Joyceann’s Corner Episode One (Payton)

My new podcast will feature excerpts from my website. I will begin with a series of profoundly gifted members of our community that have contributed much with no or little public recognition.

First in our series is the Ambassadors

Carolyn L. Robertson Payton (1925-2001)

Dr. Carolyn L. Robertson Payton was the first African American and the first woman to become the Director of the U.S. Peace Corps,  She was appointed in 1977 by U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Carolyn L. Robertson Payton was born on May 13, 1925, in Norfolk, Virginia to Bertha M Flanagan, a seamstress and Leroy S Robertson, a ship Steward,  She graduated from Booker T. Washington High school in Norfolk in 1941 and received her BS degree in Home Economics from Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1945, Payton remained close to Bennett College, establishing a scholarship fund there in the late 1990s.

Payton then attended the University of Wisconsin where her tuition and other expenses were paid by the state of Virginia as part of the state’s policy of sending black graduate students to out-of-state institutions rather than allowing them to received advanced degrees at the state’s universities. Payton received her MS in Psychology from Wisconsin in 1948,

After graduation, Payton took positions as a psychologist at Livingston College in Salisbury, North Carolina, and as psychology instructor at Elizabeth City State Teachers College in Elizabeth City, North Carolina where she also served as Dean of Women,  She joined the faculty of Howard University in Washington, DC, after completing coursework for her PhD at Columbia University in 1959,  She received her Ph.D. from Columbia in 1962,

Dr. Payton first came to work for the Peace Corps in 1964. In 1966, she was named Country Director for the Eastern Caribbean stationed in Barbados, serving in this position until 1970,  In 1977 President Jimmy Carter appointed her Director for the entire agency,  She served only thirteen months, however, and was forced to resign because her views on the importance of Peace Corps mission and its implementation strategies, including volunteers being nonpolitical were diametrically opposed to the then-director of Action, Sam Brown,

Payton is best known, however, for her career contribution as the Director of the Howard University Counseling Service (HUCS) from 1970 to 1977, and later as Dean of Counseling and Career Development from 1979 until her retirement in 1995. While at Howard she led the development of clinical material focused on providing counseling and psychotherapy to African American, men and women, The Howard program was eventually adopted by the American Psychological Association (APA),  Dr. Payton was also a pioneer in the use of group therapy techniques specifically for African American clients,

Dr. Payton was an active member of APA for over 40 years and was one of the original members on the Task Force on the Psychology of Black Women in 1976.  The APA’s Carolyn Payton Early Career Award is named in her honor. Payton also served on a number of APA boards and committees including the Committee on Women in Psychology (CWP) and the Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Concerns Committee,  She received several of the APA’s most prestigious awards including the Distinguished Professional Contributions to Public Service Award in 1982 and the APA Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology in 1997,

Dr. Carolyn L. Robertson Payton died from a heart attack at her home in Washington, D.C. on April 11, 2001,  She was 75.  Following the announcement of her death the Peace Corps flew its flag at half-mast at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. in honor of Dr. Payton,

I hope you enjoyed this segment and Thank you for listening,

Till next time when we honor

Leslie M. Alexander, is a Career Foreign Service Officer. He was appointed by President William J. Clinton to serve as U.S. Ambassador to three nations

Joyceann’s Corner Episode 2 (Alexander)

This episode is about honoring

Leslie M. Alexander (1948-  ) Leslie M. Alexander is a Career Foreign Service Officer. He was appointed by President William J. Clinton to serve as U.S. Ambassador to three nations: Mauritius and the Comoros where he served from 1993 to 1996, Ecuador where he served from 1996 to 1999, and Haiti where he served from 1999 to 2000.

Ambassador Alexander was born in Frankfurt, Germany on November 9, 1948 to an African American father from Houston, Texas who at that point was part of the U.S. Army of occupation. His mother was born in France.  They married in Germany and Alexander grew up in both France and Germany.  His primary and secondary educations were in France and he only briefly lived in the United States at the time, in New York City as a child.

Alexander attended the University of Maryland (Munich branch), receiving a BA from the institution in 1970.  He joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1971. Through the State Department Foreign Service Institute (FSI) in Maryland he studied Economics earning a certificate in 1980, and the Portuguese language where he earned a certificate in 1983. He attended the U.S.  U.S. Naval War College between 1985 and 1986 where he received an M.A. degreed.

Alexander began his overseas assignments as Vice Consul in Georgetown, Guyana from 1970 to 1973. He then served as an Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Norway from 1973 to 1975. Alexander was next assigned to be Consul in Krakow, Poland but he claimed the office had a hostile working environment and left this post nine months before his normal tenure would have ended.

While waiting for another assignment, Alexander worked in the State Department’s Visa office. In 1978, Alexander finally landed another overseas assignment, this time as the Program Officer for Mexico in the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics Matters.  He held that post until 1980. His next assignments were as the Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy at Madrid, Spain, 1981-1983, and Principal Officer at Porto Alegre, Brazil from 1983 to 1985.

