Meeting with Bud, Eulah, and Sterling Ward, Washington, DC. August 18, 2014

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Bud, Eulah, and Sterling Ward

Bud, Eulah, and Sterling Ward

Janette: Frank and I had one of those days that we live for as historians when we had the pleasure of meeting Bud, Eulah, and Sterling Ward in Washington. Sterling learned about our project through Cheryl Toney Holley, when she publicized the project and our attendance at the Strawberry Moon Festival at the Hassanamesit reservation near Worcester. Sterling phoned me and said it appeared that we had photos of numerous family members—not just Wards but Wilsons, Smiths, Kennedys, and others. And, most notably, we had photos of his grandfather, James Harold Ward, Sr., as a baby. Not only did he want to see the photos, but he also hoped that we would share them with his 89-year-old father, James Harold “Bud” Ward, Jr. We were happy to do so!

The Ward family is well represented in our collection (see our post of the photo list) and we were thrilled when Sterling reached out to us. He is an accomplished genealogist and historian who has done an amazing amount of work on his family’s story, which he generously shared with us. (Sterling has also illustrated his genealogical research with numerous photos of family members, which helped us identify a number of unknown people in our collection.)  Sterling has traced his family back to Minger Brimage, originally from current-day Nigeria, and Maria Gatling, from Guinea, West Africa. Sold into slavery, they ended up in New Bern, North Carolina, where they had three children. One of their children, Mary Matilda Brimage, migrated to Worcester after the Civil War and died there in 1900. She was the matriarch of an extensive family, some of whom I wrote about in First Fruits of Freedom, as part of the Southern black migration to Worcester after the Civil War. But until I saw Sterling’s massive genealogical text, I had no idea about the nature and extent of those relationships and the impact that this family has had on the city of Worcester. (Time for a second edition! There is so much more to say!)

On August 18, Frank and I boarded the Amtrak to Washington and spent an amazing afternoon with the Wards. It was a thrill to share family photos with Bud, his wife, Eulah, and Sterling, and to hear more about James Harold, Sr. Known as “Boot,” he was an accomplished jazz drummer, who died at the age of 32, when Bud was only 7. We also heard stories about Bud’s Aunt Hattie and Uncles Clarence and Louis, who also appear in the photos. Sterling also identified some of other people in the collection, whose names we did not know. For example, “Mrs. Kennedy’s Baby” is Emily Kennedy (Sterling has this exact photo made from Bullard’s glass negative). Sterling also shared with us  a valuable photo album given to him by his cousin, Stanley Gutridge of Worcester, filled with images from the 19th and early 20th centuries, including Stanley’s grandfather, New Bern migrant George Wiggins, and a photo of a white Civil War officer, “Col. Cummings.” Could Col. Cummings be another “link” in the ex-slave migration to Worcester? Another lead to explore! More questions, more layers of complexity . . .

Not only did we have the chance to share photos and learn more about this remarkable family, but we also had the chance to get to know Bud and hear his extraordinary life story. As the son of widowed mother, Bud attended North High, served in the Jim Crow Navy during World War II, and then graduated from Cornell University. He pioneered in the hospitality industry and was the first African American Senior Vice President and Corporate Officer of a major hotel chain. He worked for the Marriott Corporation for almost 20 years, and played a key role in expanding the hotel division, including working with the team that developed the Courtyard by Marriott Hotels. After retirement he spent another 29 plus years as an entrepreneur in the Information Technology (IT) industry. Symbiont, Inc., a family-run IT business, now headed by Sterling, has provided IT services to the Defense Department, the Executive Office of the President, the Mayor and Council of the District of Columbia, Verizon, AT&T, Phillip Morris, and countless others. At one time Symbiont employed over 200 associates and generated over $21 million in sales. Though Bud is thrilled to be an entrepreneur — his career as an hotelier looms large. The Civil-Rights struggle was a two-pronged thing, he states. Marching and non-violent protesting in the streets was critical. But it was also important to have somebody on the inside of corporations to advise and counsel top officers. Bud saw this as the role of himself and other blacks in similar corporate positions. Today, Marriott Hotels ranks among the leaders in their practices of non-discrimination in hiring and promotions. In recognition of his vital role at Marriott, in December 2005 edition of HR Magazine, in a cover story article, Bud was recognized as one of fifty people that has most influenced the Human Resources profession during the last fifty years.

Bud is blessed with a playful sense of humor and a refreshing straightforward manner that resulted in a delightful afternoon and evening. The Wards even treated us to a delicious dinner before we boarded our train for the trek home.”

Many thanks to Bud, Eulah, and Sterling for welcoming us to their home and for the many generous ways they have enriched and helped shape this project!

 

Frank: When Janette says ONE of those days you live for as historians it is meant literally because the August 18th trip to D.C. and back took 23 hours and 58 minutes.   Upon meeting Bud, the first thing he asked us about was if we were aware that planes were much faster than our 7 hour train ride and we all had a conversation-opening laugh. As Janette stated, Bud is straightforward and has a wonderful engaging personality. To those reading this who wonder “why the train” the answer is quite simple. The long ride allowed Janette and I to discuss and brainstorm our project in relative peace and quiet. As we research this project we continue to make connections in many directions so we constantly have to update one another.

Speaking with Bud we could not help feeling a strong sense of completing a link by meeting the son of the child in this negative from 1901, that we had looked at and wondered about so many times. We would look at this small child in the photo and wonder what life had held for him: Did he have a family? What were his dreams and how did life unfold for him? Bud had not seen these pictures before and it surely was a joy to hand them to him.

As Bud showed me around his wall of photos, we stopped to discuss one in particular that was of great interest. There he was on the early 1940’s championship basketball team from North High School in Worcester, MA. Any Worcester sports fans will love to read the connection here. Next to Bud, whose career rose to great heights, was his teammate Andy Laska, the legendary Assumption College coach for whom their gym is named. This was just one more connection and slice of community that make this project so fascinating. The story of James Harold Ward Sr. expanded for us as Sterling shared a photo of “Boot” as a drummer in a band.   Janette spoke about the impact this family had on Worcester and we are looking forward to researching so many other families as our quest continues. We left with several questions answered and many questions posed as the memories from Bud’s of his Aunt Hattie and Uncles Clarence and Louis along with stories about other relatives opened more avenues for us to research. It was a distinct pleasure to listen and learn knowing that we have much to research and many more connections to make.

 

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# 76 Celia Perkins…….the photo that began the quest

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Worcester 1- 3760 Mrs. Celia Perkins  sitting #76 copy copyThis is Celia Perkins!  Today I located her gravesite at Hope Cemetery.  The details of Edward and Celia’s journey to Worcester are slowly being filled in.   

One would think that with a detailed map of grave sites in hand, helpfully supplied by Stephanie in the cemetery office, that it would be a simple task to locate the grave stones.  It is not, as the passing decades have taken their toll and some stones have sunk and been covered with grass.  In some cases no stone was ever placed, just the number of the grave marker.  Today’s search resulted in a genuine feeling of satisfaction as several were found and small pieces of the growing story found their way into the narrative. 

A series of chance happenings

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“What is this a negative of?  Asked Frank’s 10 year old granddaughter Hannah while working on a book they were co-authoring and holding up a 4 x 5 glass negative to the light. This innocent question led to untold hours of searching through Frank’s (that’s me) vast collection of glass negatives from c. 1900. By now you are probably wondering what the negative was of that led to all this research and ultimately to this blog and soon to a complete website. The following is a brief story of many chance happenings that followed Hannah’s question which itself was chance. We were looking at negatives of street scenes of Worcester and searching for just the right ones to add to our book (which is now published, “Worcester Through Time”, and available at bookstores and Amazon.com). Sorry for the plug, let me get back to the story. This negative was not a building but a portrait image and by chance it was misplaced in a box of street scene negatives. It was an image of Celia Perkins an African American woman who was born into slavery in 1858 in South Carolina and much later, with her husband Edward, moved to Worcester, Massachusetts. Fascinating isn’t it? That information was not on the negative but discovered through much research. Back to the story. A few weeks later I picked up the negative that was put aside and began to wonder if more images like this existed in my portraits section of negatives. It should be noted here that I had these portrait glass negatives for a number of years and they kind of took a back seat in the research because without identification they would become a research dead end. As the search through the collection began numbers were discovered on many of the of the images. The numbers which were as small as 1/16th of an inch high, were scratched into the bottom or side of the emulsion side of the glass negative. Hannah’s young eyes were invaluable in reading many of these which were difficult to determine even with a jeweler’s loupe. So how did I know it was Celia Perkins?……..Hang on as the intriguing story continues. The portrait collection is all from one photographer and by a stroke of luck many years ago I had a random conversation with the person I purchased the negatives from earlier.  He asked if I was interested in the photographer’s log book that that he had recently found.  The log book is a journal  full of numbers along with descriptions and identifications.  I had found gold!  All of these negatives are from 1890’s to 1918 so a log book is rare. There it was a very tiny # 76 at the bottom right of Hannah’s questioned negative. The log book indicated it was Celia Perkins!  In case you are wondering where all the other information came from, keep reading. After a couple weeks of searching there were about 30 portraits of African Americans living in Worcester connected to the log book. At this time, by complete chance, I was speaking with a Director of the Antiquarian Society about the history of Charlton Historical Society and at the end of the conversation he asked about other projects I was working on. In mentioning these images he said he knew individuals who may have a strong interest in them and gave me names to contact. I sent an email to Dr. Janette Thomas Greenwood who has spent many years researching and writing books about the migration of former slaves to the North and specifically to Worcester, Massachusetts. Her last book, a wonderful historical read, “First Fruits of Freedom” (one more plug) was the result of years of research. We didn’t connect right away and I thought maybe what I had was not as important and unique as I thought it was. I sent a second email as a last chance and Janette answered right away (she had been preparing for a one semester sabbatical from Clark University). By this time I had uncovered nearly 100 images through countless hours of holding them to the light and then scanning to be certain. The collection now is about complete and is nearly 200 images. When Janette visited to examine them she started to see names and images of individuals she had researched but did not know pictures existed. You often hear the following: “the rest is history” but in this case it fits so well. Janette and I have become partners on a quest to tell the story of the individuals and families who migrated to Worcester in their search for equality. Many of the descendants and friends of these individuals are alive today and we have spoken with several. We believe this is a series of stories within the larger story that will be exciting and historically important to tell.  Soon we will add some photographs including #76 of Celia Perkins….Please check back to our blog! Feel free to comment or ask questions.

List of names of people in the glass negatives

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If you know who any of these people are, please contact us! 

Note: We have listed names as the photographer, William Bullard, listed them, unless our research has shown a mistake, misspelling, etc., which we have corrected. We have added married names that we have found for females. We have also included possible names, based on our research, as of September 2014.

 

Mr. William Amar

Kenneth Anderson – 53 North Ashland Street

Mrs. Anderson’s baby (Frederick or Margaret?) – 53 North Ashland Street

Mrs. Bates baby (Rose Bates Wilson) – 28 Bowdoin Street

Mr. Howard Beckton & family (collage)

Mr. Howard Beckton Funeral flowers

William Beckton, Jr.

Florence Beckton

Bertha (Jacobs? Johnson? Higgins? Hawkins?) – Tufts Street

Bertha Brooks – Mason Street

Mr. and Mrs. Richard Brown

Mr. Richard Brown

Mrs. Richard (Cora L.) Brown

3678   Frank and Annie (Jackson) Chatfield – Tufts Street

Claud Clark – 13 Dover Street

Mrs. Clark (Matilda Hardin?)– 13 Dover Street

Zeline Clark – 13 Dover Street

Leo Clark – 13 Dover Street

Zenobia Clark – 13 Dover Street

Eugene Coates (baby) – Tufts Street

Willis and Betty Coles – 346 Park Avenue

Agnes Conners – Shamrock Street

Ralph Everett Marshall Cook

Sara(h) Davis

Thomas Dillon family: Thomas and Margaret with children: Thomas, Margaret and Mary, 4 Dewey Street

Thomas Dillon, 4 Dewey Street

Worcester Volunteer Fireman’s Association

Reuben Griffin, Spanish-American War veteran, four poses in uniform

Jackson children(2) – Bath Street

Johnson family group (James J. Johnson, Jennie Bradley Johnson, daughters Jennie and May (Rosa Mabel)

Jennie Johnson (Tolson), Tufts St Ext., several poses

May (Rosa Mabel) – Tufts Street Ext., several poses

Mrs. Johnson (Jennie Bradley Johnson)

Mrs. Johnson and girls (Jennie and May)

Kennedy Child (Likely Walter—Lorenzo and Margaret Kennedy’s son)

Mrs. Kennedy’s Baby (Likely child of Lorenzo and Margaret Kennedy)

Mrs. Kennedy’s Baby in Chair (Emily Kennedy)

Emily Kennedy in carriage

Mrs. Latham (Anna E Lovett)

Mrs. Latham (Anna Lovett Latham’s mother?)

“Supposed to be Edward, Mrs. Latham’s son”

Major Jesmine’s (?) baby

Bertha Mallory – Tufts Street

Bertha Mallory’s cat

Mrs. Mallory (Jennie Mallory?)

3799 Mary Jane and two others on Lily Street

(Walter) McCrea (McCray), several poses, 13 Dover Street

McCree (McCray) baby, 13 Dover Street

McGinty Carpenter (baby)

Mrs. Minkil’s Baby, John Street

Mrs. Susie Morris, 1 Winfield Street

Susie Morris (Bennett) and Harry Morris (children)

3969, 3675 Miss or Mrs. Murphy (Mary Murphy?)

Celia Perkins (3 photos)

Edward Perkins (2 photos)

Rose Perkins (3 photos)

Rose Perkins’ House (1 ½ Bath Street)

Rose Perkins and her brothers (3 photos)

Charlie Perkins (baby)

Thomas Perkins

Eliza Perkins

Hannah (Anna?) Perkins

Ike (Mark?) Perkins (two photos)

Mittie Perkins (child)

Patsy Perkins, 90 Abbott Street

Mrs. (Angeline) Perkins and two children (Nellie and William)

Rosa Perkins

Solomon Pierce

Mrs. Rhodes baby (Jennie)

Son (Alonzo) Shannon and George Ringler (Ringles)

Lew Sawyer (child)

Shepard’s Children (Eugene’s children?)

Mr. (Eugene) Shepard (2 photos)

Mrs. Shepard (Sarah Scott) and unknown lady

Mr. (Albert E.) Smith, John Street

Mrs. Mary Smith and James Martin Smith

Mrs. Souder’s (?) father from Winfield Street

Souder girl, Winfield Street

Mrs. Souder’s brother from Winfield Street

Mrs. Souder

Mrs. Sullivan, Summer Street, mulatto

Mr. Upsher (Joseph?)

Mrs. Upsher

Ward Children (Hattie, James Harold, Clarence)

Three Ward children, Pink Street

(James) Harold Ward, Abbott Street

George Ward

Clarence and Hattie Ward, 5 Abbott Street

William Ward 56 John Street

William Ward’s baby (Charles A.) and David girl

Mrs. Ward’s children, John Street

Servie (Louis) Ward

Mrs. Week’s baby, 1 Winfield Street

Weeks girl

Mrs. Week’s father’s flowers (funeral flowers)

Richard and Mary Wilson, Tufts Street

Mary Wilson

 

There are also a number of glass negatives of people whose names the photographer did not record.