I don't have a good #Juneteenth story, but I did discover some interesting stories from the life of two people who had been enslaved.

They weren't freed until the end of the Civil War, because that's just how Alabama was. They made up for lost time, though. 1/
Francis and Mrs. Wallace, of Montgomery, Alabama. (I haven't been able to find her first name or when they married). Sometime in the second half of 1866 or the first half of 1867 the Wallaces began work as a husband-and-wife pair of detectives-for-hire. 2/
The times being what they were, and Alabama being what it was less than two years after the end of the War, the Wallaces didn't do all or even most of their work in Montgomery. They traveled around the state, working together and then independently.

Mrs. Wallace earned a reputation as a good detective faster than Francis did--women private detectives were at a premium, and Mrs. Wallace was good at what she did. She began getting jobs from the Pinkertons as well as the railroads.

As a "girl of the road" she was hired for all sorts of jobs. A train robber named "Railway Bill" making himself bothersome? A murderer named "Jenkins"? A "den" of "pool-shooting, smoking, gambling women"? Mrs. Wallace brought the heat down on all of them.

Francis Wallace, meanwhile, was traveling as well, but not as widely as Mrs. Wallace. He had to work harder to earn his reputation, but that seems not to have been a problem, and within a few years he was in demand and being summoned to help the police across Alabama.

These being the old days of police work, when local police departments were stymied by cases, they would send for help by men and women of proven quality. Francis Wallace worked hard to earn that reputation, and succeeded, and then kept working harder.

Forgeries? Counterfeiting? Finding the men responsible for a lynching? (yes, really). A serial murderer? Wallace handled them all.

It was the lynching case that prompted "concerned citizens" of Selma to write a letter to the police chief demanding to know why "negro secret detectives" were working in the city.

If the chief responded I haven't been able to find evidence of it.

Pause for a second and think about the Wallaces, in late 1860s and 1870s Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia, and the absolute hell they must have undergone while simply trying to do their jobs. Arresting lynchers? I am low key shocked Francis Wallace survived that.

Despite everything, the Wallaces survived & prospered & had a good 1870s/early 1880s. I would guess that they were among the elite of Black Montgomery then--they must have made good money compared to the rest of the Black population, and they were, in their way, powerful.

I haven't been able to find pictures of the Wallaces & don't know what they looked like, but nowhere in the newspaper articles I read is there anything about them using makeup to pass as a white person, a common tactic of the era for light-skinned Black detectives.

What the articles note is Mrs. Wallace's coolness under pressure and her skill as an actress, and Francis Wallace's toughness--in 1884 on one case he was struck full in the face by a white man wielding a railway wrench, and only a few days later Wallace was up and about.

And they both lived happily ever after.

(Not really. Both died while on cases, Mrs. Wallace giving better than she got, but Francis Wallace's death was...let's say it's a little too 2020 for comfort and leave it at that).

I wish I knew more about them--to do what they did during the Reconstruction era in the Gulf Coast states was remarkable.

Anyhow. History >>> fiction. #blm

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