Alma Otillia McCall Howard

This year I am going through an alphabet of news items taken from The Emancipator newspaper, published  between 1917 and 1920 in Montgomery, Alabama.  Most are about my grandparent’s circle of friends. All of the news items were found on Newspapers.com. Each item is transcribed directly below the clipping.  Click on any image to enlarge.

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Alma Otillia McCall Howard was my grandmother Fannie’s first cousin. Their mother’s, Jennie and Mary, were sisters. James McCall, the editor and publisher of The Emancipator, was one of Otillia’s brothers.  In 2011 I used Otillia for my “O” entry. There were several mysteries I have since cleared up. And other questions opened. I will begin with my first post, then give the answers I found.

“Mrs. J. H. Howard, formerly Miss Otillia McCall of this city but now of Holly Springs, Miss., was called home by the death of her father. Mr. Edward McCall, who died Monday, Feb. 2nd.”

I began with the intention of writing about my first cousin twice removed, Alma Otillia McCall Howard. I started by going to my Ancestry.com family tree page and pulling up her profile. I noted she was the 5th of 6 children and that her wedding date was missing. I opened my Reunion family tree software, hoping it was there. Her marriage date read 1911. That couldn’t be right. Her husband’s son by his first wife wasn’t born until 1912. There was no date for that marriage either. In fact there wasn’t even a name for Otillia’s husband, Joseph Howard’s, first wife.

Top row: Doorway to Otillia’s Chicago house. Siblings – Jeanette, Otillia, Roscoe, Annabelle, James. 2nd row: Students at Mississippi Industrial College(MIC) 1908; Otillia’s mother, Mary Allen McCall; postcard of the girls dorm at MIC; 1908 photo of MIC. 3rd row: Joseph, Jr. with drums and friends; Otillia’s apt house in Chicago; Otillia and her husband Joseph Howard about 1939. 4th row: MIC building now; my grandmother Fannie and friends in Holly Springs.

I searched on Ancestry.com. No luck. Tried Family Search, no luck. Then I remembered listening to an interview that my cousin Margaret McCall Ward did with Otillia’s step-son, Dr. Joseph H. Howard, Jr, about his amazing drum collection. Maybe there was something there.  Looked for the interview in my itunes list and listened. Unfortunately, he speaks sort of quiet at the beginning when he is telling us his mother’s name and I can’t quite get it. I think he said “Evie” and then changed and spelled it out as “Dama”. Turned that off.

Joseph Jr.’s drum collection sounds interesting. Maybe there is something out there with biographical information. I google Dr. Joseph Howard drums. Several articles come up. I read them and learn the extent of his collection, his wife’s name and his two children’s name. And there are even photographs of him. Nothing about his mother.  Unfortunately, he isn’t even actually related to me and none of this is about Otillia.

I remembered another interview that Margaret did with her Uncle Roscoe’s wife, Stella. Stella’s daughter and Joseph Jr. were both there and putting in comments. Maybe the information is there. It only takes a few minutes to find the transcript of the tape on my computer and open it up. Yay! That is what I was remembering. Right at the start of the interview, Margaret starts talking to Joseph and he tells where he was born and how his parents met in Guyana.  His mother lived there and his father was working on a ship. He gives his mother’s name and even spells her last name, Sempert.   I try looking for her using first name of first Evie and then Dama, hoping to find a death record. Nope.

Later in the transcript, Joseph talks about how his step mother, Otillia and his father, Joseph Howard met. She was teaching at Mississippi Industrial College in Holly Springs, MS.  Joseph Howard Sr was a physician and I don’t know if he was practicing in Holly Springs or if he was teaching in the school.  Unfortunately, just as Margaret was getting ready to go deeper, she stopped herself and got back to her task of trying to find out where her grandfather was buried. I wondered what Mississippi Industrial College looked like? I googled and found a few photographs from 1908, a brief history, and a lot of information and photographs of how the beautiful, historic buildings are falling down before our eyes. There doesn’t seem to be any money to save them. An architect who worked on a rehabilitation project years ago writes about how he hated to stop when the funding ran out. Someone warns about walking up the steps of the auditorium and finding themselves looking two stories down to the basement.

