Race and Ethnicity in the United States

The Course

Race and Ethnicity in the United States

Introduction to racial and ethnic identity issues through critical examination of the social, political, and economic factors that helped to construct identity in the United States. Examines how America’s racial and ethnic ideas were created, maintained, and what is at stake when we struggle to define race/ethnic identity.

About Julian C. Chambliss

Julian C. Chambliss is Associate Professor of History at Rollins College where  his teaching and research focus on urban history and culture in the United States.  He serves as coordinator of the Africa and African-American Studies Program at Rollins, Coordinator of the Media Arts and Culture Special Interest Section for the Florida Conference of Historians and as a board member of the Society for American City and Regional Planning History.

Migratory Impact: Institutions

The Ideal Women’s Club

 

The 1930’s were a pinnacle decade for women’s rights. It was during this era that women began a fierce battle for working class advances. Despite instances in which women were beginning to speak out against circumstances they found unjust, their voices were still only a whisper in the male- dominated political world.[i] With the Jim Crow laws bringing down the moral of the African American community[ii], coupled with the oppression women of all colors faced during this time period, called for a place where women could go and be able to speak their mind. Mary Lee DePugh sought to fulfill this need with her establishment of the Ideal Women’s Club in Winter Park.

Mary Lee DePugh moved to Hannibal Square from Illinois with her husband, Baker and boss, Mrs. Maud Kraft in 1937. It was during her time in Hannibal Square that she attended a local elementary school production. She noticed that the show was seriously lacking in costumes and props. Because she had been involved in the Matilda Dunbar Club in Chicago and knew what benefits it brought to the community, she noticed Hannibal Square was in need of their own community center. With encouragement from Mrs. Kraft, who was a Women’s Club of Winter Park Life member[iii], she established the Ideal Women’s Club on July 29, 1937 (although it wasn’t until September 16, 1937 that the club was officially named The Ideal Women’s Club.[iv] This group was to be comprised of “ambitious community women” dedicated to reviving the spirit and pride of black clubwomen[v] and Mary Lee DePugh was elected as the club’s first president.[vi] And so, a women’s club had been formed, with meetings held twice a month on Thursdays. In the early days there was no official clubhouse for the members to meet in, so they typically held their meetings in Ward Chapel[vii], different member’s homes or at the public library. This club created a forum in which women could interact with one another socially and intellectually and in hopes of being able to build some community pride. Because of her strong religious roots, Mary Lee DePugh advocated that the women’s club also connect with the local religious community.[viii]

Rollins College Archive and Special Collection

In 1940, the Hooker Memorial House[ix] was donated to the Ideal Women’s Club to serve as a permanent meeting spot for the women.[x] Once the club was more established, the women were able to expand their efforts to improve their community. One way in which they did this was by encouraging all members of the community to get involved with making improvements. One member if the Ideal Women’s Clud, a Mrs. Chaney Laughlin, even organized another group called the Benevolent Club. After being concerned about a sick, elderly neighbor, she formed the Benevolent Club with a group of her friends from the Ideal Women’s Club to hold sewing bees and dinners to raise the funds to care for Mrs. Laughlin’s elderly neighbor.[xi]

Inspired by this, the women started a new project. This one was called the “Nursing Home Project.” The home was to be named The DePugh Nursing Home after the Ideal Women’s Club founder. The creation of the nursing home was supported by another local organization, the Rollins College Interracial Committee (RCIC). The chairman of the RCIC, Fred Rogers, said:

During the past month we have been soliciting funds for The DePugh Nursing Home. The colored people of Winter Park started a drive to raise money for a local nursing home which would act as a hospital-clinic. Winter Park is in dire need of such a building since there is no colored doctor in town, and an Orlando doctor (negro) asks $8.00 a visit from patients in Winter Park. The home would include a minor operation room and a delivery room, plus room for 10 patients. The goal of the drive has not yet been reached, yet it is clearly in view.

By 1954 for the women of the Benevolent Club had raised $5,000 for the nursing home.[xii] Later that same year, a philanthropist named R.T. Miller challenged the women to raise $15,000 and promised to match that number if they were successful. With the additional $30,000, construction on The Depugh Nursing Home could finally get underway. Opening day was on January 25, 1956 and the first patient was admitted.[xiii] When is opened, the home had twenty-eight beds, two full time registered nurses, a full time custodian, and fourteen nurses assistants. Even though it was because of the Ideal Women’s Club that the nursing home even existed, they still opened up their kitchen to the home’s patients.[xiv] When Mary Lee DePugh died in November of 1950 and the Ideal Women’s Club hosted a memorial service in her honor and the Piney Woods Cemetery and placed a stone on her grave.[xv]

The Ideal Women’s Club has continued to open their arms and doors to the community of Hannibal Square and Winter Park in general. They’ve allowed meetings of other organizations, such as the Piney Woods Cemetery Association[xvi], in their clubhouse. Even in recent decades they have continued to engage with the community, hosting “Friends Friday”[xvii] and even have the community fighting to save the 89-year-old building the was previously used as the clubhouse, despite the fact that there is a new clubhouse built across the street from the old one.[xviii]The people who grew up and live around the Ideal Women’s Club have developed a strong relationship with the organization as a positive part of their community.

Piney Woods Cemetery Association Attendance Sheet, 1946 (Rollins College Archive and Special Collection)

By: D. Zimmer


[i] Workers World, “1930s: The women were fearless.” Accessed April 5, 2012. http://www.workers.org/2008/us/womens_history_month_0403/.

[ii] Kimberley Tomlinson Mould, A portrait in black and white: the Ideal Woman’s Club and the Woman’s Club of Winter Park, (Rollins College, 2000).

[iii] Kimberley Tomlinson Mould, A portrait in black and white: the Ideal Woman’s Club and the Woman’s Club of Winter Park, (Rollins College, 2000).

[iv] “Ideal Women’s Club.” Archival Document.

[v] Kimberley Tomlinson Mould, A portrait in black and white: the Ideal Woman’s Club and the Woman’s Club of Winter Park, (Rollins College, 2000).

[vi] “Ideal Women’s Club.” Winter Park Herald, November 16, 1950.

[vii] Kimberley Tomlinson Mould, A portrait in black and white: the Ideal Woman’s Club and the Woman’s Club of Winter Park, (Rollins College, 2000).

[viii] Chambliss, Julian. Rollins College, “MyWeb.” Accessed April 1, 2012. http://myweb.rollins.edu/jchambliss/Historic_Winter_Park/Historic_Winter_Park/The_Ideal_Womens_Club.html.

[ix] See Appendix- Document 2

[x] Gayle Rajtar, and Steve Rajtar,Winter Park Chronicles, (Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011), 17.

[xi] Chambliss, Julian. Rollins College, “MyWeb.” Accessed April 1, 2012. http://myweb.rollins.edu/jchambliss/Historic_Winter_Park/Historic_Winter_Park/The_Ideal_Womens_Club.html.

[xii] Chambliss, Julian. Rollins College, “MyWeb.” Accessed April 1, 2012. http://myweb.rollins.edu/jchambliss/Historic_Winter_Park/Historic_Winter_Park/The_Ideal_Womens_Club.html.

[xiii] DePugh Nursing Home, “History.” Accessed April 4, 2012. http://depughnursingcenter.org/History.shtml.

[xiv] Chambliss, Julian. Rollins College, “MyWeb.” Accessed April 1, 2012. http://myweb.rollins.edu/jchambliss/Historic_Winter_Park/Historic_Winter_Park/The_Ideal_Womens_Club.html

[xv] “Ideal Women’s Club.” Archival Document- Winter Park Herald, November 16, 1950.

[xvi] Attendance Sheet (Attendance sheet used at a meeting of the Piney Woods Cemetery Association at the Ideal Women’s Club, Winter Park, Florida, May 2, 1946).

[xvii] “The Ideal Women’s Club Hosts Friends Fridays.” The New Advocate, , sec. Page 4, .

[xviii] Parrish, Ines Davis. “Black residents, church group working to save club building.” The Orlando Sentinel, .

Migratory Impact: Institutions

Ward Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church

 

While Ward Chapel A.M.E. Church has been integrated in the fabric of the Black neighborhood of Winter Park, why and how it was started dates back further than the idea of its origin. A bigger observation than the church itself being one of several thousand Christian churches in the United States, is that it is part of a greater movement of American Black churches, where the original journey begins. Black churches have since been a cornerstone in Black society since the early history in America. During the time of slavery Blacks were not allowed to congregate to worship together and alone, however some slave owners did grant this wish to worship to their slaves.[i] That being said it is obvious there were no established Black churches yet so the only churches they could worship at were White churches where they were segregated to the rear of the building. Nonetheless this did not stop some slaves from sneaking out and making their own “underground” gatherings and reading the Bible together as well as praising and worshiping as one.[ii] Those who did allow their slaves to attend church did have different motives than those of their slaves. One of the reasons a slave owner might allow their slave to attend church would be to keep an eye on the slaves while they were out of the house since the looming fear of an outright slave rebellion was very real at that time.[iii] Another reason a slave would be taken to church was simply to brainwash them. The minister would use various scriptures from the Bible in order to justify slavery, which explained why all of Christianity during early America believed that enslavement was necessary.[iv] Where the White man through Christianity saw America as the “Promise Land” the Blacks saw it as their Egypt and place of captivity.[v] Due to the enslavement, brainwashing and discrimination, during and after the Revolutionary War, Blacks began to establish their own congregations. During the 1770’s and 1780’s White Methodists and Baptists began to license black men as pastors and towards the late 18th century large numbers of all Black or “African” churches were established.[vi] Black churches began to spring up all throughout the North and in some southern states, organized by free slaves. Black churches would become institutions where Blacks could openly express themselves creatively and leave their burdens at the door. As James H. Cone proclaimed, “religion has been that one place where you have an imagination that no one can control.”[vii] When Blacks were constantly discriminated against publicly and segregation and racism were daily occurrences, these separate churches became a refuge. However Black churches, to make it clear, accept all and are the voices of those without voices whether they are Black or White.[viii] These churches represent any and all that are oppressed.[ix] Here is where many churches like Ward Chapel A.M.E. pulls their understanding of race in that they represent a minority like so many African-American churches and step out of the mainstream. These African-American institutions and Ward Chapel push the idea of what makes them different and sets them apart in American society in what it means to be Black.

