If the truth be told, I do miss doing historical research. So, when something of interest comes along, I will see what I can find out. Don’t get me wrong, I love being retired and enjoy doing the things that Kathy and I do. I really don’t have much time for writing and research. So when I can combine research and field trips, well, that makes retirement so much better!
The other day someone passed along to me a booklet: Whence Did The Negro Originate. by NJ Tilghman. My first reaction was – Are you kidding me??
There are a lot of Tilghman’s down here on the Eastern Shore, but this one says he is from Palatka Florida. Time to do some research on this very odd booklet. Here is the full title page:
Interesting about the above is that the Publisher has been cut off the page (and erased off the rear cover). Without going into a lot of detail about the book I will say this – This guy was crazy! The Readers Digest version: Adam and Eve had Cain and Abel. Cain kills Abel and is cast out into the wilderness where he takes up a wife…Wait!! Adam and Eve had no daughters?? So who became Cain’s wife?? Well according to the Reverend and his “reliable information” Cain married an Orangoutang (his spelling) or Gorilla. He goes on to prove his point which makes absolutely no sense.
Then the question of “What about the Great Flood”? You know, where Noah takes a few million species of animals in a boat? Notes: The N in NJ Tilgman stands for Noah. Also, Tilghman had a son who it appears built a boat that was called Noah’s Ark. So, the booklet goes on to say that “…But Negroes, offspring of Cain and the ape, were not pure men, but unclean and must be preserved in the Ark with the unclean beasts.”
After some more research I found out that Tilghman was originally from the Eastern Shore and is buried at a cemetery in Snow Hill. Kathy suggested a road trip to find it. Looking at the Findagrave website we found it. So off we went.
We placed his little booklet on his headstone. I wonder if after meeting God he “rolled in his grave” as they say??
Here is his Death Certificate. I had to contact the person who posted the grave info to ask about the cause of death. I could not make it out. She said it was “Exhaustion due to Prostatitis, Contributory – Enlarged Prostrate.
Why do obituaries always say nice things about people? His actually glorifies him, 8 years after he wrote this pamphlet. Here are some excerpts: Rev. Noah J. Tilghman (1828-1918), one of the best known and most highly esteemed citizens of Palatka…He was an earnest student of the Bible, and put into daily practice its great lessons of mortality and spirituality. He lived the life of practical Christianity, treating all men honestly and honorably, and so closely following “the golden rule” in his every act and endeavor as to make his example one worthy of emulation. Unbelievable!
A little further research found this information about this spiritual giant!
Source:State Archives of Florida: Series S12, Volume 01, Box 46 Description: Death warrant signed by Governor William S. Jennings. Date: January 16, 1901 Creator: Jennings, William Sherman, 1863-1920 Warrants Florida Boom and Progressive Era (1890-1926) General Note: On December 21, 1901, Governor William S. Jennings signed a death warrant listing Noah J. Tilghman as the man to be hanged. Tilghman’s name had been mistakenly written on the warrant. The death warrant was supposed to be issued for J. B. Brown, an African-American man wrongfully convicted of murdering white railroad engineer Harry E. Wesson. After the debacle with the death warrant, Brown was sentenced to life in prison. In 1913, Brown was exonerated. Tilghman wrote the Governor a few times about this.
After this we decided to roam around Snow Hill. There was some sort of Oyster Festival going on. We went into the Antique Toy store which was fun. Then to a really nice art studio with a wonderful artist named Nancy.
Grabbed some lunch at the Down Under carry-out, headed back to Byrd Park, ate and looked for the Goats of Goat Island.
A really nice combo road trip and research kind of day!