Fire-bombing – A Williams Family Memory

James was taking the photo, unfortunately because Williams photos are rare. The two youngest girls were not yet born. Taken about 1959. Williams family photograph.

My husband James was a baby, the youngest of the five children of Chester and Theola Williams, when they moved from Dermott, AK to St. Louis, MO about 1945. At first they stayed with Theola’s sister who lived on  Keokuk Street.  James older brother Harold, born in January 1942, was kindergarten age, the family moved to a house they bought on Washington Blvd and Whittier Street.

Route from the house to the school.
Route from the house to the school.  From Google maps.
Screen shot 2016-07-17 at 12.01.14 PM
Cole Elementary School from Google maps. Click to enlarge.

Harold remembers that he started kindergarten about 1947 at Cole Elementary School, which was around the corner from the house.  He did not finish the year out because their house was fire bombed. They had moved into a white neighborhood where they were not wanted.  The oldest sister, Jocelyn Maxine remembered that their mother was very calm as she moved the children from the front of the house, where the bomb entered, to a back room.

Because of the bombing, the city of St. Louis gave the family an apartment in Carr Square Village, a public housing project.  When the family included nine children, they had outgrown that apartment and moved to Pruitt–Igoe, a large housing project first occupied in 1954. Eventually there were 12 children and the family bought a house on Cabanne Street. They lived there until about 1970 when they moved to Inglewood Court, where they lived until that property was taken by the city to build a strip mall about 2005.

My husband has been trying to find validation for this oral history, mainly searching old newspapers. So far he has not had any luck, but I think that he may have been searching the wrong years, so we are hopeful that eventual the story will be validated.

On The Way Home From Work – 1943

poppy sidewalk
My grandfather, Mershell C. Graham. “On the way home from work 1943”

poppy_the_worker_poemFrom my grandmother Fannie’s scrapbook. “That’s my Shell” 1-25-59.

River Rouge Plant in Dearborn, Michigan.
River Rouge Plant in Dearborn, Michigan.

My grandfather, Mershell C. Graham came to Detroit from Montgomery, Alabama in 1917. He worked on the steamer “Eastern States” as a steward for awhile and then as a stockman in the library at the Ford River Rouge Plant in Dearborn, Michigan until he retired in the 1950s. Although he had a car, he did not drive to work, he caught the bus, first walking to the bus stop and then riding over an hour to get to work.

Unknown Man Walking
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Timeline for Joe Turner, Hayneville, Lowndes County AL (1849 -1919)

Wiley Turner plantation Hayneville, Lowndes county, Alabama. Man plowing with a mule. Chickens under a house. My great grandmother Jennie Allen Turner with her children Daisy and Fannie Turner after the death of her husband Howard Turner. Lowndes county Courthouse, Hayneville, Lowndes County. Click to enlarge.

Joe Turner was my maternal grandmother Fannie Turner Graham’s grandfather. This is his timeline as I continue to investigate his life and that of his community in Hayneville, Lowndes County, Alabama.

I found the Index of Deeds, Mortages etc. for Lowndes County online at Joe Turner is listed both buying and selling and mortgagine propery, as are several others who were formerly enslaved on Wiley Turner’s plantation. When I order the microfilm of the actual records I will be able to see dates and names and other information.

Sources for the information below is in italics at the end of the entries. All took place in Lowndes County, most in Hayneville area.


