Robert Jones

Robert Jones' grandparents moved to Kansas from Missouri, so they could live in a free state. Mr. Jones was a member and steward of St. Luke AME Church. He tells several stories of blacks in the Quantrill's Raid and Civil War era in Douglas County and discusses racial tensions in Lawrence in the l970s. He worked as a mortician.

Robert B. Jones Jr.
June 7, 1977

Interview by Curtis Nether

Mr. NETHER: What's your name and date of birth?

Mr. JONES: My name is Robert B. Jones Jr. My date of birth is February 12, 1902.

Mr. NETHER: Your marital status?

Mr. JONES: I don't have any.

Mr. NETHER: Single.

Mr. JONES: I do have a child though, foster child.

Mr. NETHER: Just one?

Mr. JONES: Just one.

Mr. NETHER: How old is he?

Mr. JONES: He's about thirty-two, I guess, now. I think he's somewhere around there.

Mr. NETHER: Mr. Jones, what's your parents' names?

Mr. JONES: My parents were Robert and Laura Jones.

Mr. NETHER: Where were they born?

Mr. JONES: In Missouri.

Mr. NETHER: Where were you born?

Mr. JONES: In Lawrence, Kansas.

Mr. NETHER: When did your parents come to Douglas County?

Mr. JONES: I can't answer that question, but it was years and years ago.

Mr. NETHER: Would you know why they came?

Mr. JONES: I know what they said.

Mr. NETHER: Okay.

Mr. JONES: They said they didn't want any children born in Missouri. They wanted to be in a free state. Wanted their children to be educated.

Mr. NETHER: I can understand that, because Missouri was a slave state.

Mr. JONES: Yeah. They didn't want their children?

Mr. NETHER: That's good. Those are good roots. Came here for a purpose. All right. Do you know if they had any acquaintances here when they came?

Mr. JONES: I don't think they did. I think they all came here about the same time, my relatives.

Mr. NETHER: A lot of blacks were inspired by John Brown and what had happened here in Kansas.

Mr. JONES: I don't think that was it. I never heard them talk about that because my parents came here about the same time. My grandmother and them, I think they all came here in wagons.

Mr. NETHER: Were your grandparents with your parents when they came?

Mr. JONES: I think they were, about all together.

Mr. NETHER: Can you remember them telling you or maybe your earliest knowledge of Lawrence? What was it like? If you saw a picture postcard of Lawrence, Kansas, what would you see? What would the houses be like? What were the streets like?

Mr. JONES: I would say just a general country town, very pleasing, very inviting, and when you look at the courthouse over here you see about the general respect, that is the old one, and if you look down Pennsylvania Street, and some streets up on the west side there that will give you the very good picture of the town. It was an acceptable town, a friendly town. I would see a dog; I would know who he belonged to. See a horse; I would know who he belonged to.

Mr. NETHER: What was [old] west Lawrence like?

Mr. JONES: It was open, mostly fields. We are talking about some of the historical moments, even on the Hill there it wasn't as full as it is now. We had some outstanding black people that lived up there, such as our bishop.

Mr. NETHER: Bishop Gregg?

Mr. JONES: Bishop John Gregg, and ?

Mr. NETHER: He was the pastor of what church?

Mr. JONES: St. Luke.

Mr. NETHER: Which is AME?

Mr. JONES: Oh, yes.

Mr. NETHER: Wanted to get that for the record.

Mr. JONES: Absolutely. I will correct you if you don't because I am a staunch AME.

Mr. NETHER: What was east Lawrence like?

Mr. JONES: It was more like a little suburban country town, I suppose. It wasn't a color situation either, but we didn't have running water in most of the houses there. It was just a town, that's all. Friendly people.

Mr. NETHER: Were there a lot of Indians here?

Mr. JONES: Yes. The school out here was in Lawrence since that time, but we used to play with them quite a bit, the Indians. Personally, I think they were more settled than these are today. These are wild ones that you got, they will get you.

Mr. NETHER: How did whites and blacks and even the Indians, how did the races relate to one another? Was it kind of a separate idea or did they just mingle with each other, get along pretty well?

Mr. JONES: They got along as a whole pretty well. You come to my house and eat when I was a youngster and I would go to their house and eat and we would visit back and forth, the boys would go swimming together. But when we come downtown we couldn't understand that they didn't want us to go in to the restaurants and we boys?as I told you, I was quite devilish when I was a boy?

Mr. NETHER: I bet you were.

Mr. JONES: I can remember we had what we call down here the YMCA, and we never could understand the letters of that, you know, what it means, Young Men's Christian Association, and they had a swimming pool down there, and they were determined that no black children would swim in that pool, so some of my white friends, we got in there one day and somehow or another I fell in the pool, with their assistance. I will never forget how this man, oh, he was frustrated for a few minutes. Talk about he was going to do this, he was going to do that. The boys said, "You just sit cool there, we are going to swim. You do what you want to after we go." After that he found out that black children could go to the pool without the water getting dirty, but we didn't?we had nothing like that in our minds as a whole. It's always been the adults. The children themselves I think right now a lot of what little we have, the old people, it's not the young people. They associate very fine. It's a traditional thing.

Mr. NETHER: Something that's just kind of been passed down?

Mr. JONES: Yes, some of our professors too, don't forget them.

Mr. NETHER: What I am going to do now is ask you about certain periods of time in history.

Mr. JONES: Yes.

Mr. NETHER: And see what you can recall about those periods of time. Now, you know, any information, no matter how general, is something we will be interested in having.

Mr. JONES, can you remember anything about the Civil War, maybe something your parents told you or something you heard, as it related to Douglas County?

Mr. JONES: I know we had a lot of black people in the Civil War. I don't know personally. I have heard a lot about it. We had Mr. Wilson, he was a colonel, I believe. He had a mark to show it. His hand was shot off from a canon in the Civil War. He came here and settled down and he was a farmer out here in north Lawrence. And Marcus Hamilton, one of the most outstanding Negroes in this town. I hear him talking about it. That's about all. I heard it back and forth different things, other men, I believe, Mr. William Harper, and?

