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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Educational Legacy of Granville and Catherine Crump

Parents in Williamson County, Tennessee have always wanted to provide a quality education for their children. And that was true for Granville Crump, a blacksmith, and his wife Katherine. The Crumps were born in the 1830s in Williamson County – and they were both enslaved. While it is difficult to determine the exact details of their early life, we do know that they were married around 1855 and they had seven children: Thomas was born in 1856, followed the next year by John (1857), then Kibberel (1860), Lafayette (1868), William (1869), Nettie (1870), and finally June (1879). The gap in ages between Kibberel and Lafayette may suggest that Granville was taken by his enslaver to serve as a blacksmith for the Confederate Army during the Civil War - he does not appear to have served for the US forces. The couple’s youngest four children were born after the War, and thus were born free.

As soon as the Civil War ended in 1866 Granville and Catherine set about to provide for the future of their children. In the 1870 Census – the first Census which counted all people by name, regardless of race – the couple reported a personal estate worth $1,000 (a large sum in those days) and the three oldest children - all boys -  were attending school. Granville also reported to the census-taker that he could read and write. Clearly, education was already a top priority for this family.

Just three years later, during the 1873-1874 academic year, Granville and Catherine’s two oldest sons Thomas (now 18 years old) and John (now 16 years old) were attending Fisk University in Nashville as boarding students for the “Normal Course” – a college preparatory program that included instruction that would help them become teachers such as “Observation and Practice Teaching in the Primary School.” It’s important to remember that this was only seven years after the end of the Civil War and the emancipation of slaves in Tennessee. To be able to send their sons to a University as boarding students in such a short period was a remarkable accomplishment for Granville and Katherine Crump. 

During the years of their attendance, the Crump sons would have participated in “exercises in writing, spelling drawing, vocal music, gymnastics, declamation [public speaking] and composition.” The Crump sons would have studied using textbooks such as Ray’s Arithmetic 3rd Part, Guyot’s Intermediate Geography (North and South American and the United States) and Hilliard’s Fifth Reader.  In the early days of Fisk, the school operated out of former military barracks and buildings. 

Thomas Crump became involved in politics during his time attending Fisk.  He was appointed to be the delegate from Williamson County to a convention of African American men discussing the interest in large-scale migration of former slaves to Kansas and other states, called the Exoduster movement

The brothers also would have heard about the creation of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, a choir of students who were on a world-tour raising money to construct a new facility for the school which would later be called Jubilee Hall. In two years, they raised over $150,000 and the building was completed in 1876.

Fisk Jubilee Singers ca 1871
By American Missionary Association, publisher - Library of Congress 
Mary Eliza Walker Crump is on the far right of this grouping
Thomas Crump - who was a gifted singer himself - married the youngest member of the Fisk Jubilee singers, Mary Eliza Walker (at the far right in the photograph).
Thomas and Mary Eliza pursued their singing careers after leaving Fisk.  They were active in organizing singing groups to perform for fundraisers in Nashville.  In 1882, they organized their "Nashville Ideal Jubilee Singers" to perform at the Tennessee State Capitol. Thomas and Mary Eliza's performances figured prominently in the concert. Later Thomas organized the "Nashville Star Concert Company" to profile local talent and the couple toured throughout the United States performing.  By 1889, the couple had moved to Chicago, Illinois where Thomas became a Pullman Porter. While there, Thomas pursued a secondary interest of his - inventions.  He filed a patent for an "air ship" that he created.  Newspapers throughout the United States reported on his creation. 

June 13, 1889

After graduation, Nettie assumed the post of Principal of the “Normal Institute”, a school run by the American Missionary Association in Mound Bayou, Mississippi; she was responsible for about 75 students. During the school year 1900-1901, Nettie returned to Fisk and traveled with famous director John Work II and his newly re-organized Fisk Jubilee Singers. In this photograph, Nettie is the woman standing in the back row on the left.

In October 1879 Granville and Katherine’s second son John married Julia Lytton in Franklin. Their wedding was mentioned in a Nashville newspaper and he was described as a popular young school teacher in Franklin – evidently he was putting his Fisk education to good use.

By the 1885-1886 school year the Crump’s younger children Lafayette and “Antoinette M.” (Nettie) Crump began their studies at Fisk in the Common English Department Class D. The pair worked their way up through the different grades. Both Lafayette and Nettie became school teachers like their brother John. However, Nettie had a more distinguished academic career, even taking classes in Vocal Culture. 