Among the leaders of the Black churches along the Atlantic arose common issues such as racism and discrimination towards Blacks in white churches.[x] One such incidence took place in Philadelphia when a group of Black worshipers were literally pulled from their knees and thrown out of St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church.[xi] After a group of Blacks withdrew from the church including a former slave named Richard Allen, whom fed up with the segregation and discrimination became the pastor of Bethel Church in 1794.[xii] Other Black leaders took note of what Allen was doing and followed along forming the same type of churches in New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.[xiii] Richard Allen’s vision to step towards a direction that would give Blacks equality among the church would soon become a reality when in April 1816, sixteen representatives from different Bethel Churches along the Atlantic met in Philadelphia and formed what is known today as the African Methodist Episcopal Church.[xiv] Over the next century, the A.M.E. Church would become the most important black-led group and denomination in all of North America as well as one of the largest in the Atlantic.[xv] The A.M.E.’s first duty, which would probably become one of its most important would be its choosing of Richard Allen as its first bishop. Richard Allen not only became the A.M.E.’s first bishop he also became the first Black bishop in all of Western society.[xvi] However for the first 50 years of the A.M.E., most of their churches and teachings stayed in the north and were not allowed to operate in the slave states.[xvii] This would change when in 1865, the first southern A.M.E. congregation was established in Charleston, South Carolina and in that same year Bishop Daniel Alexander formed the South Carolina Conference.[xviii] The A.M.E. Church is able to put a lot of pride and accomplishments underneath its belt and has set itself apart from the other denominations among Black churches in that it became the first major religious denomination formed due solely on sociological issues instead of theological ones.[xix] There is no question as to why and how the A.M.E. Church has spread its wings and is a leading force among Black churches and denominations today.

In 1893 as the A.M.E. denomination grows in numbers and in strength a new beacon of light is introduced to Hannibal Square in Winter Park. During this time Reverend T.M.D. Ward, presiding bishop over the A.M.E. Church of Florida organized what is today the Ward Chapel A.M.E. Church.[xx] What was originally started as an experiment or mission, the Ward Chapel became the first A.M.E. Church in Winter Park and the second church organized in Hannibal Square.[xxi] Unfortunately not much is known about the original days of the church (1893-1900) but thanks to faithful church attendees and Hannibal Square residents such as Rose Bynum, who’s father assisted in building the church alter and ceiling, much of its rich history has been preserved.[xxii] However, what is known about Ward’s early years is that the first  structure was a wooden building constructed on Pennsylvania Ave. on May 21, 1893 and included the church’s senior pastor Reverend S.A. Williams who ministered their until 1900.[xxiii] After the purchase of new land the “new” Ward Chapel would be relocated to the corner of Welbourne and Pennsylvania Avenues where it remains to this day. While Hannibal Square was (and is) considered “the other side of the tracks,” and was surrounded by the posh white town of Winter Park at the time, its residents still took notice of what was going on in the Black churches. An example of this is when Reverend Jacob Quarterman of Ward Chapel, a respected leader among the Black community also gained that same respect among the White community and most honorably was the only Black minister mentioned in the early newspapers of that time.[xxiv] Reverend Quarterman would not be the last pastor to become a respected leader at Ward Chapel as down the line Reverend J.L. Denmark would soon be celebrated for his pastoral period of bringing the church to the next level of awakening. He had many firsts under his belt including the formation of an official choir in 1976 originally named the Majestic Choir (later changed to Voices of Ward Choir).[xxv] Reverend Denmark would go onto form many ministries among the church such as the Pulpit Aid Board, the Progressive Women’s Club, the Laymen Organization and the Denmark Booster Club.[xxvi] Through his great sacrifice and work towards the church, it was recognized that during his years of service a significant rise in membership occurred.[xxvii]

Ward Chapel is more than just facts and what kind of physical materials they have obtained over the years. The church is able to function and thrive due to the soul and servitude among its leaders and congregation. One cannot exist without the other. Ministries have been formed in order to serve those who attend the church and those within the community. Ward Chapel’s ministries range from men and women ministries to creative dance.[xxviii] However according to the Senior Pastor, Reverend John D. William, Sr., the largest ministry in the church is the Food Bank, where food is collected and distributed for those in need.[xxix] Ward Chapel has also dedicated time towards its youth in the community when in 1999 they formally asked for help from the local police department and the mayor of Winter Park to cooperate with them and donate any funds to help keep young people off the street during the summer.[xxx] Named the Summer Academic Enrichment Program, the church saw the need to keep Black youth off the street where boredom could easily be replaced with getting involved into serious trouble.[xxxi]  The summer program was designed to meet social and economic problems using educational sources in order to bring knowledge on how to combat these everyday issues in the lives of the youth while reinforcing self esteem and building integrity.[xxxii] Ward Chapel conducts more than just established ministries and programs by going above and beyond to meet the needs of their members. The church makes sure to let the rest of the congregation know whom is sick and in possible need of some company to remind them that they are loved and missed and go as far as putting the names of every single ill person on each Sunday program. Besides visiting the sick they also help those struggling financially, by within a reasonable amount, pay mortgages, rent or utility bills to make sure those in their congregation have one less affair to worry about.[xxxiii]

While the past has been filled with rich memories and the present is an optimistic reality, the future of Ward Chapel is a concerning one at times. With a church so rooted in history in such a small “city” it faces the problem of having a large number of elderly members who have lived in the community or have attended the church for a very long time. As the years go on more and more members begin to pass away faster than new and younger members signing up. In 2003, Reverend E. J. Parker voiced this same opinion on the future of the church’s membership, “I’ve buried a number of members, but have only taken in two new ones…a church can not grow without young people.”[xxxiv] Another probable reason for the dwindling membership has a lot to do with the renovation of the Black community in Winter Park. As Winter Park continues their “urban renewal” of Hannibal Square they are slowly buying out and pushing out residents of the community in what could have been potential members for Ward Chapel. These developers are not only buying out the neighborhoods but are attempting to buy the land owned by the Black churches in the area as well including the very land they might be sitting on. In 1928, Ward Chapel purchased land from Charles A. Brookins located on Welbourne Ave. and again in the 1930’s purchased more land from Emma Jones, which is the current site of their church building.[xxxv] Ward Chapel currently owns property on three corners of both streets mentioned, three houses and two parking lots.[xxxvi] With all that land, developers are desperately hoping to buy them in order to continue on their conquest of high priced shops and homes. As the structure of the land has been changing so much over the years and inching dangerously close to the church itself, Reverend Williams has asked Winter Park to inform him of any changes in their 10 year development plan that may negatively impact Ward Chapel and has thus far gone without an answer.[xxxvii] If things continue Ward Chapel may have to leave its roots and follow where there target groups go but as Reverend Parks and all of Ward’s pastors have answered when asked if they will sell the church’s land to the developers they all agree with a resounding “no.”[xxxviii]

While Ward Chapel fits into the representation and groupings of being a Black church and an A.M.E. Church it has also given a more personal and unique presentation of itself. Yes, it boldly proclaims its ties to being Black; this is a given as soon as anyone walks through the doors or is able to interpret what A.M.E. stands for. Ward Chapel understands the differences that a binary racial society presents, especially that of Winter Park’s and exactly what that society thinks of its Black residents. This is a plain fact that cannot be ignored and there is no secret as to why they have set up camp in Hannibal Square instead of somewhere like East Lyman Avenue. Being a minority and being Black is something that they have dealt with in the past and will continue to do if and when it arises in the present and future. However their mission and message is not solely based on race or even a specific denomination because Ward Chapel also understands that all people suffer. They understand that Jesus Christ died for the sins and sufferings of all mankind, wiping away color lines. They feel that as Jesus accepted those who are oppressed so should they. Ward Chapel will continue to help any and all types of people who come through their doors and who ask for their help because they believe and stay true to the A.M.E. motto: God O

By: A. Payne


[i]Rebekah McCloud, A Brief History of Ward Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, (N.p.: n.p., 2005), n.p.

[ii]Ibid.

[iii]Olin Chester Johnson. The Black Church in America, (N.p.: n.p., 1975), 2. ERIC no. ED107576.

[iv]Bill Moyers, “Black Churches, Black Theology, and American History,” Bill Moyers Journal, last modified April 25,

2008, http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04252008/profile2.html

[v]Paul Kroll, “The African-American Church in America,” Grace Communion International, last modified in 2006.

http://www.gci.org/history/african

[vi]Rebekah McCloud, A Brief History of Ward Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, (N.p.: n.p., 2005), n.p.

[vii]Bill Moyers, “Black Churches, Black Theology, and American History,” Bill Moyers Journal, published April 25,

2008, http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04252008/profile2.html

[viii]Reverend John D. Williams, Sr. (Senior Pastor), interview by Ambar Payne, April 2, 2012.

[ix]Ibid.

[x]Richard Newman, Freedom’s Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers (New

York: New York University Press, 2008), 173.

[xi]Rebekah McCloud, A Brief History of Ward Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, (N.p.: n.p., 2005), n.p.

[xii]Rebekah McCloud, Across the Tracks (N.p.: n.p., 2004), 36.

[xiii]Rose Bynum, Origin and History of Ward Chapel A.M.E. Church (N.p.: n.p., 1991), 3.

[xiv]Ibid.

[xv]Richard Newman, Freedom’s Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers (New

York: New York University Press, 2008), 173.

[xvi]Ibid.

[xvii]Rose Bynum, Origin and History of Ward Chapel A.M.E. Church (N.p.: n.p., 1991), 3.

[xviii]Rebekah McCloud, Across the Tracks (N.p.: n.p., 2004), 37.

[xix]Rebekah McCloud, A Brief History of Ward Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, (N.p.: n.p., 2005), n.p.

[xx]Rebekah McCloud, Sacred Places, Sacred History: Black Churches of Winter Park, (N.p.: n.p., 2006), 100.

[xxi]Ibid.

[xxii]Rose Bynum (Hannibal Square resident), in discussion with Ambar Payne, March 31, 2012.

[xxiii]“History of Ward Chapel AME Church,” Ward Chapel AME Church, Accessed March 30, 2012. http://www.wardchapel

ame.org/index.htm

[xxiv]Rebekah McCloud, Sacred Places, Sacred History: Black Churches of Winter Park, (N.p.: n.p., 2006), 101.

