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Black HuntingtonAn Appalachian Story$

Cicero M., III Fain

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042591

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042591.001.0001

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Community, Race, and Class

Community, Race, and Class

Black Settlement Patterns, 1871Early 1900s

(p.70) Chapter 4 Community, Race, and Class
Black Huntington

Cicero M. Fain III

University of Illinois Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the period encompassing Huntington’s nascent physical development, increasing black migrant influx into the town and region, an emergent black residential population, and the developing contours of class stratification. It centers this study on the black individual and collective responses of Huntington’s first generation of black migrants and residents to two corresponding and overlapping developments: one attendant to the rise of the city as the region’s industrial, economic, social, and political hub; the other attendant to the larger historical forces of urbanization, industrialization, racism, and capitalism. It contends that in recognition of the formidable processes and forces arrayed against them, most black Huntingtonians during this era engaged in individual and communal efforts, grounded in cultural and historical commonalities, to better their lives economically.

Keywords:   Black migrant influx, Ohio River Valley, “shadow community,” Nelson Barnett, Rufus Cook, The Woodson family, community, class stratification, racial residential segregation, J. W. Scott

Long before the city’s founding and African American settlement within it, slavery bound black people together from both sides of the Ohio River. Though not physically reconstructed after the Civil War, like so much of the South, the region underwent profound economic, psychological, and social upheaval in the postbellum period. Reconstruction transformed the lives and aspirations of black Southerners “in ways unmeasurable by statistics and in realms far beyond the reach of the law.”1 The transcendent nature of this transformation presented numerous and varied challenges for millions. Too many unanswered questions remained for black migrants to revel in their freedom for too long, to be completely oblivious to their circumstance. They, like tens of thousands of black migrants to other destinations, used various strategies and tactics to overcome economic upheaval, persistent racism, and discrimination. Thus, the decision by Huntington’s black settlers to relocate to the town rested on their evaluating multiple criteria and must have caused some uneasiness among many of them. As J. W. Scott noted,

What was the character of our first settlers? They came without money, without training, without skill, without leadership. They were mostly farm hands brought from the rural parts of Virginia by railroad contractors. They were housed in shanties, fed from commissaries, worked like horses all the week and turned out to frolic on Sundays. They had less than nothing to build on for in addition to being loaded down with all the wrongs of slavery, they were forced to accept conditions not at all conductive to morals and home getting. A dollar was regarded simply as an equivalent for so much indulgence.2

(p.71) Thus, forging a new life in a new town required for most a tempered agenda and enlightened assessment, and was probably the black migrant’s most important exercise of free will.

Within this larger context, Huntington’s African American migrants lived their lives. Their historical metamorphosis coincided with the transformation of the nation, the region, and the town’s rise as an industrial, economic, social, and political hub. Like black people residing in cities throughout the nation, the city’s black residents surely differed on what constituted the distinguishing characteristics of community and to what extent they subscribed to it. Yet as increasing numbers settled into the city, most operated within its tentative and fluid confines, bound by a sense of moral duty, social status, and shared history.

When construction on the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad got underway, Huntington began to take on definitive shape, and businesses and industries settled in. During 1870–71, while Huntington finalized his plans, Rufus Cook, a renowned engineer from Boston, designed a city of wide streets, large blocks dissected by convenient alleys, and with large lots for dwellings and business houses of all kinds. On the eastern edge of the town, fronting Eighth Avenue on Twenty-Eighth Street, Huntington’s Central Land Company built two rows of houses, one of frame, one of brick, for the use of employees during the construction of the railroad and the C&O buildings and repair shops. Ensconced within the city limits, Huntington figured that an instant population was assured for this development. Later, these houses were rented to railroad employees.

In his design, Cook envisioned the town’s commercial and industrial core stretching along the southern shore of the Ohio River. Its industrial core would extend south from the docks of Holderby’s Landing, adjacent to the river, continuing some three blocks, from Second Avenue to Fourth Avenue, and 16 blocks west to east from First Street to Sixteenth Street (see map 4.1). Three subdivisions formed the residential core. The largest, contiguous to the industrial section, followed the same east–west pattern as the industrial section until Eighth Avenue. Third Avenue became the primary residential section in town, and beyond it was mostly farmland. Between Seventh and Eighth Avenues the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway line passed east to west. East of this district was a second, smaller residential pocket. Stretching north to south from First Avenue to Twelfth Avenue and west to east from Twentieth Street to Twenty-Fourth Street, this area, in contrast to the first, enlarged at Eighth Avenue, extending two blocks west to Eighteenth Street. A third subdivision, undeveloped but demarcated, adjoined the second but (p.72)

Community, Race, and ClassBlack Settlement Patterns, 1871–Early 1900s

Map 4.1. Historical rendering of black Huntington, ca. 1872.

Source: Map of Huntington, West Virginia, Cabell County, 1871, Cabell County Department of Records, Huntington, W.V.,Cabell County Court House.

(p.73) covered only five blocks from First Avenue to Fifth Avenue. Extending from Twenty-Fourth to Thirtieth Street, its residential contours indicated that Huntington’s future population growth, at least in its early years, would follow a west-to-east direction along the banks of the Ohio River.3

As construction commenced, Huntington was more farmland than city, with extensive acreage of the rich river bottom flatland stretching along the Ohio owned by long-time white residents or C. P. Huntington’s Land Improvement Corporation. Thus, early black migrants arrived into a makeshift village characterized by crudity and unsanitary conditions. Given this scenario, it is not surprising that many black migrants during the 1870s and 1880s settled in the embryonic commercial district, close to the water wells kept by the city (water works were not installed by the water company until 1887).

The linkages and connections binding Huntington’s black community were affiliated with and a product of Cabell County’s and Huntington’s growth. After its incorporation in 1871, Huntington’s industrial economy served as the catalyst, linking it by river to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and by rail to the southern West Virginia coalfields and Richmond, Virginia. In 1870 only 123 blacks, representing 1.9 percent, resided in the whole county. By 1880, the county’s population more than doubled from 6,429 residents in 1870 to 13,744 in 1880. Within the city, 3,174 individuals lived with 487 black residents (a threefold increase from 1870), including 97 mulattoes, making up slightly more than half (54 percent) of the county’s 902 total. That year, black residents represented 6.5 percent of the general population and 55 percent of the county’s black population. The district of Guyandotte Township comprised the second-largest African American concentration with 180 (20 percent of county total), followed by the districts of Guyandotte and Barboursville, respectively.4 By 1880 Huntington was home to more black residents than Wayne, Lincoln, and Logan (Mingo) Counties combined.

In many respects, Huntington’s black population resembled that of Ironton and Portsmouth, Ohio, or Ashland, Kentucky, where historical and cultural commonalities linked black residents with those of other towns throughout the Ohio Valley. For instance, in 1880, 41 percent of Lawrence County’s 1,746 black residents (located across from Cabell County) cited West Virginia as their birthplace.5

The growth in Huntington’s black migrant influx also coincided with increases in the black populations of both Lawrence and Gallia Counties. Linked to its location on the north shore of the Ohio River, across from Huntington and Cabell County, Lawrence County saw its black population nearly double between 1860 and 1870, increasing from 685 to 1,241. By 1880, it had blossomed to 1,746 individuals, a mere twelve short of its 1890 total, (p.74) the highest of the nineteenth century. Likewise, from 1860 to 1870, the black population in Gallia increased from 1,590 to 2,802, and then again during the next decade, to reach 2,945 individuals, its highest total of the century.6

The Barnetts, Woodsons, and thousands of other black migrants who arrived in Huntington in its early years embodied a sense of community, even as they arrived with few economic assets other than their labor. Although spatial proximity did not necessarily denote commonality or affect-laden linkages, it is impossible to separate black Huntington’s social circumstance from the city’s evolving physical geography and the social cohesion that existed in the “sentimental boundaries.” It is within the churches, bars, parks, barber shops, and neighborhoods that black residents found fellowship, recreation, and social interaction.7 In effect, within and around Huntington, radiating back and forth, there existed communities within communities, linking, binding, enriching, and complicating the collective aspirations of its black citizens.

