Part 4 – Eliza’s Daughters by My Mother Doris Graham Cleage

My mother wrote this as part of her family history memories for my sister and me in 1980.  I am putting the whole piece here then I will reprint each sister’s section with the new information I found and corrections that needed to be made after I found descendants for most of them.  My mother’s grandmother was Jennie Virginia Allen Graham.  The women she writes about are her grandmother’s sisters, her great aunts.  When “grandmother” is mentioned that is Jennie Virginia.

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Willie holding grandson Conrad, daughter Naomi looking on.

Now a word about her sisters….Aunt Willie was the oldest….married well…Victor Tulane (Tuskegee trustee and owner of a general store and many houses).  He was not what you’d call a “faithful” husband, but Aunt Willie (the family said)  looked the other way because he always took such good care of his wife and only child, a daughter Naomi, who was sent to Howard, married a doctor and went to live the high life in New York.  Aunt Willie had a beautiful apartment over the store.  Always had a maid and never worked.  She was living like this when Grandmother was a struggling widow. She was the last sister to leave Montgomery.  She died in New York.  Her son-in-law had died, left her daughter wealthy with apartments in NY paid for, insurance, money for the education of the four children in the bank, etc.  I remember shoes hand made in Italy being in the boxes of impossible things she sent mother.  They were always distant “rich relations”.  Don’t remember even seeing any of the children except one young woman who came to Detroit briefly, stayed with Margaret McCall.  Saw Aunt Willie once.  She and Aunt Abbie came to visit us when I was small.  Don’t remember her saying much or ever smiling while Aunt Abbie was as you remember her, friendly.

Abbie Allen Brown

Aunt Abbie married a Mississippi Riverboat gambler, swarthy and handsome and no good, who stayed home on two visits long enough to give her two sons and then sent her trunks of fine clothes to wear or sell to take care of herself and the boys.  Whenever she talked about him she sounded like she hated him.  She resented the lack of money.  Said once the oldest boy Earl (named for his father) screamed for days with toothache and she could not take him to the dentist who didn’t want any fancy clothes or jewelry.  She resented raising the children alone. I got the feeling she hated them and they hated her and she resented him being off having a good time while she stayed home with the problems.  She talked about him In a completely different way than she talked about her Jewish policeman who bought her a house on Ripley St. and spent much time there, for whom she loved to cook and keep house.

She came to live with Mother to take care of Daddy (!) so Mother could come to Springfield and help me when Kris was born.  In later years when they lived on Fairfield, Mother and Daddy used to argue about this and they would call me in to referee.  He’d say he took Aunt Abbie in out of the goodness of his heart like all the rest of her family, and that she was not supposed to stay on them forever but was to go live with Aunt Margaret.  Mother would say Aunt Abbie came to take care of him because (here she would make a mouth at me) he could not take care of himself and work even tho he could cook better than she and do everything else in the house too.  I think we are always angered at the way men can say this is the limit.  I can’t or I won’t do this or that and we seem to have lives where you do what is to be done since you have no one who will hear you if you say you can’t or won’t…hold my hand Charlie Brown!  And that he knew very well she was going to live with them and visit Margaret occasionally.  Mother was right.  He said Aunt Abbie came to have cataracts operated and to be taken care of.  He was wrong.  Her eye operations came years later.  He said to me once that he had always taken care of Mother’s people and she would have nothing to do with his.  I know how Grandmother depended on him to fix things around their house and he was most agreeable and I always thought he loved it.  They made over him when he came with his box of tools.  I was always there as helper, but he got very tired and mistreated about having both Alice and Aunt Abbie to take care of.  He didn’t like either one.  But I never could get him to send them to a nursing or residence home to live.  He always said what would people say if I did that.  When people talk like that I give up because they are obviously making the choice they prefer.

Back to Aunt Abbie.  She loved to cook and do everything else about the house.  Mother would not let her do anything except clean her own room and do her own washing and ironing and Mother hated everything about housekeeping except cooking, but she said her husband expected her to take care of him and his house and (she didn’t say this) she’d be damned if she’d let anyone else do it as long as she could.  I couldn’t talk to her about it.