From 1986 to 1989 Alexander was Counselor for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy. He served as Deputy Director for Caribbean Affairs at the Department of State for the next two years (1989-1991).  He was then assigned by the State Department to be Deputy Chief of Mission and then Charge d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti from 1991 to 1993.

Leslie Alexander has received State Department’s Meritorious, Superior and Senior Performance Awards.  His languages are Portuguese, Italian, French, Spanish, Polish, and Norwegian. Ambassador Alexander is now retired in Florida and married to Deborah McCarthy, a career Foreign Service Officer. The couple have two daughters, Margaret and Natalia.

Again thank you for listening and please look forward to my next episode of honoring our own.

Up next,, Sylvia Stanfield, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, and U.S. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America

Till then be blessed and safe

Joyceann’s Corner Episode 3 (Stanfield)

This is a series of profoundly gifted members of our community that have contributed much with no or little public recognition. We honor our own Today we share, Sylvia Stanfield.

Sylvia Stanfield, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, took up her post as U.S. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America  to Brunei in November 1999. She was appointed by President William J. Clinton,  July 1, 1999.  

Brunei, officially the State of Brunei Darussalam, is a sultanate (pop. 295,000), in northwest Borneo, in two coastal enclaves surrounded by Malaysia. A British protectorate after 1888, Brunei was granted self-government in 1971 and became independent in 1984. 

Ambassador Stanfield was born October 28, 1943, in Harris, Texas. She earned a B.A. degree from Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio 1965. As an East-West Center grantee, she received an M.A. degree in Asian Studies from the University of Hawaii and continued her studies at the University of Hong Kong School of Oriental Studies and Linguistics in Chinese.   

Her primary area of specialization has been Asian Affairs. She began her career with the Department of State in 1968. Her first overseas assignment was Vice Consul with the then American Embassy in Taipei, Taiwan. 

 Her assignments have included tours as a political officer with the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Ambassador Stanfield has served as a Watch Officer in the Department of State Operations Center, as a political and economic/commercial officer in the Office of the Peoples Republic of China and Mongolian Affairs. She is a Chinese Language officer. 

Ambassador Stanfield has also been an Inspector with the Office of the Inspector General and served as an Examiner with the Board of Examiners of the Foreign Service. From 1990-1993, she was Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand of Australia and Charge d’Affaires a.i.for New Zealand Affairs. From 1997-1998 she headed the Taiwan Coordination Affairs Office.  

Selected to attend the Department of State’s Senior Seminar, Ambassador Stanfield is a member of the forty-first class of 1998-1999. 

After her ambassadorship ended, Ambassador Stanfield became a Diplomat in Residence at Florida A&M University and at Spelman College. She is on the executive committee of  the Association of Black American Ambassadors (ABAA).  In August 2014  she was nominated to be  the interim President of Black Professionals in International Affairs (BPIA). We look forward to seeing what she creates next for herself.

Thank you for listening and next episode will be honoring Gayleatha Brown, the United States ambassador to Burkina Faso.

Be Blessed and safe

Joyceann’s Corner- Hatter

The earliest Hatter found so far is Frances Hatter b.1735, he was originally from the West coast of Africa. Our largest DNA concentration is from Benin/Togo.Frances Hatter freed after the death of John and Elizabeth Ariss, along with Charlotte  and Sarah. All slaves of this 1700 group maintain the name of Hatter Slaves.

We found that Charlotte by the time she was freed, had four sons John, Reuben, George, and James. James and Reuben had been sold to Samuel Walter Washington, who in turn reluctantly sold Reuben to Christian Blackburn, who sent him and his wife Elizabeth after manumitting both to Liberia. click here for more on them in Liberia.Reuben Hatter

James was a jack of all trades and ensured his position by being efficient and hard working.He jumped the broom with Matilda and they had numerous child but we can only speak on George b. 1818 and Franklin b 1820.

Hamilton Hatter (1856-1942)

Hatter, Hamilton-2000.14.150.jpg

Hamilton Hatter, educator, and inventor was the first principal of Bluefield Colored Institute in Bluefield, West Virginia.  Hatter was born on April 24, 1856, in what was at that point Jefferson County, Virginia but which in 1863 became part of West Virginia. His parents Frank and Rebecca Hatter, his maternal grandparents, William and Lettie McCord, and his paternal grandparents, James Hatter and Matilda Hatter were at the time slaves, and Hatter was born enslaved.  Despite their status, the parents and grandparents supported Hatter in pursuing his later academic achievements. 

Young Hatter attended school in his hometown, Charles Town, West Virginia.  In addition to his regular school studies, he learned carpentry, house framing, and became a skilled mechanic who could construct machines and make plows.  He continued this work into his adult life and in 1893 at the age of 37 according to the Bluefield College Centennial History; Hatter received the patent for an intricate machine that improves the harvesting of Indian corn 1893.

Hatter enrolled in Storer College in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, graduating in 1878.  As was often the case with the brightest students who attended these new black colleges, he was asked to teach in the academic department.  His maternal grandparents, the McCords funded additional education at the Nichols Latin School in Lewiston, Maine. He received his certificate of completion in 1883. 

