A newspaper article from 1901 that talks about the Athens Academy. My grandfather’s brother, Henry is in the photo top right, 2nd from left in the back row. His first wife, Minnie, is seated 1st on left, front row. I received this copy from a cousin and do not know what newspaper it is from. It was available in the McMinn Historical Archives in Athens TN.
Today I was reading Nolichucky Roots She was writing about the degrees of separation between her and her ancestors who where slave owners. It got me thinking about how many degrees of separation there are between me and my ancestors who were enslaved. I have always felt that it wasn’t as long ago as some feel. It turns out I am one degree from slavery 6 different ways.
- My paternal grandfather, Albert born 1884 TN knew his parents, Lewis & Celia (Rice) Cleage born about 1852 & 1855 in TN into slavery. One degree. (photo 1 & 2 – Albert & Celia)
- My paternal grandmother, Pearl born 1886, knew her mother Anna Allen Reed who was born about 1849 in KY into slavery. (photo 3 Pearl)
- My maternal grandfather, Mershell born 1889 AL, knew his parents William & Mary (Jackson) Graham b. Al, 1851 & 1852. One degree. (photo 4)
- My maternal grandmother, Fannie born 1888 AL, knew her father, Howard Turner, who was born about 1863, AL into slavery. One degree.(photo 5 – Fannie)
- My maternal great-grandmother, Jennie born 1866 knew her parents, Dock & Eliza (Williams) Allen born in Ga & AL about 1839 into slavery. One degree. (photo 6 – Jennie, 7- Eliza, 8-Dock)
- My maternal grandmother’s first cousin, James born 1880 AL, knew his parents Edward & Mary (Allen) McCall born 1842 & 1856 AL who were born into slavery. One degree.(photo 9 James, 10- Mary).
May 8, 1908 The Indianapolis Star, Friday Sings in Concert at Simpson Chapel
Miss Pearl D. Reed The violin recital of Clarence Cameron White will be given this evening at Simpson Chapel under the direction of the Colored Y.M.C.A. Orchestra. He will be supported by the best local talent. The following program will be given:
Overture – “Northern Lights,” Y.M.C.A. Orchestra
Violin – Hungarian Rhapsodie, Clarence Cameron White
Song – “Oh Dry Those Tears,” Miss Pearl D. Reed.”
Piano – “Vaise in C sharp minor (b) Polanaise in A major. Mrs. Alberta J. Grubbs.
Violin – (a) Tran Merel: (b) Scherzo, Clarence Cameron White
Orchestra – “The Spartan,” orchestra
Vocal – :Good-by”, Miss Pearl D. Cleage
Readings A.A. Taylor.
Selection – “The Bird and Brook,” orchestra
1908 May 16 The Freeman An Illustrated Colored Newspaper page 4 “The Cameron White Recital”
Clarence Cameron White ably sustained his reputation as a violinist at Simpson Chapel church last week under the auspices of of the Y.M.C.A. Mr. White plays a clean violin; he gets all out of it there is – dragging his bow from tip to tip, and more if it were possible. He did not attempt any of the great big things – the big concertos, and perhaps for the best. Yet he showed his capability for such work and at the same time satisfied his audience. His encores as a rule were selections that the audience recognized and through the beautiful renditions it could easily form some estimate of his playing ability. Mr. White was a decided success. Seldom is has a good class of music been so thoroughly appreciated. He was supported at the piano by Samuel Ratcliffe whose playing was commendable. Miss pearl D. Reed proved an acceptable contralto singer. The orchestra under Alfred A. Taylor did some very effective work. Mr. Taylor proved a reader of ability; he read several of his own selections. The audience was magnificent and paid the utmost attention to the renditions.”
Tomorrow we’ll be driving over to SC to help celebrate. My aunt was born in Detroit in 1920, the fourth of the seven children of Pearl and Albert Cleage. Barbara attended what is now Wayne State University for several years and then acted as receptionist for her father and brother at Cleage Clinic on the old west side of Detroit. She eloped with Ernest Martin in 1950. They have one son, Ernest Cleage Martin and two grandchildren. In 1970 the Shrine of the Black Madonna opened the first of what would eventually include three Cultural Centers. The stores had collections of African and African American art, books and other cultural objects. Barbara became buyer and manager for all three. She made various buying trips to Africa over the years. She also visited Mexico with her brother Louis who spoke fluent Spanish and often traveled there. Barbara has a wonderful sense of style both in dress and in decorating. Looking forward to seeing her tomorrow celebrating her 90th birthday and hearing some family stories.
