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SJMiller
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East Tennessee
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Came across the following while working on a book concerning African American magicians from the early part of the 20th century. Due to various problems beyond my control, the book may not printed for sometime and so I thought I would past along some of the more interesting items I found just in case they might be of use to someone else. If you would like to see more after this post, let me know and I will post some other things.
The following item goes a long way toward clearing up some of the legends concerning Black Herman, although it does shed light on one interesting new possibility.

From The Chicago Defender, April 21, 1934

Black Herman, Noted Magician, Dies

End Comes After Sudden Attack of Acute Indigestion: Rites in New York

By Lee Brown

Louisville, Ky, April 20 - (Special) - The victim of acute indigestion, Professor “Black Herman”, known in private life as Herman Rucker, one of the most noted magicians and psychic exponents of the Race, died here shortly after noon Tuesday at 2916 W. Walnut Street, the temporary residence of his troupe.
Apparently in the best of health, Monday, “Black Herman’s” death came as a shock to thousands of both races who had jammed his many spiritualist meetings here. He was preparing for a tour of the state of Kentucky when he was stricken on Monday shortly after eating dinner. He was given a few home remedies but when these failed a physician was called. The end came before he could be taken to a hospital.

Body Shipped East

The body was taken to the J.B. Cooper mortuary, where it was being prepared for shipment to New York City, his home. He is survived by his widow, two daughters, Frances, age 12, and Louise, age 10; a son, a brother, sister, and several cousins.
Two stories are told of “Black Herman’s” birth; one is that he was born in Amherst, VA. 50 years ago.; the other that he was born in Africa and brought to Amherst, VA. By his parents when he was a small boy. In his late teens, he worked on a farm, felled trees, split wood and laid the foundation for that magnificent physique which enabled him to exhibit night after noght, usually giving two matinee performances a week.
At the age of 20 Professor Herman acted as handyman for Keller the great, magician, at a local performance in or near Amherst, VA. He studied under him and other magicians and soon started his career.
He entertained in the South and toured Kentucky 15 or 16 years ago. Hs first performance that attracted national attention to him was staged in St. Louis, MO., some 17 years ago. Rev. William Sampson Brooks of the St. Paul A.M.E. church and rev. Dr. Shaw of the Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion church, who were both later elevated to the bishopric, held a week’s fir in a park. “Black Herman” was the star attraction.

Starts East

In the late fall of 1922 “Black Herman” started his eastward march from Detroit, MI, to New York City, drawing capacity houses and remaining from two weeks to a month in the large cities between Detroit and New York City.
Professor Herman went to New York City in May 1923. In the summer of that year he drew capacity houses in Liberty Hall, the headquarters of the Garvey organization, with a seating capacity of nearly 4,000. He held his crowds for two months. Then in September he drew vast crowds in a large tent on Seventh Ave. near 140th Street, holding Sunday night chautauquas.
Between the summer of 1923 and 1926, when Professor Herman rode on the crest of the wave, he gave full time employment to 20 people in New York City, Philadelphia, and Wilmington, Del. And part time employment to 30 people.

Bulletin

Louisville, Ky - Wednesday - A squadron of police were rushed to the J.B. Copper mortuary this morning to prevent a near riot among women and girls who were trying to gain admittance to the funeral parlor to get a finl look at Prof. “Black Herman”, noted magician and spiritualist. It is expected that 5,000 or more persons will file through the parlor to see the body before it is shipped to New York for internment.


If you would like more, let me know and I will post additional info either on Black Herman or some new info on Black Carl Dante, including his real name. Let know which you would prefer.
Spellbinder
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The Holy City of East Orange, NJ
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I hate to see you "giving away your book for free," but I find it all fascinating and would be glad to read any additional information you care to post on either magician.
Professor Spellbinder

Professor Emeritus at the Turkey Buzzard Academy of Magik, Witchcraft and Wizardry

http://www.magicnook.com

Publisher of The Wizards' Journals
Slim King
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Eternal Order
Orlando
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Very Cool!!!!!
He was a Spiritualist then?
THE MAN THE SKEPTICS REFUSE TO TEST FOR ONE MILLION DOLLARS.. The Worlds Foremost Authority on Houdini's Life after Death.....
Tom Bartlett
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Our southern border could use
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Thank you for posting this truly fascinating information, please post more.
Our friends don't have to agree with me about everything and some that I hold very dear don't have to agree about anything, except where we are going to meet them for dinner.
SJMiller
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East Tennessee
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Quote:
On 2008-04-03 00:12, Slim King wrote:
Very Cool!!!!!
He was a Spiritualist then?


What I have found has led me to believe that Black Herman did what ever would bring in customers. According to Alexander Callow in "American Urban History: An Interperative Reader with Commentaries" Black Herman "held seances and sold 'blessed handkerchiefs', 'potent powders', love charms, lodestones, amulets, and 'piles of roots". In addition, the Baltimore Afro American reported on September 24, 1932 that "the chief attraction at the Herman tent (shows) was the expectation of getting tips on the numbers."

Also he was involved in fortune telling, which he was arrested for in New York, as well as violating the Volstead Act, the law concerning prohibiton, and practicing medicine without a license.
Spellbinder
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Inner circle
The Holy City of East Orange, NJ
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Yes. He was a forerunner of tele-evangelists like Peter Popoff in that regard.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Popoff
It's incredible to see Popoff still selling his "miracle holy water" on late night TV infomercials. He seems to be able to continue his fraudulent activities in full view of all the authorities and has never been indicted or arrested for it. Black Herman would have been a multi-millionaire in today's permissive society.
Professor Spellbinder

Professor Emeritus at the Turkey Buzzard Academy of Magik, Witchcraft and Wizardry

http://www.magicnook.com

Publisher of The Wizards' Journals
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