Harvey Nelson

Harvey Nelson's parents came to Douglas County in about 1913 to rent farm land. Mr. Nelson attended the all-black Lincoln School in north Lawrence and Central Junior High School. After graduating from high school, he farmed. He remembers picnics and playing baseball for fun. Mr. Nelson was a deacon at the First Regular Missionary Baptist Church in north Lawrence and worked at the paper mill.

Harvey W. Nelson
July 13, 1977

Interview by Curtis Nether

MR. NETHER: What is your name?

MR. NELSON: Harvey W. Nelson.

MR. NETHER: What's your age?

MR. NELSON: Seventy-four.

MR. NETHER: How many children do you have?


MR. NETHER: What are their ages? Let's take the range of ages from the youngest to the oldest.

MR. NELSON: Oldest son is fifty and forty-eight, then thirty-nine and thirty-three.

MR. NETHER: What were your parents' names?

MR. NELSON: James Monroe Nelson.

MR. NETHER: What was your mother's name?

MR. NELSON: Sylvia Nelson.

MR. NETHER: Where were your parents born? Where was your father born?

MR. NELSON: He was born in St. Louis, Missouri.

MR. NETHER: Where was your mother born?

MR. NELSON: She was born in a little town called White Church off of Kansas City.

MR. NETHER: Is it in Missouri too?


MR. NETHER: When did your father first come to Douglas County?

MR. NELSON: Oh, in about 1913, somewhere along in there.

MR. NETHER: Was he married when he came?


MR. NETHER: Is this the time when you first came to Douglas County?


MR. NETHER: Where were you born?

MR. NELSON: I was born in Leavenworth County.

MR. NETHER: Why did your family all of a sudden, Mr. Nelson, decide to move to Douglas County?

MR. NELSON: It was a little better farming there. He was a big farmer.

MR. NETHER: Were they giving land grants or something?


MR. NETHER: It was just a good place to come farm?

MR. NELSON: Yeah. He farmed 320 acres.

MR. NETHER: Where did your father buy a farm at in Douglas County?

MR. NELSON: He didn't. He always rented.

MR. NETHER: Rented. Where did he rent a farm at?

MR. NELSON: Here in Douglas County?


MR. NELSON: For different people.

MR. NETHER: So you lived in different areas?


MR. NETHER: While you were here?


MR. NETHER: Who would he rent from?

MR. NELSON: Judge Mitchell. He was a lawyer here in Lawrence then. He rented ground from Alfred Hicks, Shockeys.

MR. NETHER: Were the rates pretty reasonable?

MR. NELSON: Oh, yes, Fifty-fifty.

MR. NETHER: How did he like farming in Douglas County?


MR. NETHER: How did you like living in Douglas County when you first got here?

MR. NELSON: I didn't like it too much because I moved into about ten, eleven years old. After I got here and got acquainted and got started to school, why, I wouldn't want to live nowhere else.

MR. NETHER: Mr. Nelson, what did Douglas County look like when you first came here? What were the streets like? What were the buildings like? Can you give us kind of a picture of what the town was like?

MR. NELSON: Yes. I refer back to streetcars and run up and down the main street, Massachusetts Street, and they had teams on the trash, you know, city dumps.

MR. NETHER: Teams?


MR. NETHER: Mules or something?

MR. NELSON: Horses. My father even worked on the city in the fall of the year. And I remember down there at Ninth and New Hampshire they had a big round fountain and water came out and that's where they watered their horses out.

MR. NETHER: Anything else about what it looked like? Were the streets paved most of the time?

MR. NELSON: Not all of them. West Sixth Street, you know going out on 24 Highway, it was dirt, and it was Rumsey Brothers wasn't even in there then. They was on Indiana Street. That's where they had the undertaking business.

MR. NETHER: When you first came here, Mr. Nelson, did you see a lot of black people living in Douglas County?

MR. NELSON: Well, yes.

MR. NETHER: How did they compare with Leavenworth County? About even or more here or less here?

MR. NELSON: More here.

