Category Archives: Detroit

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.

To see other Sepia Saturday offerings, click!

 

 

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
Click to see more Sepia Saturday offerings

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

 

13 Years Old, Mary Virginia Graham, 1934

13 yrs Mary Virginia 1934

A photograph of my aunt Mary Virginia Graham standing on the front steps of the house on Theodore in Detroit. She was named for both of her grandmothers. The writing on the photo says “13 yrs Mary Virginia 1934”.   A double exposure shows my mother sideways, overlapping.

My mother Doris with her sister Mary Virginia aka M.V. at Belle Isle.

This photo looks like it was taken the same day at Belle Isle, which was 5 miles from the house. The dresses are the same.  My mother is standing the same way that she in in the double exposure.

6638 Theodore Street, Detroit, Michigan.

Other posts about Mary V.

Mary Virginia Graham Colorized

Christmas Memories

Mary V’s Shoes

Old County Building and Mary V. Elkins

1940 Census – the Grahams

Three Generations – 1939

And a post about the house on Theodore

Click for more Sepia Saturday entries.

Graham-Turner Wedding – 1919 Montgomery Alabama

I recently found that The Emancipator newspaper was online at Newspapers.com.  The Emancipator was published from October 1917 to August 1920. My grandmother’s first cousin, James Edward McCall and his wife were the publishers. You can read more about him at the link above.

Lowndes Adams sang a solo.  Victor Tulane walked the bride in. Clifton Graham was best man. Naomi Tulane played the piano.
"Jennie Allen Turner and Daughters"
Fannie, Jennie, Alice with Daisy standing in back.

Announcement

Mrs. Jennie 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.

Mershell and Fannie (Turner) Graham. August 1919 Detroit, Michigan.

Graham-Turner Wedding

Graham-Turner Wedding

On Sunday, June 15th at four o’clock Miss Fannie Turner and Mr. Merchell 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.

Some of the Graham’s friends in Detroit.  Mershell and Fannie are at the end of the line.

On Friday evening, 29th ??? at 8:30 the beautiful home of Mr. and Mrs. M.L. Walker, St. Jean Ave., was the scene of a delightful entertainment complimentary to Mr. and Mrs. M.C. Graham. The guests were limited to Mrs. Walker’s Club members and their husbands. The house was artistically decorated with cut flowers. Progressive Whist was played, mints and salted peanuts were served throughout the evening, after which a delicious salad course with punch was served.

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Mrs. Topp Detroit 1919

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.

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Mrs. J.A. Martin entertain quite a few friends at a real Southern dinner Sunday afternoon at 4 o’clock. Among the guests were Mrs. M.L. Walker, Mr. and Mrs. M.C. Graham, Mrs. Thompson, Mr. Moses Thompson, Mr. Chas. Love, the Dale Family, Mr. and Mrs Mills, Mrs. Dora Davis, Mr. James Payton, Mr. Joe Shannon, Mr. Oliver, Mr. Barnette, and others.

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Other related blog posts:

The Proposal

The Proposal Accepted

Marriage License

The photographs are from my personal collection. The newspaper articles are from The Emancipator via Newspapers.com

The Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr April 4, 1968

Detroit March to Freedom down Woodward Ave. 1963. My father is in the 2nd row, looking serious.

On April 4, 1968 when Martin Luther King Jr was murdered, I was a senior art major  at Wayne State University in Detroit.  I was walking across campus with Jim, who is now my husband, when Rufus and Brenda Griffin  stopped and told us what had happened. They offered me a ride home. I lived in the house at 5397 Oregon with my mother and Henry.

I remember going to school the next day and being in my printmaking class when my mother, who NEVER appeared in my classes, walked into the room to tell me riots were breaking out. Duffield, her school had closed (she was a teacher) and we left. We passed a small group of high school students marching down West Grand Blvd. but no violence.

Either that night or the next I was taken to the airport before the curfew so that I could meet my sister Pearl, who was coming in from Howard University, which had been closed due to the disturbance. She was a sophomore. We spent the night at the airport hotel. This assassination, both in itself and coming after so many others was so depressing. I was 21.