IL JACKSONVILLE JOHN DOE: BM, deaf man found in 1945 - died 28 November 1993

JACKSONVILLE JOHN DOE: BM, deaf mute found in 1945 - died 28 November 1993 U04xlmg


Police found a teen-age boy in the early morning hours of October 11, 1945, in Jacksonville, Illinois. Unable to communicate, the deaf and mute teenager was labeled "feeble minded" and sentenced by a judge to the Lincoln State School and Colony in Jacksonville.

He remained in the Illinois mental health care system for over thirty years. Deaf, mute, and later blind, the young black man survived beatings, hunger, overcrowding, and the dehumanizing treatment that characterized state institutions through the 1950s. In spite of his environment, he made friends, took on responsibilities, and developed a sense of humor. People who knew him found him remarkable. He had a straw hat he loved to wear, and carried a backpack with his collection of rings, glasses, and silverware with him everywhere.

Possible hints to his identity include his 'scrawling "Lewis"' and his 'pantomimed, wild accounts of foot-stomping jazz bars and circus parades.'

He died after having a stroke at the Sharon Oaks Nursing Home in Peoria on November 28, 1993. Officials believe he was around 64 years old at the time.

After reading a story about him in the New York Times, acclaimed singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter wrote and recorded "John Doe No. 24" and purchased a headstone for his unmarked grave. Award-winning journalist Dave Bakke wrote God Knows His Name: The True Story of John Doe No. 24.

 
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Akoya

Well-known member
http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/496umil.html

496UMIL - Unidentified Male

JACKSONVILLE JOHN DOE: BM, deaf mute found in 1945 - died 28 November 1993 U04xlmg


Headstone purchased by Mary Chapin Carpenter

Date of Discovery: October 11, 1945
Location of Discovery: Jacksonville, Morgan County, Illinois
Estimated Date of Death: November 28, 1993
State of Remains: Alive when located
Cause of Death: Stroke

Physical Description
Estimated Age: Teens
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Height: Unknown
Weight: Unknown
Hair Color: Black or brown
Eye Color: Brown
Distinguishing Marks/Features: Unable to communicate: deaf and mute. Mentally handicapped

Identifiers
Dentals: Unknown
Fingerprints: Unknown
DNA: Unknown

Clothing & Personal Items
Clothing: Unknown
Jewelry: Unknown
Additional Personal Items: Unknown

Circumstances of Discovery
Police found a teen-age boy in the early morning hours of October 11, 1945, in Jacksonville, Illinois. Unable to communicate, the deaf and mute teenager was labeled "feeble minded" and sentenced by a judge to the Lincoln State School and Colony in Jacksonville.

He remained in the Illinois mental health care system for over thirty years. Deaf, mute, and later blind, the young black man survived beatings, hunger, overcrowding, and the dehumanizing treatment that characterized state institutions through the 1950s. In spite of his environment, he made friends, took on responsibilities, and developed a sense of humor. People who knew him found him remarkable. He had a straw hat he loved to wear, and carried a backpack with his collection of rings, glasses, and silverware with him everywhere.

Possible hints to his identity include his 'scrawling "Lewis"' and his 'pantomimed, wild accounts of foot-stomping jazz bars and circus parades.'

He died after having a stroke at the Sharon Oaks Nursing Home in Peoria on November 28, 1993. Officials believe he was around 64 years old at the time.

After reading a story about him in the New York Times, acclaimed singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter wrote and recorded "John Doe No. 24" and purchased a headstone for his unmarked grave. Award-winning journalist Dave Bakke wrote God Knows His Name: The True Story of John Doe No. 24.

