African Americans of Belle Meade Plantation

Brigette Jones speaking to the AAHGS Nashville audience

Our AAHGS Nashville meeting today featured a rousing presentation by Brigette Jones, Director of African American Studies for the Belle Meade Plantation Museum.

1844 runaway slave ad from William G. Harding

In her talk, Ms. Jones not only gave us an accounting of the lives of the enslaved population at the plantation but also drew stark parallels between the situations faced by those individuals in the past and the situations faced by African Americans throughout the course of time since slavery and on up to present day.

Ms. Jones shared for us the stories of some of the known enslaved individuals and their contributions to the plantation, including:

    • Ben – who ran away in 1818
    • Ned – Ben’s replacement, who also ran away in 1818
    • Susana McGavock Carter – a house servant for the Harding family
    • Bob Green – head hostler (in charge of the horses)
Susanna McGavock Carter

It was a fascinating talk and if you’d like to learn more, you will definitely want to attend the Journey to Jubilee tour and get an in-depth perspective of what life was like those enslaved at Belle Meade. Thank you, Ms. Jones, for sharing their stories with us today and challenging us to reflect on the difficult intergenerational effects of slavery.

 

Relevant resources for today’s talk include:

 

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Meeting Recap: Music History & Genealogy of Jefferson Street

Many thanks to our guest speaker yesterday, Mr. Lorenzo Washington of Jefferson Street Sound, for a wonderful presentation about the history of music along Nashville own’s Jefferson Street.

Mr. Washington has long been a part of the music scene on Jefferson Street and during the meeting yesterday shared his reasons for establishing the “Mini Museum” at Jefferson Street Sound at 2004 Jefferson Street. The goal is to preserve the musical legacy of Jefferson Street and in this endeavor, Mr. Washington documents and shares information about the many clubs that used to reside on the street.

Of particular note, Mr. Washington created this genealogy tree to showcase the interrelationships of the music clubs. The two side branches, representing Maceo’s Club and New Era Club – both of which were located off the main Jefferson St. corridor. Then, along the trunk of the tree are the others which were on Jefferson proper – Prices, Club Baron, Black Diamond Club, Club Stealaway, Good Jelly Jones’ place, Fisk (for the Jubilee Singers), Fireside Club, Brown’s Diner Club, Del Morocco Club, and Tennesse A&I (for the many musicians that came from the school).  Along the trunk, specific locations are mapped too, and the leaves of each branch highlight some of the many names associated with each location.

We learned so many insights! For example, the first Jefferson Street musician to have a hit single across the country was Gene Allison with “You Can Make It If You Try.”

I have not visited the museum, but will definitely make plans to do so now. I recommend you do so too – you will be in for a treat.  Thank you Mr. Washington for the work you are doing to preserve this segment of Nashville African American history!

 

April 1st Meeting: Music History & Genealogy of Jefferson Street

The city of Nashville has a long-established and well-known history of music. The musical underpinnings of the city reflect a rich and multi-layered tapestry of sound, to which our guest speaker, Lorenzo Washington, is no stranger. As the owner of Jefferson Street Sound & Museum, Mr. Washington is highly dedicated to preserving the internationally-known musical legacy of Jefferson Street – a mecca of the Nashville jazz, blues, and R&B music scene from the 1930s-1970s.

Join the Nashville chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society in the Civil Rights Room at the Nashville Public Library for our April 1st monthly meeting at 9:30 am as we hear Mr. Washington share with us his passion and drive to preserve the musical history of Jefferson Street. For those with a genealogy interests, come learn about a different type of genealogy as Mr. Washington details the musical “tree of life” and interconnections of the Jefferson Street music scene.

After the meeting, we welcome you to ask questions about your own family history, or spend time at the library doing research; AAHGS members and a collection of genealogy books will be available to aid you. Please RSVP to let us know you are coming. The meeting is free and open to the public. We look forward to seeing you there!

Meeting Recap: Filling Gaps in the Story

At our March monthly meeting, guest speaker Betsy Phillips, local author, and columnist for the Nashville Scene, shared with us her tips and strategies for researching various aspects of history related to Nashville.