Hatter spent the next five years in New England and during that period he enrolled at Bates College while managing a sawmill graduating in 1888 with second honor in psychology.

Returning to Harper’s Ferry that year, Hatter rejoined the faculty at Storer College where he taught Latin, Greek, and Mathematics. He also started the Storer Industrial Department and oversaw the construction of the main campus.  Three years after his return, Hatter was named to the Storer College Board of Trustees serving until 1906.  

In 1895, taking advantage of the Second Morrill Act which provided federal funds for the creation of African American colleges, West Virginia Senator William M. Mahood sponsored a bill that established Bluefield Colored Institute.  Bluefield, West Virginia was selected because it was within 100 miles of 70% of West Virginia’s black citizens.

One year later Bluefield Colored Institute opened and West Virginia Governor Virgil A. Lewis appointed Hamilton Hatter as its first Principal.  He would serve in that capacity until 1906.  While there he oversaw the construction of Mahood Hall, the administrative building, as well as Lewis Hall and West Hall dormitories.   Bluefield Colored Institute grew from 40 students when Hatter became Principal to over 180 when he retired. 

Hatter was also politically active.  In 1892 he became the first African American in West Virginia to receive the Republican nomination for the West Virginia House of Delegates.  He frequently attended County, State, and National GOP Conventions and campaigned for other party candidates.

By World War I, however, Hatter was authorized by Democratic President Woodrow Wilson to be a Four-Minute Man. During the four-minute intermission at theaters, these men would stand before audiences and speak in support of the president’s policies.

 On December 3, 1999, the President’s House at Bluefield College was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.   In 2000, Bluefield College renamed the official residence, the Hamilton Hatter House.  Hamilton Hatter died on September 21, 1942, at the age of 86.  He was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Bluefield, West Virginia.

Hamilton is our great-granduncle!

William Roy Hayes

Joyceann Gray

6/27/2015

DeWitty-Audacious

The Hayes family was there too!

William Roy Hayes subjected to mustard gas in WWII had died before any of his grandkids were born.  We are told he wore a wide bandage around his stomach to hold everything in place. When he was young, he was quite a cowboy in the Sandhills of Nebraska, which was saying a lot.

Thanks to the long hours, days, months, and years of our researching family members, we have begun to discover what kind of people we descend from. We are learning the true essence of their spirits and characters. Additionally, researching the political and social climate during their years, helps us put events and reactions into proper perspective. We now understand the why and how of the family migration routes and how it was possible for our parents to meet on horseback one spring day on a 22,00-acre ranch in Cherry County, Nebraska.

Now Grampa Hayes was born 17 Jul 1889 in Brunswick, Chariton, Missouri to Caroline Birch and Ewiel Lafayette Hayes. William Roy was their third and last child.  Less than ten years later his mother Caroline died in 1897, of Chronic Gastritis. His father remarried to a lovely lady Mary Stanley by 1910.  Records show that  Ewiel Hayes and his new wife left the children with their maternal grandfather Joe Birch for a time. They traveled north to Nebraska to explore taking advantage of the Kincaid Act of free land to farm. The kids came later and in fact, William Roy also purchased 295 acres of land near his father’s 360 acres. Uncle James came a bit later, and he bought 387 acres of land. The Hayes men realized early on that the land was poor for farming, so they invested in cattle and worked hard to etch out a living. They lived in a community of honest, hard-working homesteaders, who only wanted a better life for their children and respect from their fellow homesteaders. In the Sandhills of Nebraska, the race issue was not a card that was often played. These homesteaders knew they needed each other to make it in this harsh environment of bitterly cold winters and sandy soil that was not a farmer’s friend. In Audacious, the children were all taught together. Barns were erected by the community as the women would prepare a feast. Yes, there was a division of sorts but it was not a major negative that polarized neighbors. Roy was married to Goldie Walker a week thought of teacher (who would later become a principal) and they had three children. Sadly, they would lose their youngest to a fall from a horse. Roy would live long enough to see his only daughter Wilma (math major) graduate from college and marry another college graduate Gaitha Pegg.

Roy was remembered fondly by one of his neighbors in these stories told to me by Vickie;  ” Even after he got so sick, he would sit on the front porch of their house in Valentine, and rope the kids as they ran by……they kept him busy all day…just trying to make it by without being caught. 

Don Colburn told me this story. When they were living north of downtown, they were on the Chaloud place about 2-3 miles west of our home. Douglas’s wife said that their barn was burned down at that time, and horses killed.” All the neighbors came out to help, White, Black Indian it didn’t matter! Another story Vickie shares: “According to my late aunt……one especially harsh winter, many of the homesteads ran out of hay for livestock. My grandfather Tate had a slight surplus and could share. Roy Hayes was given a wagon loaded with hay. Another neighbor was given the same (white man) – later that year Roy returned with a wagon full of corn for grandfather – the other man never stopped, again. Grandfather said, “Now, you tell me which one is white!”