Having read some articles about “ruin porn” while I was off on a tangent when writing a different post, I tore myself away from the wrecked buildings. Holly Springs? I remember a photograph of my grandmother and some of her friends that was taken in Holly Springs. I wonder if they were visiting Otillia? I find the photo and find nothing except place and names on the back.

I remembered an email exchange with my cousin, Ruth about her memories of Otillia and her large house in Chicago.  I go back and find the emails and re-read them for any interesting information. She talks about her parents bringing her home from the hospital to that house and the other family members who lived there. It was a multi-unit dwelling. I found a photograph of the house on google maps when I was going to write Otillia and family up for the 1940 census. There was some confusion about whether the house I found was actually the house. I looked up the address on the 1940 census and googled it. I found several real estate descriptions and photographs of the house. I’m satisfied I found the right place.

At that point I started thinking about all the side roads I took and decided to write about that. I still owe Alma Otillia McCall Howard a post.  It shouldn’t be too difficult because there can’t be any other side roads to go down, right?

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Questions and Answers:

What were the dates of Otillia’s husband, Joseph Hannibal Howard’s marriages?

I found the marriage record for Alma Otillia McCall and Joseph H. Howard. They were married June 17, 1914 in Montgomery, Alabama, which was her home town. She was 22. He was 36. According to the 1940 census Otillia had three years of college. She died In 1974 in Chicago, Illinois.

I was still unable to find the date of Joseph Howard’s marriage to Evie Shumpert.  In the 1910 Census,  Evie Shumpert was single and living with her parents and siblings in Holly Springs, Mississippi and teaching in the public schools.

Evie’s and Joseph Howards son was born on July 12, 1912 in Holly Springs.  She died in September of the same year.  The inscription on her grave stone in Hill Crest Cemetery reads “Evie Shumpert/ wife of J. H. Howard/ Born Mar 11, 1884/Died Sept 17, 1913/In life beloved, In death (mourned?)” She was 29 years old.

One more thing I remember about Otillia and her house is the story of how her mother, Mary Allen McCall and Mary’s half sister, Mattie Saffold Harris met there one summer. That is another whole story and you can read about it here -> Finding Eliza part 3.

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I found this information on Ancestry.com in Census Records, Directories, Death Records, Military Records and Marriage Records. Some information was from oral history gathered from email and taped interviews. The news items were found on Newspapers.com.

Mattie Graham

This year I am going through an alphabet of news items taken from The Emancipator newspaper, published  between 1917 and 1920 in Montgomery, Alabama.  Most are about my grandparent’s circle of friends. All of the news items were found on Newspapers.com. Each item is transcribed directly below the clipping.  Click on any image to enlarge.

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Mattie Graham was my grandfather Mershell Graham’s adopted sister. He informally adopted the Graham family when he was a young man.  My mother and her sister always called Mattie and Cliff Graham, “Aunt” and “Uncle”. I never met either one of them, although we were all in Detroit.

Detroit, Mich.

“Mrs. Mattie Graham Taylor formerly of Montgomery, and a graduate nurse of the General Hospital of Kansas City, Mo. is acting as night supervisor of the Dunbar Hospital of Detroit. Mrs. Taylor is kept quiet busy while in this city and we wish for her every success.”

I shared the whole clipping from Detroit because it mentions the growing Plymouth Congregational Church and also the arrival to Mr. and Mrs. Mershell Graham of a fine baby girl – my Aunt Mary V. Graham.

I look the same now. Sister Mattie Graham was my grandfather, Mershell C. Graham’s adopted sister. When I found the photograph several years ago, I did not know who she was until I found the article above.

I wrote about Mattie Graham before, in 2011 atI Look The Same Now”.  She was a mystery at that time. I had the photograph and I had the caption on the back, below. I could not figure out who she was or where she was. A reader figured out that she had attended nursing school at The General Hospital for Negroes of Kansas City, Missouri. When I found the news item, I saw that the mystery was solved!

“Made in K.C. Mo. but just found a duplicate and had this developed – 10-10-1918. Over 1 year ago. Your sister, M.G.T (Mattie Graham Taylor). A and M College. Normal Ala.”  It all seems clearer this time around.

