Several years ago Todd Peterson sent me this box score, from the May 7, 1917, Fort Wayne (Indiana) Daily News, which showed a pitcher named Rogan and outfielders named Carr and Hawkins playing for the Fort Wayne Colored Giants.
At first glance it seemed like a real possibility these players were Bullet Rogan, Lemuel Hawkins, and George Carr. They had all played for the Los Angeles White Sox in the late 1910s and would join the Kansas City Monarchs in 1920, and Rogan and Hawkins had played for the 25th Infantry Wreckers. And Rogan was on furlough from the Army during the first half of 1917, during which he played for the All-Nations club and Kansas City Giants. It seemed too much for a coincidence, yet it was odd all the same: what were these guys doing playing for a little-known, surely semiprofessional club in Indiana? I’d never known Carr to play anywhere but on the west coast until 1920. And why were they getting pounded by a seemingly undistinguished white semipro club?
First, I checked out the Ft. Wayne papers for the whole year of 1917, and found quite a bit of coverage of the Colored Giants, including various short reports on the team as it was being assembled in April, along with box scores for other games. This Rogan, it turned out, was reported to be a southpaw from the Louisville White Sox (Bullet Rogan, of course, was righthanded); Carr was an “ex-Lima [Ohio] Giant,” called “little Carr, the bow-legged center fielder” (Ft. Wayne Sentinel, June 4), which isn’t a very good description of George Carr; and Hawkins was supposed to be a “local star.” If Dupee and Wilson, the Colored Giants’ owners, had hired a trio from the west coast they certainly would have publicized that fact, rather than saying they were from Louisville, Lima, and Ft. Wayne.
Carr could be John W. Carr, who played for the Dayton Marcos in the late 1910s, though I can’t say for sure. Hawkins of Ft. Wayne I don’t know, though there were a couple of African American men named Hawkins who registered for the draft in Ft. Wayne in June, 1917. As for Rogan: only two black men named Rogan registered for the draft in Indiana, and one of them resided in Ft. Wayne: Oscar Rogan, born March 27, 1891, in Gallatin, Sumner County, Tennessee.
The Sumner County, Tennessee, birthplace really jumped out at me, because that’s precisely where Bullet Rogan’s family was from before they moved to Oklahoma in 1890. Could the two pitchers have been related?
Here’s Oscar and two brothers, Edward and John, living with their widowed father Henry Rogan in Sumner County in 1900:
The same family can be found back in Sumner County, Tennessee, in the 1880 census, with one interesting addition: a brother named Henry (the name of Oscar Rogan’s father), who wasn’t in Oklahoma with the rest of the family in 1890. The ages are a little different, though; according to the 1900 census Henry, Oscar’s father, was born in 1852, which would make him 28 in 1880, while this Henry is only 22.
But then, when we follow the family of John Rogan, Bullet Rogan’s grandfather, back to the 1870 census, in the midst of Reconstruction, Henry is gone again:
To recap, here’s the Rogan family from 1870 to 1890, with their reported ages in the three census records, 1870 U.S., 1880 U.S., 1890 Oklahoma:
1870 1880 1890
John Rogan (father) 46 56 70
Sarah Rogan (mother) 33 44
Thomas 13 24
Charles H. 13 30
Richard 8 19 27
Martha 9 months 10 20
Frank 8 18
John 4 16
It seems likely that Charles H. Rogan and Henry Rogan were really the same person, Charles Henry Rogan, and that he moved with his father and most of his siblings to Oklahoma Territory in 1890 or before. By 1890, Charles had a wife, Melissa, and two children of his own, Walter and Mary. It’s a little confusing, but subsequent census records seem to show that Charles Henry Rogan and his family continued in Oklahoma to 1900 and after (and he alternated between his first and middle names), and he would therefore not be the Henry who was Oscar Rogan’s father.
There was another black man named Henry Rogan in Sumner County, though. He was born in Sumner County in 1858, apparently lived there his whole life, and died on April 6, 1925. He first shows up in the 1880 census. He was aged 18, rather than 28 as Oscar’s father would have been (based on the 1900 census), and he was living with an aunt, Idia Harris, who was still living next door to the family in 1900 (see above):
So was Wesley Rogan, Oscar’s grandfather, related to John Rogan, Bullet’s grandfather? The 1870 census shows 49 African Americans named Rogan in Sumner County (along with 10 whites). Unfortunately, this is the point where slavery draws a curtain across black history, and it can becomes very, very difficult to trace individuals, at least in most easily accessible records. In 1860 and before, the census recorded the numbers of slaves (this was necessary because of the Constitution’s three-fifths clause), but did not give their names.
This post is already more than long enough, so I’ll pick up the story tomorrow.