A roll call of Rockdale’s black women

Reporter contributor

‘Black Women in American Culture and History’ is the theme for 2012 Black History Month nationwide. ‘Black Women in American Culture and History’ is the theme for 2012 Black History Month nationwide. Editor’s note: The fifth edition of Susie Sansom Piper’s Black History Month series “On The Other Side of the Tracks” looks back at notable African- American women in Rockdale’s history.

The unpaved streets, outdoor toilets, houses without electricity and limited transportation that existed in most small towns during the 1920s and 1930s can still be visualized by those persons who yet remain.

There was limited education, maybe confined to completing elementary, middle school grades or tenth grade, with hopes of having enough finance to obtain a rooming place and transfer to the Cameron Colored School, which carried 11 grades.

Yet there existed a great essence of community pride and a desire to make surroundings acceptable and useful.

This series gives special recognition to black women of Rockdale who contributed and made a lasting impact on the city.

It w ill include native- born Rockdalians and those who in later years became an important part of the city.

Kate Walton—Midwife who delivered many of the city’s and rural babies for those who could not afford a physician.

She was also well known for ear piercing, using only needle and thread, a cork and a bit of turpentine.

Viola Mitchell—First known hairdresser in the city. She used a lamp fitted with a wire hook across the chimney, or wood stove, straightening comb and curling iron. Most early beauticians also made hair ointment in those days.

Lula Moseley— One of the first faculty members at the Rockdale Colored School, later named Aycock. She also wrote the first history of the school, some of which is used today with added information.

Gladys Shields— A first known telephone operator at Prairie View Normal and Industrial School.

Mable Tindle—Teacher in the Liberty Hill area near Rockdale. She was among the first of the town to introduce garage sales. She often traveled to other small towns to sell her vast collection of used clothes, etc.

Clemmie Goins—A devout church worker, giver of vast proper t y surrounding New Hope Baptist Church. She served the Parent-Teacher Association at Aycock for many years and was instrumental in raising much of the finances used by the school for extracurricular activities.

Lillie Johnson, Ardie Judy, Pearl Dav is, Minnie Fair Mullins, Earnestine Mays and Eva Morgan—Comprised two well-known gospel singing groups who furnished special music for religious occasions.

Ella J. Beals—Also a first teacher in Rockdale Colored School. She and her husband owned Beals Grocery Store. She established the first known kindergarten in her home. It was not state-regulated, but provided early learning skills for the four and five-year-olds.

Granny Carrie Randolph— She played the piano for New Hope Sunday School and Baptist Training Union for so long, until her fingers were so stiff that they were unable to manipulate the keys properly. Her music was always unique to teenagers.

Bessie Shields Beals—A very talented seamstress who “could make anything out of nothing.” She designed paper costumes for school operettas and also designed and made the first majorette costumes for the Aycock Band.

Eva Mor ga n, Eu la Bel l Moultry, Area Nelson—Other well-known seamstresses during the era. All of these ladies were capable of making their own patterns from photos.

Etta Mae Cartwright-Walton, Lucy Mae Brooks, Eula Bell Moultry—The first blacks to broadcast on radio in Milam County.

Cleo Burley Moultry—The first well-known chef cook in Rockdale. She worked for many years downtown in the former Mrosko Cafe.

Courtney Cummings, Mittie Allen—Musicians at Allen Chapel AME Church.

Willie James Cooper—Sang in the local jazz orchestras.

Earnestine Mays—Became well know n on school talent shows for her rendition of “Rag Mop.”

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2012-02-02 digital edition

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