Questions I Wish I’d Asked

Thanksgiving with Mershell and Fannie Graham - 1963.
In these photograph: Me, Aunt Abbie, Mershell C. Graham, My grandfather carving the turkey, I am eating and my sister is next to me on the other side of the table is my mother, my grandmother Fannie, her younger sister, Alice. My uncle Henry took the photographs.  Click to enlarge this photo.

The generations gathered around my Graham grandparents dining room table in 1963 for Thanksgiving dinner. There was turkey with cornbread dressing cooked by my grandfather. There was white rice, cranberry jelly, green beans, corn pudding and sweet potatoes. There was my grandmother’s finely chopped green salad and her homemade biscuits with butter and with a relish plate holding olives, sweet pickles and carrot sticks.

One thing there wasn’t, was talk about the old days. My grandparents were born in 1888.  My grandmother was born Fannie Turner in Lowndes County, Alabama. My grandfather was born Mershell Graham in Elmore County, Alabama.  They met and married in Montgomery.  My great great Aunt Abbie was born in 1877 in Montgomery, Alabama and was the second to youngest child of Dock and Eliza Allen. My mother told us stories she had heard from her mother, mainly about Dock and Eliza and their children. I remember once my older cousin was trimming Aunt Abbie’s toenails when Aunt Abbie mentioned that she used to trim her grandmother’s toenails when she was a girl. And that her grandmother also had arthritis.  I have always remembered that, but I didn’t ask any follow up questions about her grandmother, Annie Williams who was born a slave and was full grown and the mother of a fully grown woman when she was freed. And Aunt Abbie didn’t say anything else about it.

My grandfather, who we called Poppy, was a mystery. My mother only had little parts of stories she had gotten from her mother, things that just made the mystery deeper in most cases.What were his siblings names and what happened to them? Are the ones I’ve found that I think are his siblings, really his siblings? In 1900, I found these possible siblings living with a man who is listed as their father but has a name not listed on any of their death certificates, was he their father with a different name?  And where was he, my grandfather, in 1900? Why wasn’t he there, or anywhere else I can find? Where was their mother?  What was the name of the little white girl he was servant too when he was a boy?  The one he slept on the floor outside of her bedroom door?  The one who changed his name from Michele to Mershell because Michele sounded too “foreign”? How did he learn to read?  Did he go to school? Did he know his grandparents and what plantation did his parents come off of? There was a photograph of his sister and her children in the album.  I would like to ask him what their names were.  Are they the ones I’ve found in the census?

I would like to ask my grandmother some of the same questions about her father’s family. Howard Turner died when she was 4 and her mother moved away from that community and went back to her family in Montgomery. I was able to find her father’s family because I knew his name, his age and the community he came from but I have no stories about his parents and siblings or what plantation they came off of. I only know that his father, Joseph Turner of Hayneville, Lowndes County was a farmer and owned his own land and had given his son some land which he didn’t want him to sell and the two of them argued about it.

When we went by my other grandparent’s house for desert I would ask where my grandfather’s mother, Celia Rice Cleage Sherman is buried. And why my grandmother Pearl thought her grandmother was Cherokee.

Unfortunately, I can’t go back to 1963 and sit around the table and steer the conversation around to who was where and when and  how and why.  I can only use the information I do have to keep looking and hope that one day some cousins from those mysterious lines will turn up and perhaps have some of the answers to my questions.

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To read more stories about oral history from the Carnival, CLICK the icon.

This was written for the Blog Carnival “The Ancestors Told; the Elders Listened; We Pass It On”.

Cleage Printers

Click on this and other photos to enlarge. Scenes from Cleage Printers – 1960s. Most of these photographs were developed in the plant dark room. I wish I’d learned more about photography while there was that great dark room available and all those wonderful cameras.

My uncles, Henry and Hugh Cleage owned and operated Cleage Printers for about a decade, from the late 1950s until the late 1960s.  It’s difficult to pinpoint the time they started printing.  They published a newspaper called The Metro in 1956. I’m not sure if they printed that themselves or put it together and had it printed elsewhere. On the March, 1960 marriage license for Henry and my mother, he listed his occupation as Printer/Lawyer. The plant, as we called it, was located behind Cleage Clinic at 5385 Lovett, near McGraw on Detroit’s Old West Side.  Henry was an attorney and Hugh worked at the Post Office before they started printing. I don’t know if either of them had any experience printing before that.  I asked my husband, who was also a printer for a number of year without much prior experience. He said it’s not that hard to learn while doing. Maybe armed with “In business with a 1250 Multilith” they were able to set up shop and learn on the job. I still have the book. Uncle Louis, the doctor, put in the start up money for the press. Later when they had to upgrade Henry said that family friend, Atty. Milton Henry, contributed that money.

