John Dewitt Stevenson
John Dewitt Stevenson was born on June 22, 1877, in Malden, West Virginia, and died on February 27, 1930, in Madison, Wisconsin. Originally Stevenson came to the Beloit area looking for donations as an employee of the Tuskegee Institute. He was hired by Fairbanks Morse as a community organizer for their Black employees.
According to Ben Gordon, who spoke to an interviewer in 1976, “[Stevenson] was working for Fairbanks, and it was his job to supervise these people. And believe you me, he would handle just about any situation that came up.” Additionally, he would recruit for the Fairbanks Morse employment office. Gordon said, “he [would] more or less talk with the employment office at Fairbanks and when new people would come in, he would more or less know whether they were reliable or what types of jobs they would put them on.”
J. D. Stevenson lived in the Edgewater Flats and was very active in the Beloit community. Stevenson was the superintendent of the Edgewater Flats and Young Men's Christan Association (YMCA). As superintendent, his responsibilities included overseeing the dining hall, providing single men with accommodations, and supervising the various activities at the Edgewater YMCA. Stevenson also assisted Black youths in the "Hi-Y" Club at the YMCA with scouting and sports.
Stevenson helped found the Boy Scout Troop 6 in 1924 and he served as Scout Master until 1929. He also taught Sunday School and led the Easter and Christmas programs at the YMCA. Stevenson also helped to establish the first Wisconsin chapter of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He was, additionally, a member of the Kennedy Masonic Lodge.