One of the least-known of the early great black ballplayers, Monroe died in 1915 in his late thirties. The place of his death has been variously reported; Riley has it as Chicago, where Monroe had long been a mainstay of Rube Foster’s teams; other sources have it that he died in California while touring with the American Giants.
In fact, he died in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at his parents’ home, on March 16, 1915. Here is the Defender’s coverage of his death (March 20, 1915):
William S. Monroe was born in Tennessee, probably in 1877, to Archie (or Archey) S. and Rosa Monroe; his father was a minister. The family can be found in the 1880 census in Knox County, Tennessee, with “Willie,” aged two, the youngest of five children. At his death in March, 1915, the Defender gave his age as 38.
In the 1910 census, Monroe, having played professional baseball in Chicago since 1896, is back with his family, now in Chattanooga. Phil Dixon has written of Monroe’s on-the-field antics and trash talk; check out the occupation listed for him in the census (first column is the “particular kind of work done by this person,” second column is the “general nature of the industry” in which he is employed:
That’s right; Bill Monroe’s job, as he reported it to the census taker, was “champion base ball player.”