“What did I do to deserve this?” If Theodore Bond had asked that question a few weeks into the 1935 Negro National League season, nobody would have blamed him. During spring training with the powerhouse Pittsburgh Crawfords, he rose from obscurity to become the starting shortstop. Though his batting average in those first weeks was low, the Crawfords had won nine of their first 12 NNL games.1 Then, less than a month into the regular season, he was involved in one of the rarest transactions in the history of professional sports: He wasn’t simply cut, traded, or demoted to some minor-league team; rather, he was donated to the NNL team with the most losses, despite the Pittsburgh Courier’s calling him “the best first-year prospect in the League” at that point.2
Theodore Hubbard Bond was born in Kimball, West Virginia, on January 25, 1904,3 to William and Louise (Robinson) Bond. His parents were on the same page of the 1880 census, living with their respective parents in Bedford County, Virginia. Theodore’s paternal grandparents were farmers Ann and Stephen Bond, and his maternal grandparents were Mary and William Robinson, the latter a blacksmith. Virginia marriage records indicate that Louise and William had been wed on December 28, 1892, in their home county. The 1910 census indicates that Theodore’s three oldest siblings, brother Landon and sisters Nora and Mabel, were born in Virginia between 1894 and 1901. His sister Berta was born in West Virginia around 1902, and their youngest brother, Vernon, was born in 1917.4
The Bonds lived in Kimball until at least 1912, because that was identified as Landon’s home community in June of that year when he was a student at Storer College in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Landon reportedly graduated the following year from Storer, a historically black college that produced mostly teachers.5 Within a few years, Landon and his family moved to Bluefield, about 30 miles to the southeast. He and his parents had separate entries in Bluefield’s 1915 city directory, though with their surname misspelled as “Barnes.” William was identified as a brakeman for the Norfolk and Western Railway. Theodore’s parents lived on the 100 block of Vine Street for the rest of their lives, very close to the John Stewart Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, which was built in 1921. At some point, William Bond began to serve as a minister in addition to his railroad job.6
By 1920, Bluefield’s African-Americans were doing relatively well collectively, and they were served by two hotels, at least four grocery stores, several eateries, four doctors, two hospitals, and two drugstores.7 Nevertheless, racism had intensified after the World War, and in 1924 the Ku Klux Klan opened an office in Bluefield. It soon held a rally in a theater, and Bluefield’s mayor made welcoming remarks to a full house.8
According to Chester Washington of the Courier, Theodore Bond was a product of the Bluefield Colored Institute,9 which had been renamed Bluefield State Teachers College by the time he joined the Crawfords. In fact, in Bluefield’s 1925 city directory, his occupation was specified as a teacher. Not surprisingly, the Courier also reported that he had played on the college’s baseball team.10
Bond’s time as a teacher was apparently short-lived because, by the publication of the next city directory, for 1927, he was listed as an employee of the Norfolk and Western Railway, like his father.11 By mid-1924 the African-American employees of the railroad’s machine shop had formed a baseball team, and it received “strong support” from the company’s local management, “both morally and financially,” according to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.12 By May of 1926 this team had taken on the name the “Smart Set” when it defeated the Pittsburgh Keystones and Bond’s alma mater.13 Box scores for Smart Set games are almost nonexistent, but in September of that year Baltimore’s Afro-American newspaper printed a letter signed by four of the team’s leaders, including “T. Bonds,” in which they claimed a record of 34 wins to only eight losses.14
According to the Center for Negro League Baseball Research, Bond played on “numerous” baseball teams in Cleveland from 1927 through 1934.15 For the 1931 season, the Cleveland Giants had signed infielder “T. Bond” by mid-February, and he starred in a shutout against the Paducah Black Hawks in mid-June.16 However, by the end of July, Theodore Bond was playing the first of several seasons in Grand Rapids, Michigan.17
He played on teams led by third baseman John Shackelford, who played four seasons in the top Negro Leagues from 1924 to 1930. Shackelford later graduated from the University of Michigan Law School, practiced as an attorney, and was president of the United States Baseball League during its two seasons, 1945 and 1946.18 The first team onto which Shackelford recruited Bond was the Fineis Oil Giants, and one of its stars was Juan Padrón, a Cuban who pitched in the NNL from 1922 through 1926. Bond soon had the opportunity to watch Padrón and Shackelford play on Grand Rapids all-star teams that faced the previous year’s American and National League pennant winners about two weeks apart. The locals defeated the Philadelphia Athletics, 4-3, and the St. Louis Cardinals, 2-1.19 In between those exhibitions, the Fineis team ran a winning streak to at least 18 games.20 In a regional tournament semifinal game in late September, Bond faced Jack Wisner, a four-year National League pitcher, and his second-inning single off him led to the decisive run in a victory that guaranteed the Giants at least $500. (Despite having Padrón starting, Shackelford’s nine lost the finale, 6-5.)21 Bond presumably found his experience in 1931 to be rewarding, because in Bluefield’s city directory for 1932 his occupation was listed as “ball player.”