Mattie Graham  was born in Montgomery in 1886, the middle child of Joseph and Mary Graham. She attended two years of college and was married twice. She married Frank Taylor in 1909 in Montgomery when she was 22.  They were living together in the 1910 census. By 1916 she was in Kansas City, MO at nursing school. This marriage was officially ended by divorce in 1935, when Mattie was living in Detroit. In 1936 she married Earl Harris in Detroit. She had no children.

Mary Graham, Mattie’s mother, lived with her until her death in Detroit in 1951. Mattie died in 1973 in Detroit.I wrote about her brother, Cliff Graham this year for the letter “C”.

The speech below was given by my other grandfather, Dr. Albert B. Cleage, Sr on the occasion of the graduation of the first class of nurses from Dunbar Hospital. Dunbar was founded by a group of 30 black doctors in 1918 because they were not allowed to treat their patients at white hospitals in Detroit without special permission, and sometimes not even then. The hospital also served as a training school for nurses. Although Mattie did not graduate from Dunbar, she did work there as a nurse and  no doubt had a hand in training them.

Dunbar hospital in the present with doctors from 1922. My grandfather, Albert B. Cleage Sr. is front row, all the way to the right. Composite photo © Kristin Cleage.

Speech to the First Nurse Graduating Class of Dunbar Hospital

By Dr, Albert B. Cleage (About 1920)

Page 1 of speech

“Dunbar Hospital is the one institution in this city that demonstrates the possibilities of racial co-operation and enterprise. It is one of the outstanding  successes of Negro effort and Negro management. Dunbar Hospital is a success and is rendering to this community a service that cannot be estimated in dollars and cents. We have come together tonight to celebrate the first commencement of its Training School. These graduates are the first fruits of this organization, and by its fruits alone shall its status in this community be determined. Therefore, the great responsibility that rests upon you at once suggests itself. From tonight the relationship that has existed between you and Dunbar Hospital for three years will be reversed. For these three years it has been concerned about what the world would think of your fitness, your efficiency, your capabilities, but from now on, the deeds you perform, the service you render, the very life you live will determine what the world shall think of Dunbar Hospital.

Page 2 of speech

“By their fruits you shall know them”. This is the inevitable law of nature, and holds good not only in vegetable life, but also in the life of men and institutions. Young ladies, let me congratulate you upon your choice of a life work.  You have demonstrated by your application and devotion that you could have made a success in any line of endeavor; but like your sister Mary of old, you have chosen that better part. You are entering upon a great service at a time when our race needs you most. You have by your own free will chosen a life of Sacrifice and Service, and in proportion as you make the almighty dollar the be all and end all of your existence, in that same proportion shall you succeed or fail. Let that same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, when he said ” came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” – You have by your own choice turned your back forever upon material wealth – Riches shall never be yours- You shall suffer hardships and your pleasure and joy shall be in the satisfaction of Service well done. You have chosen to dwell in the land of sorrow and sickness and death, and that you cannot always endure unless sustained by that same mind that was in Him, who wiped away the tears from the widow’s cheek at the gates of Nain, and stood by the tomb of Lazarus and wept.

You are now servants of the public, and believe me it is an exacting taskmaster. you cannot and must not make class distinctions – you shall serve alike the rich and the poor, the high and the low, the moral and the immoral. Ofttimes, your purest motives, and most unselfish services will be misunderstood, and you will become the subject of infamous tongues of gossiping men and women, but let not this deter you from the purposes of your high calling. Stand fast and immovable, and let that same mind be in you that was in Him who said ‘”Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

Dunbar Hospital is fortunate in having you for its first graduates. You have demonstrated that you possess the true spirit of Florence Nightingale. You are pioneers, you have set a high standard of efficiency and devotion to duty for those who come after you. Dunbar shall miss you; the physicians shall miss your ever encouraging and cheering smile, and the patients shall miss your kindly, tender and sympathetic touch, but we realize that our loss is the world’s gain. We then willingly send you forth as Angels of Mercy to serve and lessen the sufferings of that greater number of our folks as they pass through the Valley and Shadow of Death.

