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The original item was published from 1/29/2022 12:02:28 AM to 3/13/2022 12:00:01 AM.

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News & Town Board Reports (gblist)

Posted on: January 30, 2022

[ARCHIVED] African American stories: post depression era as told by Eugene Rutherford

A series about the struggles and challenges the african American community experienced

African American History Story submitted by Eugene Rutherford, lifelong resident, Town of Greenburgh; Storyteller; Retired Teacher/Educator.

If you would like to share your family story please e mail Paul Feiner at or Judith Beville at

These stories will be archived, presented to the Library History room shared with students at different schools. 

Late 1930’s – Post Depression Era

After a week of hard manual labor, African-American men in Newberry, South Carolina frequently engaged in card games.  Since all participants started off feeling “lucky,” there were always a lot of coins on the table.  The European-American cops felt equally a lucky as they patrolled the wooded areas where the games often took place.  As the cops arrived, the players began to scatter.  Not everyone was able to escape.  The cops would confiscate all money left behind and arrest those not fortunate enough to flee.  All-in-all, those were good weekends for the cops of Newberry, S.C.

One particular weekend night, my Great-Uncle John Livingston was participating in one of the card games.   The European-American cops were lucky enough to find the card game and my Great-Uncle John was unlucky enough to get arrested and have his money taken by the cops.  

Great-Uncle John was a laborer for the Newberry Lumber Company owned by the Murray family.  John had been injured due to a safety violation.   John, being of a certain spirit, filed a lawsuit against Newberry Lumber Co.  The lawsuit was pending at the time of John’s arrest.  Newberry, being a place where news travelled effectively by word-of-mouth, Mr. Murray became aware of John’s circumstances.  He, immediately, dispensed a messenger to the jail where Great-Uncle John was being detained, with what Mr. Murray deemed an offer that John couldn’t / wouldn’t refuse: “Drop the charges/lawsuit and I’ll get you out of jail.” John instructed the messenger as follows:   “Tell Mr. Murray to leave me here!”   

My Great-Uncle John served his sentence, won the lawsuit, was awarded $500.00 and left Newberry, South Carolina for a new residence in Virginia.



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