In 1932 the Fineis Oil Giants began a 10-game winning streak in May, and Bond helped to add one more victory with four hits on June 5. Later that month, he was called “one of the greatest shortstops in western Michigan,” though by that point he’d been given a questionable nickname, “Midget.”22 Over the course of about four weeks, starting in late August, Bond and the Giants faced several nationally known teams. They split a pair of games against the Nashville Elite Giants, the Negro Southern League’s second-half champions. Nashville won, 7-6, on August 27, but the next day’s game was tied, 1-1, until the sixth inning, when Bond scored the final run on a perfect squeeze bunt by Shackelford.23 The Giants played a series against the Kansas City Monarchs during the first half of September and battled the Indianapolis ABCs later in the month.24 In one game vs. the ABCs, Bond batted in the sixth inning against reliever Candy Jim Taylor, the Indianapolis manager, with a runner on base and the Giants trailing, 6-4. Bond homered over the right-field fence to tie the score, but his team ultimately lost, 9-8.25
For 1933, the team’s name changed to the Dixie Gas Stars and it had many newcomers. The Grand Rapids Press stated that several of them hailed “from West Virginia and were handpicked by Midget Bond, who is generally regarded as one of the greatest shortstops ever seen here in semi-pro circles.”26 In June Bond was sent home to Bluefield in search of two additional pitchers. The Stars needed help because they had scheduled 18 games across a span of 13 consecutive days into early July.27 Apparently one of his recruits was Carl Howard, who in 1935 pitched briefly for the NNL’s Brooklyn Eagles.28
Bond likely did more recruiting early in the 1934 season, because two additional Dixie newcomers also were from West Virginia.29 In any event, not long after Independence Day a high point for Bond was being named to a local mixed-race all-star team that faced the American League’s eventual pennant winners, the Detroit Tigers. He was the leadoff batter in the game, which was played on July 11 before 2,200 fans. Vic Frazier, in his fourth American League season, pitched a complete game. Shackelford was the hitting star for the locals, with a double among his three hits, to offset two errors. Bond went hitless but his four assists without an error helped keep the game close, and it was tied, 2-2, after eight innings. In the top of the ninth, the Tigers scored the final run when Jo-Jo White smacked what was scored a double, but he continued to home plate when the Grand Rapids right fielder misplayed the ball.30 Still, 1934 was a very successful season for Bond, Shackelford, and the Stars as they won 84 games and lost only 25.31
During the first half of March 1935, the Pittsburgh Crawfords franchise included Theodore Bond on its list of players “submitted to the National Association of Negro baseball clubs in convention in Philadelphia.”32 He had been recommended to them by “Attorney Shackelford.”33 Bond made a good early impression with three singles in one of the first spring-training exhibition games, a 5-4 win over the Memphis Red Sox in New Orleans.34 Bond received a nice writeup in the New York Amsterdam News later in April: “Although Manager Oscar] Charleston has continually expressed a preference for big men, one little man at least has changed Charley’s mind. This man is Bond, peppery little shortstop who hails from Grand Rapids, Mich., and is playing ball like a house afire,” the African-American weekly wrote. It added, “Bond may not win the first-string shortstop’s job this season, but if he doesn’t he will give the regular short a hot race.”35
Theodore Bond, at the age of 31, remained on the roster as the regular season began on May 11. That day, Chester Washington of the Pittsburgh Courier correctly anticipated that the Craws’ starting lineup at home against the New York Cubans would include “Timothy Bond, a promising young newcomer from Grand Rapids, Mich., at short.”36 (Bond was then called Timothy repeatedly, but it seems more like an error than a nickname.) From a preview of the game in the Pittsburgh Press, it seems that Bond was assigned 6 as his uniform number.37 Bond, who batted eighth, went hitless in the Craws’ 6-5 win, but he was credited with two putouts and three assists. He also participated in the game’s only double play, which the Chicago Defender specified as “Charleston to Bond to Charleston.”38
Bond’s first NNL hit came the next day in his team’s second game, which was the first game of a doubleheader. He had two singles in that game, and what was presumably the second of them was well timed: The Cubans had tied the score, 1-1, in the top of the seventh inning, and Bond singled to right in the bottom half of the frame. He then scored the final run of the game on a triple by Cool Papa Bell. Bond also helped with six assists.39 The Courier called him a “sterling young star who made a fine impression by his fielding in the Cubans-Crawfords series.”40
The Crawfords won nine of their first 12 regular-season games, though Bond had a batting average of just .194. Over the same span, the Newark Dodgers had won just three games and lost 11.41 One of those losses was at home to Charleston’s nine, and Crawfords owner Gus Greenlee was impressed that 4,000 fans had come to watch their weak local team. He decided to make a gift of two players to the Dodgers, namely Bond and pitcher William Bell, who was immediately named Newark’s player-manager.42 In the Dodgers’ 7-6 loss at home to the Crawfords on June 3, Bell put Bond into the second slot in his batting order, and the rookie responded with a double, single, sacrifice, and a run scored, while handling five chances without an error.43 He put his name into a headline later that month when his three-run double against the Homestead Grays was the key blow in an 8-5 victory at home.44
Bond did well enough during his first two months with Newark to finish third among Eastern shortstops in East-West All-Star Game balloting with a respectable total of 11,369 votes. Jake Stephens of Philadelphia edged Bill Yancey of Brooklyn by just 52 votes, 14,028 to 13,976.45 Bond did quite well overall with Newark; his batting average was .302 in 25 NNL games.46
In April 1936 it was reported that Bond would play his baseball back in Grand Rapids, where John Shackelford continued to lead the Chicky Colored Giants. In two preseason articles, it was clear Bond had picked up a new nickname, “Dad.” He was again asked to find new talent back home in Bluefield.47 In an early loss, he batted cleanup, right behind Shackelford, but in a July doubleheader he was back in his more familiar leadoff spot.48
In 1937 Bond was with the Chicago American Giants of the Negro American League. It was possible that he had become interested in playing in Chicago because his brother Landon (and his wife, Essie) had been living there since at least the time of the 1930 census. In fact, ample evidence points to Theodore living the rest of his very long life in Chicago. Bond played third base for the American Giants. One highpoint for him came early during the season’s second half, in a loss to the Atlanta Black Crackers. He batted second, smacked two doubles and a single, and scored both of his team’s runs.49 In early August Bond batted leadoff in both games of a doubleheader against the Detroit Stars and combined for four runs, three hits including a triple, and two stolen bases.50 Bond finished third in NAL all-star voting at both third base and shortstop; as a result, he was put on the roster of the East-West All-Star Game, played on August 8, though he did not get into the game.51 The American Giants won the NAL’s second half and faced the first-half champions, the Kansas City Monarchs, in a playoff series. One game ended in a tie, but the Monarchs won five of the other six. In statistics for four of the games, Bond batted just .167, about 100 points lower than his average for the regular season.52
In 1940 Bond played a second season with the American Giants. Box scores consistently showed him batting second, such as in a 12-7 loss to the Monarchs in which he led the hitting attack with three hits in four at-bats and two runs scored.53 Bond was second among Western third basemen in East-West voting but did not make the roster as a reserve.54 Statistics are currently available for only about half as many of his games as in his 1935 and 1937 seasons, but they show him with a very good average of .304 for his final pro season. The American Giants finished the season in the bottom half of the standings.55 According to the Center for Negro League Baseball Research, Bond attempted a comeback in 1943 with the Cleveland Buckeyes of the Negro American League in spring training.56 Apparently, though, his professional baseball career now came to an end.
Bond’s father died in Bluefield on December 10, 1940, and his brother Landon died in Chicago three weeks later, on January 1.57 In early 1942, a few weeks after Theodore had turned 38, he completed a military registration card which indicated that his employer was a printing business called the Cuneo Press. His height was identified as 5-feet-5 and his weight as 142 pounds, which explained the “Midget” nickname that had been applied to him early in his career. He may have made annual trips to visit his mother and sister Mabel in Bluefield.58 His mother died in early 1953, and Mabel died in November 1963.59 At some point after Mabel’s death, the youngest of the Bond family, Vernon, moved to Chicago. Cook County death records indicate that when Vernon died in 1986, he had been living at the same address as Theodore for many years, 4638 South Prairie Avenue. It may be no coincidence that this dwelling was located near South Side Park, the home of the Chicago American Giants until it was destroyed by fire on Christmas Day in 1940.
