Thursday, July 16, 2009

THE TROUPES

THE TROUPES
The Story of a Laurens County Family

They are one of Laurens County’s oldest and most prolific families. In fact, they are several families. They take their name from the man who once owned them - the powerful and legendary George M. Troup of Laurens County, who was a former Georgia governor and United States senator. In the years following the Civil War, former slaves had to choose a surname, until then they were simply known by their first name. Many of these former slaves took the name of their former master. This is a story of one of those families, the families of Obediah Troup and his son, Charles Troupe.

The 1870 Census was the first census to enumerate black citizens. In that year, fifty-one Laurens County families bore the surname of Troup or Trouppe. Just before the turn of the century some of the families changed their last name to Edmond. These families were not all related to each other by blood, but they were bound together by their common last name and heritage, lived in the Dudley area, near or on the old Troup plantations at Valambrosa and Thomas Crossroads. They worked under the supervision of Dr. John Vigal, the governor’s son-in-law, and later Robert Wayne, husband of one of the governor’s granddaughters, Augusta Forman. The senior members of the Troup family were Mariah, who was born in 1785; Richard, who was born in 1790; Isaac, who was born in 1794; and David, who was born in 1799. When George Troup died in 1856, his estate included more than three hundred slaves, all of whom are listed in the inventory of his estate in Division of Estates Book, "B" in the Probate Court.

Obediah Troup was born in May of 1835. When Gov. Troup died in 1856, Obediah was twenty-one years old, and accordingly, was the highest valued slave on the Valambrosa Plantation at twelve hundred dollars. Around that time, Obediah married Katie or Caty. No record of their marriage was made under the record system in effect at the time. It appears that Obediah and Katie Troup were living apart from the main group of families in 1870. In 1880, the Troup household, then located in the Bailey District, consisted of Obediah, Katie and their children: Bennett, Wallace, Charles, Willis, Phillip, Lelia, Luselia, and Delia. The Troups were a typical farming family of the day with a large number of children to help on the farm.

Charles Troupe married Mary B. Williams on October 29, 1891 in Laurens County. Charles, like his father, was a share cropping farmer. Charles and Mary lived on a farm not too far from his father’s farm in the Harvard District near Montrose. Charles, also like his father, had a large family - ten children: Eva, Donna, Phillip, George, Lee, Charles, Minnie, Albert, James, and Quincy. One day, Albert got into a difficult predicament with a farm overseer. Fearing, that his son would never be able to resolve the dispute with the man, Charles decided to accept the offer of a friend from St. Louis to go there for a better paying job and a better way of life. Times were bad in Laurens County. Cotton crops were being eaten by boll weevils, money was tight, and tempers and racial tolerances were short. Charles and his sons, Albert and George, left Dublin in the early 1920s to establish the new family home. Mary and the rest of the family, headed by the eldest son Phillip, an amputee victim of a childhood fever, moved to the Ed Darden farm. The Darden farm was near the Smitherman farm in southern Laurens County. In 1922, Mary and the rest of the children moved to St. Louis to begin their new life.

Eva, the eldest child, married a Yopp and moved to New Britain, Connecticut. Donna, married a Hudson and moved to Baltimore, Maryland. Lee lived in Newark, New Jersey. The rest of the family remained in St. Louis. All of them lived to ripe old ages. Donna lived to be ninety six years old. Phillip and Minnie lived to be more than ninety. Quincy, the baby of the family, was the most well known of the children. He developed a skill for boxing, which was eclipsed only by his talent for baseball. He enjoyed a twenty-year career in professional baseball. He was known to have been one of the best catchers in the history of the Negro Leagues. Quincy managed and played for the Cleveland Buckeyes, the 1945 Negro League Champions. His collection of memorabilia was the foundation of the Negro League Hall of Fame Museum in St. Louis.

James "Pal" Troupe, the ninth child, took an ardent interest in improving his community. Pal Troupe served as a Commissioner of the St. Louis Public Housing Authority from 1951 to 1954, when he was elected to the Missouri Legislature. In his sixteen-year career in the Missouri house (1954-1960, 1962-1972), Troupe rose to the chairmanship of the black caucus and became an advocate for those in public housing. During that time, Troupe served as a business representative for the United Steelworkers of America and supported the causes of labor in his state. Although he lost two congressional races, Troupe was a well-respected member of the St. Louis community. Like his father and grandfather before him, he had a large family. When he died in 1994, Troupe had nine children, forty-five grandchildren, and fifty great grandchildren.

Two of Quincy’s children, Charles Quincy Troupe and Quincy Troupe, Jr. have followed different, although highly successful, career paths than their father. Charles Quincy Troupe, following in the footsteps of his uncle "Pal," was elected to the Missouri legislature in 1978.

For twenty-two years, Troupe has been an advocate for the rights of the disadvantaged, the powerless, and the underprivileged. Troupe lists among his most lasting contributions his landmark legislation to educate pregnant teenage girls, a support system for AIDS victims, and the implementation of electronic transfer of government program benefits. In private life, he is an electrical contractor, developer, and union official. While he is considered a liberal on social issues, Troupe is deeply disturbed by the amount of immorality and violence on television - an issue generally championed by conservatives. Troupe, chairman of the House committee on Social Service and Corrections, will be forced out of office in 2003 with the imposition of term limits, but he plans to continue his fight to battle to end privatization of state prisons.

Quincy Troupe, Jr., while possessing some of his father’s athletic ability, has become a nationally known poet, biographer, and novelist. Troupe has a passionate interest in music, which led to his coauthoring of a book with jazz legend Miles Davis: "Miles: The Autobiography," for which he won an American Book Award. Troupe has also published a nationally distributed book, "Miles and Me," based on his experiences with Davis. The topics of his poems published in six volumes range from the injustice he sees in America - a mission which seems to be inherent in the Troupe family to the celebration of his love of jazz. His book "Snake-back Solos" brought him a second American Book Award. Troupe is also the winner of the prestigious Peabody Award for "Miles Davis Radio Project." Troupe was recently featured on the PBS program, "The Language of Life" with Bill Moyers.

4 comments:

Dr. Kenny Ray said...

Thanks Scott. Dr. Ray Atlanta, GA

Kayla Troupe Robinson said...

This is awesome. Thank You.

Portia Hurst said...

Wow, Eva Troupe was my great grandmother. My Uncle shared this with me. I'm grateful to learn some of my paternal family history

Eldrige Troupe said...

My name is Eldridge Troupe a lot of you knew him as Uncle Pal I knew his as Daddy he raise me from the Age of three