I decided to accept the Saturday night challenge. After looking and not finding anything but parking lots and weed covered land where my ancestors used to live, I found 910 Fayette standing. My father, Albert Buford Cleage, Jr, was born in this house on June 13, 1911. His parents had married the year before after Albert completed his medical training and received his physician’s license. The little house must have been crowded with five adults and an infant. The three Cleage brothers, Jacob, Henry and Albert and wives Gertrude and Pearl shared the house until the following year when Albert opened a practice in Kalamazoo Michigan and moved his family there.
|Bill of sale for Bob and Jim|
Know all men by these presents that I, John Armstrong of the County of McMinn and the State of Tennessee for and in consideration of the sum of seven hundred dollars to me in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged have bargained and sold and delivered unto David Cleage of the county and state aforesaid two negro boys, to wit, Bob aged about thirteen of dark mulatto colour and Jim, aged about eleven of deep mulatto colour. Each of said boys I warrant sound and healthy both in body and mind and free from any defect whatever and slaves for life and covenant and agree that the title is clear of any encumbrance whatever, and I also warrant the title of the same to the said David Cleage his heirs or assigns against the lawful claim of all and every person or persons whatsoever, for which I bind myself my heirs, Executors and C. Intestmony (note: I’m not sure of this word) whereof I have here unto set my hand and affixed my seal this the sixteenth day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty three.
Since posting Henry’s Diary I’ve gotten several questions off of the Blog so I’ve decided to add an explanation entry. Some of the information come from transcriptions I made of conversations with Henry during the 1990’s and some are new from today via my aunt Gladys Cleage Evans memories.
First Question was about the band:
Ben said “Enjoyed reading his journal. It sounds like they played in a band. Do you have info about the band?”
I sent out the call to two of Henry’s sisters via their daughters and got the following information back:
“okay, Gammie can’t remember what Hugh played, but Toddy was the manager, and booked the gigs and whatever they needed, he switched everybody around to accommodate … Louis on piano, Henry on sax and bass, cousin John on sax and soprano sax, cousin Bill on trombone, maybe cousin Harold was there, can’t remember, if anyone sang it was Henry… she’s still thinking I’ll get back as more is remembered! I didn’t even know they had a band… sorry as Gammie says, combo! 🙂
And from Aunt Anna via my cousin Anna: “Hi there! I had a chance to get Mom’s remembrances on Uncle Toddy’s band. This is what she recalls:
Uncle Toddy was trying to establish the business of being an agent where he would send singers and instrumentalists to different clubs etc. to perform. If he couldn’t get enough players, this is where he would ask Uncle Louis (player of drums), Henry (sax player, bass violin and vocalist), and sometime Mr. Hand (Oscar) – not really sure what he played – to fill certain jobs. Uncle Henry was a really good sax player and he had a great voice. Some group called the Vagabonds wanted him to play the sax for them. Mom thinks that Henry actually joined their band for awhile.”
From Henry, told in the 1990’s: “John was pretty good on the saxophone. He turned out to be pretty famous on the West Side of Detroit.” Henry says “When I played with John, he was so temperamental until he wouldn’t play. I remember a couple of times he didn’t like the set up. You know, at that point he was a jazz musician. I was more a Johnny Hodges type. We were playing at some big thing and he didn’t like to play outside, it was cold, So I played the whole thing myself. All the parts. He wouldn’t play.”
Second Question from my daughter Ayanna:
“What does he mean when he says that his parents went to the show. Was it movies?”
Yes, going to the show was going to the movies. There was a segregated theater on Grand River, which was a big business street several blocks from their house. Black people had to sit in the balcony. This was in Detroit, Michigan.
Henry in the 1990’s. Once he was going to the show with his cousin, Minnie “Girl” Mullins (she was named after her mother Minnie, hence the “girl”). After they purchased their tickets, the man was standing there directing them towards the balcony. Minnie put her nose in the air, said she wasn’t sitting up there and went and sat downstairs. Nothing happened, they weren’t thrown out or arrested or anything. He admired Minnie for her boldness.
And from my aunt Gladys again via cousin Jan again: “She doesn’t remember a segregated theatre! She doesn’t remember being in the balcony! JUST remembers Hugh taking her and Peewee to the show which was in walking distance! probably the same theatre…this is getting sooooo intriguing! anything else you need, let me know.”
Henry mentioned The Meadows several times. “The Meadows” was a former farm within driving distance of Detroit. They used to go out there and fish and camp out. I need to get more information about who owned it and where it was. More to come. Back to the Aunts!
And the reply arrives – got to love the internet!
From Aunt Gladys via FB message and her daughter:
“Albert Senior and a bunch of fellow doctors bought it. It was to be a place where everyone could get away and the kids could meet and play.. big house on the property with a porch that wrapped around 2/3 of the house… (Plum Nelly was the conscientious objector farm) … dances on the porches… near Capac Michigan… Apparently they sold it later. she kind of remembers parties on the porch… a get-a-way other than the Boule or Idlewild. Mom remembers the boys spending a couple weeks at the meadows during the summer and Louis packing the provisions.”