Friday, August 31, 2018

Hospitals, medical care.

I have wondered where black people in Topeka went for medical care. I even put this question for on Topeka History Geeks,

"There are quite a few mentions of the Douglass Hospital in KC in the Plaindealer, but I wonder was there a black hospital in Topeka? Where did blacks go for medical care here?"

I can't imagine them being turned away from Christ's Hospital, but I don't know for sure. Ellen Vail set that one up to provide care regardless of ability to pay. I don't know if the Episcopal Church would have had an official stand on race at that time.--Lisa Sandmeyer

This article is not conclusive, because the Plaindealer does have white news in it, eg. such as the North Topeka section, but it is a start, and gives me a trail to go down.  Hospital at this time was a different thing than it is now.  I have found and have pictures of several "hospitals" that were the doctors private home and he had say 6 bedrooms that became patient rooms.  From what I can tell this practice continued until the 1920s---it was certainly a practice during the Spanish flu era, it is easy to find newspaper clippings in that period with "home hospitals.'  I have sent an inquiry to Stormont Vail, we will have to wait and see.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Lane's Chapel

I have discussed Lane's Chapel in a previous post, but the first location noted in the Plaindealer for Lane's Chapel is at 14th  and Harrison.  Currently there are three houses that are owned by Cornerstone...

The neighborhood must have been amazing in the day.  It still has some fantastic houses. They would have been here in 1899. (except the Harrison Morgan it was 1904)

This is the Harrison Morgan house, he worked for Shawnee Fire Insurance .  Here is the National Register listing

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

This blog is rapidly becoming unanswered questions and interesting things to come back to but for now I have to stay focused on the prize.  I have no idea who Thurber is.  It caught my eye, got in the catbird seat because of my fondness for James Thurber, who was best known for his New Yorker cartoons, and this clip fits him.  But, James Thurber of the New Yorker was born in 1894, pithy, witty and brilliant though he was, I doubt that at 5 he displayed quite that command of language.  Googling I found LOTS of Thurbers who lived in New York (state) in the late 1800's --none seem to be writers but there were TONS of small papers and Chiles and crew  judging from their reprints, seem to have been voracious readers of newpapers .  One of the more interesting Thurbers I found was John Thurber, a pirate trader and slave active off the coast of Madagascar in the 1600s, obviously not my Thurber.  

Cross promoting with Hudson.  Interesting .   Chiles publishes a society column on North Topeka, which was primarily white.  And reprints from Capper's Mail and Breeze regularly.  

 I don't know who this is either, but I suspect that I will find out in later issues. 

Thursday, August 23, 2018


Small article on the bottom on the second page of the PD about J.M. Christopher, the editor of the Tampa Record is shot dead and nothing is being done about it.  A quick google search returns nothing.  But, I did find this article on the history of blacks in Tampa...  But, a lot of these lynchings/riots are not easy to find, they are not in my books  The Encyclopedia of American Race Riots.  I am reading the Plaindealer but I would love to read other newspapers of the time and compare, was Chiles/Childers unusual for a black newspaper of the time?  they seem very outspoken to me but is that perception not reality? or are they unusual and that is why they had such wide readership?  I am presuming that they had wide readership--in the society page now, six months into the PD's publication there is a correspondent and news from as far as Cincinnati Ohio.  How did the PD get that far?  was it like the Defender and sold by railroad porters?  How did the PD get all of the papers that they reprint from?  More questions that answers.

I have been posting interesting bits on my facebook page here bits that I have found out..
From Lisa Sandmeyer on illustrations (the PD has lots of illustrations--almost every paper has at least one)  " A paper I worked for in the 1980s had three artists. One was out for lunch and news happened right in front of him. There were no cell phones to call a photographer, so he went back to the office and drew the scene"

