive” young man once called “Lynchburg’s pride and joy” will never be forgotten.

Here are some more images you might find interesting:

1936 football team - glass
1936 E.C. Glass football team. Note the City Armory, which still stands downtown on Church Street, in the background. Justice sits on the front row, second from left. Critic Crest, Jones Memorial Library.
1934 track photo
1934 E.C. Glass track team. Justice stands in the back row, third from left. Critic Crest, Jones Memorial Library.
Internment Form - cemetery - cropped
Military internment form, dated 1949, when Justice’s body was moved from Guam to the military cemetery in Hawaii.

 

 

Cure for hangriness: The Bread Box Cafe

Cure for hangriness: The Bread Box Cafe

Recently, I wrote about going with my sister Theresa to Antiques Roadshow in Virginia Beach.

On that Saturday morning, before Roadshow, we were driving around Virginia Beach looking for breakfast. We didn’t need to be at the convention center until about noon and I didn’t know what the situation would be like inside, as far as food was concerned, so I wanted something rib-sticking and hearty.

In short, I wanted eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast. And coffee, lots and lots of coffee.

After driving around for what seemed like forever and fast approaching a condition one might describe as “hangry,” we spotted The Bread Box Cafe.

Bread Box exterior
The Bread Box Cafe

The Bread Box is located in a nondescript building on the side of busy Virginia Beach Boulevard. There’s nothing fancy about the exterior, but there was evidence the restaurant might be a good choice: plenty of cars parked outside.

In my experience, lots of cars parked outside — especially if they’re pickup trucks or police cars — means you’re probably in the right place. And, like I said, Theresa and I were starved. To borrow from the Incredible Hulk, “Don’t make me hangry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m hangry.”

So, I turned into the parking lot.

The Bread Box Cafe is run by a woman named Esma, who moved to the U.S. from Bosnia. (As a side note, that afternoon at Roadshow, we ended up standing in line next to one of her friends. How likely was that?)

One of Esma’s specialties is homemade bread. On the menu, items include homemade basil and cheese focaccia, sourdough, French and multigrain breads, among others. According to online comments, Esma also makes wonderful desserts, but we were there for breakfast, so that would have to wait for another trip.

For breakfast, which is served all day, I ordered cheesy scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, multigrain toast and coffee, of course.

The Bread Box breakfast
Forget the beach, I might drive four hours just for this breakfast.

And it was perfect, everything I hoped it would be. The eggs, the hash browns, the just-crispy-enough bacon and the toast. Oh, the toast! I could’ve eaten a loaf of that toasted bread. My stomach was full long before I quit eating, but it was just so good I couldn’t stop.

Because Esma makes everything herself, don’t go to The Bread Box if you’re in a hurry. It wasn’t an eternal wait, but I did go through a couple cups of coffee before the food arrived. Just enjoy the good coffee and wait. It’ll be worth it.

The Bread Box Cafe
2372 Virginia Beach Blvd., Suite 101

Road Tripping in ‘The Heart of Dixie’

Road Tripping in ‘The Heart of Dixie’

In July, husband John and I traveled to Mobile, Ala., for a wedding. The wedding was actually an hour away in Gulf Shores, but we decided to stay in Mobile because we’d never been there and thought it might be a neat, historic city to explore.

Before leaving Lynchburg, I did some online research about things to see and do in Mobile. Because we’d be driving the 800-plus miles, deep into what’s been called “The Heart of Dixie,” I also scouted interesting things to see along the route we’d be taking through Chattanooga, Tenn., and Montgomery, Ala.

Eight-hundred miles is a long way to drive and we’d only actually be in Mobile for two days, but John and I love a good road trip. A few tanks of gas, a couple bags of caramel Bugles and a season of “This American Life” on the iPod and we’re good to go.

For instance, we once drove 1,800 within the state of Arizona in one week. In New Mexico, noting that the grave of Billy the Kid was only 154 miles away in Fort Sumner, we said, “Yeah, let’s go!” Closer to home, we once drove five hours to the Eastern Shore of Virginia just to eat shrimp at an Exxon station and drive back home. It’s safe to say we love road trips.