Then if you remember nothing else I have said tonight, remember you can’t go wrong and that success and joy and peace will always be yours if you let that same mind be in you that was in Him of whom it is written. –“He went about doing good”–

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I found the information for this post on Ancestry.com in Census Records, Directories and Death Records. The news item was found on Newspapers.com. The photographs and  speech are from my personal collection.

Jennie Turner

This year I am going through an alphabet of news items taken from The Emancipator newspaper, published  between 1917 and 1920 in Montgomery, Alabama.  Most are about my grandparent’s circle of friends. All of the news items were found on Newspapers.com. Each item is transcribed directly below the clipping.  Click on any image to enlarge.

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Jennie Turner was Fannie’s mother and my great grandmother. I knew her for a few years before she died when she was wheelchair bound and not really talkative. I knew my aunts Daisy and Alice for many years.

The Emancipator – Sat- Jun 26, 1920

“Mrs. Jennie Turner and two daughter, Miss Daisy and little Alice, left last Friday for Detroit, Mich.”

L>R – Robert Pope, Jennie Allen Turner, Alice Turner, Daisy Turner. Back – Beulah Allen Pope. 1921 Windsor, Canada.

My great grandmother Jennie and daughters were coming to visit my grandparents and their new baby daughter, Mary Virginia, who was born in April of 1920.  They didn’t move to Detroit until 1922.  My grandmother was a seamstress who worked for herself in Montgomery. My aunt Daisy taught school. In the photo with them are my great grandmother’s sister Beulah, who was also a seamstress, and her son Robert.  The photo was labeled as being taken in 1921. Perhaps they came up again to visit when my grandparents second child, Mershell Jr. was born.

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My mother Doris Graham Cleage’s  memories of her grandmother, Jennie Virginia Allen Turner

Today I’m going to write about Grandmother.  Grandmother Turner was born about 1872, nine years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Don’t know if she finished high school – but she did go. Her mother taught her to sew and it was a good thing she did because grandmother worked the rest of her life supporting herself and her children at sewing.  That is, she worked after husband Howard Turner died. They married when she was about sixteen. Don’t know his age.  He looked something like grandmother’s father and also like my father, mother said.  He was a farmer’s son from around Hayneville, AL, but he preferred the big city – Montgomery.  His father had three sons and planned to give each one a large share of the farm when they married.  Howard and Jenny received their farm, but neither one liked the country. One day they were in Montgomery.  He was at a Bar-B-Q.  She was at her parents with their daughters, Fannie Mae, 4, and Daisy Pearl, 2.  someone brought word that he had been shot dead.  Apparently no one ever knew who did it, but mother always said grandmother thought his father had it done because he was angry that Howard would not farm and had even been talking about selling his part.  The father did not want the land sold, but wanted it to stay in the family forever.  (Bless his heart!).  He and the son had had some terrible arguments before they left to come to the Bar-B-Q. I often wondered why he was there and grandmother wasn’t.  She always seemed to like a good time.

I remember her laughing and singing and dancing around the house on Theodore. She was short, about five feet I guess, with brown eyes, thin dark brown hair that she wore in a knot. She was very energetic, always walking fast.  She always wore oxfords, often on the wrong feet, and never had time to change them.  We used to love to tell her that her shoes were on the wrong feet.  (smart kids!)

"Jennie Allen Turner funeral"
This photograph was taken in Montgomery during 1892 while the family was in mourning. Jennie holds two year old Daisy while four year old Fannie stands beside her.

She never did thing with us like read to us or play with us, but she made us little dresses.  I remember two in particular she made me that I especially liked.  My “candy-striped” dress – a red white and blue small print percale.  She put a small pleated ruffle around the collar and a larger one around the bottom. I was about Deignan’s (note:  that would have been about 5) size, I guess, and I really thought I was cool!  The other favorite was an “ensemble” – thin, pale green material with a small printed blue green and red flower in it – just a straight sleeveless dress with neck and sleeves piped in navy blue – and a three – quarter length coat of the same material – also straight -with long sleeves and lapels – also piped in navy blue.  She never used a pattern.  Saw something and made it!  She taught us some embroidery which she did beautifully but not often. She never fussed at us – never criticized – and I think she rocked me in the upstairs hall on Theodore when I was little and sick.  The rocker Daddy made stood in that hall.  I remember lots of people rocking in that chair when I was small.