Cook County death records indicate Theodore Bond died on December 18, 1997, at the age of 93. The location of his burial (assuming that he was not cremated) was not noted.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Negro League statistics and team records have been taken from Seamheads.com.
1 “Nat’l Association,” Afro-American (Baltimore), June 1, 1935: 20. In 12 regular-season games with the Crawfords, Bond’s batting average was .194, according to seamheads.com/NegroLgs/player.php?playerID=bond-01ted.
2 “Loyalty of Newark Fans Praised; Add W. Bell, Bond to Strengthen Club,” Pittsburgh Courier, June 8, 1935: Section 2, 4.
3 The location and date of Theodore’s birth are from the draft registration card he completed in 1942, and his middle name was used in his father’s will, which is also accessible online. As of this writing, Theodore’s entries at baseball-reference.com and seamheads.com identify his birthplace as Grand Rapids, Michigan, but there is ample evidence that he lived in West Virginia from his birth through his teens.
4 Vernon’s date of birth was identified on the draft registration card he completed just after his 23rd birthday and in death records for Cook County, Illinois (though those two sources differed by a few days). Their mother was often called Louisa instead of Louise, and in the 1880 census as well as her marital record, her surname was entered as Robertson, not Robinson. However, twentieth-century records consistently used Robinson (including as her brother James’s surname).
5 “Storer Has 25 Graduates,” Advocate (Charleston, West Virginia), June 13, 1912: 1, 6. The Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society identifies Landon Bond as a 1913 alumnus in a list available at jcblackhistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/StorerCollegeStudents.pdf.
6 S.R. Anderson, “Among the Colored People,” Bluefield (West Virginia) Daily Telegraph, August 11, 1921: 5. C.W. Tiffany, “News of the Colored People,” Bluefield Daily Telegraph, December 13, 1940: 9. An early reference to him as a reverend was in “Funeral Rites Today for Matthew Preston,” Bluefield Daily Telegraph, March 12, 1930: 8. He may also have been the “Bro. W.M. Bond” who was scheduled to give an invocation at the Scott Street Baptist Church in early 1925; see “News of Colored Folk,” Bluefield Daily Telegraph, January 9, 1925: 6. Theodore’s sister Mabel and her husband, John Hairston, were also longtime residents on the same block of Vine Street.
7 Joe William Trotter Jr., Coal, Class, and Color: Blacks in Southern West Virginia, 1915-32 (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1990), 145-146. Trotter quoted from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.
8 Trotter, 127-128.
9 Chester Washington, “Sez Ches,” Pittsburgh Courier, May 25, 1935: Section 2, 5. The 1940 census indicated that his sister Mabel completed a year of college.
10 “Bond, New Craw Shortstop Find, Is W.Va. Product,” Pittsburgh Courier, May 18, 1935: Section 2, 5.
11 He may also have worked for the Norfolk and Western railroad prior to being a teacher, based on “News of the Colored People,” Bluefield Daily Telegraph, August 31, 1924: 30. “Theodore Bonds” served on the Entertainment Committee for what the “First Annual Picnic of Colored Employees of Pocahontas Division N&W.”
12 “News of the Colored People,” Bluefield Daily Telegraph, July 6, 1924: 24.
13 “Local Colored Team Wins Third Straight,” Bluefield Daily Telegraph, May 13, 1926: 8. “Colored Institute Loses to Railroaders,” Bluefield Daily Telegraph, May 16, 1926: 11. On May 21 the team took out an ad in the Telegraph (page 15) advertising two home games against the Winston Salem White Sox.
14 “Sports Mirror,” Afro-American (Baltimore), September 4, 1926: 8. The Smart Set continued at least through 1930.
15 See cnlbr.org/Portals/0/Players%20Register/A-B%202018-04.pdf, specifically the entry for “Bond, Theo. H. (Timothy).”
16 “Cleveland Giants Form Company,” Chicago Defender, February 21, 1931: 9. “Black Hawks Beaten,” Chicago Defender, June 27, 1931: 8.
17 “Hopkins, Lansing to Visit Ramona,” Grand Rapids Press, July 31, 1931: 21. In this article Bond’s team was called “the Fineis Oils Colored Giants, of Lowell and Grand Rapids.” Lowell is less than 20 miles east of Grand Rapids.
18 See SABR member Caleb Hardwick’s biography of Shackelford at arkbaseball.com/tiki-index.php?page=John+Shackelford. For more about his league presidency in 1945-1946, see seamheads.com/blog/2010/01/08/the-united-states-baseball-league/.
