In my grandmother Fannie’s scrapbook, I found two library cards made by my mother, Doris and her older sister, Mary Virginia in 1931. My mother was 7 and Mary Virginia was 11. There is no book listed on my mother’s card but Mary Virginia names “The Children’s Story Hour” on hers. I wonder what other books they borrowed and lent or if this was a one time happening. I did notice that Mary Virginia returned her book on time.
The first time I met Gypsies was the summer of 1964. I was 17, wearing a patterned skirt, my hair was long then, pulled back in a clip. I had on gold hoop earrings. My sister Pearl and I were walking down West Grand Blvd. to the Main Library. We passed a house like the one pictured above. Three little girls ran off the porch and began to walk down the street with us.
“Are you Gypsy?” they asked me. I wasn’t, I told them. My sister assured them that we weren’t. They weren’t talking to her, they said. Was I sure? I was sure. When we got to the first cross street, they turned and ran back to their house.
Several months later, an article came out in the Sunday Detroit Free Press Parade Magazine. There was a picture of the three little girls. It was all about being a modern Gypsy in Detroit. The man was their grandfather, identified as the head of their family’s clan.
In 1968 I was an art student at Wayne State. I had been to the Utrecht art supply store on Woodward. As I was on my way back to Campus, some women were sitting on the porch of a large house. They were wearing long skirts and of various ages.
“Want your fortune told?” One of them called out. What if it was a bad one? I thought. No, I called back and kept moving. I sometimes wonder what they would have told me was coming up if I had stopped.
In the early 1980s I was living in Mississippi. One summer afternoon, I was visiting my friend Carrie Ann, when a woman about my age came by in a pickup selling sets of hand made wooden porch furniture. She had an incomplete set at a reduced rate and I bought it. She drove them down the road to my house and said I reminded her of her cousin. She reminded me of my cousin Barbara, I told her.
No caravans of any kind were involved, but this is what I remembered when I saw the Sepia Saturday prompt for this week.
When I was growing up we spent Saturdays at my mother’s parents house, along with my cousins Dee Dee and Barbara and later, Marilyn. When the weather was good we spent it outside in the backyard. There was a vegetable garden, lots of flowers and space for anything we could think of.
In the summer of 1953 I turned 7 in August. Dee Dee turned 10 in September. Barbara had already turned 6 in January. Pearl was 4.5 until December. Poppy was 64. He would retire in December of that year when he turned 65. The yard was surrounded on all sides by a wooden fence that made it feel like a world apart. In the photographs I can see the big house across the alley and a factory on Warren but when I was playing in the yard I didn’t much notice those things.
Pearl and I are holding dolls and I have a purse I remember getting when we lived in Springfield, MA. A young lady who might have been the church secretary had a grown up purse just like it. It was brown leather and had a golden metal clasp that turned to open and close. Looks like collards with the poison Poppy sprinkled to kill the cabbage worms. I think I see a little cabbage butterfly holding on to the underside one of the leaves.
I am standing up at the table where Barbara and I are making something. Dee Dee is sitting on the arm of the swing. She was probably taking Pearl somewhere on the magic carpet (aka swing) the rider would have to say “Geni of the magic carpet, go, go, go!” and then Dee Dee would take you someplace magic. She would tell you where it was when it was time for you to get out of the swing. Dee Dee was in charge of all the magic. Each of our households had a little, invisible fairy that lived in the mud castle we built and rebuilt at the foot of the apple tree. Their’s was named Lucy and ours was Pinky. She also kept a box full of prizes that she gave out at appropriate times. I remember packages of soda crackers, prizes from cereal boxes and pieces of chewing gum.
Here Pearl and I are standing on the grassy part of the yard. The flowers are in full bloom behind us with the vegetables back behind them. We often made the saw horses into mounts. I see my purse over there on the grass to the left.
I have participated in Sepia Saturday for so many years that it is hard for me to come up with new photos when the same sorts of prompts come around. This week I am recycling a post from 2012.
