Sherman, William Roger- Tennessee

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My great grandmother Celia holding my aunt Barbara,1921. My grandfather Albert Cleage standing outside of 1st United Presbyterian Church. Teachers from the Athens Academy, my great uncle Henry Cleage and his first wife among them. Someone on a road in Athens. A shot of the church I took in 2004.

This 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 am going to write about William Roger Sherman who was my great grandmother’s 2nd husband.


William Roger Sherman was born into slavery in 1846 in Maryland. His mother’s name was Charlotte Blackwell. He ended up in Athens Tennessee and that is where he was at the end of the Civil War. On October 31, 1866 he married Jane Ewing. They had three children – Mary, Marsha and John. Sherman was a house carpenter. In 1870 he had $100 worth of real estate and $100 worth of personal property. Both Sherman and his wife could read. Seven year old Alice Cleage lived with them and attended school. As his children grew old enough, they also attended school. Enumerated on the same page as the Sherman’s in the 1880 was Alexander Cleage who had once owned my ancestors and his brother David Cleage.

William Roger Sherman is listed as architect for First United Presbyterian Church, a historic black church in Athens, Tennessee built in 1892. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

William Roger Sherman married my great grandmother Celia Rice Cleage , in Athens, Tennessee on April 25, 1897.  He was 51.  She was 45.  It was a 2nd marriage for both. In 1900 all of his children were in homes of their own. I found two – Mary was a seamstress and John was a brick layer. Three of Celia’s children – Edward, Henry and Albert were still at home and all were students. Everybody was literate.  Celia’s daughter Josie and her family were living in the house next door. William’s son John and his family lived next door to Josie’s family.

In 1910, William R. Sherman was 64 years old. He rented his house, which seems kind of sad for a carpenter. He hadn’t been out of work at all the previous year. Celia was working as a cook. Celia’s son Charles and his family were sharing the house, as was her son Henry’s eight year old son Richard.  Charles and his wife ran a restaurant. I wonder if that is where Celia cooked. Richard was in school. Everybody except the 2 year old and the infant were literate.

By 1920 the household was broken up. Sherman, age 75 lived with his daughter Mamie in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He was not working. His daughter was a steward at a local school. She was a widow and owned her own home. Also in the household were two of her stepsons and her brother John’s daughter. All of the young people were high school or college students.

Six months later, William Roger Sherman died of tuberculous of the bowels. He had been sick for a year before he died. His daughter was the informant on the record.

My great grandmother Celia lived in Detroit with her son Albert and his family in 1920. She died of a stroke in 1930.  According to their death certificates, both William R. Sherman and Celia Rice Cleage Sherman are buried in Athens, Tennessee. I have been unable to find in which cemetery (or cemetaries) they are buried in.

12 thoughts on “Sherman, William Roger- Tennessee”

  1. This is my first time doing the April A-Z Challenge and I’ve been introduced to so many wonderful pages on the WWW! Your blog provides such valuable service to humanity! I’m fascinated with your content and awed by the work you’re putting in! Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment on my A-Z of Soft Skills series.

    1. I wish I’d started earlier asking my older relatives their memories and stories. There is so much information there that is lost when they are gone. That’s the best place to start. And you get lots of stories their too.

  2. I would have thought that a couple that was broken apart in the 1920s would not be buried together at all. Did they separate legally or was the split just a medical issue requiring them to move away from one another?

    1. That is a good question. Both death certificates said they were taken to Athens, TN to be buried. I don’t know where either of them was buried when they got there. I know that they weren’t buried in the Hammond’s Cemetery, which is the black cemetery where the rest of my family is buried. At least they aren’t listed as being buried there and walking the cemetery, I saw neither. He could be buried with his first wife. I don’t know where she was buried either. I know my great grandmother wasn’t buried with her first husband because I DO know where he was buried (Crown Hill in Indianapolis) and I know that they were divorced.

      Because my family never talked about the second husband, I never asked about him because I didn’t know anything about him until I started doing research and then when I asked the aunts said, something like Oh yes, they did call her Mrs. Sherman. (they being people in the community,not my aunts and uncles who called her grandmaw).

      I don’t really know if it was because of age and health and the fact that they didn’t share children that they split or were split up. Because he died so soon after 1920, and it is then that I found them in separate cities, I thought it could be health. But since I don’t know (sorry for all this rambling thinking as I write), I should change that sentence up there.

      I appreciate your consistent and careful reading and cogent questions.

    1. Yes, I do find it especially interesting to research my own family, it’s just that I’ve done so much research on them and blogged about them already that I have to look outside for A to Z.

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