A historic note on #MeToo

The recent news about Harvey Weinstein and Hollywood’s outrage about his sexual assaults shows news affects people even when it happens far away.

In 1855, 26 miles from Columbia, Missouri, a slave woman was hanged after she killed her white owner who had been raping her for years. The headline merely says a Missouri woman but in reality, it was a woman with a name, Celia, a woman who lived about 26 miles from where I live.

This account states puts the first rape even closer, stating the first assault took place nine miles south of Fulton. That place the attack at about 14 miles from my home. Closer than all the assaults of Weinstein.

This Oct. 19, 2017, Washington Post article describes how Celia lost her life when she refused one more assault and killed her attacker. She was found guilty of killing the man who owned her by a jury of 12 white men.

I’m certain this news reached Columbia when it took place in 1855. The same way people certainly knew about the attacks of Weinstein and others of his ilk. And that’s why the #MeToo is so powerful. We are no longer alone. We are no longer powerless. And we are no longer going to be tried or silenced.

Finally, this is why ColumbiaHistoricHomes.com and our history is so important. If we don’t know our history, we are doomed to repeat it. Let’s make #MeToo part of our past and not our present or future.

 

You can make a difference

If you’ve ever felt discouraged about the demolition of Columbia’s historic structures, here’s a way you can get involved. The Columbia Historic Preservation Commission schedules work days to save parts of houses and structures before they’re demolished. Those items are then stored and later offered for sale.

Door and hardware from 121 S. Tenth St., March 1, 2016.

Solid wood doors and hardware saved prior to the demolition of the James Apartments, 121 S. Tenth St.

You can get involved saving these important parts of buildings before they’re lost.

Here’s a message from Pat Fowler, chair of the HPC:

Saturday, June 17, we are planning a salvage work day and a small scale salvage on a house soon to be demolished.  We need about 10 volunteers, in four-hour shifts, and a couple of pick-up trucks.  The city has set aside salvage from the Blind Boone home renovation and materials donated for our transport to our salvage barn in Rock Quarry Park.

One team will go to the little house and then join us to transport the Blind Boone salvage.

Part of our plan is to label the source of the Blind Boone Salvage and other items so that when we offer them for sale later this summer, we can convey to our purchasers as much information as we haveThe little house has some cool cabinets, some trim and we’d like to practice pulling some hardwood floor.

One of our new members on Historic Preservation, John Gagliardi, will be our team lead on the little house.

If you are interested, please send an email to fowlerpatj@gmail.com, or message us on the City of Columbia Historic Preservation Commission Facebook page, with your contact info.  We’ll send out specific start times, a suggested list of things to bring and be ready for your participation.

The arts — and history — aren’t dead

Musician J.W. “Blind” Boone. Singer Jane Froman. Both of these artistic luminaries and seven other historical figures from Columbia’s past will come alive through four-minute monologues held during 1 to 4 p.m. on May 29 at their graves in Columbia Cemetery on Broadway.

This event was highlighted in this “Living History event planned for Memorial Day,” article by Rudi Keller, published May 13, 2017 in the Columbia Tribune.

The event is sponsored by the Friends of the Historic Columbia Cemetery, which also has a Facebook page. The monologues were written by Chris Campbell, executive director of the Boone County Historical Society.

So who else will you get to see come to life – with a consciousness of who they were, their current deceased status and today’s events?

  • Ann Hawkins Gentry, Columbia postmistress from 1838-1865.
  • George Swallow, Missouri’s first state geologist and MU faculty member
  • John Lathrop, president of MU twice.
  • Sgt. Wallace Lilly, a slave who enlisted in the Union Army in 1864 for his freedom.
  • Luella St. Clair Moss, Columbia College president from 1893 to 1920.
  • James S. Rollins, a man considered the father of MU.
  • Walter Williams, founder of the MU School of Journalism and MU president from 1931 to 1935.

April 1 new Bull Pen salvage date

The salvage date for the Bull Pen Cafe has been pushed back to 8 a.m. Saturday, April 1, according to this update from Pat Fowler, a member of the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission

Fowler posted on Facebook, “More information following. Stay tuned. You are cordially invited to attend, tell stories, help us remove the seating and the barn wood inside the sales ring. Bring tools, wear goggles. You get the picture.”

As previously posted, Fowler is looking for help to salvage parts of the Bull Pen Cafe, a local eatery that was open for 60 years prior to its closing in 2007. Salvage efforts are planned for 9 a.m. Saturday, March 25. The Bull Pen is at 2310 Business Loop, Columbia, Missouri.