Reflecting prevailing racial and political fears by the state’s whites to the prospect of black equality, black migrants arriving into the town faced challenges in their quest for citizenship. As one authority notes, “From 1872 to 1882, the state’s Blacks were politically unorganized. Yet, they held a certain balance of power because they were committed to neither the Democratic nor the Republican party.”8

On the heels of the 1870 Flick Amendment (which granted suffrage to adult males), white voters demanded a state Constitutional Convention. In 1872 the Convention met, inflaming African American passions across the state because the state legislature, which had no black members, attempted to disenfranchise them. So strong was lingering Confederate sentiment among some legislators that delegate John J. Thompson of Putnam County declared that West Virginia “Negroes were less capable of self-government than the buffalo on the plains.”9

Yet, despite Thompson’s sentiments, the convention eventually settled, once and for all, the question of black enfranchisement. By six votes, the right of voting and the privilege of office holding was permanently granted to the state’s black population.10 While critical to black influx into the state, this development led to little political gain throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The primary impetus compelling black migration during this era was the prospect of economic gain linked to the penetration of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad through the state.

Settlement patterns within Cabell County and Huntington reveal the draw of urbanization, jobs, and the affiliated sociocultural benefits to black migrants: (p.75)

Table 4.1 African American Population by District, Cabell County, Virginia, 1880




South Grant

McComas #1 & #2



Guyandotte Township

Union #1 & #2




























Percent of Total Population

11 %

0.2 %


0.6 %

55 %

11.2 %

20 %

1.2 %

Source: William Marsh, comp., 1880 Census of West Virginia, Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln, Logan (Mingo), vol. 2. (Baltimore, Md.: Gateway, 1990), 3.

Table 4.2 Native Origins of Afro-Migrant Population In Huntington, West Virginia, 1880


West Virginia




North Carolina

South Carolina








Source; William Marsh, comp., 1880 Census of West Virginia, Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln, Logan (Mingo), vol. 2. (Baltimore, Md.: Gateway, 1990), 2.

In 1880 the county’s three main commercial-industrial districts of Huntington, Guyandotte Township, and Barboursville comprised 86 percent of the county’s black population. Only the district of Guyandotte, with its history of a black presence, contained a sizable number of black residents (ninety-seven, or 11 percent) that could be categorized as predominantly rural. In contrast to the near equal number of blacks and mulattoes in 1870 Barboursville and Guyandotte, the three districts of Huntington, Guyandotte Township, and Barboursville contained overwhelmingly black residential populations in 1880. Owing to their proximity to C&O way stations within the county, blacks comprised 80 percent, 92 percent, and 82 percent, respectively, of each district’s total African American population. Of the four districts cited, only Guyandotte possessed more mulattoes (61) than blacks (39).

Due to the embryonic nature of formal institutions in the city and county throughout the 1870s, many blacks relied on the informal networks offered by family, kin, and social contacts to assist and support in times of need. County-level census data for 1880 reveals many black households “clustered” around each other, indicating the probable existence of kin and social networks. Of the county’s 90 black households, fully 79 (88 percent) lived proximally within four dwellings of another black household.11

(p.76) The 1880 census also helps illuminate the status of Huntington’s early black female population. In contrast to the greater numbers prior to the Civil War that had historically existed within the county, a changing demographic composition followed Huntington’s industrialization. From 1850 to 1870, black females within the county outnumbered black males. In 1880, black men ages twenty-one and older accounted for 62 percent of the city’s black population. Examination of the female population reveals that of the 137 black females ages thirteen and older, 34 (25 percent) were listed as single; 23 (17 percent) were servants and 16 (12 percent) remained “at home,” either as boarders, family, or extended-family members. The 34 single females were scattered through thirty households. Notably, five black households possessed a servant. These numbers suggest that black female labor was valued in Huntington’s emergent urban-industrial milieu.

Formal racial residential segregation did not exist during the city’s formative years, when whites and African Americans lived in close proximity to each other, with many being neighbors.12 Although the nature of urban living forced an integrated circumstance, many of the city’s blacks, like African Americans nationwide, sought out and relished life in a segregated environment. Throughout the 1870s and 1880s, Huntington enjoyed a lively sociocultural scene beyond church attendance, revealing some class stratification. For locals and outsiders alike, and verified by coverage in local newspapers, Ingham’s Hall, Burdick’s Hall, and Johnston’s Hall (on Second Avenue) were regular gathering places throughout the 1870s and 80s.13 The availability of these venues offered cultural space that allowed psychic and physical distance from whites.

Speaking on black Cincinnati, Henry Louis Taylor provides important perspective: “It would be a mistake to conclude that the pervasiveness of racism meant that blacks were consumed with white machinations. … African Americans lived in a social universe apart from whites. The sights, sounds, smells, rhythms, melodies, and improvisations of black life existed independent of the white world and gave shape, form, texture and vibrancy

Table 4.3 Population by Race in Huntington, West Virginia, 1870–1900

Census Year





Total Population






6,306 (98.1%)

2,684 (84.6%)

8,876 (87.8%)

10,709 (89.8%)


123 (1.9%)

487 (15.3%)

1,231 (12.2%)

1,212 (10.2%)






Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Tenth Census (1880), Eleventh Census (1890), Twelfth Census (1900). Figures for 1870 comprise county totals, prior to Huntington’s incorporation.

NT: not tabulated


Table 4.4 African American Population in Ohio Valley Cities, 1870–1900

(Total Population of African Americans / Percent of Total Population)

















































(*) Includes Allegany city, annexed in 1906.

† Figure cited by Trotter is 1.8, an obvious typo given continued population growth.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Ninth Census (1870), Tenth Census (1880), Eleventh Census (1890), Twelfth Census, (1900); and Trotter, River Jordan.

to black Cincinnati.”14 For most Huntington residents and migrants, life in segregated environments provided the “distance” and space necessary to combat the indignities and start life anew.

For many who weathered the crisis of 1873 and the transition, the beginning of the new decade promised change for the better. Prior to 1880 no black property holders existed in the town.15 From 1880 to 1885 valuation of real estate increased by 25 percent for the county, while the increase in Huntington was nearly 50 percent. For that same period the valuation of personal property for the county increased 72 percent, while within Huntington it was over 100 percent.16 Significant numbers of Huntington’s black residents contributed to and benefited from this rise. From 1880 to 1890, 23 purchased property within the city, of which 22 were men, including migrants Reverend Nelson Barnett and (now) contractor W. O. James, railroad brakeman J. A. Mangrum, hotel porter Si Manson, Caroline Holley, and former Cabell County slave and “roustabout” William Black, a notable achievement in any light.17 Most purchased property in the residential districts south of the railroad. In addition, James farmed a large tract of land south of the C&O tracks.18

In the absence of a moneyed elite or petite bourgeoisie, or formal benevolent or fraternal organizations, which might have provided models to emulate as well as strategic and/or financial support (or conversely, might have constricted and constrained their ambitions), these 23 property holders symbolize the power of African American economic aspiration. Moreover, J. W. Scott noted that 18 still held their properties 20 years later.19 Emblematic of efforts by black laborers nationally to improve their economic status, these accomplishments represent an important step in the economic development of black Huntington. From 1890 to 1900, 33 more blacks bought homes, worth an aggregate $80,000, double the value purchased the previous decade. While (p.78) the primary purchasers of real estate were members of the working class, several members of the embryonic professional class bought property, some descendants of Huntington’s first black migrants.20 Some may have been assisted by the Afro-American Improvement Company, launched in 1895, which possibly provided organized efforts at land acquisition.21

