Seeking further information about Dr. Ed Shaw?

+3 votes
Dr. Ed Shaw was killed in the tornado in Poplar Bluff on May 9, 1927.

His age at the time was unknown, but believed to be "middle aged".

His birthplace was also unknown.

His wife's name was Alice.

Does "col" under race stand for "colored"?

Here is a link to his death certificate:
WikiTree profile: E Shaw
in Genealogy Help by Jourdi Cleghorn G2G6 Mach 3 (34.3k points)

1 Answer

+4 votes

Looks like it was quite a tornado! "98 killed, 300 injured Produced F4 damage in rural Arkansas before devastating the larger town of Poplar Bluff MO. The tornado took three minutes to pass through the town, killing 83, 21 alone at the Melbourne Hotel. 31 square blocks were obliterated." Wikipedia

Looking at the death certificate, it certainly seems to me that they are trying to say that Dr Ed was coloured.  That abbreviation 'col' appears in the box for Coloured or Race, it appears after his name, and it appears that the cemetery was segregated and Ed's body was destined for the 'Col Dept' of the cemetery.

I was trying to see if i could spot Ed and his wife Allice on a census in the early part of that century, but no luck so far. 

by Shirlea Smith G2G6 Pilot (295k points)

I came across this 1919 Directory of Poplar Bluff where they are also using '(col)' after some names.  It looks like it was the way they designated people who were not white.

I don't see Dr Ed listed there - maybe i need to find a directory from a year closer to 1927 - But i think i understand the text after the informant's name.  It might be the street she lives on: apparently there is a Parthenia Street in Poplar Bluff, and most of the people who live on it are also designated as (col).  I didn't see a Bryant family living on Parthenia in 1919, but a Lula Bryant is a (retired?) janitress in 1919, and there is a couple named William and Ora Bryant.  Neither of these Bryant families are designated as (col).  Somehow the informant, Gertrude Bryant, knew Dr Ed's wife's name.  

Lula Bryant lives on Garfield, a few blocks from where one of the four or five coloured churches in town is located. Another is located at the corner of Garfield and Parthenia. Most of the residents of Garfield Street are also designated (col).  

Just wandering around looking at stuff...

Interesting stats on black doctors in general: Nationally, about 3,500 black physicians had received training by 1920, and in Kansas City a few dozen had established private practices. Shut out from practicing in whites-only hospitals and highly unlikely to treat white patients in general, some established their own private hospitals intended specifically for the black community. In Kansas City these included Dr. John Edward Perry’s Sanatorium, Dr. Unthank’s Lange Hospital, and the Douglass Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas. Architecturally, these facilities were typically little more than repurposed houses, but in one case, the Provident Association, a charitable organization run by white Kansas City businessmen, took over management of Perry’s Sanatorium and merged with the Phyllis Wheatley Association to form Wheatley-Provident Hospital, which occupied a former parochial school in 1918.

Hi Shirlea,

Thanks for all the information that you were able to find and share. Yeah, the tornado here was pretty bad. I actually have an entire project dedicated to commemorating the deceased and their ancestry (thus why I'm researching Dr. Shaw).

I sort of guessed that they meant "colored" but I didn't want to assume wrong. I'm guessing that's why there is so little information on him.I really wish we could get at least one thing to pinpoint who he was, aside from his wife Allice.

Since 21 people were killed in the hotel, but it doesn't say which people, I think it's a good possibility that Dr. Shaw traveled here. (Maybe to see a patient?), but only God knows where he came from. Or, another possility, is that he was here to visit a cousin? Gertrude Bryant could have been a distant relative?

Thanks for the information about black doctors. I found another interesting article about early black doctors while I was trying to find more information about Dr. Shaw.
I went ahead and looked at the directory for 1926 and it looks like Dr. Shaw did live here. But I think his name might have been E. D. Shaw and not Ed Shaw. It looks like E. D on the page. He is married to Alice and they live on 651 South 5th, I think it says.
Yes!  You found him!  He is a physician!  He worked out of his own home, it appears.  He is also listed in the same directory on p 261 with all the other physicians.  It seems he is the only black doc in town.  The house address is a little easier to read on this page.  Its a lot easier to see the fraction 1/2 after the house address.  Many of these physicians have that fraction.  Probably they had a surgery/clinic in the same building as their own residence.

Now that we know his name is E D not Ed, it was easier to find his marriage to Alice, just the year before:

"Missouri, County Marriage, Naturalization, and Court Records, 1800-1991," database with images, FamilySearch( : 17 October 2017), E D Shaw and Alice Thomas, 21 Jun 1926; citing Marriage, Butler, Missouri, United States, p. 77, Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City.


"Missouri, County Marriage, Naturalization, and Court Records, 1800-1991," database with images, FamilySearch( : 17 October 2017), E D Shaw and Alice Thomas, 21 Jun 1926; citing Marriage, Butler, Missouri, United States, p. 297, Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City.

presumably this is a second marriage for him, if the death reg is correct about him being past middle age
This transcription gives E D and Alice's ages as 49 and 40 respectively.

I'm out of time for the moment, but i wonder if 651 South 5th was in the 31 blocks razed by the tornado, or if Dr Shaw was out somewhere else at the time.  I wonder what happened to Alice, if she appears in past or future directories. (Yesterday I did glance through the list of death certs for the day of and days just after the tornado, but didn't see her.  I wouldn't say my search was exhaustive.)  I have seen directories where the widow is still listed under her deceased husband's name for years.  

I wonder where Dr Shaw took his medical training - wouldn't it be great if he was on an alumni list somewhere!

Hi Shirlea,

Thanks again for your thoughts on the matter. The marriage certificate confirms what you were pondering. He was most likely middle age (nearly 50) when he married Alice (who was also older, around 40ish).

I've added the marriage to the source list and given Alice a profile.

Alice isn't on my list of victims.I believe that she didn't stay in Poplar Bluff. She is not listed in the city directory a few years later. I think the one I looked at was around 1930. She wasn't there. But where did she go?

They were only married about eleven months, so I doubt they had a child or anything like that. I pondered if Dr. Shaw was married before, but I couldn't find him (and be sure it was him) on a record with anyone other than Alice.

I would love to find him on an alumni list. What are the odds though, with him being a person of color in the twenties? I sure would love to find something like that, though.
I just saw your note about him being a physician. Great to know what kind of doctor he was! He must have wanted to help his community. I really want to find out as much as possible about him. He deserves to be remembered in a better way than a misspelled name on a grave stone with no birth date.

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