So when I couple these stories with the ones my parents told us, I’m left with a real sense of William Roy Hayes. For starters, he was kind, loving, and honest!  Yes, I missed out on being in the company of my grandfather but I’m so proud to know he was a good man. A man whose character was above reproach, a gracious man indeed.

Yep, that’s my Grampa William Roy Hayes!!

Joyceann’s Corner – Franklin Hatter

            Whatever the cause of George’s flight, his parting made things rather difficult for the remaining free and enslaved people of color. They found their movements restricted, and travel passes all revoked for quite some time.

           The custom was for slaves to share in the work around various family plantations depending on the time of the year for harvest production or planting. The slaves were hired out for a fee and in some cases transported in chains.

        For Franklin, there were no chains, he was Andrew Hunters’ man. Not sure of the relationship there for Franklin was a well thought of Carpenter. Andrew Hunter was the prosecuting attorney at the John Brown Trial in Charles Town. The baptism records in The Zion Episcopal Church show Franklin’s first four children were baptized in 1855. And later, When Rebecca and Franklin lost their precious daughter Barbara Ellen July 10, 1858, that was posted too. Records show Franklin remaining behind in Charles Town, West Virginia married Rebecca, the daughter of William and Maria Lettie McCord. The Edward Aisquith family, who refused to sell her, enslaved Rebecca, her siblings, children, and parents until the end of the Civil War. Franklin continued working hard just five miles east near the Harewood plantation.

          Though born during slavery this family would live long enough to enjoy freedom after slavery was abolished.

           Franklin would send word to his brother through John Brown’s travelers and would receive news when they returned. Until John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859. It was Andrew Hunter that prosecuted John Brown not far away in the courts of Charles Town, Virginia. Franklin continued to keep his head down and work hard saving for his family’s future. He knew one day things would change. In 1863, Franklin received word from George again attesting to the wondrous opportunity to honestly own the land you toiled on and how the government was so supportive of individual rights. He spoke of all the land available and how well they could do together with their families. We found that Franklin and Rebecca traveled to Canada and saw first hand what a great opportunity was available, they also went into Kent and were formally  married in 1866.

The Hatters returned to Charles Town to settle their affairs and ensure their children were all doing well. It took some time but they did, in fact, return to Canada and enjoyed a free and fulfilling life. The brothers cleared land and built a fine church that still stands today. They both built fine two story homes for their families and enjoyed a high level of prominence in the community of Buxton Township. Franklin lived until 85.

Joyceann’s Corner – Riley

My next episode is on another family member that has contributed to our rich legacy.

Jerome R. Riley, MD

1843-1929

Medical Doctor, Author, and Political and Civil Rights Activist.

Jerome was the Second son of Isaac and Catherine Riley (the first settlers of the Elgin Settlement in Buxton, Ontario,

Medical Doctor, Author, and Political and Civil Rights Activist.

During the war between the states, at the urging of his close friend Anderson Abbott, in 1864 he left his practice in Chatham and joined the Union Army as a contract surgeon. He was among the original founders of the Freedmen’s Hospital. The forerunner of Howard University Hospital.

Dr. Jerome R. Riley was born in St. Catherines, Canada West on March 17, 1840 to Isaac and Catherine Riley. His father and mother were runaway slaves that made their way with two small babies from Perry County, Missouri, stopping in Michigan; then crossing over to Windsor and on to St. Catherines. In 1849, the Riley’s read in a bulletin of the colored settlement to be built at Buxton, Township of Raleigh, Kent County, Canada by the Rev. William King. At 9 years old Riley along with his family were the first settlers in Buxton.  Later, his mother often said, “There we were in darkness here we are in the light.”

At age ten Riley was the prize pupil with the ability to recite long passages in Latin from Virgil’s Aeneid and then translate the sense of the verses.  Six years later, to his parents’ delight;   Jerome was among the first four graduates of the Buxton Mission School, gaining a classical education including Latin and mathematics in an integrated setting in 1850.  In 1856, he attended Knox College, University of Toronto, graduating with honors. By 1861, Riley received his license to practice medicine in Canada West. Ten years later he continued to upgrade his medical knowledge attending both the Chicago Medical College for a year then from the pleadings of his great friend Dr. Alex Augusta he transferred back to Howard University Medical College graduating with a medical degree in Allopath-1873.

In 1901 he wrote, “Evolution or Racial Development” (published by J.S. Ogilvie, New York). In 1903, the Byrd Printing Co. (Atlanta) published his third book “Reach the Reached Negro”. 

He became an active ‘Redeemer’ Democrat and participated in the 1874 Constitutional Convention in Arkansas. The Democrats made a point of retaining the controversial civil rights provisions of their predecessors. New York Herald reporter Charles Nordhoff visited Arkansas in 1875 and found Riley employed as the  County Physician and Coroner. When asked about employment opportunities Dr. Riley boasted that “more colored men were elected and commissioned to offices of trust and pay” than under the Republicans. In the summer of 1877,  he married the former Agnes M. Nalle of Virginia.  

