I was doing research for my Black home owners of Truxton Circle series and ‘eventually’ stumbled on a filmmaker. I spent all day researching Mrs. Gist as a property owner and right before retiring for bed, on a lark, I Googled her name, and discovered she made a few short religious films. There is a lot to share about her as a woman and a pioneering African American filmmaker that I am giving her a separate post under the name Eloyce Gist.
She was born Mayme Eloyce King on October 21, 1892 in Galveston County, TX. Her parents were Josephine Beavers and Walter Louis King, and she was the eldest of their seven (plus?) children.
According to an online biography, she married Roscoe C. Patrick in 1911. In 1912 Homoiselle Vivian Patrick was born. She relocated, alone it appears, to Washington, DC in the 1920s. She appeared as a roomer at 1325 or 1525 10th St NW, working as a hairdresser at a beauty shop. In 1923, she first appears in the DC city directory as Mamie Patrick, hairdresser on 134 R St NW. She divorced Patrick in 1930.
In the 1930 census, she is listed as the owner of 134 R St NW, working as a beautician. Her daughter, Homoiselle, then 16, is listed as her sister.
In June of 1932 she married evangelical (she and her daughter were Bahá’í ) Christian James Gist in Pennsylvania. But they made movies together prior to their marriage.
The earliest known film was Hellbound Train in 1930. She and James are credited as co-directors and co-writers.
Film restorer Dr. Samuel Waymon explains the film better than I can in this Youtube link.
Their second known work from 1933, Verdict Not Guilty is, um, interesting. She and James Gist co-directed it, but she is the sole writer and is listed in IMDB as its one star.
Their last surviving film is Heaven-Bound Traveler from 1935. Eloyce played the Wife. I look at it and wonder if they shot this in their own Truxton home or on Truxton Streets? Hellbound Train looks like it was shot in LeDroit Park.
James E. Gist died December 12, 1937. It doesn’t appear that she made anymore films after her directing partner passed. Modern write ups mention that she went around playing these religious themed silent movies around town. However, I could only find 2 mentions in the Evening Star of her exhibiting the film. One mention was in the December 16, 1939 edition of the Evening Star of Mrs. Eloyce Giste showing Not Guilty at Metropolitan Wesley AMEZ church.
She did not remain a widow long and married projector operator, Arthur Clifton Wood, a man 17 years her junior. Gist was younger than her too. Wood was 22 years old, she was 39. They married December 12, 1939 in Prince William County Virginia. In the 1940 census, Arthur is listed as Arthur Gist, head of household and owner of 134 R St NW. It isn’t clear when the Wood marriage ended.
She married John William Slaughter in 1952. They divorced in 1972, but according to their Albermarle County, VA divorce certificate they separated in 1956.
I will do another post for Mrs. Mayme Eloyce King Patrick-Gist-Wood-Slaughter in May, as a home owner.