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A look back at the activities of black residents of Hartselle

Sept. 91915, what is now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History was established. In homage to that, here’s a look back at the important roles black residents have played in Hartselle since its early days.  

The following are only a few of the activities in which black residents have been engaged over the years. In some instances, as was also the case with white residents, achieving success and making a better life for themselves and their families meant leaving Hartselle. Frequently, however, those who left came back home after failing to find the proverbial “pot of gold” elsewhere. 

Dec. 23, 1890—Like many other Alabama residents who farm, a lot of blacks are leaving their homes and are camping near the Indian reservation bordering Oklahoma. Lands here will be thrown open to settlement Sept. 30, 1891. Those who employ agricultural laborers of both races feel emigrant agents and railroads are exploiting them by urging them to move. 

Oct. 27, 1892—In most presidential elections since the 1930s, blacks have identified with the Democratic Party. Before then, blacks were overwhelmingly Republican. Blacks were most numerous in Mississippi, South Carolina and Florida. In Alabamaa minority of white voters cast Republican ballots; this was also true in Arkansas, North Carolina and Louisiana. The editor of thHartselle Enquirer predecessor newspaper predicted that seven Southern states would be in the Republican column at the next presidential election. There would also be, according to his forecast, 14 GOP Southern senators and at least 22 representatives. These predictions greatly overstated anticipated Republican electoral performance. 

May 9, 1895—According to the Alabama Enquirer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has established at the Tuskegee Institute a depot for a scientific investigation of the composition and consumption of food among the blacks of the Black Belt of the South. It is hoped by encouraging more healthful eating to lower the incidence of disease among both blacks and whites in this region. 

Nov. 11, 1895—The editor of a south Alabama newspaper quoted in the Hartselle newspaper said that the South was fortunate to have blacks as its main labor force. Blacks, he believed, were not interested in the union organizing efforts that were going on above the Mason-Dixon line. Also, blacks liked the South and were not interested in leaving this section. From the early 1900s to 1970, millions of blacks did, in fact, leave the South; however, since 1970, the out-migration trend has been reversed. Large numbers of black millennials are moving back to the South. These trends could have an impact as soon as the November presidential election. 

March 3, 1900The Morgan County Republican convention was held in New Decatur this afternoon. The convention was biracial both in its composition as well as in choosing the men elected as delegates to the state and district conventionsAt the turn of the 20th century, blacks were virtually unanimous in their support of the Republican Party, the “party of liberation.” 

March 10, 1909—On a lonely island in the Tennessee River, near the Morgan-Madison boundary, there lives a strange and mysterious white man with a black family, according to stories told by Tennessee river steamboat men. When this man arrived on the island, how he came there and where he came from are questions of a mysterious nature no one has been able to answer. The man himself will not answer or tell what his name is. It is believed, however, that he reached the island in a skiff – but from where and when? It is said he does not appear to be crazy but is strange and mysterious in his actions – so much so that most residents of the area would have nothing to do with him, and the black family, through sympathy, took him in and gave him bed and board. The man, it is said, has a growth of several weeks’ beard on his face. 

Jan. 22, 1910Monroe Scharfenberg and Ike Court, two black youth, shot two robbers last night and landed one in the hands of the police, while the other miscreant escaped. As a result, these two boys are the heroes of the hour and occasion” around here today.  

Feb. 14, 1912—With hands folded in the long last sleep, Moses Dean, age 77, for 20 years the faithful sexton of the Hartselle First Methodist Church, was laid to rest today. He finished a long and useful career when heart failure came upon him Monday morning while in the woods chopping. When the news reached town, men and women of both races drove out to his home to do him honor.  

So greatly did the Methodist congregation respect his honesty and integrity, and in appreciation of his long and faithful service in the doing of which he sacrificed all other church privileges, they assumed all expense connected with his burial and had his remains carried to their beautiful new church.  

