Anna Poage was born in Missouri in 1853. Anna claimed to have “freedom papers,” while her husband James Poage was born a slave. The Poages had three children before coming to La Crosse in 1884, Lillie, Nellie, and George. At first the family was employed at the Pettibone House, James as coachman and Anna as the cook.
Following James’ death in 1888, Anna and her daughter Nellie worked at the Easton House and lived there with Anna’s two younger children. They benefited from their mother’s employer, Lucian Easton, who made sure that the children received a good education.
George Poage graduated from La Crosse High School as a track star and salutatorian. He went on to study at the University of Wisconsin Madison, earning a degree in history and breaking Big Ten track records. He was the first African American to win a Big Ten Track and Field Championship. After going on to graduate school and before becoming a teacher in Missouri, Poage competed in the 1904 Olympics, and became the first African American Olympic Medalist by winning two bronzes in track.
Anna died in 1952 in Illinois and is buried near her son, George.
1327 Cass Street
1890: Home of Lucian Easton
2019: Private Residence