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 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.
After posting yesterday about the children in this boat, I looked at different view of the same boat, same children plus dog. I think that the baby is Hugh, not Barbara Cleage. That means it was taken about 1919.
Hugh Cleage, the baby, was the 4th son of Dr. Albert and Pearl Cleage. He was born in June 1918. Hugh took a course at Michigan State University in agriculture. During WW2 he and his brother Henry farmed as a conscientious objectors. After the war, Hugh worked at the post office. In the late 1950s, Hugh and Henry started Cleage Printers where they printed far into the night putting out flyers for grocery stores, books of poetry and radical newsletters. Hugh ran on the Freedom Now ticket in 1964. After the 1967 Detroit riot, many of the stores that they had printed flyers for went out of business. Henry went back to law. Hugh continued to run the printing plant for several years, but eventually closed it down. He spent many years being care taker for his mother after she broke her hip and became more and more frail. Later he helped his nephew Ernest, on his farm in South Carolina. Hugh died in South Carolina in 2005.
You can read the original post Seven In A Boat here.
Looking at this photograph, I wondered about the lives of the children in the boat. Here are their lives in a paragraph.
Evelyn Douglas, seated on the left in the first row, was born in 1910 in Detroit. She was the only child of Dr. Edward and Louise Douglas. Her father was a dentist. Her mother was a dressmaker before Evelyn was born. Evelyn graduated from the University of Michigan and earned a graduate degree in education. She married Charles E. Beatty, Sr., a pioneering educator, in 1935. He was the first black principal of Perry Elementary School in Ypsilanti, MI which later housed HighScope Perry Preschool program. She taught for 30 years in the Detroit Public Schools. Evelyn was the mother of three children. She died at age 93 in 2003 in Detroit.
Cornelius Langston Henderson, who sits in the middle of the first row, was born in 1915 in Detroit, Michigan. He was an only child and grew up several blocks from the Cleages on Detroit’s Old West Side. Cornelius was named after his father, Cornelius L Henderson Sr., also born in Detroit. Like his father, Cornelius Jr became an engineer. His mother, Gertrude, born in Virginia and taught in the Washington DC public schools before she married. The younger Cornelius graduated from Howard University in Washington DC with a degree in civil engineering. He later took postgraduate classes at the University of Michigan. He worked for the City of Detroit as a civil engineer for over 30 years, where he helped design sewer systems. He was married and raised two sons and a stepdaughter. He died in November of 1993 in Detroit and is buried in Detroit Memorial Park.
Albert B Cleage, Jr, my father, seated on the right end of the first row, was the oldest of the seven children of Dr. Albert B. Cleage Sr and Pearl Reed Cleage. He grew up to be a black nationalist minister and organizer around political and civil rights issues. He founded Central Congregational Church which became Central United Church of Christ and finally the Shrine of the Black Madonna. He had two daughter, my sister and me. He died in 2000.
Directly behind my father is his first cousin Helen Mullins. Born in 1899 in Indianapolis, Indiana, she was the oldest of the 12 children of James and Minnie (who was my grandmother Pearl Cleage’s sister) Mullins. James Mullins held various jobs through the years, including that of fireman, carpenter and laborer. Helen completed highschool. She married Otto Mitchell. They raised four children. In the 1940 census Helen was a telegraph operator for Western Union while Otto worked on the assemble line of an automobile factory in Detroit. They owned their own home. Helen died in 1982.
Helen is holding Barbara Cleage, my aunt. Barbara was the 5th child and first daughter of Dr. Albert and Pearl Cleage. She completed a year at Wayne State. She married Ernest Martin and had one son. Unfortunately the marriage didn’t work out and she returned to Detroit. Barbara worked as a receptionist in her father’s doctor’s office, at Cleage Printers doing layout and finally her true talent came to the fore and she organized and managed the bookstores and cultural centers for the Shrine of the Black Madonna. She was amazing at it. Barbara is 96 and lives in South Carolina.
Next, in the back row middle, we have my uncle Louis Cleage. Born in 1913 he was the 2nd of the seven children. He followed in his father’s footsteps and became a medical doctor, sharing an office with him for some years. Besides having a medical practice on Lovett Ave. in Detroit for many years, he was active in the Movement. He wrote Smoke Rings for the Illustrated News and ran for office on the Freedom Now Party ticket in 1964. He maintained a cottage in Idlewild where the family spent many happy summers. Louis died in 1994.
Last we have a partial, ghostly image of my uncle Henry Cleage. He was the third child born in 1915. He graduated from Wayne State in Detroit and became a lawyer. During WW2 he and his brother Hugh farmed as a conscientious objectors. (Where was Hugh when this picture was taken? Click to read) Henry later left the law and started Cleage Printers where he and Hugh printed far into the night putting out flyers for grocery stores, books of poetry and radical newsletters. He ran for Prosecuting Attorney on the Freedom Now ticket in 1964. After the 1967 Detroit riot, Henry returned to the law and worked for Neighborhood Legal Services until he retired to Idlewild, MI where he fine tuned his Status Theory. He died in 1996.
The photograph in the boat was taken the day of this picnic, summer of 1919.
I used news articles, census and other records from ancestry.com to fill in the lives of Evelyn Douglas and Cornelius L. Henderson, who are not related to me.