Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

February 12, 2014

Pat Smith: African Americans contributed much to Decatur County's history

The African American families that lived here and continued to live here after the 1907 incident is irrefutable evidence that African Americans were not “run out of town.”

Proof can be found in the 1900 and 1910 census plus the Directories that were published every 10 years. What really happened will begin in next week’s column.

John W. and Anna Davis lived in the 500 block of South Broadway. John W. was a horseman for John E. Robbins. Anna died in 1957; John died in 1912.

John and Anna were in their 30s in 1907. One of their three daughters was Gertrude “Gertie” Longmyre, born in Lawrenceburg in 1896 but moved to Greensburg with her parents when a small child. Her husband Hugh Longmyre died in 1937. When Gertie died in 1979 her funeral was held at Porter-Oliger-Pearson Funeral Home with Rev. Robert Browning officiating. She was buried in South Park.

Greensburg Daily News reporter Jim Hall interviewed Gertie in 1979. She stated, “Dad taught Hugh all he knew about horse training. We made the rounds of county fairs in summer, training horses for the Robbins family.” She said, “Several colored people owned their own homes and businesses in Greensburg.” She remembered Julius Brooks and his barber shop.

Julius and Louise Brooks lived in the 600 block of East Washington. His barber shop was on South Franklin in the annex of the Decatur Hotel, originally Seitz House, (southeast corner of the Courthouse Square.) Brooks was also custodian for the Citizens National Bank and the First Presbyterian Church. Born in 1857, he died in 1927. His funeral was held in the Presbyterian Church. Louise died in 1934. They raised one daughter and his nephew Roscoe. He was 50 in 1907 and his wife was 48.

Gabranna Thurman lived on Lincoln Street north of the African Methodist Church. She was a widow and ran a beauty shop. She was 67-years-old in 1907. She was well known for saving the “combings” of the ladies hair and then making wigs out of the hair for dolls.

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