19 John J. McGinnis, “Grand Rapids Boys Beat Champion A’s,” Grand Rapids Press, August 18, 1931: 15. Roscoe D. Bennett, “Grand Rapids Team Defeats Cardinals,” Grand Rapids Press, September 3, 1931: 21. Two of the hits off the Cardinals were made by Neil Robinson of the Fineis nine, according to “Padron to Pitch in Tourney Sunday,” Grand Rapids Press, September 3, 1931: 23. This is almost certainly the Neil Robinson who later played in multiple East-West All-Star Games. Neil also played on the Fineis team in 1932, with a brother.
20 “Oils Hope to Beat Old Elster Record,” Grand Rapids Press, August 27, 1931: 20.
21 “Fineis Oils Win Tourney Struggle,” Grand Rapids Press, September 28, 1931: 13. “Ramonas Victors in Tourney Final,” Grand Rapids Press, October 5, 1931: 15.
22 “Fineis Giants Win Two More Games,” Grand Rapids Press, June 6, 1932: 12. “Mariners to Play State’s Leading Independents in Twilight Game Friday,” Ludington (Michigan) Daily News, June 22, 1932: 6. This article noted that Bond teammate and longtime local ballplayer Walt “Big Six” Coe, was “a member of the Grand Rapids detective force.”
23 “Fineis Giants Split Two with Nashville,” Grand Rapids Press, August 29, 1932: 10.
24 “Monarchs Arrive for Fineis Series,” Grand Rapids Press, September 9, 1932: 21. “Monarchs Victors over Oils Friday,” Grand Rapids Press, September 10, 1932: 15. “Extra Innings in Oil-Monarch Series,” Grand Rapids Press, September 12, 1932: 15. “Indianapolis Nine Booked for Series,” Grand Rapids Press, September 16, 1932: 20. “Fineis Oils Lose to Visiting Nine,” Grand Rapids Press, September 17, 1932: 13.
25 “Jim Taylor’s Nine in Easy Victory, 9-8,” Chicago Defender, September 24, 1932: 8.
26 “Shackelford’s Giants Starting Play Sunday,” Grand Rapids Press, May 26, 1933: 22.
27 “Dixie Stars Face Eighteen Contests in Thirteen Days,” Grand Rapids Press, June 22, 1933: 26.
28 By mid-August the Stars had pitchers from West Virginia named Sailor Howard and Still, according to “Second Giant-Dixie Game on Saturday,” Grand Rapids Press, August 18, 1933: 16. This article indicated that at some point Juan Padrón had switched to the Pere Marquette Colored Giants. Sailor Howard’s time with the Brooklyn Eagles was noted in “Chicky Presents Star Negro Nine,” Grand Rapids Press, April 20, 1936: 13. According to seamheads.com/NegroLgs/player.php?playerID=howar01ed-, a pitcher for the Chicago American Giants in 1946, Ed Howard, was also nicknamed Sailor.
29 “Dixie Stars Face David Nine First,” Grand Rapids Press, May 9, 1934: 20. The two new players from West Virginia were Watkins, a catcher, and Palmer, a first baseman and pitcher.
30 “Tigers Defeat Rapids Nine,” Detroit Evening Times, July 11, 1934: 15. The box score was printed on page 17. See also John J. McGinnis, “Tigers Beat Locals in Ninth Inning, 3-2,” Grand Rapids Press, July 11, 1934: 16. The Detroit paper’s box score didn’t credit Bond with any putouts, and credited his team with only 25, but the Grand Rapids paper’s box score credited Bond with one putout and the team with 27. McGinnis noted that the crowd was roughly half the size of the Tigers’ recent exhibition in Traverse City, about 140 miles to the north. “Many diamond devotees undoubtedly were kept away by the prices, which ranged up to $1.65 for adults,” he wrote. “This, by the way, is just what you will pay for a box seat at Navin field at any regularly scheduled American league game. An ordinary reserved grandstand seat, even for doubleheaders, costs only $1.40 in Detroit.”
31 This record is according to the Kent Base Ball Club, a founding team of the Vintage Base Ball Association, as reported at kentbaseball.wordpress.com/history/timeline-of-baseball-in-grand-rapids/.
32 “Craws’ Roster,” Pittsburgh Courier, March 16, 1935: Section 2, 4.
33 “Bond, New Craw Shortstop Find, Is W.Va. Product.”
