November 8, 1904 – Pearl’s Mother Very Ill and Homer shares “Vitality Supreme”

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library/University of Georgia Libraries. Click to enlarge.
Pearl Reed

Homer Jarrett
426 Muskingun St. City

2730 Kenwood Ave.
November 8, 1904

Mr. Jarrett,
Homer, the book and enclosed letter were received and noted. They were a pleasant surprise and I am truly grateful to you and them. I do not deserve so much kindness and generosity.

I did not hear Mr. McFadden’s lecture, although I had built great hopes on doing so. I am glad to hear that you attended it, and would be delighted if you would come out and tell me more about it and him. Will you?

I have been nurse and housekeeper for almost a month, for mother had another attack of lung trouble and we were greatly troubled lest we might lose her. She is much better now and sends you her best regards.

Thanking you again for the book and hoping to see you soon
I remain,
Yours Gratefully,
Pearl D. Reed


Bernarr Macfadden’s book on physical culture.
The Indianapolis Star Monday, Oct. 31, 1904

March 8, 1904 – Guitar and Piano Lessons

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library/University of Georgia Libraries. Click to enlarge.
Pearl Reed

Homer Jarrett
230 Alleghany St. City

2700 Kenwood Ave
March 8, 1904

Your letter was handed me at supper and don’t you know, that I was rather glad to hear from you. I did not answer your letter before, because I thought you were tired of hearing such “silly” “little” letters. You have managed nicely to keep yourself out of sight lately, since I’ve come to think of it, I think it has been about a month – don’t you?

I heard of the bad news that you had from home and Homer I send you my sympathy. Are they better now, I mean the ones that were ill?

In regards to my music, why I suppose I am getting on quite well. My tutor flatters me and tells me that I am doing “Oh, so nicely”, but I don’t believe one half of what is told me. Do you know I’ve changed from the guitar to the piano? You must think me the most changeable person Homer, but I get so tired of everything so very soon, you know.

Aren’t you tired of this stuff Homer? Well I am.



Did Pearl forget the letter she wrote just a month ago telling him off for insulting her mother?

Guitar? I had no idea my grandmother ever took guitar lessons. When I decided to stop taking piano lessons, she told me I should continue because I could play at parties and for friends. Some years later, she taught her niece Helen (Minnie’s oldest daughter) to play the piano.

Pearl would have heard about Homer’s family back in Georgia being sick from Minnie, who was married to Homer’s cousin, James Mullins.

February 7, 1904 – Evil Thoughts

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library/University of Georgia Libraries. Click to enlarge.
Pearl Reed

Homer Jarrett
230 Alleghany St. City

2700 Kenwood Ave
February 7, 1904

Mr. Jarrett,

Homer, for the evil thought and words concerning my mother, which you spoke a few weeks ago, I forgive you as I hope to be forgiven of my many sins and faults. My mother does not know anything about it and has often asked why you never visit any more. She shall never learn your terrible thoughts of her . She will always think you one of the most gentle young men in the city, if I can help it.

Pearl D. Reed


The Letters – The People


My grandmother, Pearl Doris Reed, was born in Lebanon, Kentucky in 1886. She was the youngest of the eight children of Anna Ray Allen Reed.  The four youngest, including Pearl, were the children of Buford Averitt, a white physician.  The older children had different fathers. By 1888 Pearl’s oldest brother, George, had moved to Indianapolis Indiana to work at Van Camps cannery. The rest of the family soon followed. She graduated from high school and took music lessons. In 1903, Pearl was nineteen years old. She lived with her mother and older brothers in North Indianapolis, Indiana.

Oldest sister Josie was dead before 1900. Sisters Sarah and Louise were married and lived in Benton Harbor, Michigan with their husbands and families. Minnie and James Mullins and her growing family moved back and forth between Indianapolis Indiana and Benton Harbor during this time.

Pearl’s mother, Anna Ray Reed, was born into slavery about 1845 in Lebanon, Kentucky. For most of her life she worked as a domestic or a laundress. During the time of the letters, she was often ill. Her sons supported her. Anna had two siblings. Her sister Clara remained in Lebanon, Kentucky. Her brother Thomas served in the Civil War. He moved to Indianapolis, about 1877. During the time of the letters, Anna and her family lived in the house directly behind Thomas’.

Homer Jarrett

Homer Jarrett was a cousin of Minnie’s husband, James Mullins. He was born in Harris County, GA in 1882. He completed 8th grade. During the time of the letters he was moving around a lot, from Indianapolis, to Pine Bluff Arkansas to St. Louis MO and back to Indiana. He eventually moved to Boston, MA where he made his living in real estate. He never married. According to his draft records, he was short, slender, tan complexion, black hair and blue eyes, . He died in Boston in 1959 at 77.