Ten years later, a black reporter from the Indianapolis Freedman newspaper was so impressed with the situation he found in Arkansas that he dubbed the state the “Negro Paradise.”  Within two years in 1890, Jim Crow laws were adopted in Arkansas; no black man served in public office again until the 1960’s Civil Rights legislation.  It wasn’t long after this article appeared in print, Dr. Riley lost his position and returned to the District of Columbia. 

In 1895, the local newspaper; the Washington Bee heralded Dr. Riley as a particular genius and the most gifted writer of the African American race. The comment was made in reference to the latest publication and most popular of Dr. Riley’s work  “The Philosophy of Negro Suffrage” a written work on race problems.

Dr. Riley took on a position as a Capital Watchman at a salary of $900 per annum.  He continued his active quest in civic affairs and the political arena.  In 1894 he was appointed the Deeds Clerk for the district winning out over 91 applicants. In 1891, the Democratic Party of the District of Columbia elected Dr. Riley as their President. He would serve two terms for the William J. Bryan Colored Democratic Club.  

His opposition to American imperialism in the wake of the Spanish American War was motivation to help found the “National Negro Anti-Expansion, Anti-Imperialist, Anti-Trust, and Anti-Lynching League” or the “National Negro League” (for short) and they combated several issues as is clear by their name. Their effects had limited influence at best but did offer a choice for those black activists who felt alienated from the Republican Party.  

Dr. Riley remained politically involved, resided in Brooklyn, Kings, New York, and continued to write and accept speaking engagements until his death on Dec 31, 1929.

Joyceann’s Corner -Goldie

We are a family blessed with high achievers. Goldie is one such person but whom also possessed a loving nurturing nature. She left a positive and lasting impression on those who were fortunate enough to be in her life and a rich legacy for her descendants.

Goldie Walker Hayes, was born in Overton, Dawson Nebraska October 1, 1898. Her parents were Charlotte Baldwin Hatter and William P. Walker who were both educated and believed strongly in their religious beliefs and education. So after being home schooled by her parents Goldie received higher education in Overton and completed college at Kearney Normal at Kearney Nebraska, she went on to achieve a degree at the Black Hills Teachers College at Spearfish, South Dakota. 

In 1917 she married William Roy Hayes but only after he quit smoking! Roy owned land just north of DeWitty not far from his father’s acres and that is where he and Goldie set up their home. To this union came three children, Wilma, Douglas and Theodore who died young from a horse riding accident. Goldie would continue to teach before during and after her pregnancies and she would bring them along with her most days.

Early in her career, Goldie, along with her sister Fern Walker Woodson, worked to ensure opportunities for African American teachers in Nebraska, forming an association of teachers when they could not get placement through the regular channels in the state. Later this changed and she also served as the president of the Cherry County Teachers’ Association.  

In 2016, at the installation of the historical marker honoring the African American town of DeWitty, Nebraska; we learned of many who were taught and inspired by Goldie over the 33 years she served as a teacher in both Nebraska and South Dakota. Her last position was to serve as the Principal of the Black Pipe School in Norris, SD. 

Upon her death on July 12, 1956 in Valentine, Cherry Nebraska, Goldie was well known in the area – and as we discovered, fondly remembered.  Goldie is our maternal Grandmother!

Joyceann’s Corner (Uncle Bill)

Everyone has at least one fun character in their family and ours is not exception so I introduce you to Our Uncle William (Bill) Page.

“In Wabaunsee County, the most notorious of all of the sellers of illegal alcoholic beverages was Bill Page of Eskridge. Bill Page was born in 1867 Blacksville, Tennessee but spent his childhood in Topeka, Kansas until his family moved to Eskridge shortly after the town was established in 1880. Bill Page and his wife, Mollie, raised four children, Gertie, Herbert, Winona, and Oneal. Page listed his occupation in early census records as a Laborer, but during the 1920s, after the family moved to back Topeka, he and his oldest son, Herbert, listed their occupations as Teamster.

While Page was often referred to as a bootlegger in the local press, he was not a moonshiner or manufacturer of alcoholic beverages, but instead, Page was a beer distributor, purchasing products from Kansas City breweries and reselling them at his establishment in Eskridge. Page also operated a liquid refreshment catering business for picnics, ballgames, and other outdoor events. In Eskridge his business was known as “The Lunch Room”, and some members of the press alleged that in addition to providing beer to his customers, Page “ran a crap game” at his establishment, and it was claimed that men could often be found playing cards there. Page operated his Lunch Room for about twenty years between 1895 and 1915, during a time when alcohol sales were illegal in Kansas, but not in Missouri.

Bill Page’s “trouble” with the law began in the late 1890s. The first charge of violation of the prohibitory law filed against Page resulted in an acquittal in District Court in February 1897. During the same term of the court, fellow Eskridge bootlegger John Lloyd and Alma’s John McMahan were tried for violating the liquor laws. Lloyd was convicted and paid a $100 fine, while the trial against “Johnnie-Mac” resulted in a hung jury, and the charges were not refiled.

