While looking for information about Clarence Cleage for this year’s April A-Z Challenge I came across several stunning photographs of Buffalo Soldiers on bicycles. Buffalo Soldiers originally were members of the U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, formed on September 21, 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas after the end of the Civil War. It is said that various Native American groups noticed the resemblance between the hair of the soldiers and that of the curly, kinky hair of the buffalo and gave them the name of Buffalo Soldiers.
In 1896 the army was considering replacing horses with bicycles as a mode of transportation. They picked the Buffalo Soldiers to try it out. In 1897 the Great Bicycle Ride of the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps took place. It went from Fort Missoula to St. Louis, took forty-one days and covered more than 1,900 miles. For more about the Bicycle ride, visit Riding Through History.
To tie this post in with my A-Z Challenge this year, which is writing about Cleages who started on the Cleage plantations in Athens, Tennessee. Some are related to me, most are not. Clarence Cleage is a bit of a departure because he was not born until 1893 in Chattanouga, Tennessee, well after the end of slavery. I cannot find him in the 1900 census, and the online death record does not include the names of his parents, so I am unable to connect him to any specific Athens Cleage family. I know there is a tie in and I will find it eventually. Clarence is the only Cleage who enlisted in the Buffalo Soldiers.
In Columbus, Ohio in 1909 Clarence Cleage enlisted in the US tenth Calvary, widely known as the Buffalo Soldiers. In the 1910 Census he was at Fort Ethan Allen, in Vermont. The Buffalo Soldiers were based there from 1909 until 1913, when they were relocated to Fort Huachuca in Arizona. I can imagine his feelings about the cold and snow he found in Vermont.
His military service ended October 1, 1919 and he returned to Chattanooga where he married Anne Mae and worked as an elevator operator at the Hamilton National Bank Building. He worked there for several years until moving to Chicago, Illinois where we find him in 1930.
In the 1930 Census Clarence and Anne rented their house. They had a 13 year old son, Scott and several lodgers shared the home. Clarence works as an auto mechanic for an automobile sales company. Anna has no outside job and Scott attends school. Clarence says that he fought in World War 1. They own a radio.
In the 1940 Census Clarence was still repairing cars. His highest grade completed was the 6th. Anne had completed the 3rd year of High School. Three lodgers shared the house. Their son Scott married the previous year and lived elsewhere with his wife. In 1941 Clarence filed his WW2 Draft Registration Card. He was no longer repairing cars, but worked at the post office. They also provided a description, he was 48 years old, stood 5 ft 11 in and weighted 205 pounds. He had a light brown complexion, black hair and brown eyes. They continued to live at 6222 South Indiana Ave. And the row house is still standing.
Clarence Cleage died in 1970 in Chicago, Illinois. His wife, Anne, died in 1976.
For this year’s April A-Z Challenge I am blogging a series of sketches about the free people formerly enslaved on the Cleage plantations in Athens, Tennessee. Most are not related to me by blood, although our families came off of the same plantations – those of Samuel, Alexander and David Cleage. Click on any image to enlarge.
Clinton “Dick” Cleage was bought by David Cleage for $700 in January of 1841. He was about 17 years old.
“From all men by these presents that I, John Armstrong, of the county of McMinn and the state of Tennessee for and in consideration of the sum of seven hundred dollars to me in hand paid the receipt where of is hereby acknowledged have bargained, sold and delivered unto David Cleage of the County and State afore said a negro (sic)boy named Clinton, sometimes called Dick, of dark mulatto colour, aged about seventeen. Said boy I warrant sound and healthy both in body and mind and free from any defect whatever and a slave for life and covenant that the title is clear of any encombrance whatever and will warrant and defent by these presents for ever given under my hand and seal this 9th day of January 1841.
Witness: William Burk, JB King”
On July 7, 1866, Clinton appeared again as a witness in Fannie Cleage Turk’s widow’s pension hearing. He testified that he knew her and she was who she said she was.