James Mullins

Minnie Averette Reed Mullins was born in 1878. Completed 8th grade. In 1898 Minnie married James Mullins in Indianapolis, IN. Their daughter, Helen was born in 1899, son James in 1900, Ben in 1901. Arthur was born in 1904. They had 12 children in all. They continued to move between Indiana and Michigan, settling in Michigan permanently by 1920. Minnie died in 1963 at 84.


Hugh Marion Reed Averette was born on April 23, 1876, in Lebanon, Kentucky. He completed the 8th grade. Hugh served as a coal presser during the Spanish American War and returned to Indianapolis in 1902. He married Blanche Celeste Young in 1906. They had four children. They moved to CA in the 1940s and the whole family passed for white. He died in 1951 at 75.

Lillian Louise

Lillian Louise Reed Shoemaker was born about 1873 in Lebanon, Kentucky. In 1891, Louise married Michigan native, Solonus Shoemaker, in Benton Harbor, MI. Daughter, Mildred, was born in 1899. Son, Floyd 4 years later in 1903. She died in 1938 at 65.

George Reed: Was born in 1867 in Lebanon, Kentucky. His mother was 18 when he was born. There was an older sister, Josephine, who was born during slavery and died before 1900. George never married and had no children. As the oldest son in a home without a man, he became the man of the house. He never learned to read or write and earned his living as a laborer. He moved to Indianapolis in 1887, where his mother’s brother Thomas Ray Allen had been living for at least five years. The rest of the family followed. George died in 1945 at 78.


Sarah Jane Reed Busby was born in 1871. Completed 4th grade. In 1889, she married James A. Busby in Indianapolis. They immediately moved to James’ home in Benton Harbor, Michigan. They had ten children. She died in 1954 in Benton Harbor, at 84

Clarence Elwood Reed was the youngest son of Anna Reed and the brother next in age to my grandmother Pearl. He completed 8th grade. In 1902 he moved with the rest of the family to 2730 Kenwood Ave. He later moved to Chicago and married at least three times. He had no children. He died in 1954 in Chicago at 72.

In 1900 a black laborer earned about $150. An black laundress earned $180 per year.  By 1910 the average worker earned $200 – $400 per year.

George Reed Probate Record – 1946

Today I am posting the Final Report of George Reed’s Estate file.  It includes the names and locations of his five surviving siblings. Two sisters, Josie Campbell Robertson and Lilly Louise Reed Shoemaker, predeceased him.

It has the address and location of the family home on Kenwood Avenue, and the amounts and location of his funds. It names monies that had been paid out and to whom it was paid.

George was a laboring man all of his life. He couldn’t read or write.  It amazes me that he was able to leave so large a sum at his death. There were no family stories of George being a bootlegger or gambler. My aunt Barbara mentioned that he owned other property but there is none listed here.

My uncle Hugh Cleage, who looked like George Reed, according to my aunt Barbara.

George was strict with the younger family members that came up under his care. My aunt Barbara said that his niece Bessie, ran off as soon as she could to escape the restrictions. My grandmother Pearl was a few years older and seems to have thrived there.  I have no photo of him, only that he “looked like Hugh.” My uncle Hugh, not his brother Hugh. I take that to mean that he was short and wiry and brown skinned. There were no particular stories about him. I wish that I had talked to my grandmother about him.

Next up will be letters exchanged between the lawyers (both of whom were well known black attorneys in Indianapolis), the sisters (Minnie and Sarah) and my grandmother Pearl.



George Reed Funeral – May 31, 1945

George Reed Funeral

“Funeral Services for George Reed, 73, colored, who died Monday at the home of Dr. and Mrs. A. B. Cleage, Detroit, were held today at the C.M.C. Willis mortuary, with the Rev. J.A. Alexander, pastor of Bethel, A. M. E. church, officiating. Burial was in Crown Hill. the body was accompanied here by Dr. and Mrs. Cleage and Henry Cleage, Detroit. Mr. Reed became ill here a year and a half ago and was taken to Detroit where he lived with his sister, Mrs. Cleage. Survivors, besides Mrs. Cleage, are two other sisters, Mrs. Sara Busby, Benton Harbor, Mich.; and Mrs. Minnie Mullins, Detroit; and two brothers, Clarence Reed, Chicago, and Hugh Reed who has lived in the West several years.”

George was actually closer to 78. He appears in the 1870 census as three year old George Ray with his mother Annie Ray.



