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Sunday, January 15, 2023
Black American Contributions to Shelby County, Part II
Editor’s note: As we head into this Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, it’s important to remember not only the national events that moved race relations forward, but also the local people who contributed to our community. Below is the second of a three-part series denoting historical newspaper items involving Black citizens in Shelby County, curated from a Paula Karmire compilation available in the Shelby County Public Library’s Genealogy Department. Below each name or subject is the text from the newspaper clipping.
Garrett, James, The Shelbyville News - January 30, 1953
A photo sent to The Shelbyville News by the Public Information Office of the Amphibious Training Command, Pacific Fleet, United States Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, San Diego, Calif. appeared in the paper with the following caption: "Jim Garrett, former Shelbyville High School triple-threat star, is utilizing his 6'2" 190 pound frame at the forward slot as a member of the Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet, basketball team in San Diego. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Leon Garrett, 114 Howard Street. Garrett, one of Indiana's finest prep cagers, is regarded as one of the fastest and most dependable men on the PHIBPAC squad. He is attached to the attack transport, USS Telfair. Garrett, 20, enlisted in the Navy in December 1950 at Indianapolis, trained at Great Lakes, Illinois and was sent to California and then to Japanese and Korean waters where he saw combat duty aboard the Telfair. He returned to the United States last August and was transferred to the Coronado base. His address is Special Services, USNAB, Coronado, San Diego 55, California.
Garrett, William, Shelbyville Republican - April 24, 1939
William Garrett, 204 E. Locust street, 10-year-old entrant from the Booker T. Washington school here, captured the Shelby county marble championship in final tourney action Saturday at Kennedy Park. Garrett defeated Eldon Hyden, of Hendricks township, Cooper school entrant, two straight games in the final clash to win the title, a trophy for himself and a cup for his school, all emblematic of the championship. Boys from 18 elementary schools in the city and county participated in the final competition following elimination contests held in the various schools. Marble toumey eliminations were staged by the WPA recreation department, under the direction of Willard Swick, director, and Floyd Roberts, junior leader, and sponsored by the two Shelbyville newspapers.
The Shelbyville News - May 1, 1959
With ex-Olympic and US track and field great Jesse Owens of Chicago delivering the principal address, some 175 persons attended "Bill Garret Night" at the First Methodist Church educational building last night in honor of the Shelbyville native and ex-local athletic star. A highlight of the evening festivities was formal recognition of Garrett as the Indiana high school basketball "Coach of the Year," as selected by the Indiana Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association. Frank Barnes, Shelbyville High School athletic director and coach of Shelby's 1947 state championship team on which Garrett starred, read the formal announcement. Special guests at the banquet were Mrs. Laura Garrett, mother of the Attucks coach; Don Schlundt and Archie Dees, All- American basketball from Indiana University; Rev. S.J. Cross; Dr. H.R. Page; Rev. Robert L. Saunders, pastor of the Second Baptist Church which sponsored the program; Walter S. Fort, Emerson Johnson and Marshall Murray, two of Garrett's teammates on the 1947 Shelby squad, and members of the SHS school faculty and coaching staff. In a fluent and well-received speech, Jesse Owens, the former track star, now associated with the Illinois Youth in the Chicago area, in speaking of Garrett said someone has to reach down and give a helping hand to those less fortunate, and Garrett did that when he lifted the Tigers to the state basketball championship. He urged the members of the honored state champs to attend colleges best suited to their capabilities and not necessarily those with the greater athletic facilities. The Attucks team was in attendance at this banquet and each member was introduced to the attending crowd.
Gray, Rev. L.W., Shelby Republican - May 6, 1898
The Rev L.W. Gray, of the Second Baptist Church, this morning received a letter from a daughter of his old master and mistress, this being the first he has heard from the family since he ran away from them in Jessamine county, Kentucky. The parents of the Rev. Gray were owned in the county named, and when he was still a small boy he ran away and finally brought up in Ohio where he was cared for. By his own energy he succeeded in educating himself which enabled him to reach his present high standing. Recently while on a visit to Ohio, Rev. Gray accidentally learned this daughter of his former owners lived in Stater, Missouri and he wrote to her. From tone of the letter it is easy to surmise the Rev Gray is now living easier and better than the child who was reared in ease and luxury.
Grissom, Edmund, Shelby Democrat - September 11, 1884
Edmund Grissom, a colored boy, son of Nelson Grissom, of this city, took his place as a pupil in the high school at School House No. 1, on Franklin street, Monday. A colored school is in operation in this city but it is claimed by the father of the boy that the higher branches are not taught in that school, hence he insists that he has a right to send his boy to the high school.
Grissom family, Shelby Democrat - March 3, 1881
About nine years ago there came to this city a colored family named Grissum. Five boys and a married sister composed the band. Shortly after their arrival, one of the men, Edmund, and his brother-in-law, John Curtis, bought 6 acres of ground lying south of the city from the late Ralph Colescott. Several years thereafter Edmund died and Curtis disposed of the ground to the remaining four brothers, deeding to each an acre, reserving an acre for himself, and the remaining portion descended to his nephew, young Nelson Grissum, the only son of Edmund.
Hearts in Dixie motion picture, Shelbyville Republican - April 12, 1929
Plantation life amongst the Negroes of the South never before has been depicted on stage or screen as pleasingly as it is revealed in "Hearts in Dixie" a 100 percent talking picture, now being shown at the Strand Theatre. Because of the fact it is entirely different from any moving picture ever shown, because of the splendid singing of 38 plantation melodies by the colored folks who are the actors in the picture, because there is excellent acting in the film throughout, and because it supplies material for both laughter and tears, "Hearts in Dixie" deserves a ranking as one of the five best pictures of the year. It is a classic in the art of sound and picture synchronization. Comic action (or interaction) is furnished by a new colored star, Stepin Fetchit, who plays the role of the lazy but shifty-footed Gummy. The picture, shown Thursday for the first time, will be shown tonight and tomorrow, along with special Vitaphone acts.
Shelbyville Republican - December 6, 1951
A program honoring William G. Hines, in appreciation for his 55 years of service as director of the choir at the Second Baptist Church, will be held at the church Friday evening at 8 o'clock and the public is invited to attend. The program will include two selections by the choir, prayer by Edward Gatewood, an introduction by Walter S. Fort; a solo by Mrs. Anna Mae Byrd, duet by Mrs. Byrd and Mrs. Earlene Smith; solos by the honored guest and remarks by Rev. Noel Hord, pastor of the church. Fort will serve as master of ceremonies for the program and Miss Kate Hinschlaeger will serve as accompanist for the musical selections.
Shelby Republican - August 19, 1902
The commissioners of this county did themselves credit by the appointment of John Hodge as one of the representatives of Shelby county to the State University at Bloomington, which entitles him to free tuition in the school of law for a term of three years. Mr. Hodge is a very bright young colored man, 19 years of age and is worthy of the very best treatment. He is a graduate of the Shelbyville High School, and all the time he has attended school in this city he has never missed an examination, and his percentage has been in the first grade and his deportment good. For the past three years he has been a faithful employee of The Republican, putting in all his time working at the printing business when he was not in school, and has been an apt scholar, and has gained quite a knowledge of the business. The Republican takes this opportunity of thanking the county commissioners for their kindly act in appointing this worthy young colored man, and we feel sure that they will never have cause to regret his appointment.
Shelbyville Republican - March 18, 1916
John A. Hodge, formerly a resident of Shelbyville, has been elected principal of the Summer High School for colored children at Kansas City, Kansas. Mr. Hodge is rapidly becoming recognized as one of the leading men of his race. As a boy he carried papers for the Shelbyville Republican. He later learned the trade of a printer and became a linotype operator. In 1902, he graduated from the local high school and in 1909 he received his degree from Indiana University. He was elected a teaching fellow in the University physics department while he was a student there. Hodge was the only colored student to ever be elected to fellowship in the state school.
May 11, 1951
Word has been received here that John A. Hodge, prominent Negro educator and former employee of the old Shelbyville Republican, has retired as principal of the Summer High School in Kansas City, Kansas. He had held the post for 35 years. Mr. Hodge was born and reared in Shelbyville and for several years was an engineer for the DePrez Ice and Coal Company. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Street Hodge. He was employed with the Shelbyville Republican in 1900-1902 and during the summer months of 1903. After receiving BA and MA degrees at Indiana University and serving as a teaching fellow there in 1909-1910, he began teaching at the Summer High School. His son and daughter, John E. Hodge and Mrs. Dowdal H. Davis, are Phi Beta Kappas at the University of Kansas.
Shelbyville Democrat - July 1, 1954
A 22-year-old veteran of the Korean War and recent recipient of the Silver Star for courageous acts in that conflict during December of 1951, would feel a lot better if folks would stop calling him a hero. David Howard, who decided to settle in Shelbyville following his discharge at Camp Atterbury early this year, and who lives at 324 Fourth Street, doesn't consider his Korean service as anything extraordinary - even though he has bullet and shrapnel scars to remind him of it. In a letter to The News, David said: "To begin with, would like for the people to stop calling me a hero - because am not. All I did was what I was supposed to do. To my belief, if it had been anyone else in my position, they would have done the same thing. It's just the same as I am getting up in the mornings going to work. I was a machine gunner and my job was to keep the enemy back and that is what I did. My buddy was also an assistant gunner when he got killed. So please stop calling me a hero, because am not.” Although he doesn't think he did anything in the Korean War to distinguish himself, many people wouldn't agree.