According to the memories of family friend, Billy Smith and my aunt Anna, they went into business for themselves because they wanted the independence of being their own boss and Henry had always been interested in printing. They had several long term employees and a number of young people who worked there for a short period of time. My aunt Barbara worked there for awhile.  My sister and I worked there the summer I was 16. I learned to run the small press and use the Varityper described below.  I remember Ronald Latham keeping up a running story about being a Venusian now living on Earth. Henry kept our first weeks wages of $10 to make it like a real job. He was supposed to give it to us at the end of the summer, when we stopped work but we never saw that $10 and we didn’t bring it up.  If we had, I’m pretty sure we would have been paid.

 They made their money by printing handbills for neighborhood markets.  In addition to that they printed up flyers, newsletters, magazines for various radical black groups, materials for the Socialist Workers Party and the Detroit Artist’s Workshop.  The printing plant was a place where people came to find discussion of the issues of the day and in the 1960s there were plenty of issues to discuss.  My Uncle Henry loved to hold forth on a variety of topics and his arguments were always well thought out and convincing.  Hugh didn’t talk a lot but he would have something to put in, maybe just a quiet shake of his head over what Henry was saying. If Louis came back he would join in with his sarcastic comments and distinctive laugh.

Various flyers printed at Cleage Printers
Four pages from the October 6, 1962 issue of The Illustrated News. They printed it on pink newsprint left over from the market handbills so it was often called the “pink sheet”. My uncles published it from 1961 to 1964. It started off as a weekly and eventually went to bi-weekly and consisted of 8 pages of commentary about local and national events of concern to the black community. My father wrote many of the article.  My uncle Louis had a biting, humor column called “Smoke Rings” on the back page.
I wonder if my uncles knew they were members of TransLoveEnergies. There they are, Cleage Printers, 2nd line, 3rd paragraph.
In addition to grocery store circulars and race literature, Cleage Printers printed a variety of other alternative materials, such as a series of poetry books for the Artist’s Workshop in Detroit, headed by John and Leni Sinclair.

Sometimes there would be things that had to be collated in the evening and all of us cousins and our mother’s would be down there at night putting whatever it was together.  After the 1967 Detroit riot so many stores went out of business that they couldn’t make enough to keep going.  Henry went back to law and worked with Neighborhood Legal Services.  Hugh held on for another few years, printing for the church and teaching young people how to run the small press. Finally, he too left.  I wish in all those photographs that were taken, one or two had been of Cleage Printers in it’s prime. All I have is a photograph I took in 2004 of the way it looks now, deserted and overgrown.  I wish I had interviewed and taped Henry and Hugh talking about their experiences.

The building that housed Cleage Printers as it looks now.

This was written as part of the 120 Carnival of Genealogy hosted by Jasia at CREATIVEGENE.

 

Swimming Through the Years – Carnival of Genealogy #119

Four generations of swimming. CLICK TO MAKE BIGGER!

My family enjoyed seeing themselves reading and cooking so much that they asked me to do another. What better topic for a monster collage than swim suits?  Here we have my mother, my sister, several cousins, my husband, children and grandchildren swimming in lakes, pools and the Ocean.

Click for more Carnival of Genealogy posts.

For other collage extravaganza’s you might try these:

We Read, We Write, We Print and We Publish

In The Kitchen – Sepia Saturday

100 Years – 100 Photos – 100 Sepia Saturdays

We Read, We Write, We Print and We Publish.

Photos include 2 grandparents, both parents, several aunts and uncles, my husband, me, all 6 of my children, all 9 of my grandchildren, plus  some spouses, my sister and some cousins.  Click on the picture to enlarge.

I come from a family of readers. When I was growing up there were magazines, newspapers, fiction, encyclopedias, cookbooks, comic books, poetry books, the Bible, children’s books, adult books, how-to books, instruction manuals, old books and new books. We read paperback and hardcover books.  Now we read on Kindles, Nooks, computers and our cell phones.  We write full length books and chapbooks, for each other and for the world – fiction, poetry, speeches, plays, journals and diaries.  We publish newspapers, newsletters and blogs.  We give books as gifts and receive them. We buy them and we borrow them from the library and from each other.