He never appears in any census, but he appears on his children’s death certificates. In 1870 his wife, Sallie Marsh Cleage, is listed as a widow. In the 1900 Census Sallie said that she had given birth to 14 children and 5 were still living. The children that I know the names of, were:
For this year’s April A-Z Challenge I am blogging a series of sketches about the free people formerly enslaved on the Cleage plantations in Athens Tennessee. Most are not related to me by blood, although our families came off of the same plantations – those of Samuel Cleage and his sons, Alexander and David Cleage. Click on an image to enlarge.
Charles A. Cleage was the person that got me interested in investigating the Cleages outside of my family, at least his headstone did. In 2004 our branch of the Cleages had a reunion in Athens, TN. It was my first visit. My cousins, who were born and grew up there, took me on a tour. They showed me where family members were buried in Hammonds historic African American Cemetery. We wandered around looking at the other graves. I noticed the headstone belonging to Charles A. Cleage and wondered who he was and what the letters stood for.
Charles A. Cleage was born into slavery about 1828 in McMinn County Tennessee. He first appears in the record as part of a bill of sale between the heirs of Samuel Cleage. After Samuel’s death there was some shuffling around of slaves, livestock and household property between the siblings. It says in part,
“Know all men by these presents that we Alexander Cleage and Walter Nutter and his wife Elizabeth H Nutter have this day bargained and sold to David Cleage and his heirs and assigns forever Charity fourteen, Caroline sixteen Jim thirty Joe eight Sally near ten Arch sixteen Margth fourteen Bill forty five Charles twenty four Mary thirty one Henry four Lydia one year of age
For five thousand two hundred and fifty dollars being his distribution share out of the proceeds of the slaves of Samuel Cleage deceased We warrant said negroes (sic) to be slaves for life and that we as the heirs at law of Samuel Cleage have a right to convey them
Given under our hands and seals this 20th day of March 1852″
In testimony given by Charles on 17 June,1895, at the Pension Hearing of Mariah Turk Witt, he gave a look into his life on Samuel Cleage’s plantation.
“… that he and the said soldier Isaac Turk were slaves and belonged to the same master during the year 1849, and on up to the War of the Rebellian they lived as the custom was, within a few nods of each other, both being married and having children; he further states he is enabled to fix the date of birth of Mariah Witt, daughter of said soldier Isaac Turk, by the birth of his own daughter Juley Ann Wats, which as his Family Bible Record shows occurred July 29th 1849, said Mariah Witt being born just one month later which would make the birth of said child Mariah August 29, 1849.”
In 1863 Charles joined the United States Colored Troops (Co. A USCT) in Knoxville, Tennessee. His papers described him as 41 years old, 5 feet 9 inches with black hair, black eyes and a brown complexion.
He was promoted from private to Corporal on March 15, 1866 only a few weeks before he was mustered out on March 31, 1866 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
In 1870 Charles Cleage was 42 and his wife Martha was 25. Charles was a laborer and owned no property. His personal worth was $180. Neither of them could read or write. There were 6 children living with them. The oldest, daughter Julia, was 21. Her husband, Sam Reynolds was also a part of the household. He worked as a laborer. His son Hillard was 19. Frank, 13 and Philip, 11 were attending school. The youngest children were Amos, 2 and Richard 3 months. If Martha’s age is correct, Charles had a wife before her. However, we do not know if Martha’s age is correct. There was a Martha that was in Alexander’s part of the division of slaves in 1852. She was 21 and that would have made her birth year 1831, closer to the birth year given in 1880, as you will see below.
Ten years later, according to the 1880 census, Charles and Martha had aged 20 years. They are now 66 and 46. You have to take the ages on census records, especially for older people, with a grain of salt. The oldest child still home is 18 year old Phillip who is also working as a laborer, as was Charles. Four new children have joined the family – Henry, 9; Mitchel, 7; Rosa, 4 and Mary, 2.
In 1887 Charles applied for his military pension as an invalid. Charles appeared in the 1890 Veterans Schedule. During 1890 he testified at the pension hearing I mentioned above. On January 20, 1908, Martha began to receive her widow’s pension. Charles probably died in December of 1907. On October 16, 1910, Martha Cleage died of asthma. Her age is listed as 65 years old.
