Frenchtown Museum Highlights Prominent African-Americans From St. Charles

St. Charles Patch spoke with exhibit creator and Frenchtown Heritage Museum director, Dorothy Boshears to get the details on the Black History Month exhibit.

In honor of Black History Month, the Frenchtown Heritage Museum is featuring a special exhibit featuring prominent African-Americans, many of whom are directly connected to St. Charles.

Museum director Dorothy Boshears said that the Dred Scott Exhibit is loaned to the museum from the Missouri Humanities Council, and it was created by the Missouri Historical Society.

“It goes through some of the events that led to the Dred Scott case,” Boshears said. “He went to court to try to prove that he was a free man because he came from a free state, but he lost the case.”

Scott lived in the St. Louis area when he sought his freedom from slavery.

Boshears said she has also created additional components for the Black History Month exhibit. They're primarily dedicated to teaching the community about African-Americans from St. Charles who helped build the community.

Among those featured in the exhibit is Melvin Washington, a former school teacher. Boshears said Washington went to Franklin School, which she said was “the only black school in the area” at that time.

“His senior year, he rode a bus into North St. Louis city and walked nine blocks from the bus stop to the school,” she said. “He graduated there, and then went to the black university in Jefferson City (Lincoln University) and got his degree there.”

She said Washington then taught school in the St. Charles area before he became a principal.

“He was interim superintendent for awhile,” she said. “He was also the principal of of Hardin and Jefferson schools, and was in a principal position when he retired.”

There are also several others included in Boshears’ exhibit, including Jean Pointe DuSable, the founder of Chicago. She said she chose stories that featured a lot of different St. Charles people, such as Herman Elmore, who was the first black city councilman in town.

“Like the story about the first black fireman in St. Charles,” she said. “And the first black police woman, who was the fireman’s daughter.”

Boshears added that many of the women featured in the exhibit are retired St. Charles-area school teachers.

“I just tried to find community-minded people who have contributed to the betterment of St. Charles,” she said. "These are people who have helped build St. Charles through education and other endeavors, and I'm doing what I can with this exhibit to bring it to people's attention."

The exhibit is free and is open during museum hours, Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. Boshears said that group tours can also be accommodated by appointment. The exhibit will remain open until Wednesday, Feb. 29, Boshears said.

For more information on the exhibit, visit the Frenchtown Museum’s website or call 636-724-106. You can also contact the museum by email at info@frenchtownmuseum.net.

The museum is seeking support, tax-deductible donations and volunteers to help it grow. To learn more about how you can help, visit the support page on the museum’s website.


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