Young people from Y.O.U. (Youth and Opportunity United) will be at Twiggs Park on October 3, putting the finishing touches on new plantings around the overlook deck. It’s a good time to recall another fall day 31 years ago, October 18, 1986. That’s when the 9-acre park was dedicated to the memory of William H. Twiggs (1865-1960) in honor of his contributions to the Evanston community.
William Twiggs was a founding member of Ebenezer AME Church and the Emerson Street YMCA. He moved to Evanston at the age of 17 from Davenport, Iowa. He started out as a barber, opened his own barbershop, and meanwhile learned the printing trade. When his roommate J.S. Woods conceived of a publication called The Afro-American Budget, Twiggs became editor. The first issue was published in 1889. Not long after, as Dino Robinson writes, “Twiggs traded the scissors for the press, brought a second hand Gordon Jobber Press and opened a print shop in the same location as his barbershop. In 1909, he moved his business to 1619 Sherman Avenue and then next door to 1621 Sherman Avenue, north of Fountain Square. Next to his print shop was a vacant lot dubbed ‘Twiggs Park’ because of the branch and shrub debris scattered around the lot. This would foreshadow the official naming of another parcel of land nearly 75 years later.”
Dino Robinson reflects: “What makes a man a jewel in his community? Is it wealth, connections, or is it a firm commitment to his community? William H. Twiggs proved that it is what you do for your community that counts. His dedication to community had been immortalized for eternity with an Evanston park bearing his name.”
William H. Twiggs: Early Pioneer by Dino Robinson. First published in the printed version of Shorefront Journal, Volume One, Number Three, winter 2000. The Shorefront Journal is a publication of the Shorefront Legacy Center.
Evanston History Center. A copy of the program from the 1986 dedication ceremony is in the archives.