Velma K. Conyers.
An article, "City
Pioneer Gets a Day of Her Own" appears in the March 24, 2009 issue of
the Crestview News Bulletin. The following
also appears in the article. Mrs. Conyers, a Crestview
resident for 86
years, turned 96 on March 14, 2009
March 21st, 2009, has been designated as Velma K. Conyers Day; andChester
Officer Chester Pruitt
- 1968) was the 1st African American police officer in Ft. Walton
Beach. He joined police force in 1948 and served throughout
1950-60s. A Great Floridian Plaque in his honor has been
at the Chester Pruitt Neighborhood Center. 15 Carson Dr. in Ft. Walton
K. Conyers has been a resident of the City of Crestview, Okaloosa
County, for 86 years; and
K. Conyers has served as Worthy Matron of Crestview Chapter No. 7A
(later named Velma K.
Conyers’ Chapter No. 7 in her honor), Order of the Eastern
Prince Hall Affiliated, Bethlehem
Grand Chapter, for 47 years; and
K. Conyers will celebrate her 96th birthday on March 14th, 2009, and be
counted among a very
special group of our society called
I, Mayor David Cadle, by virtue of the authority vested in me as the
Mayor of the City of Crestview,
Florida, do hereby proclaim the day of
March 21st, 2009, as Velma K. Conyers Day.
Cadle, Mayor, Crestview, FL.
“Father Ian Bordenave,
pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in New Orleans, preaches at the
27th annual Mass commemorating Black History Month Feb. 3 in Fort
Walton Beach. Father Bordenave grew up in Okaloosa County and
the military before becoming a Dominican priest. The Mass,
by the Catholic African-American Cultural Awareness Group of Okaloosa
County, calls attention each year to the importance of
the contributions of African-American
Catholics to the church and to
“His birth certificate from Keesler Air
Force Base, Miss., listed him and his parents as Negro.
Father Ian G. Bordenave grew up thinking of himself more as Creole
French and Spanish — than as Negro. To escape
family, when they moved to Eglin Air Force Base in northwest Florida in
1967, played down their ethnicity. Indicative of the pain and turmoil
of the times, others with similar backgrounds did the same
thing 40 and
more years ago: pass for white, or as the French would say,
the entire article, “ Mass Celebrates Solidarity,
and Diversity” in the web publication of the
The article is written by Peggy Dekeyser of the Florida
Pensacola-Tallahassee Bureau Editor. The publication date is
February 15, 2008. You can read the entire article at the
following web address:
Mrs. Pearl M. Finley Henry.
"TRIBUTE TO A GRANDMOTHER" by Sue
Presley Monroe Finley.
On the occasion of the Lebanon Missionary Baptist Church,
January 28, 2001 Anniversary. Part of the
story also appears in The
Heritage of Okaloosa County, Florida, Volume II
"First of all, she had that many names because
those are the families she had to serve in her lifetime. She was a
midwife, and the only one for a while in the Ray’s Still and
Hundred and Cobb County area. She delivered at
least ninety-percent of the babies throughout the vicinity, from the
Yellow River to the Alabama/Florida line.
was an only child and had only one child, herself, a girl named Pearl
M. Finley Henry. There were times she would leave
home to deliver a baby and not return until weeks later. When she did
return home, sometimes her
pay would be a live pig or chicken, a ham, eggs, or a piece of material
if she was blessed.
She always wore a white sheer apron. It had a corner tied in a knot
where she kept a few dollars or coins. All the children in the
community would be happy to see her coming – to hear about
her journey. She had told us she had a secret
place where she kept the babies to take to different families. She
never mentioned if the baby were black or white. To her,
there was no such thing. Neil Cobb can tell you how she saved Nellie
Not Me?: The Story of Gladys Milton, Midwife"
This is the personal story of a
compassionate Florida midwife and an account of her fight to provide
women with affordable health care. It's a modern day tale of David
versus Goliath, where "David" was one of the last grand ("granny") lay
midwives still delivering babies in the U.S.
Publisher: Book Publishing Company (TN); ISBN: 0913990973;
EAN: 9780913990971; No. of Pages: 128
The following is adapted from an article by
Heather Civil, Northwest Florida Daily News.
"Born ca 1924, Gladys Milton was a practicing midwife all her
life. Starting in 1959, she had delivered almost 3,000 babies
in Walton County and surrounding
areas. In 1994 she earned a place in the Florida
Women’s Hall of
Fame. Many people called her
‘granny.’ And several women have used her
Flowersview clinic to give birth to more than one of their
children. She was able to build the
Flowersview location in 1976. She even delivered her own
grandson for her daughter, Maria.
