History & Genealogy
NOTE: Always re-check sources to make
sure data has been transcribed correctly. ~SW
Source: Jackson Citizen (Jackson, Michigan) Page: 5
Dated: May 17, 1901
COLORED MAN LOSES HIS LIFE
Bravely Meets Death in Order That a Married Man May Escape.
Indianapolis, Ind., May 14. - William Phelps,
of Richmond, Ky., and James Staisbury*,
of this city, were cleaning the inside of an eight-foot upright
boiler at the Cereatine mills Sunday afternoon when an employe
turned on the steam., thinking the cock was tight.
It leaked and the scalding steam poured in on the two
men. The only exit was up a ladder to a manhole in the
top. Phelps reached it first, took one step and
stopped. He jumped aside and shouted:
"You go first, Jim; you are married."
Stansbury sprang up the ladder and escaped with
slight burns about the face and legs. Though Phelps
followed at his heels, his act of heroism cost him his life.
Both men were being cooked when Phelps jumped
aside. By the time he had followed Stansbury up the
ladder the flesh was dropping from his limbs. He was
cooked alive, and with supreme effort dragged his scalded body
from the manhole. He lived two hours in terrible agony,
but did not let a groan escape him.
"It was Jim's right to go first." said he, quietly.
"He is married." Phelps has been boarding at
Stansbury's house. Both men are colored.
* name listed as James
Staplebury in the Butte Weekly Miner (Butte, Montana) Vol.
XXI Issue: 20 Page: 5 on May 16, 1901.
Source: Washington Bee (Washington,( D. C.) District of
Columbia) Volume: XXXII Issue: 45 Page: 5
Dated: April 13, 1912
THE WEEK IN SOCIETY:
Mr. Fred Williams, father of Bert W. Williams,
a noted colored comedian, died last week in New York.
Source: Southwest Wake News, NC
Dated: June 30, 2013
Guardian of black history dies at
82 Ella Williams-Vinson of Cary dedicated
her life to teaching
By Aliana Ramos
CARY In the summer of 1968, Ella Williams-Vinson was one of
three women who traveled dusty Cary roads in hopes of convincing
parents of black children to join a new preschool.
The first preschool in town for African-American
children opened that fall with 13 students, at Mt. Zion Baptist
Education was important to Williams-Vinson, a Cary
native and lifelong resident who dedicated her life to teaching
at Wake County public schools and preserving the history of the
local black community. She died June 21 at age 82.
Williams-Vinson fought to ensure that black
families in Cary were not portrayed as poor and uneducated.
Instead, she wanted to show them as a group of prominent
landowners who owned businesses, were elected to public office
and engaged in civic activities.
She chronicled the local African-American community in
her book, "Both Sides of the Tracks: A Profile of the Colored
Community, Cary, NC." The first edition was published in 1996.
After Cary's centennial celebration in 1971,
Williams-Vinson noted the lack of information about the black
community. She wrote in her book: "Instead it is much easier to
portray colored people as domestics, servants, or ignorant
people. Colored people fitting the latter descriptions were the
minority in Cary as far back at the 1840s. ... We cannot
continue to ignore the fact Cary's early colored settlers were
just as productive as many in the white population."
Lyman Collins, Cary's cultural arts manager, said
Williams-Vinson opened his eyes to the black community's rich
history in Cary.
"It was very middle-class. African-Americans were
landowners, not sharecroppers," Collins said. "Most people, when
they hear of the post-Civil War South, think they were
"Ella was very clear that she came from a family who
owned land and who were civic-minded. That was a valuable lesson
Williams-Vinson's grandfather, Arch Arrington Sr., was
Cary's first elected black mayor. Her father, Arch Arrington
Jr., helped raise money to build a new Cary Colored School after
the original building burned to the ground in 1935.
Williams-Vinson graduated from the school and
returned there as a teacher in the 1950s. She also taught at
Briarcliff, Farmington Woods and Apex elementary schools.
Collins worked with Williams-Vinson to collect
photographs of graduates of the Cary Colored School to put in
the Cary Arts Center, alongside photos of graduates of the
all-white Cary High School.
"Ella was so forceful and dynamic," Collins said. "She
could walk into a room and take it over."
Williams-Vinson also had a hand in exhibits at the
Page-Walker Arts & History Center in Cary and the North Carolina
Museum of History in Raleigh.
A school slate used by her great-grandmother, Sallie
Blake Arrington, from 1866 is on display at the state museum,
said Debra Nichols, a volunteer coordinator with the museum.
Williams-Vinson served as a docent for the museum from
1991 to 1999.
When her husband, Bob, passed away, the museum started
a memorial fund in his name. The money was used to buy artifacts
for an exhibit.
"She was just so friendly and outgoing," Nichols said
of Williams-Vinson. "She had this bubbly personality.
"The kids just loved her."