Mr. NETHER: Did any of these men ever serve with buffalo soldiers?

Mr. JONES: I couldn't tell you about that, but some of them did. We had one that served here in the county, and he was a soldier of some kind. Whether he was a buffalo soldier or not, I think he was a Spanish-American soldier though. Mr. Harvey, he was?

Mr. NETHER: Is that Dr. Harvey?

Mr. JONES: No. That was Dr. Harvey's brother. Mr. Harvey, this particular Mr. Harvey, he served in the register of deeds office over here for a good long while. And also as our turnkey, I think he had something to do with the Civil War, Mr. Johnson, he was a turnkey for the county here for years and years. May I add hastily that I am disturbed about our county officials now. We don't have any black officials. Not that I am accusing the white officials, but I am just wondering why the black people are not taking the initiative. It's only carelessness on the black people's part. I like to tell the truth about these things.

Mr. NETHER: So there was a lot of black people involved with running the city, running the county here?

Mr. JONES: Oh, my, we had doctors, we had lawyers. Where are they today? There were plenty of them, and I might hastily add again that two doctors in this town brought about a third of the white babies in the world here, and they were black doctors, Dr. Harvey, Dr. Kenner, and they were very efficient doctors. Of course, then we mustn't forget another man, Mr. Rodgers was a quite outstanding farmer here. He had a son that was a doctor here, and he had a son that was a doctor that you couldn't get in a mile of his office in Chicago. He was a great doctor. He just recently passed away, and I had the pleasure of being at his funeral too because I lived in Chicago at that time.

Mr. NETHER: Mr. Jones, can you remember anything about Quantrill's Raid here on Lawrence?

Mr. JONES: Only what I was told. Quantrill's Raid did come through here from what I was told by a very good neighbor of ours, Willis G. Hackley, and he could make it so vivid to you: how he stood on his farm four and a half miles east of here and he saw the Quantrill men coming down across?I judge they came from the southeast, and came down to his farm, which is a part of north Lawrence. He lived north of Lawrence here. The Hecks own that property now, the fellow that used to be the county commissioner here, and he told us how they come along there. They didn't bother him; they just left him some old poor wild horses and took his horses.

Mr. NETHER: They think that's the least they could do.

Mr. JONES: Yeah. And I think they left him some corn or something like that. I don't recall now. But he was a quite outstanding portly man. That's about all I can remember of that.

Mr. NETHER: Mr. Jones, right after the Civil War and Quantrill's Raid, you had a period of time when blacks, at least on paper now, were equal to whites. We had amendments passed; we had the Civil Rights Act passed. This period was known as the Reconstruction. After the Reconstruction you had white slave owners take back over in the South, you had Ku Klux Klan.

Mr. JONES: Yes.

Mr. NETHER: Involved in the South, and you had just the idea of white supremacy.

Mr. JONES: Yes.

Mr. NETHER: Can you remember anything about this time period when these whites started taking back over? What effect did this taking over have on Douglas County, if any?

Mr. JONES: Since I wasn't here too much at that time, I really don't think that Reconstruction period interfered with the progress of Lawrence. If it did, it was just because somebody sat down, you put food there and you don't eat it, why that's your fault. I think the Reconstruction, we would have to turn around and say it was a deconstruction, because I think I spoke to you the other day about it. We had a lot of property owned by black people here in this town, all of these businesses that you see around here, a lot of them now, Vermont Street and out here where our present Rusty's store is, Twenty-third Street, Louisiana. All of that was owned by black people, and the man's name was Mr. Gleed, and he was loaning money to the farmers south of town there. He and Mr. Sutton across the road. He had hogs, and they lived there for years and years, and so then we had the fairground out here that wasn't supported like it should have been. What they call Windom Park.

Mr. NETHER: Why do you think a lot of the black people lost this property?

Mr. JONES: Because—they will get me for this, but I'm going to tell you--they were unconcerned. They wanted Cadillacs.

Mr. NETHER: If it is true, that's what you believe, it's something that should be heard, right?

Mr. JONES: It was the truth, because the old people, we didn't want to sacrifice, or they didn't, because I always sacrificed, and because just lots and lots of this property you see around here that the white people are enjoying over where I live, look how they have taken over, you heard them knocking and tearing there on that was black people's property. They have to go up on Yellowstone Drive somewhere where they are not needed. Not ready, I might say. I'm going to stay where I live.

Mr. NETHER: Mr. Jones, during the early part of 1900s, you had a period of time where blacks were being lynched, overall segregation. It was a bad time for blacks. It was a time of Booker T. Washington and Du Bois, and so on. Then despite all this though, when World War I came, the government asked many of these blacks to go in and fight in the war.

Mr. JONES: Yes.

Mr. NETHER: Can you remember anything now about World War I as it related to Douglas County?

Mr. JONES: We had a lot of black boys to go. I wasn't old enough to go. I was too young. I remember a cousin, I remember a brother, two brothers, marching away from here, and they did go, and some of them, my friends went. Some of them didn't come back. But it seemed all overnight that people were assembling together. They had forgotten about colors, and I just wish it would be that way today.

Mr. NETHER: It's good that I can hear you say that, because from reading, that's the idea that I get too.

Mr. JONES: Sure it was.

Mr. NETHER: That it was a time when just everybody was patriotic, everybody.

Mr. JONES: Very much so.

Mr. NETHER: Everybody had something to do, went out and did it.

Mr. JONES: I went myself. I couldn't go, but I left here and went to Colorado, made more money than I ever made in my life working for the railroad, five dollars a day, and I thought that was a big deal. They wanted kids and even girls was working there.

Mr. NETHER: Yeah.

Mr. JONES: Yes, on the railroad at that time, so?

Mr. NETHER: Lot of the men had gone to war, and they needed somebody here to do the work?

Mr. JONES: To lift up the load here, and that's what we done. Some were farmers and some were mechanics and some were railroad men.