She and the commission are also looking for stories about the Bull Pen Cafe. For more information, contact Fowler at fowlerpatj@gmail.com, call or text (573) 256-6841.

As Fowler wrote on her Facebook page, and I’m posting her with her permission:

“You may have heard the Bull Pen Cafe will be demolished in the coming weeks. If you grew up in Columbia and attended a livestock auction, you’ll remember the amphitheater seating immediately behind the restaurant. We’d like to remove as many of those seats as we can muster volunteers for. There are also some other cool amenities inside that space we’d like to remove and put in the salvage barn for an upcoming city sponsored sale. Message me here, or on the HPC FB page if you can help. There are lots of great stories to ‘show and tell’ about the Bull Pen Cafe. We’d like to hear them.”

The upcoming demolition was covered in this March 10, 2017 Columbia Missourian article headlined, “Bull Pen Cafe building will face the wrecking ball.”

Here’s a link to a July 20, 2008 Columbia Missourian article about the Bull Pen. The headline is, “Cafe irreplaceable to regulars.

 

Under your feet tour Saturday, Oct. 15

W.E. Edwards established the Edwards Brick & Tile Company in 1896 in Columbia, Missouri.

W.E. Edwards established the Edwards Brick & Tile Company in 1896 in Columbia, Missouri.

Love history? Love knowing about what other people miss? Here’s your chance to learn about history literally under your feet and to learn about something most people never think about — the building techniques and materials of brick streets.

A free tour is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, and will be conducted by Patrick Earney, a professional engineer and member of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission. The tour will start from the City Hall Key Sculpture at the corner of Eighth and Broadway, 701 E. Broadway.

See you there – wait? You can’t go? Here’s some information about the event and Columbia’s brick streets.

Tour information

Brick streets worth saving, Columbia Tribune, Dec. 1, 2012.

City of Columbia brick street background information, Oct. 21, 2015. Complete with a cool map!

From this site, a brief history, including some financial information and a bit about Columbia Brick and Tile, one of the eight brickworks Columbia, Missouri once boasted.

Finally – a blast from the past. This February 1994 report discusses the brick streets of the East Campus as an area where University of Missouri faculty once lived. The report includes historic maps. It’s a long download, even with a fast connection, but a great read.  A Final Report of Survey of the East Campus Neighborhood, Columbia, Missouri, Osmund Overby, Howard Marshall, Scott Myers, Debbie Sheals, Ray Brassieur.

Lynching: History finds a home

One of the reasons for this blog is to mark history, and historic homes are, in a way, a marker of history. But for a long time, there wasn’t a marker for a major historic event in Columbia, Missouri: the lynching of James Scott.

lynching-marker09302016

This article, reprinted with permission from George Kennedy and the Columbia Missourian, is about giving one man’s life and a lynching the historic marker in the real world and in our historic knowledge.

GEORGE KENNEDY: Repairing old wounds while another opens

Oct 6, 2016

Two events last week reminded Columbians how far we’ve come along the road of racial reconciliation and how far we still have to go.

The first was the ugly confrontation that began when a group of white MU students, apparently drunk, insulted two female members of the Legion of Black Collegians. It escalated when white fraternity members shouted obscenities at LBC members who had responded to a call for help from the women. Black students replied in kind.

MU police officers arrived, separated the angry groups and made no arrests. The university suspended the Delta Upsilon fraternity while at least two campus offices investigate.

News coverage beyond Columbia included references to the turmoil of last fall and ongoing efforts to improve the University’s racial climate.

Two days later, I stood with 100 or so onlookers beside the MKT Trail at Providence and Stewart Roads to witness the unveiling of a marker that commemorates the 1923 lynching of James T. Scott.

The new plaque reads, “Lest We Forget: Lynching at the Stewart Road Bridge.”

We must not forget, among other things, the roles played by journalists, students and community leaders.

Mr. Scott was a 35-year-old decorated veteran of World War I, a janitor at the university and husband of one of Columbia’s 15 black teachers. He was a member of the Second Baptist Church.

In April 1923, he was accused of raping the 14-year-old daughter of a University professor, arrested and jailed. She identified him as her assailant, but there was no evidence to support that. Later, she would identify a different man.

Patrick J. Huber wrote in the Summer 1991 issue of the Missouri Historical Society magazine, “Columbia’s most influential paper, the Daily Tribune, provided the spark that ignited the town’s smoldering outrage.” He quoted Tribune editor Edward Watson as pointing out that three black men were currently in jail accused of separate rapes and urging, “This trio should feel the ‘halter draw’ in vindication of the law.”

Huber continued, “Less than eight hours after the newspaper hit the street, white Columbia residents responded to the Tribune’s plea for justice.”