[xxv]Centennial Celebration: One Hundred Years of God’s Amazing Grace (N.p.: n.p., 1993), 19.

[xxvi]Ibid, 57.

[xxvii]Rose Bynum, Origin and History of Ward Chapel A.M.E. Church (N.p.: n.p., 1991), 6.

[xxviii]“Ministries,” Ward Chapel AME Church, Accessed March 30, 2012. http://wardchapelame.org/pages/d.htm

[xxix]Reverend John D. Williams, Sr. (Senior Pastor), interview by Ambar Payne, April 2, 2012.

[xxx]Official sealed letter to Mayor Joe Terranova, Ward Chapel AME Church, 1999.

[xxxi]Proposal for the Academy at Ward: Summer Academic Enrichment Program, 1999.

[xxxii]Ibid.

[xxxiii]Reverend John D. Williams, Sr. (Senior Pastor), interview by Ambar Payne, April 2, 2012.

[xxxiv]Rebekah McCloud, Across the Tracks (N.p.: n.p., 2004), 44.

[xxxv]Centennial Celebration: One Hundred Years of God’s Amazing Grace (N.p.: n.p., 1993), 55-56.

[xxxvi]Rebekah McCloud, Across the Tracks (N.p.: n.p., 2004), 44.

[xxxvii]Reverend John D. Williams, Sr. (Senior Pastor), interview by Ambar Payne, April 2, 2012.

[xxxviii]Rebekah McCloud, Across the Tracks (N.p.: n.p., 2004), 45.

 

Migratory Impact: Institutions

The Evolution of the DePugh Nursing Center

 

By the 1930’s Winter Park, Florida was a sinking community, especially for the African American sector of the city. Hannibal Square was the “black side” of town and although churches and schools were already developed, the residents weren’t surviving well.[i] There was one important piece of the business sector missing though; a community care or nursing home. There was not a place set up for elderly people to go when they needed assistance with everyday tasks and when they also needed medical help. One of the first African-American nursing homes was started in the heart of Winter Park by Mary Lee DePugh and Mrs. Chanie Laughlin with the help of the local Ideal Women’s Club.

Mary Lee DePugh was born in 1866 in Louisiana.[ii] She moved to Winter Park with her husband, Baker DePugh and her boss, Maud Kraft, who was recently divorced.[iii] Maud bought Mary Lee and her husband a house in the Hannibal Square section of town, so they would not have to be live in servants. According to Loring Chase and Oliver Chapman’s plan, black servants were only allowed to live on the west side of the railroad tracks while their employers lived on the east side of town.[iv] Mary’s so called “partner in crime,” Chanie Laughlin was born in Georgia in 1890 and by 1930 she had moved to Winter Park with her husband. [v] These two ladies did everything in their power to turn the struggling situation in Winter Park around.

When Mary Lee DePugh lived in Illinois she was involved in the community in many different ways. She noticed that the youth in Winter Park didn’t even have the proper equipment or stage area to put on a school based play. She incorporated the ideas of a woman’s club that she learned in Illinois. The women would meet and figure out ways to help the community.[vi] The Matilda Dunbar Club would meet every Monday and Wednesday.[vii] The club gave Mary the general idea for starting the Ideal Woman’s Club in Winter Park in 1937.[viii]

Chanie and Mary where never far away when someone in Hannibal Square needed help with anything, so when one of Chanie’s elderly neighbors became ill all she had to do was ask some of the women in the club and they pitched right in to help.[ix] This gave Mary the idea of starting a community home for the elderly in Hannibal Square. The women in the club started holding events such as sewing bees in order to raise money to start building what would soon become the community medical and dental facility.

Finally they had enough money to begin building the community medical center in 1940. There is a picture that shows Mary Lee DePugh with a group of ladies behind her as they were breaking the ground for the start of the medical center.[x]

Unfortunately, Mary Lee DePugh did not live to see the medical community she worked so hard to create flourish. The nursing home officially opened in January of 1956 and was dedicated to Mrs. DePugh for all the hard work she put in to creating it.[xi] When the nursing home opened in 1956 it consisted of 26 beds. [xii]

During the 1970’s the nursing home underwent renovations and ultimately grew into a forty bed nursing home. The average bed size of nursing homes in America is 107, so The DePugh Nursing Home is a very small facility. [xiii] The small bed count is attributed to the level of care that each patient receives. If there were more beds then their main focus would not be about care and that was Mary Lee DePugh’s main purpose in creating the medical community. She wanted to make sure that every person in Hannibal Square had the access to medical and dental care no matter what their financial standing in the community was.[xiv] The opening of the nursing home in Winter Park allowed the community to be very well rounded. It enabled the elderly to stay a part of the community instead of having to leave to go find medical help.

The DePugh Nursing Home helped reunite a community that was crumbling. The fundraising and the excitement of building the nursing home created a spark in Hannibal Square that helped the community flourish. Even after Mary Lee DePugh died, the nursing home and the women’s club thrived and they are still a very important part of Winter Park in the present day.

By: J. Katchuk

 

Bibliography

Ancestry.com. Chanie Laughlin. 1930 United State Federal Census [database online]. Provo, Ut., USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002.

Ancestry.com. Mary Lee DePugh. 1930 United State Federal Census [database online]. Provo, Ut, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002.

Chambliss, Julian. “The Ideal Women’s Club.” http://myweb.rollins.edu/jchambliss /Historic_Winter_Park/Historic_Winter_Park/The_Ideal_Womens_Club.html

Chambliss, Julian. “Focus on Central Florida History: Historic Winter Park and The DePugh Nursing Home.” Rollins College History Department Blog. March 9, 2009. http://rollinscollege historyspeaks.blogspot.com/2009/03/focus-on-central-florida-history.html

Daytona Tattler December 13, 1890. Courtesy of Daytona and Montgomery County Public Library Archives.

DePugh Nursing Center History. http://depughnursingcenter.org/History.shtml

Honious, Ann. “What Dreams We Have.” Eastern National. February 18, 2004. http://www.cr .nps.gov/history/online_books/daav/chap4.htm

Nursing Home Statistics. AHCA. March 29, 2012. http://www.efmoody.com/longterm /nursingstatistics.html

Obler, Madeline. “Mary Lee DePugh.” The Rollins College History Department Blog. October 1, 2007. http://rollinscollegehistoryspeaks.blogspot.com/2007/10/mary-lee-depugh.html

Picture from the Archives and Special Collections at Winter Park Public Library. http:// www.wpp.org/wphistory/MurrahFamily/kenneth.htm

Rajtar, Gayle and Steve. “A Women Of Strength: Indomitable Mary Lee DePugh Worked Hard to Restore Pride in Hannibal Square.” Winter Park Magazine. March 2011.


[i] Rajtar, Gayle and Steve. “A Women Of Strength: Indomitable Mary Lee DePugh Worked Hard to Restore Pride in Hannibal Square.” Winter Park Magazine. March 2011. http://winterparkmag.com/ winterparkmag/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=992&Itemid=78

[ii] Ancestry.com. Mary Lee DePugh. 1930 United State Federal Census [database online]. Provo, Ut, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002.

[iii] Chambliss, Julian. “Focus on Central Florida History: Historic Winter Park and The DePugh Nursing Home.” Rollins College History Department Blog. March 9, 2009. http://rollinscollege historyspeaks.blogspot.com/2009/03/focus-on-central-florida-history.html

[iv]Rajtar, Gayle and Steve. “A Women Of Strength: Indomitable Mary Lee DePugh Worked Hard to Restore Pride in Hannibal Square.” Winter Park Magazine. March 2011. http://winterparkmag.com/ winterparkmag/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=992&Itemid=78

[v] Ancestry.com. Chanie Laughlin. 1930 United State Federal Census [database online]. Provo, Ut., USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002.

[vi] Honious, Ann. “What Dreams We Have.” Eastern National. February 18, 2004. http://www.cr .nps.gov/history/online_books/daav/chap4.htm

[vii] Daytona Tattler December 13, 1890. Courtesy of Daytona and Montgomery County Public Library Archives.

[viii] Obler, Madeline. “Mary Lee DePugh.” The Rollins College History Department Blog. October 1, 2007. http://rollinscollegehistoryspeaks.blogspot.com/2007/10/mary-lee-depugh.html

[ix] Chambliss, Julian. “The Ideal Women’s Club.” http://myweb.rollins.edu/jchambliss /Historic_Winter_Park/Historic_Winter_Park/The_Ideal_Womens_Club.html

[x] Picture from the Archives and Special Collections at Winter Park Public Library. http:// www.wpp.org/wphistory/MurrahFamily/kenneth.htm

[xi] Chambliss, Julian. “Focus on Central Florida History: Historic Winter Park and The DePugh Nursing Home.” Rollins College History Department Blog. March 9, 2009. http://rollinscollege historyspeaks.blogspot.com/2009/03/focus-on-central-florida-history.html

[xii] Ibid

[xiii] Nursing Home Statistics. AHCA. March 29, 2012. http://www.efmoody.com/longterm /nursingstatistics.html

[xiv] Chambliss, Julian. “Focus on Central Florida History: Historic Winter Park and The DePugh Nursing Home.” Rollins College History Department Blog. March 9, 2009. http://rollinscollege historyspeaks.blogspot.com/2009/03/focus-on-central-florida-history.html

Migratory Impact: Institutions

Looking Back at the Hannibal Square Library

 

 

Hannibal Square Library, 1937

Historically, migration is a part of the American experience. One specific group that this holds truth to is African Americans. The migration of African Americans that occurred throughout American history created a serious impact on multiple communities. One way this impact occurred was through the creation of institutions. These institutions, ranging from nurseries to nursing homes, had numerous effects on the development of communities throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Hannibal Square Library is one of these institutions. Through a social, political, and economic context, the Hannibal Square Library was a major contribution to the African American community of Winter Park.

The story of the Hannibal Square Library begins with the wife of Rollins College Professor Dr. Edwin O. Grover, Mertie Graham Grover. Throughout the 1930s, Mrs. Grover spent her time teaching in Negro schools, as she was dedicated to helping the African American community advance academically.[i] Upon her death in 1936, Mr. Grover inherited his wife’s passion and decided to honor her by creating a facility that would serve the people of Winter Park’s West Side and historically black community.