Early industrial Huntington’s inchoate yet expanding nature, the tenuous financial status of many black migrants, and the preponderance of black laborers, compels examination of early black residential patterns. However, such analysis is made difficult by three facts: first, as already noted, no black property owners existed prior to 1880; second, the “Great Flood of 1884” devastated the city, especially the commercial district; and third, no complete extant city directories could be found for any years prior to 1891–92, a possible consequence of the flood. What is known is that during the first years of the town, a number of black laborers lived adjacent to the gates of the Chesapeake and Ohio Shops (outside of the commercial core) situated on part of the land purchased by C. P. Huntington under the auspices of his Central Land Company. In the same end of town quite a number of black and white individuals and families resided on the south side of the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad near the entrance to the shops. This neighborhood was known as “the Patch.” Some migrants lived in railroad housing near the banks of the Ohio near Second Avenue and in some of the emerging streets and alleyways of the downtown section.22 In 1896, one newspaper article describes the neighborhood: “What is known as the C. & O. Patch is quite a little village of itself. Neat white houses and good gardens are the rule. The residents are mechanics and working men, thrifty and economical and belong to the law and order class.”23 Eventually, by the early twentieth century, the Patch stretched east and west along Eighth Avenue from Twenty-Fifth to Twenty-Ninth Streets, and north and south from the railroad to Ninth Avenue along Twenty-Seventh and Twenty-Eighth Streets.24

The influx of black laborers into southern West Virginia coincided with the movement of tens of thousands of black migrants north and west and must be viewed against the other to understand fully the historical reality and motivations behind the mass black migration into the region.25 Continuing migrant influx from varied cultural backgrounds, improving material conditions for some and the lack of it for others, and economic disparities between white and black people created tensions and opportunities. Like municipal authorities nationwide, Huntington’s white leaders, seeking to distance themselves from both the poor and the black, developed laws to protect their power and property while simultaneously perpetuating the subordinate status of those on the bottom. Moreover, lacking any incentive (p.79) to examine the nature of inequities attendant to Huntington’s blossoming industrial economy, the city’s white civilians (like those nationwide) also sought distance, and thus lacked any overriding impulse to distinguish the poor from the criminal.

For the majority of black migrants, the exploits and enterprises into the town and area were purposeful and grounded in the twin pillars of church and community. In the quest for self-actualization, many black migrants relied on and manifested both callings, sometimes traveling far and wide. Along the way, many acquired knowledge, skills, and alliances that would benefit their lives, their community, and their race for many years afterward. For example, Virginia migrants and eventual Huntington residents Reverends R. J. Perkins and A. D. Lewis first served as pastors of Hinton’s Second Baptist Church before becoming pastors of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Huntington. Their respective years of residency in Hinton, and their respective arrivals in Huntington in the mid-1890s, as well as their eventual tenures at Sixteenth Street Baptist, suggests the potential of an ongoing personal and professional relationship tied to their histories as migrants.26 Likewise, the published excerpts in the West Virginia edition of the History of the American Negro make clear that black migrants John Lewis Griffith and Andrew Baker utilized friendships and contacts acquired in the black enclaves affiliated with the railroad lines to facilitate social, intellectual, and professional growth before their settlement into Huntington in the mid-1880s.27

The Woodson family history offers a more detailed examination of the mechanics of postbellum migration. After departing in 1874, the Woodson family returned to the state in 1893, with Robert Woodson, the elder brother of Carter, the future “Father of Negro History,” the first to arrive. However, prior to their arrival both brothers spent time working in Fayette County, West Virginia, first building the railroad along Loup Creek from Thurmond before working as coal miners in Nutallburg. Dr. Woodson remembered this period as an important experience in his life, for in Nutallburg he met fellow miner Oliver Jones, who, in the evenings, opened his home to other miners as a tearoom. Woodson garnered the basics of education from two uncles, John Morton Riddle and James Buchanan Riddle, in a rural school in which they taught in Virginia; his ability to read was an important factor in his relationship with Jones. After learning that Woodson could read, Jones offered him food from the tearoom in exchange for Woodson reading aloud to him and his friends. Jones subscribed to several newspapers, by both black and white publishers, some based West Virginia and some from out of state. To this group of miners, Woodson read material about the government and politics as well as matters on contemporary and historical interest, including (p.80) books about black people. Of this experience, Woodson frequently credited his early backroom discussions and readings among black miners in southern West Virginia as the inspiration for his pioneering movement to recognize African American history. He noted, “In this circle the history of the race was discussed frequently, and my interest in penetrating the past was deepened and intensified.”28

It is interesting to note that after graduating from Douglass High and prior to embarking upon his singular academic and professional career, Dr. Woodson, accompanied by Robert, taught for a time in Winona in Fayette County, where both brothers were active in various capacities with the First Baptist Church of Winona.29 Certainly, the qualities exhibited by the two brothers help illuminate how the family (and countless other migrants) survived the rigors of slavery, relocation, and separation, and provides testament to the untold numbers of blacks throughout the South who similarly recognized the importance of advancing the race and who worked to achieve it.

The first generation of migrants entering the town after its incorporation arrived at a propitious time. In 1870, Huntington possessed no black churches or schools, no black stores or restaurants, and no black elected officials in the town or county.30 But their foresight, initiative, perseverance, and good fortune positioned them to benefit from four important, interrelated, and overlapping historical forces.

First, while a part of the great drama of a larger intraregional movement initiated with the emancipation of millions of slaves, the initial wave of migrants into the town preceded the tens of thousands of blacks, Anglos, and European immigrants arriving into Central Appalachia and the southern West Virginia coalfields during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.31 By foregoing the rural South and rural-industrial southern West Virginia, Huntington’s black migrants embarked on a social and cultural trajectory distinct from the masses who settled farther south. In 1880 the

Table 4.5. African American Population in West Virginia (by decade)

Total Population

African American Population

Percent African American

Percent increase by decade




1870 to 1880—45%




1880 to 1890—22%


32, 690


1890 to 1900—33%




1900 to 1910–34%

Source: Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1931, 12–13; “Negro Population in West Virginia,” Bureau of Negro Welfare and Statistics of the State of West Virginia, 1923–24, Special Collections, James E. Morrow Library, Marshall University, Huntington, W.V., 99.

(p.81) percentage of Virginia-born migrants into Huntington (29 percent) was largely consistent with that into the county the previous decade. Marriage records help to reveal the integral role the railroad played in facilitating western migration from Virginia. From 1877 to 1880, the Cabell County Marriage Register lists a total of 46 “colored” marriages (26 conducted by Nelson Barnett), of which 42 (91 percent) contained at least one individual born in a Virginia county to which or through which the C&O Railroad lines ran.32 Assessing black influx into the state, James T. Laing notes that 92.6 percent of the Virginia natives came into West Virginia directly from Virginia.33 These circumstances surely assisted the acculturation of thousands into their new social milieu. Thus, the first generation of Afro-Huntingtonians were linked geographically as well as geo-culturally. While not dismissing the fractures and fissures attendant to diversified black influx or the individualism inherent in human nature, a shared history and sense of duty guided the efforts of many black migrants in their attempts to establish needed black institutions. Carter G. Woodson referred to the quest as embodying “manhood.” He continued, “The indisposition to labor was overcome in a healthy nature by instinct and motives of superior forces, such as love of life, the desire to be clothed and fed, the sense of security derived from provision for the future, the feeling of self-respect, the love of family and children and the convictions of duty.”34 Certainly, a testament to the optimism felt by many recent arrivals in their new surroundings is the fact that many decided to marry and settle in the city.

