Born: Russia, 1875-1880
1900 - 115 Warren St.
1910 - 360 Selma St.
Bertha Claxton, one of the madams highlighted in the 1912 Blue Book, operated a brothel at 115 Warren Street from 1900 to 1912. Born in Russia, Claxton immigrated to the United States between 1889 and 1893. She first appears in the Mobile Directory and Federal Census in 1900 as the head of a boarding house at 115 Warren Street. She had one female boarder, an out-of-work school teacher.
By 1910, Claxton lived 12 blocks south of her brothel at 360 Selma Street with a 60-year-old African American servant Martha Jackson, who worked as Claxton’s bookkeeper. If she was, in fact, running the brothel at 115 Warren Street, as the Blue Book indicates, she is one of the only madams to live outside the district while operating a brothel within it. While she made her money in an unrespectable trade, perhaps she hoped to distance herself from it and sought acceptance in “respectable” society.
Photo Credit: Eric Overbey Collection, The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama.