Who the heck is Frank Smallwood? And who is …?


In a continuation of this post, I’ll explore — or try to, anyway — why Cyclone Joe Williams is buried in Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in obscure Suitland, Md., along with two guys who seemingly have no connection to him whatsoever, Maryland native Frank Smallwood (1868-1946) and Virginia native Moses Crockett (1878-1955).

First off, there’s no indication that Cyclone lived in Maryland, and he likely never visited it unless he swept through briefly because his wife, Beatrice, was originally from the D.C. area (D.C. is only a single mile from Suitland). Second, Suitland is about 230 miles from New York City, where Williams spent his last years and where he died. The small Maryland town (pop. about 26,000) is, to say the least, a LOT farther away than that from Cyclone’s birthplace and youth stomping grounds in southern Texas.

As a jumping-off point, I’ll use fellow researcher and Cyclone enthusiast Bill Staples’ thought that Williams ended up entombed with Smallwood and Crockett because those two have some connection to Beatrice, who is listed in various Census reports as originally hailing from either D.C. or Virginia, i.e. somewhat to very close to where Smallwood and Crockett were from.

I tried to do a little digging about Smallwood and Crockett and ended up finding out very little concrete about the latter but a fair amount about the former.

To sum up things before going into exquisite (maybe) detail, I discovered that Suitland, Md., is Smallwood’s hometown, which answers, at least on the first level, why Smallwood is there. I also uncovered that Smallwood might have been a naughty boy who occasionally ran afoul of the law.

To start, Frank Smallwood shows up in the 1880 Census as the 4-year-old son of and F. Smallwood and Maria Smallwood in Prince George’s County, Md., where Suitland is located. Frank has three younger brothers, while his father is listed as a farmer who’s apparently employing a lodget to help out. Frank’s entire listed family is from Maryland.


Frank turns up, sort of, in the 1900 Census in Charles County, Md., which neighbors Prince George County to the south. Frank is the 29-year-old (so, according to this, né about 1871) head of a one-person household. He’s listed as a “day laborer.”

But there’s a few, shall we say, oddities about the listing. First of all, he’s amidst a whole bunch of people (black and white, male and female) in a similar situation to Smallwood — they’re all heads of one-person households, which several of the males also described as “day laborers.”

The second weird thing: Every single entry/person is crossed all the way out. What?!?!?


OK, move on to the 1910 Census … there’s a 45-year-old (so born around 1865, which is somewhat different than the 1900 Census, but still fairly close) Maryland-born African-American Frank Smallwood in Washington, D.C., with a 31-year-old wife named Emma (robbing the cradle, are we?) from Virginia. It appears to be the second marriage for both of them. Frank is listed as a janitor, while Emma is a servant for a family. They are, interestingly, almost the only non-whites on the page.

This is where things get somewhat interesting. The March 9, 1916, Washington Post, under “The Legal Record” heading, states that a Frank Smallwood just pleaded guilty to grand larceny. The March 21 issue of the paper states that Smallwood was sentenced to one year at Occoquan Workhouse in Prince William County, Va. In both articles, Smallwood’s lawyer is an E.M. Hewlett, which is a possible path for further investigation.

The workhouse — later renamed Lorton Reformatory — was established as a detention center for D.C.’s criminals. It also had a notorious reputation for housing “rabble-rousing” women active in the suffrage movement. And it didn’t just house them — it possibly brutally abused them. In fact, in 1917 (just one year after the article), more than 70 suffragists were confined at Occoquan after an “illegal” picket. The center didn’t close until 2001.

So Frank Smallwood is, essentially, in a working prison. Aha! That could account for Smallwood’s odd listing in the 1900 Census — he was in a similar facility for previous criminal activity. But why are the names crossed out?

Now, in 1917, an African-American, Maryland-born man named Frank Smallwood registered for the draft. But the draft card is — and this seems to be a trend with Mr. Smallwood — weird. One, “don’t know” is written in the space for date of birth, and “don’t know-Maryland” is listed as his place of birth. There is no contact person listed, or any family at all — the card says he’s single (no Emma?). We should note here that the card says he can’t read or write, and he certifies his mark with an X.


The register then states that he pursues “farm labor” on the farm of a C. Jensen in LaPlata, Md., which is the county seat of … Charles County, where he was probably imprisoned in 1910, according to that year’s Census. More than likely, Jensen contracted with some governmental agency to use his farm as a workhouse for convicts. That’s another avenue to explore.

