My Contribution: I was a businessman and entrepreneur involved in politics, social organizations, and business ventures of the Eighth Ward. While I operated businesses ranging from pool halls to dancing schools, I am especially known as a frontrunner in Black base- ball. I managed the Harrisburg Giants, the Negro League baseball team in Harrisburg, which would later become one of the first racially-integrated baseball teams in the country.

My Legacy: I was such an important leader in Harrisburg and in Black baseball circles that Cliff Christian, a policeman from Steelton, was referred to as another “Colonel Strothers” as he organized a baseball team in Steelton, the Steelton Giants. I am credited with bringing the Harrisburg Giants from its very beginnings to national acclaim. The Giants played on under different management and different forms until 1955 in Harrisburg.

About Me: “Through his death Harrisburg lost a true sportsman and his death is mourned by a host of friends and baseball fans in the city. In connection with the famous Harrisburg Giants team he gave freely of both his time and money.” — Harrisburg Telegraph, July 18, 1933.

The Harrisburg Giants came to be known as “the strongest aggregation of Negro baseball stars in the United States, according to general belief.” — Harrisburg Telegraph, September 20, 1927.

There were few places in Harrisburg more important for Black political organization, business, and social networking in the late 19th and early 20th century than this stretch of South Street between Short Street and Tanner’s Alley near the state capitol. The view from the Battis corner (itself associated with Republican politics) shows the drug store owned by H. Edwin Parson (a datestone of 1908 advertises recent refurbishment) and a group of men assembled outside of Colonel Strothers’ Pool Hall (Strothers is probably the large man visible in the doorway). Annie Amos, an active crusader for faith, virtuous living, suffrage, and temperance, resided in the same building where she hosted meetings of the Independent Order of Daughters of Temperance. Photo ca. 1913 from Record Group 17, Series #17.522, courtesy of Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg, PA.

Full Name: Colonel William Strothers

Birth Date: 1868

Death Date: July, 14, 1933

Place of Birth: Culpeper, Virginia

Sex: Male

Race: Black

Places of Residence: According to obituary, moved to Harrisburg around 1888 and lived at: 317 Calder (1896), 322 Calder (1898), 433 South Street (1910), 600 Forster (1914), and 423 Strawberry Street (1920-1930).

Connection to the Old Eighth Ward: Resident; political and community organizer; talesman drawn for the Eighth Ward in 1913; operated pool room and cigar store in the Eighth Ward at 432 South Street; worked in and around the Eighth Ward

Family Members: Father: Willis. Mother: Mary Ellen. Siblings: Maria Strothers, Rose (Car- son) Strothers, Peachie (Thomas) Strothers, Hattie (Higginbottom) Strothers, John Strothers, Joseph Strothers, Willis/William Strothers, Clarence Strothers, Thomas Ware Strothers. Wife: M1: Annie, d. 1897. Wife: M2: Jennie Smith (1870/1880/1930 census)

Occupations: Worked at Harrisburg Car Works. Waiter. Patrolman in the police force (stationed at Third and Market Streets). Pool room proprietor in several addresses in and around the Eighth Ward. Merchant (restaurant at 425 Strawberry). Barber shop. Real estate. Owned a dancing school and operated Felton’s Hall. Owner of Harrisburg Giants baseball team.

Church Membership: Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion (funeral); Strothers sold tickets for the American Methodist Episcopal Home Missionary cause

Activism: Known Republican; Harrisburg Giants professional baseball team (owner and manager); Mutual Association of Eastern Colored Clubs (league commissioner); Chosen Friends Lodge Number 43 F. and A.M. (member); St. James Commandery, No. 17, Knights Templar, B.P.O.E. and the Odd Fellows, Independent, Benevolent, Protective Order of Elks of the World (member); selected as officer of a political club in the Sixth Ward; “Colored Republican Clubs’’ rally at courthouse in 1916 (chief marshal); Workingmen’s Social and Protective Association (founding member).

Connections: Joseph L. Thomas, Sylvester Burris, W. Justin Carter, Daniel Potter Sr., among many others.