34 “Craws Top Memphis, to Play in New Orleans,” Pittsburgh Courier, April 20, 1935: Section 2, 5.
35 “‘Craws’ Take Clarksdale,” New York Amsterdam News, April 27, 1935: 11.
36 Chester Washington, “Sez Ches,” Pittsburgh Courier, May 11, 1935: Section 2, 4.
37 Paul Kurtz, “Negro Nine Opens Here with Cubans,” Pittsburgh Press, May 11, 1935: 8.
38 “Crawfords Win 2, Tie Pair in Series with N.Y.,” Pittsburgh Courier, May 18, 1935: Section 2, 4. “League Scores,” Chicago Defender, May 18, 1935: 14. Though he was hitless, at least Bond wasn’t listed among the batters who struck out.
39 “Craws-Cubans,” Pittsburgh Courier, May 18, 1935: Section 2, 5.
40 “Bond, New Craw Shortstop Find, Is W.Va. Product.”
41 “Nat’l Association,” Afro-American (Baltimore), June 1, 1935: 20. The Cubans kept Newark out of last place with a record of 2-8 for a .200 winning percentage, versus .214 for the Dodgers.
42 “Loyalty of Newark Fans Praised.” The full quote, excerpted in the first paragraph, was, “Bond is the Grand Rapids flash. A sure fielder, steady hitter, and looms as the best first-year prospect in the League.”
43 “Gibson’s Prodigious Homer Paves Way for Crawfords Victory Over Dodgers,” Central New Jersey Home News (New Brunswick), June 4, 1935: 12.
44 “Bond’s Double Cleans Bases and Gives Newark Dodgers Win Over Homestead Grays, Central New Jersey Home News, June 25, 1935: 12. The first paragraph noted that the game was “a non-league tussle.”
45 “The East,” Pittsburgh Courier, August 10, 1935: Section 2, 5.
47 “Chicky Presents Star Negro Nine,” Grand Rapids Press, April 20, 1936: 13. “Postums Will Open with Chicky Giants,” Grand Rapids Press, April 30, 1936: 25. Bond’s trip home from Grand Rapids was confirmed in “News of the Colored People,” Bluefield Daily Telegraph, May 13, 1936: 9.
48 “Postum Wins 6-1 at Grand Rapids,” Battle Creek (Michigan) Enquirer and Evening News, May 11, 1936: 13. “Postums Divide at Grand Rapids,” Battle Creek Enquirer and Evening News, July 13, 1936: 9. In the July doubleheader, Howard was the winning pitcher for Bond’s team, but Juan Padrón was the losing pitcher for them in the nightcap.
49 Ric Roberts, “Crax Crash Chicago American Giants, 8 to 2,” Atlanta Daily World, July 21, 1937: 5.
50 “Giants Make It 3 Over Detroit to Sweep Set,” Chicago Defender, August 7, 2937: 21. In the first game of the doubleheader he had the pleasure of watching the other three infielders turn a triple play.
51 “Chicago Ready for Big Baseball Classic,” Chicago Defender, August 7, 1937: 19. “Colored Nines Meet Today in All-Star Game,” Chicago Tribune, August 8, 1937: Part 2, 2.
53 “Twin Bill Split on Sunday,” Chicago Defender, August 3, 1940: 24.
54 “Hilton Smith Tops East vs West Voting,” Chicago Defender, August 10, 1940: 24. “East and West Negro All-Star Lineups Named,” Chicago Tribune, August 16, 1940: 27.
57 C.W. Tiffany, “News of the Colored People,” Bluefield Daily Telegraph, December 13, 1940: 9. “Burials From Metropolitan Funeral Parlors,” Chicago Defender, January 11, 1941: 4. All evidence points to Theodore’s sister Nora having died before their father; she seems to have disappeared from the public record after the 1910 census.
58 Examples of reports on his visits to his mother and sister Mabel: C.W. Tiffany, “News of the Colored People,” Bluefield Daily Telegraph, December 28, 1944: 7. “Personals,” Bluefield Daily Telegraph, January 6, 1946: 15. “News of the Colored People,” Bluefield Daily Telegraph, December 30, 1947: 9.
59 West Virginia death records indicate that Louise Violet Bond died on February 6, 1953, and was buried in Bedford County, Virginia, as was her husband. Toward the end of 1963, Berta “Bertie” Matthews became Theodore’s only surviving sister, according to “Deaths and Funerals,” Bluefield Daily Telegraph, November 13, 1963: 3. Family obituaries and trips back to Bluefield never mention Theodore having a wife.