For this year’s April A-Z Challenge I am blogging a series of sketches about the free people formerly enslaved on the Cleage plantations in Athens Tennessee. Most are not related to me by blood, although our families came off of the same plantations – those of Samuel, Alexander and David Cleage. I do have a connection with Bart’s family, not a blood connection but my grandfather’s sister, Josie Cleage, married Bart’s first cousin, James Cleage. James was the son of his uncle Jerry Cleage. You can enlarge images by clicking on them.
Born into slavery on David Cleage’s plantation about 1860, Bart Arnwine, lived to be 100 years old. Bart was the son of Jefferson Arnwine and Malinda Cleage.
Oral tradition passed on to me by Elbert Arnwine, one of Bart’s descendents, says that when Samuel Cleage left Virginia heading for Tennessee in the 1820’s, Bart’s grandparents, Joe and Leah were among the few slaves he had with him when he started.
In 1870 Bart was listed as a 9 year old living with parents Jeff and Malinda Arnwine and 6 children from 7 to 14 years old. Neither the parents nor the older children could read or write. Jeff was 35 and worked as a laborer. He owned no property and his personal worth was nothing. Malinda was 28 and kept house.
I haven’t yet found Bart in the 1880 census when he would have been about 20. I found his mother and her new husband, Samuel Reynolds and their daughter. The rest of the family seems to have vanished. On January 12, 1883, Bart married Mary Brown. He was using the surname Cleage, although he went back to Arnwine soon after. He was 22 and she was 18. She had been married once before. Henry Cleage, his uncle, and John A. Miller acted as a witnesses.
Through the years, Bart farmed and Mary kept house. They had 13 children together. In 1910 only seven were still living. The children attended school for varying lengths of time and the younger ones were literate. Eventually the parents also learned to read but not to write. He owned his farm, free of mortage at that time.
By 1920, Mary was dead, leaving Bart a widower. The household included four of his children ages 16, 14, 13 and 9; a 10 year old grandson and his 80 year old widowed mother Malinda. He was still farming, but now on rented land.
In 1940 he was living in his son Augustine’s home with daughter Lena and several grandchildren. He was 70 years old and no longer listed as working, but I cannot imagine that he sat in his rocker all day while his son did farm labor.
“Finally, in this early period, mention should be made of Bart Arnwine. Arnwine had three trademarks — a broad sense of humor, a shining, double-bladed ax, and the reputation of being able to thresh more wheat in one day than anyone in the county. Like several of these memorable people (note: other people mentioned in the book), Arnwine lived to be over 100 years old.”
Recounting History – Descendants of Bart Arnwine Return
After years of living apart, the Arnwine family gathered at Cooke Park recently to enjoy being together once again and recount the family´s rich history.
In 1870, former slave Bart Cleage changed his last name to Arnwine as the recently-freed family stayed in the Niota area where Bart lived.
Through the years, however, members of the family began moving to various parts of the country from Mississippi all the way to New York. There were members of the family who had never met each other before.
That changed recently as the family held its first reunion to catch up with family members they haven´t seen in years and to meet some they had never met.
Frances Williams, one of the organizers of the reunion, said more than 100 people attended.
Our family just spread out, Williams said. We´ve got cousins who have never met. It was time to bring the family back together again.
Everybody at the reunion was a descendent of Bart and Mary Arnwine. Family members came from New York, South Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi.
The oldest family member at the event was soon-to-be 80-year-old Vera West, and the youngest was 2 1/2 year-old Raen Williams.
I think it´s great, West said. I´m glad they did it.
The family reconvened at Cook Park where they cooked hot dogs and renewed friendships or made new ones. Elbert Arnwine is the designated historian of the group and knows all about the family´s history.
I think it´s beautiful, Arnwine said. It´s nice getting the family together on a happy occasion.
