Monday, January 17, 2011

Military Monday: Ira Fields, U.S. Colored Infantry

During the Civil War, Ira Fields (or Field, as some records identify him) served with the Unassigned Company A, organized out of Alexandria and also known as the Virgnia Colored Guards, in the U.S. Colored Infantry.

Photo courtesy of the Military & Historical Image Bank.

According to census and death records, Fields was born in Virginia around 1838. After the war, he and his wife Francis lived in the District of Columbia where he worked as a laborer and janitor. Ira Fields died in July 1918 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Section 23.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sports Center Saturday: Alexandria's Trailblazers

Friday night I watched ESPN's Image of the Black Athlete which was presented as the MLK National Town Hall event at Ebenezer Baptist Church. As a big sports fan and a student of African American history, I was happy to hear some discussion on history and the significance of those who overcame racial barriers, making it a little bit easier for those who followed.

Randy Shannon talked about how he kept a photo of Jackie Robinson in civilian clothes in his office because you couldn't tell if Robinson was an athlete or a businessman. Lots of people wouldn't recognize him because he wasn't in his baseball uniform. Marion Jones said it's very important for African American athletes to know the history of people of color in sports and to recognize the challenges they faced.

Some true pioneers in pro sports came out of Alexandria. Earl Lloyd, an Alexandria native and star at Parker-Gray High School, became the first African American to play in the NBA on October 31, 1950. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.

Parker-Gray basketball team c.1945 with star Earl Lloyd (center of first row).

Leon Day was also born in Alexandria but grew up in Baltimore. He was a stand-out pitcher and hitter in the Negro League in the 1930s and 40s. He was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995 and died just six days later.

Because of his importance to my college, I also want to recognize Alexandria's Jim Lewis, who grew up in Northern Virginia and has been a head coach for high school, college and WNBA teams. As a freshman at West Virginia University, he was one of four classmates who became the first African American members of the Mountaineer basketball team in the 1964-65 season.

Thank you, gentlemen.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Outside an Alexandria Bank

When I see photos of places and buildings in Alexandria, I'm always drawn to the people in the shot and wonder who they are.

Citizens National Bank, King Street, c. 1921. Courtesy Library of Congress

Is this woman someone whose name I would recognize? Was she friends with people I've researched? What's in her basket?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Confectioners, Cigar Dealers & Dressmakers

From the late 19th-century into the 1950s, Alexandria’s city directories denoted African Americans with a “c” or an asterisk. Richmond’s Directory of Alexandria for 1897-98 used an asterisk for the following individuals in the business listings, indicating that these barbers, grocers and other business people were African American.
Last NameFirst NameAddressBusiness/Occupation
BaltimoreFrank204 North Fayette StCigar Dealer
BellCarrie120 North West StDressmaker
BentleyRichard W.313 North Patrick StCoal & Wood
BotelerHarry B.716 North Henry StCoal & Wood
BottsJoseph718 North Washington StFlorist
BowleySamuel T.439 South Columbus StEating House
BraxtonElla320 North Fairfax StEating House
BrownHenry115 North St. Asaph StDyer & Scourer
BurkeWilhelmina G.207 South Washington StNurse
BushJohn318 South Columbus StTailor
ChapmanLouisa P.821 Queen StDressmaker
ClarkRobert B.716 North Washington StBoot & Shoe Makers & Repairers
ClarkEllen1320 Prince StEating House
Coleman & Davis1005 Wolfe StMilk Dealer
DiggsWilliam312 North Fairfax StBarber
DudleyEdward W.1010 North Columbus StConfectioner
Dulany & Son504 King StBarber
DuttonArthur115 South Union StBarber
FrazierErnest J.622 South Washington StCoal & Wood
GainesRobert220 North Fayette StBoot & Shoe Makers & Repairers
GrayCharles432 South Columbus StBoot & Shoe Makers & Repairers
HammondWilliam M.104 South Washington StBarber
HammondHattie F.624 South Washington StNotions
HillEdmund1012 Wythe StGrocer
HollingerWilliamsStall 3, Market SquareProduce Dealer
HolmesCora L.533 South Columbus StGrocer
JacksonCharles1007 Wolfe StBoot & Shoe Makers & Repairers
JacksonSamuel C.1406 King StBoot & Shoe Makers & Repairers
JacksonCharles F.North Royal St extendedGrocer
JacksonW.N.200 North Payne StGrocer
JenkinsRobert301 South Union StStoves & Tinware
JohnsonAlbert814 Duke StPhysician
JonesJohn510 North Alfred StGun & Locksmith
KeyCharles204 North Fayette StCigar Dealer
KingGeorge T.104 South Peyton StBarber
LawsonJosephus1121 Queen StGrocer
LucasBenjamin F.206 North Fayette StBarber
LumpkinsGustavus810 Queen StBoot & Shoe Makers & Repairers
Madden Bros.913 Duke StTinner
MadellaWilliam H.217 South Alfred StretPhysician
NorrisAbraham L.319 Cameron StBarber
NorrisAbraham L.319 Cameron StBilliards & Pool
NorrisOliverFranklin & S Patrick StsBlacksmiths & Wheelwrights
ParkerCharles L.231 North Henry StBarber
PoindexterJohn A.638 South Columbus StGrocer
RichardsonSandy1210 Cameron StMeat Market
RobinsonMagnus L.606 Gibbon StPublisher
Ross & Thompson1025 King StBarber
ShackelfordAnnafoot of Oronoco StEating House
SpenceGilson1219 Cameron StBoot & Shoe Makers & Repairers
Tancil & Shelton427 King StBarber
TerrellThomasS Washington & Wilkes StsBoot & Shoe Makers & Repairers
The Leader606 Gibbon StNewspapers & Periodicals
ThomasJohn H.1316 Prince StBlacksmiths & Wheelwrights
TriplettArthur H.116 North Royal StBarber
WatsonJames W.123 North Fayette StEating House
WebbStrother W.428 North Patrick StBoot & Shoe Makers & Repairers
WestKate222 1/2 South West StConfectioner
WhitingWilliam H.517 Gibbon StCoal & Wood
WhitingWilliam H.517 Gibbon StGrocer
WrightLucinda111 South Union StEating House