Source: Sun News, Myrtle
Dated: Jan. 21, 2015
Mary Catherine Canty,
the woman who is credited with helping to save the Historic
Myrtle Beach Colored School, died Tuesday night from
complications after suffering a stroke. She was 81.
Canty, who suffered the stroke more than a week ago,
had a living will asking that she not be resuscitated. She
underwent surgery following the stroke but was not getting
better, said family friend April Johnson.
Canty attended the Myrtle Beach Colored School,
which was the first public school for black students in the
Myrtle Beach area, beginning in 1939 when she was 6 years old.
She worked with a group of former students for more than 20
years to ensure the school, which closed in 1953, was not
"She was a powerful woman of God," her daughter Mary
"Cookie" Goings said. "Her spirit was so strong. ... And [though
she was small] she was fierce. She had a presence and she had,
what we called, the 'look.'"
Canty was born in 1933 in Myrtle Beach, growing up on
Oak Street before moving to what is now known as Dennison Avenue
in the Harlem neighborhood about 70 years ago. Dennison Avenue
was named after Canty's grandfather.
She attended the Colored School until eighth grade
before going to Whittemore High School in Conway. While Canty
only attended segregated schools, her oldest daughter Martha was
one of the four black children to integrate Myrtle Beach Middle
School in 1965.
Canty did not finish school as a child, but went back
to take adult education classes at night at Myrtle Beach High
School and received her high school diploma in 1970. Her second
oldest child was in school during the day at the time, Goings
The Colored School closed in 1953 and served as a
warehouse before sitting unused for many years. That same year,
the Carver Training School, another school for black children,
opened on Dunbar Street. She still carried a newspaper clipping
announcing Carver's opening in her wallet.
In 1979 Canty and other former students approached City
Council for help to save the school. They continued to work for
more than 20 years before they learned in 2001 that the school
was in the path of plans to widen what is now known as Mr. Joe
"We wanted something that was us, that represented us,"
she said in 2013. "We wanted something, too, for our children –
for everybody – to know, to see that they were treated justly."
Canty and others worked with Diane Moskow-McKenzie,
senior planner with Myrtle Beach, to help restore the colored
The building, which was beyond repair and "full of
asbestos," was demolished and a replica was built near the old
location, Canty said. Moskow-McKenzie said Canty ensured that
the building was disassembled and what could be preserved was
"I cannot tell you how much that [school] meant to
her," Goings said. "It was very close to heart, and now it is to
Moskow-McKenzie said she first met in Canty in 1994.
"I knew from the moment I met her that she is a person
that you would want to know better," she said. "Mrs. Canty was a
wonderful loving teacher and friend. She always had everyone's
best interest at heart. Knowing her was to love her.
"When I think of her today [Wednesday] I recall
something that I heard long ago: 'Death leaves a heartache no
one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal,'" Moskow-McKenzie
said. "There will be a huge void in this community now that Mrs.
Canty is gone."
Myrtle Beach City Council recognized Canty in 2013 with
a proclamation declaring that Feb. 22 as Mary Canty Day and
recognized her work to restore the colored school.
At the council meeting where she was honored, Canty
told council it was a heartwarming, moving experience.
"It reminds me of a song that a group called The
Consolers used to sing," she said then, reciting lyrics from the
gospel song "Give Me My Flowers."
In the song the singers ask
to be remembered by being given flowers and told kind words
while they are still living instead of in their memory so they
are able to appreciate them.
"Today, you have done just that," Canty said. "Given me
my flowers and kind words for me to hear. If I had a million – a
trillion dollars, I could not pay for this moment in time."
Goings has asked that there be no flowers sent in honor
of her mother.
"Her request always – and she put it in writing – was
that there be no flowers at the funeral," Goings said.
Instead, Canty requested that donations be made to the
Historic Myrtle Beach Colored School or to the Mount Olive AME
Church stewardess board.
Arrangements are being handled by the Ocean View
Funeral Home on Carver Street. Vieiwing and visitation will be 6
to 8 p.m. Friday, with memorial services at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Both will be at Mt. Olive AME Church, 1108 Carver St.
Source: California Democrat - Missouri
Dated: Feb. 10, 2016
- Life of U.S. Colored Infantry veteran emphasizes
pursuit of education 'These invaluable arts'
The issuance of General Order 135 during the Civil War was the
beginning stages of a concentrated effort by the Union Army to
recruit men for the United States Colored Troops (USCT). This
order, which compensated slave owners up to $300 for each slave
they enlisted, not only provided soldiers for the Union, but
also resulted in the freedom and education of many who had
previously lived in bondage.
Once many of these former slaves turned combat-hardened
soldiers tasted the empowerement of an education while serving
in uniform, they often dedicated the rest of their lives to
teaching others, leading to the establishment of fine
institutions such as Lincoln University.