Today begins the 2015 A-Z Challenge. This year I will be writing a series of sketches about the former slaves from the Cleage plantations in Athens Tennessee. Most are not related to me by blood. Our families came off of the same plantations – those of Samuel, Alexander and David Cleage, but were not blood relatives. Enlarge images by clicking on them.
Abraham Cleage was born into slavery in about 1838 in McMinn County, Tennessee. By 1864, the Union troops were in control of Eastern Tennessee. Abraham left slavery and enlisted with the United States Colored Troops Heavy Artillary Unit in Knoxville, TN on July 4, 1864. His enlistment papers described him as 5 ft 7 in with black hair, black eyes and a dark complexion. On March 31, 1866, he was mustered out in Chattanooga, TN. He had $42.15 due him.
Amanda Cleage was born about 1837. She and her parents, Clinton and Sallie, were slaves on David Cleage’s plantation in McMinn County. Abraham and Amanda married in 1870. Reconstruction was over with the rise of lynchings, Jim Crow laws legalized segregation in trains, street cars, restaurants, waiting rooms and schools. The right to vote was stolen through the use the poll tax, literacy tests, grandfather clauses and property ownership requirements.
Not long after their marriage the couple moved west to Austin, Travis County, Texas. It is likely that they took a train. There was a train station in Athens and tracks connected all the way to Texas. Their daughter Sarah was born there in 1876. In 1880 Abraham was working as a laborer. In addition to their family, the household included a border, Richard Cleage, age 21. There is a Richard Cleage, same age, who appears in the 1880 census back in Athens with two children born in Texas.
They lived in Austin from at least 1876, when their daughter was born, until they appear in the Los Angeles City Directory in 1888. Abraham worked as a laborer. Amanda kept house.
They would have participated in the local Juneteenth Celebrations. “Although news of emancipation came at different times during that Texas summer and autumn 1865, local blacks gradually settled on June 19 (Juneteenth) as their day of celebration. Beginning in 1866 they held parades, picnics, barbecues, and gave speeches in remembrance of their liberation. By 1900 the festivities had grown to include baseball games, horse races, street fairs, rodeos, railroad excursions, and formal balls. Two distinct trends emerged with these early celebrations. First the oldest of the surviving former slaves were often given a place of honor. That place of honor rose in direct proportion to the dwindling numbers of survivors with each passing year. Secondly, African Americans in Texas initially used these gatherings to locate missing family members and soon they became staging areas
In 1888 the family relocated to Los Angeles, California where Abraham registered to vote and continued to work as a laborer. In 1893 he filed for his pension as an invalid. Amanda was not working outside of the home during these years. By 1900, they owned their own home, with a mortgage. Abraham could neither read or write. Amanda could read but not write. Abraham was 62. Amanda was getting younger with each passing census and was enumerated as 48, although she was closer to 60. She had given birth to 2 children and both were alive. I can only name one, Sarah, who was 24 and married to Richard Pierce, a carpenter who had been unemployed for 5 months during the past year. Sarah had given birth to 2 children but only 1, 6 year old Evelyn was living. Sarah and Richard could read and write. They were all living with her parents.
Abraham died on April 14, 1908. He is buried in the Long Beach Municipal Cemetery. Although I found his information in several death indices, I have not found a death certificate and so do not know how he died. Amanda began to receive her widow’s pension the following month.
By 1910 only one of Amanda’s children was still living. I cannot find Sarah anywhere, I assume she died. Sarah’s husband, Richard Pierce has remarried and is living with his new wife and young daughter. Evelyn, Sarah’s daughter is missing. It is possible she is living with the other living child. Amanda began taking in laundry to support herself.
1916 found Amanda back in Austin, Texas, continuing to take in washing. Perhaps she was working her way back East, because by 1920 she was once again living in Athens Tennessee, on her own and still doing laundry. She gave her age as 58, but she was closer to 83.
On July 22, 1921, Amanda broke her leg, receiving a compound, open, fracture. She was taken to Collins Chapel hospital in Memphis. Her sister Lydia and her husband Charles lived in Memphis. Amanda may have been visiting or may have moved to Memphis to be closer to her sister. Two weeks later her kidneys failed and she was dead at 84 years. Lydia was the informant on the death certificate.