Mr. NETHER: So blacks didn't generally feel reluctant to go, feel hesitant to go?

Mr. JONES: No, I don't think they really did. I think they were glad to go and proud to go because if you go out here to the Oak Hill Cemetery, you will see a private lot there, veterans' lot, a lot of black boys laying out there, and Old Leavenworth.

Mr. NETHER: Do you know where a lot of these black soldiers went because they were in their own segregated units then, the military wasn't integrated. So do you know where they mostly sent the black soldiers from here in Douglas County?

Mr. JONES: I think most of them went—where was that? I heard my brother talk about it. It was overseas somewhere, and I don't recall just now, but if I would hear the name called. I don't remember like I used to.

Mr. NETHER: Was it somewhere in France?

Mr. JONES: Yes. Lot of them went to France. My brother, that was one place my brother went, I think. Hamilton, Professor Hamilton, was in France, and his brother was in France, and I don't recall where else, but they were all over in there.

Mr. NETHER: Can you remember any of them telling you about what it was like to fight in a trench?

Mr. JONES: Oh, it was a devastating thing. Several days they would lay there in those trenches. It would be cold and wet, quite rainy season there, and that's why some of them didn't make it, because they got pneumonia and passed. We didn't have medical attention like we got now.

Mr. NETHER: What was it like here at home? What did black women do to help the war cause?

Mr. JONES: I don't know particularly. I guess some of them did work in defense plants and such as that. Some of them did take jobs that never had jobs before. I can't recall all particular things that they done.

Mr. NETHER: That's pretty basically what I have found out, as far as other parts of the country. You could see from what you say they was quite the same here in Douglas County.

Mr. JONES: Oh, yes.

Mr. NETHER: All right. Now comes the period of time right after the war, the 1920s, which they said were prosperous for some, but maybe not so prosperous for others. What did you do for fun in the '20s?

Mr. JONES: I kept kind of busy myself. I didn't have too much time. I was rather poor, of course. I think that was about the first car I ever had of my own. I kept busy keeping it going. Going to Kansas City and Olathe, Topeka, is about the distance, and of course, the girls.

Mr. NETHER: That's the good past times. Can you say generally what you did for fun in the 1920s was, well, I don't want to say chase.

Mr. JONES: Yeah. Rover.

Mr. NETHER: Did you attend church all through the 1920s?

Mr. JONES: Oh, Lord, all through my life I have attended the church, and?

Mr. NETHER: Did the church provide any social functions during the '20s that's different from maybe today?

Mr. JONES: They weren't any different, but they were regularly attended, more so than they are now, and reluctantly speaking, I think you didn't ask for this part but I think that's where young people fall down today, and I believe I said before I think the parents, not always, but a lot of time, the parents are the fault of these children making these mistakes, regardless of what color it is. I'm just talking about children as a whole. Parents are sending their children too much and not going with them or not knowing where they are going or who they are going with, so that does make a difference, makes quite a difference. But if you train a child in its youth when he gets old, he will hardly depart from that particular training. Not too often. He may, but he knows the way back. That's where it is.

Mr. NETHER: What was it like? Was it pretty easy to get a job during the '20s and work?

Mr. JONES: Yes, but we didn't have a whole lot of jobs like we needed. Of course, in the '20s yet I left Lawrence the first time after I came back from Colorado. I didn't stay here. Lawrence wasn't right for me any more.

Mr. NETHER: Why not?

Mr. JONES: I was a wonderless boy and never cared anything about excitement, particularly, but I was always a lover of money, and be substantial, substantial. I thought it was fine to be able to go into a business and buy what I wanted to buy. I didn't have any idea; it wasn't a dream of mine to hold up anybody or anything. If I wanted something, I thanked my father for that, "Boy, if you want something, you get you a job and buy it." That's what he told me. "Have you got a job?" "No, sir." "Well, make one." That the kind of father I had.

Mr. NETHER: Good idea. Good philosophy.

Mr. JONES: Yes. Make one. And I went around here, pushing a cart, a hand cart, and had lard cans, and I put those lard cans in that wagon and go all up on the hill there and $.25 a week I would pick up the garbage from each family. I was quite a rich boy.

Mr. NETHER: What kind of jobs were most people doing? Is this the time when we had a lot of black doctors and lawyers, during the '20s?

Mr. JONES: Oh, yes, we had a lot of black doctors in the '20s, and you go out here on Massachusetts Street, I wish I could recall the number. We had a black doctor that built a beautiful home right out there on I believe in the twenty-hundred block, beautiful stucco home there. A. Dr. Cabell built that home. He came here from somewhere. He built that home, but his health got bad and finally he died. He passed away here in this town.

Mr. NETHER: The '20s also was a time when a lot of blacks started migrating from the South particularly.

Mr. JONES: Yes.

Mr. NETHER: Can you remember anything about when a lot of blacks started migrating up north to Douglas County or even other places that you happened to be at that time?

Mr. JONES: I don't think that so many of them migrated here. It was later in the year is when black folks migrated here. That's the thing that upset Lawrence too, let me hastily?because they weren't competent, they weren't qualified, and they weren't used to our ways of life, and they resented the northern black man. I know from experience because I wasn't here, but I was in the State of Pennsylvania. I had left Chicago and was chosen as a forerunner to go there to establish these southern blacks, and they resented me most highly. They didn't want me to represent them or teach them. I couldn't teach them anything, so I had to give it up, because I couldn't understand them and they couldn't understand me, so I sold out and went away. And they are arrogant today. And I remember yet that our town was so viciously attacked, I must say, because this was a beautiful place to live before. We have got it here now that you don't see it because you are away from it, but I see it. And maybe I shouldn't go on further with that, but I see it that way.

Mr. NETHER: After the '20s the stock market crash and the Depression where a lot of people were poor.

Mr. JONES: I remember it.

Mr. NETHER: Where were you at during the Depression?

Mr. JONES: I was here in Lawrence. That was in '32.