Grandmother went to work when her husband was murdered – sewing for white folks – out all day fitting and sewing – and sewing all night – finishing while mother and Daisy stayed with their Grandfather Allen, who would tell on them when Grandmother came home and she would spank them.  Mother said she remembered telling Daisy to holler loudly so Grandmother wouldn’t spank them hard or long and it worked!

Grandmother stayed single until she was about 37 or 38 when she married someone Mother hated – looked Italian, hardly ever worked.  Liked a good time. Fathered Alice and left when she was very small.  Somehow when mother spoke of him I had the feeling he would have like to have taken advantage of her.  She was about 20 and had given up two college scholarships to stay and help Grandmother.

Sometimes after her husband’s death, Grandmother took the deed to the farm to a white lawyer. (was there any other kind?) and told him to sell it for her.  He went to see it and check it out – told her to forget it – her title wasn’t clear, but he never gave the deed back and she figured he made a deal with her father-in-law.

"jennie's shot gun house"
A shotgun house. My mother’ description is off.

 Aunt Abbie (note: Jennie’s sister) said the father-in-law built Grandmother and Howard a “shotgun” house on the farm.  She would turn up her nose as she said it.  You know that is a house like this – no doors on front or back, you could shoot a gun through hall without damage.  Animals (pigs, dogs) would wander into the hall and have to be driven out.  Aunt Abbie only stayed there when the plague was raging in Montgomery.  Yellow fever (malaria) and/or polio every summer.  Many people sick or dying.  Huge bonfires in the streets every night to ‘purify’ the air”, and closing the city if it got bad enough – no one in or out.  More than once they fled the city in a carriage through back streets and swamps because they were caught by the closing which was done suddenly to keep folks from leaving and spreading the “plague”

In Detroit, when they came in 1923 when Mother and Daddy had bought the house on Theodore and had room for them (room? only 5 adults and 3 children!)  Grandmother, Daisy and Alice got good jobs, (they were good – sewing fur coats, clean work and good pay.) at Annis Furs (remember it back of Hudsons?)  and soon had money to buy their own house much farther east on a “nice” street in a “better ” neighborhood (no factories) on Harding Ave. While they lived with us I remember violent arguments between Alice and I don’t know who – either Grandmother or Daisy or Mother.  Certainly not Daddy because when he spoke it was like who in the Bible who said, “When I say go, they goeth. When I say come, they cometh.”  Most of the time I remember him in the basement, the backyard or presiding at table. Daisy and grandmother were what we’d call talkers.

Grandmother got old, hurt her knee, it never healed properly. Daisy worked and supported the house alone. Alice only worked a little while.  She had problems getting along with people.  Grandmother was eventually senile.  Died of a stroke at 83 or so. Alice spent years taking care of her while Daisy worked. Daisy added to their income by being head numbers writer at Annis!! 

"Jennie Annis Furs"
Seamstresses at Annis Furs, Detroit 1920’s. Grandmother Turner far right, 2nd row. Alice next to her. Skip 1 + it’s Daisy.

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This information came from family information. The photo is from my photo collection. The news item is from Newspapers.com. The links within the story are to other blog posts about the topic.

Alixe Harris

The Emancipator Sat. Mar. 2, 1918

Missionary Club Meets

“On Monday evening of this week the Woman’s Missionary Club of the First Congregational Church of this city, met at the home of Mrs. Jennie Turner, 712 East Grove Street. A delicious luncheon was served. The club is working enthusiastically to raise funds to send delegates to the Alabama State Association of the Congregational Church which meets at Talladega College, Talladega, Ala., in March. Mrs. Ruby Washington and Mrs. Alexis Harris were appointed delegates.”

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The Emancipator Sat Jun 19, 1920.  Part of Rev. E.E. Scott’s obituary.

“Among the out-of-town friends attending the funeral of Rev. E.E. Scott here Monday were Mrs. Dillard of Selma; Mr. Farley, Beloit, Ala.; Mr. and Mrs. McCarroll, Shelby, Ala.; Rev. Jones, Cotton Valley Dean O’Brien, Mr. Fletcher of Talladega, Ala. Mrs. Alexis Harris, Detroit, Mich; Mrs. McKinney, Halzelhurst, Miss., and others.”