Amanda Cleage was buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery on August 9, 1921. According to the Tennessee Historical Commission, “Zion Cemetery, comprising 15 acres, was established in 1879 by the United Sons of Zion Association who responded to the need for a respectable burial site for African Americans.” As time past and the original founders died, there was no organization to continue caring for the cemetery and it became seriously overgrown until it was impossible to find the graves. In the last several years improvements have been made and 5 acres have been restored. Work is still progressing. The 3 minute video below tells the story.
I gathered this information from census records, death records, city directories at Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.com and other online sources.
This is my 3rd year to participate in the A-Z Challenge. In 2013, I jumped around and covered a variety of topics and people related to my family history research. Last year I used my Grandfather Albert B. Cleage’s letters to my grandmother during the years of their courtship and immediately after they were married covering 1909 to 1911.
This year I will tell the story of the formerly enslaved Cleages of Athens Tennessee. Only a few were my relatives, but all were part of the community that my Ancestors belonged to, both before and after slavery. Most of the people I will write about were slaves before 1865. A few will be their descendents. Although I have more than enough names to get through the whole month, there are lots of those that start with “A” and “C” and none that start with Q, U,X, Y or Z. Perhaps a name will appear. Otherwise I will find a topic relevant to the months posts starting with the letter and blog that.
Last night I visited Genealogy Bank. I spent several hours looking for items about any of the Cleages of Athens Tennessee. I was just beginning to think this was a crazy way to spend Friday night when I saw another item mentioning my grandfather, Albert B. Cleage and his brothers on a road trip, stopping at the home of the Cobbs on the way to Athens. I clicked through to read. It was in the Colored Section of The Lexington Herald.
“Dr. A.B. Cleage, Messrs. Jacob, Henry and Richard Cleage, of Detroit, Mich, were guests of Mr and Mrs. J.W. Cobb Tuesday for a short stay. They were en rout to Athens, Tenn., their former home to bury their mother.”
I have spent years looking for a death record for my great grandmother Celia Rice Cleage Sherman without finding any. My aunt Anna Cleage Shreve, who was born in 1923 and remembered that her grandmother had a stroke in their kitchen around 1930. I am thinking that they shipped her body home to Athens, TN on the train while they drove down.
Richmond was a little over 5 hours from Detroit and 3 hours from Athens. It was a good place to stop and get a nights sleep and a good meal during the time when public accommodations were not open to black people.
Now I have to find where she is buried and more about Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Cobb of Richmond, KY.
Since finding this, someone told me the death certificate information was on familysearch. It is, and the reason I haven’t been able to find it is before was that I didn’t know her first name was Anna. I’ve been looking for Celia Rice. The 1930 census is the only other place I have seen her listed as Anna and I thought that was a mistake! I’ve ordered the Death Certificate and now will be waiting on pins and needles, hoping that her parent’s names will be on it and the cemetery where she’s buried will be listed. Can’t wait!
I wrote a bit about Jerry Cleage and his journey from slave to free man previously. This post updates with new information and puts him into the larger historical picture. To do this I used records from Ancestry.com, Familysearch.com, The Athens Post on Newspapers.com, pension files on Fold3.com, family records from my private collection, articles about slavery in Tennessee online along with maps and online photographs about slavery and the Civil War. I found the books about McMinn County by Joe Guy to be helpful in providing a feel for those times. As always click the photographs to enlarge.
In 1830, Athens McMinn County Tennessee had a population of 500 and was a thriving community with 4 lawyers, 4 ministers, 4 doctors, 10 stores (3 more than Knoxville), 1 tavern, 1 printing office, 1 painter, 2 hatters, 2 tailors, 2 shoemakers, 2 tanners, 2 silversmiths, 1 wagon maker, 2 mills, 1 factory and a male and female academy. (Note: I found these statistics online but can’t remember where. kcw)
Jerry Cleage was born into slavery in 1827 or 1831 (depending on the record) in Tennessee. He was the son of Joe and Leah Cleage.