Second, the migrants arrived during the initial stages of the industrial revolution of the Central Appalachia plateau, a transformation led by the spread of the railroad. Thus, black migrants entered the region at the very time their labor was needed. In truth, the necessity of black labor to the economic growth of the state and region during the late-nineteenth century is incalculable. Black labor felled timber, mined coal, and built the railroad. In 1871 the Chesapeake and Ohio employed some 5,000 black laborers yet was merely one of many railroads to crisscross the region, assisting in the extraction of salt, timber, and especially coal. Thirteen separate railroads were incorporated in Huntington between 1873 and 1887.35 Although most remained stillborn or mere spurs or branches to be acquired by the Chesapeake and Ohio, both the C&O and the Norfolk & Western Railroad (formed in 1889) survived to remake southern West Virginia and Central Appalachia.36 In the process, they brought thousands of laborers, supplied hundreds of thousands of investment dollars, extracted millions of tons of coal, and produced tens of millions of dollars in profit. From 1870 to 1880 the state’s population increased 40 percent and per-capita wealth grew from $430 to (p.82) $550.37 So influential was Collis P. Huntington’s larger-than-life imprint upon the area’s black people that in 1880, Texas migrant and timber worker Isaac Reynolds and his West Virginia–born wife, Mary Ann, named their son C. P. Huntington Reynolds.38

Third, Huntington’s burgeoning economy provided some peace of mind to many of the town’s first generation of ambitious black migrants via the promise of stable wages and the prospect of long-term financial stability. After only two years of working, James Woodson “had earned enough money to purchase twenty-one acres near his father’s farm in New Canton.”39 Further, Huntington’s broadening economy afforded opportunities, albeit limited, for upward mobility and/or job change, a circumstance that enabled many of the first generation to avoid (or perhaps delay) the pattern of step-migration (which involved continual migration) necessitated by job competition, economic downturns, or a nondiversified economy. As an anniversary program of the First Baptist Church summarized, “The railroad brought a diversity of industries, opportunities and people to the area. In the midst of this splendid growth and development the ‘colored population’ also prospered in laborer and support service jobs.”40

The last factor that contributed to black migrant influx was the absence of Jim Crow laws within the state and the retention of the franchise for black residents, “factors that facilitated school and social welfare desegregation, a greater measure of justice before the law, and the political power to preserve these institutions.”41 The first generation of black migrants arrived prior to the hardening of race relations precipitated by the rise of Jim Crow throughout the South during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As we have seen, while the “Negro question” produced protracted, contentious, and sectionalist debate within the West Virginia legislature during the state’s formative political process, recognition of black political rights ultimately prevailed. Certainly, Huntington’s early development (and to some extent its attraction to black migrants) can be traced in part to the presence of young, ambitious, and more liberal-minded white males, many of whom undoubtedly benefited from their status as members of prominent Cabell County families. Thus, even at its harshest, racial discrimination black migrants experienced within West Virginia was a markedly tempered strain compared with that found in other Central Appalachia states.

In part, the establishment of a rigid racial code in Virginia was retarded by the fluid state of Southern society from the end of the Civil War to the end of the century. Jack Temple Kirby notes inconsistency and unorthodoxy marked the era: as early as 1870, the Alexandria and Orange Railroad had a Jim Crow car, yet blacks rode the line throughout the 1880s without incident. (p.83) In fact, blacks frequently rode in first class everywhere in the state throughout the late 1800s. Kirby notes, “Only in 1900 did white Virginia legislators get around to codifying Jim Crow on the railways—thereby imposing through the majesty of law an orthodoxy that had not existed before.”42 This is not surprising given the recent Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) Supreme Court decision upholding racial segregation and the attendant objections by railroads to the legislation because of the additional cost of providing separate cars.43 Huntington’s growth (218.5 percent between 1880 and 1890), continuing migrant influx, and the presence of liberalism afforded opportunity for both black and white to interact in the spaces Jim Crow had yet to penetrate.44 Thus, many migrants in both Virginia and West Virginia were able to exploit the strains of liberalism and societal and legal flux within the region.

The vast majority of black migrants demonstrated the important traits learned during slavery—sacrifice, resourcefulness, ingenuity, and self-sufficiency—to climb the economic ladder and to endure rough times.45 One method was making the family’s clothes. Besides making their own clothes, women made shawls for the males of the family, which were frequently worn instead of an overcoat; they also knitted stockings for the family, and “when calling they would take their yarn and knitting needles and talk while knitting, often finishing a sock while visiting.”46 Migrants also used their historically intimate knowledge of the land. Across the Ohio River, black farmers, like their fathers and, in some cases, grandfathers before them, worked the rich soil adjacent to the river, providing economic alternatives and resources for black people throughout the region. Many black residents, no doubt, on both sides of the river hunted, fished, and/or tilled vegetable gardens. As well, camp meetings and basket meetings offered regular social opportunities for networking and for bartering and selling crops and wares. Moreover, Huntington’s rural surroundings, the vast stretches of forests nourished by the Ohio and Guyandotte Rivers and a number of creeks and streams, and the verdant valleys replete with wildlife provided abundant natural resources as wellsprings of nourishment and/or income. Walter Myers recalled his grandfather’s knowledge and ability to live off the land:

My granddaddy went out there on that hill and they have no money, they took their hands. There was plenty of food out there. And they [whites] wondered how they [blacks] could go out on that big poor, they called it poor land, and live. They were plenty out there to live of[f]. They knew how to live off the land, like the Indians. So … but whenever they raised anything, they always raised something that they could sell to make some extra change to put in this little, they called it a sugar jar or change jar or something. Now some of ’em had a pouch, they carried it with ’em.47

(p.84) Nelson Barnett Jr. remembers playing, as a young boy, in a small building in his side yard “built by my enterprising great grandfather, the reverend Nelson Barnett,” who had a dream “of creating a Black mercantile empire, of sorts, catering to the staple goods needs of the neighborhoods. He was the buyer, wholesaler and distributor, concurrent with his ministerial duties as a circuit rider.”48 In effect, Barnett “organized and serviced a group of country stores of the fruit-stand variety in and around the Ohio, Tug, and Kanawha River valleys. This endeavor appears to have been similar to that of the modern day Independent Grocers’ Association (IGA).”49

The fond and insightful recollections above are representative of the ways black migrant families regularly utilized their industriousness, creative talents, and familiarity with the land to survive and prosper. These stories also demonstrate the enduring strategic importance linked to passing down such knowledge and expertise. Certainly, both Barnett’s employment with the C&O and his travels as a pastor afforded opportunities to develop and nurture contacts with black farmers. To what extent his venture indicates abiding ties to the community is debatable, yet it is instructive that he chose to forego Huntington’s bustling urban-industrial opportunities, largely catering to and controlled by the town’s whites, and center his business in the countryside, offering the goods purchased from black farmers. In effect, the land offered solace and recreation, food and the future. Each example also illustrates how important it was that the Myers and Barnett families knew the value of money and the benefits of saving and frugality (refuting Scott’s depiction) as stepping-stones to economic stability and, eventually, financial independence. Many black migrant families possessed the cultural knowledge and practical skills to ensure their continued viability, as well as a long-term vision to accomplish their financial goals.

By 1890, Huntington’s general population had reached 10,108, with the city’s black population increasing threefold from 1880 to 1,231 residents, 82 percent of the Cabell County’s 1,493 black inhabitants. By now, Huntington’s transition from a mere township to an urban-industrial enclave was well underway. Throughout the decade, regular and routine train travel to and from Richmond along with the construction of new rail lines serving southwestern West Virginia increased the flow of rural blacks into the city for shopping, fellowship, sightseeing, and recreation. Carl Barnett, son of Carter Barnett and the grandson of Reverend Barnett, recalled his trip to the city toward the end of the century: “My earliest memories are of the train ride from Romney to Huntington. I can still remember how everything would get black when we’d pass through those tunnels.”50 Surely, he was just one of many who maintained fond memories of their first trip to the “big city.”

