General Items of Interest to the Black Race

John C. Dancy, re-appointed Collector of Port Wilmington, N.C. Salary $3,000.

The appointment of Prof. Richard T. Greener, of New York, as Consul to Vladivistock.
Hon. H.P. Cheatham, appointed as Register of Deeds of the District of Columbia. Salary $4,000.
Hon. George H. White elected to Congress from the Second Congressional District of North Carolina, the only colored Representative in that body.

The Cotton Factory at Concord, N.C., built and operated by colored people, capitalized at $50,000, and established a new line of industry for colored labor, is one of the interesting items showing the progress of the colored race in America.

B.K. Bruce re-appointed Register of the Treasury, and on his death Mr. Judson W. Lyons, of Augusta, Georgia, became his successor, and now has the honor of making genuine Uncle Sam’s greenback by affixing thereto his signature. Salary $4,500.

Bishop H.M. Turner visits Africa and ordains an African Bishop, J.H. Dwane, Vicar of South Africa, with a conference composed of a membership of 10,000 persons. This act of the Bishop is criticised by some of the Bishops and members of the A.M.E. Church in America on the grounds that Bishop Turner was acting without authority in making this appointment.

Mr. James Deveaux, Collector of Port, Brunswick, Ga.; H.A. Rucker, Collector of Internal Revenue for Georgia, $4,500 (the best office in the State); Morton, Postmaster at Athens, Ga., $2,400; Demas, naval officer at New Orleans, $5,000; Lee, Collector of port at Jacksonville, $4,000 (the best office in that State); Hill, Register of the Land Office in Mississippi, $3,000; Leftwich, Register of the Land Office in Alabama, $3,000; Casline, Receiver of Public Moneys in Alabama, $2,000; Jackson, Consul at Calais, $2,500; Van Horn, Consul in the West Indies, $2,500; Green, Chief Stamp Division, Postoffice Department, $2,000.

Miss Alberta Scott and Others
Miss Alberta Scott is the first Negro girl to be graduated from the Harvard annex. Her classmates and the professors of the institution have congratulated her in the warmest terms and in the literary and the language club of Boston her achievement of the M.A. degree has been spoken of with high praise. Miss Scott is but the fifth student of the Negro race to obtain this honor at the colleges for women in Massachusetts. Two received diplomas from Wellsley, one from Smith College and one from Vassar. Miss Scott is 20 years old. She was born in Richmond, Va., having graduated from the common schools in Boston. Miss Scott’s teachers spoke so encouragingly of her work that the girl was determined to have a college education. She paid particular attention to the study of language and literature, and she is now a fluent linguist and a member of the Idier and German clubs. She has contributed considerably to college and New England journals.

The Discovery of the Garnes Family

Garnes Family
Garnes Family

A picture of which is herein placed, will do much to confound those bumptious sociologists who make haste to rush into print with statistics purporting to show that the Negro Race in America is “fast dying out.” The aim of this class of people seems to be to show that the Negro Race withers under the influence of freedom, which is by no means true. It is possibly true that filth and disease does its fatal work in the Negro Race, the same as in other races among the filthy and corrupt, but the filthy and corrupt in the Negro Race, as a class, are growing fewer every year–for which we can thank the philanthropy of the American people who are doing something to better the condition of the Negro rather than hurling at him enernating criticisms and complaints.

“Their home is at Brodie, in the country, about twenty miles from Henderson, N.C. The father’s name is Gillis Garnes. He is about fifty years of age, and the mother says she is about forty-eight. The oldest child is a daughter, aged twenty-eight, and the youngest is also a daughter, three years of age; that you see seated in her mother’s arms. They are all Baptists and thirteen of the family are members of the church. I had this photograph taken at Henderson, on April 8th. There are seventeen children, all living, of the same father and mother. A.J. Garnes spends quite a part of the time in teaching in his native county. When he is not teaching he is at home, and every evening has a school made up of children of the family. A.J. Garnes is the tall young man in the background at the right, who is a former student of Shaw University, as well as one of the sisters represented in the picture.”–Prof. Charles F. Meserve, in the Baptist Home Mission Monthly.

“A Colored Wonder” on the Bicycle
New York, August 27.–Major Taylor, the colored cyclist, met and defeated “Jimmy” Michael, the little Welshman, in a special match race, best two out of three, one mile pace heats, from a standing start at Manhattan Beach Cycle track this afternoon.

