All posts by Kristin

The Migration Part 3 – Those Left Behind

Lowndes, Rufus and Lewis with Edoline Spigener, Lowndes niece.

After reading the letters my grandfather’s friends wrote to him in Detroit from Montgomery, I wondered what happened to those he left behind.  Did they stay?   Did they leave?  I know that my grandparents never returned to Montgomery once they married  so I wondered if he ever saw any of them again.  I didn’t find them in the photographs in the backyard of the house on Theodore but, if they had moved to Detroit there wouldn’t have been any backyard photos.  Those were reserved for out of town guests.

The six young men mentioned were Lowndes Adams, Robert Blakley, Rufus Taylor, Lewis Gilmer, Edgar Speigner and Nathan.  I was able to follow them with varying degrees of success.  There were twists and turns and connections and dead ends.  And always more information to look for and check.  Today I decided to write up what I have found  so far.

Lowndes William Adams was born February 11, 1893, in Montgomery, Alabama to James and Ida Adams.  James was a grocer.  Lowndes was the 5th of 7 children.  They all were educated and several of his sisters were teachers.   Lowndes worked as a stenographer and later was the branch manager of an insurance company.  He never married and shared his home with his widowed mother, several sisters, nieces and nephews.  He was in Montgomery in 1930.  He died in Detroit in 1977.  My grandfather died in 1973.  I wonder if they had a chance to spend time together.

Lowndes older sister, Emma Lena, married Edgar Speigner before he registered for the WW 1 draft in 1917.  Edgar was born September 17, 1882, in Montgomery. He and his brother Charles were raised by their mother, Carrie Taylor who was a cook.  Tall and stout,  he worked as a pullman porter all of his adult life.  Edgar and his wife Emma, raised four children.  He died in 1954 in Montgomery, Alabama.

Rufus Taylor was born January 19, 1886 in Montgomery.  His parents were Jordan and Fannie Taylor.  Rufus was a cousin of Victor Tulane.    Victor was married to Eliza and Dock’s daughter, Willie Lee.  Rufus lived with the Tulane family for many years and worked in the store first as a clerk and then as a salesman.  He remained in Montgomery and married Nan Nesbitt Jones.  As far as I know he had no children but helped raise Nan’s son, Albert, from her first marriage. Nan Nesbitt was the niece by marriage of another of Dock and Eliza’s daughter, the youngest, Beulah. That is, Nan was the stepdaughter of Beulah’s husband’s sister.  (Are you confused yet?) Rufus died in Montgomery at the age of 51 in 1937.

I believe Nathan was Nathan Nesbit, a cousin of Nan but have not been able to follow a trail, yet.

Lewis Abram Gilmer was born in Alabama on May 18, 1885.  I’m not sure if he was born in Montgomery but he was raised there by his parents Louis and Carnelia Gilmer, along with 7 siblings.  His father was a porter, a butler and a chauffeur.    Lewis worked as a bank messenger in Montgomery.  He and his wife, Annie, had four children.  The oldest was born in 1910 in Montgomery.  The second was born in1924 in Mississippi and the two youngest were born in 1925 and 1927 in Detroit, Michigan.  Lewis worked as a porter at a department store in Detroit.  He died there in July, 1969.  I tried to find a link between Lewis Gilmer and Ludie Gilmer, who was the son-in-law of Beulah Allen Pope.  No luck.  Both their wives were named Annie but not the same Annie.

John Wesley Blakley was born January 22, 1893 in Montgomery, Alabama.  He married Virgie Dorsette Beckwith,  who wanted to leave the south according to John’s letter to Mershell.  He was a barber in Atlanta before WW 1 and in Chicago, Illinois afterwards.  He and his wife do not seem to have had any children.  John was in Chicago in 1942.  I have not yet found a death record or census records for 1900, 1910 or 1920 so I do not know his parent’s names or if he had siblings.

You can find part 1 and part 2 by clicking on these links.