MR. NETHER: Did these blacks here in Douglas County seem any different from those in Leavenworth County, any at all?

MR. NELSON: No, not like they are now.

MR. NETHER: How did whites and blacks relate to one another in Douglas County? Could you go anywhere you want, could you buy a home anywhere you want, could you go swimming at any time that the pools were open? How did they relate? Did they try to segregate blacks or what?

MR. NELSON: They did. You couldn't go to a swimming pool. I think they had one in the later years and you couldn't go in any restaurant and eat like you do now. And you had to live in certain districts.

MR. NETHER: Live in certain districts?


MR. NETHER: What districts?

MR. NELSON: No matter how much money you had, you just couldn't live in certain communities.

MR. NETHER: What districts did blacks mostly live in?

MR. NELSON: Most of them lived in east Lawrence and a few in west Lawrence.


MR. NELSON: They were scattered out through the country.

MR. NETHER: How long have you been living in north Lawrence?

MR. NELSON: Well, I guess about 45-50 years.

MR. NETHER: Really? What was north Lawrence like when you first moved in? Can you give a visual picture of it?

MR. NELSON: It was more like country, you know, it wasn't cleared up like it was now. We didn't have paved streets. We had dirt streets, very few city lights.

MR. NETHER: Did you have a lot of black people living over in north Lawrence?

MR. NELSON: Yes, we did.

MR. NETHER: More than you have now, you think?

MR. NELSON: Oh, yes.

MR. NETHER: Could you say that it was predominantly black over there?

MR. NELSON: About 50-50.

MR. NETHER: What jobs did most of the blacks in north Lawrence have?

MR. NELSON: They mostly had janitor jobs and some of them team hauling coal and stuff. They didn't have the jobs they got now.

MR. NETHER: The ones that were janitors, domestics, or something, where did they generally work?

MR. NELSON: Most of them worked up on university hill, KU, here at the courthouse. Some business places here in Lawrence.

MR. NETHER: What was a prestigious job, going far back as you remember and know anything about jobs, what type of work was prestigious for somebody that was black here in Douglas County?

MR. NELSON: That's about all there was, was janitors and what you call teamsters.

MR. NETHER: If a black got a job being a teacher, would people feel that he has a good job, kind of look to them or if they were policemen or something?

MR. NELSON: Yes. My teacher was colored, Minnie Lucas, and Lincoln School in north Lawrence, it was all colored. They had four colored teachers and a colored principal. So I went to school up there and they separated from Woodlawn. They didn't mix, but now they mix. It's lots better than it used to be, whole lot better.

MR. NETHER: What are some of the major changes that you see, Mr. Nelson, any change that you see that has taken—

MR. NELSON: One major change I can see in Lawrence or anywhere else, if you qualify, you almost get a job anywhere.

MR. NETHER: This wasn't the case when you first came here? You couldn't get a job anywhere you wanted to if you were qualified?

MR. NELSON: No, you couldn't. But I have had jobs myself that, when I was 21, say, 35, something like that, why I couldn't have got them. So Lawrence actually has grown to be considerably fine place to live. I wouldn't want to live no other place.

MR. NETHER: Would you want your children to live here?

MR. NELSON: It's two of them lives here and my daughter lives in Topeka, and one of them in Arizona, but they still come to Lawrence and say there's no place like Lawrence.

MR. NETHER: That's good. Did you go to school here?

MR. NELSON: Yes, I did.

MR. NETHER: What was the first school you attended?

MR. NELSON: Here in Douglas County?

MR. NETHER: Yes, sir.

MR. NELSON: Lincoln.

MR. NETHER: What did Lincoln look like now? Was it a large school, small school, medium-sized school, you think?

MR. NELSON: It was pretty good-sized schoolhouse, but now the Ballard Center has got it. I guess I would say around 200 kids went there.

MR. NETHER: Who was the principal while you were there?

MR. NELSON: Mary Dillard.

MR. NETHER: What grades attended the new Lincoln School, just the one—this Ballard Center, the new one?

MR. NELSON: We went from up to the eighth grade.

