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Livingston County History
Celebrating 150 Years, 1821-1981
Published by The Retired Senior Volunteer Program
The first Garrison School was a store building on Conn Street in the 200 block, rented by the school district; it was a one room elementary school. The second school was another rented store building on Madison Street. The first teachers were white because Negroes were not allowed to secure an education until after the Emancipation Proclamation. The first Negro principal was H. C. Madison from Illinois.
A new building was started on Henry Street in 1881. The building consisted of five classrooms, a basement, heating and plumbing equipment. The building served not only as a school but as a community center for many years. There were two grade school rooms, one for lower grades, and one for upper grades. There were two rooms used for High School classes such as home economics, history, English, Latin, algebra and mathematics. Restrooms were located in the basement as was a room that doubled for a shop and a lab for science class. Only two years of high school were offered until 1935 when a four-year high school rating was granted.
Some of the teachers were John W. White, William V. Williams, Alonzo Redmond, Julia Cox, and Eileen Walker Price (now Mrs. Jack Scholls). Mrs. Price taught home economics; in the fall the students canned home grown vegetables; later they learned to sew on treadle sewing machines.
Because of limited space, graduation was always held in the Central School Auditorium. In 1953 -the school district built a new building which was used by Negro students for four years. The new building consisted of five class rooms, basement, modern heating and plumbing equipment. Total desegregation of schools in Chillicothe did not come until 1957 when a committee of seven was appointed from the NAACP to meet with the local school board relative to implementing the 1954 Desegregation Decision.
The Chillicothe Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was organized January 26, 1952 at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 201 Asher Street, with approximately 100 persons in attendance. Attorney Carl Roman Johnson of Kansas City was the principle speaker; he said, “The Association’s ultimate goal is to establish full equal rights for Americans of all races.” The officers elected at that meeting were: Benjamin F. Bland, President; Mary Rogers Johnson, Secretary, and L. A. Sawyer, Treasurer.
Meetings were held twice a month at alternating meeting places between Bethel A.M.E. Church and Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Projects included lawn socials, a Lincoln Day Banquet, dinners and Achievement Day. The N.A.A.C.P. was active in desegregating the Simpson Park pool in 1954.
The second president was Oliver Vincent Shields, elected in 1955. In 1957 a committee met with the local school board relative to the Supreme Court decision of the 1954 Desegregation law. Committee members were: Mr. and Mrs. Wyman Palmer, Mrs. Lucille Kerr, Mrs. Darline Botts, Mr. Vincent Shields, and Mr. Benjamin Bland.
In 1962 gains were made in public accommodations; the fight for public accommodations and employment continued through 1964 and 1965. In 1966 the Chillicothe Chapter served as host at a State Convention, held at the Strand Hotel. Business establishments which were in violation of the Missouri Public Accommodations Law we’re investigated by the Human Rights Commissions and negro applicants were hired by area businesses.
Vincent Shields was elected state president of the N.A.A.C.P. in 1968 and served until 1973. Under his term the N.A.A.C.P. became involved in the Poverty Program, O.E.O.
There have been four Negro churches in Livingston County, some of which are listed under the section of the book for churches. Mt. Zion Baptist was founded in 1854. The Bethel A.M.E. Church was built at 200 Henry Street following the Civil War. Beal Chapel Church at Utica was built on land given by Peter Allen, ancestor of Patricia Taylor; Albert Lee, another ancestor, gave the first load of lumber to build the church. It served Negro members in Utica for many years but membership dwindled and the building was eventually sold. The Church of God in Christ, was started in Chillicothe in 1926 by Elder and Sister Fisher. It was the first integrated church in Chillicothe and was a Holiness Church.
Henry Williams, who married Fannie Hicklin of Lexington, Missouri, in 1874, was a settler. At the time of their marriage they lived at 1208 Fair Street, but later they purchased land and built their home in 1910 at 707 Graves Street. They had three children, Nina, Virgil and William Vernon. Virgil and William were long time teachers in the public schools at Garrison High School.
Clyde W. Banks was born in Chillicothe, and after finishing school at Lincoln University, operated a cleaning and pressing shop. He was also a tailor except for 13 years when he served as school principal in Brookfield and Salisbury.
Many negroes from the community have served in the armed services in World War I and World War II. Bazel Allen was the first serviceman from the Negro community to die fighting for his country in World War II.
Mr. and Mrs. John Lee ran a restaurant in Utica, Missouri, on the second floor of a building on Main Street during 1929 and 1930. They served meals in the afternoon and evening and brought in musicians to play piano, trumpet and saxaphone. Round and square dancing were enjoyed.
Edward Gilbert ran the first pool hall for Negroes near the Wabash railroad. It was located in a small building at First and Elm Street. Dan Monroe had the first lunch counter near Locust and Clay; he served ice cream cones. Oliver Shields, Sr. had a restaurant with a walk-up counter for quick sandwich orders. Reverend Fred Boone had a dairy delivery service.