On to the 1920 Census, in which Smallwood is listed with wife Emma (counted as 53 and 43 years old, respectively) in an entirely black neighborhood on 44th Street in D.C. Frank (still a Maryland native) is a fireman at a railroad shop, and Emma (still Virginia-born) is a “chairwoman” at some short of “dept.” (I can’t make out the preceding word.)

Then, in the 1930 Census, Frank (58 yo) and Emma (49 yo) appear to be living in the same neighborhood as 10 years earlier. Frank is a fireman at the “U.S. Treasury” and Emma is a housemaid.

Then there’s a coda — the June 28, 1935, issue of the Danville Bee includes a front-page article about a second man, “Frank Smallwood, colored” who escaped from some sort of criminal detention center along the Dan River. From the article:

“Smallwood had been doing time since November 18 last being convicted of assaulting a railroad man with an iron bar when the latter sought to prevent the breaking open of a box car. He still had three months to serve.

“He was missed from the kitchen detail at supper time and it was estimated that he had escaped about an hour earlier.”

Danville is now an independent city along the Dan River. It was also the location of a Confederate detention center for captured Union soldiers during the Civil War.

I could find no other further record of Frank Smallwood.

So to circle back — at long last after my ramblings — Hall of Fame pitcher Cyclone Joe Williams is buried with an apparent repeat criminal in said criminal’s hometown in Maryland.

But a bunch of questions remain. The first one, of course, is why we should care about all this? I can only answer for myself — because hopefully it will shed some light on the Cyclone’s personal life, especially in his final years and why he’s buried where he is.

The second question: If we go aaaallllllll the way back to the original theory that Smallwood and Crockett are buried with a legendary baseball player because the first two are somehow connected to Williams’ wife, Beatrice, we still have no real answers to that specific question. None of this links Beatrice to Smallwood, and it doesn’t tell us much about Moses Crockett, at least not yet.

That touches on a bigger mystery — who the heck is Beatrice Williams, the Hall of Fame hurler’s wife. Because so far, I’ve uncovered just about jack squat about her. But that’s for a future post …

(Hopefully) big stuff coming

Just a quick note to say I’m working on a bunch of pretty good stuff that I plan to have up over the ensuing three days, by the end of the week. It’ll be revolutionary, blow-you-mind stuff that will land me an interview on The Daily Show.

Well, no, not really. But a guy can dream …

Goodbye, Mr. Padre

I know this isn’t directly Negro Leagues-related, but I had to note the shocking passing of my favorite all-time MLB player, Tony Gwynn. He was one of the classiest guys in the sport for a long, long time, he remained committed to one franchise, and he was the best pure hitter in the majors since Ted Williams, who himself agreed with that assessment, if I’m correct.

I wrote a paper in grad school about news coverage of Tony Gwynn, and I have an authentic Gwynn Padres jersey. I almost never wear it because I’m worried I’ll get ketchup or something on it (I’m prone to messing handling of sammiches, don’t ask), but tomorrow I will wear it proudly.

Here’s a link to an article on Tony’s passing on the BHOF Web site.

Judy Johnson, 25 years later

Here’s an article I just had published last week about the 25th anniversary of the death of Hall of Fame third baseman Judy Johnson on philly.com. Because the story is for a Philadelphia outlet, it focuses on his prime years with the legendary Hilldale Club of Darby, Pa.

And, before I sign off here, I just want to say happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!

A death certificate … sort of


This, my friends, is Cannonball Dick Redding‘s death certificate. I finally have it, courtesy of Jim Overmyer (many, many thanks to him, btw).

Or it’s most of a death certificate. While it pretty much confirms that Dick Redding was a patient at the notorious Pligrim State Hospital — which is a step toward the truth — the actual cause of death is blanked out on the document, as was the case for Sol White, who died in neighboring Central Islip State Hospital, another psychiatric center.

The certificate does, however, include some interesting stuff. It notes that he was a veteran of WWI, but it doesn’t include an eact date of birth, stating only that it was “about 1889.” The certificate says he was 59.

A few of the entry blanks are filled out with “unknown” — the birth place of both of his parents, as well as his widow, Edna’s age. But through other research, we are able to show that both of Dick’s parents, Richard Sr. and the former Laura Ford, were born in Washington County, Georgia. We also know that Edna was about 60 when she died in 1951.