I had never seen a obit/notice of death by suicide in the paper, but the Plaindealer has them, they are typically one liners, but suicide at times was more common than I thought, one month had 3.  Another bit from Lisa Sandmeyer,
A"ll newspapers used to tell everything In great detail. My great-grandfather’s obit announced he had “dropped dead” and his wife found his body in the grass he was scything when she went to call him for lunch. There was another story in the Topeka paper about a fellow who walked into the barbershop, announced his intentions, and downed a botttle of carbolic acid.
The Washington Post won't run the obit unless the cause of death is included.he decision to stop running stories on private suicides didn't come along until at least the 1970s. Statistics were showing that when suicide was reported, more followed, as people on the edge saw the news of another person's death as permission to follow suit. Back when you were lucky to make it to 60, suicide probably seemed fairly pointless."
From Pat Hrenchir (who in college wrote obits for the Topeka Capital Journal);
 "The decision to stop running stories on private suicides didn't come along until at least the 1970s. Statistics were showing that when suicide was reported, more followed, as people on the edge saw the news of another person's death as permission to follow suit. Back when you were lucky to make it to 60, suicide probably seemed fairly pointless."

Eric McHenry on the Langston Hughes family (I have been sending him all the bits I find on them, hopefully I am not annoying him, but I know that he is doing research on this) " That's her! She became Carrie Hughes in the summer of '99. Mollie Langston was principal of the Douglas School, in the Lowman Hill area. She was the estranged (I think) wife of Langston Hughes's uncle Des.
 This is one of the more interesting LH-related items in the Plaindealer, because of its tone and the timing of its appearance. Suddenly, in the summer of 1899, Carrie and James announce that they secretly got married back in late April. Then, in late January or early February of 1900, Carrie gives birth to a baby (who did not survive, sadly). Unsurprisingly, some people suspected it had been a shotgun wedding. I *think* Arnold Rampersad authenticated their wedding date of April 30, but I'm not positive about that. And it still might have been a shotgun wedding."

Chiles/Childers dedicate 2 out of the 4 pages of the paper on July 7th, 1899 to the Epsworth League--a Methodist youth organization and the Eastern Star.  For the PD which typically is not pro-church and very political/race based this is unusual.  Childers gives reasons in his editorial, but it is interesting.  It is also interesting to think about does the paper reflect the views of the publisher or the editor?  How involved was Chiles as business manager/publisher?  Do we ever see Chiles' writing or is the strikingly bold writer Childers or it is someone else???

"The Negro Question" article that appeared in Popular Science monthly is a continuing discussion theme in the PD.  Here is a link to save for later..  Like all research this leads to more questions than answers and the reading is like pulling a string, the more you pull the more you realize is still in the ball.

A society wedding in Washington is detailed.  The groom wore  a "Prince Albert"suit.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

St. John AME

A recurrent theme in the Plaindealer is that blacks need to focus less on building fancy churches and sending money to mission and focus more on creating businesses, buying and taking care of their homes and taking care of people/problems in their own area.  In a way, continuing another dominant theme boosterism. I find it very interesting that considering what a force the churches were in the black community that the Plaindealer would be so vocal in their criticisms--in part because I would think it might hurt their readership or advertising but it does not appear to.  Evidentally, J.R. Ransom, the pastor at St. John's AME took offense to this and replied and now the Plaindealer response.   (Also another piece that I clipped with it by accident and we will not go into at this time but sad, and disturbing about the treatment of women at this time.) St. John AME - Elsewhere we publish a brief re view of Rev. J....

Monday, August 20, 2018

Sam Hose

The Lynchings of Sam Hose and the Baker family. 

The Plaindealer dedicates almost all of one paper and significant chunks, why have I never heard of this before?

St. John's AME

The A.M.E. church will be celebrating 150 years this August. Actually, I have waited so long to work on this post, they are celebrating today.  
Here is their National Register Nomination, lots of good information, but does it all check out with the Plaindealer?  I will have to read and find out.


--There is an ad for real estate in the Plaindealer with Scott and Co of 615 Kansas as the firm.  Is this connected to Elisha Scott?Thomas Scott is the superintendent of Lane's Chapel--connection?

--Frequently Col. Ingersoll is mentioned, I had never heard of him before...

--Reading the Soul of  a Black Man today (DuBois) I read about the Freedman's Bureau.  I had not realized that the Freedman's Bureau/govt promised freed slaves 40 acres and a mule--this is what many of the Exodusters came to Kansas expecting and it clicked for me today why they were expecting this. Yes, the Exodusters were some ten years after the Freedman's Bureau dissolved but I believe that a number of philanthropic groups took the word "freedman" in their names.