The first mention of Mrs. Alexis Harris that I noticed was in an account of Rev. E. E. Scott’s funeral. She returned from Detroit for the funeral, which was in 1920. I thought that was serious devotion to her old pastor.  I had seen her name mentioned before as one of the founders of the new Congregational Church that was started by the people from Montgomery’s First Congregational Church who migrated to Detroit.  I have a copy of this photograph that includes my grandfather, Mershell C. Graham and in front of him, Mrs. Alixe Harris. I wondered who she was and what her life was like. She became my letter “H”.

April 11, 1959. From my grandmother Fannie’s scrapbook. Newspaper unknown.

I began to research her on Ancestry and it wasn’t long before I discovered that she and Rev. E. E. Scott’s wife were sisters. That would account for her traveling from Detroit back to Montgomery for the funeral.

Alixe was born in Yazoo County, Mississippi on March 26, 1878. She was the youngest daughter of Molli Pepper, a cook.  Alixe disappears from the record until 1910 when she appears in St. Louis, Missouri as the wife of Edward A. Harris and the mother of two children, Frank and Alixe.  Edward was working as a clerk in the Post Office. They had been married in 1905.

In 1918 Alixe appears in the article in The Emancipator going to a church association meeting. Plymouth Congregational Church was founded in 1919. Both Alixe and her husband Edward signed the original document of the intention to start a church.  My grandfather, Mershell C. Graham also signed the document.

In 1920, Alixe and her family were living in Detroit. Edward managed a restaurant. The two children were teenagers and attended school. Alixe was not working outside of the house. There were four roomers sharing the house. Everybody in the house was literate.

In 1930 Edward was 53, he listed as the head of the house and worked at an auto plant as a laborer. Alixe was 52, a trained nurse and working for a private family. Their son Frank, 24, was married and working as a die maker in an auto plant. His wife was not employed outside of the home. They had an infant son, Frank Jr.  Alixe’s daughter, also named Alixe was 23 and a pharmacist in a drug store.

Also in the 1930 census, Rachel Scott, Alixe’s sister and the widow of Rev. Scott of Montgomery, was living in Detroit with her daughter Lily Bel Foster and her daughter’s husband Paul. Three of Rachael Scotts adult children, were living there also.

In 1940 The older Harris’ were living with their daughter and her husband, Bernard O’Dell. Bernard worked as a director of a recreation department, his wife Alixe was still working as a pharmacist in a drug store. Edward, who was now 64 worked as a janitor. Alixe was 62 and working as a nurse in a sanitarium. All the adults had two or more years of college.

Alixe Pepper Harris lived to be over 100 year old. She died in March, 1980.

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I found this information on Ancestry.com in Census Records, Directories, Death Records, Military Records and Marriage Records. The news items were found on Newspapers.com.

 

Emma Topp

This year I am going through an alphabet of news items taken from The Emancipator newspaper, published  between 1917 and 1920 in Montgomery, Alabama.  Most are about my grandparent’s circle of friends. All of the news items were found on Newspapers.com. Each item is transcribed directly below the clipping.   Click on any image to enlarge.

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After they married in Montgomery, my grandparents relocated to Detroit. They roomed for awhile with the Walkers, who were not blood relatives but related through marriage. Mrs. Emma Topp was also a roomer in the house.

“Mrs. J.W. Topp had a few friends over to meet Mr. and Mrs. M.C. Graham on Saturday evening; Progressive Whist was played after which a delicious two course luncheon and punch were served.”

My grandfather Mershell Graham and Emma Topp in the Walkers yard. 1919.

Mrs. Emma Davis Topp roomed with Moses and Jean Walker after her husband died in 1912. Her husband, John W. Topp had been an engineer. He was a black Canadian who arrived in Detroit at age 17, in 1875.

Mrs. Topp was born in Mississippi and attended school through the 8th grade. She was a dressmaker. By 1930 she had moved to Los Angeles, CA and was living with her cousin and aunt. Mrs. Topp was no longer working and lived with her cousin until her death in 1948.

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Wikipedia says that “Progressive whist, similar to whist, except one suit is declared trumps at the beginning of play, and usually remains so throughout the evening.”