Moving on, we see Dick’s date an time of death: 11:45 a.m. on Oct. 31, 1948 (Halloween!). His occupation is listed as “odd jobs.”

To me at least, the most interesting facet of it is that it states how long Cannonball had been in Pilgrim — eight months and 26 days. So, the question remains: Why was he put there?

When I talked to Jim Overmyer yesterday, he offered a few thoughts. He said commitment to a mental hospital was often “the default action for someone having [any] mental problems, which could include dementia.”

In the certificate, his listed regular address is 99 W. 138th Street in Harlem. That address doesn’t show up on any other documents that I have, but I’ll do some more digging.

So, in all, we have some answers — how long Dick Redding was in Pilgrim and that he WAS there, date of death confirmed, etc.
But those answers only lead to more questions.

Will it ever be possible to secure an uncensored death certificate or, alternately, Cannonball’s hospital records? Jim Overmyer isn’t optimistic.

“New York State has very strict laws about that,” he says. “You just can’t get at those hospital files. Believe me, I’ve tried. It’s really hard, almost impossible.”

Making some Cannonball calls


This week I’ve been making a bunch of calls and filling out forms to find out what happened to Cannonball Dick Redding in Pilgrim State Hospital on Halloween 1948. With assists from fellow SABR member Jim Overmyer and from Elyse Hill of the Atlanta Metro chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, and by trying certain sources yet again, here’s what I’ve tried to do.

First, I keep trying to call the Leroy Butler Funeral Home in Harlem, which is the parlor that held funeral services, etc., for Cannonball after he died. And, has happened for seemingly dozens of times now, the phone just rings and no one answers. Arrgh!

I also annoyingly called, once again, the records offices of Pilgrim State Hospital to again follow up on my request to have Dick’s records released. The official with whom I usually speak was, as always, very courteous, friendly and apologetic when he told me the same thing he’s told me the last three times I’ve called — it’s still being processed in Albany. And Albany, he noted yet again, is a tangled bureaucracy that really doesn’t have a clear process for handling such requests.

In fact, he told me this time that my request is something he’s never seen before during his tenure at Pilgrim — a non-relative making such an application. He added that he and other state officials hopefully won’t make me go through too many hoops (a nice thought, but unlikely), especially because the records I’m looking for actually might not exist anymore! “We may have the stuff, we may not have the stuff,” he said frankly. “Frankly, this is the first time we’ve even had something like this.” So I guess I can, well, feel flattered that I’m treading new ground, but that doesn’t change the fact that this bureaucratic Keystone Cops routine is getting old.

(Jim Overmyer gave me a personal example of how intractable and stubborn the NYS Office of Mental Health can be … When he tried to obtaining information about a hospital baseball team — one that didn’t include any patients whatsoever, just employees and townsfolk — he got stonewalled nearly to death.)

He then suggested I look into obtaining death records from the Islip Town Clerk’s office, which, he said, would have such documents because Pilgrim hospital is in Islip. “If he died at Pilgrim,” the official said, “that’s where the records would be.” So I downloaded and filled out an application for the Islip avenue, but the instructions warned that only immediate family or people with a documented, officially approved right to the records will be successful. I’m guessing that saying I’m a journalist and baseball researcher won’t do the trick. In fact, when I called the clerk’s office, the woman with whom I spoke was extremely curt and blunt, saying that staffers there aren’t even allowed to talk about the process itself over the phone. Welcome to Long Island, folks.

I then followed up on some advice given to me by Elyse Hill at the Atlanta AAHGS chapter. Noting that the funeral services of Cannonball’s mother, Laura Redding, in 1934 were handled by Cox Brothers funeral home in Atlanta, she said the parlor is still in business. Why not give them a call, she suggested?

(As it turns out, Cox Brothers, located on Auburn Avenue, is the city’s oldest black-owned funeral home. Below is a picture from thegrio.com of the business’ owner, Carlton Webb, in his office.)


So I called Cox Brothers, and I got some pretty good information. The gentleman with whom I spoke at Cox was effusively, ebulliently helpful even though I could almost hear his jaw drop when I asked if they had records from a funeral in 1934. I was hoping that, if Cox had such records, it might indicate a next of kin for Mrs. Redding, which could be another avenue for me to explore.