The first step to reaching this goal was the purchase of 100 books and a metal cabinet to put them in. These items were then placed in the Colored Day Nursery and later in Hannibal Square’s elementary school.[ii]  These books sparked much interest and motivated Dr. Grocer to accomplish the larger goal of an actual library building. The Winter Park City Commissioners then voted to designate city property, within the black community of Winter Park, Hannibal Square. The Commissioners choose Hannibal Square based on the racist fear that plagued American suburbia: the fear that African Americans would diminish property value based on the assumption that they are not responsible or could take care of their homes. As Winter Park founder Loring Chase explained, “No lot shall be owned by a colored person who does not within a reasonable period erect a residence thereon; the object being thereby and by reasonable rates for lots, to invite a sufficiency of that class of population to meet the demands for menial labor and at the same time to prevent an influx of idle and vicious persons.”[iii]

Once the plot of land was given, a building fund was started. Gifts of money were received, such as from a local artist and resident Mary Aldis who donated $750 and student members of the Interracial Club of Rollins College who raised $697, and a non-profit organization was started.[iv] The organization was the Hannibal Square Associates and their goal was to, “establish, own and operate a public library; to own and develop a recreation center and any enterprise for the social and civic betterment of the Negro population of Winter Park, Florida; and to promote and encourage education and the attendance of the Negro population of the City of Winter Park at institutions of higher learning; to cultivate the artistic, scientific and literary tastes and aspirations of the Negro population of the City of Winter Park.”[v] With that the need for land had been met, sufficient money had been raised, and in 1937, the little concrete was completed with the total cost of $1,100.[vi]

The library opened on July 1, 1937 and was officially named The Hannibal Square Public Library-Mertie Graham Grover Memorial. Upon its opening it boasted 1,400 books. Then, in 1955, the associates added a special room for children’s books that had been donated by local citizens. In its early days, the library also served the citizens on the west side of Winter Park by providing space for community groups and clubs to meet for the purpose of expanding communal education. The Boys Scouts, Benevolent Society, Sewing Society, and the Colored Women’s Club all initially held their meetings at the Hannibal Square Library. [vii]

The education that the library brought to Hannibal Square was a major contribution to the African American community. After the Civil War and slavery was abolished, a massive portion of the black population migrated throughout the South. Harsh realities of Post-Civil War life, however, continued to plague the African American community through discriminatory policies, racial hierarchies, and urban segregation. Education, then, created a sense of relevance and opportunity for the less fortunate.[viii] Hannibal Square in Winter Park due to the library, therefore, is the perfect example of how education evolved as a progressive and defensive mechanism, forever contributing the community.

The Hannibal Square Library in its early years was able to develop and be such a major contribution due to the fact that, although Florida and Winter Park were to stay deeply segregated into the 1960s, the non-agricultural railroad jobs and domestic service positions with Winter Park’s wealthy white families resulted in educational opportunities and comparative prosperity and privilege for Winter Park’s black residents.[ix]

In 1968 the library continued to develop as the Winter Park Library incorporated the Hannibal Square Library under their name for economic efficiency. After the integration, the library received five thousand books, a modern charging machine, a summer reading program, and a new recreational center, causing library activity to increase. Then, in 1971, a marvelous renovation and refurnishing of the old library took place.[x]

The next decade, however, would prove unrewarding as, during the libraries last years, circulation dropped. The documented reasons for the dissipation of the Hannibal Square Library were stated as loss of local schools, lack of encouragement for children, broken air conditioner, no heating, missing records, no cassettes or projectors, and awkward hours.[xi] While students from the Community Head Start program remained regulars, problems restricted the library’s opportunity for further benefiting the community. Exhausted, working parents could not find the time or the energy to bring their children to the library. Simultaneously, the youth began to escape through a more interactive culture filled with jazz music and other forms of entertainment.[xii] Overall, education had to compete in an ever-changing modern world that continued to expand. Eventually, the old library could no longer battle the inevitable and in 1979 the Hannibal Square Library closed for good as a new library building for the City of Winter Park opened at 460 East New England Avenue.[xiii]

Despite its tumultuous and less contributing end, the legacy of Mrs. Edwin Grover remains as a catalyst for an education revolution for the African American community of Winter Park, Florida. When racial discrimination, prejudicial policies, and urban planning perpetuated unequal opportunity, the community’s passionate individuals contributed their time, money, and effort towards this positive cause of education. Clearly, through a social, political, and economic context, the Hannibal Square Library was a major contribution to the African American community of Winter Park for its symbolic step towards knowledge, power, and equality for all.

By: C. Sigaty

Bibliography

Primary Sources

Caruth, Ella, and Isabel Monro. “Hannibal Square Library.” Wilson Library Bulletin, February 1952.

Grover, Edwin O. “Annual Report of Hannibal Square Library: January 17th, 1948.” Hannibal Square Associates.

“Interracial Club Gives to Hungerford.” Rollins Sandspur, January 27, 1943, p. 1.

“Race Relations Committee is Active in the City.” Rollins Sandspur, November 11, 1948, p. 1.

“Turf Will Turn For New Library.” Rollins Sandspur, May 26, 1949, p. 1.

Secondary Sources

Porter, Tana. Historic Orange County: The Story of Orlando and Orange County. San Antonio: HPN Books, 2009.

Hannibal Square Association. “Hannibal Square History.”

http://www.hannibalsquare.com/history.

Hannibal Square Heritage Center. “The History of Hannibal Square.” http://hannibalsquareheritagecenter.org/aboutus.html.

Winter Park Historical Association. “Winter Park History.”

http://www.wphistory.org/explore-history/winter-park .

Winter Park Public Library. “The Hannibal Square Library.” http://www.wppl.org/wphistory/HannibalSquareLibrary/index.htm


[i] Ella Caruth and Isabel Monro, “Hannibal Square Library,” Wilson Library Bulletin (1952).

[ii] Winter Park Public Library, “The Hannibal Square Library,” http://www.wppl.org/wphistory/HannibalSquareLibrary/index.htm.

[iii] Winter Park Historical Association, “Winter Park History,”

http://www.wphistory.org/explore-history/winter-park .

[iv] “Interracial Club Gives to Hungerford,” Rollins Sandspur (1943): 1.

[v] Edwin Grover, “Annual Report of Hannibal Square Library: January 17th, 1948,” Hannibal Square Associates.

[vi] Winter Park Public Library, “The Hannibal Square Library.”

[vii] Caruth and Monro, “Hannibal Square Library.”

[viii] Hannibal Square Association, “Hannibal Square History,”

http://www.hannibalsquare.com/history.

[ix] Tana Porter, Historic Orange County: The Story of Orlando and Orange County  (San Antonio: HPN Books, 2009).

[x] Winter Park Public Library, “The Hannibal Square Library.”

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Winter Park Historical Association, “Winter Park History,”

http://www.wphistory.org/explore-history/winter-park .

[xiii] Winter Park Public Library, “The Hannibal Square Library.”

 

Migratory Impact: Institutions

Mount Moriah Baptist Church: Over a Century of Service and Unity

 

 

 

Mount Moriah Baptist Church

The Black Church has long been considered significant to the African American community. When early African Americans settled in Winter Park in the late 19th century, church became a dominant aspect of their daily lives. There are more than a dozen Black churches in Winter Park today, “Interwoven with their history is nearly a century of history of Black people in Winter Park.”[i] Mount Moriah Baptist Church remains a living example of how a group of people can be unified for more than a century, overcoming obstacles of racial discrimination and economic hardships while still maintaining social involvement within their community.

Mount Moriah Church was the first Baptist church organized and established in Winter Park, Florida. It was founded in the house of Charles and Missouri Ambrose.[ii] However, as there became too many people to accommodate in the Ambrose house the congregation decided to build a church of its own. Trustees of Mount Moriah purchased lots on Lyman and Pennsylvania avenues in Winter Park on March 16, 1888 for the sum of $55.[iii] During the process of construction, church members gathered for service at Winter Park Town Hall.[iv] Eventually in 1935, the church building was completed. The $10,000 funding that made this possible came from a donation by William Coursen, a philanthropic Winter Park resident.[v]

Historically, Mount Moriah Church has been a haven for African Americans in Winter Park because it was a place free from racial discrimination. Many African Americans escaped the hardships of their lives by their weekly participation at Mount Moriah. Yet, racial tensions never seemed to escape the lives of African Americans living Winter Park. Issues regarding race are still evident in the church today. For example, the doors of the church have segregation artifacts that mimic the past, such as ‘colored’ and ‘white only’ signs. In addition, sermons during service often discuss overcoming ethnic barriers in everyday life by a racial polarized society.

Within the church, Mount Moriah has acted as a place to form close friendships and interaction among its community members. It combines the cultural elements of the Black community “infused with events designed to combat urban social problems such as drugs, gangs and crime [and facilitate activism]”.[vi] Mount Moriah Church has even established a General Mission Society, an outreach ministry designed to “help the needy in the community and abroad (UNICEF) project and witnessing.”[vii] By keeping its members busy with communal programs such as this, the church helps in preventing them from a life of crime on the streets.

Also, since Mount Moriah has been facing an aging population, “a good amount of the church members are 50 years old or older”, several programs have been initiated to inspire and encourage younger members to worship. [viii] The church binds together members through its Youth (Inspirational) Choir and Young Women Auxiliary groups. These groups are crucial to the parish because they keep the youth interested and encourage social engagement among members. Popular social activities that keep members of the congregation active in the church include monthly bible study, mission programs and Sunday school.

Furthermore, economic issues have consistently impacted the daily lives of the African American community at Mount Moriah. As seen throughout history, racial segregation and slavery had prevented ancestors of the church from advancing economically in society. Although many people of the present-day congregation are hard working and have lived their lives in the service of others (i.e. Richard Robert Hall Junior, a World War II veteran), the community as a whole has retained a low economic status.[ix] Religious/cultural symbols, such as gospel music and social justice sermons, serve to echo the socio-economic state of the people. In effect, these songs and sermons offer messages of hope to the less fortunate, “Biblical text, especially when presented during sermons, help socialize African Americans in regard to other-worldly and this-worldly pursuits”.[x] Perhaps, this promising belief stems from the concept of Christian stewardship, a way of life that recognizes everything belongs to God.

Despite their financial hardships, members of the church humbly donate and offer whatever they are able to monetarily give to the Mount Moriah parish. Additionally, the congregation hosts special benefits and fundraisers, such as an Annual Tea Mission and a Christmas Fellowship Dinner, in order to raise funds for the development and prosperity of their church.[xi] Economic forces have heavily driven the community at Mount Moriah to come together and unite as a religious and social body.

Politically, the hierarchy within the Mount Moriah congregation is derived from the gender roles of its members, “Gender-defined roles in Floridian Afro-Baptist church and family emphasize matrifocal social organization, kinship ties, and valorization of motherhood complemented by male corporate leadership (Brown 173).

In church services, men assume leadership positions such as pastor or deacon. They are often the ones to preach sermons and run the ‘corporate’ aspect of the church. While it is true that women do hold ‘less prominent’ roles, they are still valuable components to the congregation. For instance, women usually work in the administrative sector or as teachers of Sunday school. They are considered ‘mothers of the church’ in nurturing, teaching and aspiring young members of the church.[xii] For this reason, Mount Moriah Church could not continue without their participation. The political hierarchy and gender-defined roles in this church is “supported by religiously embedded precepts and symbols pertaining to women” and “African cultural values and social forms that are materially significant in day-to-day family life”.[xiii]

Establishing Mount Moriah Baptist Church was a huge undertaking that took congregations many years to plan, finance and build. This edifice now stands “as a testament to the hard work, commitment and tenacity of [its] people”.[xiv]  The Winter Park community has notably recognized and honored the African American church. In 1987, “Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church of Winter Park, 421 S. Pennsylvania Ave., [was] designated a historic landmark by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission”.[xv] Moreover, Jeff Briggs, a member of the historic preservation commission, stated that the church has historical significance to the city of Winter Park because it has remained in the same location for almost a century and serves as the first and oldest church on the city’s west side.[xvi]

For over the past century, Mount Moriah has been a significant force in the development of the Baptist community in Winter Park. This church still stands as a testament of continuous hard work and ongoing growth. Its people’s engagement within its own church building, surrounding community and abroad exemplifies resilience and overcoming preconceived notions of racial barriers. With its continued support and dedication, this congregation will remain unified and prosperous for many years to come.

Works Cited

 

Barnes, Sandra L. “Black Church Culture and Community Action .” Social Forces. 84. no. 2 (2005): 967-994.

Brown, Audrey Lawson. “Afro-Baptist Women’s Church and Family Roles: Transmitting Afrocentric Cultural Values .” Anthropological Quarterly. 67. no. 4 (1994): 173-186.

Clark, Missy. “Mount Moriah Church named Historic Landmark.” Orlando Sentinel, Jan 08, 1987,3A

Cobb, Reverend Alphonzo C., interview by Ali Gonzalez, Mount Moriah Church “Migration: Winter Park Interview”.

Hall, Richard Robert Jr., interview by Ali Gonzalez, Mount Moriah Church “Migration: Winter Park Interview”.

Harvey, Paul. Redeeming the South: Religious Cultures and Racial Identities among Southern Baptists 1865-1925 (Chapel Hill:University of North Carolina, 1997), 78-79.

McCloud, Rebekah. “Across the Tracks.” A Collective History of Black Churches of Winter Park, 2-8.

Mount Moriah MBC, “Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church.” Last modified Septem 12 2006. Accessed April 5, 2012. http://mountmoriahmbc.org/.

Livingston, Fairolyn. The Heritage Center, Winter Park Florida, Mount Moriah Church “Migration: Winter Park Interview”.

Lutz, Norma Jean. The History of the Black Church. Philedelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2001.

Vassel, Yvonne C.T. “Mt. Moriah church gets historic landmark status.” The Orlando Sentinel, Jan 11, 1987, 28.

Appendix

 


[i] McCloud, Rebekah. “Across the Tracks.” A Collective History of Black Churches of Winter Park, 2.

[ii]  Livingston, Fairolyn. The Heritage Center, Winter Park Florida, Mount Moriah Church “Migration: Winter Park Interview”.

[iii]  Mount Moriah MBC, “Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church.” Last modified Septem 12 2006. Accessed April 5, 2012. http://mountmoriahmbc.org/.

[iv]  McCloud, Rebekah. 2.

[v] Mount Moriah MBC.

[vi] Barnes, Sandra L. “Black Church Culture and Community Action .” Social Forces. 84. no. 2 (2005): 970.

[vii] Mount Moriah MBC.

[viii] Cobb, Reverend Alphonzo C., interview by Ali Gonzalez, Mount Moriah Church “Migration: Winter Park Interview”.

[ix] Hall, Richard Robert Jr., interview by Ali Gonzalez, Mount Moriah Church “Migration: Winter Park Interview”.

[x] Barnes, Sandra L. 970.

[xi] Mount Moriah MBC.

[xii] Brown, Audrey Lawson. “Afro-Baptist Women’s Church and Family Roles: Transmitting Afrocentric Cultural Values .” Anthropological Quarterly. 67. no. 4 (1994): 173.

[xiii] Ibid.

[xiv] McCloud, Rebekah. 2.

[xv] Vassel, Yvonne C.T. “Mt. Moriah church gets historic landmark status.” Orlando Sentinel, Jan 11, 1987, 28.

[xvi] Clark, Missy. “Mount Moriah Church named Historic Landmark.” Orlando Sentinel, Jan 08, 1987, 3A.

[xvii] Vassel, Yvonne C.T. “Mt. Moriah church gets historic landmark status.” The Orlando Sentinel, Jan 11, 1987, 28.

By: A. Gonzalez

A Migratory Profile: Gus C. Henderson

 

“Winter Park is surrounded by beautiful places and profitable groves.”1 It is not hard to imagine why the area attracted so many people in the late nineteenth century, especially Black Americans. Gus C. Henderson was born in November of 1862 near Lake City, Florida.2 Gus was one of the many Black Americans who migrated to Winter Park and settled into an area that would soon become Hannibal Square. Before he ever reached Winter Park, however, he had his share of trials and tribulations along his migratory path. Once Gus reached Winter Park, he made a huge impact on the small town and helped forge a path for black people in Hannibal Square.

Gus C. Henderson’s mother died in 1872, when Gus was only ten years old. He had to find a way to support himself and to feed himself, so he began doing various odd jobs for neighbors for very small wages. Being the local neighborhood handyman did not fulfill Gus’ need for knowledge. He thirsted for information of any kind, learning from anything he possibly could. He decided to try his hand at being a farmer. At this time in his life, he was still very young and inexperienced. He did not know what he wanted his future to hold. He soon learned that faming was not the type of work he wanted to be doing.3

Gus found work as a salesman for a company from New York; in this, he finally had found something that he enjoyed doing. Unfortunately, Gus only worked with the company for five short months. Word had gotten out to the white salesmen that Gus was black and preforming better than them. The company had to fire Gus because they began to get threatening letters from the other salesmen and even from customers.4 This truly upset Gus, but he was not the kind of person you could keep down for long. He made his way to Winter Park, and while there he thrived.

Loring A. Chase and Oliver E. Chapman founded Winter Park. Chase was told to move to a warmer climate because of his health, he decided there was no better place than Florida. Chase and Chapman purchased 600 acres of land and started plans to build home, churches, schools, and a hotel.5   Between 1881 and 1885 Chase and Chapman’s plan developed rapidly. By 1886, the town planners planned to formally incorporate the community into a town. This same year, Gus Henderson migrated to Winter Park. In 1887, Winter Park incorporated, elected a mayor and city council. A railroad, the “Dinky Line” connected Winter Park to Orlando. The fare was fifteen cents each way.6

When Chase and Chapman developed their plans for Winter Park, they included areas for the blacks to live. These were called the “Negro Lots” and were much smaller than the larger lots planned for white residents. The area reserved for black people was called Hannibal Square. This area of town was very community oriented, centered around family, religion and civic events. They even developed their own churched and schools.7

There were only 43 registered white voters in winter park in 1887. The number of black yearlong residents in Winter Park was much larger than the yearlong white population.8 Many people believed this to be because the Florida summers got to hot so the upper class white people would head north to avoid the heat. A round trip train ticket to New York City and back to Jacksonville was forty-seven dollars.9 Most of the black population and the lower class white population could not afford this, especially for a whole family, so they had no choice but to stay in winter park.

After Gus was firmly established as a permanent resident of Winter Park, he started a general printing and press shop. This soon escalated into Gus creating his own newspaper, The Winter Park Advocate. In 1889, The Advocate was only one of two newspapers written in the state of Florida. Because of his interest in politics he used his newspaper as a source to educate people of the local happenings in politics.10 The Advocate was read by both white men and black men, this was practically unheard of during the nineteenth century. The newspaper only ran for three years, but during that three year it made a huge impact and essentially changed Winter Park.11 On one page of The Advocate, Gus listed seven different white men and what they are running for. He also listed their qualifications and little exerts about their lives.12

Throughout his time in Winter Park, Gus did everything in his power to help make positive changes for the African-American population in Winter Park. The task that he is most well known for is teaming up with Chase and Chapman in order to make sure Hannibal Square was inside the city limits of Winter Park. Gus rallied the sixty four registered black voters and together they made sure Hannibal Square became part of Winter Park.13

Gus also played a huge role in getting the first two black representatives elected in Winter Park. He encouraged his fellow African-Americans to vote for Walter B. Simpson and Frank R. Israel. His persistence paid off and the two men became the first African- American alderman of Winter Park.14 Many thought all of Gus’ hard work was for nothing when Hannibal Square was detached from Winter Park in 1893.15 Due to state funding the city council was forced to reincorporate Hannibal Square into the city limits of Winter Park. Had they decided not to the population of Winter Park would not have been big enough to grant them the state funding that they wanted.

Gus C. Henderson helped pave the way for African-Americans in Winter park in the late nineteenth century. Throughout his life he proved that perseverance can help you overcome any obstacle that gets in your way. Without Gus, Hannibal Square might not have been a part of present day Winter Park and the first two African-American aldermen might never have been elected. After Gus left Winter Park, he did not go very far. He moved to Orlando where he wrote another political newspaper, The Reporter. Journalism and politics were what ran through Gus C. Henderson’s body and he managed to do what he loved till the day he died.

