1900

In preparing for my talk on Saturday, I’ve been trying to make sure I have all the facts available to me on Bud Rogan nailed down. He died in 1905, but he’s not in the 1900 census. I’ve searched for every black male Rogan. I’ve searched for every black male named Bud, John, Will, William, or any variation, who doesn’t have a wife and he’s just not there.

So, I’ve been asking myself–where is he in 1900? This morning, when I was walking the dog, I thought of something: the story is that his family buried him in concrete to prevent “scientists” from stealing his body. I hadn’t thought much of the “scientists” part. After all, where were you going to run into “scientists” in Gallatin?

But doctors? And we know Bud had experience with doctors. Or at least with one doctor–William Lackey, who published a paper based on his examinations of Bud. And Lackey’s dentist buddy, Ernest Hickman. We know Bud’s condition caused him a lot of discomfort.

I wonder if he wasn’t in the hospital during the census in 1900? It seems like they must have had a way to account for patients, but if Lackey and/or Hickman had him stashed away someplace, maybe not? I mean, this is a part of how racism works that I’m just not sure how it would have played out. It’s hard to oversell how important Lackey was in Gallatin later on in his career. But he first examined Bud when he was young, still in med school.

Surely, Gallatin had some kind of hospital for black people. But that hospital probably wouldn’t have had state-of-the-art equipment. Not that the white hospital in Gallatin would have, either, but it would have been better than whatever was available to black people.

Would Lackey have been able to get into the black hospital? I think so. But if John were in the black hospital, again, it seems like there’d be some way to account for him in the census.

But here’s a guy who’s condition could make your career, if you’re Lackey. And there’s a hospital with better equipment right in town. Except that your patient isn’t allowed in that hospital so his presence in or near said hospital would have to be hidden…

I don’t know. Obviously, I’m reading a lot into a man’s absence from the census. But I don’t think his run in with Lackey was entirely pleasant or else why would his family work so hard to keep someone like Lackey from getting his body?

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2 thoughts on “1900

  1. I’m sorry if I missed something, but why was Bud Rogan’s body important? What condition did he have?

  2. Oh, ha, I guess I never do say. He was a giant and suffered from ankylosis, so he both never stopped growing throughout his life and his joints started fusing together. He was the second tallest man on record and the tallest African American.

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