What am I reading these days? When I am on the computer I read for information, usually related to a blog post I’m working on these days about a family related topic. And I read other people’s blogs. Off of the computer, I am reading some Australian fiction that Pauline and her friends recommended for me. You can find the list on her website Family History Across the Seas.  I’ve also started reading genealogy related mystery novels on my Kindle.

Here are some reading related posts I’ve done in the past – I Met My Husband in the Library, Home Library 1931,   Getting An Education, The Illustrated News, Poems by James Edward McCall, Henry Cleage and the Press, Proof Positive – A Short Story by Henry Cleage,

To see the books my sister, Pearl Cleage has written go to Amazon -Pearl Cleage.  To see books my father, Albert B. Cleage Jr has written go to Amazon here.

This post was written as part of the Carnival of Genealogy (COG) #118 sponsored by  Jasia at CreativeGene .

 

1940 Census – The Albert B. and Pearl (Reed) Cleages

6429 Scotten, Detroit, Michigan

In 1940 my grandparents and family were living at 6429 Scotten at the corner of Milford. They owned the house and it was worth $5,000. They had lived in the same place in 1935 and in fact had been there for over 20 years as all the girls in the family were born in that house.  My grandfather was a medical doctor in private practice at the Cleage Clinic.  The amount of money he made in 1939 was a crossed out number, replaced with “0”. He was the informant.

Albert, Pearl, Albert Jr, Louis, Henry, Hugh, Barbara, Gladys, Anna.

My grandfather was 56 years old, born in Tennessee with plus 5 years of college. My grandmother was 50, born in Kentucky with 4 years of high school. My father was 28, born in Indiana, had plus 5 years of college and was absent from the home. All the other children were born in Michigan. Louis was 26, had plus 5 years of college and absent from the home. Henry was 24 and had 5 years of college. Hugh was 21 and had 2 years of college. Barbara was 19 and had completed 1 year of college. Gladys was 17 and had completed 4 years of high school. Anna was 15 and had completed 2 years of high school.

All of the children were in school. Anna was still attending Northwestern High school. Gladys had graduated in 1939 and was a freshman at Wayne State University. Henry, Hugh and Barbara must have been at Wayne. Louis graduated from Wayne State medical school in 1940.  Was he doing residency or internship outside of Detroit? My father graduated from Wayne in 1938 and was in the seminary at Oberlin College.

Source: 1940 U.S. Census. State: Michigan. County: Wayne. City: Detroit. Ward 14. Enumeration Districe: 84-787. Sheet number: 11-A. Head of household and informant: Dr. Albert B. Cleage.  To see the census sheet for the Albert Cleage family click HERE.


View The Cleages on the Old West Side – 1940 in a larger map

I hadn’t realized that one of my grandmother sisters and all of my grandfather’s living siblings lived within walking distance of their house.  I have labeled their houses, Northwestern High School, Wingert Elementary School and the Cleage Clinic.  I sort of knew this, but I didn’t realize it until I mapped it out after finding everybody in the same neighborhood.  In future posts I will share what I learned about each household in 1940.

1940 Census – The Grahams

The 1940 census was released yesterday. Today I was able to find both sets of grandparents, with my parents still living at home, the only great grandparent still alive, three families of cousins  and my in-laws who were married and living in their own home with the first of their twelve children, baby Maxine. Today I am going to write about my mother’s family, the Grahams.

My grandparents were enumerated on April 12, 1940.  They lived, as I expected, at 6638 Theodore Street in Detroit. The entire enumeration district was white with the exception of my grandparents and their next door neighbors, the Jordans.  Just noticed my grandparents and family were enumerated as “white”. Among the adults over 40 was a mix of naturalized citizens from Italy, Poland, Canada, Switzerland, England, Germany and natural born citizens from the southern United states. There were a few people who had filed their first papers towards gaining citizenship and a few “aliens”. The younger adults and  the children were almost all born in Michigan. The majority of people in the district had lived in the same place since 1935.  Among the workers on my grandparents page were  a janitor, two maids, a laborer at a spring factory, a bender at an auto plant,  a checker at a dress shop, a grinder at an auto factory, a delivery man for a print shop, a stock clerk at an auto factory, a stenographer, a time keeper at a machine shop, a manager for a coal and ice concern and a salesman for a radio concern.