Mr. NETHER: How did this Depression affect black people here in Douglas County?

Mr. JONES: The older people were still existing then. And they were pretty well founded. They had farms. A man with a farm wasn't bothered like the folks in town, and then a lot of this city property was owned by black farmers. They had migrated in here. The poor whites that migrated in here and I know a lot of them were living in black people's property. Rent wasn't very much in those days. I don't like to personalize, but my father, he owned three or four houses here in town, and he also owned two farms. It didn't bother us too much. We couldn't sell stuff. I can remember that. We used to set the milk out on the road out there on 32 Highway, two cans, every day, along with our white friends that lived out there, apples and things, and when night come it would all be gone. People were just walking, see them with baby buggies and little dirty babies, sour milk in the bottles. Sometimes it was water. And you asked them, "Where are you folks hitchhiking to?" "Oh, we are not hitchhiking." something they called themselves, "We are migrating through necessity." They were migrating, just going.

Mr. NETHER: A lot of people lost their farms then because you had a lot of natural disasters, dust storms?

Mr. JONES: Yes. But right in this vicinity, thank God, we didn't have it so much. The farms that were lost here, were the old folks passed away, why, they wanted to get rich over night, a lot of the people, the heirs of the property.

Mr. NETHER: Could you say then that the Depression didn't affect Douglas County that much, as much as it affected?

Mr. JONES: I don't believe so, since I had the choice of being both places. It affected us here, by the way, but we had more people that believed in God in those days, very devout people, both black and white.

Mr. NETHER: Was this an agricultural county?

Mr. JONES: Oh, my, there's no other county nowhere around today that's more agricultural then Douglas County. I can remember too another thing that's passed away here. Talk about this youth program that we have. Why, this time of year you couldn't hardly hear your ears. We used to raise a lot of potatoes here and the kids would be out at six o'clock in the morning going to the potato field, and then this, what do they call it down, here, this cannery, it isn't a cannery any more, but Stokley's, why they used to buy up?they called it the canning factory then, and these farmers would have tomatoes and cabbage and what not, and strawberries. These kids would have jobs through the summer. We didn't have any trouble finding jobs for kids because couldn't hardly get enough picking peaches and apples and potatoes through the summer months. We only got three and four cents a bushel, but if you was a good worker, you could make at least $4.00 a day, and that was big money.

Mr. NETHER: Right. I can imagine.

Mr. JONES: I have often times said we don't need this problem about giving kids jobs. I only wish that they would let me run such a thing. I would give them jobs alright.

Mr. NETHER: How did you feel now, a lot of people were unemployed, had a third of the country unemployed, although it didn't really affect them.

Mr. JONES: Yes. I don't think it bothered here as much as other places. We had more people in Chicago and around.

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

Mr. JONES: I think that was a Godsend. Of course, I am a Democrat, but really politics is not in it, but he was a Godsend. And, of course, you always are going to have somebody to kick you in the pants when you are doing something that's good, and if you can't stand the heat, as another Democrat used to say, don't go in the kitchen, just come out.

Mr. NETHER: Do you agree with most of the programs that he started, like Social Security and?

Mr. JONES: I agreed one hundred percent with that Social Security. I could see it. I thought it was one of the finest things for old people, and I was glad to pay my part in such a thing.

Mr. NETHER: What about the CCC camps? Were there any of those around here?

Mr. JONES: They were. Out where you spoke awhile ago, the boy was drowned, that was a project of the CCC Camp.

Mr. NETHER: Out at Lone Star Lake?

Mr. JONES: Yes. They employed lots of boys. I didn't work out there though because I was I guess a little shrewder. I went someplace else. But there were hundreds that worked out there and we could have projects like that now, but they don't do it. These boys got along out there, and I think they should have it now. There's a lot of projects in the county that could be. Out here, look at all of these weed patches and?

Mr. NETHER: Right.

Mr. JONES: One thing and another, take an old fellow like me that knows about those kind of things. Young people are all right, but they have to be led.

Mr. NETHER: Reason I asked about Roosevelt, you have people that love him and you have people that hate him.

Mr. JONES: That's natural because he done a wonderful thing. We are seeing some of his effects in this Social Security now. What would I be doing now, ask myself the question, if I didn't draw Social Security check? However, I paid in it and I am not ashamed to let anybody know.

Mr. NETHER: Right. You are getting your money back, without interest, by the way.

Mr. JONES: Yes. It's not much, but I think it's better than welfare.

Mr. NETHER: Did a lot of people get on welfare during the 1930s, can you remember?

Mr. JONES: I think quite a few got on there that didn't need to be on there and there's quite a few of them on there now that don't need to be on there. Welfare I think is worse than this Social Security. Speaking of welfare, that's a joke if there ever was one, yes.

Mr. NETHER: Do you know people today that's on welfare?

Mr. JONES: Yes.

Mr. NETHER: How do you relate to these people? I am trying not to make it personally here, but how do you think most blacks relate to one another that's on welfare?

Mr. JONES: They relate that way alright now because that's something that they don't have to pay for. And I just think it's a shame. A lot of these people that are on welfare right now ought to be off, as I say again, because I have heard them say, "Well, I'm going and get pregnant, get me another baby." Ridiculous. I have heard it lots of times. Then they will put the old man out. I don't know where he is. He's walking around eating my food. I know three or four cases right there in my neighborhood, they get four or five hundred dollars a month. They don't know where their husband is, but he knows where to come and eat. Now, those kind of things is what I don't like.

Mr. NETHER: I don't like it either. I don't like welfare. Some people say that Roosevelt was successful, some say he wasn't. Some say that he would have brought us out of the Depression. Some say that it was World War II that brought us out of the Depression.

Mr. JONES: I think it was him. The banks were all closed when he had taken over. It was such a nasty mess. If you had any money in the bank, which I was fortunate enough not to have any money in the bank, but a lot of people lost their money, but Roosevelt made that clear, and what do they call it, FDIC?


