Cliff McCarthy, 2016
Last Updated, 7 October 2017
Charles Hannibal Macarthy was the brother of Frank Wilbert McCarthy from whom we are descended. “Charlie” was likely born in Bibb County, Georgia which includes the city of Macon. The year of his birth is inconsistent in the records, but he was born prior to February 1862, when he was included in the estate inventory of his slaveowner, Charles Bernard Macarthy. Charles and Frank, with siblings Anthony, Sarah (or Cephus), and James W., were the children of Matilda, although they may have had different fathers. DNA testing indicates that Sarah and Frank had different fathers. It is believed that Charles’ father was William “Billy” Macarthy, with whom he lived after Matilda’s death in 1868. Charlie appears with Billy in the 1870 & 1880 censuses for Macon, Georgia.
Charles’ family often used the more unusual spelling of “Macarthy,” — the preferred spelling of the white family who owned him — while his siblings used “McCarthy.”
Charles was married first on December 27, 1887 to Julia Ann Johnson; who was born in 1870. A daughter, Huldah Ernestine, was born in 1888, followed by Osceola Marie in 1890. Osceola once wrote that she “had a normal, relatively happy childhood and a genteel upbringing. My father established the firm of Macarthy and Stewart, which did a thriving business in southwest Georgia. He was active in civic and community life and was held in high esteem throughout the state. After my mother’s death there was a second marriage to Katherine Dowdell, who survived him.”
Although it’s rarely stated, Macarthy & Stewart was a liquor store, or perhaps, liquor distributors. Charles was once described as a “dealer in fine imported and domestic wines and liquors.” The business was lucrative and Charles was recognized as one of the most successful black merchants in the South by the Tuskegee Institute.
In 1900, the family of four was living in a rented house on Jackson Street in Albany. Charles was employed as a “barkeeper.” Julia, of whom little is known, died in 1905.
On 10 October 1906, Charles married Katherine Dowdell, daughter of Rev. H. B. Dowdell, founder of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Albany. This marriage was recorded at the Church of St. John the Evangelist, 33 Bowdoin Street in Boston, Massachusetts. This represents one of the great outstanding mysteries of our family history. What connection did these Georgians have in Boston? Why were they here? And why did they give incorrect names for their parents on the marriage certificate?
By 1910, Huldah and Osceola were away at school, but Charles and Katie had adopted a ten-year old son named Emmett Davis. He was not with them in the 1920 census, but by then Huldah had returned to live in the large house on South Jackson Street, which Charles now owned. Charlie was described in the census as an insurance agent, Kate was listed as a music teacher, and Huldah was working as a stenographer in an insurance office, presumably her father’s. A gravestone for Emmett T. Davis, who died on October 11, 1923, lies in the family plot in Oakview Cemetery in Albany.
That Charles Macarthy was prominent throughout the state of Georgia was attested to by this page-one notice in the Savannah Tribune of August 14, 1920:
ALBANY MEN IN THE CITY
Mr. Charles H. McCarthy, secretary-treasurer of the endowment bureau of the Knights of Pythias of Georgia and Mr. Richard Watkins, letter carrier, both of Albany, were in the city for a few days this week circulating among friends who made their stay very pleasant. The gentlemen are on their vacation and are on their way to Jacksonville, Fla., where they will spend some time at Manhattan Beach.
Charlie was most prominent by virtue of his leadership role in several fraternal organizations, particularly the black Knights of Pythias. The Knights of Pythias (KOP) were formed in Washington, D.C. in 1864 by Justus H. Rathbone. The name derived from the legend of Damon and Pythias (or sometimes Phintias) which exemplified the power of friendship. The organization was formed for charitable and benevolent purposes and the motto of the Pythians is “Be Generous, Brave, and True”. However, their generosity didn’t seem to extend to women or people of color, since the KOP was for white males only. Black citizens formed their own group — the Knights of Pythias of North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa — in 1869. As with many fraternal organizations, particularly those for Southern blacks, one of the main functions was to provide disability and life insurance for its members and their families. It was through his position as secretary-treasurer of the Endowment Bureau that Charlie made the statewide connections that gained him respect and wealth.
The following item appeared in the Chicago Defender on April 12, 1921:
NEW PROFESSIONAL LEAGUE FORMED IN SOUTHEAST
Atlanta, Ga., April 1 — The Southeastern League, a professional baseball organization, has been formed here at a meeting of representatives of baseball clubs of Atlanta, Macon, Brunswick, Ga, Montgomery, Ala., and Greenville, S.C. The organization expects to take in two more cities, possibly Jacksonville, Fla., and Savannah, Ga. The player’s salary limit has been placed at $1,500, the player limit at 14 and a schedule has been agreed for 126 games. C. H. McCarthy of Albany was elected president. Several clubs now enrolled were formerly members of the Southern League before its reorganization.”
The Southeastern Negro League was essentially a minor league that temporarily capitalized on the reorganization of the Negro Southern League. Little evidence of its games was recorded in the black newspapers of the time. The best researchers and historians of Negro League baseball, including those at the baseball library in Cooperstown, NY, have little to add to this information. Perhaps, one reason for the league’s lack of notoriety was the death of its president, for Charlie Macarthy died fifteen months later on June 20, 1922.
