Tag Archives: Ku Klux Klan

This Week’s Story: Tip Top Tavern / Randall’s Ranch House Restaurant

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Before that night the Ku Klux Klan wore their hoods in for dinner, before somebody assaulted Randall Fleiss and stole his ivory, before Ron Pate initiated his “If you want to fight, you have to fight me” policy, Darryl Swearingen asked his mother if he could take a job washing dishes. The story of the Tip Top Tavern / Randall’s Ranch House Restaurant dates back almost a century.

New Story: First Baptist Church

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First Baptist Church has perhaps received more love and more hate than any other entity in Jacksonville. It dates to a ca.-Civil War split with black church members who retained the original name, Bethel Baptist. In 1923, Pastor W.A. Hobson welcomed 200 Klansmen in full regalia into his farewell sermon. In the 1980s, Pastors Homer Lindsay and Jerry Vines ignited a showdown with more “liberal” members of the Southern Baptist Convention. In 2019, what once seemed unthinkable occurs: the church plans to sell 90 percent of its downtown campus.

Two Writers Dead on Bay Street

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When “Poor Sam Russ, one of the best, most brilliant and widely known newspapermen in Florida” drank himself to death “in a cheap lodging house” on Bay Street, newspapers said, “Dying alone, unwept and unsung,

[he] reminds us also of the death of Hamilton Jay, who, like Sam Russ, occupied a position on the Times-Union, was a brilliant writer of prose and poetry.” Hamilton Jay, the poet laureate of Florida, drank cyanide, leaving a note that said the voices would not stop calling; “I can hold back no longer.”

Black Masonic Temple

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What these walls have seen! Architects Mark and Sheftall began their own firm in 1912 and with a commission for the grandest building in black Jacksonville. The Black Masonic Temple formed the brick foundation of the black community.

Princess Laura Adorkor Kofi preached her “back to Africa” message here in the 1920s. Future Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Leander Shaw had his offices here in the 1960s. And the tunnels beneath Broad Street would offer protection if Florida’s massacres of black communities at Ocoee, Perry, and Rosewood should spread to Jacksonville. 

Stories of Pine Forest: Incinerators, Klan Crosses, Family Love and Mulberry Trees

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The Ku Klux Klan burnt a cross in front of her family’s little woodframe house.

The Clydo Road incinerator burnt as much as 120 tons of trash every day. Donna recalls the black smoke pouring through the trees.

Another Lebanese family, the Johns, lived in the three-story rambling house at 5724.

Confederate Park’s “In Memory of our Women of the Southland”

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She’s the embodiment of a Romantic concept called the Lost Cause. Her rhetorical strength, as an object of art, is that to stand before her and deny the Lost Cause lie is to look her in her loving and noble face and call her a liar before her tender children.

Unfortunately, for the Lost Cause Romantics, history documents the originating words of the Confederates.

Tale of Two Cities: Pick Your Poison, Vote Your Conscience, Choose Your Own Adventure

Click below for one or both of two new stories.

1. Which house on McCormick Woods Court stands atop Rain Cemetery? And how does History’s Witch answer Walter Benjamin’s Angel of History?

and / or:

2. What did the Tinsleys mean when they said Catherine Tourist Court “cater[ed] to the better class only”? And what’s happened to CTC in Klan Kountry since?

Old Philips, w/o Boundaries, Beheadings, the Last Hall-and-Parlor

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Someone stole their heads. Their bodies had been burnt. Police found two axes in the scorched desolation of the shack. Just before Christmas. 1913.

Most of the residents of Philips were the children or grandchildren of former slaves, or were former slaves themselves. Sunken ground in the slope and swale of Philips Cemetery at Craig Swamp might mark older unrecorded graves.

Her husband lived to be 97. She was born in the house in 1922. Surely he’d heard the story when he was young.

Beluthahatchee–land of activism and art

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“Florida is my birthplace,” Kennedy writes in The Klan Unmasked, “and I am attached to it. I did not want to give the Klan the satisfaction of forcing me to abandon Beluthahatchee.”

When Kennedy drove up to the bus station in Jacksonville to pick him up, all he saw was a bum with a guitar case. When he asked Guthrie where the rest of his belongings were, the singer-poet said, “I’m wearin’ ’em.”

When the Klan hid and sniveled in a courthouse bathroom

Click below for the seventh story in a series of seven about the KKK in Jacksonville. On June 13th, come to Coniferous Cafe in downtown Jax at 7 pm, to hear Tim Gilmore’s talk “The Klan in Jax: Its Repugnant Rise and Hysterical Collapse.

A wave of mostly black protesters, about 300 of them, marched against the Klan before Duval County Courthouse on Bay Street, chanting, “Who’s gonna stop the Klan? We’re gonna stop the Klan!”

A black protester named Rose Marie Seay had snatched the white hood off Royals’s head and was parading around on the street with it for cameras.

Klansmen hid in a back bathroom, upstairs in the courthouse. “‘They accused us of being racists,’ one said, wiping the sweat from his forehead with his shirttail.”