Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Plate to the Circuit: Chitlin That Is!

I love me some chitlins! Throw some Maws in the pot too Um mm,Um mm Good!
Traditionally in my house when I was growing up, come New Years we always had a pot of Chitterlings. However, Lol we use the term just like everyone else in african american terminology "Chitlins".

When slaves were bought here from Africa they were given the least choice or the scraps of food to eat. Chitlin's was one of those choices in order to survive. I can imagine one of my ancestors threw in a little bit of this and a little bit of that to make them taste good. Ingredients like pepper, onions and spices.

Sprinkle some Louisiana hot sauce over them and I can go to town. As for sides, collard greens and potato salad will do. Now for bread, it can either be cornbread or hot-water cornbread. Then to wash it all down I prefer a cold glass of lemon aid or sweet tea.

If I were say in my twenties back in the early 1900's I may would have visited what blacks called the "Chitlin Circuit".
It was a huge list of clubs where black singers,bands and comedians performed during and after segregation. Good music, soul food such as chitlins and a place to see their favorites perform.

Artists like BB King, Ray Charles, Etta James, Lena Horne and so many others went that route. They came from Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, Alabama all wanting to play the blues and to be heard.

Comedians like Redd Foxx and Moms Mabley also worked the "Chitlin Circuits". Other artists like Ike and Tina,and Al Green worked those small country circuits too.
They sure made a name for themselves once they got the chance to cross-over.

Bo Diddly sang and played the guitar like no body's business

Another Guitar Player was Chuck Berry. He played small nightclubs with bands and singers like Muddy Waters.

He could sure play a mean guitar, sing and do that soulful strut across the stage. However this next man is my Navasota "Spotlight Man"

I have never heard or seen him play but I know he's a Texas Man and have read that he was one of the best, and has some of the best blues reviews from those in the music industry.

Many a small home town club or country porches deep in the heart Texas saw the likes of Bowdie Glenn"Mance" Lipscomb!

Lipscomb was born April 9,1895. My oldest living cousin Thelma on my fathers side stated that they were all good friends of the Lipscombs, especially the younger ones. They went to school together,chopped cotton together and played together.

In 1870 Mance's father Charles were found in Anderson in Grimes County as an eleven year old living with his parents George and Betsy. George was an Alabama slave that was sold to the Lipscombs in Texas. (click to enlarge)

Lipscomb spent most of his life working as a farmer in and around Grimes and Brazos County Texas. In fact Mance was known locally for his music talents playing his guitar early on in life. Mance's father Charles was also know as an excellent fiddler and he and Mance would play together.

Nationally he was a late bloomer as far as being discovered for his talents and making recordings.
Mance taught himself how to play the guitar and had a style all his own to compliment the way he sang the blues. He played in small venues all around Houston when he lived and worked there. He played with other greats such as Lightning Hopkins and Blind Willie Jefferson before moving back to Navasota.

It has been said that Mance had a friend by the name of Emancipation and when he passed away he chose to name himself Mance after him. I often wonder if he legally changed his name.

In this 1900 Brazos County Texas census Body is age 4 living with his parents Charles and Jane Pratt Lipscomb along with brother Charley and sisters Alice and Annie. (click to enlarge)

Mance passed away in 1976 leaving his wife of 69 years Eleanor Crimm Lipscomb. He is buried in Navasota Texas, the place where my paternal folks are from.

In Navasota Texas they have a yearly Blues Fest that is named in Mance Lipscombs honor. In fact the Texas State Legislature named Navasota as the official blues capitol of Texas. If you are in the mood for some good blues and you are in Grimes County in August, head over to Navasota.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mr Charles Christmas : Buelah Mississippi

Soon Christmas will be upon us once again. I know that times are hard because of the economy and I also know that we must think about the real reason for celebrating this time of the the season.

I also know what bought joy to my kids and now to my grand kids. It was "all those goodies under the tree!"