A year later, in May 1898, the County Attorney made a decision to punish three particular bootleggers, John Lloyd, Bill Page, and his cousin Joe Page, all of Eskridge. A curiosity in these three prosecutions was that the liquor sales in question all took place in either 1896 and 1897 and the County Attorney had waited a considerable time to file any charges. Lloyd faced two charges of selling alcohol in August of 1896, while Bill Page faced nine counts for sales made in the months of May, July, and August of 1897. Joe Page was charged with taking a wagon load of beer to Keene for a scheduled baseball game between Keene and Auburn. When the men went to trial in October of 1898, Bill Page was convicted of six counts and acquitted of three and was fined $600 and sentenced to six months in jail. The jury deliberated all night before delivering their verdict, which was characterized as a “tough sentence” by The Alma Signal. The County Attorney dropped all charges against John Lloyd.

As December arrived the county faced the reality that they would have to heat the jail for their only prisoner, Bill Page. They advised the prisoner that he could go home for Christmas and that if he didn’t commit any more crimes, he could remain free.

Freedom was short-lived for Bill Page. He had hosted a New Year’s Eve celebration at The Lunch Room, and on January 2nd Sheriff Treu arrested Page and his “club manager” James Powers for sales of beer at his New Year’s Eve party. Page was sentenced to 240 days in jail and fined $800, and Powers was given 60 days in jail and a $200 fine. It was reported in The Enterprise that the County Attorney claimed that he had “125 witnesses against them.”

Page had served his six months in jail, but he had no money to pay the $800 fine and $186.65 in court costs. Finally, he was released from jail only when he would sign a statement saying, “I, Wm. Page, do hereby agree to pay $8 a month until all my costs and fines are paid…” At that rate of repayment, Page would have been obligated to make a monthly payment to the county for the next ten years. And, of course, Bill Page’s only source of livelihood was in the operation of The Lunch Room and his catering business. So, he returned to work immediately upon his release.

Bill provided refreshments for a big dance held in Alma in April 1900, and sales were brisk. Unfortunately, as the night wore on, a fight erupted, and the only man arrested was Bill Page. After Bill Page spent a few days in jail, the County Attorney discovered that his witnesses in the alleged assault would not testify, and Page was released.

It was back to work for Bill, and he landed a gig to cater a picnic at a Sunday School picnic at Chief Stahl’s grove near Auburn, Kansas. Bill Page had left the picnic in a hurry, and the Shawnee County Sheriff issued a warrant for Page’s arrest that he sent to the Wabaunsee County Sheriff for service. On July 23rd, Under-sheriff Clayton arrested Bill Page in Eskridge. Three Eskridge men, J. Y. Waugh, C. L. Campbell, and William Henderson posted $100 each to bail Page out of jail. The trial was scheduled for November 26th, but unfortunately, Bill had worked late and missed the train for Topeka, missing his trial and forfeiting the bond. Then, he was taken into custody, and his trial was held on December 13thbefore a twelve-man jury. It took the jury two days to find Bill Page guilty of violating the prohibitory law, and he was fined $100 and court costs. Again, Bill had to return to work at The Lunch Room to support his family and pay his fines and legal costs.

Business returned to normal for Bill Page at Eskridge. In fact, business was better than ever. The summer of 1901 was a lively one, and the saloon business was good. On October 4, 1901, County Attorney Fred Seaman announced that the saloons in Wabaunsee County were closing for good. Apparently, numerous citizens across the county who had not appreciated the summer’s levity had written the Attorney General, demanding that the joints be closed. The Enterprise noted in a story headlined, Saloons are Closed, saying, “Mr. Seaman says the Attorney General forced him to take this step in response to the agitation that has carried on in this county since last spring.”

Bill Page and John Lloyd were arrested in early 1902 and promptly convicted and sentenced to six months, but in July of 1902 they were offered a parole from jail if they would sign an agreement “to quit the booze business for good.” The men were threatened if they violated this pledge, they would be jailed and “the Commissioners will provide a rock pile for their entertainment.”

With his pardon in hand, Page returned to Eskridge to The Lunch Room. He still needed to make a living. In November 1902 F. M. Hartman swore a complaint against Bill Page, alleging that Page had threatened to kill him and had assaulted him with the intent to kill. Bond was set at $10,000. The newspapers of the day speculated that Bill Page had been stopped, once and for all, and that “he would be going to Lansing soon.”

Page hired Alma attorney C. E. Carroll who filed a Habeas Corpus motion in District Court, challenging the exorbitant bond. After some argument by Carroll and County Attorney Seaman, Judge Spielman reduced Bill Page’s bond to $1,500. Page’s father, Bill’s brother, Wesley Page, and Robert Sharp posted Page’s bond and he was released for trial. By the time the trial date arrived, Hartman, himself, had been arrested and charges against Page were dropped. Bill Page returned to Eskridge to work, and business was great. Summer was always such a good season in the drinking business.