John Jeffreys, according to his death certificate, was
born in Virginia on March 31, 1844, and began his journey toward
freedom while living as a slave in Missouri.
According to "Descriptive Recruitment Lists of
Volunteers for the United States Colored Troops for the State of
Missouri, 1863-1865," accessible through the Missouri State
Archives, the young slave was enlisted in the Union army by his
owner, Arthur Paine of Boone County, on Dec. 2, 1863 in
Assigned to the1st Colored Missouri Infantry, Jeffreys
and other black recruits traveled to Benton Barracks—a training
site established in St. Louis in 1861 by General John C.
Fremont. (Benton Barracks was located on the present day site of
Their battles for equality were only beginning, even
within the military forces they were enlisted to support, as the
soldiers contended with a lack of proper food, poor sanitary
conditions and a shortage of adequate clothing. Historical
records indicate that as many as one-third of the black soldiers
enlisted had died at the post from various undiagnosed diseases.
Attached to the "District of St. Louis, Mo., to January
1864," as noted in Volume 1 of the Compendium of the War of the
Rebellion, the regiment was later ordered to Port Hudson, La.,
where they were redesignated the 62nd Colored Infantry on March
Despite many prejudices the men of the regiment were
forced to overcome, they proved their mettle in training and so
impressed Brigadier General Daniel Ullman that he wrote of the
men on July 30, 1864, "This regiment is the best under my
Expectations for learning soon became a reality within
the 62nd through persuasions such as General Order No. 31 dated
July 3, 1864. In the order, Lt. Col. David Branson stated, "All
non-Commissioned officers of this command who shall fail to
learn to read by or before the 1st day of January 1865 will be
reduced to the ranks and their places filled by persons who can
Weeks later, while the regiment was stationed at Brazos
Santiago, Texas, an order was issued that, although intended to
stop gambling among the USCT soldiers of the regiment, was added
to a handful of previous orders—all of which would later inspire
the founding of an educational institution in Jefferson City.
In her book "Busy Hands: Images of the Family in the
Northern Civil War Effort," author Patricia Richard explains
that "literacy was used as a punishment for gambling" and any
offenders "were placed standing in some prominent position in
the camp with book in hand, and required then and there to learn
a considerable lesson in reading and spelling."
As their service in the war progressed, Jeffreys and
the 62nd participated in notable military engagements including
the Battle of Palmito Ranch (Texas) on May 12-13, 1865, which
has the distinction as the last battle fought in the Civil War
and was considered a Confederate victory, resulting in 118 Union
After the war's end, the men of of the 62nd remained in
Texas until March 1866, during which Jeffreys and fellow
soldiers of both the 62nd and 65th USCT donated money to raise
funds for what would later become Lincoln University.
Having attained the rank of sergeant major—the highest
enlisted rank and evidence his peformance of duty—Jeffreys was
discharged on March 31, 1866, as noted on muster rolls from the
Missouri State Archives.
Though it is uncertain as to any specific role Jeffreys
played in the founding of Lincoln University other than
donations to help establish the institution, newspaper records
note he embarked upon a personal vocation of helping to educate
black citizens of Mid-Missouri as early as the 1870s.
"The colored school was provided for by the election of
J.O. Jeffreys, the most successful teacher that has yet had
charge of that school," stated an article in the July 5, 1877
edition of the Rolla Herald.
The ensuing years saw the veteran continue to leverage
the education he received while in the service when, in 1879, he
was "unanimously elected as principal of the colored school (in
Rolla)." The same year he married Minerva Marr and the couple
raised two sons and a daughter.
Property inventories available through the Missouri
Office of Historic Preservation note that in 1882, "the (Rolla)
school board voted to improve the African American school, to be
called Lincoln School." The school remained in operation until
the 1950s and the original brick building remains a historical
landmark in the community.
In 1890, Jeffreys left teaching and purchased what
eventually became the Rolla Steam Laundry, which he operated
until failing health required him to retire. The veteran passed
away on November 5, 1922 and is buried in Rolla Cemetery.
Once property of another, Jeffreys admirably fought on
behalf of a nation struggling to come to terms with the concept
of "inalienable rights," choosing instead to focus his energies
in establishing a path to an education that he and other black
citizens had once been denied.
And if we might assume there were ever any words wholly
embraced by Jeffreys and the founders of Lincoln University, it
was the command issued to the men of the regiment by Lt. Col.
David Branson on July 3, 1864.
"All soldiers of this command who have by any
means learned to read & write, will aid and assist to the extent
of their ability their fellow soldiers to learn these invaluable
Decades later, Lincoln University continues to serve as
an enduring tribute to men such as Jeffreys, who sought to
extend the privilege of hard-earned freedom and share the
benefits of the education they received while serving their
Jeremy P. Ämick writes on behalf of the Silver Star Families of