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Category Archives: black history

Henry O. Flipper

Henry Ossian Flipper was born March 21, 1856 to Festus Flipper (1832 – 1918) and Isabella Buckhalter Flipper (1837 – 1887) in Thomasville, Georga, both of mixed race. Accordingly, he was born a slave. In the 1870 census, Festus was shown to be a cobbler or shoemaker. Henry entered Atlanta University, a historically Black college, in 1873. While still a freshman there, he received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, said to be the the fifth such appointment of a person of African American descent. Though his time at West Point was difficult due to prejudice, he graduated in 1877 as a 2nd Lieutenant. Accordingly, Flipper was the first African American graduate of West Point and the first African American commissioned officer in the United States Army.

The following year, Flipper was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Battalion at Fort Sill, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). In 1880, his 10th Cavalry headed west to its posting at Fort Davis along with the 24th Infantry, both of which units were part of the four (two infantry and two cavalry) battalions of the so-called Buffalo Soldiers. These units were formed after the Civil War comprised primarily of African American troops and Anglo officers, with few exceptions. While with the 10th Cavalry, Flipper saw duty at several Texas forts including Elliott, Concho and Quitman in addition to Fort Davis. He was responsible for several successful engineering accomplishments and served in military capacities in other action with the 10th Cavalry.

At Fort Davis, Flipper served as quartermaster. Shortly after Colonel William Shafter arrived and began serving as commander of Fort Davis, a shortage was discovered in commissary funds in the amount of $3,791.71 and Flipper was accused of being responsible for it. In a controversial decision, Shafter brought Flipper up on charges including embezzlement and conduct unbecoming an officer. To a layman, the former charge is possibly more understandable than the latter.

Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, prosecutors must prove two elements under Article 133 to convict a service member of conduct unbecoming an officer or gentleman, that the individual accused either did commit or omitted to perform certain acts, and that, under the circumstances, these acts or omissions constituted conduct unbecoming an officer or gentleman. In 1881 a court-martial was held the result of which was the acquittal of Flipper on the count of the accused embezzlement, but a conviction on the count of conduct unbecoming of an officer. Flipper was dishonorably discharged from the Army in the summer of 1882.

Flipper remained in Texas for a number of years after his discharge from the Army. He initially worked as a surveyor in various capacities for a Texas company. In the late 1880s, he relocated to Arizona where he ran a civil and mining engineering firm. Flipper went on to use his engineering and language gifts while working for the United States Justice Department and in private business, generally living in the southwest. He continued to fight to restore and clear his Army record but was unsuccessful in doing so during his lifetime.

Flipper died in 1940 of a heart attack at the age of 84, without having success in clearing his military record. No record can be found that he was married and had a family, but other family members appear to have supported a review of his case and in 1976, the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records. The Board concluded that Flipper was excessively punished and awarded him a posthumous honorable discharge. President Bill Clinton granted him a full pardon in 1999.

Image credit – findagrave.com

Flipper was initially buried in Atlanta, but in 1984, his remains were reinterred in the family plot in Thomasville, Georgia where he was born.

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Posted by on November 25, 2021 in biography, black history

 

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Joe Tex

The singer by this name was born on August 8, 1935 (some sources give the year to be 1933) as Joseph Arrington, Jr. in Rogers, Bell County, Texas and went to school in McNair, just outside Baytown. His parents were Joseph Arrington and Cherrie Warren Arrington. He was a high school athlete and played in the band. As a youth, he won a talent contest and was invited to perform in New York City’s Apollo Theater. Early on, he adopted the stage name of Joe Tex.

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Posted by on September 16, 2021 in black history, entertainers, people named Tex

 

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Bob and Almeady Chisum Jones

Clipping from Denton Record-Chronicle, Wednesday 14 Apr 1949

Almeady “Meady” Chisum Jones was the daughter of Jensie Moore and John Chisum. Jensie was a former slave and lived as the wife of John Chisum in North Texas. Almeady married John Dolford “Bob” Jones in 1874 (some accounts say 1869, but Almeady was born around 1857 and their first child was born in 1875) after they met at a dance in Bonham. The couple had at least ten children.

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Posted by on June 3, 2021 in biography, black history

 

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Ivory Joe Hunter

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Ivory Joe Hunter, 63, who wrote between 2,000 and 3,000 country, blues and popular songs, died Friday of lung cancer in a Memphis, hospital. Among his best-known numbers are “My Wish Came True,” “I Need You So,” “Ain’t That Lovin’ You, Baby,” “and “I Almost Lost My Mind.” – The Kane Republican (Kane, Pennsylvania) Sat. Nov 9, 1974.


Ivory Joe Hunter was born to a musical family in 1914 (some accounts say 1911) in Kirbyville, south of Jasper, Texas. There is not much between Kirbyville and the Texas-Louisiana border other than farm land and woods. His father Dave Hunter was a guitar player and laborer and his mother Anna Smith Hunter was a gospel singer and a housewife. In the 1920 federal census, Ivory Joe was one of twelve children. Both of his parents seem to have died while he was young. By the 1930 census, Ivory Joe was living with an older sister Georgia and her family, along with several more of the Hunter siblings in the Port Arthur area where he attended school. Some accounts say that Ivory was a nickname, but as far back as the 1920 census, he was listed with the name Ivory Joe Hunter and his name was given to him by his mother.

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Posted by on February 11, 2021 in biography, black history, entertainers

 

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Don Baylor

Don Edward Baylor was a major league baseball player. He was born in Austin in 1949 to George E. Baylor and Lillian Joyce Brown Baylor, and was one of at least three siblings. His father George had served in the United States Army and then been employed by the Missouri Pacific Railroad out of Austin. Don was at the least a fourth generation Texan with his father, grandfather Carey and great grandfather Amsted all having been born in Texas.

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Posted by on January 21, 2021 in biography, black history

 

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