Glow Around His Head – Two Memories

Mackienzie Hall in the 1960s.

You can see all three buildings here. Mackienzie Hall is straight ahead. State Hall is to the left. The Maccabee’s Building, which housed the Board of Education back then, is down the block, a light colored building behind Mackenzie Hall.  We can’t see the library in this photo but it was directly across from State Hall on Cass and across the side street from Mackenzie Hall.    ( Photo from the Wayne State University archives)

My sister Pearl’s version:

okay. i know you always deny saying this, but here’s how i remember it.

you said somebody who worked with you in the wayne cafeteria said you have to meet this guy. I think you two would really hit it off and you said cool and then on a subsequent day, the person said there he is and he was at the top of one of those school building stairways and you said — i swear you said this to me because at the time i thought “woah! she’s got it bad!!!” — you said the first time you saw him “it was like he had a glow around his head or something.” i stole that for the “in the time before the men came piece” when the lil’ amazon says almost those exact words…

amazing that i remember this so clearly, have even told it to people, and it doesn’t ring a bell at all. I don’t know why. maybe the glow had to do with memory erasure and he erased it from your mind so you wouldn’t know he was from another planet or something… who knows? all i know is, if i dreamed it, it was an amazing dream. ….

My Version.

What really happened…includes the cafeteria, the actual meeting and a stairway.  No glow.
The first time I saw Jim, I was working in the Wayne State University cafeteria, behind the food counter. A woman who worked with me, who wasn’t a student but a regular employee, said her boyfriend was coming through the line and she always gave him free food. It was Jim who came through and got his free food and didn’t make any impression on me to speak of. I didn’t think about him again until I met him later. This must have been the winter of 1966 or the fall.

The Northern high students walked out in the spring of 1966. Northwestern high organized a supporting boycott and my sister Pearl was the head of it. I used to study in the main library’s sociology room. As I was leaving to go to my next class, a guy came up and asked if I was Rev. Cleage’s daughter. I said I was. He asked if I was leading the Northwestern boycott and I said no, that was my sister. We made arrangements to meet after my class on the picket line in front of the Board of Education Building. We did and later sat around for several hours talking in the ‘corner’ at the cafeteria in Mackenzie Hall. I felt very comfortable with him, which I usually didn’t do with people I just met. He tried to convince me to join a sorority and convert the girls to revolution. There wasn’t a chance I was going to do that. He also told me that he was “nice”. I asked if he meant as in some people were revolutionaries and he was “nice”. He said yes, that’s what he meant.  We saw each other almost everyday after that.

One day during the fall of 1967, I was going to a creative writing workshop that was on the third floor of State Hall. The stairway had ceiling to floor windows and I saw him, Jim, walking down the sidewalk across Cass Ave., in front of the library. Before I knew what I was doing, I was down the stairs and on my way out the door when I realized I needed to go to class and went back up the stairs.

That’s what really happened.

Posted in Biography, sepia saturday | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

A Typewriter & Roquefort Cheese

Summer of 1966. Me with the Underwood Five in the background.

Summer of 1966. Me with the Underwood Five in the background.  That small room held the dining room table, the upright piano, a bookcase, my mother’s desk, a combo radio/record player and the typing table.

I was hoping that this week I could find a photograph of someone in the family actually typing. I could not. I did find several photographs with a typewriter in the background. I chose this one of me in 1966 sitting in our dining room with our trusty Underwood in the background.  It was an upgrade from the ancient Underwood we had before.

I also found a story that I wrote on this very typewriter a little over a year later. I share it below.  I wrote it for a Creative Writing class at Waynes State University. The story alternates between a journal entry I wrote about a trip to Santa Barbara, CA and wanting to leave home and the rather strange story of #305751 (my student ID number) who works for a multinational corporation giving away cheese samples on the streets of Detroit.   Judging by all of the corrections, this was not the copy that I turned in.  I hope. Click on any page to enlarge.

roquefurt cheese pg 1roquefurt cheese 2

roquefurt cheese 3

roquefurt cheese 4  roquefurt cheese 5 roquefurt cheese 6 roquefurt cheese 7 roquefurt cheese 8

Posted in Biography, sepia saturday | 27 Comments

Playing Chess

chess_toddyHere is my father, Albert B. Cleage Jr, playing chess at his parents house about 1952.  We lived down the street on Atkinson in the parsonage at the time.  We have played a lot of chess in my family through the years.

I remember my Uncle Henry teaching me to play chess when I was in my teens.  When I first met my husband, we spent hours playing chess on the second floor of the student center in Mackenzie Hall   Below is a bit of a letter I wrote to my sister in 1966 that begins with a game of chess.

September 21, 1966

I am in bed with the flu. Monday night, I was playing chess with Henry when I developed chills. My teeth were chattering and I had goose pimples. I thought I was gong to die. just my luck to get sick on payday. I got two patterns Friday. I have to get some material now. I want some blue material with little black flowers for the suit.

I spent the weekend with (my cousin).  I got high once on Saturday night. I didn’t like it. It was like everything was floating and everything was real slow. My thinking too, also my voice sounded real far away . This guy was there,  he was talking and I was looking at him and I could hear him, but it was like someone else was talking. Very, very weird!!! I could still think, I knew I was high and what I was doing. It wasn’t my idea of fun and I doubt if I’ll ever do it again.

Sunday morning I went horseback riding. I really liked it. Me and (my cousin) and her friends  went. Riding was really nice, but I was a little scared when the horse first started to run or trot or whatever you call it. I’m just a little sore.

Stokely (Carmichael) is supposed to be here in a few weeks at church. Linda and I finished our 15 page each quota of bruning at work by 12:30 Friday, so we messed around the rest of the day. Both Linda’s and my dress shrunk so now we have mini dresses.

On Friday (my cousin) and I went to the drive-in and saw “Breakfast at Tiffiny’s” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf” I liked the first, but, who the hell is Virginia Wolf? Higgins paper came out. Bar’s baby has measles. Everybody at work is singing La Bamba now, due to my great influence.

Unfortunately, I do not think I ever went horseback riding again.  I never really took to getting high. It’s hard to believe I didn’t know who Virginia Wolf was.  Luckily, in one of my early English classes, we had to read her book, Mrs. Dalloway.

The photograph in the header is my grandson Sean playing chess with himself four years ago. He would make a play and then make a play for the other color, often going around to the other side to make the play.



Posted in Biography, Cleages, sepia saturday | 31 Comments

Joycelyn Maxine Williams Anderson 1939 – 2015

Joycelyn Maxine Anderson

Joycelyn Maxine Anderson.  Click to enlarge the photograph.

My sister-in-law Joycelyn Maxine Williams Anderson died on May 23, 2015 after a long illness.  Maxine (as I called her, some called her Joycelyn) was my husbands oldest sister. Maxine always sent me a birthday card and she always thanked me for putting up with her brother for so many years.  St. Louis will not be St. Louis without her.

Maxine made an appearance as a one year old in the 1940 census here -> 1940 Census – Chester and Theola Williams.  There is more about the Williams family here “I” is for Inglewood Court.

Life Reflections (Obituary)

Joycelyn Maxine Williams Anderson was born in Dermott, Arkansas on May 21, 1939 to Chester Arthur and Theola Marie (Davenport) Williams.  She was the first of twelve children ( six girls and six boys.)  She began her education at Chico County Training School. The family moved to St. Louis in 1945 and found their first church home at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church.  Joycelyn professed her love and belief in Jesus Christ at an early age and was baptized by Reverend Langford.  Her walk with the Lord brought her to Washington Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in 1947.

Jocelyn was educated in the St. Louis Public School System and graduated from Charles Sumner High School.  She attended Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa and was united in holy matrimony with Hearn Humphrey Anderson.  To this union was born one daughter, Nichole Patrice (Anderson) Borman.

Throughout her life, Joycelyn’s prevailing philosophy was “In spite of handicaps, all things are possible – you have to grow where you are planted.”  She was employed by the Malcolm Bliss Mental Health Center and retired after thirty-four years from her position as a recreational therapist’s aide with the Missouri Department of Mental Helath.  The expertise and caring she displayed was continued after her retirement as she became an avid community volunteer.

She volunteered for the Oasis program and regularly read to school age children; she was an area coordinator for the Senior Connections program and was a member of the Summer Class of ’57 alumni association, working tirelessly to ensure opportunities for current Sumner students.  She contributed generously to Washington Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church serving as a Deaconess and President of the John E. and Regina S. Nance Scholarship Fund; a member of the Women’s Missionary Union and a Life Member of the Berean District Association.  Lastly, Joycelyn articulated her business skills as a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant over a period of thirty-one years.

After an extended battle with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Joycelyn answered the voice of our Heavenly Father on Sunday, May 24, 2015 and peacefully passed away in her sleep.  Preceding her in death were her parents, Chester and Theola Williams; her brothers, Chester Arthur Williams, Jr., Earl Raymond Williams, Andrew Milton Williams and her former husband, Hearn H. Anderson.

Joycelyn leaves to cherish her memory: one daughter – Nicole P. Borman (Kent); her sisters – E. Jean Williams, Catherine Boayue, Linda Nance (Herreld), Monnette Lartey and Deborah Benard (Perry); her brothers – Harold F. Williams, James Edward Williams (Kristin) and Michael A. Williams; and a host of very dear nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, church family and friends.

Posted in Williams | 25 Comments

Children and Grandchildren

My children and grandchildren.

My children and grandchildren.

The birth of my tenth grandchild earlier this week made me wonder how many grandchildren the women in my family had in the past. I combined this with when they had their first child and how many children they had.  Here is what I found.

December 1970. Me and my oldest daughter.

December 1970. Me and my oldest daughter.

I was born in 1946. My oldest daughter was born in Detroit in 1970 when I was 23 years old. My youngest son was born when I was 41. My first grandchild was born when I was 52. I was 68 when my youngest grandchild was born. I have six children and ten grandchildren.

My mother holding me.

My mother holding me.

My mother, Doris Graham Cleage, was born in Detroit Michigan in 1923. She gave birth to two daughters. The oldest (me) was born when she was 23 in 1946. My sister was born in 1948 when my mother was 26. I had 6 children and my sister had 1. My mother was 47 when her first grandchild was born and she would have been 64 when her youngest grandchild was born.   Doris had two children and seven grandchildren.

My grandmother holding my mother.

My grandmother holding my mother.

My maternal grandmother, Fannie Mae Turner Graham, was born in Lowndes County, AL in 1888.  She gave birth to 4 children, all in Detroit. The first was born in 1920.  The  fourth was born in 1928 when she was 40.  Both boys died in childhood. Fannie’s oldest daughter (my aunt) had 3 children and my mother had 2.  My grandmother was 56 when her first grandchild was born.  She was 65 when her youngest grandchild was born.  Fannie Mae had four children. Two died in childhood.  She had five grandchildren.

"Pearl Cleage and baby Albert"

Pearl Reed Cleage and baby Albert. 1911 Indianapolis, IN

My paternal grandmother, Pearl Reed Cleage, was born in 1886.  Her first child was born in 1911 when she was twenty five. Her youngest child was born in 1924 when she was thirty nine.  Her first grandchild (me) was born when she was sixty years old.  She was seventy six when the youngest grandchild was born.  Pearl had seven children and nine grandchildren.

Pearl’s mother, my great grandmother Anna Allen Reed She was born about 1849.  She gave birth to her first child when she was 16, in 1865.  She gave birth to my grandmother Pearl, her youngest child, when she was 37.  Anna was 40 when her first grandchild was born.  She had been dead for 15 years when her youngest grandchild was born in 1924. Anna had eight children and thirty-six grandchildren.

Celia Rice Cleage Sherman with grand daughter Barbara Cleage.  About 1921 in Detroit, MI.

Celia Rice Cleage Sherman with grand daughter Barbara Cleage. About 1921 in Detroit, MI.

My great grandmother, Celia Rice Cleage Sherman was born about 1855 in Virginia.  She was taken to Tennessee as a small child. Her first child was born in 1873 when she was eighteen years old.  Her youngest child was born in 1883 when she was 28 years old. Celia’s first grandchild was born in 1897 when she was 42 years old.  She was 69 when her last grandchild was born in 1924. Celia had five children and twenty-one grandchildren.

Great grandmother with Daisy and Fannie

Great grandmother with Daisy and Fannie

My maternal great grandmother, Jennie Virginia Allen Turner, was born free in 1866 in Montgomery, AL. She gave birth to three daughters. The first two daughters were born in Lowndes County. My grandmother was the oldest, born in 1888 when Jennie was 22.  Daisy was born in 1890. In 1892 Jennie’s husband died. She later remarried and her youngest daughter was born in Montgomery, AL in 1908 when she was 42. Of her 3 daughters, only my grandmother had children.  Jennie Virginia Allen Turner had three children and four grandchildren.



My maternal 2X great grandmother,  Eliza Williams Allen was born into slavery about 1839 in Alabama. She gave birth to 13 children. Eight survived to adulthood.  All were born in Alabama. The oldest daughter was born into slavery in 1856. Eliza was about 17 years old. Her other children were born free in Montgomery, AL.  Her youngest child was born in 1879 when Eliza was 40.  Eliza had thirteen children and eighteen grandchildren.


My 3X maternal line great grandmother, Annie Williams, was born into slavery about 1820 in Virginia. I only know of one child, Eliza above, who was born in Alabama in 1839 when Annie was about 19. Annie died before the 1900 census so did not answer the question “How many children did you give birth to?” There is no oral history of Eliza having siblings.  Annie had one daughter and eight grandchildren.


My 2X great grandmother Emma Jones Turner was born into slavery about 1842 in South Carolina. She was later taken to Alabama.  She gave birth to ten children. Six of the children survived to adulthood.  Her first child was born when she was about 18 years old and the youngest was born when she was 30. Emma had ten children, and sixteen grandchildren.


Posted in Cleages, Eliza, Grahams | 15 Comments

Alpha Dance 1952

atkinson Doris & 'Toddy" Alpha dance1952

Doris and Toddy, Alpha dance 1952.

I do not remember seeing my parents dressed up for this dance. I was six years old. I do not remember ever seeing my parents dressed up and going out.  After we moved off of Atkinson to Chicago Blvd, I remember that my mother had several fancy gowns hanging in her closet.

I looked for information about an Alpha dance in Detroit in 1952.  I couldn’t find anything. Neither of my parents were members of a sorority or fraternity. I am assuming that some members of the church invited them to the dance.

“In 1951, when I was four, my father received a call to St. Marks Presbyterian church in Detroit. We left Springfield, Massachusetts  and moved into 2212 Atkinson, down the street from my paternal grandparents who lived at 2270 Atkinson.    St. Marks was located a block away, in the other direction, on 12th Street.  The 1967 Detroit riot started a block from the church.”    For more click  A is for Atkinson.

Moving from Springfield to Detroit in 1951.

Posted in Cleages, Grahams | Tagged , | 29 Comments

My Direct Matrilineal Line – Forward and Backward

mtdna direct line

From top to bottom: Eliza Williams Allen, Jennie Allen Turner, Fannie Turner Graham, Doris Graham Cleage, Kristin (me).

children & grands mtdna

My oldest daughter Jilo and her daughters. My daughter Ife and her daughter. My daughter Ayanna. My daughter Tulani and her daughter.


This chart is adapted from the 23andMe website.

This chart is adapted from the 23andMe website.


I received my Mtdna from my mother, who received it from her mother, and on back to the beginning lost in the mists of time.  The Mtdna we all share is L3e3b.  We share this haplo group with the Mende people of Sierra Leone.  You can read more in this post Stolen from Africa – Fearless Females.

Annie Williams is the first woman of this ancestral line that I can name.  She was born about 1820 in Virginia. Unfortunately, I do not have a photograph of her.  Her daughter Eliza Williams Allen (The Eliza I named this blog for.), and all of her children were born in Alabama. Eliza passed her Mtdna to her 13 children, including my great grandmother, Jennie Virginia Allen Turner. Jennie passed it on to my grandmother, Fannie Mae Turner Graham.   Fannie passed it on to my mother, Doris Graham Cleage. My mother Doris passed it on to me and I passed it on to my children. My daughters have passed it to their daughters.  My sons’ daughters received their own mother’s Mtdna.  You can read about all of my past and present, extended family members who received Annie Williams L3e3b Mtdna in this post from 2013 – Seven Generations of L3e3b

Click images to enlarge.

Posted in Allen, DNA - Genetics | 12 Comments

Damaged Photograph

This photo is from my Graham grandparent’s photograph album. It was underneath another photograph. I have no idea who they are. I believe it was taken in Montgomery Alabama before they moved to Detroit in 1918.

mystery woman and girl

Posted in Grahams, sepia saturday | 29 Comments

A – Z Reflections 2015

This is my third year participating in the A to Z Challenge.  This year I blogged a series of sketches about the free people  formerly enslaved on the Cleage plantations in Athens, Tennessee. I also wrote about some of their descendents.

I found myself (once again) spending pretty much all day, everyday researching and writing up my posts.  I thought I had already done a lot of the research but once I started writing people up, I found there was more I wanted to know about their lives.  Sometimes I spend a lot of time looking and did not find the information.  Other times, it would appear unexpectedly.

I had a limited amount of time to visit other blogs and tended to visit the same ones when I found some I enjoyed. It was difficult to find blogs that I was interested in by the hit and miss method I employed using the gigantic list.  I had more luck visiting people who commented on blogs I already enjoyed.  I also followed people I knew from past challenges and other prompts I participate in throughout the year, Sepia Saturday for instance.

Three of the blogs I consistently followed were: MopDog, Stories I Found in the Closet, and Tell Me Another.  I think it would be a good idea to mention blogs we especially enjoy during the challenge.  I need all the help I can get to find those I enjoy. A blog I found late in the challenge through a comment on someone’s fb page that I will be catching up on and following is Modhukori.  Three blogs that I visited regularly from Sepia Saturday were: Bob’s Home For Writing, Family History Fun and  Anne’s family history.

I will be doing the challenge in 2016.  I like the way it makes me think about my topic and dig up information and actually write it up. My tendency is to get lost in researching.  I am very glad that Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out thought up A to Z and put it into action.

A list of my posts for the April Challenge with links.

Posted in A-Z Challenge 2015, African-American Genealogy & Slave Ancestry Research, Cleages | 38 Comments

Who Was Eliza?


Eliza Williams Allen – My 2X Great Grandmother

Dock Allen

Dock Allen – My 2X Great Grandfather


Who was Eliza?

The Search Begins

A Brief Explanation for Eliza’s Story

Eliza Williams Allen – a photograph

Eliza and the people in her life

Escape – Dock Allen

Finding Eliza Part 1

Finding Eliza Part 2

Finding Eliza Part 3

Eliza’s daughters part 4

She was owned before the war by the late Colonel Edmund Harrison of this county

The 4th Annual Gene Awards

Visit to Oakwood Cemetery

Seven Generations of L3e3b-My MtDna

Stolen From Africa

Posted in Allen, Eliza | 3 Comments