Aunt Anna was the sister who went to Chicago, got a job as teller in a bank, married the bank manager who was a widower with children.  He knew she was black but no one else in his family ever did. I’ve often wondered what they did for birth control.  They were young when they married.  He was well to do.  She used to write Mother and Mother would write back c/o general post office.  Said she loved him but felt very lonely all the time not to be able to see her family and knew the children would have nothing to do with her if they knew.  She was supposed to look like Margaret McCall.  She got sick.  Wrote Mother she was not to live long.  That there might be no more letters.  That she would dearly love to die with her family He had died years before…had left his money to her…had asked her to promise to stay near the children to pass so they would not be embarrassed…and leave the money to them.  She promised and told mother she had made her bed and would lie in it to the end but would surely see them in Heaven.  Mother was the only one she wrote to.  The rest would not answer letters.  That was the last letter.

Mary Allen McCall

Aunt Mary married someone named James McCall whom I never knew.  Also never heard anyone say who he was or what he did.  As I write this it strikes me that the men these sisters married were for the most part very shadowy creatures.  I’ve seen a picture even of only one.  Strange.  Aunt Mary looked rather like Aunt Abbie but was quiet and rather grim, I thought.  Lived with Aunt Margaret and her son Uncle Jim all her life as far as I know.  I think Aunt Mary helped with money although I don’t know where she got it.  Uncle Jim, her son, was blind.  There were two children, Margaret and Victoria, and no help from the state.  He caned chairs and wrote poetry for a living.  I think they were very poor but did better when the state helped blind people  And they got enough money from somewhere to buy the Detroit Tribune and make money.

Beulah Allen Pope and son Robert on trip to Detroit.

Aunt Beulah who looked something like Grandmother, I’ve heard, married someone named Pope and went to Milwaukee.  Don’t know what he did or what she was like.  Never saw her.  Sent one son through dental school  Robert Pope.  Very handsome, his twin sister, a beauty married well, had one child the one who kept pushing me around when they came to visit us.  I must have been about four,  so was he, and he wanted to follow MV everywhere and not let me come.  I went anyway.  I remember him banging my head against the wall beside the stairs.  Strange.  He especially hated me because I could cut up my own meat and his mother wouldn’t even let him try.  Ha ha!!!  Another son of Aunt Beulah was a teacher who married had one daughter who wrote once to Mother and Daddy about family history.  Wonder what she got together.  I keep hoping to find someone who has already done all the hard work.  Back to Aunt Beulah, who was considered the least beautiful of the sisters.  Her son Robert built her a beautiful home and stayed there with her until she died not too long ago.  Ten or twelve years.  They all spoke of her with envy.

Fannie’s Scrap Book and Other Writings

Small montage on metal with bandage frame by Fannie Turner Graham.

Today I am posting writings from my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner Graham’s scrapbook/journal, along with some of the notes she made about her son’s deaths.  Entries were made from  1927 – 1946.  I thought this was fitting for a Sentimental Sunday.

My Scrap book – started 1932 after Howard’s death to keep my mind off the tragic death of our Mershell Jr (6 years old), Nov 1 1927 and our Baby Howard (3 years) March 4, 1932 – Fannie Turner Graham – Maybe Dad and our girls will look over this book and see how some of “mothers” spare time was spent…. I get a kick out of this book myself. Fan

From the envelope holding Mershell’s school books:
“In Memorium 11/10/17 by his mother
Our only little boy – Mershell – was struck by an auto truck on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 1927, just opposite Thomas School to which he was returning from lunch with his sister – at 12:40 P.M. His little skull was fractured, neck broken, shoulders fractured and he was rushed to St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital by the man (Jno Merlo) who struck him and a foreign woman who picked him up before I could reach the scene. He never regained consciousness, and died at 12:20AM Wednesday, Nov. 2nd, 1927. Funeral services held from house on Friday Nov. 4th 1927. Re Laviscount officiating. Mr. Greenlaw sang “When he cometh” and Mrs Spaulding accompained him.

