Archive for September, 2019

Figures of Louisville’s Eastern Cemetery

In this ongoing series, the Friends of Eastern Cemetery in conjunction with Western Library will feature individuals from Louisville’s Eastern Cemetery to highlight their contributions to Louisville. A brief history of Eastern Cemetery as well as tips on finding relatives buried there will be shared.

October’s program (Tuesday, October 1 at 5:30 p.m.) will focus on historical individuals from the Russell Neighborhood and Western Library including Albert Meyzeek, Thomas Fountain Blue, Washington Spradling, Harvey C. Russell, Horace Morris, and William Watson.

Western Library, 604 South Tenth Street
Call (502) 574-1779 for more info.

PLUS join us for a guided tour of the cemetery grounds on Saturday, October 5, at 10 a.m.


James Edward “Eddie” Lindsey

James Edward “Eddie” Lindsey born in 1936 in Morgantown, Kentucky. The son of Hillary and Alta Lindsey. Mr. Eddie Lindsey is the oldest sibling; Earl, Gerald Wayne, William Henry, Fred, Pat Lindsey Geary Johnny Ray, and Aubrey Dean (also buried at Eastern). He is the father of 4 girls. He was a musician at night and truck driver during the day. He played with Elvis and was invited to the Grand Ole Opry but never made it before his death. Mr. Eddie Lindsey played at night at the Dew Drop Inn in Louisville to provide for his family. A great man, brother, father, son and grandfather. Truly will be forever missed and loved.

Written by Debbie Lindsey Davidson

Corporal James W. Wells

James W. Wells was born on March 17, 1920 in Laurel County, Kentucky to William and Martha Wells. William worked as a coal mine in Harlan County, Kentucky throughout most of his life and had five children. By 1940, James was married to Beatrice Woolum and worked as a coal miner in Harlan County. Their son James Forester was born in 1942. James enlisted in the Army on April 11, 1944 in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. He was sent to the Muskogee Army Airfield in Oklahoma and assigned to the 349th Army Air Forces Base Unit. James’s brother Robert also enlisted in the Army for World War II. James W. Wells lived in Louisville after the war and died on January 1, 1971 at the age of 50.

Private Titus Brooks

Titus Brooks was born July 17, 1896 in Weakly County, Tennessee to John and Julia Brooks. John worked as a day laborer throughout his whole life. By the time Titus was 14 years old he was working as a dropper in the tobacco field in which he dropped the tobacco plants in the rows for the planters. Everyone in the Brooks household held jobs as cooks, laborers, carpenters, and doing washing at home as was common for rural, lower class families. On September 27, 1918, Titus enlisted in the Army for World War I. He was sent to Camp Sherman in Ohio and assigned to the 40th Company, 10th Training Battalion, 158th Depot Brigade. Titus’s unit was comprised of African American soldiers who received and organized recruits; provided them with uniforms, equipment and initial military training; and then send them to France. The Depot Brigades also received soldiers returning home at the end of the war and completed their out processing and discharges. Brooks was honorable discharged on January 20, 1919 and returned home to his wife Maude and their son Timothy. The family soon moved to Louisville, Kentucky and lived in a rented house on E. Lee Street. Since Titus only had a second grade education, he worked more physical jobs such as plastering and gardening. He and Maude had a total of 10 kids. Titus Brooks died March 21, 1963 at the age of 66. He and Maude were buried at Eastern Cemetery.

Rudell Stitch

Rudell Stitch (1933-1960) was a welterweight boxer from Louisville who received two Carnegie Hero Fund Medals. One in 1958 for saving Joseph Schifcar in the Ohio River, and one in 1960 for attempting to save boxer Charles Oliver in the Ohio River. They both drowned June 5, 1960. Stitch was one of the top welterweight boxers in the world when he died at the age of 27. His widow, Rosa Mae Stitch, was shot and killed in January 1964 in her Prospect home four years later at the age of 31. Their six children (Rudell III, Donald, Rodney, Perry, Darryl Lamarr and Janet Lynn) survived their parents.Stitch was inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in June 2014, a year after being honored with a Kentucky Pride Foundation “hometown heroes” mural on the 4th Street Live parking garage, next to the Cathedral of the Assumption on Fifth Street.