On this trip, we decided to take the slightly longer route through Chattanooga and Montgomery instead of heading through Atlanta, because my traveling-salesman dad had said traffic in Georgia’s capital could be terrible. That said, while traffic was light in Chattanooga — where (historical side note) my great-great-grandpa August Siegmund fought two battles for the Union with the mostly German Ninth Ohio Infantry — it took an eternity to get to Montgomery, our stop for the night.

Dreamland Sign2
Dreamland’s neon sign lights up the night in Montgomery.

After checking into a hotel, we drove into Alabama’s capital city. The first thing we had to find was food. The hotel clerk recommended Dreamland, a barbecue restaurant in a section of downtown Montgomery called “The Alley.”

The first Dreamland Cafe opened in 1958 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. There’s a great story on the restaurant’s website about how the founder, a brick mason named John “Big Daddy” Bishop, prayed to God for guidance about how to best support his family.

“He had narrowed it down to opening either a mortuary or a restaurant and he got down on his knees for guidance,” the story goes. “Legend has it that God told him in a dream that night to build a cafe on the land next to his home and Big Daddy made that dream a reality.”

Today, there are nine Dreamland locations in Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

Dreamland Meal
Great pork barbecue, a dream come true at Dreamland.

John and I both had the pork barbecue sandwich, he with his usual side of fried okra and me with my usual choice of macaroni and cheese. John later said it was the best barbecue he’d had in a while, possibly ever. The only disappointing thing for me was that I was too full afterward to order the banana pudding, which is supposed to be amazing. Maybe next time!

Dreamland sits catty-corner from the city’s minor-league baseball field. The team is nicknamed “The Biscuits,” which I thought was adorable. The mascot is a biscuit, of course. It’s like a clam but instead of a pearl, there’s a pat of butter in its mouth.

biscuits sign
The Biscuit. Isn’t he (or she) adorable?

The Biscuits have a live mascot, too, which we met outside the stadium. It’s a pot-bellied pig named Mrs. Gravy. She was very cute and liked to be petted.

After dinner, John and I walked to the Alabama capitol building. It was grand and everything you’d imagine in a Southern capitol. Outside, there was a half-ring of flags of the 50 states. At the base of each, there was a native stone engraved with the name of the state.

greenstone
Lynchburg greenstone, hundreds of miles from home at the Alabama state capitol.

As we approached Virginia’s flag, John and I suspected the stone would be greenstone, which was mined in Lynchburg. Sure enough, it was.

On the way to the capitol building, we passed the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church where, according to the historical marker outside, Martin Luther King Jr. was pastor from 1954 to 1960. There also were markers near the capitol commemorating the 54-mile “freedom march” from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery in 1965.

The next day, John and I drove on to Mobile, said to be the oldest city in Alabama and the actual birthplace of Mardi Gras. Like New Orleans to the west, Mobile is a melting pot with French, Spanish, British, Creole, African and other cultural influences. As one might expect, there are lots of live oaks and southern mansions.

When we arrived in Mobile, our first thought was of food. Before the trip, I’d scouted the dining options and happened upon Callaghan’s Irish Social Club, which is located in the historic Oakleigh Neighborhood.

Callaghan’s specialty is the LA — as in “Lower Alabama” — Burger. It’s made from a combination of beef and something called Conecuh sausage, and you have to get there before noon or they’ll run out of it.

For those of you who don’t know — I didn’t — Conecuh is the name of the Alabama county where the sausage is made.

Unfortunately, it was Friday and the LA Burger is only available on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I ordered a regular cheeseburger, which was great, and John ordered his usual far-southern fare, the shrimp po-boy.

We didn’t have a lot of time in Mobile, but we did a few things. Over the next two days, we visited the Old Plateau Cemetery, where many survivors of the slave ship Clotilda are buried. I wrote about that last week, and you can read about it here.

church st graveyard entrance
Church Street Grave Yard was founded in 1819 for victims of the yellow fever epidemic.