In 2003 I purchased a copy of the book “Lowndes Court House – A Chronicle of Hayneville, an Alabama Black Belt Village 1820 – 1900”, a book of reminiscences by Mildred Brewer Russell. In the chapter “Reconstruction And After, 1865 – 1900 I found my great great grandfather, Joe Turner, mentioned as one of the Negro (sic) politicians. After that I tried to find what sort of politician he was, what office he held. I could not find anything.
Last week on Ancestry.com, I found the following information. Joe Turner was elected as constable on November 7, 1871.
Google defined a constable as “…a peace officer with limited policing authority, typically in a small town.”
In 1874 Reconstruction ended in Alabama, resulting in loss of voting rights and the ability to hold elected office for black people.
Here is an interesting timeline that traces how the right to vote and hold public office was taken away from black men in Lowndes and neighboring counties. “The More You Know: A History …” It wasn’t until 1970, 99 years from 1871, that African American John Hulett was elected sheriff in Lowndes County.
You can read more about Joe Turner in these posts:
Betsy was about 26 years old when she was listed with her daughter Caroline in the inventory of the estate of Wiley Turner. It was February 2, 1852. Betsy and Caroline were valued at $800.00. On the list below them were eight year old Phillis ($375) and three year old Peggy ($225). They seem to be a family group.
Further down the page Austin is listed. He was 16 years old and valued at $800.
On January 26 and 27 of 1859, Betsy was visited by Doctor Pritchett. The cost of the visits was $2.50. On February 6 and 7, Doctor Pritchett visited Austin.
On January 29, 1859 a coffin was purchased for Betsy. She was 29. On February 8, 1859 A coffin was purchased for Austin. He was 22. Each coffin cost $5. I do not know what they died of.
I found the two coffins listed in the estate file among a list of payments given out from the estate in early 1859. If I had not gone page by page through the file, I would have missed these, as I did when I looked through it last year and only looked for lists of the enslaved.
I found all of these documents in the Estate file of Wiley Turner, deceased, on Ancestry.com. My 2 X great grandfather, Joe Turner came off of this plantation. Click on the documents to enlarge.
For the past week I have been immersed in the Turners who came off of Wiley Turner’s plantation in Lowndes County Alabama. My 2X great grandfather, Joe Turner, came off of that plantation. Wiley Turner died in 1851 without a Will and so his estate was probated. The case dragged on for twenty years. There are multiple lists of the enslaved, the first in 1852. I wrote about the one from 1853 here. The others were from 1856, 1857 and 1865. There were also the 1850 and 1860 slave censuses, which give no names but age, sex and color (“mulatto” or “black”)
There are also records of doctors visits, some patients named and some not. There are records of how much and what was sold from the plantation during this time. There were several changes of administrators due to deaths and some disputes among members of the family about what was due them.
After the Civil War was over and Freedom came, there were new records for the formerly enslaved and now free, the 1866 census for the first time named the formerly heads of households. In the 1870 census, the whole household was named. In 1880, relationships to the head of the household were given. There were also marriage and land records.
By investigating the community and households, I want to see what happened to the people and families, both before and after slavery. Right now I am going through the material and figuring out how to present it. At first, when going through the probate record, I just looked for the names of the enslaved. Going over it again, I realized that I could not give a picture without knowing more about what was going on around them, what crops were grown, what was sold, what was bought and the rest of the turmoil swirling around them during that time period. Maybe I need to start by printing out the whole file.
I have never done a project like this outside of a time crushing challenge, so we shall see how it goes.
“They set up a table in our room with a white tablecloth and a test tube bud vase. It was a good meal. I had thought I wouldn’t be able to have the dinner and had to call Jim at the Reeses to come eat. I had been on a special diet until that afternoon. James slept very nicely through the whole meal.”
Story of James Birth From His Baby Book – 1982
James was born during an ice storm. Actually the ice storm began the day before he was born. We went into Jackson (we were living about half an hour away in Simpson County at the time) when the storm started because I started having mild contractions about the same time. We stayed with a family with 6 children Jim worked with sometimes in printing. The first night I woke up and the contractions were stronger and we went to the hospital, but they faded away at the hospital and we went back to the Reece’s house. She said she knew I wasn’t really in labor because I was checking on everyone before I left. The next day my water broke and there was some meconium staining in the show. We went back to the hospital around 2 in the afternoon. I said I hoped they wouldn’t have to send me home again but Dr Barnes said since my water broke I wouldn’t be leaving until the baby came.