MR. NETHER: And these were all black schools, you say?


MR. NETHER: Was the classrooms pretty strict?

MR. NELSON: Yes, they was.

MR. NETHER: What type of punishments did you get if you were naughty, if you did something bad?

MR. NELSON: You would have to take the corner, stand in the corner, or stay after school.

MR. NETHER: Really? Anything else? Did you get paddled?

MR. NELSON: No. If you was out in the yard and you got in trouble, then you was expelled for two days.

MR. NETHER: Have you had to stay after school? What did you do, just sit there or did the teachers talk to you or what happened?

MR. NELSON: You get some of your lessons for the next day.

MR. NETHER: Did you have to study hard when you went to Lincoln?

MR. NELSON: Yes, we did.

MR. NETHER: Do you feel that you learned much?

MR. NELSON: Yes, I did.

MR. NETHER: Did you ever learn anything about black people, some of the black heroes?

MR. NELSON: I guess before my time, or something.

MR. NETHER: Did you have good textbooks?


MR. NETHER: Did your parents belong to the PTA?

MR. NELSON: No. There was no PTA when Lincoln was going but later on there was.

MR. NETHER: Can you ever remember an all-black PTA in north Lawrence?

MR. NELSON: No, there wasn't. It's mixed.

MR. NETHER: After you left Lincoln School, you now would come across the river and what school did you attend then?

MR. NELSON: Central High.

MR. NETHER: Central High?

MR. NELSON: On Ninth and Kentucky.

MR. NETHER: Not Central Junior High? Central High?


MR. NETHER: What was Central High like then?

MR. NELSON: It was great, because there was lots of ones that came from north Lawrence and lots of guys I growed up in Douglas County, we all went there about the same year.

MR. NETHER: Now, these classes were integrated, weren't they?

MR. NELSON: It was mixed.

MR. NETHER: Did you have any black teachers at Central High?


MR. NETHER: Can you remember what it was like for you or what was going through your mind when you was leaving Lincoln School where you had been around all-black students and all-black teachers, what were you kind of expecting when you went to Central High School and you had white teachers and other white students?

MR. NELSON: I didn't think too much of it because in a way we mingled with white people quite a bit. Of course, I was used to them. We played with them and we hunted together, and so that wasn't no problem in school, of course. So many of my white friends and colored friends went over there with me.

MR. NETHER: Did you come across the river much over in the part of town?


MR. NETHER: Was there any competition between the blacks across the river and the blacks in north Lawrence? How did both groups relate that were black?

MR. NELSON: They related pretty good.

MR. NETHER: Did they? If you were kind of sweet on a young lady on this side of the river, could you come across and talk to her freely?

MR. NELSON: Oh, yes.

MR. NETHER: What about vice versa? Could some young man from this side of the river go into north Lawrence?

MR. NELSON: Yes, he could.

MR. NETHER: Did you have names for people that lived across the river and did they have names for people that lived north of the river?


MR. NETHER: Any nicknames, kind of, can you remember?

MR. NELSON: No. Well, some of them carried nicknames. Used to call me Grant. I don't know why. That's a terrible name.

MR. NETHER: Have you ever heard of the sandrats?


MR. NETHER: Who were the sandrats?

MR. NELSON: I am one of them. They called people in north Lawrence sandrats and they called the people over here gumborats.

MR. NETHER: What's a gumborat?

MR. NELSON: That's that old hard black dirt, you know. It's gumbo. We had two names, sandrats in north Lawrence and gumborats in south Lawrence.

MR. NETHER: Did you get involved in any extra activities in high school like football or basketball?

MR. NELSON: No. That's one thing—

MR. NETHER: Could blacks compete in sports and athletics at Central?


MR. NETHER: They couldn't?


MR. NETHER: How did black people react to that? Did anyone black ever try to go out to play football or try to go out to play basketball?

MR. NELSON: I imagine some of them did, but, they got in a place that they didn't want to raise any trouble in schools. You could play baseball. We had a team of our own over in north Lawrence that played baseball. We got along fine.

