James Edward Givens

Professor James Edward Givens (1861-1910) was born in VA to Jefferson and Mary Ann (Dickerson) Givens. His father fought in the Civil War and never returned home. Mary Ann raised James and his brother William Clifton in Staunton, VA. James was a graduate of Howard University and Harvard College and moved to Louisville in 1892 to leach Greek and Latin at Simmons College. He founded “New South,” a weekly newspaper published in Louisville beginning in 1894. On June 26, 1895, he married Fannie Rosalind Hicks who we’ve featured before. Professor Givens was the head of the State Normal School in Frankfort from 1898 until 1900. During his administration, 265 acres of farm were purchased for the school, the printing department was established, and the enrollment was increased to 152 students.

In 1902, his brother William died leaving a widow and five children. Fannie Rosalind, who was named for her aunt, came to live with Professor Givens and Fannie in Louisville. They adopted her two years later. By 1905, Professor Givens and his family were living in Louisville where he was teaching at Central High School. On March 14, 1910, he died of typhoid fever at his home located at 407 Jacob Street in the Smoketown Neighborhood. He was 49 years old. According to his obituary, Professor Givens was a “leader among the colored people of Kentucky.” He was buried in Cave Hill Corner of Eastern Cemetery where he shares a headstone with his wife with an inscription, “He believed in the divinity of Christ and said, ‘I see my soul divinely clad, approaching my Saviour.’” The photo of Professor Givens is from Find a Grave user Catahoula Hound.

On October 7, 1910, Professor Givens’ sister-in-law Jessie died in VA. Her children James Edward, Margaret, Mary Ann, and Jessie Clifton moved to Louisville to live with Fannie (Hicks) Givens and their biological sister Fannie. All of the children, except Mary, remained in Louisville for the remainder of their lives. In fact, James, Margaret, and Fannie are also buried in Eastern Cemetery.