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Important Carved Cane of the Property of Robert Reed Church, Memphis, Tennessee

Item Details

An important cane from the collection of Robert Reed Church, the first African-American millionaire in the South. Born a slave in 1839 in Mississippi, his mother a slave named Emmeline and his father a white steamboat captain from Virginia named Charles Baker Church. Robert Reed Church opened a saloon in Memphis during the Civil War and by the late 1870s had acquired a vast amount of real estate. With his acquired wealth he provided much for the African-American community of Memphis, including public parks and facilities open to the use of African-Americans in the segregated South. In 1906 he co-founded Solvent Savings Bank, the first African-American bank in Memphis. In 1984, more than a half century after his death, the Memphis Chamber of Commerce honored Robert Reed Church by naming him one of Memphis’ pioneer businessmen.

Subject Noted Church family from Memphis, Tennessee
Item Type Walking cane, Nineteenth Century Memphis Families of Color 1850-1900 (Roberta Church and Ronald Walter)
Materials Wood, Bone, Brass
Period 19th Century, Antique
Number of Items 2
Additional Information Provenance: from Church to his son Robert Reed Baker, descended through the family to the present owner.


- wear to the cane with rust to the stopper, finish loss and scratches, missing handle; book shows wear throughout with writing, discoloration, stains, and sticker residue, paging coming loose from the spines.


33.25" W x 1.0" H x 1.0" D

- measurement of the cane; book measures 6″ × 9″.

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