Strange Arts & Visual Delights
Prosopography in 1895 Winston-Salem: Difficulties
Before going on, it may be useful to note the limitations imposed by the available information:
(1) So far as I know, none of the men in included in my collective portrait left their own words behind. With the exception of one or two newspaper articles, we cannot hear them in their own voices, even at second hand.
(2) Because of a major fire in the fall of 1892—it destroyed two city blocks, including a bank and several businesses, a factory, and a warehouse—the twin cities and their business leaders became serious about fighting fire. An invaluable resource from our period is the Sanborn-Perris insurance maps published in April 1895. But they focus on the areas of the city where there was heavy capital investment in factories and institutions; outlying areas are not included, and minor streets are not named. Many of Arthur Tuttle’s protectors lived in areas not covered by the map.
(3) We know where many of the protectors were living in 1894 because of the directory for the cities of Winston and Salem published that year by E. F. Turner of Yonkers, NY. The directory lists name and occupation, home address, and often business address. It also segregates the citizens by race, a practice we avoid in directories (but not the US census), but it is useful for analyzing the racial composition of neighborhoods and occupations.
This resource, as useful as it is, also has its limitations. It generally does not list women in households that include a male relative. It may have also excluded some areas dominated by African Americans; this omission, if it occurred, would explain why men known to have lived in the area during this period are not listed in any of the directories (I have reviewed those published in 1884 and 1890, as well as in 1894). Further, the testimony in the 1890 trial of the contested election of 1888 (see previous posts) suggests that African Americans often moved in and out of town, in part I suspect because tobacco factories were not open year-round. Many may have been away when citizens were being identified for the directories.
(4) The detailed information from the 1890 US census was destroyed many years ago, leaving a large gap in the available information for our period.
(5) Until 1898, no newspapers in Winston-Salem were published by and for African Americans, and no copies of the short-lived Twin-City Herald published in that year are known to exist. Out-of-town papers—notably the Richmond (VA) Planet and the Star of Zion, published in Charlotte—did occasionally cover news from Winston-Salem, including but not limited to the 1895 riot.
(6) Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.com have collected marriage records that, where they exist, are useful in showing age, family relationships, and other connections; for example, as I have already discussed, Yance Simpson and Walter Tuttle attended each other’s weddings in the summer of 1888.
These information gaps mean that we can gain at best only a limited understanding of the men who were arrested as they attempted to protect Arthur Tuttle.