Abel, Boyd, and Kuykendall

Abel Brothers funeral program (Kentucky Library Ephemera Collection)

Abel Brothers funeral program (Kentucky Library Ephemera Collection)

In 1900, James E. Kuykendall (1874-1960), an African-American native of Butler County, Kentucky, opened a funeral home at 819 State Street in Bowling Green.  For more than 50 years, he served the city’s African-American population both alone and in partnership with James A. Boyd.  In the 1930s, brothers Francis and Richard Abel established Abel Brothers, which also served the same constituents.

The records of these historic African-American businesses were later placed with Gatewood and Sons Funeral Chapel, and copies are held in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  Dating from 1900-1970, they provide data about funeral dates and expenses, but some are useful genealogical resources because they provide additional information about the deceased such as occupation, cause of death, parents’ names, and place of interment.  Also included with these records is a listing of interments in Mt. Moriah, Bowling Green’s African-American cemetery.

A finding aid for these funeral home records can be accessed here.  For more collections on funeral homes and other businesses, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives

Sophia

Sophia, 1874

Sophia, 1874

She was, by his description, a “little mulatto girl” he first encountered in 1867 during his military duty at Little Rock, Arkansas.  Their ensuing 22-year relationship was neither simple nor ordinary, but the story of Sophia and Captain Richard Vance, a native of Warren County, Kentucky, is preserved in Vance’s diaries, now part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  The only thing missing from the story, sadly, is the voice of Sophia herself.

Separated from her family and cast adrift after her emancipation from slavery, Sophia, no more than sixteen years old, seemed doomed to become the sexual plaything of the officers in Vance’s garrison.  Indeed, that may have been how Vance himself, who frequented local prostitutes to satisfy his need for a woman’s “delicious embraces,” initially regarded her.  But he soon found himself “desperately stuck on my little girl”– my “new flame”– and when Sophia’s principal patron abandoned her, she became his servant and mistress.

Though completely smitten, Vance was fearful that his “dangerous experiment” would be discovered.  Nevertheless, neither he nor Sophia were inclined to end the relationship, and he was relieved in 1869 when he managed to bring her along to his new posting at Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  In 1876, they were at Fort Dodge, Kansas, where Sophia married and departed, Vance assumed, for a new life.  Before long, however, both Sophia and her husband George returned and took up the care of his household.  Throughout Vance’s subsequent duty in the Indian Territory, Colorado and Texas, they turned his military lodgings into a comfortable home, anchored his life, and eased his restlessness and unhappiness with the Army.  When Henry, a young boy abandoned to Sophia’s care, joined the household, an odd but strangely durable family unit was created.

Everything changed late in 1888, when Vance returned to Fort Clark, Texas from a lengthy trip to find Sophia ill.  He had been wearily searching for a place to retire and had even purchased a farm near Washington, D.C., but was torn between bringing Sophia, George and Henry into his post-Army life or making a clean break.  Only after watching in anguish as Sophia sank and died in May 1889 did he understand what he had lost.  His diary entry cried out simply:  I am in a world of trouble.  Sophia.

Sophia, 1888

Sophia, 1888

Wandering from place to place in retirement, Vance routinely turned his thoughts back to his years with Sophia.  “Those were my best and happiest days,” he wrote, “the like of which I must not expect to see again, for there was but one Sophia.”  On a January morning in 1893, he found the scene outside his lodgings so reminiscent of “the prospect from the back window of the last quarters I occupied in Ft. Clark that I can easily fancy that I have but to go below to find Sophia busying about some household duty; to find Henry playing with his toys in the yard; to find the dogs lazily dozing in the wood shed; and all the paraphernalia of my old establishment.”  For Vance, who never married, Sophia represented a golden age that he had failed to appreciate and to which he could never return.

Click here for a finding aid to the Richard Vance Collection.  For more collections search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives

Within the All of It: Trigg County African-American Oral History Project

“What I told you is what your grandparents tried to tell me: that this is your country, that this is your world, that this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

In the fall of 1995, four folk studies students from the Cultural Conservation class at WKU conducted an oral history project to document African American heritage in Caldwell, Christian, Todd, and Trigg counties. With grant-based funding from the Pennyrile Area Development District (PADD), local committees were established in each county, allowing interviewers to become better acquainted with long-time residents and their personal narratives, which focused on their experiences of living in Trigg County.