Migration story part 2 – Letters from home – Montgomery to Detroit 1918

Lowndes Adams and Rufus Taylor

204 Oak Street
Montgomery, Ala
May 17, 1918

Dear “Shell”:

Really I had begun to say little mean things about you, for it did look like you were going to take as long to write as you did when you first landed in Detroit.  You may know what a pleasure it is at all times to receive a letter from a friend and pal.

Well, Cliff and Chisholm are there and how do they like Detroit.  Tell Chisholm I know he will conserve a week looking at the skyscrapers and be sure to hold him when he is taken out to the lake.  It was a great surprise to know that he left with Cliff, as no one seemed to have been aware of his leaving until several days back.  Of course there is no need of advertising your intentions, but he and Cliff both got away without my knowing.

We have been having some real cool weather for this time of the year, and it has caused everything to be unbalanced somewhat.

Yes, I thought strongly of leaving this place on account of the depressing standing of our business and since it has changed for the better, I think I’ll stick a little longer.  I thought that my leaving would have been compelling from that point of view.

Edgar is home now, the Pullman Company gave him a run out of here to Mobile so he has transferred here.  He told me that he saw you and so many others that he knew and all seem to be getting along fine.

Would you believe me if I say that John Blakey, Lewis Gilmer, Rufus Taylor and myself are the only boys here and we look “motherless.”

Say, I want you to write me if you should see anything that you think may interest me.  Have you payed any attention along the typewriter lines; and should you see anything in the papers concerning this particular line of work – send it to me.

Was in Pensacola on April 29 to see my sister.  Had a dandy time, and went out to the Navy yard and saw some of our latest methods of war-fare.  Tell Chisholm and Cliff to write me sometimes, and my regards to Charlie Anderson and wife in fact, all of my friends that you come across.  Now I am expecting to hear from you real soon.  With best wishes from us all,

Your chum,
Lowndes

Lowndes Adams, Rufus Taylor and Lewis Gilmer

Montgomery Ala Feb 27/1918

My Dear Pal;
Your letter of a few days ago was received, and I can assure you that a line from my old friend was highly appreciated.  I remember writing you some time ago and for some reason I did not hear from you until now, but failing to put my address on my letter naturally would leave you in doubt as to where to write me, all of which I am very sorry.  I was indeed glad to hear that you and the other boys were all enjoying the very best of health and that the government has used good judgment in classing all of you in class A-1 and I only want you to know that when ever you all get there, you can rest assured that you will have the opportunity of seeing me for I am now in the old city taking my examination, they passed me all OK.  So you can see it is very likely I shall soon be somewhere in a training camp, I do wish however that it was possible for me to train somewhere in the Northern camps instead of the southern camps.  I am sure you understand why.  I shall leave tonight for Atlanta where I shall wait until they are ready for me to report for duty.  I was out to see your Mother Monday afternoon.  Found her looking and feeling the very best of health and was very glad to see me and to know that I had heard form you.  Of course she is worried over the thought of you boys having to go to the army, but said that if there was no way to keep out of it, why she felt she would have to make some sacrifice which is indeed a fine spirit.  I also stopped by Gwen and her mother’s.  They were both looking fine.  She was sick when I was here Xmas so I didn’t get a chance to see her and of course you know I couldn’t leave the city without seeing the Fairest Lady of the land.  Glad to say that she is looking just fine said that she would like so much to see you.

Montgomery is as dry as a chip.  There is really nothing doing here, all of the boys of our push have gone away with the exception of four Adams, Taylor, Gilmer and Nathan.  Mack; I wish it was possible for me to say just at present whether or not I will be able to come west or not this spring or even in the summer but as things are arranged now it is hard for me to say.  But if I am not called in to service real soon, why I shall have more time to think it over.

I am doing nicely in Atlanta.  I have the 5th chair in a 12 chair shop, which, of course is the largest shop there.  So far as getting along OK why I really have no reason to complain, but there is a desire to have that privilege to breath for once in life one deep breath of pure free atmosphere as a man, as well as meeting again with old friends.

I wish to be remembered to Cliff and Chisholm and to you all.  I hope your every efforts will be crowned with success.