MR. NETHER: Did they have an all-black basketball team at Central High? I am just searching now.

MR. NELSON: No. I don't think they did.

MR. NETHER: Under the laws at that time if you had a white basketball team, you had to have a black one. It was legal to be separate, but you had to have equal facilities.

MR. NELSON: It wasn't that way here.

MR. NETHER: They just had it for the white kids?

MR. NELSON: I know two or three of my friends was white, and they wanted me to play basketball with them and one of them was the county commissioner. That was Arthur Heck. I wasn't to school with him. As a friend he wanted to take me in, but I never did accept it.

MR. NETHER: How long did you attend Central High School?

MR. NELSON: About two years.

MR. NETHER: Did you graduate?


MR. NETHER: Did it only take two years to graduate?

MR. NELSON: It did at that time. If you had a good grade when you went over there, they sent you right on through.

MR. NETHER: Did you go through commencement exercises?


MR. NETHER: How many black people graduated when you did?

MR. NELSON: I imagine around 18 or 20.

MR. NETHER: That's more than they have now.


MR. NETHER: Graduating at a time. Did many of the people or any of the people that you graduated with that were black, did they go on to college? Did you go on to college?

MR. NELSON: No, I didn't.

MR. NETHER: Did any of the other blacks that went to school with you go on to college?

MR. NELSON: Charlie Shepard did. I think might have been four or five.

MR. NETHER: Why did you decide not to go to college?

MR. NELSON: Well, I don't know. I asked my father—after my father had all this land, why I thought I had learned enough, and I helped him on the farm.

MR. NETHER: You kind of wanted to be a farmer?


MR. NETHER: Nothing wrong with that.

Now, Mr. Nelson, I am going to ask you some questions about certain periods of historical times. You won't be able to remember most of these, I'm sure, because you weren't here at that time and you are hardly that old. You are still a young man, but maybe you have heard something about it. And so I am going to ask anyway, just kind of search for answers.


MR. NETHER: Do you remember anything about black people during the Civil War in Douglas County? What were they doing? Did they fight along with the North for their freedoms, or what kind of jobs they had, anything at all about the Civil War?

MR. NELSON: No. I don't. I couldn't answer that.

MR. NETHER: What about Quantrill's raids?

MR. NELSON: I have heard my father's friends talk about it. They lived here in this county, and out on 1700 and Tennessee a great big old brick house, that's where Quantrill hid out. That house is still standing. That's what they tell me. I don't know. Then this one on Tennessee Street, little old stone house, that one out on 1700 and Tennessee, the only two houses on Tennessee Street. That's what they tell me. It's still there, the little stone house. You may see it. Not too far. On the west side of the street right back from the drive-in bank, little stone house.

MR. NETHER: Anything else about the raid that you can remember?

MR. NELSON: Mr. Taylor told my father, I heard them talking, but you know, I didn't think much, Quantrill's horse was killed in the Kaw River. He had a white horse. That's what I heard my father and them talk about it.

MR. NETHER: How did he get killed in the river?

MR. NELSON: They shot him.

MR. NETHER: Shot his horse out from under Quantrill?


MR. NETHER: Did Quantrill also kill blacks when he came into town?

MR. NELSON: Yes. He killed everything he ran across.

MR. NETHER: Anybody. Didn't make any difference.

MR. NELSON: Yeah. I am glad I wasn't here.

MR. NETHER: There was a great massive migration to Kansas. Maybe your grandparents came with that migration. This was known as the exodus. And the reason for this exodus in the South, black people were being lynched, old slave masters were trying to take back over and so they decided to leave the South and go where John Brown had inspired them and made them feel that Kansas was a place of freedom. So they started to migrate. Can you remember anything about this period of time in history? Do you know anyone that came here with this massive migration?

MR. NELSON: I have heard Mr. Taylor talk about his folks.

MR. NETHER: Is that Franklin Taylor?

MR. NELSON: No, it was Billy Taylor. He's some kin to him.

MR. NETHER: Is he still—

MR. NELSON: No, he passed away about five years ago, but I do remember I used to go or come from school and there was one slave man lived here. His name was Ad Watts, and he must have been pretty close to a hundred. I and my brother would go up and talk to him, and he told me he was sold I don't know how many times. So I felt real sorry for him, said they shipped him, poured salt water on him, and all that.

MR. NETHER: How did he get to Kansas?


MR. NETHER: This man you are talking about.

MR. NELSON: As you say, he must have migrated here.

MR. NETHER: What about World War I? This still is a little early for you, but can you remember what was happening in Douglas County that pertained to black people during World War I?

MR. NELSON: Just about like it was now. I had a brother went.

MR. NETHER: Was your brother enthusiastic about going? Black people were segregated again. They couldn't go anywhere they wanted if they had the money. They were still being lynched.


MR. NETHER: Now comes a time when they had to go out and fight for the same country that was somewhat oppressing them. Was your brother still eager to go fight?

MR. NELSON: He wasn't because they had to stay in different camps. They had certain places to stay. He didn't think very much of it because he was fighting for his country, and he got treated that way.

MR. NETHER: What about the 1920s? What did you do for fun? How did you enjoy yourself?

MR. NELSON: We had riding horses and we played baseball, had picnics.

MR. NETHER: You a pretty good baseball player?

MR. NELSON: I was then, but I don't think I would do so good now.

MR. NETHER: What position did you play?

MR. NELSON: I was catcher there for a long while.

MR. NETHER: Where did you play at?

MR. NELSON: Out to Bismarck. They had a big schoolyard out there.

MR. NETHER: Would females play with you or would it just be young men?


MR. NETHER: Would you ever let females play?

MR. NELSON: Yeah, we would have, but they seemed like they didn't want to play with us. We was too rough, they said.

MR. NETHER: Were black women feminine? Did they act feminine during when you were a young man, say in your early 20s? You know, the kind of thing, act helpless in order to get pity or something?


MR. NETHER: They didn't do that. What else did you do for fun in the '20s besides ride horses and play baseball?

MR. NELSON: We used to have picnics and used to have barrel races, put a sack around you and all that.

MR. NETHER: Did you ever go out and do the Charleston?

MR. NELSON: No. I have seen it done, but I thought that was a lot of foolishness. Too much hard work in that.

MR. NETHER: You mentioned picnics, Mr. Nelson. Who organized these picnics? Would everybody just meet at the park or something with a picnic basket or would they be planned in advance? Or was it an organization that planned it?

MR. NELSON: Just a neighbor, they get up certain date, then they take your baskets. We had a swell time.

MR. NETHER: Do you attend church?

MR. NELSON: Oh, yeah. I am a deacon.

MR. NETHER: What church do you attend?

MR. NELSON: First R M Baptist Church in north Lawrence. Reverend Billy—

MR. NETHER: Regular Missionary Baptist?

MR. NELSON: Yes, it's on Lincoln.

MR. NETHER: I'm trying to think who I talked to the other day from that church. Mrs. Newman.

MR. NELSON: Yes, she belongs to the church.

MR. NETHER: How long have you attended R M Baptist Church?

MR. NELSON: About 45 years.

MR. NETHER: Really? Right here in Douglas County?


MR. NETHER: Did they ever sponsor social activities?

MR. NELSON: Oh, yes.

MR. NETHER: For the congregation?

MR. NELSON: Oh, yeah.

MR. NETHER: What kind of activities?

MR. NELSON: We have different churches come in, we got four choirs in our church, got a men's choir. I belong to it. It's a pretty good sized church in attendance and what they do down there.

MR. NETHER: Do you see any major changes in the church?

MR. NELSON: Yes, I do.

MR. NETHER: What kind of changes?

MR. NELSON: We never did have but one choir when I was—

MR. NETHER: What do you have, senior choir?

MR. NELSON: Senior choir, men's choir, and young girl's choir, and they got Sunday School and my wife, she's Sunday School superintendent.

MR. NETHER: Do you know Tyke Williams?

MR. NELSON: Yes. He's my nephew.