Alfred M. Carroll

Alfred M. Carroll (1912-1966) was a Civil Rights Leader and member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He served as the Chapter President from 1945-1947. Carroll was a graduate of Wilberforce University and the Howard University School of Law, in Washington, DC. He was admitted to the Louisville Bar in 1945. He was also the Pastor of St. Paul AME Church. First image is from the “Courier-Journal” October 17, 1948 and the second image is from an anonymous Find A Grave user.

Rev. Daniel Abraham Gaddie

Rev. Daniel Abraham Gaddie (1833-1911) was a Baptist minister who pastored across Kentucky. He was born into slavery in Hart County, Kentucky. Upon freedom, he changed his last name from Jamison to Gaddie. During his tenure at Green Street Baptist Church (1872-1911), Rev. Gaddie married over 500 couples and baptized over 1,500 people. He was an education activist and Simmons College of Kentucky gave him an honorary Doctor of Divinity for his service. Image of younger Gaddie is from “Men of Mark: Eminent, Progressive and Rising.” Image of older Gaddie is from “Golden Jubilee of the General Association of Colored Baptist’s in Kentucky.”

David “Davy” Straws

David “Davy” Straws (1799-1872) was a slave who bought his own freedom and then became a prosperous barber. He later expanded his business to include an in-vogue Bath House. His shop was located at the rear of the Louisville Hotel, near Sixth Street, and he serviced the neighborhood for over 30 years. He was also a successful real estate investor, which enabled him to provide a substantial amount of the funding for the establishment of the Fourth Street Colored Methodist Church at Fourth and Liberty. Article from “Louisville Daily Courier” January 1, 1852.

Dr. William J. Simmons

Dr. William J. Simmons (1849-1890) was born with slave status in Charleston, South Carolina. Not much is known about his early life. Simmons was a member of Company B of the 41st US Colored Infantry during the Civil War. In 1873, he graduated from Howard University in Washington, DC and began teaching. He married Josephine A. Silence in 1874 and together they had eight children, but we could only find seven: Josephine, William, Effie, Minnie, Mary, John, and Augusta. Simmons became a Baptist minister in 1879. That same year he moved to Lexington, KY to preach, and in 1880 became the second president of Kentucky Normal and Theological Institute, which was later named Simmons College in his honor. In 1882, he became editor of the “American Baptist” newspaper for African Americans and organized the American Baptist National Convention in 1886. Wilberforce University made him a Doctor of Divinity in 1885. In 1890, Simmons cofounded Eckstein Norton University with Charles H. Parrish in Bullitt County, KY. On October 30, 1890, Simmons died from heart failure at the approximate age of 41. Simmons is buried in the Ladies Union Band Society Lot in Eastern Cemetery. Simmons leaves a legacy as an African American rights and education activist. Image from “The History of the Negro Church.”

Dr. John A.C. Lattimore

Dr. John Aaron Cicero Lattimore (1874-1959) was born to John Lattimore and Marcilla Hambrick Lattimore on June 23, 1874 in Cleveland County, NC. He had a brother and seven sisters. His father was a former slave. Clement Richardson published an article in 1919 in the “National Cyclopedia of the Colored Race,” Volume 1 in which he noted Dr. Bullock of Greensboro, NC was a tremendous influence on Lattimore’s decision to become a doctor. Lattimore was a “buggy boy” for Dr. Bullock and accompanied him on daily house calls.
Lattimore attended public schools in North Carolina. In 1897, he graduated from Bennett College in Greensboro, NC and went on to Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN where he received his doctor’s degree in 1901. He was twenty-seven. He began practicing medicine in Louisville where he practiced for over fifty years. In the early days of his career, he charged 50 cents for an office visit, $1.00 for a house call, and $10.00 to deliver a baby. During this time, Lattimore enjoyed spending his free time coaching football for Simmons University, and he was the team physician for the Central High School football team.
Dr. Lattimore married Naomi Agness Melissa Anthony of Illinois sometime between 1920 and 1930. We have not been able to find a marriage license yet to determine when. They had no children. Lattimore served as president of the National Medical Association and was on the board of trustees for the Broadway Temple AME Zion Church for 58 years. Lattimore was a true civic leader and helped to organize numerous medical associations and African American advocacy groups including a chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Louisville Urban League. He was also a Mason, an Elk, and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha and Sigma Pi Phi fraternities. When Dr. Lattimore retired, he was running the twelve room Lattimore Clinic at 1432 W. Walnut Street. He died at the age of 85 of chronic kidney disease. Photos from Ancestry user leelandj.