After about 15 minutes of searching the home’s files, he called me back and said, yep, they did still have those records, even though they were 80 years old. A lot of the information he subsequently gave me — Laura’s parents’ (and Cannonball’s grandparents’) names, her address in the city, that she was a house domestic, etc. — I already knew.

But he told me that she died on Aug. 24, 1934, and was buried six days later in Chestnut Hill Cemetery. The cause of death? Acute nephritis, more commonly known as inflammation of the kidneys. She was 52 years old, he said. He also said that, interestingly enough, the entire funeral service process for Laura Redding cost a whopping $63, which, even 80 years ago, was peanuts. “It was a cheap funeral,” he said.

He also lamented the fact that, as was apparently the case with Laura Redding, she died without many people even caring, including, seemingly and sadly, her famous baseball-playing son.Such situations, he said, lead to forgotten legacies and clouded history. “When you’re dead and gone, that’s it,” he said. “People don’t know nothing.”

So, what about the big question: Laura Redding’s next of kin? When we talked about that, the conversation got a little unclear. He said the reported informant/relative was one Minnie Tate, which quickly piqued my interest. Laura’s daughter (and Dick’s sister), was Minnie Redding, who, prevailing knowledge has said, had no offspring or spouse. But with a different last name, was she perhaps married — and, perhaps perhaps, did she have children?

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much record online at all of a Minnie Tate in Atlanta, beyond a couple token city directory listings in the 1930s. (Minnie Redding died in January 1970, according to Social Security records.)

So, while I did learn a lot of fascinating stuff about the death of Dick Redding’s mother — a bargain-basement funeral, bad kidneys, etc. — my ultimate goal seems to have been left unfulfilled — I didn’t uncover any new leads on a living relative of Cannonball who could tell me how and why he died in a New York insane asylum.

A reason for Ted Strong’s marker-less grave?


Photo from the Center for Negro Leagues Baseball Research

Last week I contributed an article to the South Bend Tribune about Ted Strong Jr., who recently received a burial stone thanks to the Negro Leagues Baseball Grave Marker Project. In the article, I pondered why Strong, who served during World War II, didn’t receive a military burial and marker. I was told by a few sources that, basically, the family never asked.

There’s been a few comments posted to the story since it was published, and here’s an interesting one by a military chaplain named David Kriegel from the Naval Postgraduate School. It’s quite interesting and enlightening (I tried to edit it as little as possible):

As the Chaplain for ONE of our local volunteer military honor burial teams I can shed some light on why someone may not get military honors

We first are volunteers.

The local funeral homes know to contact us if the relatives and families request a military burial. The funeral director SHOULD ask if the deceased was in the military and if the family wants a military ceremony

The funeral director then contacts us and we provide a service, rifle volley taps and fold the flag.

If no one knows the deceased was a veteran, he/she dies unknown say in an accident, no one claims the body, we volunteers have no way of knowing the person was a veteran.

I do not believe the government, though required to provide honors to a veteran, has any means in place to provide it or funds to pay for it. Local volunteers from Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts and American Legion Posts volunteers. The Army, Navy and Marines, Air Force do at times send two military members to present the flag. The Marines do the best job for Marine Veterans, sometimes sending as many as six Marines to provide services, along with our volunteers.

Definitely food for thought.

Still waiting …

photo 1


Herb Simpson, now (top) and then (below)

I just spoke with Herb Simpson, who recently became the first Negro Leaguer to be inducted into the New Orleans Professional Baseball Hall of Fame, and who, next month, will again be the guest of the Seattle Mariners for their annual African-American Heritage Day. Herb is the last known survivor of the 1946 Seattle Steelheads, and he was honored by the M’s last year as well, as the picture below (courtesy Mariners photo Ben VanHouten) shows:



During last year’s Mariners celebration, the team inducted into its Hall of Fame probably the greatest Mariner of all — Ken Griffey Jr.

But speaking of halls of fame … Herb Simpson, well more than a month ago, was, as stated, inducted into the NOPBHF, which is sponsored by the Triple-A Zephyrs.

It seems that at the time of the NOPBHF induction ceremony, Herb was promised that he would receive, within a couple weeks, a Hall of Fame plaque in his honor.

Well, as of this afternoon (Saturday), he’s still waiting for it, well more than a month after he was told it would be coming. In fact, he said just now that the Z’s told him he would be getting it today. But it’s 3 p.m., and the day is almost over.