Fisk Jubilee Singers 1900-1901 Left to right standing: Noah Ryder, Frederick Work, Nettie Crump, Albert Greenlaw, John Work II. Seated: Ida Napier, Senetta Hayes, Agnes Work, Mabel Grant.

After her time with the Jubilee Singers, Nettie was appointed the Principal of the Cotton Valley School in Fort Davis, Alabama near the Tuskegee Institute. According to Tulane University, the school “opened with the assistance of Booker T. Washington and the Massachusetts Congregational Women’s Home Missionary Association.”
Picture from the Tulane University Digital Library. Cotton Valley School.

Picture from the Tulane University Digital Library – “Cotton Valley School Administration – Summer Program, Intermediate and Senior Departments of the Vacation Bible School having a contest in making Bible book markers. Mrs. Daisy W. Romby is instructing.”

In 1903 Nettie moved to Augusta, Georgia to assume a new position as a vocal teacher at the Haines School – a private school for African Americans founded by Lucy Craft Laney, a former slave.

Haines School, Augusta, Georgia

Later, Nettie married and she and her husband George Lewis moved to Chicago where Nettie was a vocal teacher. She lived near her older brother Thomas and his wife Mary Eliza who was working as a professional singer. Thomas was working as an agent running a "lecture bureau" called the Metropolitan Lyceum Bureau finding speakers and performers jobs.  His wife Mary Eliza was running a successful voice school and performing choir.

Mary Eliza Walker Crump
She ran Walker's Famous Jubilee Singers in Chicago

Meanwhile, Lafayette Crump - who had attended Fisk with Nettie and also become a school teacher - had returned to Franklin.  He married Annie Carter and the couple raised a family in Franklin.  Lafayette's youngest daughter Ruth later married Rev. Ephraim Gaylor and the couple operated a boarding house next to Shorter Chapel on Natchez Street.  Their elegant home was listed as "Mrs. Gaylor's Guest House" in the famous Green Book in the 1950s through 196

The Green Book was a listing of places that traveling African Americans could stay while on the road due to Jim Crow laws, African Americans often could not stay in hotels or eat in restaurants in the south, so they needed a guide such as the Green Book to find places to stay, and eat, and get gas and service for their cars.

This listing for Mrs. Gaylor's Guest House appeared in the Green Book in 1953; 

Sadly, Granville did not live to see his children’s future successes both vocal and educational. He passed away the same year that Nettie graduated from college. However, both he and Katherine surely would have been proud of all their children. It is an amazing educational legacy that they left - their children reinvested the training they had gained in their communities at a time when teachers and educations for newly freed African Americans were in high demand and very valuable across the South.

Excerpt from 
Evidences of Progress Among Colored People 
By G. F. Richings, 1909

On February 24, 2017 at 6 pm, the Fisk Jubilee Singers will be coming to Franklin for a free concert.  I hope that everyone will attend and as you listen to the performers, will keep in mind Nettie Crump and her family - and all they had to overcome to achieve so much!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Private Henry Moon of the 17th USCI, Shot and Killed near Triune Feb 4, 1866 . . . and the Aftermath

About dusk on Sunday February 4, 1866, two men described as brothers, Lewis Moon and Henry Moon - both privates in the 17th US Colored Infantry Company E - were on furlough from Nashville and walking down Nolensville Pike heading to their home near Triune in eastern Williamson County.  They had both enlisted in Murfreesboro on January 17,1864 and were described as 5'5" tall farmers.  If they truly were brothers, perhaps their parents and a young Lewis and been sold from Virginia (where Lewis was born) to Wilson County (where Henry was born in 1846), and then later sold or taken to the Triune area - where they were now headed.  As the brothers walked down Nolensville pike that winter evening they were combat-tested veterans - both had fought at the Battle of Nashville; 20 year old Lewis was wounded on the first day of fighting on December 15, 1864.

According to the - somewhat conflicting - reports, John Henry Griggs, Jr. (a white man) and two other men - perhaps William Pogue and John Griggs Sr, confronted the soldiers and became involved in an altercation with them outside of John Bostick's gate. You can see John Bostick's farm identified just to the left of the 18 on the map below.  This would have been just south of the four-way intersection in Triune.