Michael won the first heat easily, as Taylor’s pacing quint broke down in the final lap, but on the next two heats Michael was so badly beaten and distanced that he quit each time in the last lap.

Marvelous Work
Taylor’s work was wonderful, both from a racing and time standpoint, and he established a new world’s record which was absolutely phenomenal, covering the third heat in 1:41 2-5.
Michael was hissed by the spectators as he passed the stand, dispirited and dejected by Taylor’s overwhelming victory.
Immediately after the third heat was finished, and before the time was announced, William A. Bradley, who championed the colored boy during the entire season, issued a challenge to race Taylor against Michael for $5,000 or $10,000 a side at any distance up to one hundred miles.
The Colored Youth Lionized
This declaration was received with tumultuous shouts by the assemblage, and the colored victor was lionized when the time was made known.
Edouard Taylore, the French rider, held the world’s record of 1:45 3-5 for the distance in a contest paced from a standing start.
The World’s Record Lowered
The world’s record against time from a standing start, made by Platt Betts, of England, was 1:43 2-5. Michael beat Taylore’s record by 1 2-5 seconds in the first heat, but Major Taylor wiped this out and tied Betts’ record against time in the second heat. As Taylor was on the outside for nearly two and a half laps, it was easily seen that he rode more than a mile in the time, and shrewd judges who watched the race said that he would surely do better on the third attempt.
Pale As A Corpse
That he fully justified this belief goes without saying.
The Welsh rider was pale as a corpse when he jumped off his wheel and had no excuse to make for his defeat. Taylor’s performance undoubtedly stamps him as the premier ‘cycle sprinter of the world, and, judging from the staying qualities he exhibited in his six days’ ride in the Madison Square Garden, the middle distance championship may be his before the end of the present season.

A Negro Millionaire Found at last
After a search of many years, at last a Negro millionaire, yes, a multi-millionaire has been found. He resides in the city of Guatemala, and is known as Don Juan Knight. It is said he is to that country what Huntington and other monied men are to this country. He was born a slave in the State of Alabama. He owns gold mines, large coffee and banana farms, is the second largest dealer in mahogany in the world, owns a bank and pays his employees $200,000 a year. His wealth is estimated at $70,000,000. He was the property of the Uptons, of Dadeville, Ala. He contributes largely to educational institutions, has erected hospitals, etc. He is sought for his advice by the government whenever a bond issue, etc., is to be made. He lives in a palace and has hosts of servants to wait on his family. He married a native and has seven children. They have all been educated in this country. Two of his sons are in a military academy in Mississippi and one of his daughters is an accomplished portrait painter in Boston. He visited the old plantation where he was born recently and employed the son of his former master as foreman of his mines. Finding that the wife of his former master was sick and without money, he gave her enough money to live on the balance of her life. He employs more men than any other man in Guatemala and is the wealthiest one there.–Maxton Blade.

Uncle Sam’s Money Sealer who could Steal Millions if he Would
There is only one man in the United States who could steal $10,000,000 and not have the theft discovered for six months.

This man has a salary of $1,200 a year. He is a Negro and his name is John R. Brown.

Mr. Brown’s interesting duty is to be the packer of currency under James F. Meline, the Assistant Treasurer of the United States, who, says that his is a place where automatic safeguards and checks fail, and where the government must trust to the honesty of the official.

All the currency printed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is completed in the Treasury Building by having the red seal printed on it there. It comes to the Treasury Building in sheets of four notes each, and when the seal has been imprinted on the notes they are cut apart and put into packages to dry. John Brown’s duty is to put up the packages of notes and seal them.

Brown does his work in a cage at the end of the room in which the completion of the notes is accomplished–the room of the Division of Issues.

The notes are arranged in packages of one hundred before they are brought into the cage. Each package has its paper strap, on which the number and denomination is given in printed characters. Forty are put together in two piles of twenty each and placed an a power press. This press is worked by a lever, something like an old-style cotton press. There are openings above and below through which strings can be slipped after Brown has pulled the lever and compressed the package.

These strings hold the package together while stout manila paper is drawn around it. This paper is folded as though about a pound of tea and sealed with wax. Then a label is pasted on it, showing in plain characters what is within.

The packages are of uniform size and any variation from the standard would be noticed. But a dishonest man in Brown’s position could slip a wad of prepared paper into one of the packages and put the notes into his pocket.