Trusting that I shall hear from you again real soon,
I am your friend,
J.W. Blakely,
#8 Central Ave.
Atlanta, GA

The Migration – From Montgomery to Detroit

Dock Allen was born around 1832 into slavery in Georgia.  He died free in 1909 in Montgomery Alabama.  He was a carpenter.  His mother, Matilda Brewster was born in Georgia into slavery.  I don’t know when or where she died.

Eliza Williams Allen was born into slavery about 1839 in Alabama.  She died free in Montgomery Alabama in 1917.  She was a seamstress.  Her mother, Anne Williams was born into slavery in South Carolina about 1820 and died free in Montgomery before 1900.

Dock and Eliza’s daughter Jennie Virginia Allen Turner was born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1866.  She was a seamstress.  She died in 1954 in Detroit, Michigan.  In 1887 she married Howard Turner.  He was born in Lowndes County Alabama in 1864.  He was murdered in Alabama in 1892.  His father, Joe Turner, was born into slavery in Alabama about 1839. He was a farmer. He died free in Alabama in 1919.  Howard’s mother, Emma Jones, was born into slavery in South Carolina about 1840 and died free in Alabama in 1901.

Jennie and Howard’s daughter, Fannie Turner Graham was born in Lowndes County, AL in 1888.  She died in Detroit, Michigan in 1974.  She managed a grocery store before her marriage to Mershell C. Graham in 1919.  Mershell and both of his parents were born in Alabama.  Mershell moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1918.  In 1919 he returned to Montgomery to marry Fannie.  They both returned to Detroit immediately following the wedding where they roomed with friends from Montgomery for several years.  Mershell worked at Fords Motor Co. in the parts section.  When they were ready to buy their own house they sent for Fannie’s mother, Jennie and two sisters.  All of Fannie and Mershell’s children were born in Detroit.  In 1946 Fannie’s Aunt Abbie came up from Montgomery and lived with Mershell and Fannie until her death in 1966.

By the 1960s all of Dock and Eliza’s children and grandchildren had left Montgomery and were living in Detroit, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; Madison, Wisconsin and New York City.  Mershell’s relatives remained in Alabama but contact was lost and we don’t know what happened to them.  Joe and Emma’s children stayed in Lowndes County, some moving to Montgomery and Birmingham by the 1930 census.  Because my grandmother lost touch with them before leaving Alabama I only know by following the census where they went.  I believe some eventually moved to Chicago but I’ll have to wait for the 1940 census to verify.

My cousins and I grew up in Detroit surrounded by family on both sides, who had left Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee to end up there.  Of my grandparents five granddaughters, two remain in Detroit as do their children and grandchildren.  One now lives in California where the majority of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren were born and live.  My sister and I, along with most of our children and grandchildren live in Atlanta Georgia.

More on the Exciting Vincents

Recently I received a phone call from my cousin Jacqui.  We met by phone several years ago.  My great grandmother Jennie was her grandmother Willie’s sister.  Jacqui sent me photographs of ancestors I did not have – one of Eliza (for whom this blog is named) and of two of Eliza’s children – Anna and Ransom.  Earlier this month, Jacqui sent me a packet of information about her father’s side of the family.  Included was this photograph of her father, Ubert Conrad Vincent and also some of his parents.  Read more about the Tulanes and Vincents in these posts.  Hitting the Google JackpotNaomi Tulane’s Engagement PhotographWillie Allen TulaneVictor and Willie Allen Tulane.   Victor, Willie and Children’s Graves.  And more.  I had no idea I had done so many posts on this branch of the family.

Anyway, back to the phone call from cousin Jacqui.  She mentioned that she did not know the names of her grandparent’s parents.  Of course I decided to see what I could find. The information I started with was from a Power Point Program Jaqui used for a presentation about her father.

Andrew B. Vincent

Rev. Andrew B. Vincent

  • Born on Cherokee Territory in Ashville, NC
  • Professor at Shaw University.
  • Later became Dean – School of Theology
  • Received an honorary Doctoral Degree on his retirement in 1904.

Cora P. Exum

  • *Born in Wilson, NC
  • *Professor at Shaw University
  • *Taught Domestic Science
  • *She had 14 children.