A mob estimated at about 2,000, including 200 or so students, stormed the jail, dragged out Mr. Scott and led him, with a rope around his neck, to what was then the bridge carrying Stewart Road over the Flat Branch.

A prominent citizen, later identified in court by two MU journalism students who were present at the lynching — one reporting for the Kansas City Star and one for the St. Louis Post Dispatch — put a longer rope around Mr. Scott’s neck and threw him off the bridge. His neck was broken and he died.

The New York Times published a front-page story with the headline, “Missouri Students See Negro Lynching, Co-Eds Join Crowd Which Cheers the Storming of the Columbia Jail.”

Huber recounts that the newspaper published by the School of Journalism, then called the Columbia Evening Missourian, “took a determined stand against mob violence.” In an editorial two days after the lynching, the Missourian wrote, “The lynching cannot be undone, but Columbia can, in part, clear its name if speedy action against those who committed the crime is taken.”

Only the man identified by the students as the killer was tried. A jury including several prominent citizens needed just 11 minutes to find him not guilty.

The plaque of remembrance was sponsored by the Association of Black Graduate and Professional Students, which of course didn’t exist in 1923. That in itself was a sign of progress.

So was the pairing of Clyde Ruffin, now pastor of James Scott’s church and First Ward representative on our City Council, and Mayor Brian Treece, both of whom spoke about the importance of remembering our past and learning from it.

I hoped the fraternity members were listening.

Grand opening of historic home of $19.5 million musician set for Sept. 18

The dedication of the home of a musician who traveled from 1880-1913 performing about 7,200 concerts is set for 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 10 N. Fourth St.

The musician earned about $19.5 million dollars in his lifetime, an amount calculated using information in the National Register of Historic Places document on the house and MeasuringWorth.com, a website designed to calculate value of currency.

The musician was J.W. “Blind” Boone and his story can be viewed from multiple perspectives. He overcame racism, poverty and even trickery to become a successful musician.

Even his home was nearly lost. And now, on Sunday, after years of work from volunteers and city expenditures, will be dedicated and opened to the public.

Note on the calculations: Information in the National Register of Historic Places document states he earned $150 to $600 per concert and performed about 7,200 concerts. Using $150 per concert for 7,200 concerts, his earning would have been $1.1 million. Using MeasuringWorth.com, a website designed to calculate value of currency, that amount would be worth $19.5 million in 2015.

News Release:

The City of Columbia has issued a press release on the event and it is reprinted here with permission:

Contact: Clyde Ruffin

President, John William “Blind” Boone Heritage Foundation

573-424-8222

Dedication, grand opening of J.W. “Blind” Boone Home scheduled Sept. 18

COLUMBIA, MO (September 15, 2016) – On Sunday, Sept. 18 the John William “Blind” Boone Heritage Foundation will host the dedication and grand opening of the newly restored J.W. “Blind” Boone Home. The event will be held at the home, 10 N. Fourth St., from 2 to 4 p.m. with light refreshments provided after the program.

John William “Blind” Boone, born in 1864, overcame blindness, poverty, and discrimination to become a nationally famous concert pianist and composer. Boone helped to merge African-American folk music with the European classical tradition, a fusion that opened the way for ragtime, jazz, boogie-woogie and much more.

“Even before the Great Scott Joplin, Boone was busy evolving the first true ‘made in America’ genre of music: Ragtime! It became America’s gift to the world,” said Lucille Salerno, emeritus board member of the Foundation and organizer of the former Blind Boone Jazz Festival.

The home was built between 1888-1892 by John Lange Jr. as wedding present for his sister Eugenia Lange and Boone. It serves as a monument to the individual genius and generosity of Boone but it also represents the historic African-American community as a whole — its struggles and accomplishments. The home’s location on Fourth Street is one of the few physical remnants of the community African-Americans built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“The effort to preserve Boone’s home is important, in part, because it is one of the few surviving reminders of the days when Fourth Street was the heart of Columbia’s African-American neighborhood,” said Greg Olson, a member of the Foundation. “At a time when the city, like much of the nation, was deeply segregated, Blind Boone was that rare individual who seemed to have the ability to bring together Columbia citizens of all races.”

The home was purchased by the City of Columbia in 2000 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. Renovations to the home included interior restoration, minor exterior repairs and landscaping. The project was approved by City Council on June 3, 2013 and the City portion was paid for with surplus funds from fiscal year 2012. The estimated cost for the City was $326,855 with a $16,500 donation from the John William “Blind” Boone Heritage Foundation.

The Foundation was organized in 1997; for more information, visit this link: http://blindboonehome.com/.