(p.85) During this era, although black residential settlement was dispersed throughout the city, four pockets of greater concentration existed, two north of the C&O Railroad line running between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, and the other two south of the line. The first, found within and adjacent to the city’s central business district, radiated away from the Ohio River from Second to Seventh Avenues, and from First to Fourteenth Streets. Comprising 16 categories of central business functions—wholesale, retail, manufacturing, artisan, religious, educational, professional service, financial, administrative, hotel, boardinghouse, private dwelling, warehouse, personal service, entertainment, and multipurpose (engaging in wholesale, retail, and manufacturing activities) establishments—this area housed large numbers of black laborers, domestics, and other unskilled and semi-skilled workers, as well as a number of widows.51 They lived in this area for two primary reasons: cost and proximity. Intermingled within the commercial, service, and industrial businesses were affordable housing/rooming options that offered short walking distances to jobs and social/entertainment venues.

In 1895, 94 black residents lived within the Central Business District, with the largest concentration (40 adult black residents—more than triple the number living on any other street within the district) found along the city’s oldest residential thoroughfare, Third Avenue, which also featured two blackowned businesses, barbershops owned by John P. Brown and Charles Seals. The vast majority of those residing in the district were black migrants who arrived after 1880 and whose socioeconomic status, presumably, locked them into utilizing rudimentary housing opportunities for a time before moving on. It is impossible to ascertain what factor or factors influenced the status and, thus, settlement patterns of black laborers to the greatest extent, but it is noteworthy that only a very few of the city’s early black migrants resided in the district in 1895.52

Interestingly, while the city’s general population expanded from 1890 to 1900, Huntington’s black population actually dropped during the period from 1,231 to 1,212, reversing an upward trend from 1870 to 1890. No one answer accounts for this decrease, yet several factors may have contributed. First, construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio line from Barboursville to Logan and that of the Norfolk and Western from Logan to Kenova probably drew workers from Huntington, a point reinforced by the growth of the county’s black population during the decade. Second, the Panic of 1893 may be a factor as it forced the temporary closing of the Chesapeake and Ohio Shops, the largest employer of black railroad laborers within the city. Third, the proportional increase of white migrant influx relative to black increase during the decade and resultant job competition in a tight labor market may have (p.86) reduced available employment options for black laborers. Fourth, given the loss of jobs and increasing job competition, some black laborers might have relocated to the emergent coal-mining region of southern West Virginia.

Black and white migrants and residents too poor to afford better housing lived in alley dwellings and in undesirable areas on the fringes of development. One interracial enclave on the fringe was known as Buffington Row, and an examination of its population provides clues to the nature of migrant life. In 1895, of its 24 residents, 17 were African American. Of the nine males, seven were laborers, two were barbers. Of the eight women within “the Row,” six were widows.53 Given the relatively high income of the era’s barbers and the presumably stable economic status of the widows, the presence of these two groups calls into question whether economics, race, or some other contingency defined residency. In contrast to the occupational status of white workers, all cited as laborers, “black workers” encompassed a broader occupational range of domestics, laborers, and barbers.54

Situated on Seventh Avenue between Sixteenth and Twentieth Streets, this parcel of land was one of several owned by prominent white businessman Peter C. Buffington. Several newspaper articles portray an area rife with crime and squalor. One newspaper declared, “Police Again Called to Disorderly Buffington Row,” before continuing: “The people of the notorious Buffington row gathered together last night and, as usual, a general free for all fight took place. Knives, knucks, hatchets and almost everything, save gatling guns were brought into use and this morning when the police visited the scene that locality had the resemblance of a Chicago slaughter house.”55 Later that year, another article states, “A great nuisance is complained of by citizens of Seventh avenue and Locus avenue, on account of the accumulation, of filth, from stables, hog pens, and out houses between Sixteenth and Twentieth streets on the alley between Buffington row and Seventh avenue. The attention of the health officer is publicly called to this matter.”56 Another article relays, “The alley back of Buffington row is certainly in a very filthy condition, and should be renovated at once, or the sick list and death rate below Twentieth street will be greatly increased this summer.”57

As of the mid-1890s, however, neither Buffington Row nor any other area within the city constituted a black ghetto resembling those of the mid-twentieth century. Within these areas, all were subject to inferior housing, higher incidence of disease, and higher mortality rates but blacks also faced the subtle additional burden of racial discrimination, a dynamic that may have reinforced the “congregational” instinct of black migrant settlement.58 In this manner Huntington mirrored other Ohio River valley towns during the era.

(p.87) Located in the west end of Huntington, adjacent to Central City (incorporated in 1893) and stretching west to east from Second to Tenth Streets along Eighth Avenue, and from Second to Eighth Streets on Ninth Avenue, lay the third locale of black residential concentration. Situated on the southern side of the C&O tracks, this area contained a smattering of black unskilled and semiskilled workers mostly concentrated in small residential pockets around the major intersections of Second, Sixth, and Eighth Streets. While limited, there is some evidence of ongoing social/kin networks within this area. In 1891–92 laundress and early black migrant Martha Carter lived with her daughters Cora and Virginia in the alley between Seventh and Eighth Streets and Third and Fourth avenues, while her teamster son, Henry, lived at 1831 Virginia Avenue in Huntington’s west end.59 By 1895, after her daughters had relocated elsewhere, she and Henry, who was now a cook, relocated to rear of the dwelling at 213 Eighth Avenue, where they shared their home with bricklayer and probable boarder William Craney. The area also supported, at least for a time, two black-owned restaurants, one run by John Stephens at 210 Eighth Street, the other by Daniel and Moses Butler at 220 Eighth Street.60

In Huntington’s west end, near the C&O lines, lay the fourth area of black residential concentration, stretching west to east from Sixteenth to Twentieth Streets, and north to south three blocks, comprising Railroad, Eighth, and Artisan Avenues. Considering its truncated length, three blocks long, and the fact that eighteen of its nineteen black residents were black laborers (with widower Sarah Waltz the exception), available evidence indicates that Railroad Avenue was probably constructed by the C & O Railroad to accommodate newly arrived laborers.

As the oldest residential and most critical main road in the enclave, Eighth Avenue contained a substantially larger and occupationally diverse presence than Railroad or Artisan Avenues. Living among the numbers of unskilled and semi-skilled workers were grocer W. T. Merchant, contractor W. O. James, and teacher W. T. McKinney. Containing the second largest black concentration within the city at 60 residents, this enclave would increasingly comprise black Huntington’s population core throughout the length of this study. Part of this circumstance is attributable to the development of black institutions adjacent to and within the enclave, including the location of Ebenezer United Methodist Church and Douglass High School. Stretching from Sixteenth Street to Twentieth Street, Artisan Avenue contained 14 black residents, all unskilled laborers. In contrast to the overt social/kin networks on Eighth or Ninth Avenue corridors, only laborer A. Winston and helper Jude Peters resided in the same household, offering little evidence of explicit social/kin linkages found on Artisan.61

(p.88) Examination of black residential settlement patterns in the mid-1890s reveals that, save for Buffington Row, a broad uniformity existed with the city’s black working-class population. In effect, the compacted nature of occupational diversity limited upward mobility and residential opportunities for the majority of Huntington’s black migrants. Although large numbers of them had obtained stable jobs and were improving their material position, with a few even purchasing property, constraints and barriers existed. However, it is important that there were choices as evidenced by the interracial composition of black enclaves. At the close of the nineteenth century, Huntington’s black citizens were spread throughout the city and firmly ensconced within it, living adjacent to or in close proximity to black and white, rich and poor. Thus, settlement patterns seem to be a function of cost and proximity to jobs, family, and/or social networks, and black institutions.