I first looked at Ancestry.com and found Andrew and Cora Vincent in Raleigh, North Carolina in the 1900 and 1910.  In both of these censuses everyone was listed as “black” with self and parents born in North Carolina and they were enumerated in Raleigh Ward 3, Wake, North Carolina.

In 1900 the household included

  • Andrew D Vincent  43
  • Cora P Vincent        31
  • Mable Vincent         13
  • Ubert C Vincent         9
  • Cora P Vincent           6
  • Ruth E Vincent           4
  • Baby Vincent              3/12

Andrew and Cora were married in 1884 and had been married for 16 years.  She had birthed 8 children and 5 were living.  His occupation was listed as missionary.  They were all identified as black.

In 1910  the household included

  • Andrew B Vincent  50
  • Cora P Vincent        42
  • Ubrot C Vincent      19
  • Cora Vincent           16
  • Ruth Vincent           14
  • Alfred B Vincent     10
  • Reba G Vincent         6
  • Burnice Vincent        2
  • Alice Hardin  20 (listed as a servant)

Rev. Andrew Vincent was working as a missionary for a Sunday school.

In the 1919 Raleigh, NC City Directory, Andrew, Cora and Cora Pearl Vincent were all listed as teachers.

In 1920 the family was enumerated in New York, New York. Andrew was not ennumerated there.  Perhaps he was out of town on an Evangelistic tour when the census people came to the house because he is back by the 1925 census.
Household Members:
Name                      Age
Cora Pearl Vincent   50
Ubert C Vincent       27
Pearl Vincent            24
Reba Vincent            15
Bernice Vincent        11
Claudia Foy              36
Hebda Vincent           9
Cora was listed as the married head of the household.  Ubert was a doctor at Bellevue Hospital.  The whole household was identified as black and born in North Carolina.

In the 1925 New York State Census, the family is ennumerated in New York, New York.  All were identified as “C” colored.  Housework meant Cora and Pearl were doing their own housework in their own home.

Household Members
   Name                      Age   Occupation

  • Andrew Vincent    67      minister
  • Cora Vincent         45       housework
  • Pearl Vincent        20       housework
  • Bernice Vincent    16       at school
  • Heba Vincent        14       at school

Next I went to Family Search.  I searched for Andrew Vincent and didn’t find who I was looking for, so I put in Cora P. Exum. The first couple to come up were A.B. Vincent and Cora P. Exum for 26 July 1884.  The marriage took place in Goldsboro Twp., Wayne, NC.  There were no parents listed for Cora but A.B.’s were listed as H. Vincent and N. Vincent.  Both were identified as black.

Back to Ancestry.com.  I looked for H. Vincent and found some John H. Vincents in the 1870 census and decided to just look for all the Vincents in N.C. in 1870.  There were over 8,000.  On the first page I found a Nettie Vincent married to Henry Vincent.  I believe they got Nellie’s age wrong as in the 1880 census she and Henry are the same age. Relationships are not given in the 1870 census.

The household included:
Name                    Age
Henry Vincent      35
Nellie Vincent       54
Brown Vincent      12
Phillip Vincent      13
June Enox                2
Abz Bird                    2

Henry was listed as mulatto.  The rest of the family was listed as black.  Henry was a wagon maker.  Nellie was keeping house and Brown was at home.  I know that people often went by their middle names so this seems a good possibility for Andrew’s family.  It would help to know what his middle name was.I found Henry and Nellie Vincent in the 1880 census.  They lived alone.  They were both enumerated as being 50 years old.  Henry was a farmer.

To confuse matters a bit, there was a 60 year old Caroline Vincent living one house over from Henry with her 24 year old son, Brown Vincent. In the 1870 census there was a Caroline Vincent and a house full of Vincents, including a 14 year old Brown Vincent living in the same area as Henry, Nellie and our Brown. I think that this Brown is Caroline’s son and not Andrew Brown Vincent, who should be at Shaw University by that time.

Today I found a death certificate for Phillip Vincent (remember him from the 1870 census above?)  His parents are listed as Henry and Caroline Vincent with the informant being Phillip’s wife.  Perhaps she got the name wrong?  Perhaps Henry had two families and two sons named “Brown.”

