My Contribution: I was a strong leader and supporter of Republican politics in the Eighth Ward and greater Harrisburg area. My poolroom served as a social and political hub in the ward and was known as the “Republican headquarters of the Eighth Ward” (Evening News, Obituary 1925).
My Legacy: I was a strong leader, a politician, and a businessman in the Eighth Ward. I represented the ward for many years as a member of the Common Council.
About Me: “He was a member of Common Council during the bicameral days in the late nineties, and conducted his politics in his poolroom where he also ran a pawnshop” (Evening News, Obituary, September 1, 1925).
Full Name: Frisby C. Battis
Birth Date: January 1852
Death Date: August 29, 1925 (Evening News, Obituary, 1925)
Place of Birth: Pennsylvania
Race: Black (1880 Federal Census)
Places of Residence: 1514 North 5th Street. Resided and ran businesses at 139 Short Street and 141 Short Street.
Connection to the Old Eighth Ward: I lived in the Eighth Ward on Short Street for a long part of my life and acted as a Republican political leader there. My poolroom and pawnshop served as a political center in the ward. My association with the corner of Short and South Streets was so strong that it became known as the “Battis block” in the 1910 Pennsylvania Negro Business Directory. I served on the Common Council of the Eighth Ward in the 1890s. My poolroom was the polling place for the Eighth Ward, Second Precinct (1886 Telegraph).
Family Members: Wife: Harriet Battis. Children: Forrest Battis, Paul Battis, James D. Battis, Justice D. Battis, Frisby C. Jr. Battis. Daughters-in-Law: Mildred (son Frisby C. Battis III), Ora M.
Occupations: Poolroom Owner. Pawn Broker. Cigar Dealer. Republican Politician (Federal Census Records and City Directories).
Church Membership: My son, Forrest Battis, was elected usher at Capitol Street Presbyterian Church in 1902 (Telegraph May 1902).
Activism: Dauphin Social Club (or Hastings Club) (Harrisburg Patriot, September 12, 1903). Vice president of Republican Club (Patriot, February 29, 1888). Served as Republican member of Common Council in the Eighth Ward (Patriot, February 10, 1896). Appointed chairman executive and chosen as State Delegate for the Dauphin County Afro-American League (Patriot, May 30, 1906). Elected secretary of Republican County Committee in 1892. Served as the Judge of Election and on the Eighth Ward election committee in 1884 (Telegraph 1884). Played baseball and served as the team director for Harrisburg’s Olympic B.B.C. (Black Baseball by James Brunson).
Connections: Joseph Thomas succeeded me as city councilman in 1895 (Patriot, April 4, 1898). James Auter served as previous secretary of the Dauphin County Social Club (Patriot, July 29, 1903). Harry Burrs was president of the Dauphin County Afro-American League, and Joseph L. Thomas was chosen alongside me as state delegates to the state convention. Cassius Brown attended my son Frisby’s birthday party in 1888 (Telegraph, Frisby Jr., 1888). C.W. Strothers bought my building for a hotel in 1906 (Patriot, February 20, 1906).