Archive for September, 2019

Rev. Bartlett Taylor

Rev. Bartlett Taylor (1815-1901) was born into slavery in Henderson, Kentucky. His father, Jonathan Taylor, owned Bartlett, his mother, and his siblings. Jonathan Taylor sold many of them to pay for his debts and moved the remaining slaves, including Bartlett, to LaGrange. Bartlett Taylor worked as a butcher to buy his freedom in 1840. He grew his business into a retail and wholesale butcher that also packaged and shipped meat as well as traded livestock. As a fairly wealthy man, Taylor owned several homes and lots on E. Market Street and lived in Germantown at 940 Mary Street (formerly 938). Taylor was also known as a preacher in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. He was a driving force in building AME churches and schools across the state. Image is from “Courier-Journal” article from July 4, 1901.

Albert E. Meyzeek

Albert E. Meyzeek (1872-1963) was a Civil Rights activist as well as a principal and teacher at several Louisville schools for 50 years (Booker T. Washington School, Central High School, and Jackson Junior High School). He was a president of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association, a founder of the Domestic Life Insurance Company, a founder of the Louisville Urban League, and a founder of the Chestnut Street YMCA. Meyzeek advocated for educational opportunities and better housing conditions for African Americans. Meyzeek was born in Toledo, OH; educated in Toronto, Canada; graduated from high school in Terra Haute, IN; and received degrees from Indiana University. Meyzeek Middle School was named in his honor.

Harvey Clarence Russell, Sr.

Harvey Clarence Russell, Sr. (1883-1949) was born in Bloomfield, Kentucky. He attended school at Kentucky State Normal School (Kentucky State University), Simmons University (Simmons College of Kentucky), and University of Cincinnati. Russell had a long, distinguished career as an educator. He taught at Bloomfield public schools, Frankfort Normal School, Booker T. Washington Elementary School, and Louisville Normal School. Russell was also dean of Kentucky State College and president of West Kentucky Industrial College. Russell was president of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association, a founder of the Domestic Life and Accident Insurance Company, a grand master of the United Brothers of Friends, an educational columnist for the “Louisville Leader,” and a business manager for Simmons University. Russell lived in the Russell neighborhood—first at 1029 W. Madison St. and then at 2345 W. Chestnut St. The neighborhood was named in his honor as was the Harvey C. Russell Junior High School. 

Mary E. Merritt, RN

Mary E. Merritt (1881-1953) was born in Berea, KY and initially attended Berea College. However, when the Kentucky Governor signed the Day Law, a school racial segregation law, in 1904 she was forced to leave Berea College. Merritt continued nurse training at Freedman Hospital in Washington D.C. When Merritt graduated as a registered nurse in 1906, she was the first African American nurse licensed in Kentucky. In 1911, Mary became superintendent of Louisville’s Red Cross Hospital, which only had 12 beds. By the time she retired 34 years later, the number of beds had increased to 100. Merritt was an active member of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, which awarded her the Mary Mahoney Medal for distinguished service in nursing. Furthermore, President Woodrow Wilson awarded her a Certificate of Merit for her Red Cross work during WWI. The Merritt Building at Central State Hospital was named in her honor. Image from “Courier-Journal” August 14, 1949. 

Emma Lewis Minnis

Emma Lewis Minnis (1881-1972) was the youngest of nine children of Madison Beaumont Minnis and Elizabeth Turner. Minnis was a graduate of Central High School, Louisville Normal School (Breckinridge Metropolitan High School), University of Chicago, and University of Illinois. Minnis was principal of the Benjamin Banneker School for 13 years; taught music at Oakwood College in Huntsville, AL; and taught music for many years at the Magazine Street Seventh Day Adventist Church and its school. The school was established in 1915, but in 1970, it was renamed the Emma L. Minnis Junior Academy in her honor. The school is still in operation. Image from “Bellarmine Magazine” Summer 2014 features Emma’s portrait and her great nephew Dr. Bernard Minnis.


