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In 1895, Samuel Toliver's shop and home were near Masten's Corner, where the men gathered to protect Arthur Tuttle from lynching, and directly across Church Street from the jail, technically located on Main Street. A neighboring shop was owned by Peter Owen, also arrested for unlawful assembly.
Samuel Toliver (FamilySearch personal ID LDPW-D3V) was born in Virginia, probably in or near Richmond, sometime between 1846 and 1852 (the sources differ). In the 1870 census, he may well be the young housekeeper of that name who worked in a hotel in Lexington, Virginia. In 1874, as Samuel Taliaferro, he married his first wife in Richmond. He was probably living there: his mother lived in Richmond at the time of his second marriage in 1885, and as we will see he had important personal and business connections in Richmond.
Toliver came to Winston-Salem in 1882, as he testified in 1890 (Western Sentinel, 23 Jan 1890). Three years later, he married Lizzie Morehead in a ceremony conducted by the locally prominent Baptist minister, G. W. Holland.
Toliver had deep connections in the local African American community and was well respected in the white community. The latter fact probably accounts for his presence in the local newspapers. He was an acquaintance and agent for John Mitchell, Jr., the owner and editor of the influential African American newspaper, the Richmond (VA) Planet, and for that reason, if no other, he was occasionally mentioned by that paper, too.
By 1889/1890, Toliver owned a grocery store and lived at 447 Church Street in Winston. He was still here at the time of the action to protect Arthur Tuttle. Toliver’s store was near the corner of Church and 5th Street, a location known as Masten’s Corner (see the map above). On the night of August 11, 1895, men gathered at this corner before walking to the nearby jail to protect Arthur Tuttle from the rumored lynching. Toliver was not mentioned in the newspapers as a leader, but his original sentence—four months of hard labor on the county roads—suggests that he was seen as one. His sentence was among the harshest handed down: three men received twelve-month sentences, one man identified as a ringleader received a six-month sentence, and four others, in addition to Toliver, received four-month sentences.
The judge reduced Toliver’s sentence to $100 and cost, then a substantial amount of money. The newspapers do not provide a reason for the change, but perhaps we will find it in the judge’s reason for reducing Frank Carter’s sentence: he “had been given an unusually good character and through deference to this [the judge] imposed a fine … instead of consigning him to the county road” (Western Sentinel, 29 Aug 1895).
A number of Tuttle’s protectors lived or ran businesses near Toliver, including Peter Owen, a business colleague and probably friend whose snack-bar had been next door, at 445 Church Street, since at least 1889/1890. Owen and another protector, tobacco worker Walter Searcy, lived around the corner on East 5th. In 1890, John Johnson, a tobacco worker and sometime barkeeper, also lived nearby on 5th.
Separate articles will consider these relationships in more detail. For now, I will continue with my profile of Toliver.
In 1895 and 1897, Toliver was an officer in the Twin City Pythias Lodge, a fact we know from the Richmond Planet (for example, 20 July 1895), not the local papers. (For a brief excursus on social organizations in Winston-Salem, see below.)
By 1897, Toliver was the Winston-Salem agent for the Richmond Planet (Richmond Planet, 21 Aug 1897) and occasionally made trips to Richmond to confer with the paper’s owner / editor, John Mitchell, Jr. He was also the Winston-Salem manager of the Working Men's Aid and Beneficial Association in Richmond, VA (Richmond Planet, 29 May 1897).
In April 1898, Toliver chaired a ward meeting of the local Republican party (Western Sentinel, 14 Apr 1898). At least one later post will address local politics in detail.
In January 1903, a false accusation against Toliver gave a newspaper the occasion to praise him as a “reputable and well known colored business man”: his business was now on Fourth Street (where it had been since at least 1897), and according to the paper “he has a good many friends among the white people of that vicinity” (Winston-Salem Journal, 10 Jan 1903). His health was declining, and he died later that year while seeking medical care in Greensboro (Union Republican, 20 Aug 1903).
Membership information in the many social and fraternal organization would be very helpful in defining social connections and networks, but unfortunately the local papers showed little interest in such features of the African American community. Even the city directory for the period often ignored these organizations.
It would also be helpful to know more about the membership services and benefits provided by the Masons and Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, the Knights of Honor, and other groups, to know more about the cornet and string bands, and to know if there were temperance and literary societies in the community. In the African American cemetery established by the Odd Fellows are buried four men who may have been among Tuttle’s protectors—James Dandridge, Coy Ross, Green Scales, and Sam Snow. Probably many of Tuttle’s protectors had such connections, but they are at present beyond reach.
Here's the beginning of an inventory and chronology of such groups and related organizations:
1860s - 1880s