Investigating Agency(s)
Agency Name: Unknown
Agency Contact Person: N/A
Agency Phone Number: N/A
Agency Case Number: N/A

NCIC Case Number: Unknown
NamUs Case Number: N/A
Information Source(s)
The New York Times: John Doe No. 24 Takes His Secret to the Grave (December 5, 1993)
Southern Illinois University Press Archives

Admin Notes
Added: 3/23/06; Last Updated: 1/19/19
 

Akoya

Well-known member
John Doe No. 24

Song by Mary Chapin Carpenter

Lyrics

I was standing on this sidewalk
In 1945 in Jacksonville, Illinois
When asked what my name was there came no reply
They said I was a deaf and sightless, half-wit boy
But Lewis was my name though I could not say it
I was born and raised in New Orleans
My spirit was wild, so I let the river take it
On a barge and a prayer upstream
They searched for a mother and they searched for a father
And they searched till they searched no more
The doctors put to rest their scientific test
And they named me John Doe No. 24
And they all shook their heads in pity
For a world so silent and dark
Well, there's no doubt that life's a mystery
But so too is the human heart
And it was my heart's own perfume
When the crape jasmine bloomed on St. Charles Avenue
Though I couldn't hear the bells of the streetcars coming
By toeing the track I knew
And if I were an old man returning
With my satchel and pork-pie hat
I'd hit every jazz joint on Bourbon
And I'd hit every one on Basin after that
The years kept passing as they passed me around
From one state ward to another
Like I was an orphaned shoe from the lost and found
Always missing the other
They gave me a harp last Christmas
And all the nurses took a dance
Lately I've been growing listless
Been dreaming again of the past
I'm wandering down to the banks of the Great Big Muddy
Where the shotgun houses stand
I am seven years old and I feel my daddy
Reach out for my hand
While I drew breath no one missed me
So they won't on the day that I cease
Put a sprig of crape jasmine with me
To remind me of New Orleans
I was standing on this sidewalk
In 1945 in Jacksonville, Illinois


Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Mary Carpenter
John Doe No. 24 lyrics Mary Chapin Carpenter Dba Why Walk Music
 

Akoya

Well-known member
https://unidentified.wikia.org/wiki/John_Doe_No._24

John Doe No. 24

John Doe Number 24 was found on the streets of Jacksonville, Illinois on October 11, 1945. He was deaf, mute, and later blind and was sent to numerous state wards throughout the years until he died on November 28, 1993 of a stroke.

Characteristics
He was deaf and mute
He later became blind, probably from diabetes
He had brown/black hair and brown eyes
He often scribbled the name "Lewis"
He carried a backpack with rings, glasses, and silverwear
He had a straw hat that he wore often

JACKSONVILLE JOHN DOE: BM, deaf mute found in 1945 - died 28 November 1993 UOvd6qJ

John Doe in 1983

JACKSONVILLE JOHN DOE: BM, deaf mute found in 1945 - died 28 November 1993 CoBOtzh

John Doe's Headstone

John Doe No. 24

JACKSONVILLE JOHN DOE: BM, deaf mute found in 1945 - died 28 November 1993 U04xlmg


Sex Male
Race Black
Location Jacksonville,Illinois
Found October 11, 1945
Unidentified for 73 years
Postmortem interval N/A
Body condition N/A
Age approximation Teen when found, died around 64
Height approximation N/A
Weight approximation N/A
Cause of death Stroke
 

Akoya

Well-known member
https://www.nytimes.com/1993/12/05/us/john-doe-no-24-takes-his-secret-to-the-grave.html

John Doe No. 24 Takes His Secret to the Grave

By The Associated Press
Dec. 5, 1993

The mystery of John Doe No. 24 outlived him.

There were few clues when he was found wandering the streets of Jacksonville in 1945, a deaf, blind teen-ager. There were no answers when he died last week.

He was unable to speak, his relatives could not be found and he was put in an institution. He became John Doe No. 24 because he was the 24th unidentified man in the state's mental health system.

Officials believe he was 64 when he died of a stroke last Sunday at the Sharon Oaks nursing home in Peoria.

"It's just sad to think that you could disappear, and no one would miss you," said Glenn W. Miller, the nursing home administrator. "You wonder how often it happens."

The man's caretakers believe diabetes made him lose his sight, and records indicate he was severely retarded. But workers at the Smiley Living Center in Peoria, where he spent the last six years of his life, remember a proud man, more intelligent that standard tests showed.

They remember the tantalizing hints to his identity -- the way he would scrawl "Lewis" and his pantomimed, wild accounts of foot-stomping jazz bars and circus parades.