In the mid-1830s, the Hiwassee Railroad received a charter to build a railroad connecting Knoxville, Tennessee and Dalton, Georgia. Construction began in 1837 but it was not completed until 1851. In 1836, General John Wool arrived in Athens to coordinate the Cherokee Removal, later known as the Trail of Tears.
In 1841, when Jerry Cleage was about 10 years old, Pleasant M. Lane sold him to David Cleage of Athens Tennessee for $400.
“Know all men by these presents that I, Pleasant W. Lane of the County of McMinn and the State of Tennessee for and in consideration of the sum of four hundred dollars to me in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged have bargained sold and delivered unto David Cleage of the county and state aforesaid a negro Boy named Jerry of bright mulatto colour aged about ten years. Said boy I warrant sound and healthy both in body and mind and free from any defect whatever and slave for life and covenant the title is clear of any encumbrance whatever. And I will warrant and defend by these presents forever. Given under my hand and seal this twelfth day of November One thousand and eight hundred and forty one.”
In 1846 David Cleage married Martha Bridgman. Among the slaves she brought with her was 10 year old Charlotte Bridgman, who would later become Jerry’s wife. The Cleages were among the small number of slave holders in Eastern Tennessee owning more than half a dozen slaves. The 32 slaves described in David Cleage’s 1850 Slave Schedule included a 18 year old mulatto male and a 15 year old black female who may have been Jerry and Martha. No names are given in the slave schedules.
The railroad finally reached Athens in 1851, helping local businesses buy goods much quicker and cheaper. Hotels and hack rentals opened as salesmen came to town to sell their wares to local businessmen and merchants in the surrounding country.
In 1860 David Cleage’s plantation housed a small community including 75 enslaved people living in 8 cabins, including Charlotte and Jerry and their 4 oldest children – 12 year old Harriett, 8 year old America, 4 year old Joe and 2 year old Mary. It is important to remember that they were part of a community and not isolated, without ties. In 1867 Charlotte testified at a widow’s pension hearing that she had known Fanny Cleage Turk, another member of their enslaved community, for over 20 years and had been present at the birth of Fanny’s daughter Margaret in 1859.
In 1861, McMinn County voted against secession by a narrow 1,144 – 904 margin. The county sent 12 units to the Union army and 8 units to the Confederate army. General Sherman was briefly headquartered at Bridges Hotel in Athens while preparing his “March to the Sea.”
“The United States Colored Troops were regiments of African-American soldiers who were recruited to serve in the US Army during the Civil War. The 1st Regiment was formed in Knoxville beginning in January 1864, immediately after the Union secured Knoxville as its base in East Tennessee. Free men of color and emancipated slaves rushed to enlist. Their ranks grew to more than 1,100, but despite their crucial role in the Union victory, little is known about these men. Much of the information about their service was poorly documented, if recorded at all.” Transcription Project.
After the Civil War, the railroad made Athens attractive to investors. Textile mills, flour mills, and timber mills dominated the county’s industry by the late 19th century, complemented by furniture and appliance factories in the 1920s. A number of Jerry Cleage’s white neighbors were weavers, spinners or laborers at the Woolen Mill in the 1900 and 1910 censuses.
In 1870 Jerry and Charlotte lived in a rented house in Athens, TN with 9 of their children and 2 grandchildren. Jerry owned no property and his personal property was worth $100. None of the adults in the household were able to read or write. Charlotte kept house and Jerry worked as a laborer. None of the children were working. None of the children were marked as in school. By 1880, two of his older son have joined Jerry as laborers. Although some of the older children had established households of their own, there were still 8 children from ages 24 to 3 living in their home. Jerry and several of his older sons registered to vote in 1891.
Charlotte died between 1880 and 1897. Jerry married Hannah in 1897. He was 65 years old and Hannah was 55. In 1900 Jerry owned his home free and clear with no mortgage. He could read but not write. He was doing day labor. I cannot find Hannah before or after the 1900 Census. In 1905, at age 78, Jerry married Jane Reynolds. By 1910 he was again a widower. He worked as a drayman, delivering goods for a grocery store. Perhaps in a wagon like those in the photograph below.