But someone is recognizing Herb and his accomplishments. Below is a beautiful statement about Herb’s induction into the NOLA Hall by Rodney Page, the son of Allen Page, the local promotor, team owner and executive who was the towering figure over New Orleans blackball for decades.

Rodney has wonderful words for Herb:

 In Honor of Herb Simpson

Congratulations, kudos and much respect are in order for the induction of Herb Simpson into the New Orleans Professional Baseball Hall of Fame.  What an acknowledgement, recognition and accomplishment of a life well-lived.  In many respects, Herb Simpson is a forerunner, a beacon of light, a chosen vessel stepping through a portal into the realm of recognized achievement, long overdue.

Hopefully, his induction will increase awareness and much deserved recognition of the rich, fertile, significant history of Negro Leagues Baseball in New Orleans.  The evidence is unequivocal, undeniable and without argument – however best stated or received.  From my humble yet authentic perspective, Herb Simpson is representative of deserving others who have made major contributions to New Orleans baseball history, and more specifically — New Orleans Negro Leagues baseball history.  

Yes, I submit without reservation that there are others who, without question, meet the criteria for selection to the New Orleans Professional Baseball Hall of Fame:  “citizens of greater New Orleans (birth or re-location), outstanding baseball achievement as a player, coach or administrator that has brought recognition to the Greater New Orleans area, and be of good character and reputation.”  For this reality to be fully realized, diligent research is required along with a willingness to “look deeper” perhaps from a different perspective.

Herb Simpson, thank you for who you are!  Thank you for your journey in life!  Thank you for your baseball accomplishments!  Thank you for the many you represent – the lives, voices, faces, and memories of those from the past (often overlooked, forgotten or unaware of) who were major participants and contributors in New Orleans Negro Leagues baseball history!

Herb Simpson, I am extremely happy for your recognition and success.  I know that my father, Allen C. Page, would be also.  You have brought significance and meaning to others along your chosen path.  I hope to meet you in person someday.


Rodney Page

May 26, 2014

Now that is a tribute!

The search for a Redding survivor continues, Part 1: The Fords


Cannonball Dick Redding

So it looks like Cannonball Dick Redding’s two siblings, Leon and Minnie, each died without having any children (as did Dick) after living most, if not all, of their lives in Atlanta (unlike Dick, the wandering ballplayer), which is where the trip of siblings were raised by their parents, Richard Redding Sr. and the former Laura Ford.

Minnie died in the ATL in January 1970 and the age of 82 never (apparently) having married, while Leon passed away without he and his wife, Jessie, having offspring. (I can’t immediately determine when exactly Leon died, but he shows up in the Atlanta city directory several times into the 1950s). And, of course, the Cannonball himself never never had kids with his wife, Edna. (Edna, by the way, appears to have remarried quickly after Dick died in New York’s Pilgrim State Hospital in 1948, to William Wortham, a wealthy real estate magnate in New York City.)

So Cannonball never had any children, nieces or nephews, which severely crimps our chances of finding a living descendant/relative who could shed some light on why the famed pitcher was committed to a Long Island psychiatric center and, perhaps more importantly, why and how he died there in 1948.

While ensuing posts will give an update on the other avenues of obtaining that info I’m taking — i.e. human sources, phone calls, emails, etc. — this one the next post will go via the documentation path to find out if Cannonball Dick Redding had any uncles, aunts or cousins, even distant, who could have been progenitors of a continuing family line …

Let’s begin with Dick’s parents, Richard Sr. and the former Laura Ford. The couple, according to an official marriage license — which lists Richard as “Rich Reddin” — was married March 3, 1883, in Washington County, Ga. (see below). The couple moved to North Butler Avenue in Atlanta sometime after that.


But it seems like Richard Redding Sr. might have been somewhat of a wanderer. The 1900 U.S. lists Laura Redding as a laundress and the widowed mother of Minnie, Richard Jr. and Leon. However, by the 1910 Census, Richard is back in the picture, listed as “Richard Reden” with wife Laura and daughter Minnie on Butler Avenue. Richard is listed as a laborer at the water works, Laura is a laundress, and Minnie is a hotel maid.

Significantly, though, the document doesn’t appear to include Richard Jr. (Cannonball) or brother Leon in the home. But Leon’s WWI draft registration card lists him, age 18, as living at his parents’ home on Butler Avenue as of September 1918. Dick’s draft registration has him already living in Chicago, pitching for the famed Rube Foster.