My grandchildren will not have a tree loaded with presents like they did last year. However,I have listened to some of the things that they wanted for Christmas. Some things they will get,some they won't. Yeah,I fixed my mouth to say that, thank you very much. (smile)

I also wanted to see what the children asked for back in the early 1900's,and boy things sure have changed. I went to some of the early papers and saw some of the letters that was written to Santa Claus.

Talk about hard times, this little kids parents were in a bad way

Look at Solomon, he had work on his mind and what he asked for may very well have been a way to help his parents out. And to top it off, that was all he wanted.

Now its "can I get an laptop,ipod or a car!"

"What about that new G4 phone that just came out!" or that "Wrestlers Ring with all the latest wrestlers"

For some reason while I was reading the letters the name Charlie infiltrated my thoughts and I put Charlie and Christmas together. Now Santa Claus was someone that has been around for eons and we were told that he came down the Chimney on Christmas Eve.
On the other hand, Charles T Christmas was a real person residing in Mississippi .

I followed him through several census where he lived his life as a laborer.

This is some of what I found:

I found him in 1870 living in Mississippi with his wife (click to enlarge)

and then again in 1880 (click to enlarge)

Curious, I searched around some more and found this man, this former slave does have a story to be told and it should not just be a footnote.

In 1880 this man had three patents.

One device simplified the bailing of cotton, one was an attachment to hand power the sewing machine and one was a bale band tightener. I was floored because I had never heard of Charles Christmas,and to have the name come across my vision was meant to be I'm guessing.

I knew about Granville Woods,Jan Matzeliger,Elijah McCoy and a few others but very little is said about old Charlie in the annals of history. I do wonder though if he were paid for any of his inventions. I wonder who his slave owner was and who were his parents.

this is an excerpt of the patents showing registration of the wire stretcher and where he resided which was Beulah Mississippi.

We must not forget the reason for the season but I do also want to acknowledge Mr Christmas and say this posthumous.

Merry Christmas Mr Christmas and thanks for the wisdom to use the tools the Almighty put in your hand to make life a little easier for those who toiled in that period of history.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Mr Mingo Speaker Of Wharton Texas

When I went to the Daviss Family Reunion in Atlanta Ga my sis Joan relayed to me that I may have to look in Wharton Texas for more family clues. Of course to date I have not been able to find anything but I ran across some interesting articles while I was researching.

Wharton is located in Wharton County Texas and was named after two brothers John and William Wharton.

I found out that Bird B.B. Davis who was one of the African American Delegates to the Constitutional Convention after Reconstruction in 1875 was one of its residents. Brave man back in the day for all he and others had to go through to see that the African American was treated fairly.

Early settlers came from Alabama, Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia, and Mississippi which brings me to a name that I ran across. A gentleman by the name of Mr Mingo Speaker.

Curious I wanted to see if his Death Certificate would bear out who his parents were or perhaps his age if there was a death certificate. Luckily I found it.

I was fascinated by this Mr Mingo so I decided to see if I could find him in any other records such as the census.
Mingo and family are the second family on this 1870 census. He is 60 years old then and listed as a farm laborer from Va. Wife Emily is from Alabama.

Then we have the 1880 census where he is still married to wife Emily but has several grand kids in the home. A few of his children may be the ones living just above him.

I found him again at 98 years young in the 1910 census living with one of his daughters.

It sure makes you wonder why folks in those days lived so long as hard as they worked and not having the tools that we use today. Mr Mingo Speaker was blessed with living a long fruitful life. His children and grandchildren I am sure were so proud of him and his wife Emily.
**** for better read click on images to enlarge****
Mr Mingo Speakers obituary states he was sold by his sisters to pay the rent to a man named Wharton. I wonder if this Wharton was one of the settlers of the town.

The town of Wharton was blessed to have had Mr Speaker walk those grounds,no matter how he got there. Rest In Peace Mr Speaker!