McDuffey, Jack, Shelbyville News May 23, 1964
Jack McDuffey, a guard for the Booker T. Washington Recreation Center team, set an all-time City Basketball League record of 63 points last night at the armory as his team routed Joe Dance Oil Company 141-74. McDuffey threw in 31 field goals, one less than the entire opposing team, and canned 13 straight from the floor in the fourth quarter. The old record was 52 set by Howie Wilkinson last year. Booker T's team total missed the all-time league record by six points.
A LOOK BACK: Crisp Fall Recalls English Friends, Tea
Editor’s note: Since columnist Kris Meltzer has moved over to The Shelby County Post, we will republish one of his historical articles here each Sunday until our closure at the end of next month. The following article was originally published October 8, 1994.
I am an Anglophile. An Anglophile is a person who admires England or I English customs. A couple of years ago I even bought a British flag, the Union Jack.
I realize, by the fact that my last name is Meltzer, my ancestors came to America from Germany. However, I do not speak German. I speak English. I grew up listening to the Beatles. I am a lawyer and as such I try cases before juries. Many things that I believe in and enjoy were imported from England. These things, however, were not responsible for turning me into an Anglophile. Jack Burns was.
In 1968 I was in the eighth grade at St. Joseph school. One afternoon in October, Sister Mary James interrupted our class to introduce us to the Burns family. There in front of the class stood Jack Burns; his wife, Helen; and children, John, Robert and Julie. They had just moved to Shelbyville from England because Jack had a job with Chambers Aircraft. Robert was my age and he was going to be joining our class. Julie was going to be in the sixth grade and John a sophomore in high school.
Robert's first few days in our class were spent answering questions. Everyone wanted to know what it was like to live in England. Robert was also doing a brisk business selling us his English money. The pennies that he brought from England were very large coins, and he sold them for a quarter apiece. He ran out within a couple of weeks. I never did ask Robert what he initially thought of his American classmates. I'm sure that our willingness to pay a quarter for a penny left no doubt in his mind that P.T. Barnum was right.
One day Sister Mary James asked if anyone in the class could show Robert and Julie the way to their house after school. They had been living at Sullivan's Motel since they arrived from England and their parents had just rented a house at 15 N. West St. Sister thought that it would be nice for one of us to show them the way home. I volunteered because I went past that house every day on the way to my paper route. In the weeks that followed I stopped by the Burns' house almost every day after I finished my paper route, and I became good friends with the entire family.
Chambers Aircraft closed and Jack worked at K-T Corp., then Amtrak. His wife, Helen, was employed for years at the local Penney's. Many of you may remember the lady with the British accent. They bought a house and moved to 507 Roosevelt Drive. Robert and I remained close friends throughout high school and college. Robert was the best man at my and Sandy's wedding. A few years later, Helen passed away.
This spring Jack called me and told me that he was going to move back to England. He wanted me to assist him with getting everything arranged and selling his house. My wife and I went over to his house.
I told Jack at this time that I was going to write an article about him. I waited until October to write this column because I always think about the Burns family in October. I only live about two blocks from where they lived on North West Street in 1968. On these cool October evenings, memories of having tea with Jack and his family are released into the atmosphere and drift over to my house on Mechanic Street.
I have never visited another country, so the time that I spent with the Burns family was like a trip to England.
HOOSIER NEWS: A man from Indiana broke a state fishing record twice in a single day right before the New Year. Scott Skafar, 48, of Valparaiso, Indiana, went fishing in Porter County on Dec. 30, 2022, where he caught two record-breaking fish from Lake Michigan, according to a press release issued by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday, Jan. 11. Both of the fish Skafar caught were burbots, a gadiform freshwater fish (AKA cod fish), that’s native to Lake Michigan, according to the Indiana DNR. The first burbot Skafar caught weighed 10.2 pounds, which surpassed the state’s previous burbot fishing record from 1990 by 2.5 pounds. (Fox News Digital)
This Week in Shelby County" works by George L. Stubbs Sr. are owned by the Shelby County Historical Society (Grover Center) and used with permission.
THIS DAY IN SHELBY COUNTY HISTORY
News around Shelbyville and the surrounding area as reported on or about this date in history. Selections are curated from the Shelby County Public Library Genealogy Department.
