Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair(s)

Colleen O'Neill


Colleen O'Neill


In 1910, Della Sutphen, an African American widow and single mother, was indicted in Nacogdoches, Texas, for running a “house of ill repute.” Della and her young son shared a home with another single black woman, Rena Hooper. However, Nacogdoches County officials did not seem to be all that worried about prostitution; Della was one of several African Americans repeatedly arrested for selling liquor.1 Della’s prostitution charge went hand in hand with a charge of selling liquor illegally, and this was one of three instances in which she suffered arrest for this crime.

Nacogdoches had a long history of liquor restrictions – the town licensed and taxed legal liquor sales decades before Della was born. What is interesting about Della and her contemporaries, however, is that most of those arrested in her time were African Americans violating a 1906 law that completely prohibited alcohol in Nacogdoches County. Law enforcement repeatedly arrested several African Americans – including Della Sutphen, Emma Hightower, George Pleasant, Frank Payne, and Edie Johnson – primarily for the crime of selling alcohol.2 Although the county had always restricted

Included in

History Commons