MR. NETHER: Is he?


MR. NETHER: I went to school with Tyke. Real good football player. Always was small. Guy had a lot of guts.

MR. NELSON: Yeah. His mother is my brother's child, Irene.

MR. NETHER: Good basketball player too.


MR. NETHER: During the Depression in 1929, stock market crash and then you had the Depression. How did you make a living then? What did you do for work?

MR. NELSON: I worked at the paper mill. Then I raised hogs and sold them. Where you was at yesterday, I had quite a bit of ground there. In them days and times, you didn't get but $3.20 a hundred for hogs. And we had scrip when I was working there during the Depression. At one time we had scrip. We would work two days a week, sometimes one.

MR. NETHER: Was it hard times for you during the Depression?

MR. NELSON: Yes, it was.

MR. NETHER: Why was it so hard, because you couldn't work steady?

MR. NELSON: It wasn't no demand for anything much like it is now. Only time we would get to work about two months a year. We had a big demand for making chicken boxes for young hatcheries. That would last about 60 days. From then on, it was just every other day working.

MR. NETHER: Did many black people have to resort to getting on welfare during this time?

MR. NELSON: Wasn't no welfare then.

MR. NETHER: You are right.

MR. NELSON: It was county or something. I don't know.

MR. NETHER: Yeah. Charity assistance, mostly. How did other blacks seem to make a living during the Depression?

MR. NELSON: As I say, the colored ladies, they done housework and some of them done janitor work and just whatever they could find.

MR. NETHER: How did you feel when Franklin Roosevelt was elected?

MR. NELSON: I thought he was all right.

MR. NETHER: I asked that because Kansas is a Republican state.


MR. NETHER: And I wanted to see your reaction. How did you feel when Roosevelt started putting in all these relief programs and so on?

MR. NELSON: I thought that was all right.

MR. NETHER: Did many black people get involved with some of these relief programs of Roosevelt?

MR. NELSON: Yes, they did.

MR. NETHER: Like what, what organization?

MR. NELSON: They used to have the CC camp and they built roads and lots of other things. I really clear forgot about, but he kind of got the people in a way out of the Depression. They got work.

MR. NETHER: Do you remember World War II?


MR. NETHER: Do you remember how it related to Douglas County? Did you know a lot of black people from here that went to fight in the war?


MR. NETHER: Where did they go take their basic training at?

MR. NELSON: Camp Funston.

MR. NETHER: Funston. Where is that?

MR. NELSON: Somewhere up near Hutchinson, I think now.

MR. NETHER: It's in Kansas?

MR. NELSON: Yeah. And lots of them died with that flue they had.

MR. NETHER: Right. This is where most of the blacks from Douglas County—

MR. NELSON: Yeah, black and white went to Camp Funston.

MR. NETHER: Did soldiers from Douglas County in World War II serve in segregated units or integrated units? Were they all black or were they black and white?

MR. NELSON: They was black and white.

MR. NETHER: In 1954, Mr. Nelson, there was a court decision; it was Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education. This said that it was now illegal to have separate facilities. Those restaurants that wouldn't allow blacks and the movie houses that wouldn't allow blacks by law were supposed to allow them to attend their businesses. The schools were supposed to integrate. Ballard Center, Woodlawn, it's against the law now. How did this court decision affect Douglas County? Did Lincoln School close down or open its doors to white students?

MR. NELSON: No, it affected them. Some of them kind of rough and but some of them went along with it, but they had quite a time at Woodlawn there for a while because colored had to go there and finally worked out all right.

MR. NETHER: There wasn't any riots or fighting or anything?

MR. NELSON: No. They got along after they got started, done all right.

MR. NETHER: Why do you think they had separate schools anyway? Have you ever heard why they set them up in north Lawrence that way?

MR. NELSON: I don't know. Bismarck, when I went to school out there, we was mixed. Then when we moved to town, why, we had to go to Lincoln. It was all colored. I couldn't understand that. I never was able to understand why, because the people in north Lawrence now and then was real nice, but they just got in that. I don't know why. It was kind of hard thing to answer in a way.