In August 1903, the Prohibitionist supporters were increasing the pressure to close Bill Page’s Lunch Room. They were now demanding that the Eskridge City Council force the County to close the business and put Page in jail. August 28, 1903, issue of The Alma Signal reported, “It is known to everyone that there is a joint running in Eskridge, and it is being run by a paroled prisoner of the county. He receives large consignments of beer under the name “Grant Reed” and other fictitious names, besides having wagon loads of it hauled into town at different times. For the city council to keep silent on this question not only gives him leave to continue in this business, but it is an inducement for others to engage in it. All the city council needs to do is to place an affidavit in the hands of the county attorney that “one William Page is engaged in the liquor business in this town,” and he will go back to jail…Who will be the first to speak?”  The City Council spoke to the complaints, and Bill Page’s parole was revoked and he was placed in jail in Alma, again. After spending a couple of months in jail, the County tired of his company and set him free again.  He returned to Eskridge, going to work the next day.

In April 1905, the Wabaunsee County Commissioners established a new practice in social reform and rehabilitation of county prisoners. They created a rock pile where prisoners would swing a sledgehammer breaking large chunks of rocks into gravel. Various newspaper articles of the day indicated that the value of the rock pile seemed to be in its role as a deterrent to crime.  There was little evidence that it was successful in that respect. The Alma Enterprise of April 14, 1905, noted, “The Commissioners done the right thing when they established a rock pile last week. The only criticism that could be made is on its location. It would have been much better in the opinion of many to have put it in one of the rear corners of the yard or on the city lot, instead of connecting it with the courthouse.”

The creation of the rock pile was an extraordinary failure as a tool of rehabilitation or punishment. The first problem was that “time on the rock pile” was generally more pleasant for the prisoner than occupying a cell in the jail. The men were less supervised inside the rock pile enclosure, they could enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, and above all, the rock pile was an easy enclosure from which to escape. At least five prisoners escaped the rock pile during its few years of existence on the courthouse lawn. Additionally, the creation of the rock pile enclosure, its maintenance, and the cost of policing the enclosure far exceeded the value of the gravel produced by the prisoners. One final observation concerning the rock pile in Wabaunsee County is that its use was exclusively set aside for African-American prisoners.  Likewise, imprisonment for violation of prohibitory laws was reserved exclusively for black bootleggers, while Caucasian alcohol dealers paid their fines and continued their business.

By May 1905 Bill Page’s business at Eskridge was doing well. One night a group of ladies from the W. C. T. U. went to Page’s house and began praying for him on his front porch. Angry that they had come to his home, Bill grabbed a driving whip and struck some of the women, chasing them from his porch. The temperance ladies fled, and reported the indiscretion to their husbands. Soon, a mob formed, intending to do Bill Page bodily harm. Sheriff Frey interceded and arrested Page, taking him to Alma for safe keeping.  He was later fined $100 and sent to jail for 30 days. When he had been arrested at his home, a couple of barrels of beer were found on the premises, and Page was arrested for another liquor violation. It was Bill Page’s first opportunity to break rocks for the County.

Page was technically being held in jail on a violation of his written promise to the County Commissioners dated 1899, vowing to give up the liquor business. Page’s attorney, C. E. Carroll filed a writ of Habeas Corpus, and the Court released Page after only a week in jail.

Summer was always a good season in the beverage business, and the summer of 1905 was no exception for Bill Page. On July 3rd, Sheriff Ericsson executed a warrant for Bill Page’s arrest charging him with 21 sales of intoxicant liquors during the years of 1904 and 1905, while maintaining a common nuisance. Page’s bond was set at $2,200.  To make matters worse, Page had a stock of beer at his home in anticipation of a 4th of July event which he was catering, and officers seized the beer and charged Page’s wife, Mollie with violating the prohibitory law.

The Pages faced the potential that both Bill and Mollie might face a jail term from the July arrests. Their attorney, C. E. Carroll explained that the County Commissioners just wanted the Pages out of the county permanently and that he could get the charges dropped if they would leave. When the Pages’ trial began in the October 1905 term of the District Court, Carroll explained to the judge that the Pages had moved to Osage County where Bill had found employment with the railroad. Charges against both of the Pages were dismissed, but an injunction was placed against their property in Eskridge, banning the reopening of The Lunch Room, and a $100 lien was levied against their property for “attorney fees”.

Bill and Mollie Page and their children spent most of 1906 in Osage County; however, by the end of that year, the Pages had returned to Eskridge. All of their family, Page’s father, brothers, sisters, and other relatives lived in Eskridge, and there was a substantial African-American community in the town.  The Pages had returned to Wabaunsee County by Christmas of 1906, and within a month, Page was arrested on charges of violation of the prohibitory law and jailed. Bill Page faced trial in February of 1907, however, the charge was based on a two-year-old affidavit and the original complainant could not be located, leading the judge to dismiss the charges against Page.

