Henry Clay "Yank" Washington Park
ABOUT THE PARK
HISTORY OF PARK NAME
Named after a beloved early Anna neighbor named Henry Clay "Yank" Washington, Mr. Washington was believed to be the only African American neighbor in Anna from the late 1800s through the mid-1930s. Mr. Washington's main job was to carry mailbags from the depot to the post office using a homemade wooden cart with two large iron wheels. He also worked as a janitor at the historic train depot, the Interurban station, the bank, the post office, and several stores in town. Well-liked in Anna, in the late 1920s, the neighbors of Anna took up a collection and bought Mr. Washington a railroad watch so that he would always know the time to expect the mail train. Late in Mr. Washington's life, the neighbors of Anna took up a collection to pay his way on the train to St. Louis and back so that he could visit a relative he had not seen since he was 17. When he returned, a large crowd was waiting to greet him.
The historical context of the time when Mr. Washington resided in Anna was during segregation in the U.S. South before the long-overdue civil rights movement that resulted in the abolition of Jim Crow laws and racial segregation. Despite enduring the harsh restrictions and inherent inequality of "separate but equal" segregation rules, Mr. Washington earned respect and affection from his neighbors in Anna, providing hope for the inclusion that would eventually grow to be a principal value in our community.
For more information, please check out:
A Town Named Anna, by Chester A. Howell, Copyright 1985
The Spark That Ignited the Town of Anna, by the Anna Area Historical Preservation Society, Copyright 2018