Alexandria World War I African American Veterans

Behind the scene of the Alexandria Gazette story on “Alexandria World War I African American Veterans dated April 19, 2018.

About a month ago, I inquired about information on Alexandria African American World War I Veterans. Amy Bertsch responded to my request and sent me an article on African American World War I Veterans in Alexandria. Thanks Amy!

With the names of these veterans, I was able to research them. For the Alexandria Gazette’s newspaper, I focused on three of the 52 veterans that were drafted. Out of these three veterans, two of them had children: Private Ulysses Garnett Bell and Private Courtney Hauls.

Ulysses G. Bell’s WWI military card

Private Ulysses Garnett Bell was the son of Thornton Bell and Georgianna Brown. Thornton was born around 1840 and his wife, Georgianna was born around 1848. They married 17 September 1874 in Alexandria, Virginia. In 1880, they were living on West Street. Thornton was a laborer for the brickyard. He and his wife had the following children: Edward T. Bell, Mary A. Bell, William H. Bell, Robert Bell, Albert Bell, Silas Bell and Ulysses G. Bell. In 1900 Georgianna Bell was listed as a widow, she and her children were living at 1307 Queen Street. In 1910, Georgianna’s grandson, Charles Henry Bell lived in her household with his mother, Mary E. Bell. Georgianna’s son, Ulysses married Beatrice Brown on 9 March 1914. Beatrice died giving birth to their son, Edward Ulysses on May 6, 1915. Ulysses’ in-laws raised his son, Edward.

In 1917, Ulysses was drafted into World War I. Private Ulysses G. Bell died on 18 December 1945 in Washington, D.C. His son, Edward Ulysses Bell was a World War II Veteran. After serving in the military, he came back to Alexandria. Like his father, he worked for the Federal government at the General Accounting Office. He married Noreen Day and they had one daughter, Beatrice, who was named after Edward’s mother. Edward died on 12 May 2001 in Alexandria, Virginia. His daughter, Beatrice had four children. Two of her children are living today.

Private Courtney Hauls was the son of Cyrus and Sarah Harris Hauls (Halls). Cyrus was born around 1847. He fled his master’s plantation at the age of sixteen; he joined the Colored Troops. He served as Private Cyrus Buckner

Cyrus Hauls (Buckner)
Civil War Veteran

(Hauls) in Company D 118 regiment. The surname Bucker was his alias’ surname. After the Civil War, Cyrus met Sarah Harris. On 13 September 1871, Reverend Fields Cook of Third Baptist married Cyrus and Sarah. The Hauls had the following children: Molly Hauls, Cyrus Hauls, Emily Hauls and Courtney Hauls. By earlier 1900s, Cyrus, Sarah and their children moved to 1010 Wythe Street. Their son, Courtney, married Sarah Tasco in 1909. Courtney’s father, Cyrus died on 13 July 1912. He is buried at Thomas Mann Cemetery (Silver Leaf Association) which is now called the Alexandria African American Heritage Park. Prior to Courtney being drafted, he and his wife had several children. All of their children died but one daughter, Viola Hauls.

Courtney was drafted in 1917. When he returned to Alexandria, his mother and siblings started migrating to New Jersey. Courtney and his wife did not survive his absence during his military duties. His wife deserted him. In 1920, Courtney received his divorce from his wife, Lucy on the grounds of desertion and abandonment. Courtney decided to leave Alexandria first for New York City but later settled in New Jersey. He met his second wife, Viola H. Crawly in New York. They married on 4 November 1926. Courtney and his new wife migrated to New Jersey. Courtney’s daughter, Viola Hauls Brown, from his first marriage, migrated to Orange, New Jersey in the late 1930s. In June 1982, Courtney died in Burlington, New Jersey. Courtney had a son from his second marriage, Herbert Courtney Hauls, Sr. Herbert served in the United States Air Force as a Master Sargent in Korea and Vietnam. He was born in 1928 and he died in New Jersey on 23 February 2000. He is buried at Brigadier General William C. Doyle Memorial Cemetery in New Jersey.

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Alexandria African Americans’ Emancipation Day

Behind the scene of the Alexandria Gazette story on “Alexandria African American’s Emancipation Day” – April 7, 1864, dated April 5, 2018.

One of the important figures in the fight for Virginia’s enslaved people was Francis H. Pierpont (Pierpoint). Pierpont was born in 1814 in Monongalia County, Virginia (now part of West Virginia). His

Governor Francis H. Pierpont

political career started around 1840 when he made speeches across western Virginia in behave of Whig presidential nominees. Pierpont was a pro-Union man. His activism won him leadership among other Unionist and antislavery activist.

In April 1861, Virginia voted to secede. This prompted the Unionist western delegations in Virginia to organize the First Wheeling Convention in May 1861. At this meeting, Pierpont promoted the idea of reorganization of the state government. By June 1861, Pierpont was unanimously elected governor of the Restored government of Virginia. Wheeling at that time was considered to be in Virginia. On June 20, 1863, West Virginia became a State and Wheeling became part of West Virginia.

During the Civil War, the Restored Government of Virginia under Pierpont moved their Capitol from West Virginia to Alexandria, Virginia. After moving their Capitol to Alexandria, Pierpont advocated for free schools for freedmen and in 1864 voted to amend the State Constitutional aiming to abolish slavery. On April 7, 1864, the new Constitution was adopted at the Virginia Constitutional Convention abolishing slavery in Union control areas in Virginia. These areas included Northern and Eastern Virginia.

On December 16, 1864, Pierpont recommended that the marriages of former slaves and the children who resulted from them be legitimized by Virginia law. Also Pierpont recommended that a number of laws designed to transition the state to life without slavery. On February 27, 1866, Pierpont recommendation to legalize the marriages of former slaves and the children who resulted from them passed the Virginia General Assemble as the “Cohabitation Act.”

Since 1864, Alexandria African Americans celebrated their Emancipation with parades, conferences and banquets for fifty-years. The Emancipation ceremonies were held at several venues over the fifty-year span which included: Huffs Hall North West and Montgomery Street; Roberts Chapel (Roberts Memorial United Methodist Church); Third Baptist Church; Shiloh Baptist Church – speaker future Congressman John M. Langston; Lannon’s Opera House – speakers Congressman John M. Langston and Frederick Douglass, Jr.; Third Baptist Church; Alexandria’s Fair Grounds; and Odds Fellows.

For all the Descendants of former enslaved people in Alexandria, Virginia, Happy Emancipation Day!

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Rosa Harris-Jackson Armistead – First Female Preacher and Deaconess

Behind the scene of the Alexandria Gazette story on “The Life of Rosa Harris-Jackson Armistead,” dated March 15, 2018.

Judy Coles Bailey

About seven years ago, I was contacted by Terry Coles and his sister, Judy Coles-Bailey that their great-grandmother, Rosa Harris-Jackson Armistead was from Alexandria and they believed that she was connected to the Alexandria Freedmen Cemetery.

After researching Rosa Armistead, I confirmed that Rosa’s mother, Mary Nash-Harris buried a child at the Freedmen Cemetery, which will be discussed in an upcoming book on the Freedmen Cemetery.

Mary Nash-Harris and her children, Emma and Rosa migrated to Alexandria during the Civil War from Prince Williams County, Virginia. Mary Nash-Harris met Sandy Hodge in Alexandria and they got married. After a few years of marriage, they separated and late divorced. Mary’s daughter Emma Jean Harris married Daniel C. Richards in Alexandria. Emma and her husband moved to Philadelphia. Emma died in Philadelphia in 1957. On her death certificate, she was 99-years old; but, she was older than what the death certificate reported. Emma’s sister, Rosa married twice and Rosa died in Alexandria at the age of 97 in 1951. Her death certificate had her age as 79 but she was 97-years old.

Rosa had several children, one of her daughters was named after her, Rosa L. Armistead. Rosa married Jacob Lawrence, Sr., in New Jersey, they had a son named Jacob Lawrence

Jacob Lawrence, Jr.

Jr. Jacob became a famous painter. He received national acclaim for his paintings. His paintings continued to be in great demand today. Jacob Lawrence, Jr., was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey. His mother, Rosa Armistead-Lawrence migrated from Alexandria to Atlantic City where she met her future husband, Jacob Lawrence Sr. Rosa, her husband and young son migrated from Atlantic City to Philadelphia. The family probably lived with a relative while they were in Philadelphia, possibly Rosa’s aunt Emma Harris-Richards. While in Philadelphia, Rosa had two more children. Later, Rosa and her family migrated to New York. New York gave the family more opportunities in housing and education, the young Jacob Lawrence was able to pursue his education interest in the arts.

Jacob’s paintings have been showed all over the world. His paintings depicted the life of

African Americans as he saw it. His paintings have been transformed into postcards, greeting cards, reproduction of his art on canvases and wearable garments.

Today New York City claims Jacob Lawrence Jr., as their own, but his roots are in Alexandria where his great-grandmother, Mary Nash-Harris and her children fled Prince Williams, Virginia to Alexandria during the Civil War.

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Herbert Pike Tancil – The Mayors’ Colored Barber

Behind the scene of the Alexandria Gazette story on Mr. Herbert Pike Tancil dated February 22, 2018.

About two years ago, I came across an old article in the Alexandria Gazette newspaper

Alexandria Gazette – Friday, May 26, 1876

dated 22 December 1908 about the death of Herbert Pike Tancil I. On this winter heavy snowy day, Herbert closed up his barber shop and walked home. Due to the overexertion from walking in the snow, Herbert suffered a heart attack in his home that night and died at the age of 54. After reading that story, I wanted to know more about Herbert and his family.

I was able to locate Herbert’s great-grandson Herbert (Herb) P. Tancil IV. In interviewing Herb, he was

Herbert Pike Tancil IV

able to tell me about his great-grandfather being the barber to a white clientele. Herb did not know that his great-grandfather’s clients were made up of wealthy businessmen and the City Mayor. In his great-grandfather’s life time, he was the barber to ten Mayors. Through Herbert’s barber shop business, he was able to purchase a home at 1012 Oronoco Street. He supported a wife and eight children and several of his children went to college. Two of Herbert’s children became medical doctors.

The barber business stayed in the family for two generations. Herbert P. Tancil and Herbert P. Tancil II were barbers in Alexandria. Herbert III broke away

from the family business and started working for the Federal government and the District of Columbia government. Also Herbert III like his father, Herbert II were devout Episcopalians. The first Herbert was a member of Alfred Street Baptist Church.

Herb fondly remembers his father’s strong devotion to his religion. Herbert III was called on to participate in the ceremonies of the Archbishop of Canterbury when the Archbishop visited the Washington, D.C. area. Herbert III also enjoyed his second career as a counselor for an orphanage in Washington, D.C. Herb IV said, “that if his father was walking down the street and saw five people, he would know three of the five people, and the other two would be his friends before they departed.” Herbert III was a people person. He loved to be around people and people loved to be around him.

His son, Herb IV has made his own mark on life by being the first Hartford Life Insurance Company’s African American Group Sales Manager in Detroit, Michigan. Herb was born in Alexandria, Virginia. While he was in high school, he excelled in track. He graduated from Groveton High School in 1966. Herb attended York Academy of Arts in York, Pennsylvania and National Academy of Arts in Washington, D.C. He earned a certificate as a commercial artist in 1968. He further his education at Howard University in Washington, D.C., graduating in 1972 with a degree in Fine Arts.

Today, Herb lives in Arizona with his wife, Marcia and his sons, Herbert P. Tancil V and Chad L. Tancil; and, their families including his grandson, Herbert P. Tancil VI.

The very first Herbert P. Tancil would have been very pleased that his name meant so much to his family, that his name has been carried down six-generations.

In ending, my elders used to say, you have nothing to stand on but your name. So do not disgrace yourself because you will be disgracing the family’s name. The Tancil family has a strong name to stand on.

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