My grandmother, Fannie, was the informant for her family. She and Mershell were both 50. He had completed 8th grade. She and 20 year old daughter, Mary V., had completed 4 years of high school. My mother, Doris was 17 and had completed 4 years of high school and was attending college.  Mershell had worked 52 weeks as a stock clerk at an auto factory and earned $1,720 during 1939. Mary V. was working as a stenographer at a newspaper office and had earned nothing in 1939. They owned their own home which was worth $3,500 and had lived in the same house in 1935.

Mary Vee 1940 – In front of Plymouth Congregational Church.
Doris 1939. In front of Plymouth Congregational Church.

Did I learn anything new from this census? This was the first time I looked at the whole enumeration district which gave me more of an overview of the neighborhood. I did not know that my grandfather completed 8th grade. I always heard he taught himself to read because he never attended school.  I wonder which is true, did he teach himself to read and my grandmother just said he completed 8th grade or did he go to school.  No big surprises, mostly seeing in the record what I already knew.

 For more information about the Grahams, their enumeration district and photographs of what the area looks like now Supplemental material about the neighborhood.  A photo of my mother, aunt and uncle – Bird’s Eye View, 1940 photograph.  My grandmother’s mother and sisters – 1940 Census – Jennie Virginia Turner.  A map of where my family lived in Detroit during the 1940 Census – Where We Lived.  My grandmother Fannie’s 1940 Journal Entries. My mother at Wayne State University in 1940.

 Source 1940 U.S. Census. State: Michigan.  County: Wayne. City: Detroit. Ward:15. Enumeration District: 84-862. Household: 331. Sheet Number: 16-A. Date: April 12, 1940. Head of Household: Mershell Graham. Informant: wife, Fannie Graham.  To see the census sheet for the Graham Family – click.

Celia Rice Cleage Sherman

My Great grandmother Celia holding my aunt Gladys. 1923. Detroit.

This post is a combination of information I found through records and memories of my aunts and uncles about their grandmother Celia. She died before I was born so I never had the chance to meet her.

Celia Rice was born in Virginia about 1855. Her father was a member of the Rice family and her mother was enslaved on the Rice plantation.  She was brought to Tennessee when she was small.  By the time I asked, nobody remembered her mother’s name.  She was about ten when freedom came.

My aunt Gladys said that when Celia was a child, she had to walk around in the sun. The masters wife did not want her to be confused with the white children of the family, who she resembled. 

On April 23, 1872 Celia Rice and Louis Cleage were married in Athens, McMinn County Tennessee. They moved to Louden County, TN where their five children were born over the next 11 years. Josephine “Josie” was born in 1873.  Jacob was born in 1875. Henry was born in 1877. Charles Edward was born in 1879.  My grandfather, Albert, was born in 1883. Louis did farm work and Celia did house work.  She was unable to read or write.

My uncle Louis said that Lewis C. worked all day for 50 cents.  Celia worked all week for 50 cents.  He often spent his on good times before he got home.  Many nights he spent in jail – drunk – playing the guitar and singing!

The marriage doesn’t seem to have been a happy one and by 1899 they had split up and Celia married Roger William Sherman, a carpenter, in Athens, Tennessee.  She was 45 years old. By 1900 oldest daughter, Josie, was married to James Cleage (Different Cleage family, not related but off of the same plantation.), a teacher and  they had several children. Jacob was not at home in the 1900 census.  Edward, Henry and Albert were at home and all students. Celia could read. She had birthed five children and all five were living and doing well.

After her husband died, Celia lived with her son Edward and his family in Athens, TN for some years and then she moved to Detroit where her other three sons lived.

My uncle Henry said she used to give him an apple every once in awhile and slip him a nickel.  He was her favorite.  My aunt Gladys says they used to stop by her room sometimes and she would try to show them how to tat and crochet and it was kind of interesting, sitting on her bed, watching.

My Aunt Anna says, Grandma Celia was in Detroit for a while…making the rounds between uncle Henry, uncle Jake and ours….She would get tired of one house and occupants…complain and move to another... there was a Rev. Rice… he was a big shot in the Presbyterian Church… he came to town in a blaze of notoriety….to speak at some church… Granma  [Celia] wanted to go…but Daddy wouldn’t hear of it! His name and picture were in the paper…Anna said she saw the paper and that he looked just like Granma.