"It was so obvious from what he pantomimed that he had quite a life at one time," said Kim Cornwell, a caseworker. "Like a grandfather, he could probably tell funny stories. We just couldn't reach out enough to get them." Straw Hat and Backpack

After he was found in Jacksonville, John Doe No. 24 spent 30 years at the Lincoln Developmental Center, a state home in Lincoln. He was then transferred several times before going to the Smiley home in 1987.

He had a straw hat he loved to wear, and he took a backpack with his collection of rings, glasses and silverware with him everywhere. At Christmas parties he danced to vibrations from the music.

Last Christmas the staff at Smiley bought gifts for residents who did not have relatives or other visitors. They bought him a harmonica.

"He just grinned from ear to ear," said Donna Romine, a nurse.

In August he had surgery for colon cancer. When he came back from the hospital, he had trouble eating and was depressed. He was transferred to the nursing home in October.

At a brief graveside service last Wednesday in Jacksonville, a woman asked if anyone had any words to say. No one did.
 

Akoya

Well-known member
https://www.myjournalcourier.com/ne...s-still-unsolved-in-Jacksonville-12689447.php

Two mysteries still unsolved in Jacksonville

By Nick Draper Published 4:32 am CDT, Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Unsolved mysteries have a way of fading from memory over time, no matter their peculiarity.

Illinois State Police lists 25 cold cases on its website, most involving victims who were killed and their killer never found. Some unsolved cases have stayed open for decades awaiting any evidence to shed light on the dead or missing person.

Jacksonville lays claim to at least two unsolved mysteries.

The case of Bruce Campbell Sr. has gained notoriety in its strangeness, having been published in books, spread through social media and documented in newspapers across the United States.

On April 13, 1959, Campbell and his wife traveled from their home in Northampton, Massachusetts, to Jacksonville to visit their son, Bruce Campbell Jr., then a chemistry professor at MacMurray College. The couple stayed in the Sandman Motel, where the elder Campbell was said to be “visibly exhausted” from the trip, according to an Illinois Times story in 2004.

The younger Campbell described his father as being “rational but disoriented.” His father reportedly had difficulty sleeping and his son arranged for him to see Dr. Ernst Chester Bone. The son later told police that he had been prescribed sleeping pills to combat the restlessness.

Journal-Courier archives report that Campbell became fixated on whether his car was locked that night, waking his wife late at night to ask if she knew if it was locked. His wife, Mabelita, assured him the car was locked and went back to sleep.

At 2:15 a.m., she woke on her own to find her husband was gone. The car was in place and all of her husband’s belongings — including his money, shoes, glasses, keys and all of his clothes — were there, save for a bright-green pair of pajamas that the 57-year-old stock investment counselor had worn to bed.

Jacksonville Police Capt. Charles Runkel and Police Chief Ike Flynn quickly launched a search for the man, who had seemingly walked off into the night. A search by plane, helicopter, boat and on the ground turned up no trace of Campbell. About 150 MacMurray students joined the search on the first day, and by the third day classes were canceled and 235 college students had joined in along with 50 Jacksonville High School students.

Radio stations broadcast the description of Campbell and police took every lead they received seriously. Reporters at Campbell’s hometown paper, the Hampshire Gazette, also searched for clues.

A search crew covered a six-mile radius to find the missing 6-foot-4 man in green pajamas but no traces turned up. Reports of tall hitchhikers had come in from around the area, but none was Campbell.

“We have looked every place that has been suggested and have run out of ideas on what to do next,” Flynn told the Journal-Courier. “A fortune-teller told us that Campbell was seven miles from Jacksonville, either northeast or northwest of the city. We have even looked there.”

Mabelita returned to Massachusetts after two weeks, but her search did not end. The Campbell family spent their savings on private investigators and the case was turned over to the FBI, but none of them could locate Campbell.

Mabelita died in 2004.

Runkel was pessimistic that the case would ever turn up any new information. As of today, his suspicions are correct.

In 1967, Bruce Campbell Sr. was pronounced legally dead.

Another mystery never to be solved in Jacksonville is the odd case of “John Doe No. 24” that was outlined in the book “God Knows His Name: The True Story of John Doe No. 24” by Dave Bakke.