Mary (Wilson) Lusco

Mary (Wilson) Lusco (1931-1969) was born in Sprague, WV as the daughter of Matthew and Maggie Wilson. Her father was a coal miner. Mary was a Private First Class in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) during the 1950s. She was stationed in Fort Monmouth, NJ and Fort Holabird, MD at a time when there were not many African American women in the WAC. She had a son, Jarvis F. Wilson, who was also in the Army, prior to her marriage to Lovell M. Lusco in 1964. Together they lived at 716 S. 19th Street in the California Neighborhood. Lovell was a WWII veteran and worker at the VA Hospital. Mary was a clinical technician at the children’s hospital.


Anna Theresa (Hagmann) Ott

Anna Theresa (Hagmann) Ott (1877-1909) was born in Louisville, KY during the Victorian Era. In 1901, she married Charles George Ott and became a housewife. Together Anna and George had three children: a son and two daughters. Anna died of tuberculosis at the young age of 31. In the early 1900s, tuberculosis was responsible for the deaths of 110,000 Americans each year. During Anna’s lifetime, it was not common to record women’s history and as a result, the information we have on her is very limited. If you have any information about Anna that you would like to share, please comment on this post. Image from Find A Grave user Deborah Kaelin.

Amelia (Cramm) Kahnt Weise Kress

Amelia (Cramm) Kahnt Weise Kress (1840-1934) is buried with her three husbands, which is marked by one large monument. Amelia married Charles “Carl” Kahnt, a furniture dealer, in 1862. Together they had two children: Louisa and Frederick. Kahnt died in 1869 at the age of 43. Amelia married Frederick “Fritz” Weise, a saloon keeper, in 1873. Together they had a son, William. Weise died of tuberculosis in 1884 at the age of 46. Amelia married Christian Kress, a shoe retailer, in 1886. Together they lived at 2035 Bank St. in the Portland Neighborhood. Kress died of appendicitis in 1901 at the age of 65. After his death, Amelia briefly stayed in her home before moving in with her daughter’s family (Emil Beyer and Louisa Kahnt) and her granddaughter’s family (Dean Meads and Flora Beyer). Amelia died in 1934 at the age of 94.

Matilda “Minnie” Erb

Matilda “Minnie” Erb (1858-1943) was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Her mother and father were from Germany. Matilda also went by the name Minnie. She never married and spent much of her adult life living with the family of her sister, Wilhelmine Emmons, who also went by Minnie. As a matter of fact, at the time of the 1930 census, the following “Minnies” were all living together at 4110 West Broadway: Minnie H. Emmons (Matilda’s sister, Wilhelmine) age 65, wife of John Emmons; Minnie M. Boylan, age 38, daughter of John and Minnie Emmons, wife of Howard Boylan; Minnie M. Boylan, age 14, daughter of Howard and Minnie Boylan, granddaughter of John and Minnie Emmons; and Matilda “Minnie” Erb, age 66, sister-in-law of John Emmons. John worked as a traveling salesman for a uniform manufacturing company and owned the house located at 4110 West Broadway. Image of Matilda from Find A Grave user Karen Shirar. 

Dorothy (Rogers) Coleman

Dorothy (Rogers) Coleman (1911-1972) was born in Anderson, IN. She moved to Louisville when she married William S. Coleman, an educator with the Civilian Conservation Corps and Executive Director of the Chestnut Street YMCA. They lived in the Russell Neighborhood (305 S. 28th St.) and the Parkland Neighborhood (3225 Dumesnil St.). Together they had three children: Shirley, William, Jr., and Robert. As an African American teacher, Dorothy taught French and English at DuValle Junior High School, a school for African American students. She was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and a charter member of the Mother Dears Club, an enrichment program for African American children, which later incorporated into Jack and Jill of America.