My uncle Henry remembers one time his Grandma Celia wanted to go back to Athens.  “….and Daddy said he could not send her to Athens.  And they went on for about ten years and then, pretty soon she said, well, I’m going to Athens if I have to go up and down the street and beg.  He was fussing and hollering and she said ‘I am going to go to Athens.  I am going to go home.’  And finally he had to give her the money to go.  I guess it just gets in you sometimes.  You know, living with us was no picnic.  She had to go and he didn’t have the money.”

I have been unable to find a death record, certificate or burial information for my great grandmother.  She was living with my Grandfather Albert Cleage in the 1930 census.  Going by the Memories of my Aunt Anna, she must have died soon after.

My Aunt Anna remembers being about 5 and in the kitchen when Granma Celia had a stroke.  She was sick for quite awhile before she died. She remembers when Celia died they  laid her out in the living room…Henry was a broken man!  She places Henry at about 13 years old.

 


 

 

The 5th Annual iGene Awards!

Once again it’s time for the Annual IGene Awards when we look over our blog posts for the previous year and pick those we think are deserving of winning in one of five categories – Best Photograph, Best Screen Play, Best Documentary, Best Comedy and Best Biography.  Before we start, I must thank my family for both their written contributions and their behind the scenes inspiration. Without further ado, here are my winners for this year.

 

For Best Photograph my mother once again stole the show, this time sharing the spotlight with my father in the photo My Parents About 1943   taken at the Meadows.

 

For Best Screen Play He Had Him Hidden Under the Floor, based on the story told to me by my cousin Jacqui about the daring rescue of a local black dentist from the angry mob of white men by her grandfather, Victor Tulane. It takes place around 1918 in Montgomery Alabama. The movie begins with dentist William Watkins flight from his house located 3 minutes away to the Tulane’s home.  It’s dark and Aunt Willie and Naomi are already asleep as he’s ushered inside by Victor.  Next we see the light shinning through the window, waking up the women. We see the mob come in and go through the search of the house and don’t know until after the mob leaves that indeed the dentist is there, hidden in a secret place under the floor.   Of course Aunt Willie and Naomi are terrified without knowing that he’s in the house because after all, a mob is a mob and where it will end you never know. It ends with his ride to the train station under the produce and we see the train leaving the station with him on it and perhaps Victor Tulane heading back home down the still dark and lonely street, which is just beginning to wake up.

I called on my sister Pearl Cleage to cast my movie because she is a playwrite and knows about those things. Not to mention she watches movies and plays and knows who would work while I do not have a clue. From Pearl…

Okay here’s my cast. I think the way you laid out the movie was great, from the arrival of Dr. Watkins with the women being sent back to bed, through the mob search, through the ride to the train station and the farewell in the early hours of the morning. I can truly see the ending with Victor Tulane heading home in the dark. bravo. You get the Oscar for the screenplay. I get the one for casting:

Dr. William Watkins: Terrance Howard, currently being seen in “Red Tails,” where he plays one of the Tuskegee airmen. Nominated for an Oscar for “Hustle & Flow,” where he played the lead. He was also featured in “The Best Man,” and has appeared in many films, playing a variety of characters.

Victor Tulane: Idris Elba, a British actor of African descent who can do such a convincing American accent that when he first got famous in the USA for his role on “The Wire,” playing a Baltimore gangster, people were shocked to hear him on the talk shows speaking with his real accent, which is undeniably British. I’m sure he could do a perfect Alabama accent. He was wonderful in the Guy Ritchie film “RocknRolla,” and has been in many films and television series.

Willie Lee Tulane: Viola Davis, Oscar nominated star of “The Help,” Tony Award winning star of “Fences” on Broadway. Also known for her ten minute turn in the film “Doubt” where she played an anguished mother with amazing grace, truth and dignity. She would be able to bring the complexity required of the role of Mrs. Tulane, who has to remain calm in the face of terror she knows all too well.

Naomi Tulane Vincent: Phylea Rashad, daughter of actress Phylicia Rashad, who is currently featured in a critically praised role in the Broadway play, “Stickfly.” she also won critical acclaim for her role in Lynn Nottage pulitzer prize winning play, “Ruined.”

