Daisy Turner and Duncan Irby

Daisy Pearl Turner, Montgomery, Alabama about 1913.

I always wondered about Duncan Irby, my Aunt Daisy’s lost love. Over the years I looked for him online, with no luck. Recently, I tried again. Lo’ and behold, I found Duncan Irby in Selma, Alabama.  There was a small item from The Emancipator. Records and more news items began to show up.

In 1980 my mother wrote her memories of family memories. They proved to be an invaluable source when I started my research. She wrote the following about her mother’s sister, Daisy Turner. Some of my mother’s memories were a bit off, but close enough that I recognized Duncan Irby when I found him.

“Maybe here a word about Aunt Daisy.  Look at her picture, sweet, soft, pretty, taught school awhile in Montgomery (with high school diploma)  loved Congregational preacher named Duncan Erby who loved her and waited for her for years.  Had the church in Buffalo, NY.  Whenever she really considered leaving, Grandmother did the old guilt trick “How can you leave me to take care of Alice all by myself?”  and “No man in this world is good enough to touch your little finger.  They are all no good except (maybe) Shell.” (note: Shell referred to my grandfather, Mershell Graham.)and Daisy listened and stayed and played numbers, studied dream books and drank a little apricot brandy.  I always found their house light, cheerful, full of magazines (McCall’s, Journal, etc.) which I loved to read, full of good things to eat.  All three were super cooks and they had always just had a bunch of friends to dinner and to play cards or just about to have.

Daisy took us downtown to the show every summer and to Saunders for ice cream afterward.  And I always ended up with a splitting headache.  Too much high living I guess.  She and Alice would buy us dainty, expensive little dresses from Siegel’s or Himelhoch’s.  They all went to church every Sunday,  Plymouth Congregational. Daisy always gave us beautiful tins of gorgeous Christmas candy, that white kind filled with gooey black walnut stuff, those gooey raspberry kind and those hard, pink kind with a nut inside, and chocolates, of course!  She loved to eat and to cook. Never seemed bitter or regretful about her lost love.”

“Mr. Duncan Irby, accompanied by his mother and little sister, also Mrs. Mollie Dillard and Miss Daisy Turner, motored from Selma to this city last Sunday and visited Camp Sheridan.” The Emancipator, Montgomery, Alabama Sat. Oct 20, 1917.

Duncan Irby was five feet nine inches tall, stout, light complected with brown hair, brown eyes and freckles.

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Duncan’s parents, Duncan Irby, Sr and Mary Smith were married in Selma, Alabama on Christmas Eve, 1890. Mary was the daughter of a house painter. Duncan’s mother, Emmeline Gee, inherited over 100 acres and a horse from a former enslaver Josiah Irby.  I do not know if Emmeline was enslaved on Irby’s plantation. At his mother’s death, Duncan was to inherit the property.

“Also I give and devise unto the said Emeline Gee, about fifty acres of land known as the Saw mill field, and bounded as follows to wit commencing at the point at which the P Bluff and Cahaba Road crosses the Athens and Parks Landing Road thence down the P Bluff & Cahaba Road to Chillatchie Creek at the Cahaba Bridge, thence up the said creek to a line between sections 11 and 12; thence West to Parks Landing Road; thence along said Road to the starting point in Township fourteen Range seven in Wilcox County. It is further my will and desire that at the death of the death of the said Emeline Gee, that all the land herein before desvribed and devised to the said Emeline Gee shall go to her and belong to her son Duncan. I also give and bequeath to the said Emeline Gee my Roan Horse named Tom”

 

After this, Duncan used the surname “Irby” instead of “Gee”. I do not know if they were allowed to take possession of the property. Both Duncan Sr and his wife Mary were literate. His mother lived with the family until her death in 1901. The Mary Smith mentioned in this article was Duncan Irby Sr’s older sister. It was very confusing to have so three Marys (sister, wife and daughter) and two Duncans (father and son).

Selma Record, Selma, Alabama, Sat, Nov 9, 1901

 

The younger Duncan Irby was born in 1892. The following year Duncan Sr, a blacksmith, suffered injuries when he was trampled by horses while making some repairs on a hack. He recovered.

Selma

Mr. Duncan Irby Seriously Injured.

“Selma, April 4.-(Special.)_ This evening Duncan Irby, a blacksmith, while making some repairs on a hack, was run over and seriously wounded.  Mr. Irby was in front of the horses when they started on a run, dashing the unfortunate man to the ground and trampling upon him. The horses were finally stopped. Not much damage was done to the hack.”   The Montgomery Advertiser Montgomery, Alabama Wed, Apr 5, 1893

Mary, Duncan Sr and Mary’s only other child, was born the following year. Both Duncan Jr and his sister Mary attended school. In 1908 they were both enrolled in  Talledega College, a boarding school,  in the College Preparatory Course. They studied Latin, Algebra, English  Literature, Ancient history and Drawing along with hands on courses in Agriculture and Wood-Turning for young men and Dressmaking and Nurse-Training for young women.

