Image 4 of 27
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Cora and Alonzo (Lon) Thomas operated a small grocery from the front room of this house at 715 C Street. Four of their five children are portrayed here. Baby Lonnie, born in 1909, sits on Herschel's lap. Agnes stands at left, and eldest son Wendell stands at the center. The young man at right is probably Lucius Knight, their mother's half brother. Wendell worked a typical variety of jobs in Lincoln--waiter, clerk, porter, laborer, and janitor--before founding the Thomas Funeral Home in Omaha. The Thomas family and many other African American families lived in the South Bottoms, a neighborhood mainly of Germans from Russia, Lincoln's largest immigrant group. The little blonde girl is Marie Busche, daughter of German immigrant Fred Busche. She's 3 years old in this photo.  This image serves as a reminder that Lincoln's residential neighborhoods were not segregated by race in the early 20th century--poor people of many ethnicities lived together. A few years later and through the middle third of that century, residential segregation became prevalent in Lincoln. A close-knit black neighborhood arose from that adversity, centered around Twenty-first and T Streets.