Klansman #1: Billy Bob Thorton, featured in films as different as “Monster’s Ball,” and “Pushing Tin.” A great actor with a great southern accent. He makes a great bad guy and could play the role of the klansman who comes to the door.

Klansman #2: Sean Penn, featured in many films, including “Milk,” where he played San Francisco activist Harvey Milk so realistically it was hard to watch him get killed at the end. Penn can also play a convincing bad guy and would be great walking through the house with Billy Bob.

Best Documentary – Is the combined series featuring several doctors in Detroit and how their lives were interwoven with the lives of both sides of my family. It started with these two posts earlier in the year “Births, Deaths, Doctors and Detroit – Part 1” , “Births, Deaths, Doctors and Detroit – Part 2″. The more recent posts started with “The Hat”“Dr. Palmer Gamble – Solving Mysteries Part 1”, “Dr. Alexander Turner – Solving Mysteries Part 2” and finally “Loudin’s Jubilee Singers and a Clock.”.

Best Biography goes to “Growing Up – In Her Own Words” by Doris Graham Cleage for telling her own story.  Last year she won the best biography with a story about her mother, Fannie Turner Graham.

 

And once again Henry Cleage walks away with Best Comedy for one of his short stories,“The Devilish Ghost”, written in his usual suave, wise cracking style. There is a special guest appearance by piano playing fool Slim Gaillard, also a Detroiter.

To read other igene offerings, click here. Thank you, Jasia, for once again hosting them. I enjoy writing and reading them.

 

Thanksgiving – 1991, Idlewild, Michigan

In 1991 we lived in Michigan on Lake Idlewild in an old house. Two of our daughters, Jilo and Ife, were in college  Jilo was at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL and Ife was at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.  The four younger children had been homeschooling for several years. My Uncle Henry lived several miles away on Water Mill Lake. My sister Pearl and her husband drove up from Atlanta.

My memories of this Thanksgiving begin with the snow storm that dumped at least a foot of snow on us. It started the day before and continued into Thanksgiving day.  I remember waiting for people to arrive, standing out in the yard looking through the woods at the road and seeing cars coming through the snow.  There were more people there then we had ever had before and everybody but Henry stayed for several days. The 29 pound turkey fed us all. I know we had a very big table in our small dining room and we brought another small table in so everybody ate in the dining room… or did some of the younger people eat at a card table in the living room?  My brother-in-law, Michael, video taped the dinner and conversation which lasted long after the meal was over.  I looked for the tape last night but it’s not here. I hope someone borrowed it and we can get it back.

The conversation was about race, responsibility, aliens from outer space landing on the deck, why black men didn’t turn the slave ships around, had we ever fought for freedom, the Status Theory (this was Henry’s theory and will have to have a post of it’s own one day.) The men did most of the talking and as the night wore on, became pretty heated.  Especially between college student, Isaac and my sister’s husband Zeke. I remember there being something of the young male challenging the older or maybe it was the older seeing a challenge and not giving an inch. Henry was right there in the thick of it. I remember asking several times, now that we knew the problem, could we make a plan?? What we were going to do? There was no answer because it wasn’t that kind of practical discussion.  It was about theory and well, status.  In fact, the whole discussion was sort of a proving grounds for Henry’s theory, which was in short that life is all about fighting for status.  At least among the males.

I don’t remember what we had for dinner but I know we had turkey with cornbread dressing, greens from the garden (I put up plastic tents over them and we got greens into January, whatever the weather.), fresh cranberry sauce, rice, sweet potatoes, rolls, pound cake and pumpkin pies (from our own pumpkins). We had these on the table because we always do.

I remember Isaac taking the family photograph with all of us sitting on the rug. I don’t remember where everybody slept. By Monday, the snow was melted and the visitors had returned homes.  Click to read Thanksgiving 1991 Part 2.

Below is an article from “The Ruff Draft” by Ayanna.

Thanksgiving
by Ayanna Williams

We are still recovering from our rip roaring Thanksgiving!  We had LOTS of people here.  Our Aunt Pearl and Zaron drove up from Atlanta, GA.  Jilo and Isaac drove up from Evanston, IL., Ife came from Ann Arbor.  They all got here by late Wednesday.  Uncle Michael and our cousin STeven drove up from Detroit just before we sat down to dinner on Thanksgiving.  Great Uncle Henry (Sage of Water Mill Lake) came for dinner too.

