African Americans

Casiville Bullard

Occupation: 

A stone mason and bricklayer by trade, Casiville Bullard is probably the best known worker from the State Capitol construction. Born in Tennesee in 1871 and the son of former slaves, he was the eldest in a family of seven children. As a child he picked cotton with his parents and was instructed in bricklaying and masonry by an uncle, becoming skilled at laying brick, marble, and granite. He moved to Saint Paul in the late 19th century to work on the Minnesota State Capitol Building.

Judge Jarrett

Occupation: 

 Judge Jarrett (1880-1965) was one of the African Americans from Georgia recruited by the Butlers to work on the marble in St. Paul. He arrived in 1902 and his name is found in the payroll records of 1904-5. His mother and sister and her family also moved to St. Paul. At the time of the 1905 Census, Jarrett was living at 886 Park with fellow Capitol worker Issac Suddeth. After the completion of the Capitol, Jarrett went on to work in the quarries at Kasota and then for the Northern Pacific Railroad.  Jarrett is listed in the 1902-1904 St. Paul City Directory and 1905 Payroll.

Coy Johnson

Occupation: 

1899-1901 St. Paul City Directories. Coy Johnson was one of a number of African-American stone workers who moved from Georgia to St. Paul to work on the Capitol construction. He worked as a laborer on the building from 1899 to 1905. He was born in Georgia in 1870 and apparently left St. Paul shortly after the completion of the Capitol.

Ernest Jones

Occupation: 

Family history and 1905 Census. Ernest Jones, born in Tennessee in 1871, was an African American bricklayer who came to St. Paul in 1902 to work on the Capitol. He stayed and raised a large family here and some of his descendants still live in the area.  In 1905 fellow Capitol worker John McMurtry and his family also lived at this address.  Jones later moved to Chicago, where he was a founder of the Black Bricklayers Association.

Ora Lee Jones, wife of Ernest Jones
Ora Lee Jones, wife of Ernest Jones
Image courtesy of Archie Anderson. Used with permission.
"Coopie" and daughter Martha Anderson, daughter and granddaughter of Ernest Jones
"Coopie" and daughter Martha Anderson, daughter and granddaughter of Ernest Jones
Photograph courtesy of Archie Anderson. Used with permission.
Mary Jones, daughter of Ernest and Ora Lee Jones
Mary Jones, daughter of Ernest and Ora Lee Jones
Photograph courtesy of Archie Anderson. Used with permission.
Ernest Jones as a young man with sister
Ernest Jones as a young man with his sister
Image courtesy of Archie Anderson. Used with permission.
Ernest Jones and his sister
Ernest Jones and his sister
Image courtesy of Archie Anderson. Used with permission.
Ernest Jones
Ernest Jones
Image courtesy of Archie Anderson. Used with permission.

John McMurtry

Occupation: 

1905 St. Paul City Directory and Census. John H.McMurtry was an African-American born in Georgia in 1866. He was experienced in working with marble and moved his wife and large family to St. Paul during the Capitol construction.
Fellow Capitol construction worker, Ernest Jones and his family was also living at this address in 1905.

Benjamin Stephens

Occupation: 

1899-1904 City Directories, Staff Payroll and 1905 Census. African- American Benjamin Stephens (1872-1940 was born in Georgia and came to St. Paul with the marble from that state and worked with the machinery in the stone cutting shed. He stayed in St. Paul, raising his family here and got a job as janitor at the new Capitol in 1905 and 1906 but soon went back to the construction trades working as a "stone finisher" for many years.

Isaac Suddeth

1899,1900, 1902 and 1904 City Directories. Isaac Suddeth (1865-1909) was an African-American from Tate, Georgia where the marble was quarried. He first came here to work on the Capitol alone in 1899 but by 1905 he was living at this address with his wife and five children. Fellow Capitol worked, Judge Jarrett, also lived here in 1905. They stayed here and Suddeth died in in St. Paul in 1909.
Isaac's son, Oscar, born in Georgia in 1887, worked on the Capitol as a "polisher" in 1904 at the age of 17. Oscar died in St. Paul in 1915.

Henry Taggert

Occupation: 

Henry Taggert, an African-American worker, born in Illinois in c.1874, worked on the capitol site as a laborer in 1899. By 1900, census data listed his occupation as "waiter."

Most of the workers who constructed the Minnesota Capitol belonged to unions. However, it is not clear whether St. Paul laborers were organized during the period when the Capitol was built nor how many laborers or which jobs were represented by a union between 1896 and 1907. So Taggert's union status is currently unknown.

Mary E. Walker

Occupation: 

Staff Payroll. Mary E. Walker got hired onto the staff of the new Capitol as a "toilet attendant," though in the 1900 Census she gave her occupation as "nurse." She was one of the earliest African American settlers in St. Paul. She was born in Virginia maybe in 1834 (Census records vary)and by 1857 she was married to Nace Walker and living in St. Paul. Nace died in 1883 and his obituary said he had moved to St. Paul in 1849. They had no children.