The Freedman's Bureau that was formed after the Civil War never really lived up to this for nearly all the freed slaves--it did for a few and might have for more but Johnson vetoed extending it.  I always thought that Lincoln envisioned the Freedman's Bureau as being like the Marshall Plan in Europe after WWII. 

--A page or more of the paper is dedicated to P.H.Coney's letter to ex-Senator Ingalls--Ingalls had written an article for the New York Journal entitled "The Colored Man in the South"--which judging by the Plaindealer response and commentary was racist but I have not read the letter yet, (I have read ex-Senator Ingalls rebuttal which appeared in the paper) so I will not speculate if it was or was not.  Here is the wiki piece on Ingalls,  
P.H. Coney turned out to be pretty easy to find a glimpse of as well...  

--Another short piece on the Excelsior Investment Co., I wonder if this ever got off the ground.  A short google search and a look at the Secr. of State business entities found nothing, but  it bears looking into again later. It was some kind of mining business maybe in Bonner Springs, but I don't know of any mines in that area, this will reoccur. 

Sawyer on education

Add caption

Wilmington Race Riot

Race riot victim comes to Topeka.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Bill Eaglson, a home for the aged and Sumner City

Intriguing possibilities here.

William Eagleson guy, I look forward to hearing more about him in the Plaindealer.

Sumner City--that sounds an awful lot like the "Bottoms"area.  Was it?

A home for aged Negros, north of town, about 10 acres...sounds like where the North Community center is now and what in the 1920s was the poor farm. Poor farms often had lots of elderly.........

June 30, 1899 William Eagleson dies.  More attention should be paid to Mr. Eagleson, it is probably up to me to do it.  He would be a good history day topic of course most of this would be.  Reading the Plaindealer is a pleasure, it is well written and thought provoking, I have to wonder why no one else is doing this, or maybe they are?  Well, here is more of the story on Mr. Eagleson .

Saturday, August 18, 2018


One of the joys of reading old newspapers is the vocabulary.  They had a lovely way with words.  So, to improve my vocabulary I am creating a list of wonderful words of the Plaindealer, to be added to and used. 

Ribaldrous--from the Oxford Dictionary

adjective , archaic, Of a ribald character; bawdy, ribald

Mid 16th century; earliest use found in Thomas Cooper (c1517–1594), theologian and bishop of Winchester. Probably an alteration of ribaldous by association with ribaldry.

Which leads us to....


Referring to sexual matters in an amusingly coarse or irreverent way.
‘a ribald comment’
‘he was delighted at the ribald laughter that greeted his witticism’
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in Thomas Cooper (c1517–1594), theologian and bishop of Winchester. Probably an alteration of ribaldous by association with ribaldry.

And the context in which Childers (the editor of the Plaindealer) used it :

As you notice, I have clipped the whole paragaph surrounding the word. Often times to get contextual references you need more than one sentence.  Well written, Mr. Childers.  This is part of an editorial discussing the southern papers reactions to the Plaindealer's converge of the Sam Hose lynching.  

Monday, August 13, 2018

Paul Bray

The mystery man--Paul Bray, the Washington correspondent.

I have been trying to establish just who worked for the paper. I know that this is not relevant to my project but I am interested in the size and scope of Chiles' business in 1899.  I know that upon his death he was employing upwards of 20 people.  I wen to the courthouse and had his probate pulled and made a copy--it was over a 100 pages, that is a crazy long probate, but more on that later.

There are frequent, usually front page articles about what is happening in D.C.  (D. C. had a very prominent black community at the turn of the century--great book on it, The Original Black Elite--surprisingly the Barnes and Noble in Topeka has it and I stumbled upon it a year or so ago befre I started this project--kismet.  ).I have wondered about who the "Washington Correspondent" was or if there really was one.  Newspapers at this time had a habit of taking text from other papers and running it as their own---from what I can tell Chiles is good about giving credit to where it came from, but many publisher/editors were not. 

Anyhow, today there is a short  piece in the society pages "Paul Bray, formerly of Kansas, will graduate from the department of law at Howard University, in June.  By-the-way, Paul had his cut in the Washington paper a few weeks ago.  He looks very much like a priest, with his "lamb chop" whiskers."  Aha!  Chiles had quite a web of connections so I don't know if Paul was from Topeka or even this area, Washburn law at that time admitted both blacks and women, so I kind of doubt it but I will continue to follow up on Paul.  He was a good writer.  I have contacted the Howard Law School alumni association to see if they have any record of him but I think it will be doubtful, Howard Law really came together about 20 years later under the direction of Charles Hamilton Houston, it would have been a small organization at this time.