One obituary, on the front page of the Savannah Tribune, summed up his life this way:
Pythian circles were alarmed on Tuesday when the news was spread through the state announcing the demise of Chas. H. MacCarthy, of Albany.
For the past several months, Mr. MacCarthy has been very sick, but more recently it was announced that he was slightly improving, so much so that when his death was announced it came as a shock, for no one was more popular in the state as was ‘Charlie MacCarthy,’ as he was generally called by his friends. He was genial, whole-souled, unselfish and ever-responsive to appeals for help. He carried a ray of sunshine wherever he went.
The deceased always lived in Albany, and there he was beloved by citizens of every walk of life, regardless of race. There he was connected with every civic movement, and his stamp of approval meant success. He and his lamented brother, Frank W. MacCarthy, made quite a team, and it was a sad blow to him when his brother died about twenty-five years ago. They were partners in Albany’s leading barbershop.
At an early age he joined the Masons and was one of the oldest members of King Solomon lodge, in which he has served in several stations. He was an honored member of the Masonic Grand Lodge and he had the honor of serving on the recent Golden Jubilee Committee. He was a zealous member of the Odd Fellows and represented his lodge at several of the national gatherings, not counting the state meetings.
He was a member and an official of the Supreme Circle and was one of the leading spirits in the erection of the spacious building in Albany. He was an able second to Hon. J. H. Watson in the fostering of this organization.
At the organizing of the Knights of Pythias, he was among the first ones in Albany to take a hold, and has assisted in its growth throughout the state. For many years he served as Grand Master of Exchequer, and after the death of the late F. M. Cohen, he was selected as Secretary-Treasurer of the Endowment Department, which position he has filled for more than five years. He has represented the Grand lodge at the Supreme lodge sessions and has served on the general’s staff of the Uniform Ranks.
Mr. MacCarthy’s home life was beautiful. His was a palatial residence with all of the necessary comforts, graced by a wife who was devotion itself. His two daughters added to this picture, then arrived a grandson who was his earthly idol. It was indeed inspiring to be in his home.
The funeral will be held tomorrow at Albany, and Pythians from all parts of Georgia will be in attendance to pay the last tribute of respect to this noble character.”
His death caused considerable turmoil within the Pythian ranks as others scrambled to succeed him in office. His death was also noted in the Negro Year Book, published by the Tuskegee Institute.
Both of his daughters established careers of some renown. To learn more about Osceola’s life, see Numa and Osceola ADAMS.
Huldah Macarthy graduated from Fisk University and also attended Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Simmons College, and the University of Chicago. She went on to become Assistant Director of Nursing at the Homer G. Phillips Hospital in St. Louis. There, she was the first African-American nursing instructor and served the hospital for 35 years, retiring in 1962. She went to live with her sister in New York City until 1975 when, due to failing health, she entered the McCutchen Home in North Plainfield, New Jersey. The McCutchen was a Friends’ Residence and Nursing Home, owned and managed by the New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. Due to increasing costs the facility was closed, however there is an extensive history on the McCutchen website.
Huldah passed away at Muhlenberg Hospital in Plainfield, New Jersey in 1976. On a trip to Oakview Cemetery in Albany, Georgia, I discovered that her burial record was almost a year later than the date of her death. When I asked about this, I was referred to the Elliott Funeral Home, where the elderly Mrs. Elliott recalled that Huldah’s body was cremated in New Jersey, and the remains brought to Albany for burial. However, the burial could not take place because they did not have a death certificate, so the cremains were in storage for nearly a year before being interred in Oakview Cemetery in Albany, Georgia.
Children of Charles Hannibal “C.H.” MACARTHY
CHARLES HANNIBAL “C.H.” MACARTHY was born Bef. February 1862 in prob. Bibb Co. GA, and died 20 June 1922 in 214 Jackson St., Albany, Dougherty Co., GA. He married (1) JULIA ANN JOHNSON 27 December 1887 in Albany, GA. She was born 15 April 1870 in Albany, Dougherty Co., GA, and died 25 July 1905. He married (2) KATHERINE C. “KATIE” DOWDELL 10 October 1906 in Church of St. John the Evangelist, 33 Bowdoin St., Boston, Suffolk Co., MA, daughter of HARRIS DOWDELL and EMILY KNIGHT. She was born Abt. 1864 in Alabama, and died 9 December 1937 in Oberlin, Lorain Co., Ohio.
Children of CHARLES MACARTHY and JULIA JOHNSON are:
i. HULDAH ERNESTINE MACARTHY, b. 7 October 1888, Albany, Georgia; d. 28 November 1976, Muhlenberg Hospital, Plainfield, Union Co., NJ.
ii. OSCEOLA MARIE MACARTHY, b. 13 June 1890, Albany, Dougherty Co., GA; d. 20 November 1983, New York, NY; m. NUMA POMPILIUS GARFIELD ADAMS, 13 September 1915, home of C. H. Macarthy, Albany, GA; b. 26 February 1885, Delaplane, Fauquier Co., VA; d. 29 August 1940, Billings Hospital, Chicago, Illinois.