 

Work Cited

1.”Picture of Winter Park Advocate,” Photograph. Advocate file, From Archives and Special Collections, Olin Library, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.

2. White, Barbara. “Gus C. Henderson Hard working and determined- He brought the news to Winter Park.” Winter Park Public Library. February 16, 2012. http://www. wppl.org/wphistory/ghenderson.html

3. Rivera, Kerem, K. “Gus C. Henderson African- American Advocate.” Rollins College. February 16, 2012. http://asp3.rollins.edu/olin/oldsite/archives/golden/ hendersen.htm

4. Ibid

5. “The Early History of Winter park.” Winter Park Historical Association, 2011. http://www.wphistory.org/explore-history/winter-park/early-history

6. Ibid

7. Rajtar, Gayle and Steve. “Building a Strong Foundation” Winter Park Magazine. http://winterparkmag.com/winterparkmag/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=87

8. Chambliss, Julian. “Remaking Place and Asserting Space: The Land Trust Experience in Winter Park, Florida. Next American City, June 13, 2011. http:// americancity.org/buzz/entry/3022

9. “Picture of The Tampa Tribune.” Photograph. From Archives and Special Collections, University of Central Florida Library, Orlando, Florida.

10. White, Barbara. “Gus C. Henderson Hard working and determined- He brought the news to Winter Park.” Winter Park Public Library. February 16, 2012. http://www. wppl.org/wphistory/ghenderson.html

11. Rivera, Kerem, K. “Gus C. Henderson African- American Advocate.” Rollins College. February 16, 2012. http://asp3.rollins.edu/olin/oldsite/archives/golden/ hendersen.htm

12. “Picture of The Advocate.” Page 3. Photograph. From Archives and Special Collections, Olin Library, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.

13.   Robinson, Jim. “Black History Spotlighting on Gus Henderson.” The Orlando Sentinel. February 23, 2011. http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2001-02-23/lifestyle/0102220528 _1_winter-park-hannibal-henderson

14. Rivera, Kerem, K. “Gus C. Henderson African- American Advocate.” Rollins College. February 16, 2012. http://asp3.rollins.edu/olin/oldsite/archives/golden/ hendersen.htm

15. Chambliss, Julian. “Remaking Place and Asserting Space: The Land Trust Experience in Winter Park, Florida. Next American City, June 13, 2011. http:// americancity.org/buzz/entry/3022/

By: J. Katchuk

 

 

 

A Migratory Profile: Frank R. Israel

Founded in 1881 along with Winter Park, Hannibal Square was the section solely built for the Blacks who were needed in order to build the white, upscale community.[i] Those black families, many former slaves, originally moved into Hannibal Square and rooted themselves into the community making themselves ready labor meant to serve the wealthy white residents. They were not originally integrated into the town and were not truly part of Winter Park and if left up to the white residents it would have stayed that way. This is during a time where race relations were tense and Winter Park would stay segregated until the civil rights explosion of the 1960s.[ii]

No matter the tension or the harsh reality of racism, Black families migrated into Winter Park looking for secure jobs and housing for their families. After a period of time of living in Hannibal Square, the residents of the “west side” of town felt that it was time to be recognized politically and as part of the town. In 1887, Gus Henderson lead a group of black voters for the election that would be held that day in order to have Hannibal Square incorporated into Winter Park[iii]. Once Hannibal Square was included into the town boundaries two black men, Walter B. Simpson and Frank R. Israel from Hannibal Square were also elected as aldermen.[iv] In order for any type of political, economical or social progress to be made a group of people, in this case the African-American community, needed to come together. Within this brave group there are unique life stories, such as Frank R. Israel’s. A man whose leadership skills, hard work and individual bravery helped build the foundation of Hannibal Square.

Frank R. Israel was born around 1848 to Frank and Estella Jones Israel, in Monticello, Jefferson County, Florida.[v] His records and whereabouts are at times unclear due to living during a time where keeping track of people was not as simple as today’s society and its modern technology. Frank would eventually relocate to Hannibal Square in the same year that Winter Park would be established. In the 1880 United States Federal Census it is shown that one Frank Israel with an estimated birth year of about 1850 was still living in Jefferson County and was aged at 30.[vi] His birthplace as well as his parent’s birthplace is recorded to be in Florida.[vii]

In the 1885 Florida Census, under District 2 of Orange county Frank Israel is signed down as F R Israel this time managing to be five years younger at 25.[viii] By this time Frank is married to Amaretta, who is 17 years old[ix] and a few factors of his life have changed. The Florida census clearly states that neither he nor his parents were born in Florida and instead Frank R. Israel was born in Georgia, his father in Virginia and his mother in South Carolina.[x] The explanation for the birthplace changes for his parents is unclear but for F.R. Israel there is a possible explanation for such changes. Jefferson County is located at the border of Georgia and Florida and because the Federal Census was based on county instead of town there might have been an easy mix up or miscommunication. However, according to Fairolyn Livingston, the local historian at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, it is believed that Frank was indeed born in Georgia and those earlier reports of any birth in Florida is likely incorrect.[xi] However, for the 1890 federal census information on the overall public in Florida is scarce, this includes the Florida census itself for that year. Information about F. R. Israel does not resurface until 1900 in the United States Federal Census. During the time of his absence it is clear that his wife Ammaretta has passed away. The census shows him as the head of household as well as widowed with his birth year being recorded as 1859[xii], clearly an even later date than the accounts of his birth occurring in 1848. In the 1910 United States Federal Census, Frank R. Israel’s information is once again changed. While he stated his last name is Israel, the recorder reported his name as “Grad” as well as other household members[xiii]. Before Israel’s death in 1925, he is reported once more in the 1920 United States Federal Census this time as Frank J Israel and his estimated birth year is around 1860[xiv]. While information consistently changes throughout each census of Frank R. Israel’s whereabouts, there is no doubt of his hard work that progressed throughout his years in Hannibal Square.

When Frank R. Israel migrated to Winter Park he was able to acquire land, including a home and general goods store. According to Fairolyn Livingston, his home was located at the corner of New England Ave. and Pennsylvania Avenue, which is the current location of Dexter’s Restaurant, and his store was at the corner of New England Ave. and Hannibal Square East, the current location of Classic Iron Beds & Designer Linens.[xv] Mrs. Wilhelmina, a member of the Will Frazier family and local resident, shared that, “on Saturday’s residents would visit Israel’s store to order groceries and dry goods and later in the day Mr. Israel would load the orders onto his horse drawn wagon and make deliveries”.[xvi] Frank R. Israel was a hard working man dedicated to his store and apparently his services were a cornerstone to the community.

However, Frank R. Israel was more than just a business owner in Hannibal Square, he was very much a part of the politics in his own community. During the October 1887 vote, Frank R. Israel as well as Walter B. Simpson were elected as aldermen into the Winter Park City Council and since then no other black male or female has served in an elected measure in the city.[xvii] Concerning the votes of those elected to city council, thanks to the extra votes of the Black community, Frank R. Israel was able to count 50 votes in his favor.[xviii] More than once locals petitioned to overturn the election, have Simpson and Israel removed and remove Hannibal Square from the Winter Park city limits[xix]. However the first time this was petitioned, it was denied and fortunately allowed both men to continue to serve with “honor and distinction” from 1887-1893.[xx] Frank R. Israel not only served in the city council but his efforts were put into helping Hannibal Square progress and stay strong as a community. According to Fairolyn Livingston, he was both the co-founder of the Ward Chapel AME Church, which is one of the oldest African American churches operating today in Winter Park and co-founder of the Lake Hall Lodge #33 also located in Hannibal Square.[xxi] These are both institutions that due to his helping hand as well as others are still around today and benefit the community greatly.

Frank R. Israel’s legacy lives on and his family and blood continue to thrive on today. On December 12, 2011, Winter Park Mayor Kenneth W. Bradley officially gave Israel his own day naming it Frank R. Israel Day, beginning January 18th, 2012.[xxii] The Israel Simpson Court in Winter Park is also named in his honor[xxiii], reflecting the dedication he gave to his community. His family is still included within the community with his great granddaughter, Leberta Israel Wilson attending the church he co-founded.[xxiv] The only daughter he and Amaretta gave birth to, Frankie Israel was a brave young woman whom during the Ocoee race riots helped Blacks becomes registered voters.[xxv] It is easy to assume that the very dedication and bravery that Frank R. Israel preserved, he must have passed down to his daughter. While his family stretches from Winter Park, Eatonville and all the way to Compton, California his work and the symbolism he represents in Hannibal Square will continue to live on in history.

 

 


[i] “About Hannibal Square Heritage Center,” accessed February 18, 2012, http://hannibalsquareheritagecenter.org/aboutus.html.

[ii] “About Hannibal Square Heritage Center,” accessed February 18, 2012, http://hannibalsquareheritagecenter.org/aboutus.html.

[iii] “Winter Park History,” accessed February 19, 2012, http://www.wppl.org/wphistory/ghenderson.html.

[iv] “Winter Park Magazine – Windows on a Community’s History.” accessed February 18, 2012, http://winterparkmag.com/winterparkmag/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=808&Itemid=70.

[v] “The 10th Annual Unity Heritage Festival.” (Israel family history presentation, Hannibal Square Heritage Center, 2012), 2.

[vi] “AncestryLibrary.com – 1880 United States Federal Census,” The Church of Latter-Day Saints, Accessed February 18, 2012, http://search.ancestrylibrary.com/iexec?htx/ =View&r=5542&dbid=6742&iid=4240121-00243&fn=Frank&ln=Israel&st=r&ssrc=&pid=4529711.

[vii] “AncestryLibrary.com – 1880 United States Federal Census,” The Church of Latter-Day Saints, Accessed February 18, 2012, http://search.ancestrylibrary.com/iexec?htx/ =View&r=5542&dbid=6742&iid=4240121-00243&fn=Frank&ln=Israel&st=r&ssrc=&pid=4529711.