Mr. and Mrs. Bill Anderson had a restaurant and grocery store. Alex Winifred met mail trains with his own team and wagon and transported the mail to the local post office; he employed men to help at busy times.
Dr. G. W. Brown, a licensed M.D., had a large clinic and practice in the front of his home on Slack Street. David Douglas ran a pool hall and entertainment center in the same building.
John Denning raised tobacco on Lily Street. Clarence M. Brown, Sr. was the first negro to be a switch brakeman at the Utica Brick Plant, now Midland Brick and Tile Company.
Reverend Harlon Campbell, a local pastor, was the first to carry hot sandwiches and homemade pies, made by his wife, up and down Washington Street. Allen Bland was the only Negro bricklayer in the Chillicothe area. He worked for Meek contractors in 1900 and built homes and chimneys. Thomas Banks was custodian for Central School for 40 years. Other custodians have included Harvey Montgomery, Sill Sawyer, Jack Scholls, William Wilson, Warrenton Pettigrew, James Price, Thomas Banks, Leon Steward, Charles Crain, O’Dell Taylor and Mary Taylor. Laura Wright did cleaning for Judge Davis in the courthouse and other business places.
McLinda Lewis was a midwife, who lived to be ninety. Eugene Eubanks was a graduate artist with a degree from Lincoln University at Jefferson City; he taught art at the State Training School for Girls. Others who worked at the State Training School in various capacities have included: Mrs. Henrietta Johnson, Mrs. Odera Burns, Mrs. Lucille Williams, Mrs. Florence Banks, Mrs. Mary Johnson, Mrs. Maggie Browne, Mrs. Dottie McGlothen, Mrs. Jessie Allen and Mrs. Charlotte Helm.
Kay Kyles was a steward for the Burlington Railroad. Benjamin Longdon was a noted writer; he was a member and custodian at the Christian Church. Several members of the Negro community were involved in food services such as restaurants and bakeries, and those not previously mentioned included: Edward Gilbert, Oliver Shields, Mae Lee, Mary Scholls, Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzo Harris, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Anderson, Ralph Anderson and Minnie Estes.
Fred Doxey, James Pettigrew and Lester Williams worked for the Bell Telephone Company. Mechanics included: George Allen, Carl Kerr, Raymond Kitchen, Max Allen, Francis Midgyett, Joe Bentley, Alonzo Cooper and Edward Akers.
The Negro community has produced several registered nurses. Included in the employees at the Chillicothe Hospital or Hedrick Medical Center are: Mrs. Clyde Moore, Miss Bessie Banks, Mrs. Edna Shields, Reverend Lewis Jefferies, Mrs. Martha Ann Bentley, Mrs. Alice Hill and Mrs. Iva Fairley.
Those clerking in stores have included: Mary Redmon, Lorraine Pettigrew, Catherine Rucker, Oscar Jones, George Parker, Wanda Doxey Wilson, Patricia Greene Taylor and Leroy White.
Those employeed by the Green Hills Human Resource Corporation Agency have included: Lucille Kerr, Darline Botts, Mary Johnson, Mary Kinyoun, Melvina Scott, JoAnn Pittman and Linda Dodd.
Jerome Botts and Robert Jordon work for H.U.D. Post Office employees have included: Victor Alex, Bert Anderson, Vincent O. Shields, and Ed. Gilbert. Present teachers in the Chillicothe School system include Charles and Rosalie Epps.
Forest Hill Cemetery is located in Edgewood Cemetery. Landon Johnson, a free slave when his former master died penniless, collected money from door to door so that he could bury him in Forest Hill. Later when Landon died, special permission was granted for him to be buried beside his former master.
South Cemetery is located at the edge of town, southeast of Highway 36. This cemetery belonged to an organization known as the Old Benevolent Lodge. After the members died, Mt. Zion Baptist Church obtained the ground. It has been a burial ground for Negroes for many years.
The North Cemetery, located northeast of the Milwaukee tracks, formerly belonged to the Aide Society. Later Bethel A.M.E. Church became sponsor and many of the old settlers are buried there.
The Mt. Zion Baptist Church choirs have sung at many towns for revivals and celebrations. In the early 1960’s a community choir was formed including members from Bethel A.M.E. and Mt. Zion Baptist Churches; this group toured and sang in many places. Soloists included: Vivian Midygett Hutchinson, Frances Midgyett, Linda Dodd, Rodney Crain, Betty Crain, Robert Midgyett, and Patricia Taylor.
The Hendersons and the Lees formed an orchestra and played for special occasions at churches and lodge affairs. Dennis Wolfscale played his banjo in small towns; he was rewarded with applause and coins.
Tom Scott played and taught others music lessons on the fife. He had been born in slavery in Greenville, Kentucky, and was head of the fife and drum corp in the Civil War. After the war he made his home at 115 Henry Street until his death in 1933; he had one son Earl Sidney Scott who worked at the livery stable. Tom formed a trio with Louis Waller who played snare drum, and Henry Blackwell who played the bass drum; they performed at weddings and celebrations. Henry also played the bass drum for political meetings at the courthouse. -- Eileen Scholls