One lasting ramification of capitalism and industrialization was the development of the numbers of men, women, and children, African Americans and whites, who engaged in criminal activity. Crime cut across racial and class divisions. Young black males, many of whom were either unemployed or underemployed, are frequently cited as the perpetrators of many of these acts. Common are newspaper accounts of thievery by black youths of food, livestock, wood, and coal, items that were the staples of life for the era. Reflecting the scholarly debate over the slave-era practice of “taking” versus “stealing,” many black migrants seem to have committed crimes to feed themselves or their families.62 Many wandered the streets as vagrants, some turned occasionally to crime, others exclusively so. Some found jobs. Some were saved from the worst of life by finding safe haven in homes or state-run facilities.63

Intertwined with the growth of crime and vagrancy was the rise of black-owned bars. By 1900, while the bulk of Huntington’s black residential population radiated out from its commercial core and concentrated within three wards, a number of black-owned businesses remained in the city’s center, including black-owned saloons, frequently to the consternation of city officials (see map 4.1). The local press portrayed these establishments, such as the “Loop de Loop,” the “Muddy Duck,” and the “Honky Tonk,” as “notorious” and “infamous,” homes to crime, vice, and prostitution.64 These haunts, found in the Tenderloin district, catered to and employed black and white alike, including women of both races, a circumstance that inflamed the ire of the some city council members and white merchants intent on elevating the positive attributes of the city as well as reining in “negro saloons” and “craps joints.”65

No one drew greater ire than Ed McDaniels (also cited as McDaniel), whose exploits help illuminate the ways in which some members of the black (p.89) working class attempted to navigate and negotiate the shifting boundaries of power, class, and race within the city. Born in 1866, the West Virginia native arrived in Huntington around 1890 with his wife, Lizzie, and their two children; he obtained a job as a restaurant cook. From his arrival forward, McDaniels, referred to by one local newspaper as a “negro of unsavory fame, [who] seems to have straddled the line between the lawful and unlawful, favor and connection, with equal aplomb.”66 Over a five-year period his business ventures included the opening of a barber shop in the late 1890s and the saloons “Loop de Loop” and the “Muddy Duck,” cited by one local newspaper as “veritable hot beds of all manner of crime, conducted with the full knowledge and consent of the police in the city.”67 Criminal activity in his establishments, or in close proximity, occurred regularly, including at least one incident in which two brothers attempted to shoot McDaniels in the “Honky Tonk.”68

McDaniels’s clientele included primarily those who occupied the lowest economic rungs of the occupational ladder, no matter the race or gender. As one authority notes about Atlanta (but the observation applies generally to circumstances among workers in burgeoning urban-industrial settings), “Domestic laborers and others escaped from their workaday worries through dance in ‘jook joints’ and settings also referred to as ‘dives.’ These were among the most (re)creative sites of black working-class amusements at the turn of century, where old and new cultural forms, exhibiting both African and European influences, were syncretized.”69 Patrons undoubtedly included many black laborers who shifted between periods of employment and unemployment, and those categorized as vagrants, loiterers, and transients by city authorities. While most may have survived by taking jobs as day laborers, others engaged in a sub-economy that included gambling, prostitution, and petty theft. Recalling the exploits of black Huntingtonians who spent time gambling on riverboats, Edna Duckworth states, “Sam Graves and Lee Overstreet made money gambling. If constables got after them, they would move from state to state.”70 Commenting on “the other black Cincinnati,” “the shadow community” that existed on Cincinnati’s riverfront area during the late 1860s, historian Nikki M. Taylor explains, “Many of the same people who occupied the lowest economic and social rungs of society also occupied the lowest moral rungs because of their involvement in illegal, illicit, or otherwise unsanctioned activity. And because many of them persisted in such activities, they were considered ‘Pariahs, Sudras, outcasts’ and inhabited the shadows of Cincinnati society.”71

As long as those sites comprising the illegal and illicit remained few, self-contained, and localized, Huntington city authorities provided tacit approval. (p.90) Although there is no direct evidence of their patronage, the location of these venues in the heart of Huntington’s commercial district almost certainly attracted social and perhaps political contacts, black and white. In effect, McDaniels’s barber shop and clubs provided ample networking opportunities. As early as mid-1899 there is evidence that he sought to capitalize on these connections. Commenting on McDaniel’s response to the “undelivered plums” from the local Republican Party for work done on behalf of the party in the black community, a local newspaper reported that “it was he who brought success to the republican ticket in Huntington last spring, and that he had been promised great things as his reward.” Cited as “a valuable ally of the administration,” McDaniels also seems to have curried favor with the mayor and city council. Over the public outcry of white business owners, the city’s eight councilmen approved his license application to establish a saloon at 839 Second Avenue next to the white-owned Merchant’s Hotel. His efforts seem to have produced positive results: less than a year later, he had purchased a small dwelling in the alley between Third and Fourth Avenues and Seventh and Eighth Streets for $400.72

Notwithstanding the fact that public opinion viewed a small number of white-owned establishments as notorious as well, including one resort referred to as “one of the most damnable dives in the city,” located at 817 Second Avenue and run by white proprietress Dorsey Brown, the centralized presence of a few saloons under black proprietorship and their depiction as “dens of vices” prompted the Huntington Advertiser to admonish the local authorities for utter disregard of the law in their lack of policing the “ape yard on Eighth Street.”73 Eventually, continuing crime and violence associated with McDaniels and his establishments, as well as those operated by others, effected a concerted backlash, and in November 1904 the city council debated the revocation of McDaniels’s liquor license. White city councilman John Farr, in defense of McDaniels, pointed out the hypocrisy of the city’s white citizens and simultaneously proclaimed his objectivity; he “upbraided” the mayor stating, “It was a matter of persecution on the part of some citizens to not grant the negroes of the city the same privileges that are accorded to the white inhabitants.”74 One month later, S. F. Blake, the white proprietor of Merchant’s Hotel, renewed his efforts to shut down the Honky Tonk. Speaking before the city council, Blake testified that “one woman was knocked by a burly negro into a tub of water, that a piano which kept going day and night rendered life hideous for himself and his guests; that there was constant cursing and brawling; that five or six women were kept there all the time; that they frequently appeared at the windows of the place lacking even the traditional fig leaf, much to the annoyance of himself and his guests [and] (p.91) that robberies were often committed there.”75 Blake’s testimony served as the beginning of the end for the Honky Tonk. Over the next two months, police raids generated by coalescing public opinion and council disapproval demonstrated that McDaniels and his club would no longer be tolerated. On February 21, 1905, the Honky Tonk closed its doors forever.76

That black migrants/residents of Huntington accomplished what they did is remarkable. Certainly, progressive sentiment did not mitigate notions of racial superiority held by the region’s whites, nor did it translate to ideas of egalitarianism in early Huntington. As one local source noted, most black residents, like those throughout the state, were segregated into positions “horrendously unequal to the bulk of the white populace” in occupation, civil rights, and social position.77 From the creation of the town, newspapers disparaged them.78 Although in 1879 Strauder v. West Virginia made it illegal to exclude blacks from juries based solely on race, no blacks served for the first 60 years in the city’s history.79 And, although relatively few in number when compared with Virginia and the Deep South, ten lynchings occurred in West Virginia from 1890 to 1900.80 During this period, there was one lynching in Huntington in 1876, involving a black man accused of murdering the husband of his white lover, with her help.81 Yet there were attempted lynchings within the city. After being arrested for the 1895 drowning murders of his two young stepchildren in Huntington and escaping from jail some weeks later, former Buffalo Soldier and petty criminal Charles Ringo was recaptured in Point Pleasant, 45 miles away. Only the intervention of local authorities saved him from the violent intentions of the crowd of 2,000 that had gathered at the train station upon his return to Huntington.82 This rebuff by Huntington’s white authorities to extrajudicial actions by the city’s white citizenry is important, for it was unusual for the era. While it does not mitigate the social, racial, or occupational hierarchy that existed in the city, it does lend credence to the contention that city officials recognized that the protection of black citizens was fundamental to the effective implementation of law and order, practicable racial relations, and the city’s economic success. When whites (even police officers) were accused of crimes against the black community, they were regularly brought to justice.83 And when blacks committed crimes against other blacks, white officials pursued justice as in any other case.84

In significant ways, Cincinnati’s and Huntington’s waterfront black communities, though situated in two separate periods, encompassed the same populations. Whereas Cincinnati’s comprised those bound to the city’s antebellum riverfront economy, Huntington’s bound those tied to the city’s post-bellum railroad-based economy and, to a lesser extent, its nascent river-based (p.92) economy. Bound largely by their class and occupational status, black and white, men and women, existed in an uneasy, sometimes violent, and often fluid collaboration—and not infrequently, cohabitation. For a time, McDaniels’s purposeful navigation of the alternative spaces within Huntington’s economy demonstrated that those operating within working-class constraints could achieve success and stature.