On March 28, 1919, at the age of 92, Jerry Cleage died of arterio schlerosis and pulmonary endema. His daughter, Nellie Cleage Deadrick, was the informant and gave his parents names, where they were born and his date of birth as January 12, 1827. He is buried in Hammonds Cemetery in Athens.
I will write about his 11 children in future posts.
This is the first of a series about the freed former slaves from the Cleage plantations in Athens Tennessee once they were free. Unless I mention that they are my relatives, they are not related by blood. Our families came off of the same plantations – those of Samuel, Alexander and David Cleage, but were not blood relatives.
Isaac Turk, his wives Fanny Cleage and Malinda White and all 6 of his children were born into slavery. All of them lived to see freedom, except his first wife Malinda who died in 1857.
Isaac Turk was born around 1828. He was 36 years old on February 8, 1864 when he joined the United States Colored Troops in Knoxville, Tennessee. He stood 5 feet 6 inches with a dark complexion, black eyes and black hair. His occupation was listed as “farmer”. He had been a slave on David Cleage’s plantation in Athens, Tennessee.
Isaac was married twice. He married Malinda White in 1844. The Rev. Samuel Hope performed the ceremony. They had five children together, William (Do not know birthdate), Mariah born in 1849, Penelope “Neppie” born 1850, Steve born 1851 and Isaac born 1852. Malinda died in 1857.
After his first wife’s death, Isaac married Fanny Cleage. Rev. Henry L. Rowley performed the ceremony. Henry Rowley was enslaved, probably by Erastus Rowley, born in Massachusetts and a professor of languages in the 1860 census, who lived down the way from David Cleage where Isaac and Fanny were enslaved.
Isaac and Fanny had only one child, a daughter Margaret, born August 1859. Charlotte Bridgeman Cleage and Sarah Cleage were both present at the birth along with Dr. M.R. May, a white doctor who also lived near David Cleage.
In February of 1864, Isaac Turk made his way from Athens to Knoxville and enlisted in Company A, U.S. Colored Troops 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment as a musician, a drummer. On July 20 of the same year, he died in the regimental hospital from what was described as “congestion of stomach.”
July 25, 1864
Received of Lieutenant A.B. Eliott Commanding Company A 1st US colored Artillery “Heavy” the following effects of Isaac Turk, private Co. “A” 1st U.S. Colored Artillery “Heavy” now deceased, which I am entitled to as his Legal Representative, viz. child.
One hat, one cap, one uniform coat (musician) one blouse lined two pair trousers, two flannel shirts, one pr shoes, one woolen blanket.
Margaret(X her mark) Turk
Because Isaac Turk was not going by the name Cleage, I would not have known he was a slave on David Cleage’s plantation. I discovered him while checking Charles A. Cleage, who I knew had been a slave on that plantation and also in the U.S. Colored Troops, in the Civil War Pension Index. There I found Fanny Cleage Turk, widow of Isaac Turk applying for her pension. In her file several people who had been enslaved on the same plantation gave testimony. Charles A. Cleage described how he knew the birth date of Isaac Turk’s daughter Mariah, who also applied for a pension as a child.
“…Charles A. Cleage, who, I hereby certify, is a respectable and credible person, and who, being duly sworn, declares in relation to the aforesaid claim as follows: that he and the said soldier Isaac Turk were slaves and belonged to the same master during the year 1849 and on up to the war of the rebellion they lived as the custom was, within a few nods of each other, both being married and having children; he further states he is enabled to fix the date of birth of Mariah Witt, daughter of said soldier Isaac Turk, by the birth of his own daughter Juley Ann Wats, which as his family Bible Record shows, occured July 29th 1849, said Mariah Witt being born just one month later which would make the birth of said child Mariah August 29th 1849.”