Last Will and Testament of George Reed

You can read about George Reed’s life at this post George A. Reed

George Reed 1873 – 1945 – Tombstone Tuesday

Zephyrus Todd

This year I am going through an alphabet of news items taken from The Emancipator newspaper, published  between 1917 and 1920 in Montgomery, Alabama.  Most are about my grandparent’s circle of friends. All of the news items were found on Each item is transcribed directly below the clipping.  Click on any image to enlarge.


Zephyrus Todd was a friend of my grandmother Fannie Turner. When she visited my grandmother, Fannie Turner in May 1918, she was 26 years old. My grandmother was 30.


Miss Zephyrus Todd of Selma was in the city last week, as the guest of Miss Fannie Turner.

Zephyr – the Greek god of the west wind.


Zephyrus Todd was born in 1892, the second child of James and Corinne (Hunter) Todd. There were eight siblings. The one born after Zephyrus died in childhood, the rest lived well into adulthood. Both of her parents were born soon after the end of slavery. Both were literate.

In the 1900 census, her father James taught school. Her mother Corinne was a seamstress. There were Four children. The oldest, Percival, was ten and attended school. Zephyrus was eight, Ruby was three and James was one. Corinne had given birth to five children and four were living. The deceased child was probably born between Zephyrus and Ruby.

In the 1910 census, her father, James Todd was listed as a laborer in an oil mill. His wife Corinne was still pursuing her work as a seamstress while raising six children. Two more had been added to the family, Six year old Furrnis and two year old Nathaniel. The four oldest children had all attended school.

By the 1920 census, James Todd was an engineer at the oil mill. Their was no occupation listed for Corinne. Zephyrus was teaching. Percival was not living at home. All but six year old Corintha were attending school.

All of the children finished high school. At least five attended college. Zephyrus began teaching at Clark Elementary School in 1913 when she was 21.  Here is a bit I found about education in Selma at that time.

“…in 1891 the Alabama state legislature approved new education laws that allowed for discrimination in facilities and in the salaries provided for black teachers compared to whites. Despite these impediments, Richard B. Hudson (1866-1931), who was a Selma University graduate, remained committed to building a public school presence for black children in Selma. In 1890 Clark Elementary School opened on the first floor of Sylvan Street Hall, the first public school for African American students in Selma. A permanent building was constructed and opened in 1894 on Lawrence Street. Hudson administered Clark School for approximately 40 years and coped with a white perception that black children did not need education when they were needed more in the cotton fields or in the cotton industry. The length of the school year for blacks in Alabama, for instance, decreased from 100 days in 1900 to a mere 76 days by 1910.” (1)

Zephyrus’ sister Ruby joined her as a teacher at Clark Elementary School in 1922. Both of them continued to live at home and teach at Clark until they moved 129 miles away to Lamar County and began to teach at Lamar County Training School. Eventually  Zephyrus Todd became the principal. Neither Zephyrus nor her sister Ruby married.

At the age of 76, on August 13, 1968, Zephyrus died in Lamar County. She was buried in Elmwood Cemetery, the black cemetery in Selma,

“… Elmwood Cemetery on Race Street (note: so named because of the Race Track.) became a forgotten civic space. The earlier Confederate burials were removed c. 1878. By the turn of the century it was the town’s recognized African American cemetery and became the final resting place for many significant local leaders in commerce, religion, and education from the first half of the twentieth century.” (1)


I found this information on in Census Records, Directories, Death Records and Military Records. The news item was found on The history information was found here Section E. Historic Context (1)

Bettie Young

This year I am going through an alphabet of news items taken from The Emancipator newspaper, published  between 1917 and 1920 in Montgomery, Alabama.  Most are about my grandparent’s circle of friends. All of the news items were found on Each item is transcribed directly below the clipping.  Click on any image to enlarge.

I know of no connection between my grandparents and Mrs. Bettie Young, aside from being part of the African American community in Montgomery, Alabama.


The Emancipator (Montgomery, Alabama) · 26 Jan 1918, Sat · Page 3

In Memoriam

In memory of Mrs. Bettie Young, the loving and devoted mother of Isham, Preston, Cornelia and Walter Young, died January 23rd, 1909.

A loving one from us has gone

A voice we loved is still;

A place is vacant in our homes

Which never can be filled.


Bettie Henley and her mother Mary F. Gardner were born into slavery in Virginia about 1850.  Her younger sister Fanny  was born in 1856 in Alabama, so she and her mother were brought to Alabama before 1856.