Child of CHARLES MACARTHY and KATHERINE DOWDELL is:
iii. EMMETT T DAVIS, b. 13 January 1900, Georgia; d. 11 October 1923, Fulton Co., GA; Adopted child.
- 1870 U.S. Census for Allen Cole (Hawkinsville, Pulaski Co., GA).
- 1870 U.S. Census for Billy McCarthy (listed with R.L. Elder, Forsyth, Monroe Co., GA).
- 1880 U.S. Census for Billy McCarthy (Village of Forsyth, Monroe Co., GA).
- 1880 U.S. Census for Hanes [Harris] D. Dowdwell (District #77, Dawson, Terrell Co., GA).
- 1900 U.S. Census for Charlie H. MaCarthy (District #45, Albany, Dougherty Co., GA).
- 1900 U.S. Census for Katherine C. Dorodell [Dowdell] (Joseph K. Brick Industrial School, Township #6, Edgecombe Co., NC).
- 1910 U.S. Census for C. H. McCarty (District #1097, Albany, Dougherty Co., GA).
- 1912 City Directory for Albany, GA (at http://www.ancestry.com).
- 1920 U.S. Census for Charles H. Macarthy (Albany, Dougherty Co., GA).
- 1922 City Directory for Albany, GA (R. L. Polk & Co., as reproduced at http://www.Ancestry.com).
- 1930 U.S. Census for Katherine Macarthy (Oberlin, Lorain Co., OH).
- “All Around the City” (The Freeman (Indianapolis, IN), 9 December 1899).
- “An Estimable Lady’s Death” (Savannah Tribune, 5 August 1905).
- Application for Admission to Morningside House for Huldah E. Macarthy (found in family materials of Charles Macarthy Adams, in possession of the author).
- Biographical information written by Osceola Macarthy Adams provided to the author by Charles Macarthy Adams.
- Certificate of Death for Charley H. Macarthy (Bureau of Vital Statistics, Georgia State Board of Health, 21 June 1922).
- Certificate of Death for Emma Dowdell (Bureau of Vital Statistics, Georgia State Board of Health, 12 August 1930).
- “Charles M. Adams” (scrapbook prepared by Osceola Adams for her son), in possession of author.
- Chicago Defender, April 12, 1921.
- “Death of Elder Dowdell,” (Albany [Ga.] Weekly Herald, 16 April 1892).
- Delayed Certificate of Birth for Osceola Marie Macarthy (Georgia Department of Public Health, filed 23 August 1956).
- Dougherty Co., GA Cemeteries, Book One (Southwest Georgia Genealogical Society, Albany, GA, 1990).
- Family Bible of John Fletcher Duncan (in possession of Maude White Lucky, as of 25 January 2015).
- Funeral Service of Charles H. Macarthy (Bethel A.M.E. Church, Albany, GA; 23 June 1922).
- “Georgia Deaths Index, 1919-1998” (as published at the Ancestry website, http://www.ancestry.com, 10 Feb 2001).
- “Georgia Deaths, 1914-1927” (at http://www.FamilySearch.org).
- Gravestone of Charles H. Macarthy (Oakview Cemetery, Albany, GA).
- Gravestone of Julia Ann Macarthy (Oakview Cemetery, Albany, GA).
- Gravestone of Kathrine C. D. Macarthy (Oakview Cemetery, Albany, GA).
- Gravestone Record for Charles H. Macarthy (as recorded at http://www.FindaGrave.com).
- “Imitation the Sincerest Flattery,” (Albany Daily Herald, 19 May 1906).
- Inventory of Charles B. Macarthy’s estate (Jones Co., GA Court of the Ordinary, February 1862).
- “Katie C. McCarthy to be Buried Here” (Albany Herald, December 1937).
- “Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910” (as reproduced at http://www.newenglandancestors.org, NEHGS, Boston, MA, 7 June 2006).
- “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953” (at http://www.FamilySearch.org).
- Peterson, Robert, Only the Ball was White (McGraw-Hill Publishers, New York, 1970, 1982).
- Photograph of Katherine Dowdell Macarthy (Caption: “Mother Katie — Katherine Dowdell Macarthy (Wedding picture 1906)”).
- Registration List for Voters, 1920-1936 (Albany, GA), Dougherty Co. Public Library.
- Savannah Tribune, August 14, 1920; June 22, 1922; July 13, 1922.
- Schmidt, Alvin, Fraternal Organizations, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980.
- Stevens, Albert C., The Cyclopedia of Fraternities, New York, NY: E.B. Treat & Co., 1907.
- Tatum, Max L., compiler, Marriage Records of Eight Georgia Counties (P.O. Box 5322, Albany, GA; 1990), p. 250.
- The Freeman (Indianapolis, IN), 4 January 1902.
- Whalen, William, A Handbook of Secret Organizations, Milwaukee, WI: Bruce Publishing Co., 1966.
- Work, Monroe N., ed., Negro Year Book 1925-26, Tuskegee Institute, Alabama: Negro Year Book Publishing Co., 1926.