For many years my uncle Louis communicated with ham operators throughout the world using his short wave radio. In this photograph he is in the sun room that ran across the back of the family home st 2270 Atkinson in Detroit. Later the radio was moved down to a room in the basement. I do not remember hearing him talk or receive messages, but I seem to hear his voice giving his call letters W8AFM – W 8 Able Fox Mary. At one point we talked about learning the Morris Code so we could get licensed as ham radio operators, but we never did.
Thinking about my grandmother Cleage today. She would have been 133 if she were still living. Pearl Doris Reed Cleage, born in 1884 in Lebanon, Kentucky and died in 1982 in Idlewild, Michigan.
Links to other blog posts about Pearl Reed Cleage
My father, then known as Rev. Albert B. Cleage jr preaching. This is rather a long sermon, about 45 minutes. He talks about growing up in the black church in Detroit with no use for religion until attending Plymouth Congregational Church and hearing Rev. White preach. He mentions attending Oberlin Seminary and finishes up by sharing a bit from an article by Dr. Harding in a religious magazine. This was just at the start of 1967. What a year was to come. Click on the documents below to enlarge.
Epiphany Sunday January 8, 1967
Bulletin from that Sunday
Last week I decided to take one more look at a question I had about my grandfather Albert B. Cleage’s letters to his future wife, Pearl Reed – who was the Katy Allen at 2715 N. Capital St. Indianapolis, where he sent my grandmother letters for several months in 1910? I had looked for Katy Allen several years ago when I first posted some of the letters on my blog, and found nothing. I only had her name and street address.
Recently I looked again and found Katy Allen in the Indianapolis City Directory for several years around 1910. She was listed as the widow of Thomas Allen. I then found her in the 1900 census with her husband and then I found his death certificate from 1907 (all on ancestry) His mother’s name was listed as “Clara Green”, which was my grandmother Pearl’s mother Anna’s mother’s name – which made him my grandmother Pearl’s uncle and her mother Anna’s brother. I have never found any relatives for Anna except her mother and children. I remember that Anna’s maiden name was given as “Ray” on some of her children’s records.
Today I looked some more and found Thomas Allen’s Will. It said he used to go by the name of “Ray” which was his former master’s name but he changed it to “Allen” after he got out of the service (he gave his unit as 5th US Colored Calvary). In the military record, there is his former slave holder’s full name! Now this particular branch of the family was very close mouthed about anything to do with slavery, although they did mention those Cherokee Ancestors who passed on no dna. So, from looking for some info for my nanowrimo, I found a new ancestor, my first United States Colored Troops family member, the last slave holder for that particular branch of the family and who the person was at that N. Capital St. address.
Last Will and Testament of Thomas Allen
State of Indiana
I, Thomas Allen, a resident of Marion County, Indiana, and being of sound and disposing mind and memory, do make, publish and declare this to be my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills by me made.
I, Thomas Allen, known on the war records of Company D, Fifth United States Colored Calavry, and in matters relating to my pension business (act of June 27, 1890, Inv. Cft. 693170) as Thomas Ray, wish to explain that this difference is caused by my enlisting in the army under the name of my former master owner, whose name was Ray. However, after my discharge, I took the name of Allen, which was my fathers name and which is my true and correct name, and the name und which I have transacted all other business and under which I was married to my present wife, and the name under which I am known and recognized by my neighbors, friends and acquaintances, and that Thomas Ray and Thomas Allen are the same and identical persons –
Item #1. I give and devise to my beloved wife, Kate Allen, the following described real estate, situated in the city of Indianapolis, County of Marion and State of Indiana, and described as follows: – Lot number twenty-five (25) in Ruddell and Vintons Park Place, Plat Book number four (4), Page one hundred ninety (190) in the Recorder’s Office of Marion County, Indiana.
Item #2. I give and bequeath to my wife, Kate Allen, all of the personal property of which I may die seized.
Item #3. I constitute and appoint Otts Delp executor of this will.
Witness my hand and seal, this 23rd day of July, A.D., 1907, at Indianapolis Indiana.
Wm. S. Steavens Henry C. Bade Thomas Allen
The foregoing instrument signed, sealed and acknowledged by said Thomas Allen as and for his last will and testament in our presence, who, at his request, and in his presence, and the presence of each other, have subscribed our names as witnesses there to, this 23rd day of July 1907.
Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 23rd day of July, 1907.