Mr. JONES: No. They can't go broke any more, but the banks did go broke then right here in this town. I don't think this one across the road went broke at that time, but they were in pretty bad shape. The Watkins bank and First National Bank were about all we had here. It was Merchants National Bank at that time. But I think he helped us.

Mr. NETHER: FDIC. It's up to $40,000. When he first had it, it was $5,000.

Mr. JONES: He was a great man. I don't care what you say. We haven't had one since that's any better.

Mr. NETHER: I think so too. I think he really, like you say, he came around when the country needed him most.

Mr. JONES: When they needed him most.

Mr. NETHER: And he was able to feed a lot of people. Today you have a lot of people blaming him for inflation because of the spending for those programs, but I think he did what he had to do.

What did Hoover do? What did Hoover do about the Depression?

Mr. JONES: I remember Hoover. I remember him. Oh, I remember him so well.

Mr. NETHER: Have you ever heard of Hooverville?

Mr. JONES: I have heard of Hooverized many a time.

Mr. NETHER: What's Hooverized?

Mr. JONES: It's a time when everything closed up, just about. I don't recall now, but I remember people talk about it. I didn't pay too much attention to politics at that time, but I remember him, remember his face and everything.

Mr. NETHER: You can't find Republicans or Democrats who liked Hoover.

Mr. JONES: He was a tight-fisted guy now. He was almost as bad as this last fellow we had, unmentionable.

Mr. NETHER: Nixon?

Mr. JONES: Nixon. He was a second-handed president.

Mr. NETHER: Mr. Jones, could you tell us how did World War II affect Douglas County? Again, blacks were still being lynched. They still couldn't go to any restaurants or motels. Did they rush out to fight in World War II as they did in World War I?

Mr. JONES: I don't know about the rushing, but I think we had a lot of them, and personally, I will tell you, Lawrence is an unusual, perhaps I will say a segregated town at that particular time because we didn't need restaurants so far as black people were concerned. We ate at home. We didn't pay any attention to it. And it wasn't because I think it was just some foolish law that they made. We did have black restaurants in this town at that time, and they weren't very well attended, but you see we just weren't taught to eat at restaurants. Of course, again, we had these delicatessens up and down the street where I don't care how thirsty you were, you couldn't get a drink in there. Somebody like me, I just walk on in there and pour the thing and get me a drink if I was thirsty enough. Why, of course, I know most of?"Oh, that's old man Jones' boy, he's crazy." "Give me a coke." Wouldn't hear me, and I would just go around there and pour it and lay the nickel down and go ahead on.

Mr. NETHER: What would they tell you? If you went in a segregated restaurant and sat down and wanted to eat, what would they say to you?

Mr. JONES: Well, they probably wouldn't tell you they wouldn't serve you, they just didn't pay you any attention. You just set there and set there and set there. And then somebody, a lot of the white people, they used bad words, say, "What the hell is the matter with you" You don't serve this man here? We want to go." Maybe they would come in together. They just couldn't understand it. Lawrence didn't like any of that, however, we did have some hard-core fellows here. On the hill and around here too, but?

Mr. NETHER: Do you remember Raney's Drugstore?

Mr. JONES: It's a new comparatively drugstore in this town.

Mr. NETHER: Okay.

Mr. JONES: Yeah. I remember it. They have always been very nice to me, but it's a new concern here in this town.

Mr. NETHER: What was the effect of World War II on Douglas County, if any?

Mr. JONES: I think it broadened the opportunities quite a bit. Of course, again, I wasn't here at that particular time. I lived in Chicago.

Mr. NETHER: Okay.

Mr. JONES: I could notice the differences when I would come here, but I never did pay too much attention to it because I was gone twelve years, or thirty years from this place.

Mr. NETHER: Were you here during 1954?

Mr. JONES: Just backwards and forth.

Mr. NETHER: In Topeka, they had a court decision which passed which said you could not have separate and equal facilities. In other words, Jim Crowism is over.

Mr. JONES: Yeah.

Mr. NETHER: How did this court decision now affect Douglas County? What did they have to do? How did people react?

Mr. JONES: The way I see it, I don't think they particularly paid any attention to it because the people themselves at that time we went to church together if we chose to and all of that. That's the reason why the general run of original Jayhawkers, we just didn't understand such a thing. We played together and went to school together and fought together, and all of that sort of a thing, but we just couldn't understand when we got ready to go to the picture show or to have a drink, and it was just awfully confusing. The old-time fellows were that way here. Of course, the new-time people, we had a lot of new-time people here, newcomers, white people, that liked it like that way

Mr. NETHER: Can you remember anything about how the Vietnam War affected Douglas County? Did people take wages to go join and fight?

Mr. JONES: I don't think we had too many Vietnam War black people because they were all too old, I think, at that time.

Mr. NETHER: Mr. Jones, can you remember the early 1970s when there was a lot of racial conflict here in Douglas County? Particularly at the high school and up on the Hill? Could you give us a general outline of what these problems were and what caused them?

Mr. JONES: Misunderstanding. There weren't really any problems. That was the after-effect of these agitators that came in here, Black Power, which the original black people didn't have too much to do with. They weren't for it at all. Such as these fellows that chased out of town. They went down here to one of our very fine white churches and demanded so much money in the time of service, and we were highly embarrassed because the First ME church down there, we affiliated back and forth quite a bit, and always did, so I think it was an agitation more than a progress, is the way I see it.

Mr. NETHER: Can you remember anything that happened during that time which was either beneficial or hurt black people in Douglas County, any things that they did?

Mr. JONES: Yes. Because they weren't doing anything too constructive, I don't think. I can take you down to my church right now and show you where the black people shot at our church, the marks are still there, where one of our very best white ladies was shot, not killed, but she was wounded, and she played a great part in carrying on?she owned a grocery store down there. She was shot.

Mr. NETHER: Was she shot in the leg?

Mr. JONES: Yes.

Mr. NETHER: Is that the one that they accused Tiger Dowdell of shooting?

Mr. JONES: No. Tiger shot at a policeman, which was all his fault.