Our hearts are all but broken and only time can heal the wounds caused from shock and loss but God knows best and we still trust him and asking him to keep us realize “Thy will be done”

Truck owned by Charles Marimanti Bros. On West Grand Blvd.

(Inserted: Our hearts are bleeding still – but we know he’s safe with Jesus. Loyalty of friends and floral offerings never been equaled.)
His mother.

Other side of envelope: Something has gone out of our hearts but I get comfort from the following song which I’ve so often heard my mother sing: as best I remember it
“Go bury thy sorrow
Go hide it with care,
Go bury it deeply,
The world has it’s share.
Go tell it to Jesus,
He **** will hear
His is the best solace
He always is near.”

God be with us, strengthen and comfort us in these, the saddest hours we’ve ever known, and prepare us to meet our darling boy in heaven
Amen

9/27/28 Howard came in place of Mershell, we thought. He was such a beautiful darling. Stayed with us 3 1/2 years, then God took him…

8/25/1929 We went to cemetery for first time today.
Now we go to cemetery weekly.

From an index card stuck in Howard’s baby book:
Dear God:
Give us strength and courage to bear whatever
is in store for us.
In Jesus name
We ask it
Amen

3/1/32 I believe my baby Howard is dying.

From the ‘Little Book’

Feb. 5, 1940
Dear God and Little Book: the mail has just brought us the long looked for letter from Wayne University and the Board of Education that Doris has received the yearly scholarship to Wayne… I shed tears of joy… for more reasons than one or even two and the main reason is she deserves it for being such a sweet little “trick”…even if we do say so ourselves.

February 12 – Doris’s birthday – 17 today. We had a nice dinner, cake, ice cream and gifts for her from all.

March 12, my birthday, among all a purchase certificate from JL Hudson’s from our daughters and dad

April 3 – Mary Virginia is 20 today. We had nice dinner cake and ice cream and gifts from us all – also Aunt Daisy never forgets with money.
Dad celebrates Christmas day.

June 7, 1940 Doris received $100 scholarship from the Deltas today… Isn’t that grand! It served 2 years.

June 10 — Mary Virginia has just gotten (through Jim and May) a good job at the County Bldg — God is so good to us. and today our Mershell Jr would have been 19 if he had lived – but we still say – God knows best.
Remember he was killed by auto – Nov. 1, 1927 and 10 months later Sept 7, 1928 our baby Howard came and on March 4, 1932 we buried him.

11/9/41 MV and Bud married.
9/7/43 Doris Diane born to them
11/17/43 Doris and Toddy married ( divorced!)
8-30-46 Kris arrives
Dear God bless our dear children and their seed forever, for they’ve been good to our teachings and lost house for a good husband and father. Amen

Wednesday March 12, 1941
Dear little Book: – This is my birthday and as I waked up feeling fine for a change and as happy about it as any mortal could be I am now thrilled almost to pieces. The house wished me a “Happy Day” Maus and girls called up at 7:30 AM and Maus says they sang the whole verse “Happy Birthday to You” the sweetest song I’ve heard this year and the girls came down to breakfast with the most beautiful BD card $1 enclosed and I figured that was aplenty – but JL Hudson has just sent a beautiful toaster with a “Happy BD card” from my own Dad and girls” who wouldn’t be proud and cheerful for such a grand family – so bless them.

June 15, 1942
Our wedding anniversary. Having washed all day (it being Monday) it slipped my mind, when Dad came home with a lovely #2 box of Sanders’ chocolates and the most beautiful card to “The sweetest girl in the world, my wife.” I wouldn’t take a million for it.

June 23 – Doris marks just came and we’re so proud. she got 5 A’s and 2 B’s and in the fall will be a senior at Wayne. All marks so good that scholarship was extended another year – graduated with Distinction in June 1944 and was publicly acknowledged as a high honor student at honor convocation at the Horace Rackham building… so proud.
M.V. won high honor in her business Institute for typing and short hand.