  • 1841 Born into slavery in Alabama.
  • 1853 Age 12. Appears as “Joe (white)” in list of enslaved with ages and valuation. Wiley Turner estate file page 657.
  • 1855 Age 14. Lists of enslaved and livestock divided for heirs. Wiley Turner estate file page 717.
  • 1857 Dec Age 16 “Valuation of entire slave property of decd- names of…” Joe appears as “Yellow Joe”  Wiley Turner estate file page 796.
  • 1861 11 Jan. Alabama seceded from the Union.
  • 1861 Age 20 – Marriage to Emma Jones (1842–1901) – during slavery. 1900 US Census
  • 1862 Age 20 — Birth of Daughter Lydia Turner (1862–) 1870 US Census
  • 1864 Age 22 — Birth of Son Howard Turner (1864–1892) 1870 US Census
  • 1865 9 June Age 24 –  Bill from Dr. W.H. Haigler for Quinine for Joe.Wiley Turner estate file page 637.
  • 1865 Age 24 – List of enslaved. Joseph  Wiley Turner estate file page 544.
  •  1865 December 18 – Slavery legally over in Alabama.
  • 1866 Age 24 – Birth of Daughter Fannie Turner (1866–1880) 1870 US Census.
  • 1866 Age 25 – Alabama State Census Hayneville, Lowndes County.
  • 1867 Age 25 – Birth of Son Joe Turner (1867–1920) 1870 US Census.
  • 1867 Age 26 – Residence Lowndes, Alabama, USA Alabama Voter Registration Records.
  • 1869 Age 27 – Birth of Daughter Anna Turner (1869–) 1870 US Census.
  • 1870 Age 29 – Residence Hayneville, Lowndes, Alabama. 1870 US Census.
  • 9 Jan 1876 Age 34 – Birth of Son Alonza Turner (1876–1944) 1880 US Census.
  • 1880 (before) Age 38 – Death of Daughter Fannie Turner (1866– before 1880)
  • 1880 Age 39 – Residence Prairie Hill & Gordonsville, Lowndes, AL. Farming 1880 US Census and 1880 Agricultural Census.
  • 1890 -1891 • Age 49 — Turner vs Turner Probate Court land dispute. Hayneville, Lowndes County, AL.
  • 1892 Age 51 — Death of Son Howard Turner (1864–1892) Mentioned in court case above and oral history.
  • 1900 Age 59 — Residence Gordonsville, Lowndes, Alabama. 1900 US Census.
  • 1901(about) Age 60 – Death of Wife Emma Jones (1842–1901) Lowndes County. Emma disappears from records and Joe remarries.
  • 1902 22 Jan Age 60 – Marriage Luella Freeman (1880–1977) Gordonsville, Lowndes, AL. “Alabama, Marriages, 1816-1957″
  • 1903 Age 61 — Birth of Son John Van Turner (1903–1943) Lowndes County AL. 1910 US Census.
  • 1904 Age 62 – Birth of Daughter Anna E. Turner (1904–1924) Lowndes County. 1910 US Census.
  • 1906 10 Oct  Age 65 – Birth of Son Daniel Turner (1906–) Lowndes County. 1910 US Census.
  • 1908 Age 66 – Birth of Son Buck Turner (1908–1931) Lowndes County Alabama 1910 US Census
  • 1909 Age 67 – Birth of Daughter Josephine Turner (1909–1915) Lowndes Cty 1910 US Census
  • 1910 Age 69 – Residence Precinct 4, Lowndes, Alabama. 1910 US Census.
  • 1911 Age 69 – Birth of Daughter Elizabeth Turner (1911–) Hayneville, Lowndes, Alabama. 1920 US Census.
  • 1912 25 Feb Age 70 – Birth of Son Talmadge Turner (1912–1987) Lowndes County Alabama. 1910 US Census.
  • 1914 21 Aug Age 73 – Birth of Daughter Luella Turner (1914–1916) Lowndes County Alabama. 1910 US Census.
  • 1915 19 Feb • Age 73 – Death of Daughter Josephine Turner (1909–1915). Alabama, Death Index, 1908-59.
  • 1916 23 Mar Age 74 – Death of Daughter Luella Turner (1914–1916). Alabama, Death Index, 1908-59.
  • 1919 7 Feb Age 77 – Death Lowndes County. Alabama, Death Index, 1908-59.
  • 1919  Birth of Daughter Selena Turner (1919–2011) Lowndes County AL. 1920 US Census.




1854 Doctors Visits to the Turner Plantation

Turner Plantation house – Picking cotton – Slave dwelling – Lowndes County Courthouse, Hayneville AL

There are four lists from different dates for doctors visits to the enslaved on the Turner plantation. Sometimes those treated are named and sometimes they are just referred to as “Negroes”.  I have added the ages of those who are named based on other lists from the estate files.

Dr. C.B. Lampley was the doctor listed for this time period.  Lampley was born in 1830 in Richmond County, NC. His family relocated to Alabama by 1850. He married Thurza Rudolph of Lowndes County.  They had two children. In the 1860 census he enslaved four people, a 35 year old mulatto woman, a 30 year old black man, a fifteen year old mulatto girl and a 14 year old black male. They lived in two dwellings. He joined the Confederate Army where he became a surgeon. He was lamed and later resigned due to diabetes and general debility.  During 1854 and 1855 he visited the Turner plantation to treat the enslaved – pulling teeth, lancing abscesses, bleeding and dosing with medication.

Click on images to enlarge for easier reading.

1854 doctor visitsDocument3





Joe Turner in the 1853 Estate File of Wiley Turner – Lowndes County, Alabama

Recently I decided to find the plantation where my 2X great grandparents, Joe and Emma Turner were enslaved. I started by looking at white Turners in Hayneville, Lowndes County, Alabama where my family lived in 1870. I found Wiley Turner and his brother Thomas Turner. Both died in 1851. Wiley’s estate file contained several lists of those enslaved on his plantation.  I found a Joe. I believe is my Joe because there was only one Joe Turner in the area and because he was described as light complected, which my Joe was. I have posted the most complete list that includes names, ages and monetary worth.  There is also an Emmaline who may be my Emma.

I will be writing more about the Turner plantation and those who were once enslaved on it, as I continue to try and piece together the lives of Joe and Emma  Turner and others in their community.

The rebuilt plantation house of Wiley Turner. You can see more photos and information here.  No photos of the slave quarters survive.  In 1860 there were 15 slave dwellings for 75 enslaved people.  Five members of the Wiley Turner family lived in the big house.
Inventory; and Appraisement of the Est. of Wiley Turner, Deceased. 1853

        Sex            Name              Aged about     Worth
1.      Boy        Andrew                    20       $850.00
2.      Girl       Fanny                     20        750.00
3.      Boy        Lewis (Tyus)              24        750.00
4.      Girl       Amy                       29        550.00
5.      Boy        Mordicai                  20        875.00
6.      Girl       Leah                      20        650.00
7.      Boy        Billy (Tyus)              22        850.00
8.      Girl       Martha                    20        700.00
9.      Boy        Toney                     25        600.00
10.     Woman      Ellen & child             40        400.00
11.     Girl       Abby                      14        550.00
12.     Girl       Little Margaret           13        500.00
13.     Boy        Alfred                    22        700.00
14.     Woman      Maria & child Ranson      30        500.00
15.     Girl       Little Jane                9        250.00
16.     Girl       Louisa                     4        250.00
17.     Girl       Adella                     2        175.00
18.     Man        Doctor                    55        240.00
19.     Woman      Mary                      50        175.00
20.     Girl       Eliza                     14        600.00
21.     Girl       Minerva                   12        450.00
22.     Girl       Amanda                    10        350.00
23.     Man        Lewis                     18        750.00
24.     Woman      Lucy                      30        400.00
25.     Man        Adam                      22        500.00
26.     Girl     Mary Ellen & child Edward   18        800.00
27.     Man        Jack                      30        350.00
28.     Woman      Big Margaret              25        650.00
29.     Boy        Jesse (Tyus)              20        900.00
30.     Woman      Elizabeth                 23        650.00
31.     Man        William                   50        400.00
32.     Woman      Rachell                   50        200.00
33.     Boy        Little Charles             8        450.00
34.     Girl       Susan                     18        700.00
35.     Girl       Eliza                     34        400.00
36.     Girl       Harriett                   5        225.00
37.     Man        Sam                       35        400.00
38.     Woman      Lyddy                     30        400.00
39.     Boy        Henry (May)               19        900.00
40.     Woman      Ellen Brown               25        500.00
41.     Man        Robbin                    25        800.00
42.     Woman      Cherry & child Louisa     36        400.00
43.     Boy        Prince                     5        350.00
44.     Woman      Rachell (Patten)          28        700.00
45.     Boy        Robert                    11        500.00
46.     Boy        Frank                      6        300.00
47.     Woman      Maria Ann                 16        700.00
48.     Man        Charles (Rugely)          23        850.00
49.     Woman      Rose & child Gabril       28        650.00
50.     Boy        Washington                14        700.00
51.     Man        John                      24        800.00
52.     Woman      Nelly                     49        200.00
53.     Boy        Abram                     16        900.00
54.     Man        Big Jesse                 26        450.00
55.     Girl       Jane                      18        700.00
56.     Girl       Hager                     23        500.00
57.     Girl       Abegail & child Ema       23        400.00
58.     Woman      Old Rachell               60        100.00
59.     Man        Frederick                 23        850.00
60.     Woman      Clara & child Alford      35        500.00
61.     Girl       Sylvia                    12        500.00
62.     Girl       Lucy                      12        450.00
63.     Girl       Alice                      8        350.00
64.     Boy        Freeman                    6        350.00
65.     Boy        Harrison                   6        350.00
66.     Girl       Julia Ann                  3        200.00
67.     Boy        Henry (Turner)            18        875.00
68.     Man        Old Jim                   45        400.00
69.     Woman      Menty                     45        300.00
70.     Boy        Daniel                     3        200.00
71.     Man        Ben                       33        800.00
72.     Woman      Mary McQueen              28        500.00
73.     Boy        Harry                     12        550.00
74.     Woman      Hannah                    55        200.00
75.     Boy        George                    13        600.00
76.     Woman      Betsey & child Caroline   23        800.00
77.     Girl       Phillis                    8        375.00
78.     Girl       Peggy                      3        225.00
79.     Man        Achilles                  43        650.00
80.     Woman      Mariah Mosely             35        450.00
81.     Girl       Elvira                    14        650.00
82.     Boy        Jim Swagert               18        800.00
83.     Man        Wilson                    28        850.00
84.     Woman      Yellow Jinny              45        400.00
85.     Man        Martin                    26      1,100.00
86.     Woman      Letty                     21        300.00
87.     Man        Hardy                     56        250.00
88.     Boy        Nelson                    15        750.00
89.     Boy        Cary                      13        700.00
90.     Boy        Lloyd                     17        700.00
91.     Boy        Austin                    16        800.00
92.     Boy        Long George               19        350.00
93.     Boy        Isaac                     10        350.00
94.     Boy        Joe (white)               15        650.00
95.     Boy        Jim Patton                14        700.00
96.     Woman      Milly                     55        150.00
97.     Man        Edmond                    38        600.00
98.     Man        Tom                       40        600.00
99.     Boy        Ned                       11        475.00
100.    Girl       Emeline                    9        350.00
101.    Man        Yellow John               24        875.00
102.    Woman      Yellow Milly              30        800.00
103.    Boy        Anthony     infant    (included with Milly)
104.    Boy        Little William            10        450.00
105.    Boy        Carter                     6        350.00
106.    Boy        Braxton                    4        250.00
107.    Woman      Alcey                     40        200.00
108.    Old Man Turner                       65          1.00
109.    Boy        Frank (blind)             18          1.00

Joe and Emma Turner were the parents of Howard Turner who was my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner Graham’s father. You can see other posts about my Turner’s below.

Joe Turner – Land, Mules and Courts

Emma and Joe Turner of Lowndes County Alabama

There were at one time 4 flourishing schools in this county

Happy 6th Blogiversary to me!

6th_anniversaryWhile checking my facebook memories this morning, I discovered that yesterday was my 6th anniversary of my blog Finding Eliza. I’ve published 890 posts during those six years.   I’ve been found by long lost cousins, found wills that took my family back another generation and confirmed the plantations where they were enslaved. I’ve followed myself through the streets of my life, followed my Graham grandparents from Montgomery to Detroit, investigated the Cleages of Athens, TN and more. I’ve learned so much during that time and can only hope I learn as much in the next six years.


“There were at one time 4 flourishing schools in this county.” 1868 Hayneville, AL

page 1 letter
“Aug 16, 1868 I have the honor to state that I have just assumed charge of the Bureau at this point and find that the spirit of abuse and austersism is uncontrollable. There were at one time 4 flourishing schools for the freed people in this county but the teachers were so much abused and threatened that they were compelled to close. H_____ men are openly assailed in the streets and there is no protection for person or property…”
page 2 letter
“… (ex)cept by shooting some of them (do)wn. A squad of them usually (are) together and if one is hurt (the) balance interferes in his behalf. I have the honor to ask that (a) squad of U.S. troop be (se)nt here. Their presence is one (tha)t is necessary to keep these (mi)sserable out-laws down. I think it is a duty this (gov(ernment owes her ex soldiers to (pr)otect them. waiting a favorable answer. (I) am ______ very truly your ob(edien)t Servant, W.H.Hunter A.S.A.C. fr(om Lowndes Co Ala

You can see all 13 sheets in the file on Family Search at this link, Alabama, Freedmen’s Bureau in Hayneville, Alabama.  You can enlarge both of the images above by clicking on them.

My 2X great grandfather, Joe Turner was enumerated in the 1866 Alabama State census with his family of five living in Lowndes County, Alabama. In the 1870 census they were enumerated In Hayneville, Lowndes County. Joe was a farmer with $300 worth of personal goods. Neither he nor his wife Emma could read or write. The children were Lydia 8, Howard 7 (my great grandfather), Fannie 6, Joe 3 and Annie born in August of that year.

A-Z Challenge Reflections for 2016

Click to see more Reflection posts.

This was my 4th year participating in the A to Z challenge.  This year I wrote about people who were born into slavery and lived to be free. I found myself (once again) spending hours everyday researching and writing up my posts.

I also visited at least 5 new blogs, most days more. In addition when I found blogs I enjoyed, I revisited them throughout the challenge.  Some of the blogs that I visited multiple times were:

I want to express my appreciation for those who work each year to make the A to Z Challenge happen by setting up and monitoring the linky lists, contributing art work for badges and banners and visiting blogs.

What will I do differently next year?  I am already thinking about what I want to use for my theme next year and plan to write a few posts a month and save them for April 2017.  I enjoyed writing about all the Cleages of Athens, Tennessee last year because it gave me a feeling for the community and the relationships among the families. I missed that in the families I wrote about this year. I will be picking a theme that lets me go more in depth on a town where some of my ancestors lived in Tennessee, Kentucky or Alabama.

Below are links to the posts I wrote for this challenge.

Major Lee Zeigler – Virginia & Ohio

header ato z 2016This is my 4th year participating in the A-Z Challenge.  I am writing about people who were born into slavery and  lived to be free, and their descendants.  Today I will write about Major L. Zeigler to write about. He has ties to my family as the 2nd husband of the great grandmother of the wife of my 1st cousin once removed.

Major Zeigler was born in Virginia about 1869. In the 1880 census he was 11 years old and lived in Horse Pasture, Henry County, Virginia with his 50 year old mother, Lucy Zeigler and his 13 year old sister Polly.  All of them are listed as servants and none of them could read or write.

The first time Major Zeigler appears in Cincinnati records is in the 1887 Cincinnati City Directory, where he was listed as a laborer. He would have been 18 years old.  In 1894 he married Ella Bayes. He was 27 and she was 25.  She had been married previously and brought three daughters to the union.  They never had any children together.

In the 1900 census, the family lived at 4214 Eastern Avenue. The house was mortgaged. Major was a coal dealer. His wife, Ella was not working outside of the home. She had given birth to four children and three were still living. Her three daughters were using Zeigler as their surname. Fifteen year old Onie, 14 year old Maud and 11 year old Nennie were all attending school, as was Ella’s 11 year old brother who lived with them.  Ella’s mother lived in the home also. There was one border, 15 year old Murphy McSwain who worked as a coal peddler. He was the only one in the house who could neither read nor write.

In 1910 Major and Ella Ziegler lived in the house at 4214 Eastern alone. They owned their house however, it was not paid off. His occupation is listed as coal teamster. Ella did not work outside of the home.

In 1920 they owned the house free of mortgage. Granddaughter Fern, 16, lived with them. She was not attending school. Major’s occupation was as a mover of household goods. He was 49.  Ella was 51. Neither Ella nor Fern were employed outside of the home.

In 1930 Major Zeigler was working on his own account as a supervisor at his real estate business. They had moved out of the house on Eastern Avenue and were living in their mortage free house in Springfield. The house was valued at $10,000.  Since 1920, granddaughter Fern had married, divorced and had a seven year old daughter, Elaine, who was attending school. Sixty four year old Albert Smith boarded with them.  They did not own a radio.

Ella Bayes Zeigler died on November 18, 1933. She is buried in spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. She was 64 years old.

In 1940 Major Zeigler was 73 years old. He lived in a boarding house. His highest level of education completed was 2nd grade. He was working as a real estate agent.  Major Lee Zeigler died at home on April 10, 1960. You can read his obituary below.

The Cincinnati Enquirer - Monday April 11 1960. Major Lee Zeigler's obituary
The Cincinnati Enquirer – Monday April 11 1960. Major Lee Zeigler’s obituary

Y.M.C.A, Colored – Indianapolis, Indiana

colored ymca 1
I believe this image is from The Indianapolis Recorder, but it is in my collection without a label. I found the same drawing with a different heading in The Indianapolis Freeman, dated October 21, 1911.

“A cartoon drawn by Garfield T. Haywood, the colored artist, pictures the attitude of the Indianapolis colored people toward the movement for raising money for the proposed colored men’s branch building of the Y.M.C.A., and is meant to show that the colored people will do their best toward raising a fund of $15,000 among themselves. Haywood is thirty-one years old and was born at Greencastle, Ind. He was educated in Indianapolis public school No. 42, and studied for a time at Shortridge high school. Drawings have been contributed by him to the Indianapolis Recorder, the Freeman, Dignam’s Magazine, of Richmond, Ind., which has ceased publication, and other magazines. Mr. Haywood is identified with the colored Y.M.C.A.”

I was familiar with the campaign in Indianapolis, Indiana because my grandfather Albert B. Cleage Sr. and his brother, Henry W. Cleage, were very active in this effort. While looking for bits in the local papers about my family, I ran across many articles about the campaign. The Y.M.C.A. was segregated at the time. Click all images to enlarge.

colored ymca
The money was collected and the Senate Street YMCA was built. Article from the November 4, 1911 Indianapolis Recorder – “A Weekly Newspaper Devoted to the Best Interest of the Negroes of Indiana.”
My grandmother before she married. The Indianapolis Star, Friday May 8, 1908
Madame Walker
Madam C.J. Walker pledged $1,000 to the Y.M.C.A. fund. She made her fortune selling hair care products and  was the first black woman millionaire. From the Nov. 4, 1911 Recorder.
The Senate Street Colored Y.M.C.A.
Indianapolis, Indiana Colored YMCA. Photo from the University of Minnesota Libraries, Kautz Family YMCA Archives.