When Gladys died in 1999 her daughter, Maria took over the
clinic. Before coming
to Flowersview Maria almost became a doctor in Chicago, but she decided
school and get a midwifery license in 1984 instead. She
believes as her mother did, that
women can have babies naturally more often than not.But she
recognizes this isn't easy.
The center works with a local doctor and hospital in case there is an
emergency during a birth."
Caroline Baker Allen.
A biography and photo of
Mrs. Allen appears in The
Heritage of Okaloosa County, Florida. Volume II.
Examples of her community service and contributions
populate local papers over a span of many years. A Biography
appears on line in the Educational Services section of the Baker Block
Museum's "A History of Florida, the Panhandle and Okaloosa
County" webpage. An excerpt of this page follows:
Caroline Baker was born
in Texas. She
from Huston-Tillotson College in 1946. She married
that year and moved to Florida with her husband, Samuel A.
Allen where they began their teaching careers. When they arrived at the
Crestview Depot they asked for directions to Baker, Florida.
The agent said,
goes to Baker!” But he arranged for them to ride to
Baker with the mailman that morning. They were able to find a house
to rent for six dollars a month. They found someone to wire the house
for electricity but there was no
indoor plumbing. They got their water from a pump across the street.
and her husband taught at Drew School in Baker from August 1949 until
May, 1954. That is when Carver Hill School was
built in Crestview and they were transferred to teach there. When the
public schools were integrated, Caroline
was transferred to teach at Crestview High and her husband to Richbourg
High School. They remained there until they retired; Caroline retired
Mrs. Allen was
an educator in
county schools for 30 years. She dedicated her life to the preservation
of local history. . . It
was a terrible shock to the community when she was killed in an
automobile accident in
2005. She and other family members were on their way home
from a high school reunion. She was eighty years old at the time. Hers
lived and serves as an example to all that even in death, she leaves
optimism that we can better our
lives and our world."
Memoriam - Caroline Allen
As a teacher, activist,
instructor, museum curator and 2001 inductee in the Okaloosa County
Women’s Hall of Fame, Caroline Allen is remembered for her
efforts to keep Crestview’s African-American community
in the spotlight for more than 50 years. Mrs. Allen, who died in a car
accident in August 2005, was born in Belton, Texas in 1925
and moved with her family to North Okaloosa County in 1949. She began
her teaching career at Drew High School and was transferred in 1954 to
Carver Hill School, where she
taught English and business classes.
From 1968 to 1979,
she was the head of
the Business Department at Crestview High School. After retiring from
the Okaloosa County School Board, she began her career as a civic
Mrs. Allen served in an official capacity with the Crestview Chamber of
Commerce, the Arts Council, the NAACP, the
Eglin Air Force Base African- American Committee, and the Okaloosa
County Library Focus Group. In the 1970s
Mrs. Allen worked to convince the school district that what had been
the Carver Hill School’s
lunchroom should be converted into the Carver Hill Museum.
She gathered school
memorabilia and wrote
grant applications for state and federal assistance. Later, she
envisioned building a larger museum and shepherded its construction
raising to completion. Throughout the remainder
of her retirement, Mrs. Allen contributed to her community by advising
small businesses, writing letters and providing advice to citizens. She
was a leading organizer of
Crestview’s annual May Day celebration.
Adapted from: Florida Preservation News.
Florida Department of State. Division of Historical Resources. Spring 2006. Vol 8, Issue
1. (Google this site)
Samuel H. Hayes.
June 15, 1920 in Blackman, FL, to Rosie and Al Hayes, he had eight
sisters and three brothers. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1941 and
fought not only in North Africa and Italy in WW II, He also served in
Korea and Vietnam. Upon his retirement after thirty-one years
was authorized to wear the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, WWII
Victory Medal, Purple Heart and various unit citations.
his military career he also served as personal chef to President and
Mrs. Dwight Eisenhower. In 1974, he was elected to the
City Council and served more than 25 years - and as Vice President and
President of the City Council. (Search local newspapers for many
articles on his community service and involvement) His
appears on Baker Block Museum's Florida History (Baker Block Museum
Educational Services) at another location on this website.
African Americans in
This book, by
Maxine Deloris Jones, Kevin M. McCarthy, profiles
more than 50 African Americans during four centuries of Florida history
in brief essays--Traces the role African Americans played in the
discovery, exploration. (Google the title)
Block Museum Educational Services. Baker, FL