Category Archives: Did You Know?

Luke J. Weathers, Jr.

Luke Weathers Jr

As Veterans Day approaches, it seems like a great time to talk about Luke Weathers, Jr.

Tuskegee Airmen

As one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, Lt. Col. Luke Weathers, Jr., received the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross with seven clusters for the dozens of missions he flew over Europe and North Africa during World War II.  He was honored with a parade on Beale Street for “Luke Weathers Day” on June 25, 1945, and received the keys to the city — all part of a larger effort to raise money for the war effort.  The campaign raised enough to pay for a B-24 Liberator, and it was named “The Spirit of Beale Street” in honor of the community that funded it.

George W Lee and Luke Weathers

After the war, Lt. Col. Weathers continued to break barriers, becoming the first African-American air traffic controller at the Memphis Airport, and helping to bring other minorities into the field.

Luke Weathers at home

Lt. Col. Weathers was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on January 20, 2012, with the full honors he deserved: a four-jet flyover in “missing man” formation, a horse-drawn caisson, a 21-gun salute, and the playing of “Taps.” We are extremely grateful to the Weathers family, especially his son, Luke III, for sharing these photos and stories with us.

Horsedrawn caisson at Arlington burial

Click here to view all of the images in Dig Memphis related to Luke Weathers, Jr.


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Filed under Black History, Did You Know?, Military History

Did you know…

…that after World War II, Memphis “adopted” a Dutch town known for its cotton manufacturing?  School children around Memphis filled cigar boxes with household items to ship to the families in Enschede, Netherlands, while clothes and books were collected to help replace that which was lost in the war.  Read all about it here:

Cover of manuscript

For more information, the Memphis – Enschede Ties collection is available in the Memphis Room. Come take a look!


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Filed under Collections, Did You Know?, Digital Archive, Memphis History

Beat the Heat

Too hot?  Need to escape the city?  Feel some rest, relaxation and clean water might do you some good?  Head to the Raleigh Inn!

Oh, if only it were 1903…


The descriptions of the resort make it sound like the ideal place to spend a few weeks during this maddening heat:

  • “…within a short electric ride of Memphis, or an hour and a half’s charming drive over a splendid pike”
  • “Electric lights, call bells, bath and toilet rooms, sewers, wire screens on all outside openings, local and long distance telephone, all add to the comfort of the guests.”
  • “for all there are amusements – fishing, frog shooting, tennis, bicycling, billiards, etc.”

And, if you’re feeling under the weather, the Raleigh Springs can treat: “Eczema, ulcers, sore throat, tonsilitis… Gout, rheumatism, scrofula, summer complaint, acid diarrhoea, neuralgia of stomach, nausea, gravel, cystitis, catarrh, teething, and diseases of young children… cardiac weakness, dropsy, liver complaint, chronic diseases…torpor of the digestive organs, jaundice, malaria, anaemia and catarrhal conditions of the abdominal organs… nasal catarrh… boils… torpid liver, constipation, dyspepsia… dysentery… biliary colic, malaria, anemia, sick headache.”  Whew!

For more on the history of the Raleigh Inn, you might enjoy Vance Lauderdale’s March column on it for MBQ Magazine.




Filed under Did You Know?, Memphis History

Miss Christine

Miss Christine has intrigued me from the beginning, even before I knew her name.  When I first opened the box of photos that would ultimately become The Schoolyard, I saw her right away.  How can you not be intrigued by that face? Those hats?!

After a little digging, I have learned a little bit about the woman in the fabulous black hats.  Class, meet Miss Annie Christine Reudelhuber.  Miss Christine was the principal of Smith School from 1882 until her death in 1920.  Smith School, originally opened in 1872 as the Market Street School, was the first school built and owned by the School Board.  The name was changed to Smith School in 1878 to honor Thomas R. Smith, a member of the Board of Education.  After Miss Christine’s death in 1920, the school was again renamed, this time as Christine School.  The Christine School continued on until the building was razed in 1964 to make room for a Sheraton hotel.

According to The Christine Story, Miss Christine was the daughter of John D. and Evelyn Wilhelmina Reudelhuber, immigrants from the Rhine provinces of Germany.  Originally settling in New Orleans, they had five sons and two daughters.  After relocating to Memphis, the children attended public schools and the First Presbyterian Church.  By 1887, when a family sketch was published in the History of Shelby County and the City of Memphis, the two girls were the only surviving family members, with Miss Christine as principal of Smith School (“the largest school in Memphis”) while her sister, Miss Pauline, served as the principal of Merrill School.

Miss Christine was probably best remembered as a strict disciplinarian.  In 1980, when a historical marker was placed at the site of the school, Abe Plough recalled, “Miss Christine was a wonderful disciplinarian, fair and just.  She was a stickler for strict obedience.  Her word was law and no one had the temerity to gainsay her…”

I know I wouldn’t mess with her.

(To view school portraits including Miss Christine, click here.  For more information about Miss Christine or the school, come visit us in the Memphis Room and we will be happy to pull some files for you.)

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Filed under Clippings, Did You Know?, Photographs, Uncategorized

Did You Know?

Did you know that a Memphis aviatrix cured deafness with her flying?

Mrs. C.C. Bradbury was “cured” of her almost total hearing loss when her ears popped during a 1932 flight with Emma Harbin, a well-known aviatrix and stunt pilot.  Following this newspaper story, Mrs. Harbin received numerous requests from Mid-Southerners with hearing impairments.  I’ve yet to find a record of another miraculous cure, but I’ll keep an eye out.

To learn more about Emma Harbin, click here.

Or, come by and check out the Marie Conner Aviation History Collection.


Filed under Did You Know?, Portraits

Did You Know?

Did you know that the Birmingham Black Barons, a Negro League baseball team, was owned by Memphian T.H. Hayes?

Willie Mays and “Satchel” Paige played for the team in their early years, and we’ve got the pictures and contracts to prove it.  Come on by if you’d like to look at more!

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Filed under Black History, Collections, Did You Know?, Sports