Sunday, February 1, 2015

Truly Hatchett (1881-1970)

 Truly Hatchett, from the Nov. 18. 1954 edition of "Jet" magazine.

  Lifelong Baltimore resident Truly Hatchett etched his name into the history books in November 1954 when he became one of two African-Americans to win election to the Maryland State House of Delegates, being the first of their race to be elected to that body. Over seventy years old at the time of his election, Hatchett represented the district of Baltimore for one term and in the twilight of his life was remarked as being "the oldest living real estate broker and insurance man" residing in the city of Baltimore.
   Born in Baltimore on June 17, 1881, Truly Hatchett was the son of James H. and Hannah Hatchett. He is recorded as having attended the public schools of Baltimore and for nearly all of his adult life worked as a real estate dealer and insurance broker. A longstanding member of the Elks lodge, Hatchett was elected as the Exalted Ruler of the Monumental Elks Lodge of Baltimore in 1928. He would remain affiliated with the Elks Lodge until his death, and for a number of years served that organization's Grand Lodge as its  "regional director of education". Hatchett was also long active in the Y.M.C.A, holding the post of President of the Board of Managers of the Druid Hill Branch of the YMCA in the early 1950s.
   Prior to his election as a state delegate Hatchett continued to deal in real estate and insurance. In the early 1950s he was serving as a "senior claims examiner" in the Unemployment Compensation Division of Baltimore and in November 1954 won election as a Democrat to the Maryland House of Delegates from Baltimore's 4th district.

Truly Hatchett and his fellow legislators in April 1955, from the Baltimore Afro-American.

  Seated along with Hatchett was fellow Fourth district delegate Emory Ryan Cole (1893-1968), a veteran of WWI as well as a practicing lawyer. Taking their seats at the start of the 1955-session, Hatchett and Cole were highlighted in the 1955 edition of the Baltimore Afro-American, where they described their first few months of legislative service. Despite his history making status in Maryland politics, Hatchett remained modest about he and Cole's groundbreaking tenure, noting that:
"At no time did the Assembly try to embarrass us. Our representatives made a fine impression on the two bodies."
    Hatchett's term of four years concluded in 1958, having been an unsuccessful candidate for reelection. For the remainder of his life he and his wife Bertha played a prominent role in local civic affairs, and in 1969 the 88 year-old former legislator and his wife were taken from their Druid Block home to the Provident Hospital in Baltimore out of concerns for their health and well-being. As the Baltimore Afro-American relates,
"This good news is a great relief to their friends and neighbors who were much concerned that these two grand senior citizens were ill and alone, except for a half-blind dog...But thanks to their minister, the Rev, Vernon Dobson (Union Baptist) and their nieces in Philadelphia and their friend, Charles Parker, they'll get the tender loving care they need now."
 After many years of prominence in Baltimore's black community, Truly Hatchett died on April 1, 1970, two months short of his 89th birthday. A burial location for both he and his wife remains unknown at this time.

Truly Hatchett (on right) at the 1960 Elks Citizenship Banquet in Washington, D.C.

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