Tips that she shared included ways to assess the composition of the enslaved in antebellum homes and plantations, the importance of visiting physical locations whenever possible, and being sure to remember historical context when analyzing and evaluating information that you’ve found.

Bud Rogan newspaper death notice, 1905

In a timely example, she also described her search for Bud Rogan – an over 8-foot tall giant from Gallatin, TN. Betsy’s search and process were illuminating and insightful as she took us through her own journey to learn more about Bud.

In today’s Nashville Scene, you can read more about Betsy’s quest – we are lucky to have had an early sneak peak!

Finding and Filling the Holes in the Story – Guest Speaker: Betsy Phillips

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The history of African Americans in Nashville and it’s surrounding area is both rich and complicated – but there are many stories awaiting discovery for us all. Local author and Nashville Scene columnist,Betsy Phillips, has spent many hours in relentless pursuit of this history and finding and filling gaps in these stories.

Over the years, Betsy has written about many individuals, places, and events related to African Americans in Nashville – including local businessman and civil rights leader James Carroll Napier, the old historically black school Roger Williams University, and recently, the history of Fred Douglas Park in East Nashville.

We invite you to join us on Saturday, March 4th at 9:30am at the Nashville Public Library to hear Betsy’s work and learn about the research strategies and sources she uses – you may find that you can use some of them for your own research! As we explore our African-American family connections it is important we all stay on top of techniques that can help us learn more about our ancestors and the environments and events that helped shape their lives.


After the meeting, we welcome you to spend time working on your own family history research; books will be available to aid you. If you are able to join us, please register to let us know you’re coming. The meeting is free and open to the public and we look forward to seeing you there!

Come & Share Your Family Story

For our December Monthly Meeting, AAHGS Nashville is pleased to have YOU as our guest speaker!

That’s right – this meeting is a chance for you to present, show, and tell us all something interesting you’ve learned in your family history and genealogy research. We all have diverse backgrounds and family pasts so this will be an opportunity for us to learn more about you.

You can present on any aspect of your family history that you choose – have a family heirloom and want to tell it’s story? Made a connection and want to explain what led you there? Have you used DNA analysis to uncover family mysteries? We want to know!

We will meet Saturday, December 3rd at 9:30 am in the Civil Rights Room at the downtown Nashville Public Library. Our meetings are free and open to the public. 

Konnetta Alexander will facilitate the meeting and share one of her own personal stories – “How a Spinning Wheel Lead to documenting My South Carolina Family Slave”. Konnetta has more than 20 years experience doing genealogy research with most of her effort dedicated to three projects – researching family, transcribing and making public excerpts of an Antebellum slave account/record book, and performing interpretative presentations about the lives of free persons of color and slaves. Konnetta is an annual participant of MAAGI (Midwestern African American Genealogy Institute) and member of several historical societies. The focus of hergenealogy research is locating, documenting and personalizing the lives of slaves, whether family or not.

We look forward to seeing you there and hearing about your own family history!


After the meeting, we welcome you to spend time working on your own family history research; books will be available to aid you. If you are able to join us, please register to let us know you’re coming. The meeting is open to the public and we look forward to seeing you there!

African American Resources at the Tennessee State Library

For our November Monthly Meeting AAHGS Nashville is pleased to have Trent Hanner of the Tennessee State Library and Archives as our guest speaker!  Please RSVP if you can join us! We will meet Saturday, November 5th at 9:30 am in the Civil Rights Room at the downtown Nashville Public Library.

Trent will share with us details about the resources at the Tennessee State Library that can aid in researching individuals of African American ancestry. Now is your chance to learn more about the many great resources our State Library provides.

Trent Hanner is the senior reference librarian at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, where he has worked for ten years. After receiving his undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee, Trent stuck around Knoxville for two more years to earn a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. He loves telling folks about the many treasures and services offered by their State Library and Archives. When he isn’t in the stacks pulling books, you can usually find him at Nashville’s Belcourt Theatre or on one of Music City’s beautiful greenways.


After the meeting, we welcome you to spend time working on your own family history research; books will be available to aid you. If you are able to join us, please register to let us know you’re coming. The meeting is open to the public and we look forward to seeing you there!