20 YEARS AGO: 2003
At the Richmond’s, the club/concert hall/banquet facility owned by Jes and Vicky Richmond at 4072 E. Michigan Road, was bringing big names to the venue but was struggling to sell tickets, the owners said. Due to laws governing the serving of alcohol, all concerts were considered “private,” and tickets had to be sold in advance rather than at-the-door. Eric Lowen and Dan Navarro, who wrote the Pat Benatar hit “We Belong,” had recently performed at the venue. Shawn Christopher, former lead singer for Sonia Dada (who had played at the Bears of Blue River Festival) was also on the docket.
30 YEARS AGO: 1993
A meeting was scheduled to revise the 1977 ordinance that put a two-hour limit on parking in most of downtown Shelbyville. The ordinance had rarely been enforced. Instead, a two-hour parking limit had been proposed in certain areas from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, including the perimeter of the Public Square.
40 YEARS AGO: 1983
Dr. Donald Strobel, Shelbyville, was awarded the Army Commendation Medal. Strobel, a major in the U.S. Army Reserve, was assistant superintendent at Shelbyville Central Schools.
Former Shelbyville resident Douglas Lackey was promoted to deputy director general in charge of day-to-day operations of the African Medical and Research Foundation in Kenya. Lackey’s mother, Ruth Lackey, had visited her son, daughter-in-law Britt and their two daughters, Tiffany, 4, and Teresa, 10 months, in Nairobi during the Christmas holiday.
50 YEARS AGO: 1973
Burglars used a highway flare to partially burn through two vertical fiberglass panels near the Shelbyville High School gym’s southwest gate, then broke open a two-foot-square hole to enter. Inside, the culprits used a prying instrument to open double doors to a storeroom behind the concession stand, then forced open the stand door and ransacked the room.
60 YEARS AGO: 1963
County Commissioners said they planned to get rolling on a long-delayed program to provide the county with a complete road-numbering system. The road-numbering project called for the installation of signs at 827 intersections. The project was designed to assist with emergency management.
The Waldron Mohawks won the county tourney title with a 62-53 victory over Morristown at the Shelbyville gym. Team members were Jim Wheeler, Jim Apple, John Harker, Harlan Cole, Tom Hoban, Mike Wagner, Larry Burch, Jim Holmes, Larry Montgomery and Mike Wheeler. Managers were Rick Winkler, Jerry Kincaid and John Wheeler. Bill Doig was head coach. Cal Gullion was principal.
70 YEARS AGO: 1953
Arthur M. Thurston, former Indiana State Police superintendent, was named president of the Farmers National Bank, succeeding Charles Sullivan, who had been president of the bank continuously since 1935. George Walker was named chairman of the board, succeeding Herbert C. Jones. Earl Hammond was re-elected president of the Shelby National Bank and George C. Stubbs was renamed chairman of the board.
State Rep. Philip Willkie (R-Rushville) introduced a bill in the Indiana House to deprive 280,000 uninjured World War II veterans of a share of the state soldier bonus. Willkie proposed cutting all veterans off the bonus list except disabled and next of kin of the dead. He said payments to “men who came home unscratched” was “the worst kind of New Deal handout socialism.” (The unpopular bill was later withdrawn.)
80 YEARS AGO: 1943
A service flag and honor roll bearing the names of Dale Colby, Junior Chambers, Harry Davis and Kenneth Gorell was dedicated in a special service at Flat Rock Christian Church. The mother of each of the men lit a candle in their honor during the program. The flag was presented at the church by Carl Lentz and Ruth Weinantz and was accepted by Ralph Weinantz.
A fire destroyed a log barn on the Blue Ridge Road owned by Ed Fagel. Lost in the blaze was a 1927 Ford sedan, a work harness and a few chickens.
90 YEARS AGO: 1933
Shelby County lost one of its best-known pioneer residents when Andrew J. Monroe, 86, died at his home three miles northeast of Flat Rock. His death was attributed to “senility,” The Republican said. Monroe had been a farmer most of his life, but had operated the Flat Rock Cave mill for 25 years. He had married Caroline Maple, and they had five children. After she died in 1900, he married Linnie Deiwert, and they had four children. Monroe was the oldest living member of the Masonic Lodge at Waldron and the oldest Past Master of the lodge. He attended Winchester M.E. Church.
100 YEARS AGO: 1923
A woman asked the Treasury Department to issue another $600 check that had been sent for her war savings stamps, The Republican reported. She said her husband had burned the first check in the stove, believing it was an advertisement.
Charles Major School would not be ready for the start of the semester due to building supply shortages, the paper said. Contractors said they hoped for a Feb. 1 completion date.