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Epilogue Diaspora Fred Motts died in June 1915 and was buried next to his brother and parents in Washington, Iowa. Anna Elizabeth Motts Jackson, the little girl snatched from slavery by her father, died at her home in Chicago the following January. Fred’s son Ralph succumbed to pneumonia in Chicago three years later and joined his father and uncle in Iowa. His brothers, who together had run their uncle’s theater after his death, lived into old age on the South Side—Thomas quietly so, Leon more in the mold of his famous uncle. After fighting in World War I Leon Motts drifted into the policy racket, bought interest in a prize fighter, and ran a gambling house. In 1942 he and twenty-five others were indicted as the kingpins of a million-dollar policy empire in the city, but the state’s case collapsed when its star witness refused to testify. In the last decades of his life Leon devoted himself to a career in real estate. At his death in 1976 the Metro News called him “one of the most controversial figures in Chicago’s Black history.”1 After the collapse of his empire, Dan Jackson first tried to curry favor with the Dever administration and then jumped back onto Big Bill Thompson’s bandwagon when he returned to the mayor’s office in 1927. He eventually patched up his differences with Oscar De Priest and even lent a hand in making him the first post-Reconstruction black to enter the House of Representatives in 1928. Otherwise he kept a low profile, so low that his passing in 1929 was barely noticed. Jacksonwasthelastblackvicelordofhisgeneration.“Mushmouth”Johnson had died back in 1907, broken by the notoriety heaped on his accomplished niece Cecilia when an exclusive club to which she belonged at the University of Chicago unjustly accused her of passing for white. Large numbers from all races turned out for his funeral, and he was even memorialized early the 152 Epilogue following year in a vaudeville skit, “Mushmouth Johnson in the Oil Trust.” Motts’s early partners, Sam Snowden and William Beasley, had both died penniless in New York City in 1908. “Poney” Moore’s end was as ignominious as the rest of his career. In 1906 he was arrested for trying to clean out a chop suey joint. In early 1907 a court slapped a $20,000 judgment on him in a suit brought by Julius Taylor. Shortly thereafter Moore declared bankruptcy. He sold his house and moved into rooms over his Palace Theater, which failed soon after. He was adjudged insane in 1909 and sent to Kankakee. After his release he tried to murder his wife, permanently disfiguring her face. He died friendless and forgotten in 1913 back where he came from, in Austin, Texas. “Poney” lived just long enough to see his failed theater cut a brilliant but brief new figure as Jack Johnson’s Café de Champion, opened with great fanfare on July 10, 1912. At first everything ran smoothly. “Champion Jack Johnson, in an easy quiet manner, and with a mild voice, walked around in the Café; and cordially shook hands with all of his white and Colored guests.”2 But then two months into the new venture Johnson’s wife Etta Duryea committed suicide in her bedroom on the third floor. As if the lurid coverage in the daily papers were not enough, Frank Haight and Tom Chamales announced that the Pekin Theater planned to exhibit moving pictures of Etta’s funeral. Johnson obtained a temporary injunction against them, which the chief of police enforced. The authorities proved far less accommodating, however, when Johnson took up with another white woman almost immediately after the funeral. As public outrage mounted, the mayor ordered all entertainment and music at the Café de Champion to cease, the city refused to renew its liquor license, and on November 1 it was shut down. Legacy Although by the end of World War I the Pekin had sunk back into the notoriety from which it had emerged, its name survived in dozens of other enterprises around the country. Few lasted for very long, and only the one in Savannah came anywhere close to matching the luster and longevity of its namesake, and to duplicating its close identification with its founder. Built in 1909 by W. J. Stiles and his wife Josephine as a vaudeville-and-movie house, the Savannah Pekin remained under the ownership and management of its founders...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780252096242
Related ISBN
9780252038365
MARC Record
OCLC
877977273
Pages
240
Launched on MUSE
2014-05-16
Language
English
Open Access
No
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