Mr. NETHER: Was this white lady a member of your church?

Mr. JONES: No. She was a friend. They live out here, Johnson's are the name. They live out here in the country now and she carried a lot of those black people on her books. I heard later that they didn't intend to shoot her, they were shooting at her husband, but that's just hearsay. I don't know anything about it. But I know she was shot, because I was very much disturbed about it. She was shot from behind our church there.

Mr. NETHER: Do you see any major changes that have taken place here in Douglas County, and if so, what are they?

Mr. JONES: I suppose we just sum it up very shortly?progress. See, for a long time Lawrence stood at a standstill owing to the fact of certain individuals, the city dads were standing in their own light here in this town for a long time. When some of those fellows went out to Oak Hill Cemetery, why Lawrence went up. I predicted that myself years ago. So I do see quite a bit of change in Lawrence.

Mr. NETHER: What about students now? Do you see any difference in the students today?

Mr. JONES: Oh, Lord.

Mr. NETHER: Let's go back real far. Let's take now the students today and the students around 1968, '69, when you first had the hippies with the long hair. What's the change, if any?

Mr. JONES: A great change. It's just like night and day. I don't like it and so I can't speak about it so much. I think really I will say this, ordinarily it's a disgrace, the way they dress and the way they perform and you have seen that house that's migrating across the street from me, they just moved in there yesterday. Look at them. Makes you wonder where the dainty young miss has gone to. I can remember when I was a boy going to school. I would get to my bike, and I would ride by just to see how pretty the girls were progressing. They would always clean up in the afternoon and sit out on the porch. You don't see that now. They were ladies. I used to just love to see them come through the park with their little?we used to call them Coca Cola hats on. And some girls begin to powder when they get young ladies, and they would look quite a bit different with their little gloves and things.

Mr. NETHER: That's a big change. Now, you have girls in dungarees and tennis shoes.

Mr. JONES: You don't know who they are. You just don't know. And I think it's a shame. Yes, much difference in KU now. They are all students up there. They are friendly enough all right. But if I want to go out with a girl, I wouldn't want none of them that's hanging around.

Mr. NETHER: Mr. Jones, would you want your children to live here?

Mr. JONES: Yes. I still think Lawrence has a potential, yes. Beautiful place to live. Beautiful place.

Mr. NETHER: Can you remember now throughout the knowledge of history that you have if there ever was a class distinction between blacks, that a black that, say, made more money than another black, were they able to get along or did they kind of discriminate against each other?

Mr. JONES: I think it's a class of discrimination here now, especially person like myself, but it couldn't bother me, because I am not to be led. I will drive and I will follow, but I won't lead, I won't be led. No. In other words, I'm trying to make myself plain, because you wear long hair or something, I'm not going to wear long hair if I don't like it. I am going to be me. That's what I am going to be.

Mr. NETHER: Can you remember any organizations that were started here in Douglas County that were for just black people?

Mr. JONES: Oh, I don't think we had anything particular. NAACP used to be quite popular here, but you don't hear of it very much now. It's still alive, but we just didn't believe in segregated affairs, just didn't believe in it. We were taught different. I have to come back to what I first said sometime ago, the parents are the fault of most of these things that are going on. Our parents are much different today, much, much different. They don't have time to go anywhere, only to the tavern, with their children. Don't go to church. We have members in our church, they dabble in everything else, but you don't see them once a year at church. They don't have time. What kind of daughter or son will that bring up? Smoking cigarettes. That's the reason they don't like me, because I get started.

Mr. NETHER: Any other organizations now, maybe, that you could think of?

Mr. JONES: Only the church organizations, that's all.

Mr. NETHER: Did you generally leave town a lot when you were here?

Mr. JONES: Oh, yes. I was in and out until I finally left.

Mr. NETHER: Where did you go?

Mr. JONES: I always have to talk about Chicago because I loved it so much up until a period of time.

Mr. NETHER: What about around in a close vicinity? Did you leave and go?

Mr. JONES: I never really lived anywhere in the close vicinity. I visited Topeka and Olathe a whole lot.

Mr. NETHER: Why did you go to these places?

Mr. JONES: I have acquaintances in Topeka and then Olathe I have relatives still there.

Mr. NETHER: Do you know, Mr. Jones, sometime when people hear that you are from a certain place, and I even get this from Ohio, they expect you to be a certain way. Do you think when you told people that you were from Lawrence or Douglas County that they expected you to be a particular type of way?

Mr. JONES: They certainly did. That is how well I can remember. Lawrence? Yes. Well, that's a KU town, isn't it? They expected great things out of you. And they are let down quite a bit when I have had friends to come here, I wanted some of my friends that I met in Chicago to send their children here to KU. I lost two bids last year. They don't like what they see up there now. But I can remember at that time, yes, that I will say that, definitely, just being from a town like this, people definitely expect perhaps what you don't have to present.

Mr. NETHER: Do you attend church?

Mr. JONES: Oh, my. I live in church.

Mr. NETHER: Okay.

Mr. JONES: Yes.

Mr. NETHER: How long have you been going?

Mr. JONES: Childhood.

Mr. NETHER: What's your participation in the church?

Mr. JONES: I am a steward.

Mr. NETHER: Could you kind of explain the jobs of a steward?

Mr. JONES: A steward is next to the pastor. He's able to take on in case that the pastor is not there. A steward is supposed to go around and visit the sick and the afflicted, whatever he finds. In other words, he's the spiritual help in the church.

Mr. NETHER: Do you belong to the African Methodist Episcopal Church?

Mr. JONES: Absolutely.

Mr. NETHER: Do you see any changes in the church from when you went as a young man to now?

Mr. JONES: Yes.

Mr. NETHER: What are some of these changes, you think?

