Knox College Struggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
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James Washington
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TitleJames Washington
DescriptionNotes taken by Knox College Professor of Sociology, J. Howell Atwood from an interview with James Washington. 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
Business people
Business panics
Underground railroad system
Named PersonWashington, James; Richardson, Susan; Milburn, Mr.; Worthington, Richard; Johnson, John; Barquet, Joseph; Kipper, Mrs.; Richarson, Sam; Root, Barnabas; Christberg, Dimple; Christberg, George C.; Hopkins, Charles; Hamblin, Adolph;
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
TranscriptJas. O. Washington 1

1868 I was born in '53,
a slave in Ky. [Kentucky]


Recollection - about
'52 or '53. They were south-
erns colored.


After 1864 I came with
father to Ohio. 4 yrs. there.
He farmed there. In '68 he came
west -- March 25 around here --
I was 15. Came here to South
& Pearl (N.W. cor.) -- It was
in town. He rented -- lot
4 x 12 rds. Bought at Lom-


bard [Lombard] & Mulberry -- 4 room
house in '73. Lived on
south Cedar near main for
9 yrs. Worked at the gas
works. Now on South St.
for 18 yrs.


Right down near the
Knox chapel. Aunt Susan
Richardson lived near the
the gas works on N. West near
Ferris -- along Ferris near West


a. First few yrs. he teamed
around (We came in a wagon
from Ohio.) Then for 16 yrs.
he was engineer & fireman at
a flour mill - Kellogg east
side (near Rinella's now).
Later gardened -- watermellons
muskmellons -- in later years.
Mr. Milburn & his son helped.
The son of Mr. M. sold the produce.


Richard Worthington hauled for
the gas co. Mail fr. P.O. to stn.
John Johnson - ran the hack line for
the hotels (Fisher, a white man, bought
out an interest, partners.)
Jos. Barkay [Joseph Barquet]
was here very early - (barber?)


Allen chapel

same place


2nd Baptist was here
at the same location


I think they did. 1 or 2
belonged at Beecher chapel.

7th Day Adventist on Arnold
St. had 1 -- Mrs. Kipper.



Masonic lodge - chartered
in 1871 - Wm. [William] L. Darrow was
the name of the founder.
Odd Fellows - little bee lodge.
Good Samaritans - secret order of
women. B. & F. was a men's



(see above)


Not many.

Sam Richardson

Sheridan Barber


Got along just fine. Couldn't
tell I was col. or white in
'68. You could go any hotel
restaurant as if you were
white. That was true for 25
years. This was on the
underground R.R.

No. I should say not.
Far apart now.


Nothing special

Friendly favor individually




Barnamus [Barnabas] Root was brought
here fr. Africa, attended Knox
graduated & returned to Africa
as a missionary. He couldn't
stand the climate there.
Died soon after. In the 70's
or early 80's. This was the 1st


Dimple Christberg, daughter
of Rev. Geo. C. (A.M.E)
Charley Hopkins
King (lawyer in Chicago)
Adolph Hamblin (Princ. of school
in West. Va.)




Most proud of the past for
my part. There's more friendly,
more sociable - looked after -
one another better. The young
don't think of that so much.
Closer together then -- in all
respects - sickness. Now there's
more outside inducements.


More interest in education.
Parents try harder to get children
thru H.S. at least. More of
them in business & had trades,
carpenters, plasterers. Unions do
bar us now. Used to be in the
unions. More should learn & start


a union themselves. They
would then work at the same


When the church organized
Mrs. Susan Richardson (in the
50's) said we should organize &
bld. a church. She went to a
conf. in Chicago. She sold her
sow & pigs to get to Ch. [Chicago] The
Bishop sent a preacher down.
Before we had prayer meetings in
the different houses.


I was working on the George
Swagert farm 5 miles so. [south]
of here. Worked all thru the
panic. In Cleveland's
time I got $50. a month at
the gas works. The park used
to be full of men day & night,
but I had a job.


Yes. Went to school in
Ohio in a Quaker settlement.
Played just as white child-
ren. Fathers' young farmer
[illegible] bought 2 farms in
Clinton Co. O. [Ohio] The 160 A one
was farmed by Father on
share -- 1/3 to father. 4 yrs.


Father when we left had a
sale. All under $50 was
sold for cash. Other sales
involved notes -- $3000.
worth - never collected a
cent. Couldn't sue a white
man. We were just a pack
of freed slaves. We 8 children
had to work to help out.


Some of our friends wrote
back from Illinois to come
west. We were getting on
fine among those Quakers.
He was sorry he ever left.
Used to load hogs by the car
load for Cincinnati. He
had $1500 or $1600.


Not in the early day.
It has come in the late
years -- as much now
as there was in the South.
Physical Descriptionhandwritten on 4 x 5 in. pieces of scrap paper
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