Sidebar:  If you ever want to get a copy of someone's probate you go to the 3rd floor of the Shawnee County Courthouse, the staff there are very helpful although there are usually lines.  It is now 50 cents/page for copies.  This is ridiculous!  especially, considering like everywhere else I go the office seems to be unstaffed, for 50cents/page I would like top notch service and facilities, so if anyone of influence is reading this hire more people and work on your customer service.  Chiles' probate cost me $80, one of the unseen costs of research. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

St. Simon today

I went by St. Simon at 7th and Western. This is how it stands today.  Pretty sad.  I hope that the stained glass is underneath the plywood. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Lane's Chappel

 Plaindealer, January 20th, 1899

"CME church - The C. M. E. church, presided over by Rev....

Another of my finds and a wormhole. The CME church that Chiles' is talking about in this piece was Lane's Chapel at 14th and VanBuren.  I do not know where this was located between approx. the turn of the century but in the 1970's it moved to 16th and Harrison and was there until the 1980's. (Topeka Capital Journal, October 27th, 2013 " The old building, which was built in 1920, was home to the former Trinity Methodist Church through the mid-1960s. It then was taken over by Lane Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church through the 1970s and into the early 1980s.")At that time it appears to have moved (merged??) to 12th and Lane. The stone church at 12th and Lane is another of my favorite buildings in town. 
I posted pictures and I have no idea why one picture is so much larger than the other but you get the idea.  Anyhow, this post is to earmark this to look into more later.   And FYI, this church should definitely be on the National Register. 

Here is a picture of the church where Lane's Chappel was during the 1970s/80..

Lane's Chappel as it is today at the corner of 12th and Lane.  
Image result for lane's chapel topeka

Colored Conventions

Once again I am doing a project involved reading lots of newspapers.  In the course of doing this I am coming across lots of interesting things that are not relevant to my project (yes, a good number of these are wormholes) but may be useful to others projects so I am clipping them and sending them on.  One of the things I am looking for is conventions.  The University of Delaware has a project (that was brought to my attention by Kerry Wynn from Washburn) where they are creating a database of all the Colored Conventions, so whenever I read about one, I send it on to them.  Here is a link to their site and here is a link to the Colored Convention that I found,   If you notice there is also a story about libraries!  Yep, libraries were a big thing. 

Also, another sidebar, there was at least one other Colored Convention in Kansas, in 1863 in Leavenworth.  I don't have the particulars yet, but I am working on it.  When I find it, I will submit it too.  

Sorry, there are no great pictures today.  If I find some regarding this I will add them later. 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Delta Sigma Theta
This is the link to the history of the Topeka chapter of Delta Sigma Theta's (DST) page.

Nick Chiles' daughter Thelma was one of the founding members of the DST chapter at Michigan. I haven't found a lot about Thela and the DST,  but I do know that Thelma became a librarian, and the DST promoted education and in specific libraries.  One of their early initiates was mobile libraries.  Just looking at the dates I do not think that the DST chapter in Topeka was responsible for the bookmobiles here (here is TSPL's link to the founding of the bookmobiles but the  timing is interesting, this was obviously a going concern at the time.  Because every good post has to have a picture, here is the earliest picture (from TSCPL archives--gotta love it, it looks like an Airstream--those Topeka librarians in the 40s were budding hipsters) that I could find of the bookmobiles in Topeka.    For more information about bookmobiles (and great pictures) here is a website 

St. Simon's AME Church Topeka

Here is one of my great finds from today in Topeka 1899 there were 10 black churches in Topeka in the directory and mentioned n the society pages of the Plaindealer, in reality there may have been more, typically it cost money to be listed in the paper....I have always wondered about this little church and parsonage on 7th and Lincoln, it was St.Simon, Episcopal. It was founded in 1885 and was connected with Grace Cathedral . James Guy (an outstanding black attorney was one of the founding members. It is no longer a church, and I will try to get pictures of how it looks today but sadly it is not as good as in this picture. It is crazy but I would like to get signage in front of all these place.  Image may contain: 8 people, people standings......