I was in the same birthing suite I used when Tulani was born. And had the same nurses. They hooked me up to the monitor because of the meconium and even attached a wire to James head to “get a better reading”. I remember thinking as I was laying there listening to the nurses talking and going about their business, that there I was laying there in labor and yet they were living their regular lives. They weren’t actually involved in it at all. I imagine it’s sort of like when you’re dying. But that’s neither here nor there.
I started pushing at 6:30PM and figured the baby would be born soon. After an hour of second stage labor and pushing the head still wasn’t engaged. I remarked between contractions that I hoped it wasn’t going to take me until midnight for the baby to be born. (I said that because each of the babies was born three hours later then the last one and Tulani was born around 9 PM.) Dr. Barnes said they weren’t going to wait that long, if he (she was sure it was a boy because he was causing so much trouble, she said) wasn’t born in an hour she was going to do a c-section. That hadn’t even entered my mind. Soon she sent all the nurses that were waiting for the birth off to get ready. I tried getting on my knees like I had with Ayanna, but to tell the truth, the mood was ruined. I just wanted to get the whole thing over with. If the baby was going to require a c-section, just go on and do it, I thought. Of course afterwards I wondered if I’d tried pushing awhile longer if he would have come on down.
On the way to the delivery room I asked Dr. Barnes if she would tie my tubes since I was going to be opened up and she said yes and I didn’t have to sign any papers, I think Jim did. And she gave me a tubal. Afterwards, when I found out that once you have a c-section you don’t always have to have a c-section if it’s not structural, I wished I hadn’t.
James was born at 8:17PM. He was 22 and 3/4 inches long and weighted 8 lbs and 12 ozs. He was fine and nursed fine and kept on growing. His Apgar score was 9 at one minute and 10 at three minutes.
My mother told me that we should name James for my husband. So we did. She was very ill with cancer and died five months later without having ever seen baby James.
This year for my 5th A to Z Challenge, I used my 2Xs great uncle, Thomas (Ray) Allen’s pension file as the basis for my blog posts. Thomas served in the United States Colored Calvary during the Civil War. In his 115 page pension file, I was able to find family members, friends and veterans who served with him during the war, plus the name of the man who had enslaved him.
In spite of pledging myself each year after the challenge to prewrite my posts, I found myself once again doing last minute research and writing most of the posts on the day I published them. Towards the end of the month it came to me that I should pick a topic that doesn’t require research and is guaranteed to produce short posts. “Fleeting Memories” is the topic I am thinking about for next year. I have already filled a tiny notebook with them.
A big difference this year was the lack of a list including everybody who signed up where we could go and find blogs to visit. Instead there was a post each day where we could reply with our blog url, twitter with #atozchallenge and a fb page. Not to mention our own fb pages and google+. What worked best for me was visiting blogs I had enjoyed in previous A to Z Challenges and visiting people who commented on blogs I enjoyed . I ended up following about 30 blogs during the challenge, with one time visits to others. I visited as many of these as I could each day and commented. I visited those that visited me and I tried to reply to all comments on my posts. Looking back over my posts and comments for this year and years past, I received about the same number of posts this year.
Some of the blogs I followed this year were: Anne’s Family History, Black and White, Bob’s Home for Writing, Click’s Clan, Conversations With My Ancestors, Discovering Mom, Envelope 100, Hot Dogs and Marmalade, Into the LIGHT, Jemima Pett, Josie Two Shoes, Lincecum Lineage, Linda G. Hill, lizbrownlee – poet, lynnelives, Madly-in-Verse, MOLLY’S CANOPY, My Ordinary Moments, Pulp Paper & Pigment, Sandra’s Ancestral Research Journal, Stories I Found in the Closet, Tasha’s Thinkings, The Curry Apple Orchard, The Multicolored Diary, The Ninja Librarian, The Old Shelter, Tossing It Out, Vanessence, Wendy off the rock...,
Links to Aprils Posts
- The Life, Times and People of Thomas Ray Allen A to Z Theme Reveal
- A – Thomas Ray Allen 1847 – 1907
- B – Bluford Hubbard – Served with Thomas in the U.S.C.T.