If he did this the crime might not be known for six months or a year, or even longer. Some day there would come from the Treasurer a requisition for a package of notes of a certain denomination. The doctored package would be opened and the shortage would be found. However, the Government has never had to meet this situation.

There have been only two men engaged in packing and sealing currency since the Treasury Department was organized.

John T. Barnes began the work. He was a delegate to the Chicago Convention which nominated Lincoln and he received his appointment on the recommendation of Montgomery Blair in 1861. In 1862 he was assigned to making up the currency packages and fulfilled that duty until his death, in 1894. No mistake was ever discovered in his work, though he handled every cent of currency issued by the government for thirty-two years–so many millions of dollars that it would take a week to figure them up.

Mr. Barnes’ duties were filled temporarily until November 1, when John R. Brown was appointed to the place.
Barnes at the time of his death was receiving only $1,400 a year and Brown draws only $1,200.
Ordinarily the Bureau of Engraving and Printing delivers to the Issue Division about fifty-six packages of paper money of 1,000 sheets each, four notes on a sheet, making, when separated, 224,000 notes. These notes range in value from $1 to $20, and their aggregate is usually about $1,000,000. The government, however, issues currency in denominations of $50, $100, $500, $1,000. The largest are not printed often, because the amount issued is small.

If it could happen that 224,000 notes of $1,000 each were received from the bureau in one day, the aggregate of value in the fifty-six packages would be $224,000,000. As it is, a little more than 10 per cent, of this sum represents the largest amount handled in one day.

That is, the packer has handled $25,000,000 in a single day, and not one dollar has gone astray.
John R. Brown is a hereditary office-holder. His father was a trusted employee of the Treasurer’s office for ten year prior to his death, in 1874. The son was appointed assistant messenger in 1872. He became a clerk through competitive examination and was gradually promoted.

Gen. Pio Pilar, In charge of the Insurgent forces which attacked the American troops.
The man who has the largest interest in John Brown’s integrity and care probably does not know Brown’s name. Yet, if a thousand dollars was missing from one of the packages in the storage vault, Ellis H. Roberts, Treasurer of the United States, would have to make it good. Mr. Roberts has given a bond to the government in the sum of $500,000. Twenty years hence the sureties on that bond could be held for a shortage in the Treasurer’s office, if it could be traced back to Mr. Roberts’ term.

Not one of the employees under Mr. Roberts gives a bond, though they handle millions every day. But the Treasurer’s office is one which every responsible employee has been weighed carefully. Its clerks have been in service many years and have proved worthy of confidence.

Howells Discovers a Negro Poet
Mr. Paul Lawrence Dunbar has been until recently an elevator-boy in Dayton, Ohio. While engaged in the ups and downs of life in that capacity he has cultivated his poetical talents so successfully that his verse has found frequent admission into leading magazines. At last a little collection of these verses reached William Dean Howells, and Mr. Dunbar’s star at once became ascendant. He is said to be a full-blooded Negro, the son of slave-parents, and his best work is in the dialect of his race. A volume of his poems is soon to be published by Dodd, Mead and Co. and in an introduction to it Mr. Howells writes as follows:

“What struck me in reading Mr. Dunbar’s poetry was what had already struck his friends in Ohio and Indiana, in Kentucky and Illinois. They had felt as I felt, that however gifted his race had proven itself in music, in oratory, in several other arts, here was the first instance of an American Negro who had evinced innate literature. In my criticism of his book I had alleged Dumas in France, and had forgotten to allege the far greater Pushkin in Russia; but these were both mulattoes who might have been supposed to derive their qualities from white blood vastly more artistic than ours, and who were the creatures of an environment more favorable to their literary development. So far as I could remember, Paul Dunbar was the only man of pure African blood and American civilization to feel the Negro life esthetically and express it lyrically. It seemed to me that this had come to its most modern consciousness in him, and that his brilliant and unique achievement was to have studied the American Negro objectively, and to have represented him as he found him to be, with humor, with sympathy, and yet with what the reader must instinctively feel to be entire truthfulness. I said that a race which had come to this effect in any member of it had attained civilization in him, and I permitted myself the imaginative prophecy that the hostilities and the prejudices which had so long constrained his race were destined to vanish in the arts; that these were to be the final proof that God had made of one blood all nations of men. I thought his merits positive and not comparative; and I held that if his black poems had been written by a white man I should not have found them less admirable. I accepted them as an evidence of the essential unity of the human race, which does not think or feel black in one and white in another, but humanly in all.”The Bookman says of Mr. Dunbar:
“It is safe to assert that accepted as an Anglo-Saxon poet, he would have received little or no consideration in a hurried weighing of the mass of contemporary verse.”

