Cooper, Pulliam, Adams inducted to Hall of Fame

PULLIAM FAMILY – (left) Alfred Donald, Emma Lyndsey, Chester Baskerville and Seresa Ivory are just a few of the nieces and nephews of the late Alfred Tennyson Pulliam.

ADAMS INDUCTED – Lloyd S. Adams Jr.(below) is joined by sons, Mitchell and Lloyd, after his induction into the Humboldt Hall of Fame.

HOMETOWN COUSINS – Hall of Fame inductee Col. John Kenneth Cooper (3rd photo down)  is joined by Humboldt cousins Ricky Hunt and Jimmy Hunt at the Hall of Fame Reception.


Three Humboldt men were inducted into the 11th Annual Humboldt Hall of Fame Thursday night.

Col. John Kenneth Cooper, the late Humboldt businessman Alfred Tennyson Pulliam and attorney Lloyd S. Adams Jr. were the honorees this year.

Cooper is a Army military intelligence officer who first entered the service from the UT Martin ROTC program. With degrees, awards and recognitions that would fill a book, Cooper remains a humble man.

“It is humbling to be here among these others. I couldn’t think of a better place than Humboldt to grow up. The first line in all my bios says I’m from Humboldt, Tennessee.”

“Never underestimate the power of your influence,” he told the crowd. He recalled his late mother, Mattie Cooper, an entrepreneur and creative businesswoman, who watched his grades and kept him straight. He also recalled his late father, William Fair, who worked many years at Alton Box and Jefferson Smurfit. Cooper assured the crowd his father would be weeping with joy if he could have been in the audience Thursday night. Cooper also mentioned many coaches and mentors including Johnny Cyrus, Calvin Farmer, Kathleen Smith, Jack Cain and Tommy Colvin.

The late Alfred Tennyson Pulliam was famed for his BBQ place in Humboldt. But the man was an active entrepreneur in several areas. He operated a moving and storage company, a grocery store, a gas station and the Booker T. Motel and restaurant where the BBQ cooking began. The grocery and gas station building is now Sam’s BBQ, operated by the Pulliam’s niece, Seresa, and her husband, John Ivory.

Emma Lindsey, a niece, accepted on behalf of Pulliam’s family. Several nieces and nephews attending to honor their uncle, who was very good and generous to all of them, noted Lindsey.

The Booker T. Motel, at one time, was the only place blacks who were traveling could stop between Memphis and Nashville, said Lindsey.

The restaurant was the only place coloreds could go in and sit down without going to the back door, she added.

The BBQ eventually drew folks from across the country and for a while, Pulliam shipped it out for customers. The sauce recipe remains a secret even today. Lindsey did say it might have had a whole can of black pepper in it but Pulliams didn’t use red pepper. “And maybe he never washed that pot,” she joked, to the delight of the audience.

Lloyd Senter Adams Jr. says he was born to be an attorney, graduating at the top of his class at Vanderbilt University School of Law and entering practice with his father in Humboldt.

Those 20 years, he says, were the days of his conformity.  Then he moved on, to the non-conformity.

Adams served on the school board, the chamber of commerce board and multiple state legal commissions and committees. As a delegate to the Methodist conference, he became convinced the church should serve the entire community and move forward toward racial justice. He worked with the late Rev. J.T. Freeman and the community group, HOPE (Humboldtans for Opportunity, Progresss and Equality).

Adams thanked the crowd for the honor and looked back at the Civil Rights Era here. He recalled when he proposed the chamber of commerce invite African American businesses to be a part of the chamber.  As a board member, he made the motion and it died for lack of a second. Later he ran for alderman and the newspaper ran a headline about a ‘liberal alderman’ and he lost. Still he worked to change Humboldt government from at-large elections to district elections for aldermen, a more fair process that would allow African Americans to be elected.


COL. COOPER INDUCTED – Col. John Cooper (below) is joined by wife, Tanza at his induction into the Humboldt Hall of Fame.

PULLIAM’S BBQ EMPLOYEE – Lavern Johnson, 98, of Humboldt was a faithful employee at Pulliam’s BBQ many years ago and is known for mixing their famous spicy BBQ sauce. She joined by her son, Armour Jones, Thursday as they witnessed the induction of the late Afred Lloyd Tennyson Pulliam into the Humboldt Hall of Fame.

1 Comment

  1. Historian LaMAR Burks on June 15, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    Enjoyed viewing the artifacts online. When time is suitable, please see btwathleticmuseumyoutube.. the story of my museum creation.

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