Mr. JONES: I would say a Methodist is not supposed to change, but I do see some changes that I am not particularly relishing. The churches are lightning up too much now and, however, the big change that I have noticed, white people are integrating our church, and history, I think, repeats itself. Why we are AMEs, why we are called AMEs is because we were pushed out of the ME church. We are a branch of the MEs, same thing, Methodist Episcopal, but we put the "A" on it for distinction, African Methodist Episcopal Church, which I am proud to be a part of, so the change now is that the white people are coming back. We have white members in our church right here at St. Luke. We get along fine. We love their children and over here at the ME church you will find that colored people belong to the ME church over there, so there's a change. There is definitely a change from what it was when I was a boy.

Mr. NETHER: What about some of the ceremonial aspects of the church, like funerals? Have they changed any?

Mr. JONES: I don't say they have changed but some families request a certain kind of a funeral, but a regular AME funeral hasn't been changed.

Mr. NETHER: Where were most black people buried?

Mr. JONES: Out here at the cemetery.

Mr. NETHER: Oak Hill?

Mr. JONES: Oak Hill and Maple Grove, and Clinton.

Mr. NETHER: Were they placed in any particular area of the cemeteries?

Mr. JONES: Sometimes they are, and sometimes they aren't. Now, that's a question that people ought to be very careful about since I was a mortician here. They are placed by request more than? See, some graves cost more than others, and that's why a lot of them are buried in a certain place. My grave and my family's graves are in a cheaper part of the cemetery here at Oak Hill, but it isn't that it's segregation or anything like that. My grandmother and grandfather and them are buried in the very highest part of the cemetery right out here at Oak Hill cemetery. I hear that, but it's not so. I heard it when I come back. It wasn't so when I left here, but I heard them say that, oh, you can't bury at certain?possibly you can't if you don't have the money, but if you have the money you can bury anywhere you want out there.

Mr. NETHER: Could you tell us something about Bishop Gregg again, for the record?

Mr. JONES: Bishop Gregg was one of the finest educators we had around since he was—he married a lady here—a very common lady, and he accomplished quite a deal here. He was a bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Fourth District, and that's quite a chore. It takes in Florida, and all around through here, and he went to school up here on the hill. He taught up there, I think, for a while, and he used to be the lamplighter of this town. That's before either one of you was even thought of. I can't remember the lights myself, but they had the lights. But that's what he would talk about, lots of times. He was always so glad to come home, and that's another thing, that he was my ideal. "I was always glad to come home," he would say. "I am always glad to come to Lawrence so I can be John." His name was John Gregg. He pastored St. Luke. [He served as janitor while attending school. He left and became the forty-ninth bishop of the AME Church, elected in Louisville, Kentucky, May 1924. He was elected the First Negro president of Howard University, Washington, DC, in 1926 but turned it down, saying he could do more for the Negro race by serving his church.]

Mr. NETHER: Is it Gregg?

Mr. JONES: G-r-e-g-g.

Mr. NETHER: Did you go to school here?

Mr. JONES: Some.

Mr. NETHER: What was it like for you when you went to school here?

Mr. JONES: Oh, my school days were wonderful. We didn't have any misunderstandings. Only amongst ourselves. And fifteen or twenty minutes, that was all over.

Mr. NETHER: Did you learn any black history?

Mr. JONES: No.

Mr. NETHER: Or history of black people?

Mr. JONES: I loved history too, but I think that's what made me want to travel a whole lot. I used to love geography, and I loved that geography and history that I could remember, but we didn't have what you call really black history. There were some black people we talked about, and I have always contended if you want to know black history, there are books over here in the library that will tell you such a thing, and then if you really want to know about it, the African Methodist Episcopal church will give you any kind of history that you want to know, that you need. I don't think you need to go out here, take a stick, go out here to the high school and break out the windows because there isn't a black teacher out there teaching. I don't know what you would call myself, but I know what I believe. I know what I have to believe. After being a steward in the church or even before, you are not supposed to see any color.

Mr. NETHER: Uh-huh.

Mr. JONES: You can't stand up with that sort of a thing. You just can't. If you are going to represent the Christian religion. Jesus himself didn't do that. He didn't worry about no color. That's going to keep a whole lot of us from drinking at the fountain. I often wonder about these people that were buried that were so bitterly against colors. I wonder where they are going to spend eternity because certainly there are going to be some black folks there.

Mr. NETHER: Did you ever own a business here in Douglas County or was that just in Chicago?

Mr. JONES: I had a little business here that didn't last long. I guess I was one of the first ones that had a little carwash business here. I was always progressive that way, whether I was successful or not, but I had a little carwash over on Vermont Street. That was in the days after the hacks went out. I can remember the days of the hacks.

I was going to say, perhaps you don't know. They were our taxis, horse-driven cabs, beautiful horses. We used to have funerals even with them. We had horses and everything. I remember a place that I took over was full of those things, and I used to wash a few cars for the doctors and one thing and another around here. When I sold it out to a boy, my feet got itchy, and I went to Chicago and I started me a business there.

Mr. NETHER: Did you ever own or live on a farm?

Mr. JONES: I lived on a farm but I didn't own it. My parents owned two farms here in this town.

Mr. NETHER: How did they get the farm?

Mr. JONES: My father bought them. They weren't given to him. He bought them. Land wasn't very high then, just like you could buy a house then for four or five hundred dollars, and I think this farm out here, very fine farm, he paid $1,200 for it. I heard him talk about it lots of times. I don't recall what he paid for the one out south of the town there.

Mr. NETHER: Do you know who he bought it from?

Mr. JONES: This one out here north of town? This one out here was Puckett. The Puckett family. And over here north of town Pushels, I believe. I am not sure about that. But, anyway, that's the thing that draws me. All of that land out there was black people's land at one time, a whole Oak Ridge out there. My grandmother owned a farm out there, and the Easleys owned a farm out there. The McGees owned a farm out there. Then the Joneses. It's a whole ridge there, Oak Ridge. There's no black people out there today.

Mr. NETHER: Why do you think there's none? Why do you think black people sold their farms to whites? Was it for money?