MR. NETHER: I agree with you. Were there ever any demonstrations here, racial demonstrations, that you can remember, maybe marches through town or something?

MR. NELSON: No, it wasn't.

MR. NETHER: Do you remember any black businesses that were here?

MR. NELSON: Yes. He had a cleaning shop here, Panatorium Brown, and Mr. Davis had a restaurant here on Vermont.

MR. NETHER: Where was his restaurant located?

MR. NELSON: On Vermont, right in there about where Standard Oil comes in.

MR. NETHER: What did he serve in his restaurant?

MR. NELSON: He served home cooking.

MR. NETHER: Just about anything you wanted?

MR. NELSON: Haders had one up on Massachusetts, 600 block.

MR. NETHER: How do you spell that?

MR. NELSON: Hader.

MR. NETHER: Did he own a restaurant too?


MR. NETHER: Mr. Nelson, you mean we had black businesses downtown on Massachusetts Street?

MR. NELSON: Yes, we did.

MR. NETHER: Do you remember Gleeds?


MR. NETHER: What was Gleeds?

MR. NELSON: They bought cattle and poultry and cream from the farms.

MR. NETHER: Do you think they were pretty financially stable?

MR. NELSON: Oh, yes. He was.

MR. NETHER: How did Gleeds get started? Have you ever know that?

MR. NELSON: I think his father used to be a cattle buyer and he quit that and went into this business.

MR. NETHER: Where were they from originally?

MR. NELSON: Oh, I don't know.

MR. NETHER: Okay. I am searching. I know you can't answer some of this.

MR. NELSON: I couldn't say.

MR. NETHER: Were there any other businesses  that were in Douglas County?

MR. NELSON: Mr. Jimmy Jackson had a barber shop right in here where the bus station is now. He had four chairs in his barber shop.

We had a colored laundry here by the name of Smothers run it. It was out on Illinois, I think.

MR. NETHER: Did whites go to these businesses—to Hader's and the other one that you mentioned to me? Did they go in and sit down and eat and so on?


MR. NETHER: Okay. Was color a problem? Were you always made aware of the fact that you were black or did whites always have the feeling, they are white, you think?

MR. NELSON: Yes, I did in a way. I never did understand it because I would say particularly my folks or some of the community folks where we lived in there, we had just as much as they did. I couldn't understand why they thought they was a little better than we was.

MR. NETHER: Did you ever attend any other church besides First Baptist Church?

MR. NELSON: Yes. We go to Ninth Street once in a while.

MR. NETHER: How many churches were here that you can remember when you first started R M Baptist Church?


MR. NETHER: Which ones were those?

MR. NELSON: Ninth Street, St. Luke, St. James, and our church, Regular Missionary Baptist Church.

MR. NETHER: Baptist and a Methodist were on each side of the river?


MR. NETHER: Was there ever any other way to get across the river besides the bridge that they had?

MR. NELSON: No, there wasn't.

MR. NETHER: That's the only way?

MR. NELSON: We had to use the one bridge.

MR. NETHER: Do you ever remember what the winters were like? Were winters real severe?

MR. NELSON: Yes, not like they are now. Pretty cold.

MR. NETHER: Did the river freeze much?

MR. NELSON: Yeah. I can remember a time when Mr. Shockey, that's the man that my father farmed quite a bit with, he could drive his cattle across the river and not break through, from one stock field to the other. The ice was that thick.

MR. NETHER: When is the last time you think the river froze that solid?

MR. NELSON: Oh, brother.

MR. NETHER: Been a long time?

MR. NELSON: It's been a long while. I can't even remember.

MR. NETHER: I know this winter was pretty harsh, so it must have been pretty bad.

MR. NELSON: This is about the first winter ever had so much ice on it I can recall for a long while.

MR. NETHER: What were some of the professional people that were here at that time? Did you have any doctors or lawyers?

MR. NELSON: Yes, we did. Judge Clark, he was a lawyer and Dr. Kenner was a doctor, and Fred Rodgers was a doctor and Dr. Harvey.