That brings us to 1920, when Richard and Laura are living alone, sans kids, at 198 N. Butler in Atlanta. By the 1930 Census, the couple, still alone, had moved down a block to 92 N. Butler. Richard Sr. died in Atlanta in February 1936, less than two years after his wife. Curiously enough, Laura Redding’s August 1934 obituary in the Atlanta Daily World identifies her as the mother of famous pitcher Dick Redding and as the daughter of the beloved late Moses Ford, but there’s no mention of her husband.

So let’s take another step back — Richard Sr. and Laura’s parents, i.e. Dick Redding’s grandparents. I’ve already written about Moses Ford, Laura’s father, who moved from his birthplace in Washington County to Atlanta, where he became a beloved figure at the post office. In that post, I detailed how Moses Ford, according to an Atlanta Constitution article after his death, was a slave born to the family of Georgia political power player J.W. Renfroe (who will get his own post here soon) and had, for some strange reason, allegedly never declared himself free.

Because he was born a slave in Sandersville, Washington County, it will be very tricky to track down Mose’s parents, or any siblings for that matter, because he doesn’t appear as a free man until the 1870 Census, when he’s listed as living with wife Harriet and daughter Laura, who would become Cannonball’s mother. Moses is listed as a “farmer,” i.e. sharecropper, aged 25 — which would peg his birthdate around 1845 —  while Harriet is a 22-year-old housekeeper (i.e. birthdate 1848) and Laura is 8 years old (so birthdate of 1862) with no siblings.

In the 1880 Census (below), the 41-year-old Mose (which implies a birthdate of 1839, significantly earlier than the 1870 Census), a laborer, is listed with 40-year-old Harriet (so her birthdate is about 1840, also much earlier than the 1870 poll), a servant, and daughter Laura, 16 years old and at school (implying a birthdate of 1864). There’s probably no doubt that Moses and Harriet were born into slavery, while Laura would be a bit iffier, given that she appears to have been birthed during the Civil War.


Moses Ford appears in other contemporary documents as well, though … Like, for example, the voting registers. In July 1867, two years after the end of the Civil War and the adoption of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, Moses Ford registered to vote in Washington County. Not surprisingly, given the fact that he was probably born a slave, Moses couldn’t write or sign his name and was forced to leave his mark, an X.

Moses also appears on several property rolls in the 97th Georgia militia district, Sandersville, under a list of freedman. Unfortunately, in each citation, he’s listed as owning very little, if anything, real property, but such is also the case with several of his neighbors and townsfolk.

The 1880 Census lists two more members of the Ford household. One is 4-year-old daughter Magness. Unfortunately, I can’t find any other record of her anywhere, at least online, so she might have died young, without any offspring or direct descendants.

The other person in the home is Moses’ brother, Cupid, who’s listed as 27 years old (so born circa 1853, probably in slavery). Cupid does show up in other Washington County documents, such as freedman registers, including two sheets on which he is listed very close to his brother. And, in July 1867, Cupid — written as “Cupit” — registered to vote in Washington County.


From there, there are no more records of a Cupid Ford in Washington County. There are, however, numerous ones — mainly city directories and death registers in Savannah, Ga. — that list an African American named Cupid Ford, married to Anna Ford and born around the correct time.

Finally, one freedman register from Washington County also includes a Cranford Ford close to Cupid and Moses, but that proved to be a dead end. Sooooooo, unless I can follow the one Cupid Ford in Georgia and trace some descendants of him, the Ford family — Cannonball Dick Redding’s maternal family — is a giant dead end, especially because it doesn’t appear that Moses and Harriet had any more children.

However, now, what about Cannonball’s paternal ancestry, the Reddings? Here I found a little more to go on, but ultimately, still can’t find any lineage paths to the present day.

What I can say is this: That the Fords and the Reddings in all likelihood knew other other. Why? Why, because the Reddings, including Cannonball’s grandfather, Henry, also lived in Washington County, Ga. In fact, Henry is listed on property rolls in the same militia district, the 97th, as Moses Ford. So both of Cannonball’s grandfathers lived in the same town, Sandersville, which means Dick’s parents, Richard Sr. and Laura Ford, could very well have grown up knowing each other.

I’ll explore the Redding side of Cannonball Dick Redding’s family in Part 2 …