[viii] “Florida State Census 1885 – AncestryLibrary.com,” The Church of Latter-Day Saints, Accessed February 19, 2012, http://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgibin/sse.dll?db=FloridaState/ Cen1885&h=18039&indiv=try&o_vc=Record:OtherRecord&rhSource=1506.

[ix] “Florida State Census 1885 – AncestryLibrary.com,” The Church of Latter-Day Saints, Accessed February 19, 2012, http://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgibin/sse.dll?db=FloridaState/ Cen1885&h=18039&indiv=try&o_vc=Record:OtherRecord&rhSource=1506.

[x] “Florida State Census 1885 – AncestryLibrary.com,” The Church of Latter-Day Saints, Accessed February 19, 2012, http://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgibin/sse.dll?db=FloridaState/ Cen1885&h=18039&indiv=try&o_vc=Record:OtherRecord&rhSource=1506.

[xi] Fairolyn Livingston, interview by Ambar Payne, February 18, 2012.

[xii] “1900 United States Federal Census – AncestryLibrary.com,” The Church of Latter-Day Saints, Accessed February 19, 2012, http://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgibin/sse.dll?rank=1&new=1/ &MSAV=0&msT=1&gss=angsc&gsfn=Frank&gsln=Israel&msrpn__ftp=Winter+Park%2c+Orange%2c+Florida%2c+USA&msrpn=17167&msrpn_PInfo=8%7c0%7c1652393%7c0%7c2%7c3245%7c12%7c0%7c2238%7c17167%7c0%7c&uidh=5f6&_83004003n_xcl=f&pcat=35&h=457706&db=1900usfedcen&indiv=1.

[xiii] “1900 United States Federal Census – AncestryLibrary.com,” The Church of Latter-Day Saints, Accessed February 19, 2012, http://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgibin/sse.dll?rank=1&new=1/ &MSAV=0&msT=1&gss=angsc&gsfn=Frank&gsln=Israel&msrpn__ftp=Winter+Park%2c+Orange%2c+Florida%2c+USA&msrpn=17167&msrpn_PInfo=8%7c0%7c1652393%7c0%7c2%7c3245%7c12%7c0%7c2238%7c17167%7c0%7c&uidh=5f6&_83004003n_xcl=f&pcat=35&h=457706&db=1900usfedcen&indiv=1.

[xiv] “AncestryLibrary.com – 1920 United States Federal Census,” The Church of Latter-Day Saints, Accessed February 19, 2012, http://search.ancestrylibrary.com/iexec?htx= View&r=5542&dbid=6061&/ iid=4295796-00829&fn=Frank+J&ln=Israel&st=r&ssrc=&pid=7235455.

[xv] Fairolyn Livingston, interview by Ambar Payne, February 18, 2012.

[xvi] “The 10th Annual Unity Heritage Festival.” (Israel family history presentation, Hannibal Square Heritage Center, 2012), 2.

[xvii] “The 10th Annual Unity Heritage Festival.” (Israel family history presentation, Hannibal Square Heritage Center, 2012), 4.

[xviii] “Notice of Incorporation of the Town of Winter Park” (transcript, City of Winter Park, 1887), 8.

[xix] “The 10th Annual Unity Heritage Festival.” (Israel family history presentation, Hannibal Square Heritage Center, 2012), 4.

[xx] “The 10th Annual Unity Heritage Festival.” (Israel family history presentation, Hannibal Square Heritage Center, 2012), 4.

[xxi] Fairolyn Livingston, interview by Ambar Payne, February 18, 2012.

[xxii] Kenneth Bradley, (proclamation, City of Winter Park, 2011).

[xxiii] Kenneth Bradley, (proclamation, City of Winter Park, 2011).

[xxiv] Fairolyn Livingston, interview by Ambar Payne, February 18, 2012.

[xxv] “The 10th Annual Unity Heritage Festival.” (Israel family history presentation, Hannibal Square Heritage Center, 2012), 5.

By: A. Payne

A Migratory Profile: Richard Robert Hall, Jr.

Richard Robert Hall Jr. is a man who holds strong historical roots to his community. The good-natured former airman has a sense of pride when it comes to discussing the past and how the African American society in Winter Park has changed since the early 1920s. From his childhood years to the current day, Richard has always had an endearing attachment to his life here in Winter Park.

His parents, Richard R. Hall Sr. and Mattie E. Hall were born in Brooks County Georgia in 1896 and in 1901, respectively, and married in 1921. They moved to Orlando in 1923 with their son, Richard Robert Hall Jr. Richard Jr. was about five months of age when his family decided to move, seeking better job opportunities in Florida. His father, Richard Hall Sr., worked as a farm laborer while his mother was a schoolteacher. They remained in Orlando until December 1924 when they “moved into their three room ‘Shotgun’ house which they had had constructed on their lot at 780 West Swoope Avenue on the West Side of Winter Park (Clyde Hall 3).

The Hall family was one of many African American families who decided to move to Winter Park for economic reasons. In fact, a majority of the first African-Americans who came to the Winter Park, Florida area were “citrus grove and farm workers and their homes were not concentrated on the West side of town, but were dispersed among the citrus groves and farms of Maitland, Florida and the Town of Lake View, Florida” (Clyde Hall 1). Moreover, most of the early African-Americans who migrated to Winter Park were from North Florida, South Carolina and Georgia, similar to the Hall family (Hall).

Before the creation of the city of Winter Park, African Americans settled in the area, especially in what is now known as Hannibal Square. In 1881, when Loring Chase and Oliver Chapman planned Winter Park as a tourist destination for “wealthy white people from the North to spend their winters they designated a section for African-Americans they called Hannibal Square. The occupants of this area were encouraged to purchase the lots and build their homes, churches, businesses, etc., and to be the domestic servants for the winter migrants (Clyde Hall 1). Thus, an African American community began to emerge and race became evident in a segregated time period.

During the time of Richard’s adolescence (1925-1942), “the majority of the streets on the West Side were unpaved, and the residents lived in mostly small frame houses without running water and inside plumbing, there was a great deal of ‘community pride’ among the people and crime was at a minimum” (Clyde Hall 1). Richard left to Eatonville to go to boarding school for his high school education. Like Winter Park, “There was a concentration of African-Americans in the town of Eatonville, Florida, the oldest municipality founded by African-Americans in the United States” (Clyde Hall 1). Richard spent four years there, in efforts to become an educated man.

After graduating from his boarding school in Eatonville, Richard received an athletic scholarship for a college in New Orleans. He was able to obtain a college degree there, which unfortunately not many others of his race were able to do during those times. Yet, a young man of perseverance and intelligence he returned to Winter Park holding high aspirations for his future.

As one of the most integral parts of their lives, the colored people in the African American community of Winter Park held a strong bond to their religion. Richard’s parents had a desire to pass the Baptist faith down to their children. Richard Hall Jr. was baptized in Mount Moriah Baptist Church in 1936. He and other members were “baptized in the pool which was then located under the pulpit of the new church edifice which was constructed in 1935 with funds coming from the Estate of the late wealthy white William A. Coursen” (Clyde Hall 10).

Winter Park was the home to six Black churches. The majority of those churches were Baptist.

“The black church is not only the cornerstone of the Black community; it is also a repository of history for the community”

–Rebekah McCloud

“During the era between the Civil War and the turn of the 20th century …The Black Church was the sole area that belonged completely to African Americans; it became their cultural, social and political center”

Norma Jean Lutz

Much of the African American community viewed Mount Moriah Church as a haven from the struggles of everyday life (as they still do today). Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church was the first Black Baptist church organized in Winter Park. Founded in 1886, the church stated at the home of Reverend Charles and Mrs. Missouri Ambrose (McCloud 5). Eventually in 1888, the Trustees of Mt. Moriah (Charles Ambrose, Zachariah Jinlocks and Arnold L. Redmond) purchased from the Winter Park Company Lots 1 and 2 of Block 70 for a church site which was located on the southwest corner of West Lyman and Pennsylvania Avenues” (Clyde Hall 10). Fortunately in 1935, William Coursen, a local philanthropist and Winter Park resident, “left money in his will to each church in Winter Park” (McCloud 6). These funds allowed Mount Moriah to build its present sanctuary.

Richard’s family had been active in this church since their migration to Winter Park. They joined the congregation of Mount Moriah “in 1925 under the Pastorate of Reverend V.S. Summers” (Hall Interview). His mother was president of the choir and a church clerk and his father was a deacon. Richard Jr. and his cousins attended Sunday school, evening service and morning worship along with participating in many church activities at Mount Moriah. Richard recalls when he was younger “at worship, he sat on the deacon’s side (south side) about five rows behind father (Deacon Hall)” (Hall Interview). Once the service started, neither he nor the other youth members were allowed to leave the church. They were reminded by the elder members to behave and not talk or whisper.

The congregation always took Sunday service seriously and wanted the young people to get as much out of worship as they could. Moreover, many of the members of Mount Moriah looked after the youth’s behavior to make sure they did not “get out of order or resort to other alternatives, such as crime” (Hall interview).

Later on in his life, in the early 1940s, the brave Richard Hall Jr. enlisted in the air force and fought as Tuskegee airman during World War II. In fact, the Winter Park Heritage Center honored Hall and his service in the air force two years ago (Livingston, The Heritage Center). President George W. Bush also gave his appreciation to Richard through a recognition letter a few years back.

After World War II, Richard Hall Jr. came back to Winter Park where “many of the streets were paved and public water system was extended to most of the homes” (Clyde Hall 1). Soon after, the original landowners began to die. So, the quality of life and the properties of these homes started to deteriorate, “the Square developed into a drug infest area with tremendous increase in crime” (Clyde Hall 1). The congregation of Mount Moriah’s worst fear came true. The youth slipped into delinquency and misconduct (although Richard insists that he was one to always behave good).

Nonetheless in recent years, it became beneficial for the city of Winter Park to foster a development program on the West Side that would eliminate crime and improve its tax base through commercial development and improved housing. Its first project was the “Commercial Revitalization of the West New England Avenue corridor between Virginia Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue (“The Square”) and later the conversion of West Morse Blvd. from an African-American residential area to an upscale commercial zone from Denning (Maitland) Avenue to Virginia Avenue. Yet these changes, along with the building of more expensive residences north of West Morse Boulevard on the West Side, have caused a great decline in the African-American population in this area” (Clyde Hall 2). As the numbers of African Americans decreased in the city, they had also weakened in the Church, “Like many Black churches across, the nation, Mount Moriah is facing an aging congregation and tackling the job of finding younger members. Currently, it has a membership about 150” (McCloud 6). Current Reverend Cobb of Mount Moriah echoes that statement, “A good amount of the church members are 50 years old or older” (Cobb Interview). Nevertheless, Mount Moriah has been able to sustain itself for over 100 years and Richard Hall Jr. and his fellow church members are certain that it will continue to do so for many years to come.