Dr. Orville Ballard

Dr. Orville Ballard (1896-1972) was born on August 20, 1896 in Lexington, KY to Dr. William Henry and Elizabeth “Bessie” Hudson (Brady) Ballard. Orville had three brothers and two sisters. Dr. William Ballard was a pharmacist in Lexington for 54 years. We are not exactly sure when Ballard married Kathryn Wise but between 1929 and 1939, the couple had four children: Pamela, Kathryn, Orville, and Bruce. Two of which, Kathryn and Bruce, became doctors. Ballard attended Howard University in Washington, DC where he received his medical degree in 1923. He interned at Kansas City Hospital and by 1924 was in private practice in Louisville, KY. In 1928, Ballard became a senior resident physician at Waverly Hills Tuberculosis Sanatorium. He would hold this position for the next 31 years. Ballard was a lifelong advocate for the advancement of African Americans in the medical field. In 1941, Dr. August Schachner donated a 1,000 volume medical library for the use of African American doctors. The dedication ceremony was held at the Western Library. Ballard was quoted as saying to Dr. Schachner, “You will live forever in the hearts of the Negro medical fraternity.” In 1943, Ballard won the Howard University first annual award for distinguished public service by an alumnus for his work at Waverly Hills. In 1953, Ballard made national headlines when he and Dr. Grace M. James were the first African Americans to join the faculty of a southern school: University of Louisville. Ballard was a member of Quinn Chapel AME Church, Falls City Medical Society, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and Psi Boule of Sigma Pi Phi. He died on December 29, 1972. At the time of his death, he was living at 661 S. 44th Street in the Shawnee Neighborhood. Photo of Ballard and Dr. Schachner is from an April 26, 1941 “Courier-Journal” article. Single photo of Dr. Ballard is from “Courier-Journal” December 17, 1953.

James C. Cunningham

James C. Cunningham (1787-1877) was born in Bermuda and arrived in Louisville around 1835. As a dance master and prestigious band leader, he played soirees for Louisville’s elite. In 1850 he performed at a masked ball for Louisville socialite Sallie Ward. The “Louisville Morning Courier” described his music as “filling three large parlors with the most delicious tones.” He performed at a ball to honor President-elect Zachary Taylor. Cunningham was also active in the Underground Railroad. Image is from “Louisville Daily Courier” article from October 13, 1848.

James R. Cunningham

James R. Cunningham (1853-1943) was the son of dance master/band leader James C. Cunningham. James R. Cunningham was steeped in music at an early age and could play 22 instruments. He was the founder of the Falls City Coronet Band, later known as the Falls City Brass Band. During his career, he toured Europe and had the distinction of performing for three American presidents: Rutherford B. Hayes, Ulysses S. Grant, and Grover Cleveland. Image is from “Courier-Journal” article from November 11, 1943.

Mary V. (Cunningham) Smith

Mary V. (Cunningham) Smith (1842-1919) was the daughter of dance master/band leader James C. Cunningham. Mary was raised to appreciate music, and she became a widely known pianist and organist. In 1870, Mary and her husband Early Smith, a barber and saloon owner, filed a lawsuit against the Louisville City Railway Company indicating the company had removed Mary and her six-year-old stepson, Gustavus, from the streetcar because of their race. Mary and her husband were represented by three white attorneys, one of them was James Speed. The Smiths won the case. Image from Kentucky Center for African American Heritage.

Diana Thompson and Dinnie Thompson

Diana Thompson (1818-1895) was enslaved by the Speed Family at the Farmington Plantation. Mary Speed enslaved Diana for her personal use during the time Abraham Lincoln visited Joshua Speed at the Plantation in 1841. In 1854, Mary Speed moved Diana and her family to her home on 5th Street. Diana married Spencer Thompson and gave birth to Dinnie in 1857. Spencer died a year later. Diana tried to escape slavery with Dinnie several times, but they were captured each time. They were freed in 1864 and traveled to Indianapolis to view President Lincoln lying in state. Dinnie Thompson (1857-1939) was educated in the public school for black students. She was a maid at the Neighborhood House from 1913 until her death in 1939. Dinnie was an officer in the St. Mary Chapter of the Sisters of the Mysterious Ten, a benevolent African American group. Diana and Dinnie are buried in unmarked graves in Eastern Cemetery. The photo of Dinnie is from a “Courier-Journal” article from February 21, 1997.