After the Civil War, thousands of people, followed by tens of thousands more, left homelands and homesteads. Relying on ingenuity, fortitude, family, and faith in themselves, bound by their cultural and historical commonalities, and using the well-worn paths of their ancestors, scores traveled across the Appalachians to find gainful employment and a home. Many settled into nascent rural-industrial coal towns located along the lines of the embryonic Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, but some choose to relocate to the emergent urban-industrial town of Huntington. Here, they began to build their lives. Early black migrant influx into Huntington reveals that it is impossible to separate the greater historical forces of the era—racism, migration, capitalism, and industrialization—from the basic human desire for freedom, citizenship, autonomy, and self-determination. Like thousands of other black Southerners, black migrants endured hardship and deprivation either to start life anew in similar residential circumstances or to migrate across hundreds of miles to a place that they believed would offer better opportunity. In this respect, they were pioneers and trailblazers. In the process of their rebirth, they helped initiate the sociocultural and political transformation of Huntington, a topic discussed in chapter 5.


(3.) Casto, Huntington, 25. Providing evidence of the east–west residency patterns is the fact that city transportation was first available in 1888 with an electric streetcar (p.185) that ran from the business district east to the Guyandotte Bridge. A second line was franchised in 1890 and ran east from the business district, eventually turning south on Sixteenth Street and east on Eighth Avenue. See Wallace, Huntington through Seventy-Five Years.

(4.) 1880 Census of WV, 2:3.

(6.) Ibid., 404–5; and U.S. Bureau of the Census, Twelfth Census, vol. 1, 552.

(9.) Engle, “Mountaineer Reconstruction,” 153. Addressing the fear of black social and political equality, historian John R. Sheller writes of the convention, “Proposals were made to change the name of Grant and Lincoln counties to Davis and Lee. Legislators feel that if Negroes were to vote it would be social equality, they would soon enter the schools, enter the legislative halls and that Negroes would come into the state and gain their jobs in industry and public work. Probably the last mentioned was the root of most of the fears.” See Sheller, “Negro in West Virginia,” 200–201.

(10.) Ibid., 201.

(12.) Commenting on residential spatial organization in antebellum Cincinnati, historian Henry Louis Taylor accurately summarizes the situation in early black Huntington as well: “Blacks were concentrated but did not live in homogenous, racially segregated neighborhoods. They shared the living space with whites from various ethnic groups and social classes. The houses of the rich and the hovels of the poor stood within a stone’s throw of each other. Many blacks and whites huddled together in wretched neighborhoods. And almost everywhere dwelling units coexisted with stores, offices, shops, warehouses, and factories. No one group could claim the living space as its own. In such a setting, the riveting of African American behavior to ‘place’ could not occur.” Taylor, “Introduction,” 3.

(13.) Huntington Independent, October 16, 1873, and October 23, 1873.

(16.) Huntington Advertiser, October 3,1885

(17.) William F. Dusenberry’s 1869 diary entries detail travel, including riverboat trips on the Ohio River by “Black William,” an employee of “Robert,” who was an associate of Dusenberry’s. See Eldridge, Personal Diaries, 13–14, 16, 18-19, 31–32, 40.

(19.) The twenty-three are: Rev. Nelson Barnett, J. M. Jasper, Jessie Cary, William Morgan, Si Manson, Dean Johnson, William Green, William Green, Manggrum and Johnson, William Freeman, Joe Dill, W. O. James, Winston Bird, John Hider, Beverly Blake, Henry Smith, Sam Curry, J. T. Hoback, Caroline Holley, Charles Sprow, Robert Humphrey, and Obie Smith. See Scott, “Progress of the Huntington Negro,” 4.

(20.) Ibid., 5. The thirty-three are: G. W. Lee, J. L. Thomas, J. W. Fletcher, Isham Scott, Bud Liggins, Thomas Liggins, G. W. Hughes, Susie James, Rev. R. J. Perkins, Gabriel Poindexter, James Liggins, A. D. Lewis, Dr. W. S. Kearney, Alfred Gibbs, R. A. (p.186) Woodson, James West, James Woodson, Ed Cobbs, W. O. Fountain, Jack Nellons, Guy Calloway, James A. Collins, G. W. Winston, Prof. C. H. Barnett (lawyer), W. H. Harris, Alex Winston, Samuel Anderson, Miss Josie M. Barnett, Marshall Poindexter, T. W. Winkins, A. D. Mills, “Dock” Dickinson, and Richard Taylor.

(23.) “East End Echoes,” Huntington Advertiser, June 9, 1896.

(24.) Hepler, “C & O Patch.”

(25.) See Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America, and Painter, Exodusters.

(27.) See “John Lewis Griffith,” in Caldwell, History of the American Negro, available at http://www.wvculture.org/history/histamne/griffith.html; Huntington, West Virginia Directory, 1895–1896, 61; and Chancery Order Book 7, 385. For Baker, see “Andrew Minor Baker,” in Caldwell, History of American Negro, http://www.wvculture.org/history/histamne/baker.html.

(31.) Ronald L. Lewis reports, “In 1870 only 36 percent of the black population of central Appalachia resided in the sixteen major coal-producing counties of the fifty-six-county region. By 1920, however, 96 percent of the blacks living in central Appalachia resided in those sixteen coal counties.” Lewis, “From Peasant to Proletarian,” 81. See also Laing, “Negro Miner in West Virginia”; Simmons, Rankin, and Carter, “Negro Coal Miners”; Bailey, “Judicious Mixture”; and Lawrence, Appalachian Metamorphosis. Central Appalachia is recognized as containing the following counties: (Kentucky) Bell, Breathitt, Carter, Clay, Elliott, Estill, Floyd, Harlan, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Menifee, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Powell, Rockcastle, Rowan, Wayne, Wolfe, and Whitley; (Tennessee) Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Morgan, and Scott; (Virginia) Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Tazewell, and Wise; (West Virginia) Boone, Braxton, Clay, Fayette, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Nicolas, Raleigh, Summers, Webster, and Wyoming.

(32.) Cabell County Marriage Register 2.

(34.) Woodson, Century of Negro Migration, 116. William H. Becker asserts “four distinguishable but interrelated aspects of manhood, as manifested in the black church tradition: 1) leadership, self-assertion, 2) independence, 3) black identity, and 4) vocation.” Becker, “Black Church,” 180.

(35.) “Railroad Incorporation,” Deed Index R 18, No. 1 Grantor 1808–1922, 17. The railroads are as follows: 1873–Mud River Railroad Company, Guyandotte Railroad Company; 1875–West Virginia Railroad Company; 1878–Potomac and Ohio Railroad Company; 1879), Baltimore Cincinnati and Western Railway Company; 1881–West (p.187) Virginia and Ohio, Guyan Valley; 1882–Guyan River and Logan County, Guyandotte and Great Southern Railroad; 1883–Chesapeake and Ohio; 1886–Chesapeake and Ohio; 1887–Virginia and Ohio, Ohio River.