We also went to the Church Street Grave Yard, where I’d hoped to find the grave of Confederate Civil War General Braxton Bragg.

Church Street Grave Yard is located next door to Mobile’s downtown public library. John and I ducked inside the library to escape an afternoon rainstorm and were greeted with marble floors, iron railings and other extravagances. It was an impressive public library and is worth a look, even if it’s not raining.

The cemetery, on the other hand, was suffering from an serious lack of upkeep. The grass was a foot tall in places. There were beer cans strewn about and some monuments and decorative fences were toppled. There was a sketchy-looking man that kept going in and out of the cemetery while we were there.

graveyard beer cans
As much as I hate to say it, the cemetery needed some upkeep.

Despite that, it was a neat place to visit and we walked around for a while.

For all our looking around the grave yard, however, we did not see the grave of Braxton Bragg. That, as I would discover much later, was because he wasn’t there. He’s buried at Magnolia Cemetery, which is also in Mobile. Oh well, maybe next time!

The third historic site we visited in town was the History Museum of Mobile. It’s housed in a circa-1855 building that also has served as a market and later as Mobile’s city hall. As you’d expect, it was full of things — apparently 90,000 items — related to the history of Mobile.

officers toilet css alabama
This fancy officer’s toilet was recovered from the wreckage of the Confederate warship Alabama. The Alabama was attacked by a Union frigate and sunk off the coast of France in 1864.
john augustus walker mural
A WPA-era mural painted by John Augustus Walker in the lobby of the history museum.

The museum was definitely worth visiting and, at $10, was not a big splurge.

In Mobile, we stayed at the Malaga Inn, which was once two homes. It was built for two sisters and their husbands in 1862. It was comfortable, affordable ($125/night), and within walking distance to restaurants and historic sites. I’d definitely stay there again.

After attending the wedding Saturday evening, John and I got back in the car Sunday morning and headed toward home. We’d planned to make it to at least Knoxville that day, but then switched gears and headed for Cookeville, Tenn. John went to college there at Tennessee Tech. It’s also home to Ralph’s Donuts.

Ralph’s had been around for decades and was a favorite hangout for John and his college buddies. I’ve been there a dozen times over the years and I’m particularly fond of the maple-frosted donut. So, when John suggested we go two hours out of our way for a donut, I was game.

Unfortunately, when we arrived in Cookeville, Ralph’s was closed, and would also be closed the following Monday morning. Since we’d last been to Ralph’s, the previous December, the hours had changed. Now, they’re closed Sundays and Mondays, much to our disappointment.

Oh well, as had become a refrain on this trip, “Maybe next time!”

The story of the slave ship Clotilda

The story of the slave ship Clotilda

In July of 1860, a two-masted schooner called the Clotilda sailed into Mobile Bay under cover of darkness. The Clotilda, sometimes spelled “Clotilde,” was returning to Mobile, Ala., from West Africa.

In its cargo hold were 110 men, women and children from the countries now known as Nigeria and Benin. All were destined to be slaves.

The Clotilda’s night-time arrival was far from coincidental. By this time in history, importing slaves into the U.S. had been illegal for 52 years. There were some businessmen, however, who were willing to risk steep fines and threats of imprisonment for what could be a big payoff.

In 1860, a single slave might sell for $500 to $1,000 or more, which meant the Clotilda’s cargo was worth approximately $100,000 — about $2.7 million in 2016 dollars.

But apparently money wasn’t the only thing at stake. So were bragging rights.

In her 1914 book, “Historic Sketches of the South,” Emma Langdon Roche writes that the Clotilda’s risky voyage began with a bet.

Just Landed NYPL
Slaves just arrived from Africa. Johnson & Warner, 1810, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture/Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division. (N.Y. Public Library)

“… a group of men were one day standing on the wharf discussing the efforts the Government was finally making to suppress the slave trade, the vigilance which was being exerted, and the possibility for a vessel equipped for such purposes to evade officials,” Roche writes.