Progressive Whist scoring cards

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I found this information on Ancestry.com in Census Records, Directories, Death Records, Military Records and Marriage Records. The news item was found on Newspapers.com.

Clifton Graham

This year I am going through an alphabet of news items taken from The Emancipator newspaper, published  between 1917 and 1920 in Montgomery, Alabama.  Most are about my grandparent’s circle of friends. Each item is transcribed directly below the clipping.  Click on any image to enlarge.

Clifton Graham was the best man at my grandparent’s wedding.

The Emancipator, Saturday, Jun 22, 1918

“Mr. Clif Graham, who has been residing in Detroit, Mich., for the the past year or more, is visiting relatives and friends in the city.”

Clifton Graham and his family were always referred to as my grandfather Mershell Graham’s adopted family.  He wasn’t raised by them and we all knew his birth family was in Coosada, Alabama. I never asked why he had adopted them as his family. I always assumed it was because he was friends with Clifton and they shared the name of “Graham”. Now everybody I could have asked is gone.

My grandfather is on the railing, Cliff is on the steps and mother Mary Graham is seated on the porch of the Graham home. 

Clifton Graham was born July 13, 1889 in Montgomery, Alabama. He was the fifth of the five children of Joseph and Mary (Rutledge) Graham. Only two of the children survived to adulthood – Clifton and Mattie. Both Clifton and his older sister Mattie attended college for several years. He was drafted in July of 1918, married Gwendolyn Lewis the following month and was released from the army in March 1919. While Clifton was in the army and before their son was born, Gwendolyn taught school. Their first son, John Clifton Jr. was born in Montgomery. They moved to Detroit and the second son, Lewis, was born there. In the 1930 Census Clifton Graham worked as a prohibition agent. Later he continued to work for the government.

Clifton’s sister and mother also moved to Detroit. Gwendolyn’s brother, Billingsly Lewis moved with their mother to Chicago around the same time.

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I found this information on Ancestry.com in Census Records, Directories, Death Records, Military Records and Marriage Records. News items were found on Newspapers.com. I also use Google Maps. The photograph is from my family photos.

Announcement

This year I am going through an alphabet of news items taken from The Emancipator newspaper, published  between 1917 and 1920 in Montgomery, Alabama.  Most are about my grandparent’s circle of friends. Each item is transcribed directly below the clipping.   Click on any image to enlarge.“Mrs. Jenine Turner Wishes to announce the engagement of her daughter, Fannie Mae, to Mr. Mershell C. Graham, of Detroit, Mich. The Marriage to take place in the spring”

“Pom, Shell & Fan” My maternal grandparents, Mershell and Fannie (Turner) Graham. August 1919 Detroit, Michigan two months after their marriage.
The Wedding – June 1918

Graham-Turner Wedding

On Sunday, June 15th at four o’clock Miss Fannie Turner and Mr. Mershell Graham were happily united in marriage at the home of the bride on E. Grove St. The home was prettily decorated for the occasion.

Just before the entrance of the bridal party, Mr. Lowndes Adams sang a beautiful solo, immediately after which the groom entered the parlor to the strains of Mendelson’s wedding March, with Mr. Clifton Graham, his brother, as best man. The bride entered with her uncle, Mr. V.H. Tulane, who gave her away, gowned in white satin with real lace and pearl bead trimmings the hat, a beautiful creation of white Georgette, the bride made a very pleasing appearance.  She carried a large bouquet of roses and fern.

The home was crowded to its fullest capacity, fully two hundred guests being present which bespoke the esteem and popularity in which the young couple are held.

The presents were many and varied, consisting of silver, cut glass, linen, wearing apparel, money, and many useful household articles.

Rev. E.E. Scott performed the ceremony and Miss Naomi Tulane presided at the piano.

The guests were served delicious refreshments.

The happy couple left Sunday evening for Detroit, Mich., their future home.

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Everybody mentioned in these articles will appear in this years challenge, plus a few others.
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I found this information on Ancestry.com in Census Records, Directories, Death Records, Military Records and Marriage Records. News items were found on Newspapers.com. I also use Google Maps. The photograph is from my family photos.