The student group recorded a total of 18 interviews with 15 participants, most of whom have longstanding familial ties to the region. The interviews, which often take the format of a “life history,” cover a broad range of topics from American Bandstand, sorority life, courtship customs, and bootlegging, to tobacco harvesting, family reunions, quilting bees, and church services. The scope of the project, spanning nearly five decades from the early 1900s to the late 1950s, marks an era of both agricultural and industrial growth, political uncertainty, and technological advancement—all nipping at the heels of the stirring civil rights movement.

Serving as the first oral history project of its kind in Trigg County, the lives of its participants are played out on tape in ways that reveal what it meant to be black in the Jim Crow South, how physical landscapes shape cultural traditions, and how a strong sense of identity was—and remains—crucial in developing supportive, lasting communities.

Onie Bakerat her home in Cadiz, Kentucky (October 1995)

Onie Baker at her home in Cadiz, Kentucky (October 1995)

 

The collection itself (FA 196), located within WKU’s Manuscripts and Folklife Archives, contains photographs of participants, brief biographical sketches, original interview cassette tapes, and detailed indexes of every recorded interview.

For information on African American experiences in Kentucky, Trigg County, and additional oral history projects, visit TopSCHOLAR or browse through KenCat, a searchable database featuring manuscripts, photographs and other non-book objects housed in the Department of Library Special Collections!

Post written by WKU Folk Studies graduate student Delainey Bowers

Comments Off on Within the All of It: Trigg County African-American Oral History Project

Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives, People

Far Away Places presents Nancy Rice on “The Magic, Mystery and Misfortune of Modern Kenya”

WKU Biologist Nancy Rice to talk about “The Magic, Mystery and Misfortune of Modern Kenya” in WKU Libraries’ Far Away Places series on Thursday, February 22 at 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble Bookstore.

Nany Rice is a Professor in the Department of Biology at Western Kentucky University where she teaches advanced cell biology, the molecular basis of cancer, and medicine in Kenya.  A WKU alumna she received her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Tennessee at Memphis and had postdoctoral experiences at the University of Tokyo and the University of Colorado.  Her research interest is biomedical and focuses on using molecular and cellular techniques to investigate the genetic and cellular mechanisms for debilitating diseases.

Her current grant funded research involves the study of molecular mechanisms which lead to the high prevalence of hypertension in rural Kenya. It involves a community-based participatory Study that assesses six villages in Kasiagu, Kenya with regard to the prevalence and current management of hypertension as well as the frequency of common environmental risk behaviors associated with it.

Nancy has been involved with the Partners in Caring: Medicine in Kenya Program for many years, which allows pre-professional students to work in a medical service-learning exchange between Kenya and US physicians in an international medical context.

During the winter term 2018 Nancy led a study abroad program to Kenya which provided students the opportunity to learn about Kenyan culture and people while actively engaging in health-care services and education.  WKU has partnered with local area Kentucky physicians and the Taveta District Health Office to conduct rural medical health clinics in the impoverished villages of the Kasiagu region of Kenya.

In 2014 she received Ogden College of Science and Engineering’s first Women in Science and Engineering Award.

Comments Off on Far Away Places presents Nancy Rice on “The Magic, Mystery and Misfortune of Modern Kenya”

Filed under Uncategorized

State Street High School

One of the prized holdings in the Department of Library Special Collections is the 1951 Mustang, the yearbook of the State Street High School. The State Street School served this area’s African-American students starting in 1883; High Street school took its place in 1955.
Edward Tipton Buford, known as E.T. Buford, was the principal of the school and is featured in this yearbook. He made a tremendous impact on many students in this region and state. He was born in 1894 in Giles County, TN and earned a bachelor’s degree from Fisk University and a Master’s degree from Indiana University. He served as principal of State Street and High Street schools from 1924 to 1964. Like many other African American educators, during the time of segregation and limited resources, it was said that “Buford developed an advanced curriculum, got the school accredited, recruited highly educated teachers and secured needed resources.”

Some other African American teachers in Warren County were Robert Barlow, Christine Barlow, Ethel Buford, Virginia Cabell, Lula Carpenter, Clara Cole, Addie J. Edmonds, Lutisha Frierson, Willie Gossom, Lena Hudson, C. A. Hutcherson, Latter Huston Cox, Eva Kuykendall, Lila Bell Lee, Frances Luvalle, Charity McCrutchen, Emma Milligan, Mabel Moore, Frank Moxley, Claude Nichols, Alroma Nichols, Mattie Patticord, A. L. Poole, Ethel Ray, A. P. Williams, Delorese Williams, Clara Bell Yarbrough, and Henry Yost.