John “Doe” Boyd, whose headstone was bought by Mary Chapin Carpenter — who had written a song about the mysterious teenager — was found by police in October 1945 standing on a Jacksonville sidewalk and was committed to the Lincoln State School and Colony.

Boyd was a tall black man who was deaf, mute and was later believed to be blinded by diabetes. He made his way through the Illinois mental health care system and was described by staff as being pleasant. He loved to wear his favorite straw hat and carried around a backpack with a collection of knick-knacks wherever he went. He loved to dance at Christmas parties.

Caretakers at the Sharon Oaks Nursing Home, the last facility at which he stayed before his death in 1993, said he seemed far more intelligent than tests had led them to believe, according to an article in the New York Times.

Though nobody discovered anything about the man’s history, clues did arise. Caretakers said he would pantomime accounts of jazz bars and circus parades and would scrawl the name “Lewis.”

When he died from a stroke following a surgery for colon cancer, a brief graveside service was held in Jacksonville, during which those in attendance had no parting words.

The mystery of John Doe 24 was never solved; his identity remains a mystery to this day.

He lives on in the texts that speculate his origins and Carpenter’s song, which tells his haunting tale.

“While I drew breath no one missed me / so they won’t on the day that I cease,” she sings in “John Doe 24.” “Put a sprig of crepe jasmine with me / to remind me of New Orleans.

“I was standing on the sidewalk in 1945 / in Jacksonville, Illinois.”

Nick Draper can be reached at 217-245-6121, ext. 1223, or on Twitter @nick_draper.
 

Akoya

Well-known member
https://www.songfacts.com/facts/mary-chapin-carpenter/john-doe-no-24

John Doe No. 24
by Mary Chapin Carpenter


JACKSONVILLE JOHN DOE: BM, deaf mute found in 1945 - died 28 November 1993 HVN75UV


Carpenter based this song on a true story. In the early hours of October 11, 1945, a scantily dressed black youth was found by 2 police officers rummaging in an alleyway in Jacksonville, Illinois. He was believed to be mentally retarded, and because of his bizarre behavior he was committed to an institution later that month where he became known as John Doe No. 2. John Doe (or Jane Doe) is the generic name given to unidentified bodies, including, apparently, live ones. In spite of attempts to trace his family, John Doe No. 2 - later John Doe No. 24 - was never positively identified, and he would spend the rest of his life being cared for by the state. In 1976, his name was changed for social security reasons to John Doe Boyd (date of birth unknown). He died November 28, 1993. Carpenter read his obituary in the New York Times while sitting in a Starbucks café in Washington, and wrote the song from his perspective.

In 2000, a biography of John Doe by Dave Bakke was published by Southern Illinois University Press; it was called God Knows His Name: The True Story Of John Doe No. 24; Carpenter wrote the foreword and also purchased the headstone for his grave, a photograph of which appears between pages 92 and 93 of the book.
 

Patinky

New member
I just this week finished reading "God Knows His Name." An excellent, well researched and well written book. I've noticed a couple of websites list him as a "tall man." The book says he was about 5'6" and weighed about 115 pounds when found. In his last years his height was still about 5'6" but he weighed about 150 pounds.
 

SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

Administrator
Staff member
I just this week finished reading "God Knows His Name." An excellent, well researched and well written book. I've noticed a couple of websites list him as a "tall man." The book says he was about 5'6" and weighed about 115 pounds when found. In his last years his height was still about 5'6" but he weighed about 150 pounds.
Thank you for the book feedback. And WELCOME!!!

:welcome:
 

Kimster

aka Grandma Kim 💕
Staff member
I just this week finished reading "God Knows His Name." An excellent, well researched and well written book. I've noticed a couple of websites list him as a "tall man." The book says he was about 5'6" and weighed about 115 pounds when found. In his last years his height was still about 5'6" but he weighed about 150 pounds.
Yes thank you for the review! I’ve never read the book before. Nice to have you with us!
 

GrandmaBear

Deputized Emu Slayer/Horse Thief Hunter
I just this week finished reading "God Knows His Name." An excellent, well researched and well written book. I've noticed a couple of websites list him as a "tall man." The book says he was about 5'6" and weighed about 115 pounds when found. In his last years his height was still about 5'6" but he weighed about 150 pounds.
I wonder what was considered tall in that time period. I always thought of my dad and brothers as very tall until four of my nephews and now my grandson did and would have towered over all of them :)

I agree though generally 5'6" isn't tall for a man.

