Knox College Struggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
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Susan Elizabeth Allen
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TitleSusan Elizabeth Allen
DescriptionNotes taken by Knox College Professor of Sociology, J. Howell Atwood from an interview with Susan Elizabeth Allen. Atwood posed a series of questions, which are not included in the interview notes, about the interviewee's life and about the African American community in Galesburg, Illinois. The interview was most likely conducted around 1934. Atwood conducted extensive research from 1930-1960 about the Galesburg African American community.
Race relations
Named PersonAllen, Susan Elizabeth; Searles, Francis; Love, Ceasar; Love, Charles; Love, Polly; Lawrence, George; Van Allen, Susan; Evelyne Van Allen; Van Allen, Mary; Van Allen, Owen; Richardson, Susan; Richardson, Thomas; McGill, Arthur; Henderson, Levi; Moore, Henrietta; Murray, Abe; Westfall, Frances; King, Joe; Green, Isaac; Paine, Tom; Johnson, Adam; Bell, Melvin; Barber, Sherred; Allen, Joe; Farnum, Mattie; Lockwood, Mrs.; Root, Barnabas; Hopkins, Charles; Washington, R. Francis; Christberg, Dimple; Farbee, Lawrence; Nevels, Joe; Stafford, Tanner; Williams, James; Boyd, Lawrence; Warren, Jessie; Wilson, B.T.; Booker, Dayse Walker; Davis, Ruth; Edwards, Annie;
CreatorAtwood, Jesse Howell;
Time Period1930s
Date Created (original)1934
IdentifierJ. Howell Atwood Manuscript Collection (box 9)
CollectionStruggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
Date Digital2013-02-05
TranscriptSusan Elizabeth

Data from Susan Eliz. Allen, 1412 Mulberry

Francis Searles -(white) married
here in Ill.
his slave woman who had given him
10 children - migrated from
Georgia. They had a farm on
west Fremont. The Skinners
Richardsons & Masons are
his great grandchildren. He
couldn't walk. Had leather coverings
for his legs & went all over his farm by
using his hands & knees.


Father lived here before the
war. Mrs. Allen was born
before the war in 1859 in

Susan Elizabeth Allen
1412 Mulberry


Ceasar Love came here from
Monmouth - earlier origin
not known. Came here, it seems,
in the 1840's. His second
wife gave birth to Charles Love
in the little brick house across
from the M.E. Church on Kellogg St.
His 3rd wife was Polly was a
cousin of Mrs. Allen's mother.
cf. Galesburg Reg. Mail Feb. 9, 1932


Born just off Main on N. Academy on the
west side - where the barn stands.
Geo. Lawrence lived on the corner
in the grave yard. His father was
the grave digger. There was a
spring and park in the lower end
of the grave yard. Later they enlarged
the yard. I later lived
near Pine & Mulberry; here at
1412 Mulberry -- 56 years.


1st part I can remember was
on N. Monroe near where Mr. Bell
lives - north of North St.
Susan Harry Van Allen
(2 daughters Evelyne & Mary & a son
Owen) - Known as "Aunt Susan"
lived where the gas plant now
is - had her cow lot down toward
the park - She bought Ferris & West
(n.e. cor.) for $25. from Job [?] Swift - she

contd. 4

"washed it out" He lived on the
(N.W. cor.).
Thos. [Thomas] Richardson & wife & 8 children
came fr. Warren County, Bowling Green
Ky. -- worked on a farm out near
Elephant Rock. She had been
Mrs. Van Allen, but her 1st husband
disappeared & so she was divorced
& married T.R. She cooked the
dinners for the workers who built
the First Church.

cont'd 4

Arthur McGill - from Indiana
lived at Mulberry & Farnum.
Arch Barbour lived in the old
house across from Lincoln
School. Prime [?] Lofton & wife lived
on north Fulton about 1/2 way up
to North St. Levi Henderson
& wife lived on west Tompkins.


a. Father was a chef - came
fr. Wilkes Barre. He was freed
by being brought fr. N. Carolina.
His mistress, Henrietta Moore, mar-
ried a Union man & thus they
moved north to Penn. [Pennsylvania]
b. A hod carrier - worked
always at the trade.


Abe Murray - a teamster.
Murrays - pretty nice people
Edward Washington - lovely old
man when he came here. He
carried the clothes back &


I belonged to Allen Chapel
It was organized by my grand-
mother, Susan Richardson,
in her home. They built in
1860 -- paid $400 for the lot.
1st was burnt and the white
people next door wouldn't let us
have water. Re-built & it burned the
day it was worshipped in it was burned.


Only the one in the
early days.


Mrs. Susan Richardson belong-
ed to First Church.
Frances Westfall
Two Davidson sisters


Not exactly burial societies, but
lodges did this.
- the Masons.
Later Eastern Star
Later Odd Fellows & House-
hold of Ruth.


No. Car. [North Carolina] - then Pa. [Pennsylvania]
Mother - Ky. [Kentucky] -- mother's
folks ran away, because they
were about to sell her mother.
This mother was a good breeder.
The master was drunk a good
share of the time. The master's [?] son took
the family up to the Ohio River
by night. There were 8 or 9 children.

11 cont'd.

His master followed them
clear to Knox Co. appealed to
the courts but Thos. Richardson
refused to look at his old
master & when asked if he
knew him, said, "No." He had
been coached as to the way to
answer. The Judge told him to
get out. This was in 1836. He was
the 4th colored man in the county.