Click here to see this yearbook; search for other yearbooks at WKU One Search box. Contact Special Collections at 270-745-5083 or spcol@wku.edu

Comments Off on State Street High School

Filed under Uncategorized

Kentucky Live! presents Mary Ellen Pethel, “College Life and the Making of Modern Nashville”

Kentucky Live! Presents Mary Ellen Pethel on College Life and the Making of Modern Nashville Thursday, February 15, 2018 at Barnes & Noble Bookstore (1680 Campbell Lane) at 7 pm.  Everyone is welcome.

 May Ellen Pethel is an author, educator, archivist and historian.  After attending high school in Rome, Georgia she received her BA from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, her MEd from Berry College in Georgia and her PhD in history from Georgia State University.

Her newest book Athens of the New South: College Life and the Making of Modern Nashville was published by the University of Tennessee Press in 2017.  In it she explores how the founding and growth of Nashville’s colleges and universities impacted the city, region and nation.  She notes that by the twentieth century Vanderbilt University had become one of the country’s leading private schools while Fisk University was among the nation’s most prestigious black liberal-arts universities and Meharry Medical College had emerged as one of the country’s few training centers for African American medical professionals. Tennessee A&I became the state’s first public black college while various other schools: Peabody College, Ward-Belmont, David Lipscomb and Roger Williams University meant that Nashville was distinguished not only by the quantity but by the quality of its schools.

Her earlier books include A Heartfelt Mission: The West End Home Foundation, 1891-2016 published in 2017 which tells the history of a home on West End Avenue initially built to assist the Civil War’s many widow.  This “Old Woman’s Home” was funded a Nashville resident M. H. Howard.  Renamed the West End Home for Ladies in 1984 and moved to Vanderbilt Place. The last resident died in 2013.  Today the foundation distributes grants to local organizations that assist older adults.

Her All-Girls Education from Ward Seminary to Harpeth Hall: 1865-2015 was published by Arcadia Press in 2015.  It traces the founding of the Ward Seminary by Dr. William Ward and his wife Eliza in September, 1865, it’s merger with Belmont College for Young Women in 1913 and the establishment of a high school division as the Harpeth Hall School in 1951.

Berry College: A Century of Making Music (Arcadia, 2010) examined the 100th anniversary of music making at the college where Mary Ellen’s father Stan Pethel was chair of Fine Arts and where she spent much of her childhood.

She co-authored Piano Hymns for Dummies (Hal Leonard, 2010) with her father Stan Pethel which features 65 piano/vocal/guitar arrangements for 65 hymns from “Down by the Riverside” to “This Little Light of Mine.”

She currently teaches in the social sciences department at the Harpeth Hall School and serves as the school archivist and is a Global Leadership Studies Fellow and teaches in the Honors Department at Belmont University, both in Nashville, Tennessee.

Comments Off on Kentucky Live! presents Mary Ellen Pethel, “College Life and the Making of Modern Nashville”

Filed under Events, Kentucky Live, Latest News, People

Drakes Creek Middle School receives WKU Libraries School Library Grant

Bowling Green, Kentucky – Drakes Creek Middle School Library was recognized on Thursday, January 25 for being this year’s winner for the School Library Grant sponsored by the Friends of WKU Libraries. This is the fourth year WKU Libraries has offered the grant to schools in the Barren River Area Development District.

The grant is made possible with funds from Friends of WKU Libraries and is given out to one middle or high school annually with different purposes, including improving collections or technology, for professional development funds, to improve students’ research skills, and to offer reading enrichment opportunities.

Renee Hale is the Library Media Specialist who wrote the winning application for the school. According to Hale, the grant money will be used to improve the technology of the library by creating a Green Screen studio for students to create and edit video projects.

“The video projects will encourage hands-on, creative application of thinking,” said Hale. “We are thrilled to be able to offer this to our students.”

WKU Libraries Dean Susann deVries, Library Advisory Council Chair Nancy Priest, and WKU Libraries Communications Coordinator Jennifer Wilson attended the school’s morning meeting to make the announcement to the entire student body and present the check for $500 to Ms. Hale and Principal Daryl Woods. For more information about the grant, contact jennifer.wilson@wku.edu.