Fanny Cleage first appears in the Article of Agreement between the overseer Samuel Cleage in 1834. I was unable to find Fanny or her daughter Margaret after the hearings. Fanny and the children signed their names with an X. I was able to follow most of the other children. In the censuses, I found that his sons eventually learned to read and write, although they could not in the 1870 cesus. The women (sisters or wives) did not. The grandchildren were all literate. Turk’s sons worked as laborers. His daughters did not usually work outside of the home.
When I began looking for the Cleage freemen and women after 1865, I found several men had enlisted in Company A, U.S. Colored Troops 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment based in Knoxville, Tennessee. Knoxville is about 60 miles from Athens, depending on which route you take. McMinn county is in the Appalachian mountain range, so it wasn’t a straight, flat walk. I have identified 7 Cleage men who enlisted. The name is spelled various ways, even within the same man’s folder. They enlisted at different times and I wish I knew the story of how they decided to leave, how they got away and how they made their way 60 mile to Knoxville to enlist.
“Lewis Cleage of Athens, Tenn. who has been with his son, Jacob Cleage, of this city, for nearly two years, died Thursday afternoon at the city hospital, where he was taken Wednesday. The funeral services were conducted today at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Josie Cleage 1323 Massachusetts avenue at 2 o’clock. The Rev. John Brice officiating. Besides a daughter, Mr. Cleage is survived by four sons, Dr. Albert Cleage of Detroit, Henry and Jacob Cleage of this city and Edward Cleage of Athens, Tenn. The body will be taken to Athens for burial.”
I recently received this obituary for my great grandfather Lewis Cleage. I noticed several things. First, he was not taken to Athens for burial. He is buried in an unmarked grave in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, pictured in the header. He lived in Indianapolis for 2 years before his death. And I wondered who Rev. John Brice was. Was he the pastor at their church, Witherspoon United Presbyterian? Was he from Athens? Here is what I learned.
John Brice was born in 1878 in Knox County Tennessee the 7th of the 9 children of Hampton and Harriett Brice. Exceptional for these times they were farmers and owned their own land. Although they were illiterate, all of their children attended school and learned to read and write. John attended Knoxville College Normal, graduating in 1899. He finished the Baccalaureate program in 1904 and graduated from Knoxville Seminary in 1909. He met his wife, Ella Hawkins there. My grandfather, Albert B. Cleage Sr. attended Knoxville College during this same time, graduating in 1906.
In 1910 Rev. John Brice was pastor of First United Presbyterian Church in Athens, Tennessee. He roomed one house over from my great grandmother Celia Rice Cleage Sherman and her family, which included her 2nd husband Roger Sherman (who is listed as an architect for First United Presbyterian Church), son Edward and his wife and 2 children, along with 8 year old grandson Richard. My grandfather, his two other brothers and his sister and her family were already living in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Brice wasn’t pastor in Athens very long, by 1912 he was married and pastor of Witherspoon United Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. My grandparents and my grandfather’s brothers were founders of Witherspoon. Brice’s three youngest children were born in Indianapolis.
He served as a chaplain in France during WW 1. Following the war he taught and pastored in Alcoa, Tennessee. Alcoa was a company town set up by Alcoa Aluminum. They used cheap southern labor, black and white. When things eventually fell apart there as far as the vision some of the black professional people had hoped to implement, he moved to North Carolina to teach and work at the Palmer Memorial Institute, founded and run by his wife’s niece, Charlotte Hawkins.
Charlotte Hawkins Brown & Palmer Memorial Institute: What One Young African Could DoBy Charles Weldon Wadelington, Richard F. Knapp
He died around 1960. A long time family friend and DNA relative has alerted me to John Brice’s death certificate on Ancestry.come.It also turns out that she is related to John Brice’s grandson, Guion Stewart Bluford Jr.
Of his four children, 3 had careers in music. The youngest, Carol Brice had a career in opera. Johnathan and Eugene often accompanied her on the piano and also had careers of their own. Daughter Lolita Brice was an educator and married engineer Guion Stewart Bluford Sr. Their youngest son was Guion Stewart Bluford Jr, who was the first black astronaut, in spite of his high school counselor in the 1960s advising him to take up a trade because he wasn’t college material.