(36.) Phil Conley reports that, due to the effects of the Depression of 1873, only two railroads were developed in the state between 1873 and 1881. See Conley, West Virginia, 95.

(38.) U.S. Bureau of the Census, Tenth Census. The Reynoldses were residents of the county, not Huntington. Isaac was the only black migrant listed from west of the Mississippi River.

(40.) “History of First Baptist Church,” 124th Church Anniversary (n.p., 1996), Special Collections, James E. Morrow Library, Marshall University, Huntington, W.V., 1.

(42.) Kirby, Darkness at the Dawning, 23. In his study of Atlanta, Montgomery, Nashville, Raleigh, and Richmond, Howard Rabinowitz notes that travel between Southern urban cities usually resulted in blacks’ relegation to second-class status on railroads. Rabinowitz, Race Relations.

(43.) In an ironic twist, the C&O Shops were instructed “to furnish separate apartments [sic] for colored people on their trains.” See “News of the C. & O. Shops,” Huntington Advertiser, February 22, 1900. It is almost a certainty that black laborers assisted in this effort and that they knew the purpose of the work on the cars. We can only speculate about the reaction of black workers in the plant to this development.

(44.) U.S. Bureau of the Census, Twelfth Census, 1900.

(45.) Booker T. Washington’s recollections of his mother’s efforts to feed her family in antebellum Virginia add perspective. “Some people blame the Negro for not being more honest; but I can recall many times when, after all was dark and still, in the late hours of the night, when her children had been without food during the day, my mother would awaken us, and we would find that she had gotten from somewhere something in the way of eggs or chickens and cooked the food during the night for us. These eggs and chickens were gotten without my master’s permission or knowledge. Perhaps, by some code of ethics, this would be classed as stealing, but deep down in my heart I can never decide that my mother, under such circumstances, was guilty of theft. Had she acted thus as a free woman she would have been a thief, but not so, in my opinion, as a slave. After our freedom no one was stricter than my mother in teaching and observing the highest rules of integrity.” Washington, Autobiography, 14–15.

(46.) John L. Jones, “The Story of the Jones Family,” History of the Jones Family, ed. and ann. by Nancy E. Aiken and Michel S. Perdreau (Bowie, Md.: Heritage, 2001), Local History Collection, Athens County Library Services, Nelsonville, Ohio, 15.

(47.) Walter and Ida Myers, interviewed by Jackie Fourie, Oral History of Appalachia Project and Drinko Foundation, Special Collections, James E. Morrow Library, Marshall University, March 28, 1996, 32–33.

(p.188) (50.) Strat Douthat, “Son Had to Live in White Society’s Shadow,” Huntington Herald-Dispatch, March 13, 1977.

(51.) Conceptual assistance supplied by Taylor, “On Slavery’s Fringe,’ 10. Categories found in Huntington, West Virginia Directory, 1895–1896.

(52.) Early black migrant Caroline Holley and laborer Albert Jackson resided there in 1895. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Tenth Census; and Huntington, West Virginia Directory, 1895–1896.

(53.) Huntington, West Virginia Directory, 1895–1896. The cited numbers do not include examination of pages 25 or 40, which were damaged and are indecipherable. A domestic and unknown occupation constituted the remaining two.

(54.) Huntington, West Virginia Directory, 1895–1896.

(55.) “Notorious People Fight,” Huntington Advertiser, January 4, 1896.

(56.) Huntington Advertiser, June 23, 1896.

(57.) Huntington Advertiser, June 24, 1896.

(59.) Huntington, West Virginia Directory, 1891–1892, 16.

(60.) Huntington, West Virginia Directory, 1895–1896, 36, 42, 46, 66, 84, 85, 94, 97, 98, 108, 109, 110, and 122.

(61.) Huntington, West Virginia Directory, 1895–1896, and Huntington, West Virginia, March 1893, Sanborn-Perris Map Co., 1893, Cabell County Public Library, Special Collections, Huntington, W.V..

(63.) After the death of their parents, John and Vicki Edwards, within two years of each other, brothers Harry and James, ages thirteen and nine, found themselves in the Lawrence County Children’s Home in 1884. Unable or unwilling to be the guardian, their sixty-six-year-old grandmother Mary Haley, the former Cabell County free-woman and now Portsmouth, Ohio, resident, oversaw their placement in the home. In 1888, after a four-year stay, both boys found homes with adoptive parents within four months of each other. See Martha J. Kounse, Annotated Register, 44.

(64.) For “Loop de Loop” and “Muddy Duck,” see Huntington Advertiser, April 24, 1903; for “Honky Tonk” see Huntington Advertiser, December 8, 1903.

(65.) Huntington Advertiser, February 12, 1903.

(66.) Huntington Advertiser, December 8, 1903.

(67.) Huntington Advertiser, April 25, 1903

(68.) Huntington Advertiser, November 9, 1904.

(70.) Edna Duckworth, personal recollections written October 10, 1994, in author’s possession.

(72.) “Nothing but a Stone,” Huntington Advertiser, June 10, 1899; Huntington Advertiser, December 8, 1899; and “Building Permits,” Huntington Advertiser, November 4, 1904.

(73.) “One of the most,” Huntington Advertiser, October 8, 1900; “dens of vices” and “ape yard,” Huntington Advertiser, August 27, 1904. Though not addressed as such in (p.189) the article, the citation may refer to the club, Ape Yard, operated by Sam Graves and Ike Miller.

(74.) Huntington Advertiser, November 22, 1904. Other articles include November 22 and 26, 1904, and December 5, 1904.

(75.) Huntington Advertiser, February 21, 1905

(76.) Ibid.

(78.) See The Huntington Advertiser, June 11, 1874, September 24, 1874, March 11, 1875, and January 16, 1876.

(79.) Taylor Strauder was convicted of murdering his wife; his attorneys sought to have the decision set aside because no African Americans were on the jury that condemned him. Denied on appeal in the U.S. Circuit Court, the case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, which reversed the decision rendered by the Supreme Court of West Virginia and ordered that Strauder be given a new trial. See Jones, “Civil Status of Negroes,” 25. For information on jury composition, see Common Pleas Law Criminal Record, Cabell County Circuit Court, book 1, April 10, 1893–July 19, 1895; Common Pleas Law Criminal Record, Cabell County Circuit Court, book 2, November 4, 1895–April 21, 1898; Common Pleas Law Criminal Record, Cabell County Circuit Court, book 3, April 21, 1898–December 31, 1900; Common Pleas Law Criminal Record, Cabell County Circuit Court, book 4, January 17, 1901–July 21, 1902. Earlier records destroyed in courthouse fire in Barboursville. See also “Negroes Serve on Phipps Jury,” Huntington Herald-Dispatch, September 22, 1931.

(80.) Virginia experienced an increasing number of lynching incidents during the late nineteenth century—three in 1888, seven in 1889, nine in 1892, and twelve in 1893. See Lebsock, Murder in Virginia, 62. For West Virginia figures see Knohaus, ‘“I Thought Things Would be Different There,” 26.

(81.) Huntington Herald-Dispatch, February 14, 1909.

(82.) “A Narrow Escape,” Salt Lake Herald (Salt Lake City, Utah), May 24, 1895; and “Saved His Neck: The Officers Prevented Ringo from Being Lynched,” Point Pleasant (West Virginia) Weekly Register, May 29, 1895. For more on Ringo, see Fain, “Buffalo Soldier, Deserter, Criminal.”

(83.) See “Bushel of Coal for his Life,” “Mead Still Lives,” “His Trial Postponed,” “Meads Will Recover,” and “Heavy Blow for a Negro,” Huntington Advertiser, May 21, 1897, May 22, 1897, May 24, 1897, and August 31, 1897.

(84.) “Will Ask for Pardon,” Huntington Advertiser, June 9, 1897.