Sounds like a great read.
 

Patinky

New member
I wonder what was considered tall in that time period. I always thought of my dad and brothers as very tall until four of my nephews and now my grandson did and would have towered over all of them :)

I agree though generally 5'6" isn't tall for a man.

Sounds like a great read.
The book was excellent. It is overwhelmingly sad in some places. I was born in the 1940s and I come from a family of tall men and women (mostly) on both sides of my family. There were six boys in my Dad's family and all but one were over six feet tall. My Uncle Dick (born in 1922) was 5' 7" and he was considered short. Grandpapa (Daddy's father) was born in 1883 and he was 6'2". Daddy had an uncle who was seven feet tall. I'm a female and I'm 5'9".

IMO, John Doe #24 (Lewis) has a good resemblance to many black families in Mississippi and Louisiana. The Louisiana colored people were often mixed with French (Acadian) and Caddo or Chickasaw Indians. In general (back in the day), they seemed to have been smaller and have finer bone structure than colored families from, say, the Carolinas or Georgia. Of course, there are always exceptions. Also, in the early 1900s there was a large migration from that area of the South into Illinois.

I would love to find out Lewis's ancestry. He deserves to have his family back. I've always enjoyed Mary Chapin Carpenter's music and after reading this book I like her even more!

Wish there were enough people on this forum interested in Lewis and his story to have a book discussion (no, I'm not the author and don't have any connection to the author). I come from a so-called white family but many folks outside the family have often remarked that most of us look mixed. We cousins would just grin and go on. Actually, as an adult I've gained a good bit of medical proof that I have French and Mediterranean ancestry, so who knows? I find the entire topic fascinating.
 

GrandmaBear

Deputized Emu Slayer/Horse Thief Hunter
The book was excellent. It is overwhelmingly sad in some places. I was born in the 1940s and I come from a family of tall men and women (mostly) on both sides of my family. There were six boys in my Dad's family and all but one were over six feet tall. My Uncle Dick (born in 1922) was 5' 7" and he was considered short. Grandpapa (Daddy's father) was born in 1883 and he was 6'2". Daddy had an uncle who was seven feet tall. I'm a female and I'm 5'9".

IMO, John Doe #24 (Lewis) has a good resemblance to many black families in Mississippi and Louisiana. The Louisiana colored people were often mixed with French (Acadian) and Caddo or Chickasaw Indians. In general (back in the day), they seemed to have been smaller and have finer bone structure than colored families from, say, the Carolinas or Georgia. Of course, there are always exceptions. Also, in the early 1900s there was a large migration from that area of the South into Illinois.

I would love to find out Lewis's ancestry. He deserves to have his family back. I've always enjoyed Mary Chapin Carpenter's music and after reading this book I like her even more!

Wish there were enough people on this forum interested in Lewis and his story to have a book discussion (no, I'm not the author and don't have any connection to the author). I come from a so-called white family but many folks outside the family have often remarked that most of us look mixed. We cousins would just grin and go on. Actually, as an adult I've gained a good bit of medical proof that I have French and Mediterranean ancestry, so who knows? I find the entire topic fascinating.
That's very interesting. You just made me take a moment to reread the basic story of this thread here. I'm just realizing or recalling that this one is different than most unidentifieds. This wasn't a body found, they know where this man died and people knew him for years, they just never knew who he was for all of those years do I have that right?

This must be one great candidate I would think for the DNA thing.

I'm always interested in reading a good book suggested or discussing something interesting and/or a mystery but I haven't read the book and probably don't have time right now but I'd love to when I do.

You've brought several thoughts to mind or questions. I guess one is that your talk of the features, bone structure, etc. of different areas and of course we all know the southern states had large black populations in those years and still but I guess I really don't know about Florida. I imagine from proximity that the bigger cities in Florida also had in the 1940s a fair population, jobs, etc. However, his ancestry is what you are talking of and which state his family may have originally hailed from right?

So the thing about circuses and jazz clubs is interesting. I don't have time to look into his story a lot right now but is this something that he saw in his childhood to this teen age (these things) or was he exposed to them in later life after he was found? Could his family been jazz musicians or done something with the circus I guess is what I mean?

What is the thought on him? Is it thought he may have ran away from home, or from a home? Is it thought he may have gotten lost and not had a way to convey where he lived or who with, etc.? Or was any effort even given to doing that in that day for a young deaf, mute black teenager?

I just read the beginning post in this thread, I don't know much more so please forgive me if I am asking things the links would answer.

As to books or book clubs, I've thought about (not sure if I'ever mentioned it here) even having something where we could all send a good book on to another member if others are interested in reading them. Not sure how that could be done as not all would want to share addresses understandably but maybe a way could be figured out. Life hasn't allowed me to pursue the thought yet but it has crossed my mind.

Of course I just realized how maybe dumb and old school that thought is lol. I forget most read books now on a Kindle or online these days or a tablet, I still think of physical books and that's still my preference. I want a book or magazine I can hold still to this day.

I should point out there is a book thread here for recommendations of good reads, discussions on what one likes to read, etc. if I recall. I'm not sure how active it is every day like any threads but is at times I'm sure, and you may want to recommend this book and any other reads you enjoy there too. I'll try to find it and come back and link it.

Welcome by the way!! I'm from the COLD midwest. I'm not a member of the WCWC here which I think is short for the West Coast Weather Club which to me is the balmy tropical don't know what weather is club. I love to read and my main interests are crime and cooking these days although you can see from my avatar I'm also a grandma and I hunt down and slay emus and horse thieves :D I bore some people with long posts about cooking at times and the more they complain just makes me post more of the same :D I was born in the 60s in the same cold climes I live in now... :(
 
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Patinky

New member
That's very interesting. You just made me take a moment to reread the basic story of this thread here. I'm just realizing or recalling that this one is different than most unidentifieds. This wasn't a body found, they know where this man died and people knew him for years, they just never knew who he was for all of those years do I have that right?
My reply: Yes, you are correct. He was found alive in the 1940s as approximately 16 years old and lived until November 1993.
This must be one great candidate I would think for the DNA thing.
My Reply: I agree.
I'm always interested in reading a good book suggested or discussing something interesting and/or a mystery but I haven't read the book and probably don't have time right now but I'd love to when I do.

You've brought several thoughts to mind or questions. I guess one is that your talk of the features, bone structure, etc. of different areas and of course we all know the southern states had large black populations in those years and still but I guess I really don't know about Florida. I imagine from proximity that the bigger cities in Florida also had in the 1940s a fair population, jobs, etc. However, his ancestry is what you are talking of and which state his family may have originally hailed from right?
My Reply: There is a good deal of difference in phenotypes coming from Africa, such as the extremely tall Watusi to the extremely small Pygmy people. Add to that any American Indian ancestry admixture and the array of phenotypes is truly phenomenal. So, yes, I am speculating about which state his family could have come from based on my opinions and study of mixed race people. There are very distinct appearance differences depending on which area one's family comes from (in Lewis's case, I believe he likely came from the Deep South).
So the thing about circuses and jazz clubs is interesting. I don't have time to look into his story a lot right now but is this something that he saw in his childhood to this teen age (these things) or was he exposed to them in later life after he was found? Could his family been jazz musicians or done something with the circus I guess is what I mean?
My Reply: What you said is what the book presents as a possible answer to Lewis's history. There is no proof but it seems he was exposed very early to certain behaviors based on things he saw and did when he was young. The best guess, according to the book, is that his family had some type of store or bar and that Lewis remembers that. The book explains this pretty well and the part about the jazz, well, that blares Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, or Basin Street in New Orleans or Saint Louis, Missouri.
What is the thought on him? Is it thought he may have ran away from home, or from a home? Is it thought he may have gotten lost and not had a way to convey where he lived or who with, etc.? Or was any effort even given to doing that in that day for a young deaf, mute black teenager?
My Reply: the book doesn't give much information on how he came to be found rummaging through garbage for food in Illinois in 1945 (isn't that sad). The book speculates that he may have wandered into Illinois from Saint Louis, another good place for jazz and bars, etc. More research might turn up something or some clue that might lead to answers. It would be hard to even get a DNA sample at this point without an exhumation request.
I just read the beginning post in this thread, I don't know much more so please forgive me if I am asking things the links would answer.

