Blog post by Randi Richardson
Oral Histories are a rich source of information but an underutilized resource at the Research Library, Monroe County History Center. Consequently, from time to time, an oral history will be highlighted here in order that Monroe County historians and genealogists might have a better idea of what they’re missing by overlooking oral histories.
One of the many oral history transcripts on file at History Center is that of Robert Tucker compiled in 1979. Robert, a person of color with both black and Indian roots, was born in Monroe County on November 26, 1912, to Samuel Dunn and Nellie Mae (Chandler) Tucker.
Robert attended the Banneker School for colored children and Bloomington High School. At the latter place he discovered that his educational experience at Banneker had left a lot to be desired. After graduation, he enlisted in the Air Force, eventually completed two years of classes at Indiana University and, lastly, went to work at Indiana Bell Telephone where he was employed for 25 years.
During the course of the interview with Robert, he mentioned Harold Mumby, Samuel Dargon, Hoagy Carmichael Tony Chapman, his brother, Klondike Tucker, and his maternal grandfather, David Chandler. He recalled memories of the KKK trying to lynch a black man for his behavior at a baseball game and another instance where a black man was convicted of murdering a couple in an abandoned quarry.
Other records indicate that Robert married briefly twice, both marriages ending in divorce. He lived at 931 W. 6th Street in Bloomington for 15 years preceding the interview and continued to live at that address until the time of his death on March 20, 1984. His sister, Cleopatra Burress (variously spelled Buress) was noted at the same address. Burial, according to the death record, was at Rose Hill Cemetery, but he is not listed among the cemetery’s burial records.
A listing of some of the transcribed oral histories at the History Center are available online. Scroll down the page until you see a green link for “downloadable file.” Click on the link and then look for the list access at the bottom left of the page as an xlsx file.