Henry led many discussions on The Status Theory and The Group.  Michael video taped one of them and has promised us all copies.  Pearl and Zaron brought some videos with them. We watched one called “Stormy Weather”.  It is an all Black movie made during the 1940’s.   We really enjoyed it.  We also watched some short films that Isaac and Jilo did.  One was called “Shoe Shine Rag” and the other “Metaphycosis of the Mask”.  They were experimental type films and a quite interesting.  Michael showed a video tour of his house in Virginia.

We got our turkey from the food co-op, who got it fresh from an Amish farm.  It was organically raised and weighted 29 pounds.  It was a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I hope we can get together again soon!

Dr. Albert B. Cleage and Miss Pearl D. Reed were married at noon Thursday…Sepia Saturday #98

My grandmother, Pearl Doris Reed, was born in Lebanon, Kentucky in 1886.  She the youngest of the seven children of Anna Allen Reed.  Pearl’s father was Buford Averitt, a white physician.  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.
My grandfather Albert Buford Cleage, Sr was born in Louden, Tennessee in 1883.  He was the youngest of the five children of Louis and Celia (Rice) Cleage.  The family eventually moved to Athens Tennessee.  In 1906 he graduated from Knoxville College and moved to Indianapolis to attend Purdue University College of Medicine.  Three of his older siblings were already there.  He moved in with his brother Jacob and his wife Gertrude. His brother Henry also lived in the house.
Albert and Pearl met at church.  They both signed the petition to organize a United Presbyterian Church on April 30, 1907.   Pearl sang in the church choir and also at community and church events.  By the time I heard her sing she had a frail, old voice.  I wish I could have heard her back in her prime.  In 1907 Pearl was 21. Albert was 24.
The courtship lasted for three years. Pearl’s mother was against the relationship because she thought Albert was “too dark”.  Of course this caused problems with them meeting and going anywhere together.  Many letters were exchanged and they met at church functions.  Their houses were about 2.3 miles apart.  It was a straight trolley ride down N. Illinois in those days. Today that would be a 23 minute ride by bus.  I imagine it took a bit longer by trolley in the early 1900s.
As Albert neared the end of his course of study, his thoughts turned to where he would practice and to their marriage.  They set the date for October, 1910.  He graduated in June and as an intern was appointed to the City Hospital. On September 2 he received his Physicians License and on September 29, 1910 Albert and Pearl applied for a marriage license.  On October 2, 1910 they were married in a quiet ceremony at Pearl’s house. The Indianapolis Star column “News of Colored Folk” contained this item,
“In the presence of relatives and immediate friends of the two families Dr. Albert B. Cleage, Intern at the City Dispensary and Miss Pearl D. Reed, 2730 Kenwood Avenue were married at noon Thursday. The Rev. D.F. White of the Witherspoon United Presbyterian Church officiated.  Immediately after the ceremony Dr. and Mrs. Cleage left on their wedding tour, during which they will visit the Appalachian Exposition at Knoxville, Tenn., and points farther south.”  The points farther south would have been his family’s home in Athens, Tennessee.
Another piece News of Colored Folk, dated Oct. 2, 1910 said, “The Witherspoon United Presbyterian Church and Sunday school gave a linen shower Friday evening in honor of Dr. and Mrs. Albert Cleage at the home of Mr. and Mrs. R.A. Kelley 1917 Highland Place. Dr. and Mrs. Cleage have returned recently from their bridal trip to Knoxville, Tenn, and are at home at 913 Fayette street.”
The add in the lower corner of the collage above has several pictures of women in traveling suits and big hats. The photograph of my grandmother over it shows her wearing a similar suit and hat, although not quite as flamboyant. Although this photograph was taken later in 1910 at a medical convention, I imagine this is the outfit she wore for her wedding tour. The little blue house is the one they came home to on Fayette street and the photo in the corner shows two women and my grandfather and my very happy looking grandmother at the medical convention later that year.
My grandparents ended up in Detroit where my grandfather practiced medicine and they raised their seven children.  They were together 46 years, until my grandfather’s death in 1956. There are 9 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren and 20 great great grandchildren.  We’ve spread out over the United States and Canada.
This is a Sepia Saturday offering and an entry in the Fall Marriages Genealogy Carnival.