On July 5, 1907, a Santa Fe boxcar containing barrels of “two percent” beer was burglarized and several barrels of beer were stolen. ATSF detectives traced the beer to Bill Page’s home in Eskridge where several barrels of beer were discovered, and Page was taken to jail in Alma. Page faced trial in August, but the State was unable to prove that the beer found in Page’s home was the same product as that stolen from the boxcar, and when the trial was over, Page was acquitted and released from jail. Just two months later, Page became involved in an altercation between a friend of his and Eskridge’s Marshal Berry. A fight ensued and Page punched the Marshal, knocking him to the ground. Page was arrested, and when his house was searched after the arrest, beer was found on the premises, and charges of violations of the prohibitory laws were added to the counts against Bill Page. Page was sentenced to six months in jail for fighting.

In December 1907, Sheriff Frank Schmidt was given the duty of jailing A. W. Rout, a Civil War veteran who was residing at the County Poor Farm. Rout was in desperate need of care, and he had allegedly become insane, requiring confinement and commitment. In a sworn statement given later, Schmidt recalled, “This man (Rout) was a county charge at the poor farm and who for some reason lost his mind and they were unable to care for him at the farm. There was a warrant in lunacy issued out of the Probate Court, then in due time a commitment to the jail. Now, this man should not have been put in jail. He should have been taken to some hospital and taken care of, but there was no way. He was the dirtiest piece of humanity that I ever seen and I could get no one to take care of him, so we made William Page do it, and in return, we promised him that the county would pay him for it, and we think it right that they should.” Page cared for the elderly man, day and night, for twenty-five days.  When Rout was finally transferred to a state institution, Page submitted his bill to the county for $1,250.

County officials were outraged and amused and offered payment of $8.42 for Page’s twenty-five days of work, and they withheld payment, crediting the amount against Page’s outstanding fines from his many past arrests. In the end, the County paid nothing to Page.  Page, still in jail awaiting trial on another beer possession charge, hired C. E. Carroll to sue the County and Sheriff Schmidt for the unpaid bill. Carroll filed the suit in a municipal court that had a limit of $300 in damages, the amount which Page demanded in payment. The trial was held before Judge John Keagy on November 16, 1908, who rendered a judgment in favor of Page of $75 which the County paid.

During the first week of February in 1909, the newly elected Sheriff Ericsson raided Page’s house in Eskridge, having received a tip that the bootlegger had recently received several cases of “wet goods”. Sheriff Ericsson and his Deputies West and Tooker arrested Bill Page, returning him to the County Jail. Bill stood trial and was sentenced to 60-days in jail.

In March 1909, Mollie Page left Eskridge, moving to Alma into the former home of William Moore. By the time Bill Page was released from jail in early April, the Pages had moved to Alma. Bill Page enjoyed less than a month of freedom before he was arrested on yet another charge of possession of beer and thrown in jail, again. In early August of 1909, Bill Page was “put on the rock pile” again. As the day was unusually hot and shade and water were running short, Bill Page escaped the rock pile yard and found a nice shade tree on the courthouse grounds under which he reclined, waiting for the Sheriff’s return. The Alma Signal of August 13, 1909, reported on the escape, noting, “Willie Page whom the county is entertaining for a couple hundred of days on a bootlegging count, made his get-away from the rock pile Tuesday morning. Just to show that his heart was free from evil intent—that he walked out merely to show that he could—Willie lingered near the jail and was soon picked up by Sheriff Ericsson, who rewards Willie’s joke with ten days on bread and water. Bill Page has spent probably half of the last fifteen years in jail, which probably has something to do with the sheriff’s refusal to regard this break as a joke.”

In the fall of 1909 Sheriff Ericsson executed a warrant for the arrest of John “Joker” Horne on violation of the prohibitory laws; however, Horne tipped of his impending arrest, fled to Kansas City and then to California to avoid prosecution. The September 24, 1909, issue of The Alma Enterprise reported, “The sheriff locked up the old Froshien Hall Tuesday that had been run by John Horne for some time as a pool room.”  With the 1902 death of “Johnnie-Mac” McMahan and the departure of Joker Horne from Alma in 1909, Alma was becoming dryer by the day, making for a good market for Bill Page.

New Year’s Eve had always been a big night of business for Bill Page, and 1909 was no exception. On December 31, 1909, Page was arrested for being drunk and disorderly and once again placed in the Wabaunsee County Jail.

Page spent the 1910s skirting the law with a spate of arrests for fighting or disturbing the peace being his primary offenses until 1914 when Page was arrested twice for possession of beer and being a nuisance. Page pled guilty in both cases and sentenced to six months in jail and fined $100 for each arrest. In 1917 and again in 1919 Page was charged with possession of beer and was convicted in the first case and acquitted by a jury in the second. In the spring of 1921, the Pages left Alma, moving to a farm near Bradford in Wilmington Township. By 1925 the Pages left Wabaunsee County for good, moving to Topeka where Bill Page and his son, Herbert, both found work as teamsters. The Pages remained in Topeka after Bill Page’s death in that city in the 1930s.

During the 70 years or so of Prohibition in Wabaunsee County, no single individual felt the wrath of the prohibitory laws more than Bill Page. The great disparity in judicial punishment given to black and white bootleggers in the early 20th century in Wabaunsee County was shocking in its overt application.”

Website Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: