The first page from my great grandmother, Jennie Virginia Allen Turner’s memory book. My mother’s, mother’s mother. The first generation born out of slavery and the first literate generation. I believe that she and her siblings all attended schools founded by the Congregational Church in Montgomery, AL after the Civil War.
My great grandfather Howard Turner was born in 1862 in Lowndes County, AL. He was literate but I do not know what school he and his siblings attended. I do not have a photograph of him but I did find his signature on my great grandparents marriage license.
My great grandmother’s brother, Ransom Allen.
My great grandmother’s oldest sister, Mary Allen McCall.
My paternal grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage. I found her signature on some legal papers because all of the letters I have from her were signed “Mother”. I know that she graduated from high school in Indianapolis, IN and received all of her education in Indianapolis but I do not know the names of the schools. Her signature came from a Marion Indiana Probate record for her older brother’s will in 1946.
My paternal grandfather, Dr. Albert B. Cleage Sr. He attended the Athens Academy in Athens TN, Knoxville College and the Indiana Medical School in Indianapolis, IN. His signature came from his marriage license in 1910.
My maternal grandmother, Fannie Mae Turner Graham. She was educated in Montgomery, AL at State Normal which was a school from elementary to high school, started by the Congregational Church for Black students. Her signature came from the 1910 Montgomery Census form via ancestry.com. She was an enumerator.
My maternal grandfather Mershell C. Graham. My mother said he taught himself to read. The 1940 census said he finished 8th grade. From Coosada, Elmore Cty, Alabama. His signature came from his WW1 Draft registration card in 1917 via ancestry.com.
My father Albert B. Cleage Jr. His nickname was Toddy and he often signed his letters home Toddy. He attended Wingert elementary, Northwestern High, Wayne State in Detroit and Oberlin University in Ohio. His full signature came from a Purchaser’s recipt in 1957 for a building Central Congregational Church wanted to buy.
My mother was born in 1923 in Detroit, MI. She attended Thomas Elementary School, Barbour Intermediate, Eastern High and Wayne State University in Detroit. Her signature came from a State of Michigan Teacher Oath in 1964. The “Doris” came from a letter home from Los Angeles in 1944.
My own signature. I was raised in Detroit and attended Brady and Roosevelt elementary, Durfee and McMichael Junior high and Northwestern High school and Wayne State University, all in Detroit. The bottom signature came from my 3rd daughter’s birth certificate in 1976. The top one came from a deed for the sale of the house on Oregon. I was a witness. 1968.
My younger sister Pearl Michell Cleage. She attended Roosevelt elementary, McMichael Junior High and Northwestern High in Detroit. Also Howard and Spellman Universities. Her signature came from the return address on a letter in 1991.
When I started looking for signatures, I thought it would be easy because I have many letters through the generations. The problem was that they did not sign letters with both first and last names. Some repeatedly used nicknames. I was able to find most signatures by searching through documents – marriage licenses, social security cards, deeds, bills of sale and group membership cards. I finally found my sister’s signature in the return address on an envelope and if I’d thought of it sooner, might have found others in the same place.