Mr. JONES: I assume so. I guess that's why we sold ours. I asked the children when I left here, when I come home to bury my father, "Please don't sell that farm out there." And that's the first thing they done. I didn't want it to be sold myself. I feel if you own something, you have power.

Mr. NETHER: Especially now.

Mr. JONES: These people holler about black power. You don't have no power if you don't own something. You can't demand anything. And if you have got what the public wants, they will buy it from you. They don't look at the color. I know by what little I do right now, I have a few watermelons I sell in the summertime. They don't seem to think, you are a colored man, I can't buy that from you. They don't tell me that. And if you have got anything and properly so, you can sell it. That's what makes power.

Mr. NETHER: Did you know Langston Hughes?

Mr. JONES: I didn't know him personally, but my sisters knew him. He was older than I am. I showed you a place where he lived.

Mr. NETHER: That about the 700 block of New York Street?

Mr. JONES: Yes. His aunt lived there. I don't remember that number now. Around 740 or something like that.

Mr. NETHER: Can you remember anything that people have told you about him when he was growing up here?

Mr. JONES: Oh, he was a regular everyday boy. My sisters could tell you?the one that just passed away, she knew him quite well, but I didn't. I don't remember ever seeing him, but I remember them talk about how he used to always try to write things. Always writing things in Sunday school and get his hands slapped for not studying his lesson.

Mr. NETHER: Is there anyone now that was black that was prominent that either stayed in Lawrence and contributed a lot or left Lawrence and became famous besides Langston Hughes that you would like to share with us now, that you can think of?

Mr. JONES: Yeah. Dr. Rodgers became quite famous.

Mr. NETHER: Dr. Rodgers?

Mr. JONES: Yes.

Mr. NETHER: He was a medical doctor?

Mr. JONES: Medical and surgical doctor.

Mr. NETHER: And he was born right here in Lawrence?

Mr. JONES: Born right here in Lawrence and his father was quite a business man. He was a huckster here. And we had a black judge here in this town at one time, for your information.

Mr. NETHER: Is that right? Do you remember his name?

Mr. JONES: Do I? I used to go with his daughter. Judge Clark, John Clark. Yes. He held office right over there. And he was a judge on the bench.

Mr. NETHER: Did he try all people or was he just trying black people?

Mr. JONES: Oh, he tried anybody. We didn't have that particular thing around here. That's the reason why I was so disturbed. I used to go away and tell this, I would refer to Lawrence, "We don't do so and so in Lawrence, we don't have that foolishness." And when I got ready to come back here when they had that uprising on the Hill, "Now, Brother Jones, what do you think about your town? It's on the television." I said, "It's all over now. I don't have time to think about it."

Mr. NETHER: When somebody black went to court, do you think that they were given a fair deal most of the time? This goes back to the Scottsboro Boys, who were executed eventually because they were said to have raped a white girl and never had the evidence. Do you think blacks here could receive true justice or equal justice?

Mr. JONES: Sometimes I didn't know. I think if they would have had the reputation it would have been better. I wouldn't want to mention any particular cases, but there were some cases that were rendered in this court that I thought were a little chinky, yes, but wasn't because they was black particularly, I don't think. At least, I didn't want to think that way about it, but I think it was because they didn't have the reputation.

Mr. NETHER: So now thinking back a little bit, can you think of anything that has happened here—have you ever been confronted here in Douglas County with prejudice, with overt prejudice that maybe you can share with us?

Mr. JONES: I never allowed it to bother me. I guess I have been confronted with it, but literally speaking as I am who I am, I don't allow it to bother me. I always just push it back on the fellow that's trying to present it to me.

Mr. NETHER: What has happened? Can you tell us? Did you go to a restaurant and denied the right to eat there or somebody called you a nigger or something?

Mr. JONES: I can tell you that isn't prejudice when somebody calls you a nigger. Lot of people resent it. That shows that if you think that's prejudice, you are ignorant, because the one that's using that sort of language, he's forgotten what a nigger is. What I am talking about, a color isn't a nigger: the attitude, the character that makes a nigger, and when they tell me that, I tell them, "I didn't know you were like that." That shows that he is ignorant. Yes.

Mr. NETHER: I guess that never bothered you from that point?

Mr. JONES: Oh, no. When I was a boy, of course, I would crack them on the head, but I had to get out of that in my position. Yes, it will occur in some of the kids today. Here we are back home again, the parents haven't taught their children to be proud because he's black. Don't stand back because it don't mean that at all. God in all of his wonderful infamy, he loves colors. You go to the horses, to the flowers, there's always beautiful mingled colors, yellow, white, what have you.

Mr. NETHER: Are there any questions you would like to ask us or something that you would like to bring out like yesterday you were mentioning to me something about the businesses that was down here around Vermont Street that a lot of blacks owned? What were the names of some of the black businesses?

Mr. JONES: We had the Woody Café. We had the three or four hotels, Savoy. They were all owned and operated by black people. And then of course we had several morticians here, Saunders, Bowser and Lee, and I can't recall. There was three or four of them here at one time.

Mr. NETHER: A lot more than there is now?

Mr. JONES: Absolutely. And I still say that it's our fault that we don't have them. I still say it's our fault because if we had them then in our infancy, with all of the intelligence, and the wherewith, why we can have lawyers and doctors here now.

Mr. NETHER: I don't know about the judge. Judge Clark. I think I have heard of him.

Mr. JONES: He has a daughter that lives here right now. I knew him personally. He was a neighbor or ours. I used to play with his daughter many, many times, and she still is quite prominent in the church out there.

Mr. NETHER: Is she still here?

Mr. JONES: Yes. She's quite prominent.

Mr. NETHER: Do you have any names of people that may be worth my while to talk to?

Mr. JONES: I think you should talk to Alice by all means.

Mr. NETHER: Alice McClanahan?

Mr. JONES: Alice McClanahan. You should talk to her because not just too long ago, I think she gave the college up there a donation for lawyers or something like that, both white and colored lawyers. I don't know what the fund was now, but she can tell you about it.

Mr. NETHER: Okay.

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