Reports of My Parent’s Wedding

The only things I knew about my parent’s wedding was that my mother wore blue and they were married at Plymouth Congregational Church. My parents separated when I was eight years old and apparently the clippings that my grandmother’s must have saved, disappeared.

When I found an archive for the Detroit Tribune Newspaper, published by my publishing poet cousin James McCall, I was hopeful that I would find an article that described the wedding. And I did! Unfortunately the article is so faded as to be all most blank. To say this was frustrating, is an understatement. The archive is housed at the Library of Congress – Chronicling America.  Maybe one day Newspapers.com will add The Detroit Tribune to their collection and find better copies.

Here are the pieces I found.  The first one, about a before the wedding event.

A before the wedding festivity. My father’s name was Albert B. Cleage. He got the nickname “Toddy” as a toddler and it stuck. The article refers to him as “Todd”.

“Doris Graham is being feted, because Wednesday evening she will say “I do” to Todd Cleage, after which they will go to Lexington, KY. The local chapter of Iota Boule fraternity honored Doris Graham and Todd Cleage Friday night at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Gamble on Willis street. Among those who came with heart loads of good wishes were: Mr. and Mrs. Henderson, Dr. and Mrs. James Moore, Mr. and Mrs. M. Graham, Atty. and Mrs. P. Piper, Dr. Lloyd Bailer, Mr. and Mrs. H.S. Dunbar and their petite daughter Margie, Dr. and Mrs. Peyton Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. Winburn and Dr. and Mrs J.A. Moore and others.”

The unreadable details of the wedding.

Barbara With a Parasol – 1953

My cousin Barbara was six years old when this photograph was taken.  She is holding a little parasol and standing at the edge of their front yard.

In age, Barbara was right between my sister Pearl and me. Every year my father took the three of us to the Michigan State Fair.   We went to the Fair right before the end of summer vacation in early September.

I remember buying little parasols like the one Barbara is holding. They were pin. blue, or yellow with flowers on them. We also liked to buy pop beads that snapped together into bracelets and necklaces. I don’t remember using them after the fair. They were part of the experience, like the cotton candy.

Pearl, Barbara and me in Nanny and Poppy’s backyard.

Living in Detroit, we didn’t see livestock everyday, but we saw it at the fair. I remember King Romancer the 23rd (or something along those lines), the bull who had sired many, many prize winning cows. And the time we rounded a corner to see a huge boar heading down the aisle towards us. Pearl and Barbara jumped behind me. There was someone with the boar and my father was right behind us, so all was well. We watched a 4-H cattle show where a girl kicked her losing heifer.  As we walked through the various barns full of animals, I was envious of the young people who had cots in stalls near their animals.

The only ride we ever went on was the “Tilt-A-Whirl”. It was one step up from the Merry Go Round, and it gave me an upset stomach every year. We must have left for home soon after enjoying this exciting ride.  I’m not sure when we stopped taking our annual trip, but it was well before our teen years.

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Did Poppy Go To The Theatre?

1958 behind the house on Theodore.  L > R Sister Pearl, Kristin (me), Mershell “Poppy”, Aunt Mary V. Cousin Marilyn in the front and Cousin Barbara in the back

While looking for news stories about my ancestors, I came across this little item at newspapers.com. Mershell C. Graham was my maternal grandfather. I do not imagine that he went to the play.  I wonder if he even saw this announcement and how they came to pick him.

Mershell C. Graham

6638 Theodore, Detroit

You have won two free tickets to “Once Upon A Mattress” at the Shubert Theatre. Call Miss Lee at Classified Advertising, The Free {ress, WO 2-9400, extension 13, between 8:30 A.M. and 5:00 P.M. Monday.

The play was an adult version based on the fairy tale, The Princess and The Pea For an over view of the musical, click ->  Once Upon A Mattress.

The Shubert in 1963 – a year before it was demolished.  Photo from the Burton Historical Collection.
The Shubert was demolished in 1964. Photo from the Walter P. Reuther Library
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Other posts about Mershell C. Graham

Poppy Could Fix Anything

Mershell’s Notebook

Graham Turner Wedding 1919 Montgomery

From Montgomery To Detroit – Founding a New Congregational Church

Poppy The Worker

Poem for Poppy