Richard Robert Hall Jr. is now in his eighties. He is still an active member of Mount Moriah Church where he goes to give his appreciation to God for his family and community. The other members of the congregation view him today with the utmost respect. His hard work and steadfast endurance in life has been worthy of many awards and recognitions. Yet, Richard states that the only recognition he should receive is the one from the Lord.

 

(Images provided by the Winter Park Heritage Center)

Works Cited

Cobb, Reverend Alphonzo C., interview by Ali Gonzalez, Mount Moriah Church “Migration: Winter Park Interview”.

Hall, Clyde D. An African-American Growing Up On the West Side of Winter Park, Florida 1925-1942. Savannah: Savannah State University, 2005.

Hall, Richard Robert Jr., interview by Ali Gonzalez, Mount Moriah Church “Migration: Winter Park Interview”.

Harvey, Paul. Redeeming the South: Religious Cultures and Racial Identities among Southern Baptists 1865-1925 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1997), 78-79.

McCloud, Rebekah. “Across the Tracks.” A Collective History of Black Churches of Winter Park, 2-8.

Livingston, Fairolyn. The Heritage Center, Winter Park Florida.

Lutz, Norma Jean. The History of the Black Church. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2001.

A. Gonzalez

A Migratory Narrative: A Familial Journey to Hannibal Square

The 1860’s were an imperative part of the history of the United States. During this decade, the Civil War played its course: Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, slavery was abolished, and reconstruction began. These ten years also marked the time when the first planned city in Central Florida was strategically built around a railroad. The city was Winter Park. The area on the “west side” of the railroad tracks was officially founded in 1881 and named Hannibal Square.[i] Majority of the African Americans that migrated to Winter Park during this time found their home in this black community that was literally on the other side of the tracks. By looking at one family from Hannibal Square’s history, the Hendersons to be exact, a great story of migration unfolds.

With the exception of Native Americans, every other family’s migration story in the United States begins on a different continent. Although it cannot be proven, due to lack of official documents, the first of the Henderson clan most likely came over to America from Africa through the slave trade. During this time numerous African American slaves migrated to the Spanish Florida for liberation from the North throughout the 1600’s and 1700’s. By 1821 it had become a U.S. territory. By 1840, while white Floridians were concentrating on developing the territory and gaining statehood, the population had reached 54,477 people. African American slaves (most likely one of them being a Henderson ancestor) made up almost one-half of the population.[ii] The territory’s economy during the mid-1800s was based on agriculture with the plantations being concentrated in Middle Florida. The opportunity for economic prosperity could have been a motivation to migrate to this area.  The owners of these plantations established the political tone for all of Florida until after the Civil War.

Florida became the twenty-seventh state in the United States on March 3, 1845. William D. Moseley was then elected the new state’s first governor. By 1850, the population had grown to 87,445. This included about 39,000 African American slaves and 1,000 freedmen.[iii] The slavery issue had begun to dominate most of the affairs of this new state around this time. Most of Florida’s voters that where white, male, and older than the age of twenty-one, did not oppose slavery. However, they were concerned about the growing feeling against it in the North. It was during the 1850’s that they began to view the anti-slavery Republican Party with suspicion. Then, shortly after Abraham Lincoln won the presidency election, a special convention drew up an ordinance that allowed Florida to secede from the Union on January 10, 1861. Florida joined as was a member of the Confederate States of America until the end of the war in 1865.

It was during approximately 1863 that the 1910 United States Federal Census states for the first time on official documents something about the Henderson family. This census said that the African American male Gustarm C. Henderson was born in Columbia County, Florida to the parents of G.C. Henderson and Liddei Henderson. Both G.C. Henderson and Liddei Henderson were also documented to be born in Florida as well.[iv] The County of Columbia, Florida where Gustarm, better known as Gus, was born and grew up, had forty-four percent of its population to be considered slaves.[v] Despite this, Gus was both studious and determined. When he was ten years old his mother passed away.[vi]  He then struggled to support himself by working low wage jobs, while still maintaining the strong desire for self-improvement. He even tried farming until finally accepting a job as a traveling salesman. Although he was successful, after five months he was replaced with white salesmen.

Meanwhile, Loring Chase and Oliver Chapman were creating the supposedly “well-planned” city of Winter Park in 1881. Part of this plan included a separate living area for black residents to support the town’s growth. They did this not foreseeing the lasting impact that this divide would have on the town’s racial dynamics. Needing an abundant labor force to work in the newly built hotels and groves, the residents of Winter Park welcomed the former slaves as members of the community. This caused numerous newly freedmen to migrate to the Winter Park area.  The side west of the railroad tracks that ran through the middle of the town was then set-aside for these African-Americans. This area was named Hannibal Square in honor of General Hannibal, who was a Carthaginian military commander.

The white residents of Winter Park continued to remain comfortable with the labor force of black residents as long as, after the work was done and the day was over, they returned to their section of the town. It was during this time in the year 1886 when Gus Henderson migrated to Winter Park and founded the South Florida Colored Printing and Publishing Company, while simultaneously becoming involved in the political scene of his new home.[vii] By the time he migrated to this area in Orange, Florida; 6,618 residents were residing in the county, with 1,023 being of colored dissent.[viii]

Registered voters in Winter Park faced a challenge the same year Gus Henderson arrived. This challenge was whether or not to include Hannibal Square and Winter Park in the quorum. At that time, there were 297 black residents in Winter Park with 64 of them registered to vote.[ix] There were only 203 white residents with only 47 of the residents registered to vote. Then, on October 12, 1887, Gus violated curfew to lead a group a black-registered voters to Ergoof’s Drugstore to attend a meeting that officially established the town of Winter Park, which included Hannibal Square.[x] Soon after, two black men, Walter B. Simpson and Frank R. Israel, were among the six aldermen elected in the first municipal election.

Gus then started to begin to publish the newspaper The Winter Park Advocate in 1889. This newspaper was one of the only two black-owned newspapers in the state of Florida. It was also the only newspaper in Winter Park for both the white and black communities. Gus Henderson was the publisher, editor, reporter, advertising salesman, and even typesetter for the newspaper.

Gus married Martha G. Henderson. Martha, according to the Census records, was born in 1873 in Monticello, Florida and was also African American.[xi] Gus and Martha then had three children named Irene, Marcellus, and Abram. The Henderson family subsequently began to migrate away from Hannibal Square. However, Martha and Gus remained in Orange, Florida until his death in 1917. There were no records that showed what happened to Martha after that.

Irene Henderson was born in 1896 and was Gus’s and Martha’s firstborn. She married Wilbe Davis and became a schoolteacher as her career. She died in 1938 in Cleveland, Ohio. Marcellus was the next Henderson child and was born on the brink of the twentieth century in 1900. According to the official World War I Civilian Draft Registration, he served the armed services during the Great War. [xii] After that, he continued to live a long life until he died in 1984 while living in Detroit, Michigan. Last of Gus’s and Martha’s children was Abram Henderson. He was born two years after Marcellus in 1902. He married Othello Palmer, who was born in 1904, in April 1923.[xiii] They divorced and Abram remarried to Veronica Clark in 1939 until his second divorce in 1943. Unlike his brother and sister, however, Abram stayed in Florida until his death in 1961. It is interesting to see, that despite Gus’s major role in the formation of Hannibal Square, at least as far as research goes, no immediate relatives remain.

From a historical perspective migration can be seen as a natural part of the American experience. By examining the migratory story of the Henderson family, it is clear why this is the case. Not only did looking at this migration tell their family story, but a deeper story involving the history of Florida and Winter Park as well.

C. Sigaty

 

Bibliography

Primary Sources-

AncestryLibrary.com. “1910 United States Federal Census.” http://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=1910USCenIndex&h=3067766&indiv=try&o_vc=Record:OtherRecord&rhSource=7602.

AncestryLibrary.com. “Michigan Deaths, 1971 – 1996.” http://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=mivitals&h=1244371&indiv=try&o_vc=Record:OtherRecord&rhSource=7884.

AncestryLibrary.com. “WWI Civilian Draft Registrations.” http://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=draft&h=758161&indiv=try&o_vc=Record:OtherRecord&rhSource=3171

University of Virginia Library. “Historical Census Browser.” http://mapserver.lib.virginia.edu/php/start.php?year=V1860 .

Secondary Sources-

Hannibal Square Association. “Hannibal Square History.” http://www.hannibalsquare.com/history.

Hannibal Square Heritage Center. “The History of Hannibal Square.” http://hannibalsquareheritagecenter.org/aboutus.html.

Rajitar, Gayle. “Building a Strong Foundation.” Winter Park Magazine, n.d. http://winterparkmag.com/winterparkmag/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=87.

 

 


[i] Hannibal Square Association, “Hannibal Square History”, http://www.hannibalsquare.com/history.

[ii] University of Virginia Library; “Historical Census Browser”, http://mapserver.lib.virginia.edu/php/start.php?year=V1860 .

[iii] University of Virginia Library, “Historical Census Browser”, http://mapserver.lib.virginia.edu/php/start.php?year=V1860 .

[v] University of Virginia Library, “Historical Census Browser”, http://mapserver.lib.virginia.edu/php/start.php?year=V1860 .

[vi] Gayle Rajitar, “Building a Strong Foundation.” Winter Park Magazine, n.d, http://winterparkmag.com/winterparkmag/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=87.

[vii] Gayle Rajitar, “Building a Strong Foundation.” Winter Park Magazine, n.d, http://winterparkmag.com/winterparkmag/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=87.

[viii] University of Virginia Library, “Historical Census Browser”, http://mapserver.lib.virginia.edu/php/start.php?year=V1860 .

[x] Rajitar, “Building a Strong Foundation.” Winter Park Magazine.

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