He loved the church and took communion at its altar. Many met there to pay their last respects while the pastor, the Rev. E. E. Emmert, paid a most beautiful tribute to the life he had lived among them. 

Feb. 25, 1918Twenty Morgan County selectmen, nine whites and 11 blacks, reported this afternoon at the courthouse to the county board of exemption and will entrain tomorrow for U.S. Army cantonments. 

Feb. 13, 1919“Mack” Robinson, for a long time valued public employee, died last night at the home of a sister. He was custodian at the county courthouse a number of years. 

Feb. 28, 1923—Prof. Catson N. McDaniel, prominent Hartselle black church man and educator, is reported to be seriously ill at home. 

Feb. 1, 1928—At the age of 106, Essex Lewis, a former enslaved man, and an employee of Sam Patterson in the Civil War, died Wednesday.  

Sept. 1, 1938—As the 1938-39 academic year begins, the Morgan County Training School has a faculty of nine teachers. Buses have been acquired to transport students from their homes to MCTS for classes and then back home at the end of the school day. 

Oct. 31, 1939—MCTS has now completed one month of school. Principal Fredd reports the attendance as being very good. 

Nov. 3, 1939—MCTS football Coach Wesley took his Blue Eagles down to play the Walker County Tigers tonight and won by a lone touchdown14-7. The reserves had to take the main responsibility for beating the host Tigers because three of the regulars were out due to injuries. Those knowledgeable about football say the entire line work of both teams was at its height for the season. MCTS’ outstanding player was J. Herring, who returned a kickoff for a touchdown behind some beautiful blocking.  

The Blue Eagles’ next game will be against Burrell Normal of Florence at home this Friday. The Florence team most recently beat the Decatur Tigers by a score of 7-0.  

Nov. 17, 1939—The MCTS PTA met tonight. Thanks to a membership campaign, attendance was up.  

Feb. 7, 1940—The school at Moulton Heights was destroyed by fire tonight. Fortunately, the building was unoccupied at the time. Arrangements are being made for the displaced pupils to continue their studies in a community church. 

Feb. 12, 1940—Currently there are 1,080 black students enrolled in Morgan County schools. Despite the worst weather in years, the average daily attendance has been good, 893.63. 

July 17, 1947—C. A. Fredd has resigned as MCTS principal after serving in this position for 13 years. His new title is principal of Greensboro’s Hale County Training School. Principal Fredd’s replacement here is Prof. I. F. Stallworth. 

July 29, 1960—Prof. I. F. Stallworth and his assistants, Mrs. Aaron Lyons and Mrs. Bertha McGregor, report success in their current work in behalf of the United Fund. 

May 15, 1963—Doris Whetstone, daughter of Prof. and Mrs. W. A. Whetstone, will soon complete her studies in music at Knoxville College.  

Sept. 5, 1963Harriette Stallworth, daughter of Prof. and Mrs. I. F. Stallworth of Hartselle, was among more than 1,100 young men and women enrolled in the Midwestern Music and Art Camp at the University of Kansas in July. 

Dec. 11, 1964—Miss Eva Stallworth, talented daughter of Prof. and Mrs. I. F. Stallworth, was the guest pianist at the Recognition Day Program and annual luncheon at the Ballard House in Birmingham. Miss Stallworth has been a student of music since early childhood and shows great promise of success in this field. In addition to her father being principal at MCTS, her mother, Mrs. Eva Stallworth, is a muchbeloved teacher. 

June 17, 1968—Prof. Isaac Stallworth was honored as Hartselle’s Citizen of the Year by the Civitan Club. 

Dec. 11, 1969—Bud Stallworth, one of Hartselle’s most athleticallytalented products, scored 27 points at Kansas. 

June 2, 1977—Isaac Frank Stallworth’s funeral rites were conducted at Peck Funeral Home today. Prof. Stallworth served the cause of education for 36 years. He was a combat engineer in India, Burma and China during World War II. For 22 years he was principal of Morgan County Training School.