|Home of John Henry and Emiline Bannarn 5058 Humboldt ave N. 1914-2000|
John Henry BANNARN was born a slave in Missouri about 1850. He was the son of NANCY SAUNDERS and his Irish slave owner. At some point John ended up in Texas where he met EMILINE SPENCER. Emiline was of Seminole Indian ancestry and was also born enslaved. She was the daughter of Jesse and Sally Spencer, who were both from North Carolina. John and Emiline were married July 4, 1869 in Hunt County, Texas. Together they had 10 children. Thomas, Dee, John, Walter, Monroe, Albert (Goree), Ellora, Laverne. The names of two of the children remains a mystery. I have always been told that my Bannarn ancestors moved often, never staying in one place for long and always traveled by covered wagon. Maybe this is indicative of their Native American ancestry. Looking at the census records this seems to be true. Between 1870-1910 they lived in many cities throughout Texas and Oklahoma.
Around the turn of the century, the Canadian Government began advertising land in Canada. They sent newspaper ads like this to Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Texas and other states. My ancestors like so many others left the south with the hope of finding a better life for their family. John Henry and Emiline along with some of their children and grandchildren, left Oklahoma in about 1912 and headed for Canada. Some family members got sick along the way and had to turn around and go back. My family's oral history says that my Great Grandfather, Dee Bannarn, John Henry's son, killed a man for making a pass at his wife Hassie. Fearing for their lives, the family left. I've wondered how much of the story is true..maybe the reason they left Oklahoma was a little of both. When they got to the border of Canada, for reasons unknown, John Henry and Emiline were turned away. Their son Albert, affectionately known as Goree, and his wife Lola, were allowed past the border and settled in Alberta, Canada. They had two daughters, Cleola and Gladys. After being denied access into Canada, John Henry and Emiline headed for Minnesota. They settled in the city of Minneapolis. They first show up in the city directory in 1913 living on 3rd street south. In 1914 John Henry and Emiline became one of the first to build a home in a small African American community in north Minneapolis called "Maple Leaf and Humboldt Heights".
5058 Humboldt Ave North
Despite all efforts to save the home, the city of Minneapolis decided to proceed with their project. A decision was made to take the house apart and study the method that John Henry built the home. Historian Carole Zellie started researching the history of the neighborhood and the families that migrated from the south. There were interviews with many family members. I remember how excited my grandmother, Margaret Doyle Bannarn, was to share her memories of the Bannarn family members as well as many pictures.
Today, the homes are gone. Green grass and trees line the Greenway where the homes once stood. There is a plaque that sits in the middle of the block, implanted on a large rock, in memory of my ancestors along with the many other families who migrated to the Minneapolis Shingle Creek area, Maple Leaf and Humboldt Heights community and made a home there in the early 1900's.
I am reminded of John Henry and Emiline each and every time I drive down Humboldt avenue..Occasionally I stop, and walk on the grass where the house once stood. As I stand there in their footsteps, I try to imagine what their life was like 100 years ago. I can see Grandma Emiline in her garden..I can see her gathering eggs in the chicken coop, there's Grandpa John Henry down at Shingle Creek fishing for today's supper..
|L. to R. Bannarn family members..Carla Pryor, Gloria Bannarn Pryor, Deloris Grigsby, Denise Wooley-Muhammad,|
Neighboring families: Lillian Schoefield, Cecil Adair and Cherie Adair. 2000
© 2015 Denise Muhammad, They came from Virginia