Anastacia (Cook) Summers

Anastacia (Cook) Summers (1886-1944) was born in the small town of Alton Station, KY, located in Anderson County. Throughout her life, she was known as Stacia. In July of 1913, she married Edward Summers, a construction worker, in Shelbyville, KY. The couple had five children, and they resided on Story Avenue for many years including the Great Depression. Stacia was a homemaker throughout her life. She died of cirrhosis of the liver at St. Joseph’s Infirmary in 1944. She was 57 years old. Stacia’s final resting place at Eastern Cemetery is with her son, William, who was killed in a car accident in 1936 at the age of 20. Image of Stacia and Edward from Find A Grave user Dorothy Hare Wigginton.

Mattie (Thomas) Lewis

Mattie (Thomas) Lewis (circa 1856-1915) was a housekeeper, wife, and mother. She worked in the home of Henry S. “Tip” Tyler, the 27th Mayor of Louisville. Her husband Plummer Lewis was a Civil War veteran (28th U.S. Colored Infantry) and butler for Mrs. Henry S. Tyler and Col. John Boyle. Together, Plummer and Mattie had two sons: Plummer, Jr., and Cary B. who was an editor of the “Chicago Defender.” We could not find information about Mattie Lewis prior to 1880, and there does not appear to be much information about her life. Mattie lived during a time when neither women’s history nor African American history was frequently recorded. Image is from “Courier-Journal” October 22, 1915.

Lucinda (Sale) Shanks

Lucinda (Sale) Shanks (1820-1898) married Thomas Shanks, a brick mason who later became a deputy sheriff. They married in the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1838. According to the 1870 census, the couple had three daughters and Lucinda was “keeping house.” After Thomas’s death, Lucinda operated a boarding house, which was a common occupation for widows at the time. Lucinda died of senility in 1898 at the age of 77. There is not much documentation on Lucinda’s life as she lived in a time that women’s history was rarely documented. However, in 1898, the year of Lucinda’s death, we know sharpshooter/exhibition shooter Annie Oakley wrote a letter to President McKinley offering the service of 50 lady sharpshooters should the United States go to war with Spain. The letter is viewed as the first political move for women’s rights to combat services in the United States Military. Image of Lucinda from Find A Grave user Cameron.

Louise (Weppner) Waller

Louise (Weppner) Waller (1871-1938) was born in Louisville, KY to F.W. Weppner and Elizabeth Dauber, German immigrants. Louise married Joseph C. Waller, a printer, in 1900. Together they had one son, Lethen, and resided at 1047 E. Kentucky Street in the Germantown Neighborhood. Louise was active in the Harmony Chapter (273) of the Order of the Eastern Star (OES). The OES is an organization closely tied to the Masons. The emblem is a five-pointed star with a series of symbols, colors, and meanings. This emblem is engraved on Louise’s headstone. For that reason, her grave became known as the “witch’s grave.” We have found evidence of people vandalizing her grave, so we work hard to explain the OES symbol and protect Louise’s grave.

Louisa Faber

Louisa Faber (circa 1868-1887) was born in Germany. Louis Szczepansky, her childhood sweetheart and fiancé, immigrated to America to make his fortune and send for his betrothed. During the 1880s, nearly 1.5 million Germans immigrated to the United States from Germany to escape economic poverty and political unrest. Louis obtained a job as head cutter at Deppen & Sons in the tailoring department. He sent for Louisa. She first arrived in New York and insisted on working to pay her way to Louisville. Arriving in Louisville a month later, 19-year-old Louisa decided to work as a domestic for George A. Lippold until the wedding. However, she developed typhoid fever and was sent to the City Hospital without Louis’s knowledge. When he discovered what happened, he attempted to see Louisa several times but was denied visitation because she was too sick. When Louis returned after a couple of days, he was told she was dead and her body was taken to a potter’s field. Louis attempted to retrieve Louisa’s body only to find it had been donated to the local medical school because no next of kin claimed it. Louis eventually secured Louisa’s remains and gave her a private burial at Eastern Cemetery. Image is from “Courier-Journal” October 11, 1887.