“There was some betting — a favorite pastime of the day — and Captain Tim Meaher, a steamboat builder and river-man, who was standing near, wagered that he could send a slaver to the coast of Africa and bring through the port of Mobile a cargo of slaves. The wager was taken and the stakes were large.”

As Roche tells it, Meaher and the Clotilda’s Capt. William Foster, had no trouble finding slaves for sale. Many, perhaps all, of the men, women and children aboard the Clotilda had been prisoners of war, captured during tribal disputes and subsequently sold into slavery.

In her book, Roche writes that “it had long been a part of the traders’ policy to instigate the tribes against each other and in this manner keep the markets stocked.” With this in mind, the business partners also would have been been delighted to see the following report in the Nov. 9, 1858, Mobile Register:

From the west coast of Africa we have advice dated September 21st. The quarreling of the tribes on Sierra Leone River rendered the aspect of things very unsatisfactory. The King of Dahomey [now Benin] was driving a brisk trade in slaves at from fifty to sixty dollars apiece at Whydah. Immense numbers of negroes were collected along the coast for export.

As Roche puts it, upon leaving Mobile, Foster and his crew “sailed directly for Whydah.”

One of the captives aboard the Clotilda was a young man named Oluale Kossola. Sylviane A. Diouf, who authored a book about the Clotilda slaves, writes that Kossola was born in Benin and was a member of the Yoruba people.

“Kossola was born into a modest family, but his grandfather was an officer of the town’s king,” Diouf writes on the website Encyclopedia of Alabama.

She adds that at 14 years of age, Kossola “began training as a soldier and learned how to track, hunt, camp, shoot arrows, throw spears, and defend his town, which was surrounded by four tall walls.”

In April of 1860, when Kossola was about 19 years old and not too long before the Clotilda arrived in Benin, a neighboring tribe attacked Kossola’s town. They killed many of the townspeople and took the rest as prisoners.

According to Diouf, Kossola and the other survivors were marched to the coast, where they spent several weeks in a barracoon, a type of slave pen. Then the captives were loaded on the Clotilda.

Kossola and the others spent 45 days traveling across the Atlantic along what was called the “Middle Passage.” Diouf writes that “Kossola suffered from terrible thirst and the humiliation of having been forced on board naked.”

Once in Mobile, Kossola was owned by Tim Meaher’s brother, James. Because “Kossola” was difficult for his master to pronounce, Diouf writes that the newly enslaved man took the name Cudjo, “a name given by the Fon and Ewe peoples of West Africa to boys who are born on Monday.”

Cudjo Lewis - NYPL
Cudjo Lewis. From “Historic Sketches of the South.” Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture/General Research and Reference Division (N.Y. Public Library)

When the Civil War ended five years later, Kossola was again a free man. He took the last name Lewis and married another Clotilda survivor. According to Diouf, the man now known as Cudjo Lewis and other Clotilda survivors wanted to return to Africa, but couldn’t afford the trip.

So, they did the next best thing: they built their own community on the outskirts of Mobile. “After emancipation, the group … reunited from various plantations, bought land, and founded their own settlement, known as Africa Town,” Diouf writes on her website.

“They ruled it according to their customary laws, continued to speak their own languages — which they taught their children — and insisted that writers use their African names so that their families would know that they were still alive.”

In 1928, Alabama-born novelist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston filmed Lewis as part of an anthropological project. He would have been in his mid-80s at the time, and is featured in the first 40 seconds of film, sitting on a porch and chopping wood for the visiting filmmaker.

Cudjo Lewis died in 1935, the last survivor of the Clotilda slaves. He is buried in the Old Plateau Cemetery in what’s now called Africatown. A tall monument was placed there in his honor, and it’s said that many other Clotilda slaves rest nearby.

Here’s a photo of Lewis’ grave marker at the Old Plateau Cemetery, also called the Africatown Graveyard:

Cudjo Marker

And an historical marker, with more information about the cemetery and its inhabitants, which also include a Buffalo Soldier:

historic marker - plateau cemetery

Etching, top of page, Library of Congress.