Bettie married Mark Young in 1869 in Montgomery, Alabama. She was 19 and he was 29.  In 1870 he worked as a delivery man. Bettie did not work outside of the home. Her mother, Mary F. Gardner, a widow and an invalid, lived with them.

In 1880, Young worked as a porter for Loeb & Bros. Bettie did not work outside of the home. Her mother had moved and was living with Bettie’s sister Fanny. They had three children, The oldest, Fanny, was named after her aunt.  She was eight years old and attended school. Isham was six and Preston was four. Eventually Bettie gave birth to seven children. Four of them lived to adulthood. Mark and Bettie were both literate. Her mother, Mary F. Gardener died later in 1880 of cancer.

On August 1, 1882, Mark Young died of bilious remittent fever. The term is no longer used but referred to a high fever accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea. The cause could be malaria or typhoid fever. He was 42 years old.

Bettie Young began taking in laundry in 1895. Her older sons both worked. Preston as a laborer.  Isham drove a delivery wagon. In 1896 Preston was making deliveries for Nachman and Meertief when his horse became frightened by a wagon breakage. His 16 year old brother, Walter was with him.  Here is an article from the paper about the incident.

“A Close Call

A Negro Dragged Along Dexter Avenue by a Runaway Horse.

Isham Young should at once buy a lottery ticket – he made the narrowest escape from a frightful death yesterday that has been heard of in a long time. Isham is the driver of the delivery wagon of Nachman & Meertief, and about 5 o’clock yesterday  afternoon something broke about the front part of the wagon, scaring the horse who dashed off at break-neck speed down the avenue. The wagon was swaying from side to side of the street and when near Perry Street, Isham was thrown to the ground, tangled up in the reins. He was dragged along this way for several yards, and his head and the wagon striking an iron post at the corner of Dexter Avenue and Perry Streets, he was torn loose from the lines and left lying, as everybody thought, dead. Officer Pat Sweeny rushed over, picked up the bleeding and motionless form, and carried it over to the drug store. Very soon, the negro (sic.) was able to be sent home in a hack–he was shocked more than hurt, and his cuts and bruises while painful are not serious. A small negro boy, his brother, was in the wagon with him and was not even scratched. None of the goods in the wagon were lost, and altogether it was one of the most fortunate things ever seen to look so serious. Further down the Avenue, Miss Maud Reid and her sister, Mrs. Johnson, were driving in a phaeton- the plunging wagon struck one of the front wheels of the phaeton, tearing it ______ and throwing the ladies out. Fortunately, they were driving very slowly at the time and their horse was a gentle one, or the result might have been worse. As it was, they were not hurt at all.  Near Court Square the runaway horse and demolished delivery wagon were stopped.”   From The Montgomery Advertiser  Aug 2, 1896, pg 10.

The Montgomery Advertiser Sun May 31, 1896

In the 1900 census Bettie Young owned her home outright with no mortgage. She continued to take in laundry. Three of her four surviving children lived in the household.  Sixteen year old Walter was at school. Cornelia was nineteen and not employed outside of the home. Twenty three year old Isham continued driving the delivery wagon. He received a permit to make $50 worth of repairs on the house that same year.

On January 23, 1908, Bettie Young died. She was 58 years old.


I found this information on in Census Records, Directories, Death Records and Military Records. The new item was found on

First Congregational Church Montgomery, Alabama

This year I am going through an alphabet of news items taken from The Emancipator newspaper, published  between 1917 and 1920 in Montgomery, Alabama.  Each item was found on and is transcribed directly below the clipping.   Click on any image to enlarge.

First Congregational Church was where my grandparents met and the church they attended when they lived in Montgomery.  My grandmother Fannie, her siblings and cousins also attended the school that the Congregational missionaries from the North started. It went from elementary through high school and became State Normal School.

The Emancipator – Sat – July 3, 1920


First Congregational Church of Montgomery has the hope of becoming a real center for community betterment.

This Church stands for independence, freedom, fellowship and for a social gospel.

There will be conducted in connection with our church life a wide awake Sunday School Christian endeavor in the evenings, Worship each Sunday at eleven o’clock, and from time to time lectures, literary exercises, ad amusements furnished to interest the young people.

Our watch word, “Welcome.” Whosoever will let him come, and take the water of life freely.

(Rev. Chas. J. Stanley) Pastor.


The photograph below is of First Congregational Church, which later changed it’s name to First Congregational Christian Church, came from The Montgomery Advertiser. There is a bit of the history of the church in the sidebar.

The original building burned to the ground after a lightening strike in 1995. The congregation has rebuilt in the same spot.