“But Mr. Dunbar, as his pleasing, manly, and not unrefined face shows, is a poet of the African race; and this novel and suggestive fact at once placed his work upon a peculiar footing of interest, of study, and of appreciative welcome. So regarded, it is a most remarkable and hopeful production.” Read Poem

Disfranchisement of Colored Voters
While the Northern and Western portions of the United States were paying tributes to the valor of the Negro soldiers who fought for the flag in Cuba, the most intense feeling ever witnessed, was brewing in some sections of the South-notably in the North Carolina Legislature against the rights and privileges of Negro citizenship, which culminated in the passage of a “Jim Crow” car law, and an act to amend the Constitution so as to disfranchise the colored voters. It was noticeable, however, that although the “Jim Crow Car” law got through that body in triumph, yet the “Jim Crow Bed” law, which made it a felony for whites and colored to cohabit together DID NOT PASS.

Filipino Lady of Manila
The Washington Post, which cannot be rated as generally partial to the colored citizens of the Union, and which is especially vicious in its attacks on the colored soldiers, has the following to say as to the proposed North Carolina amendment, which is so well said that we insert the same in full as an indication to our people that justice is not yet dead–though seemingly tardy:

Suffrage in North Carolina
(Washington Post, Feb. 20, 1899.)
The amendment to the Constitution of North Carolina, which has for its object the limitation of the suffrage in the State, appears to have been modeled on the new Louisiana laws and operate a gross oppression and injustice. It is easy to see that the amendment is not intended to disfranchise the ignorant, but to stop short with the Negro; to deny to the illiterate black man the right of access to the ballot box and yet to leave the way wide open to the equally illiterate whites. In our opinion the policy thus indicated is both dangerous and unjust. We expressed the same opinion in connection with the Louisiana laws, and we see no reason to amend our views in the case of North Carolina. The proposed arrangement is wicked. It will not bear the test of intelligent and impartial examination. We believe in this case, as in that of Louisiana, that the Federal Constitution has been violated, and we hope that the people of North Carolina will repudiate the blunder at the polls.

We realize with sorrow and apprehension that there are elements at the South enlisted in the work of disfranchising the Negro for purposes of mere party profit. It has been so in Louisiana, where laws were enacted under which penniless and illiterate Negroes cannot vote, while the ignorant and vicious classes of whites are enabled to retain and exercise the franchise. So far as we are concerned–and we believe that the best element of the South in every State will sustain our proposition-we hold that, as between the ignorant of the two races, the Negroes are preferable. They are conservative; they are good citizens; they take no stock in social schisms and vagaries; they do not consort with anarchists; they cannot be made the tools and agents of incendiaries; they constitute the solid, worthy, estimable yeomanry of the South. Their influence in government would be infinitely more wholesome than the influence of the white sansculotte, the riff-raff, the idlers, the rowdies, and the outlaws. As between the Negro, no matter how illiterate he may be, and the “poor white,” the property-holders of the South prefer the former. Excepting a few impudent, half-educated, and pestiferous pretenders, the Negro masses of the South are honest, well-meaning, industrious, and safe citizens. They are in sympathy with the superior race; they find protection and encouragement with the old slave-holding class; if left alone, they would furnish the bone and sinew of a secure and progressive civilization. To disfranchise this class and leave the degraded whites in possession of the ballot would, as we see the matter, be a blunder, if not a crime.

The question has yet to be submitted to a popular vote. We hope it will be decided in the negative. Both the Louisiana Senators are on record as proclaiming the unconstitutionality of the law. Both are eminent lawyers, and both devoted absolutely to the welfare of the South. We can only hope, for the sake of a people whom we admire and love, that this iniquitous legislation may be overruled in North Carolina as in Louisiana.



MLA Source Citation:

Johnson, Edward A. History of Negro Soldiers in the Spanish-American War, and other items of Interest. 1899. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 18 September 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/military/general-items-of-interest-to-the-race.htm - Last updated on Mar 7th, 2013


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