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Americas & Elizabeth
Yes, little Edina once had a sizable black community. Just a few lived outside the area called Milltown.
Jim Miller happened to be a neighbor. Only two blocks from Jim lived Pug Logan and then there was the Sutton family of Dad, Mom, two daughters and two sons. Joe and Bill were the boy’s names and Americas and Elizabeth were the girl’s names.
The Sutton’s were unique in as much as they were the only catholic family in Edina who was also black.
The parents were beyond their working years when I first knew them.
Joe worked for our neighbors, the Gibbons family and I knew him quite well. Joe would walk right by our house on his way to work.
I liked and admired Joe because he would talk with me as an equal. By that, I mean I grew up in an age when kids were to be seen and not heard. His brother Bill was what was then called a day-worker. That being you might have a job for a day or two but not steady work. That is, until he was drafted into the U.S. Army. What little I saw of the parents I remember two old people frail and bent over from a life of hard work.
The Sutton’s lived in a house that they built themselves mostly from scrap. Luckily, we lived in a time when rabbit, squirrel, fish, frog, wild berries, and nuts were in abundance. Then, Joe would bring milk, eggs, garden products, and fruit from his place of employment. He might also stop at our big pond and catch enough fish for a supper meal.
So then where did the family get money for clothing, sugar, salt, etc. Well that is where Elizabeth and Americas came in. These two ladies did housework for the well-to-do about town. It was a bit of an amazing thing. When you saw one of the girls you saw both of them. They walked every place they went. I do not recall ever seeing them in an automobile. Why they never married is anybody’s guess.
Americas and Elizabeth: neither girl married, which might just be the reason they were able to buy their own house. It was really unusual for the times that two single black women had enough money saved to buy their own house after their parents passed away.
When I was a kid growing up, I did not dream the day would come when there was not a black family living in Edina. It’s still hard to believe that there is not a black family in town when you think back to a segregated time when the district of the city known as Milltown had a church, school, 25 families, and a store.
It’s sad to think that even our grave plots are segregated.
The only black person I know of who is buried side by side with whites is my friend Joe Sutton.
It makes sense to be buried together, there is only one heaven.