Affidavit of Death
State of Indiana, Marion County, Set”
Otto Delp being duly swornm on oath says that Thomas Allen departed this life on or about the 10 day of November 1907 and at the time of his death was a resident of said County and State.
Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 14 day of November A.D. 1907 Otto Delp
Leonard M. Quill Clerk
Proof of Will
Before the Clerk of the probate court of the County of Marion, in the State of Indiana, personally came William S. Stevens and Henry C. Bade subscribing witnesses to the forgoing instrument of writing, who being by me first duly sworn, upon oarth depose and say that Thomas Allen testator named in the instrument of writing purporting to be his LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT, did sign seal, publish and decare the same to be his last will and testament, on the day of the date thereof; that the said testor was at the same time of the full age of twenty-one years, and of sound and disposing mind and memory, and that he was under no coercion, compulsion or restraint, and that he was competent to devise his property. And that the said testator so signed, sealed, published and declared the same to be his last will and testament in manner and form as aforesaid, in the presence of affiant and of – the other subscribing witness…thereto and that each attested the same and subscribed their names as witnesses thereto, in the presence and at the request of said testator, and in the presence of each other. Wm. S. Stevens Henry C. Bade
Subscried and sworn to before me in witness of which, I hereunto affix the seal of said Court, and subscribe my name at Indianapolis, this 14 day of November A.D. 1907
Leonard M. Quill Clerk
In 1963, Ossie and Ruby Davis, James Baldwin, John O. Killens, Odetta, and Louis Lomax formed the Association of Artists for Freedom, which called for a Christmas boycott to protest the church bombing, and asked that, instead of buying gifts, people make Christmas contributions to civil rights organizations. I remember that my extended family participated in the boycott. My sister and I were teenagers. I don’t remember anything else about that Christmas. The article below was printed in the Illustrated news in November 1963.
Other links for 1963
Six Dead After Church Bombing – Washington Post article from 1963
In 1951 our family moved from Springfield, MA to Detroit, where my father, Rev. Albert B. Cleage, Jr., was called as pastor of St. Marks United Presbyterian Community Church at Twelfth and Atkinson. My paternal grandparents lived several blocks up Atkinson. The parsonage was right down the block from them. He was there until 1953 when there was a church split. My father and 300 members started a new church that became Central Congregational Church and finally The Shrine of the Black Madonna.
Below are some then and now photographs of St. Mark’s and the parsonage at 2212 Atkinson.
I found another two articles about Eddie Evans and Gladys Cleage. This one tells a little more about what the happy couple was doing before the wedding. It also mentions more friends of the family, including Dr. Gamble and his wife who were old family friends of my grandparents. I came across my uncle Hugh’s birth certificate the other day and noticed that Dr. Gamble delivered him. He also signed the death certificate for my grandmother’s brother George Reed when he died in Detroit in 1945. Dr. Gamble died later in 1948. Here is a link to a speech my grandfather delivered at his funeral service.
My father’s sister, Gladys Helen Cleage was married to Eddie Warren Evans on Thursday, March 25, 1948 at Plymouth Congregational Church by Rev. Horace White in Detroit, Michigan. There were descriptions of the wedding gown and of the brides maids gowns. Unfortunately the last several lines of the article have been lost to the passage of time so we have to guess at the color and particulars of the brides maids dresses. It was mentioned that the grooms sister wore a violet gown. I wonder if the brides sister’s dresses were rose because the theme of roses and violets. But would they dress in rose and carry red roses?
The article misspelled Cleage as “Cleague” a few times, while also spelling it correctly several times. A typo made Paul’s last name of “Payne”, “Cayne”.
I don’t know who the bride and groom are. I only recognize my uncle Louis Cleage and the woman second from the right, Velma Payne. I miss being able to send these mystery photos to my aunts for identification. I wrote about Louis as one of the 7 in a boat.
Velma was born on August 4, 1919 and passed away in 2010 at the age of 90. She was the wife of George W. Payne. They had two children. She was a librarian in the Detroit Public Library system for 32 years. She was a librarian at the Oakman branch library when I used to go there as a child. I remember one evening going there after school with my mother and sister and finding the book “Bed knob and Broomstick: or How to be a Witch in 10 Easy Lessons.” It turned out to be one of my favorite books.
Not so wordless Wednesday Talks about Velma Payne and has a wedding portrait of George and Velma Payne.
Building Louis’ Cottages – Idlewild – A post about Louis’ cottage being built in Idlewild and mentions Velma’s brother-in-law, Paul Payne.