I was unable to find Cora Pearl Exum in any census before her marriage record of 1884. Some time ago, I had access to the ProQuest Historical Newspaper Collection and I was able to find and download, many items related to the Tulane/Vincent family.  I finally remembered this and looking through them, I was able to find an obituary for both Andrew and Cora Vincent.   The Chicago Defender, national edition May 28, 1927.  Obituary 2 “May 28, 1927 Physician’s Father Dies.  Andrew Brown Vincent of 116 W. 130th St., father of Dr. U. Conrad Vincent, well known physician of 209 W 135th St. died at his late residence Saturday morning.  The funeral was held Wednesday evening from Abyssinia Baptist church.  “

Ta tum!  His middle name was BROWN!  Today, I goggled Andrew Brown Vincent – Shaw University and found :
VINCENT, ANDREW . . . . . Pleasant Grove, N. C. on page 9 as a student in Shaw University’s Normal Department in the 1876 – 1877 school catalogue.     I also found an ebook  History of the American Negro with an entry several pages long on Andrew Brown Vincent, mother’s name Nellie Vincent.  Much interesting information.

Cora’s obituary reads as follows, with, unfortunately, no mention of parents or siblings.
The New York Amsterdam News June 29, 1932. pg 11

Hold Last Rites of Mrs. Vincent
Mother of Physician Dies at Home Here – Husband Was N.C. Educator
The body of Mrs. Cora Pearl Vincent, 55, who succumbed June 21 at the residence of her son, Dr. Ubert Conrad Vincent, 251 West 138th street was buried Friday beside that of her husband in the family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Three pastors officiated at the funeral services the same afternoon at Abyssiania Baptist Church.  They were the Rev. A. Clayton Powell, Jr., assistant pastor of the church; the Rev. J.W. Brown of Mother Zion and the Rev. Richard M. Bolden of the First Emanuel Church.

Arrangements for the funeral were in the hands of the Turner Undertaking and Embalming Company, 107 West 136 street, and the pallbearers were Drs. Paul Collins, Ira McCowan, Chester Chinn, J.W. Saunders, Charles A. Petioni, William Carter, Jesse Cesneres and Police Sergant Samuel Jesse Battles.

Mrs. Vincent, whose husband, Dr. Andrew B. Vincent, was on the faculty of Shaw University for fifteen years, was born at Wilson, N.C., in 1873.  She resided at Raleigh, N.C., until arrival in New York thirteen years ago.
She was the mother of fourteen children, six of whom survive her.  Besides Dr. Vincent they are Ruth, Pearl, Albert, Berniece and Mrs. Reba Ragsdale, the latter of the Dunbar apartments.  Ruth, who lives in Chicago, came East for the funeral of her mother.  The other children reside at 1849 Seventh avenue, where Mrs. Vincent made her home.


Read a variety of Sepia Saturday posts by other people here.


How I made my Sixties Blues Quilt – Sepia Saturday #66

Today is National Quilting Day. I am going to post about making the “Sixties Blues” quilt.  About 1975, when I was pregnant with my 3rd daughter, I decided to make a quilt. I have a box of African fabric scrapes that I used. As the years went by and more babies came along, mine and those of friends, I made many African fabric patchwork quilts.  Sometimes I had a pattern but usually I just put the fabric together however it moved me.  Here is one I made for my granddaughter Kylett several years ago.

Patchwork quilt for Kylett.

In 2008 I took a Photo-quilting class. Over the years, I had made patchwork quilts but had no idea there were methods to square up the corners and other fine points I never learned because I was making it up as I went along. It took me much of this 8 week class to design my first photo quilt, sew the top together and baste the three layers (top, fill and backing) together. This is my Ancestor baby quilt using pictures of family babies from the early 1900′ to the 1920s. At this same time I was getting back into printmaking. My major in college was printmaking but once I graduated, I ended up living various rural areas and I did not have access to the supplies and equipment I needed until we moved to Atlanta  four years ago.  where I took a class, in printmaking to refresh my mind after a 40 year break. After that semester ended, I decided to continue with the printmaking and put the quilt on the back burner. For three years.