Mary became a teacher. She married Edwin Gibson, a teacher and a principal. They had one son, Edwin Gibson Jr.  They later divorced.

Duncan worked with his father in his blacksmith shop and later became a mechanic. The elder Duncan Irby died in November of 1915.

“Duncan Irby, one of the best known colored men in this section, is dead. He was a most reliable man and his death is regretted by whites and blacks.” The Selma Mirror, Selma, Alabama, Fri, Oct 15, 1915

“Duncan Irby, a Selma negro blacksmith, left a $30,000 estate. He had never made any considerable sums, but lived the time honored method of saving something all the time. As a rule negroes do not care to save. It is a race characteristic to spend to the limit, but occasionaly one like Irby has the nerve to save. – Birmingham Ledger.” Our Mountain Home, Talladega, Alabama, Wed, Oct 27, 1915
Duncan Irby senior, left everything to his wife Mary with the proviso that should she ever remarry, everything would go to their children.

Duncan Irby’s widow, Mary Irby,  remarried in 1921. She married Rev. Marshall Talley and that is where my mother got the minister. The family relocated to Homestead, Pennsylvania. This was the move to the northeast. Duncan was 35 in 1930 and worked as an auto mechanic in Homestead.

Several years later, they all relocated to Indianapolis, Indiana. Duncan, his sister Mary, who was divorced from her husband by this time and her son Edwin Gibson Jr. formed a household. Edwin Jr  grew up to become a well known architect and the first black architect registered in Indiana.

In 1966 Duncan Irby died of pneumonia brought on by lung cancer. He was 74 years old and had lived in Indianapolis for 34 years. He never married.

“Death Notices Irby.  Mr. Duncan Irby, age 74, 1238 North West St., died Wednesday at Methodist Hospital, beloved brother of Mrs. Mary Gibson, uncle of Edwin Gibson. Funeral Friday 10 a.m., Jacobs Brothers Westside Chapel. Cremation following. Friends may call after 4 p.m. today.” The Indianapolis News, Indianapolis, Indiana, Thu, Aug 4, 1966
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This is my first story for #52Ancestors. In this series of 52 posts this year, I will not only use my own ancestors, but often their friends or members of their communities as I believe I can understand my family better by knowing who they associated with.
In writing this story I used writings by my mother, Doris Graham Cleage; Census, death, and other records from Ancestry.com and a surprising number of news stories found on Newspapers.com. I discovered I could share them by embedding them in the post and may have gone overboard.

Howard Turner Killed in Lowndes County, Alabama

Killed In Lowndes

Howard Turner of This City Killed at a Colored Folks Picnic.

Hayneville, June 30. -[Special.]-  Last Saturday the colored people had a picnic across Big Swamp near Hayneville. The result is Howard Turner, who came from Montgomery was killed by one Phillip McCall.  Too much whisky and too many pistols. Phillip surrendered this morning.”  The Weekly Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama) Thursday, July 10, 1891 Page 2

We were always told that my grandmother Fannie Turner Graham’s father was killed at a barbeque when she was four years old. After years of being unable to find any documentation, I found this news item on Newspapers. dot com today.  I was just looking for various people in the newspapers when I came across it.

Howard Turner’s widow with their daughters. Jennie Virginia Allen Turner holding Daisy Turner (my great grandmother) and my grandmother Fannie sitting there holding her hat.

I have found so much new information since I started this blog that I feel the need to go back and put it all together for the various branches. My project for 2018.

Skating Champions, Hugh, Gladys and Anna Cleage – 1940s

Three of my father’s six siblings, Hugh, Gladys and Anna Cleage.

“Hugh, Gladys and Anna Cleage of Scotten took their share of places in the annual city ice skating meet which was held at Belle Isle last Sunday afternoon.  Anna won first place and a gold medal in the Senior girls’ novice; Gladys, third in the same event and  a gold medal.  Hugh competed in the men’s 220 and two-mile events.”

This article is from one of the Detroit daily papers and is undated, but I would place it in the early 1940s.  Years later when I was talking about this photo with my aunt Anna, she said that the story was wrong and that actually she came in third and Gladys won the race.  She remembered taking an early lead in the race but soon falling behind as Gladys easily over took her.  They learned to skate at the  Northwestern High School skating rink, which was a few blocks from their home on Scotten.  When my sister and I were in high school at Northwestern in the early 1960s we skated at the same rink.  We got racing skates because Hugh and Gladys were so cool skating on the Lagoon at Belle Isle, but we were never gold medal material.  The old Northwestern High School is no longer there.  It was torn down and a new school was build where the skating rink used to be.

Cabral, Ife, Tulani and James skating.

In 1986 my husband and I moved to  Idlewild,  Michigan with our children.  We lived on Idlewild Lake.  When it was frozen we skated right in front of the house.  Hugh and Gladys could still skate circles around us.  During the summer when Gladys and I walked around the Lake, people from Detroit’s Old West Side would stop us to ask if she was the skating champion.  She was in her early 60s. This week I wish I had some skates.  It would make it so much easier to get around frozen Atlanta.  Above is a picture of four of my children skating on Idlewild Lake about 1990.  To see more Sepia Saturday offerings click here.

12th and Atkinson – 1952 & 1967

Pearl seems to be wondering what that boy is doing.

Here we have my sister Pearl swinging in 1953. This playground was two blocks down from our house, the parsonage on Atkinson. My father’s church was across the street. Right outside the playground was the building where the 1967 Detroit rebellion began  after police raided and arrested people attending a welcome home party for a returning Vietnam veteran.

Armed, standing across from Economy Printing. You can see the playground. 1967.

 

Me on the far left watching and waiting my turn at the playground water fountain. 1952.

You can see Economy Printing on the far left. The playground is right next to it. The rebellion was in full swing here.

Funeral for Tayna Blanding, four year old, was killed as a hail of police and National Guard bullets swept an apartment building where she huddled on the floor. Officials said the flare of a match used to light a cigarette was mistaken for the flash of a sniper’s gun.  It was held at my father’s church, then Central United Church of Christ, later Shrine of the Black Madonna.
The playground as it appears on Google today. A swing set seems to be in the same place.

Related posts

My Riot Journal

Rebellions Make Strange Leaders

“A” Is for Atkinson

For more Sepia Saturday, CLICK!

Support The Christmas Boycott – 1963

In 1963, Ossie and Ruby Davis, James Baldwin, John O. Killens, Odetta, and Louis Lomax formed the Association of Artists for Freedom, which called for a Christmas boycott to protest the church bombing, and asked that, instead of buying gifts, people make Christmas contributions to civil rights organizations. I remember that my extended family participated in the boycott.  My sister and I were teenagers. I don’t remember anything else about that Christmas. The article below was printed in the Illustrated news in November 1963.

Christmas_boycott_1963 1
Click to enlarge.
Insert, Louis Lomax, James Baldwin, Louis Lomax, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and Odetta called for a boycott of Christmas gifts.
Insert, Louis Lomax. Back row:  James Baldwin, Oliver Killens, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and Odetta  artists who called for the boycott of Christmas Boycott in 1963.

Christmas_boycott_1963_small

And a clip from a sermon about giving gifts given on December 17, 1967 by my father, then known as Rev. Albert B. Cleage Jr.

Other links for 1963

Kennedy Refuses to Support Civil Rights Demands

Remembering 1963

Six Dead After Church Bombing – Washington Post article from 1963

Marching With the Band – 1953

On the back of the photograph it says in part, “This is part of Cook High’s band. Greta looks sour on this this picture, but she was cute.  That is Janice where I have the X.”

My cousin Janice shared this memory with me –Greta is ‘the little girl’ smile and I am playing the bells. Must have been in about the 2nd grade… The writing looks like my grandmother Cleage’s handwriting. Greta started marching as a junior majorette when she was 5. I joined the band in the 2nd grade. There were 6 to 8 senior majorettes, but Greta marched beside the Head Majorette. My Uncle was the school principal and my Aunt Bea made Greta the Junior Head Majorette and then Head Majorette. Smile… K to 12th grade. We often laugh about that.

The bells that Janice is holding are described thus on Wikepidea:

“When used in a marching or military band, the bars are sometimes mounted in a portable case and held vertically, sometimes in a lyre-shaped frame. However, sometimes the bars are held horizontally using a harness similar to a marching snare harness. In orchestral use, the bars are mounted horizontally. A pair of hard, unwrapped mallets, generally with heads made of plastic or metal, are used to strike the bars, although mallet heads can also be made of rubber (though using too-soft rubber can result in a dull sound). If laid out horizontally, a keyboard glockenspiel may be contrived by adding a keyboard to the instrument to facilitate playing chords. Another method of playing chords is to use four mallets, two per hand.”

Janice’s uncle E. Harper Johnson was the second and final principal of Cook highschool.  He was married to Beatrice Cleage, sister of Janice and Greta’s mother Juanita Cleage and daughter of Edward Cleage my grandfather Albert’s brother.

More posts about this branch of the family:

Childhood Memories by Beatrice Cleage Johnson – Athens Tennessee

Memories to Memoirs

Uncle Ed’s Daughters

“Unveil Monument to Dr. J. L Cook”

For more Sepia Saturday posts, Click!

13 Years Old, Mary Virginia Graham, 1934

13 yrs Mary Virginia 1934

A photograph of my aunt Mary Virginia Graham standing on the front steps of the house on Theodore in Detroit. She was named for both of her grandmothers. The writing on the photo says “13 yrs Mary Virginia 1934”.   A double exposure shows my mother sideways, overlapping.

My mother Doris with her sister Mary Virginia aka M.V. at Belle Isle.

This photo looks like it was taken the same day at Belle Isle, which was 5 miles from the house. The dresses are the same.  My mother is standing the same way that she in in the double exposure.

6638 Theodore Street, Detroit, Michigan.

Other posts about Mary V.

Mary Virginia Graham Colorized

Christmas Memories

Mary V’s Shoes

Old County Building and Mary V. Elkins

1940 Census – the Grahams

Three Generations – 1939

And a post about the house on Theodore

Click for more Sepia Saturday entries.

The Celebrated Tulane Coffee

Naomi Tulane about four years old. 1904. (Copyright Jacqui Vincent)

This photograph of my grandmother Fannie’s cousin, Naomi Vincent was printed on the cans of Tulane Coffee.  This was one of her father Victor Tulane’s many projects, which included real estate, founding a Penny Bank, and owning Tulane’s Grocery. He was also on the Board of Directors of Tuskegee Institute and a generally active citizen of Montgomery. I found the advertisement below in the Montgomery Advertiser.

V.H. Tulane, Prop. was married to my great grandmother’s sister, Willie Lee (Allen) Tulane. Miss Fannie M. Turner, Mgr., was my maternal grandmother.

Years later, he traveled North selling Alaga Syrup. Naomi traveled with him and it was on a trip to New York City that she met her future husband, Dr. Ubert Vincent.

Alphonso Brown, Victoria McCall, 1970 photo of former Tulane Grocery, More recent photo of empty building.

 

A blog post about an exciting night at the Tulane Grocery Store  He Had Hidden Him Under the Floor

Click photo for more Sepia Saturday posts.

Family Groups In Wiley Turner’s Probate File – 1852

These are the family groups I picked out from the first (1852) appraisment done of Wiley Turner’s Lowndes County, Alabama estate.  I will follow those I can through the other three lists and then see what families I can find in the 1870 census.  My 2X great grandfather, Joseph Turner, is listed as “Joe (white)” on page 3.  He was too old to be in a family group at 15, so I do not know if his mother was on this file.

There are four family groups on page one (above)  of the 1852 probate record.

  • Forty year old Ellen and child, and Abby, age fourteen and Little Margaret age ten.
  • Thirty year old woman Maria and child Ransom, nine year old little Jane, four year old Louisa and two year old Adella.
  • Doctor, Mary and fourteen year old Eliza went to Wiley Turner’s wife and so do not appear in later lists. Twelve year old Minerva and Ten year old Amanda, who may be part of this family, were not included in Francis Turner’s group.
  • Twenty two year old Adam, eighteen year old Mary Ellen and child Edward.
  • Fifty year old William, fifty year old Rachell and eight year old little Charles.

There are six possible family groups on page 2 (above) in the 1852 record.

  1. Eliza 36 and Harriett 5.
  2. Robbin 25, Cherry 36 and child Louisa, Prince 5
  3. Rachell Patton 28, Robert 11, Frank 6
  4. Rose 28 and child Gabriel – to Francis Mosely Turner.
  5. Abigail 23 and child Ema
  6. Clara 35 and child Alford, Sylvia 12, Lucy 10, Alice 8, Freeman 6, Harrison 6, Julia Ann 3.

There were five family groups on page 3 (above) in the 1852 appraisment.

  1. Man Old Jim 45 years, Minty 45, Daniel 3 – to widow Francis Mosley Turner
  2. Ben 33, Mary McQueen 28, Henry 12
  3. Hannah 55, George 13
  4. Betsy 23, child Caroline, Phillis 8, Peggy 3
  5. Achilles 43, Mariah Mosely 35, Elvira 14 – to widow Francis Mosley Turner

There was one family group on page 4 (above)

  1. Yellow John 24 (from previous page), Yellow Milly 30, Anthony infant, Little William 10, Carter 6, Braxton 4

I will be taking each family as far as I can in time, through the other probate lists as groups are made up to give to various family members and into the 1866, 1870 and for some beyond to later censuses.

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The photograph is from the National Archives. The pages from the Estate File are from Ancestry.com.