Jordan's Mill (below) would have been across from the site of the killing.
Jordan's Creek Mill, photo courtesy of Rick Warwick at the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County
This ad for the Mill appeared in the Nashville Republican Banner on May 21, 1867

John Henry Griggs was named in writing by Tom Jones and George Ryan as the man who shot Private Henry Moon during that incident.  Private Moon was wounded and taken to John Bostick's house where he was treated by Dr. Mills.  His older brother Lewis Moon went back to Nashville to report the shooting and Lt. Col Pickering of the 17th USCI sent an ambulance to retrieve the injured soldier.  However, despite their efforts Private Henry Moon died on Friday, February 9th, 1866.  His official military records state that he "died from wounds received from a civilian." He was buried in the Nashville National Cemetery in Madison, Tennessee and his grave is marked with a military headstone.  If you would like to visit his gravesite his remains are interred in the segregated section reserved for the US Colored troops in plot Plot J 14223, UR 14759.

Letter from  Lt. Col. Pickering Requesting an ambulance to collect Private Moon to Nashville
and informing the Brigadier General of the situation

On February 5th, 1866 - the day after Henry Moon was shot, George Ryan sent the following letter to Nashville to inform his commanding officer of the events that had transpired. 
 Triune, Williamson County, Tenn. 
February 5th, 1866
Dear Sir, one of your colored soldiers was shot near this place yesterday by John Griggs and two other men in company with Greggs to wit William Pogue and John H. Griggs. I did not see any of the affray but might just as I heard it. This John Griggs was one of Col? Houdons men and it is my opinion that he is a bad man. Your soldier is at John Bostick's on the Nashville and Nolensville Pike, 22 miles from Nashville. I live in Triune and it will not do for you to let my name to known as there is not but 4 Union men in this part of country and if we are known we could not live one week. 
Yours respectfully, George Ryan

Two articles appeared in the Nashville newspaper regarding the shooting of Private Moon.  As you can see, the reporting shows that there was some blame placed on Private Moon initially.
Nashville Union and American, Tuesday, February 6, 1866

Nashville Union and American, Wednesday, February 7, 1866.
I think that the newspaper erroneously refers to John Griggs as John Greggs . 

A statement made to the Freedmen's Bureau on November 30, 1866 by Thomas Jones.   Several months after Private Moon's death, another civilian made this statement to the military authorities - then in the form of the Freedmen's Bureau.
My name is Thomas Jones. I have been working on the Steam Mill for Mr. Joplin overseer of Triune Pike and he lives about 7 miles from Nashville. There was a colored soldier belonging to the 17th USC Infantry killed last March [February] at John Bostick's gate about 21 miles from Nashville and 1/2 miles this side of Triune. The name of the deceased soldier was William or Charles [Henry]Moon and belonged to Co. I [E].  I have learned the man that killed him, his name is John Henry Griggs. I saw him last Friday at the flour mill. Mr. Harrington, a white soldier of a Wisconsin Regiment and living in Triune knows the man Griggs, knows him to be the murderer.  John Scripen (col) working at the steam mill also knows the man. Doctor Mills, living at the house of Mr. Bostick, attended on the dying man. Lucy Bostick saw Griggs shoot the man Moon. He Henry Griggs talks about it.

Violence Begets Violence.  Well, it appears as though Mr. Ryan - who wrote to the officers of the 17th USCI on the day of the shooting - was right to fear for his life. Less than a year after he wrote his letter to the authorities, he was murdered on Christmas Eve 1866.  The newspaper accounts differ; some state that he was drunk and the perpetrator George Walton was acting in self defense.  While others state that clearly he was murdered for his political beliefs and actions.  I have copied them all here - you can make up your own mind.

Murfreesboro Monitor, January 5, 1867
Harrisburgh Telegraph, Harrisburgh, Pennsylvania, January 14, 1867

Bolivar Bulletin (Bolivar, Tenn.) Feb 2, 1867

March 22, 1867 - the Nashville Union and American

Philadelphia Inquirer, April 3, 1867
And then, amazingly, George Walton - who had killed George Ryan (our witness to the killing of Private Moon) was also murdered.

Republican Banner (Nashville) March 26, 1867

Memphis Public Ledger, April 5, 1867 - originally published in the Nashville Press and Times, March 26, 1867

Unfortunately, I can't find a copy of the report n the Nashville Press and Times that implied that Ryan was killed for being a Union loyalist.

Stage Coach that ran from Nashville to College Grove along Nolensville Pike. The driver and passengers discovered George Walton's body.  Photo provided by Rick Warwick, Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County

These newspaper articles help to remind us that not much has changed in the way that public opinion, the press and politics interact.