As to books or book clubs, I've thought about (not sure if I'ever mentioned it here) even having something where we could all send a good book on to another member if others are interested in reading them. Not sure how that could be done as not all would want to share addresses understandably but maybe a way could be figured out. Life hasn't allowed me to pursue the thought yet but it has crossed my mind.

Of course I just realized how maybe dumb and old school that thought is lol. I forget most read books now on a Kindle or online these days or a tablet, I still think of physical books and that's still my preference. I want a book or magazine I can hold still to this day.
My Reply: I agree that there's nothing that replaces a real book in one's hands. I don't use Kindle myself but then I'm old and set in my ways. LOL Maybe the powers that be can come up with something. I'm retired so I'm blessed to be able read when I want to (mostly) and I have a very sweet husband. LOL
I should point out there is a book thread here for recommendations of good reads, discussions on what one likes to read, etc. if I recall. I'm not sure how active it is every day like any threads but is at times I'm sure, and you may want to recommend this book and any other reads you enjoy there too. I'll try to find it and come back and link it.
My Reply: Thanks! I'll check out that thread.
Welcome by the way!! I'm from the COLD midwest. I'm not a member of the WCWC here which I think is short for the West Coast Weather Club which to me is the balmy tropical don't know what weather is club. I love to read and my main interests are crime and cooking these days although you can see from my avatar I'm also a grandma and I hunt down and slay emus and horse thieves :D I bore some people with long posts about cooking at times and the more they complain just makes me post more of the same :D I was born in the 60s in the same cold climes I live in now... :(
My Reply: So glad you posted. I'm from the South (right on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee about 50 miles from Nashville. You all have Kentucky in the Midwest but I'd have to argue with that. We're Southern through and through in my region. :)
 
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GrandmaBear

Deputized Emu Slayer/Horse Thief Hunter
My reply: Yes, you are correct. He was found alive in the 1940s as approximately 16 years old and lived until November 1993.

My Reply: I agree.

My Reply: There is a good deal of difference in phenotypes coming from Africa, such as the extremely tall Watusi to the extremely small Pygmy people. Add to that any American Indian ancestry admixture and the array of phenotypes is truly phenomenal. So, yes, I am speculating about which state his family could have come from based on my opinions and study of mixed race people. There are very distinct appearance differences depending on which area one's family comes from (in Lewis's case, I believe he likely came from the Deep South).

My Reply: What you said is what the book presents as a possible answer to Lewis's history. There is no proof but it seems he was exposed very early to certain behaviors based on things he saw and did when he was young. The best guess, according to the book, is that his family had some type of store or bar and that Lewis remembers that. The book explains this pretty well and the part about the jazz, well, that blares Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, or Basin Street in New Orleans or Saint Louis, Missouri.

My Reply: the book doesn't give much information on how he came to be found rummaging through garbage for food in Illinois in 1945 (isn't that sad). The book speculates that he may have wandered into Illinois from Saint Louis, another good place for jazz and bars, etc. More research might turn up something or some clue that might lead to answers. It would be hard to even get a DNA sample at this point without an exhumation request.

My Reply: I agree that there's nothing that replaces a real book in one's hands. I don't use Kindle myself but then I'm old and set in my ways. LOL Maybe the powers that be can come up with something. I'm retired so I'm blessed to be able read when I want to (mostly) and I have a very sweet husband. LOL

My Reply: Thanks! I'll check out that thread.

My Reply: So glad you posted. I'm from the South (right on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee about 50 miles from Nashville. You all have Kentucky in the Midwest but I'd have to argue with that. We're Southern through and through in my region. :)
Kentucky is not midwest imo lol. You guys need your own club just to let you know lol. (As to weather I mean). Of course we do have Missouri in ours so I guess it would be up for debate... But you are more than a state down so hmm...

It would take exhumation if they didn't keep a sample which I would hope they did but that was early days as to DNA etc. and the ancestry thing certainly wasn't a thing like now. So they didn't keep one? I'd think since it was never known who he was they might have.

Even so, I don't think getting an order to exhume would probably be challenged or hard maybe because sadly no family is known and people who do care would like to see I would imagine this man have his name. I hope they look into that if someone isn't already.

I see now I mistakenly thought this was Jacksonville, Florida. I didn't see the state in the thread title and just assumed because of talk of the south. So he was found in Illinois... That IS the midwest :) My mistake in skimming the thread quickly. Now your references to Illinois and Missouri make sense.

This is a good site and I think almost without fail no one is racist here and so I am going to speak frankly and know all will know how it is meant if I use any incorrect term in this picky age. I was born in WI. Not near any of the populated areas. In the early 60s. I never saw a black person although we had Native Americans. By black I mean African American of course but even others it means as well as I grew up in let's just tell it like it is pretty much an all white area. The very first black person I ever saw I was I think about 5 and it was in the Quad Cities, IA. The Quads as you may well know are four cities that consist of Iowa and Illinois cities and are on the border. The adults were in a restaurant chatting after eating and I was allowed to go outside, it was just a different era and of course I knew to stay in front of the place etc. and here was a little boy probably may age who was black. He was friendly and we played. I think his mom was in a nearby laundromat. I could sidetrack here into more about it registering with me at that age but also not knowing anything but that is besides my point. That is IF I have a point, we will see. I'm kind of thinking out loud about the Illinois thing, eras, etc. [If I end up not having a clear point, please forgive me, lol, it happens sometimes.]

Anyhow so we had no blacks where I lived in the upper half of WI but my mom's side was from IA and that's why we were there and clearly they did. I also don't remember seeing one in the restaurant we ate in, etc., this boy was my first. I've never thought about this honestly but now am out loud but I guess that might mean places were still I don't know, if not segregated, then at least people went where they felt welcomed perhaps and didn't where they did not.

Now I could go all over here and sidewind and sidetrack but of course this isn't the era this man was found in Illinois but less than 20 years later this boy clearly had a family in Iowa,. Also as the years went on and I got older and we had a family trip to the area at least once a year, yes, there was a population and such was not an uncommon sight and probably had been for some time or at least a generation or two. I will say though I don't recall seeing blacks in jobs like grocery stores, restaurants, etc. or anywhere but I would as customers in some areas at a convenience store, etc. Ya see, I sidestrack.

My mom was born in the 40s and grew up in the area I am talking about so I am going to ask her too as I'm interested now. Of course this part of Iowa/Illinois is not Jacksonville but it tells me if a population or families weren't uncommon in my era's recall then it is quite possible less than 20 years prior and further south in Illinois.

So now I left and googled and have my bearings on the area we are talking and that is a big help. I see exactly what you are saying, there is quite a little circle of cities there and possible jazz circuits even...? Not all that far from St. Louis, Kansas City, Memphis, Nashville and even Indy. I don't mean just five minutes away but within reasonable distances.

You may know all of this and everything I am saying in attempt to discuss and learn is lol of no import. It likely isn't. But just mapping it this last second or two and my memories (I also heard my first Missouri accent in Iowa when I was a teen I think lol so again...)

This is all leading me to my first speculation of what I think on a case I don't know as you do... I agree his ancestry going back a generation or two maybe is more south but I'm going to guess that he hailed from or was raised in or his family lived maybe in one of these states like Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, etc. His grandparents or greats further south though.

So all of these talked out thoughts and perhaps there is something in the case as I haven't researched it that shows or proves he was from a farther southern state and I just thought this out way too much just to find it can't be. :D

You do have me entirely intrigued though with the case and the book to look into it further if I get the chance.

Looking at the map, I just could see maybe a jazz circuit or circus even also... And maybe not even family, maybe helping or traveling with one and they just at a point decided to leave him behind...? I'm probably far off, not knowing more, just a thought.

I too am definitely hand held book. I used to be an avid reader and then life kind of interfered and now I do more videos and online with crime and cooking if I get time for that even but last summer I went on a one book after another streak for the first time in a long time for a few weeks. And am hoping to get to do so again at some point and this one would be one that would interest me.
 
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