- C – Clara Hoskins Green – Thomas’ Mother
- D – Doctor’s Medical Testimony
- E – Major Edmundson Gave Testimony
- F – Foster Ray – Slaveholder
- G – Georgie McDougal Ray – Divorce Testimony
- H – Henry Johnson – Member Co. D, 5th United State Colored Calvary
- I – Insufficiency, Aortic – Cause of Death
- J – Jacob Roger Raynor – Pastor
- K – Katherine Wiley – Thomas Allen’s Wife
- L – Lottie Withers Sullivan – Introduced Thomas and Kate
- M – Thomas McDougal – Witness and Former Brother-in-law
- N – No Longer Enslaved
- O – The Other N is Nelson Cantrell – Witness for Thomas Allen
- P – Lewis Pierson – Witness
- Q – William M Quinn – Witness
- R – Richard Clay – Witness
- S – Sarah Ann Wiley – Sister and Witness for Kate Wiley Allen
- T – Twenty-seven-fifteen N. Capital Street
- U – United States Colored Troops At Camp Nelson
- V – Veteran’s Civil War Pensions
- W – Henry Wiley – Brother and Witness
- X – Signed With His “X”
- Y – Joseph Sharp Yowell – Anatomy of an Investigation
- Z – Zachariah’s Grandson Addison Taylor
Bringing this back from 2011. The Illustrated News was published during the earlier 1960s by my father’s family and family friends. Two of his brothers, Henry and Hugh, started a printing business because the family was always looking for ways to be economically independent. The main business was printing handbills for small grocery stores. And they started several newspapers. First they did The Metro but the one I remember best is The Illustrated News. It was printed on pink paper (that was what was left over after printing the handbills) and distributed to churches and barber shops around the inner city. Some people had subscriptions. My father wrote many of the lead articles. My Uncle Louis wrote Smoke Rings, which was always on the back page. Billy Smith took most of the photographs.
This issue is from June 24, 1963. The focus is the Walk To Freedom which took place in support of the people in the south who were fighting for equality. I was a high school junior at the time and I remember the crowds and crowds of people downtown for the march. It was very well organized and as the main march went up Woodward, to Cobo Hall, the side streets, filled with people who joined as the march went by. Estimates of the number went from 100,000 to 200,000. It was an amazing feeling to be in a peaceful crowd, most dressed in their Sunday best, marching for FREEDOM NOW! At the end of the newsletter there are several photographs from the day of the march.
My maternal grandfather (poppy), Mershell C. Graham, has his finger by his nose, my uncle Hugh Cleage, smiling with the glasses next to him and my paternal grandmother, Pearl Reed Cleage, smiling with the hat on. Older people who couldn’t walk all the way in the huge crowd went in earlier and got good seats. I don’t remember where I was sitting.
My father giving them hell about conditions in Detroit in 1963. They finally unplugged his mike to shut him up.
Below is a link to a video by Paul Lee about the “Walk to Freedom”.
Zachariah Taylor’s son, Addison is listed as the “owner” of Thomas Allen on his military file, Thomas Allen listed Foster Ray as his former enslaver on all of his official papers. Why? What was the connection between Taylor and Foster?
After looking for a marriage between their children and finding none, I looked for a relationship between their wives. Again, none.
Then I noticed that a Prudence Peters showed up on both of the trees. I went back several generations, I found that Addison Taylor’s paternal grandparents were Zachariah Taylor and Prudence Peters. After Zachariah died in 1797, Prudence married Foster Ray’s widowed grandfather Nicholas Ray. Nicholas’ first wife Susan Sheckles, was Foster Ray’s grandmother.
Nicholas Ray and Prudence had one child together, Samuel Taylor Ray. Both Foster’s and Addison’s fathers were Samuel’s brothers and he would have been both Addison’s and Foster’s uncle, making them cousins by family if not by blood.