Thomas Richardson bought
a second farm on west Fre-
mont [Fremont] --
Joe King was a 1 armed success-
ful farmer west of town.
Tom Paine - southwest of
Isaac Green was a farmer
out near Barefoot Creek

cont'd. 12

Adam Johnson - south of town
They weren't just tenants or
farm hands -- they were
Melvin Bell south of the
brick yd. in East Galesburg.
Sherred Barber -- near Camp

cont'd 12

Joe Allen so. of Knoxville.
Jenkins was a grandson.
Another farmer to the south
was named Marshall --
given name not recalled.


In some ways better. Not quite
so much prejudice. The under-
ground [underground] R.R. brought many people
to my mother's door - There
were lots of people trying to help
us. Sometimes I think it's about
6 one way & 2 3's the other. But
I've had some wonderful lifts
and lots of them I love. I
studied to be a missionary - want-
ed to go to Africa. Mattie Farn-

13 contd.

um [Farnum] & Mrs. Lockwood were
our teachers at the colored
schools. These schools were
burned down. I don't know who
did it, but I firmly believe that
some colored people did it -- they
were vs segregation. The colored
children were scattered so the
city had to either build a new
school or open the ward schools.


1. The underground R.R.
2. When the white men & women
tought us in our Sunday school.
3. Knox College has given work
to colored boys to get their education
Barnamus Ruth [Barnabas Root] an African
was a student in Knox.
4. We would always try to lend
our support to the best candidates
for office.

contd 14

In the early days there was a
Dorcas society at Beecher
church for teaching the
colored girls household arts -
sewed our own clothes. Mrs.
Carpenter (Bert Bunker's grand-
mother) and Mrs. "Doc" Chase
cut the cloth for us.


Nothing special
Never any riot.


Several of our group have
had a chance to attend.
Have employed our group.


Chas. Hopkins R. Francis
Adolph Hamblin
Dimple Christberg Barnabus
Ruth [Root]
Lawrence Farbee
Joe Nevels
Tanner Stafford
Jas. Williams
Lawrence Boyd


One silver pitcher given
me by Mrs. Lanstrum (E.C.)
Books given me by her, Dr.
Tate, Dr. Hood & Prof.
(Presb) (Presb)


Proud of our school teachers
we've sent out: Dr. Jessie
Warren in Denver - an M.D.
B.T. Wilson of Waco, Tex. (H.S. Principal)
Dayse Walker Booker
Ruth Davis
Dimple Christberg
Annie Edwards
Galesburg has more higher

Contd. 19

% of home owners than any
other Ill. city of its size
Many of our people have
modern homes.
We are proud of the beach.
Mayor Anderson put 5 men on
the committee with me.
We have 2 men's clubs: young
men's and middle age men's.


The Autumn Leaf Club is 40 yrs.
old. This has been a social &
church serving club; it studies
current trends in the life of the
colored people in the country.
The Woman's culture Club was
25 yrs. old in Nov. 1934.
The Progressive Club was also
25 yrs. old in Nov.

Contd. 20

The Phyllis Wheatly Club. will
be 25 yrs. old in June, '34.
This is connected with a nat'l assn.
which sponsors summer
camps for girls; makes scholarship loans.
One troop of Boy Scouts.


Rembembered "pa's" wages
were lowered to $1.50 a day
in '73. We had a lot of children
8 boys & 12 girls. I worked in the
laundry at the Hotel (Brown's) where
the Hill Arcade is. The German
cook used to let me have
meat & other extras. Of course,
we didn't have all the children

Cont'd 21

at once. That cook didn't like
colored folks, but I did his
white duck clothes for him
once & after that he was kind.
Years later he came to town
broke & I gave him my
last dime. I had to walk
home. In '93 I was trying
to pay for my home. House burn-
ed down - we had nothing. They

Contd. 21

put it newspaper & how the
women of the North side! They
gave us all sorts of things we
needed -- Mrs. Lawrence, Mrs.
Tom Hill, Mrs. Ella Arnold,
Mrs. Henry Hawkinson, Mrs. Nels Burgland Miss Mary
Smith, Mrs. Tom Smith, the [in margin: also Mrs. Jelliff]
ladies of the Pr. church - & of
the Central church. In 2
months I was pretty well fixed.


Yes. That was in Monmouth.
I went to school there - not in
G-- [Galesburg]. Ellen Walker
was my teacher.


I suppose there was, but I
haven't ever felt it. Always
been treated nicely. It's been
showed up in other places,
but I"ve never been bother-
ed with it. Always had a
nice group of white friends.
Pa could speak Swedish.

Cont'd 23

He loved them. He was pres. of
the Hod Carriers' Union. They
used to come to see him when
he was sick. I grew up in a
Irish community. Pa once told
a recent arrival from Sweden,
that she'd be his color after she'd
been here long enough. I've
always had a fair go of it. Per-
haps I haven't known when I wasn't
treated right.

Contd 23

There is no prejudice in
the Conservatory. There is
no complaint worth mention-
ing in the public schools.


From the way things look it
must appeal -- hundreds
& hundreds in the summer.


Colored schools.
One colored school at
Mulberry & Day
The other at Simmons &
Physical Descriptionhandwritten on 4 x 5 in. pieces of scrap paper
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