"Baby" Quilt

This fall I decided to take another quilting class to force myself to finish the baby quilt. I didn’t quite finish in the first 8 weeks so I signed up for the next eight weeks and FINALLY completed the quilt, which I will put in the Annual Southwest Atlanta Art Center. I decided to do the “Challenge quilt” for the show held each spring at Southwest Atlanta Arts Center. For each show there is a “challenge quilt” that participants can do or not. This year it can be no larger than 24 X 24 inches and has to be all one color, including the thread. I decided to do one about the years of my life from 1966 to 1969. Although there were high points to those years, there were also some depressing times so I chose blue for the color.  I have been making collages for all of my adult life. I have done a collage on the wall in most of the houses we lived in over the last 40 years. I decided to do this quilt much like a collage.

Wall collage in my front room - Idlewild, Michigan 1998.
"Sixties Blues" Quilt

I have plenty of photographs from that period. I chose the ones I wanted to use, scanned them and used photoshop to fix them if they needed it, resized them and turned them blue. I inverted several so that they look like negatives. I printed the photographs on Jacquard cotton squares, 8.5 x 11 inch cotton sheets with a removable backing. (I’m not being paid by Jacquard). I made 5 squares, 8 x 10.5 inches, two and a half on top and two and a half on the bottom. I used one square for each year, give or take a bit. I arranged them much the same as I would for a collage on a wall using various sizes and shapes, over laping when I liked the look of it.  There are some light spots that I am going to color in with blue pencil to be within the guidelines.

After I finished that one, I decided I like to work small and quickly made a smaller quilt which I wanted to look like the album pages that the original photographs were on. Then my grandaughter came to visit during her spring break and I didn’t get any more quilting done. She returned home today and I’m thinking about my next quilt. The next session starts next week and the show opens April 29 at Southwest Art Center and stays up about a month if you are going to be in Atlanta, drop by.

For other Sepia Saturday photos go here.

Quilted Wall Hanging – Sepia Saturday #65

A quilted wall hanging made of sepia photographs taken in 1938 by my father, Albert B. Cleage Jr and his brothers.
Top row: Hugh Cleage, Barbara Cleage, Albert B. Cleage Jr., Henry Cleage, Gladys Cleage, Albert B. Cleage Jr
Middle row:  Henry Cleage, Doris Graham (My mother), Hugh Cleage, Gladys Cleage, Barbara Cleage, Hugh Cleage, Louis Cleage playing the lute.
Bottom row:  Louis Cleage, Gladys Cleage, Anna Cleage, Henry Cleage, Albert Cleage Jr. Anna Cleage and family friend Paul Payne.

These are all from a small photo album with contact sheet size photos.  Every family member has their own page, as several friends do.  Everybody except Anna, the youngest.  Why?  Did she dislike getting her photo taken?  Did she take the page out?  Did they ignore her because she was the youngest?

This quilt is 20in x 15 in.  I am enjoying working small.

For other family photograph quilts see “Sixties Blues” and “Ancestral Babies”.  For more Sepia Saturday offerings go here.

Grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage

Today is my Grandmother, Pearl Doris Reed Cleage’s, birthday.  If she were alive today she would be turning 125 years old.  In her honor I have posted some photographs of her from the little black album with the little photos taken by her sons around 1938.

She was born in Lebanon, KY in 1886 and moved with her family to Indianapolis, IN when she was about six.  She met her husband, Albert Cleage, at Witherspoon Presbyterian Church where she sang in the choir.  They married in 1910 after he received his Physician’s License.  Their first child,  my father, was born in 1911.  Pearl was warned never to have more children because it would probably kill her.  They moved to Michigan soon after and by 1915 had settled in Detroit.  My grandmother eventually bore and raised seven children.  She died at age 96 in 1987.

For more posts about Pearl Cleage click the following links:  Grandmother holding my father in 1911 and My Grandmother’s Family Tree and Indianapolis Research and Two Newspaper Articles 1908 and 1950.  For more Sepia Saturday photographs CLICK.