MR. NETHER: In your opinion, personal question, who was the better doctor of the ones that you mentioned, Dr. Harvey, Kenner?

MR. NELSON: I would say Dr. Kenner.

MR. NETHER: Would you?

MR. NELSON: Uh-huh.

MR. NETHER: Okay. Was Judge Clark a fair man?

MR. NELSON: Yes, he was.

MR. NETHER: Okay. Was he looked up to by many people?


MR. NETHER: Okay. All people, not particularly black people?

MR. NELSON: In the home, yes, he was.

MR. NETHER: Did you have any other lawyers or judges?

MR. NELSON: You mean in color?



MR. NETHER: How many do you have now?

MR. NELSON: Here in Lawrence?


MR. NELSON: I don't think we have any.

MR. NETHER: They have one lawyer.


MR. NETHER: Leonard Clark, Judge Clark's grandson.

MR. NELSON: Oh, yeah.

MR. NETHER: A few jumps in there.

MR. NELSON: Yeah. Don't have much to do with lawyers anyway.

MR. NETHER: Were there any black organizations here that worked specifically for black people?

MR. NELSON: Yes. They used to have a colored band here. That was one of them. Then Mr. Woody, I don't know, he finally got up a ball team, Elgin Woody. Named that park after him out there.

MR. NETHER: What were his ball teams like? Were they good?

MR. NELSON: Yeah, they were.

MR. NETHER: Who did they play?

MR. NELSON: They used to play against Tonganoxie.

MR. NETHER: Would they play against other black baseball players?


MR. NETHER: Did you ever see them play?


MR. NETHER: What were the color of the uniforms?


MR. NETHER: Blue and—

MR. NELSON: White.

MR. NETHER: Blue and white. Were they good?

MR. NELSON: Yeah, they was good.

MR. NETHER: Were they fancy?

MR. NELSON: Yeah, in them days.

MR. NETHER: Who were some of the better players, do you remember the names of any of them?

MR. NELSON: Phil Nelson, Elgin Anderson, Ed Salisbury.

MR. NETHER: Ed Salisbury?


MR. NETHER: What position did Ed Salisbury play?

MR. NELSON: He was second base.

MR. NETHER: Was he a good fielder or better hitter?

MR. NELSON: Yeah, Elgin Anderson, he was a good hitter. He would bring them in.

MR. NETHER: Any others?

MR. NELSON: Ernest Shepard and some of Dean Harvey's nephews. But I really didn't know them. I know they were Harveys but I didn't know what their names was, but they was all good.

MR. NETHER: Did you know Langston Hughes when you were here?


MR. NETHER: Langston Hughes.


MR. NETHER: He is a journalist, poet now.


MR. NETHER: Had you ever heard of Williams and Walker?

MR. NELSON: Yeah, I have heard lots of talk about them.

MR. NETHER: Are there any other black people that were born or raised in Lawrence that you know of that left town and became famous? Were you familiar with George Brown?

MR. NELSON: Yes. I went to school with him.

MR. NETHER: Did you?

MR. NELSON: The one in Denver?

MR. NETHER: Yeah. Senior.

MR. NELSON: Pardon me. I am talking about his son.


MR. NELSON: It was junior.

MR. NETHER: The one that's Lt. Governor now?

MR. NELSON: No, his son. He had a son named George Jr. I went to school with him. Not the one that's governor, I didn't go to school with him.

MR. NETHER: All right. Mr. Nelson, that's basically all I have to ask you. Only one more question and that is us there something that pertains to the black history of the county that I might have neglected to ask or is there anything you would like to say for the record about being black and growing up in the county?

MR. NELSON: I think that Douglas County is an outstanding place for anybody to live. It's a clean place. We don't have the crimes that other cities have. I just think it's a wonderful place to live. I wouldn't live no other where else.

MR. NETHER: Has it always been a wonderful place to live, you think?

MR. NELSON: Yes, it has. Just keeps getting better.

MR. NETHER: Okay. That's good.

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