Comments Off on Drakes Creek Middle School receives WKU Libraries School Library Grant

Filed under General, Latest News

She Got to “Y”

Novelist Sue Grafton published her first “alphabet” mystery, A is For Alibi, in 1982.  At the time of her death in December 2017, the native of Louisville, Kentucky had penned 25 best-selling titles, most recently Y is for Yesterday, and both Grafton and Kinsey Millhone, her fictional “hard-boiled” female detective and heroine of the series, had earned a worldwide following.  Grafton had long known that her finale, slated to appear in fall 2019, would be called Z is for Zero.

Photo of Sue Grafton (then Susan Flood) in 1960 Talisman, the WKU yearbook.

Sue Grafton (then Susan Flood) attended WKU for two years (1960 Talisman).

In 2000, with her 15th book complete and many more yet to be conceived, Grafton told an interviewer that “thinking about the rest of the alphabet was apoplexy-inducing.”  But three years later, she was still on course, as she told a fan.  “I’m currently at work on ‘R’ IS FOR . . . which has a title that’s known only to me,” she wrote.  Ten chapters were done, but she believed it was better “to wait until the story’s laid out so I can make sure the title is appropriate.”  Though she confessed that “each book seems harder to write than the one before,” Grafton hoped her correspondent would “follow me all the way ’til ‘Z’ IS FOR ZERO.”

Sue Grafton’s letter to one of her many fans is part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  Click here for a finding aid.  For more collections on Kentucky authors, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

Sue Grafton's signature

“Yours in crime”

Comments Off on She Got to “Y”

Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives

Younglove’s Drugstore

Younglove's Drugstore

Younglove’s Drugstore

It’s January 12 – National Pharmacists Day, when we show appreciation for these health care professionals by, among other things, producing a valid insurance card and not whining about why it takes so long to fill our prescription.

As we have previously blogged, the work of pharmacists over generations appears in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  But if one Bowling Green pharmacy came closest to becoming an institution, it was Younglove’s Drugstore.

Born in Johnstown, New York in 1826, John E. Younglove followed his brother Joseph to Bowling Green in 1844.  The two became business partners in what was then known as the Quigley Building at the corner of Main and State streets (it still stands).  After Joseph’s death, John continued the business.  Younglove’s was not only a drugstore but a post office, stage coach stop and social center, and became known to everyone in the county.  Its display cases, sales counter, furniture and shelving remained unchanged for decades, and locals arriving for a chat would seat themselves on a venerated old seed box by the stove.  In addition to discussions of the day’s news, it was said that many political campaigns were waged astride this box.  Behind the counter, Younglove kept a vast trove of chemical knowledge.  His prescription book collected not only remedies for piles, cholera, gonorrhea and hay fever but preparation instructions for ink, “denarcotized laudanum,” hair color, and “cement for burial cases.”  His poison register recorded the sale of dangerous compounds: morphine for cramping, arsenic to kill mice, and strychnine for “varmints.”

John E. Younglove; a page from his prescription book

John E. Younglove; a page from his prescription book

John Younglove was as much of an institution as his store.  A man of modest height who was fond of tall silk hats, he was a repository of local history and a dabbler in many pursuits.  A naturalist, town trustee and cemetery commissioner, he collected archaeological specimens and rare books, maintained weather observations, and preserved data on milestones such as the 1811 earthquake, the 1833 cholera epidemic, the 1869 eclipse, and various floods, freezes and droughts.  When he retired in 1905 and rented his building to new druggists, they demanded such “newfangled” amenities as utilities, a plate glass window, and a soda fountain.  Insurance cards, fortunately, were still far in the future.

Click here for a finding aid to the Younglove family papers.  For more on pharmacists, the Youngloves and their drugstore, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

Comments Off on Younglove’s Drugstore

Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives

All the News from Birdland

The Kentucky Warbler, May 1980

The Kentucky Warbler, May 1980

Today (January 5) is National Bird Day, a good time to remind bird lovers that they can access full-text copies of The Kentucky Warbler through TopSCHOLAR, WKU’s digital repository.

First published in 1925, the Warbler is the bulletin of the Kentucky Ornithological Society.  WKU faculty member Gordon Wilson was one of the Society’s founders and an editor of the Warbler.  Its inaugural issue invited contributions of news, member activities, field notes, ornithological papers, and all things “of interest in birdland.”

Click here to access issues from January 1925 through February 2016.  For more on birds and birding, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

Comments Off on All the News from Birdland

Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives