Wednesday, July 31, 2013

3rd Email newsletter 3/22/2013

This is the 3rd installment done on March 22, 2013

Hello Everyone!

This year is going by so fast.  This is the first family installment for 2013.  I decided to write a little more about the Bell side this time.  Since we are all related I thought it would still be relevant for the Steele’s.  In honor of the Jackie Robinson movie coming out 42 ( I would like to talk about Ambrose Reid. 

Warren Charles Bell married a woman from Putnam County named Mary Louise (Mollie) Reid.  Warren Bell must have been very well respected in the community because the announcement of the marriage made it into the Union Recorder newspaper. 

January 26, 1886 
Union and Recorder 
 Warren Bell, the colored porter of the store of A. Joseph, Esq., was married in Eatonton, on Wednesday, 20th inst., to Miss Mollie Reid, of that town, the ceremony being performed by Rev. G. W. Fears. Warren was born and raised here and has the esteem of many whites as well as colored friends. We hope he and his bride will have a happy and prosperous voyage on the somewhat uncertain sea of matrimony.

I have attached a photo of Mollie in her wedding gown. This was probably handmade by Mollie herself because she was listed as a seamstress on the census.  Don’t be alarmed that is was not white, the tradition of wearing white wedding gowns came much later after the wedding of Queen Victoria to Albert in 1840. It did not become a tradition around the world until the advent of the department store where purchases of wedding gowns were available in 1890.

Now back to Ambrose.  Mollie’s mother was a woman name Katherine (Katie) Broyle.  Katie took the name Rainey from the family that she traveled to Georgia with from Woodstock or Culpepper, Virginia.  I am not sure what her status was I have not found her listed as a FPOC in 1850 or 1860.  Katie had two children (Mollie and Katherine) by a man name David Henry Reid. The Reid’s were Irish/Scots that migrated to Georgia from North Carolina, via Lancaster, Pennsylvania, via Ulster, Ireland.  David Reid fought in the civil war as a confederate soldier along side another solider name William Suther who Katie had an additional 5 children with. These children are listed as Rainey’s and never took the Suther name.  They were Willie (Big Willie) Tommy Lee (Uncle Bubba), Jessie, Deuie or Dewie, and Annie Claude or Claudia.

Jessie had a son by an Eatonton resident (last name Reid), which she named Ambrose Leevolia Reid, he was named after the brother that Katie Broyle left in Virginia and would never see again.  Ambrose Reid was born December 3, 1895 or 1898 in Eatonton, Georgia and died in April of 1966 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  I don’t know when Ambrose took up baseball but in 1920 Ambrose Reid is listed as a player in the Southern Negro League on the Atlanta Black Crackers.  From 1920 – 1932 he played for numerous team including the Detroit Stars, Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, Philadelphia Hilldale Giants, Homestead Grays, and the Pittsburgh Crawfords.  He played outfield, first, second, and third base.  Here is an excerpt from a story in 1931 that talks about Ambrose’s playing.

Ageless Joe Williams went the distance as Homestead’s Grays finished off St. Louis’ Stars in an April 13, 1931, luminous pitched, 8-1 win. Williams slammed out a solo home run, showing that he was still the “Smokey Joe” of old at bat as well as on the mound. Outfielder Ambrose Reid waylaid a pair of home runs, while ‘Jud” Wilson added another home run. The win completed Pittsburgh’s three-game series sweep.

The History of the Negro Leagues

Prior to 1890 there were integrated baseball teams. Fleetwood Walker and John D. “Bud” Fowler were some of the most prominent black players during this time. Due to pressures of segregation, there were about 200 black independent teams that played in loosely organized groups by 1880.  By the early 1900’s the black baseball league found America’s heartland and the south. By the end of World War I black baseball had become the number one entertainment attraction for urban black populations.  Three leagues were formed The Negro National League, The Negro Southern League, and the Eastern Colored League.  Ambrose at one time or another played in all three leagues.  Negro baseball became one the most successful financial ventures of the time.  As World War II came to a close many felt that it was time that baseball’s color barriers came down. On April 18, 1946 the Dodger’s owner Branch Richie signed Jackie Robinson. Robinson was instrumental in leading the Dodgers to a National League pendant. He was also awarded Rookie of the Year.  At the end of the 1949 season the Negro League disbanded.

During Ambrose’s time on the field he was on a championship team and played with the some of the greatest players in history.  He helped pave the way by instilling the love of baseball in people’s hearts and mind. He laid out a path for future players like Jackie Robinson. Attached is Ambrose’s card that sold last year for $948. 
If anyone has other pictures or stories about Ambrose let me know.

Family Updated Research

Also thanks to our cousin Karen in California, there is a correction to the Jane Gilbert/Brooks/Mitchell story.  Laura Mitchell’s mother was Jane McComb and Jane Gilbert is listed as Grandmother on the 1880 census.  I have corrected the information on my page.  Also our story of Jane and family was used in the February newsletter on (

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