Here is a photograph of my cousin Dee Dee and her mother Mary V. Graham Elkins taken on Belle Isle in 1947. At first I thought the fuzzy black spot on the lower right was an ink spot, but when I looked closer I saw it was a little dog. Dee Dee is looking down at it a bit apprehensively.
Ancestry.com has a new feature called “speculative circles”. They take groups of people that share DNA and who you do not have any matches in your tree. They rate the DNA links from “emerging” (not enough people in the group yet.) to “very strong” which means that the reality of a connection is high. My sister was recently tested and received several “speculative circles.” Most of them were “weak” links. I had also never heard of the people in the trees, nor could I see where we might match up. With one circle, however, there were strong links with 8 out of the 12 people in the circle.
My grandfather Mershell Graham’s sister Annie (Click for more information about Annie) and her children appear in the 1910 US census in Elmore county working as servants for Oscar and Emma (Jackson) Barron . They were there in the 1920 census and until Emma died. Emma was the daughter of Absolom Jackson, a large slave holder in Autauga County (In 1866 Elmore County was formed from part of Autauga).
I began to think that my family may have been slaves on Absolom Jackson’s plantation. My grandfather was born in 1888 in Coosada, Elmore County, Alabama. His mother’s name was Mary Jackson. About 15 years ago a Jackson descendant sent me a copy of the 1832 Will of James Jackson in which he divided up the slaves between two of his sons (Absolom and Crawford) and his son-in-law (Lunceford Long). 1832 was before Mary Jackson (my grandfather’s mother) or her parents were have been born. All of James Jackson’s adult children had large numbers of slaves that, of course, weren’t mentioned in that will. Due to these reasons, I was not surprised that I recognized no names.
I started a tree for James Jackson and his family on Ancestry.com. I do that for any people I think might have enslaved any branch of my family. I use the information to look for wills and bills of sale, anything that might have my ancestors listed.
All of this is leading up to the circle. We share Lunceford Long’s and his wife Nancy Daniel Jackson Long’s DNA with descendants who have a paper trail. Lunceford (1797 to 1857) and his wife Nancy are the nearest common ancestors that all of the lines in the circle share. They are the 6th generation back from me. This means that we have DNA from both Lunceford and Nancy. How could this happen?
At first I thought that meant that one of the sons had a child with an enslaved woman. But the sons are not the closest ancestor, Longford and Nancy are. I believe it means that Lunceford Crawford Long had a baby with an as yet unnamed enslaved woman? And that said unnamed woman was related to Nancy Daniel Jackson so that they shared DNA.
I take all this to mean that I was right and the Jackson’s did own my ancestors. Now to look for more wills and other records that might show names I can recognize and hopefully place in family groups.
Aunt Daisy took us downtown to the show every summer and to Saunders for ice cream afterward. And I always ended up with a splitting headache. Too much high living I guess. She and Alice would buy us dainty, expensive little dresses from Siegel’s or Himllhoch’s. They all went to church every Sunday at Plymouth Congregational. Daisy always gave us beautiful tins of gorgeous Christmas candy, that white kind filled with gooey black walnut stuff, those gooey raspberry kind and those hard, pink kind with a nut inside, also chocolates, of course!
Here I am under the apple tree with my cousin Barbara where we built and rebuilt a castle for our fairies. Each family had one. Ours was Pinkie my cousins was Lucy. In between the castles we made various dirt pies and cakes. That little black utensil next to me was a sifter. It had holes punched in the bottom and we sifted the dirt with it.
We used to walk up the plank against the back fence and look out into the alley. Nothing really exciting out there, most of the time although I remember the police chasing a man through there once. I am pretty sure we were not standing on the plank watching. If we did, it was only for as long as it took an adult to call us inside While the chase went on.
It must be spring because we can see that there is no garden bu the Pussy Willow bush in the background seems to have buds. We are wearing our light jackets (or “jumpers” as Poppy called them.) and overalls. My saddle shoes are horribly dirty. My socks had probably slid down inside of them. Barbara is wearing buckled shoes but her socks look quite saggy. In the spring of 1955 I would have been 8 and Barbara would have been 7. She is missing a tooth, but not those you loose when you are 6.
In the fall my grandmother made the best applesauce with the apples from that tree. They were not the kind you eat uncooked. In spite of the sticky stuff my grandfather painted around the tree trunk, there were worms in the apples and they were very small and sour. They made the best applesauce ever though, with lots of cinnamon.
Mershell, Mary V. and my mother Doris Graham are sitting on their front steps waving balloons on sticks. It was 1926. The house was on Theodore, the east side of Detroit. Sometimes I dream about this house and the porch usually figures in the dreams as I leave or enter or start down the street going somewhere.
My mother Doris and her sister Mary Virginia with their dog Bonzo. The picture was taken in August 1932, about 6 months after their brother Howard died of Scarlet Fever. Mary V. was 12 and Doris was 9. The sisters were granddaughters of Jennie Virginia Allen Turner, who was the daughter of Dock and Eliza Allen. My mother later had a sister-in-law named Gladys Cleage, who will celebrate her 93rd birthday this Saturday. I could not find a photograph of her with a sister and a dog, but here she is with sister Anna.
Gladys and Anna were the grandchildren of Lewis and Anna Cecilia Cleage, and great granddaughters of Frank and Juda Cleage of Athens, TN.
Mershell Graham was born June 10, 1921 in Detroit Michigan. He died on November 2, 1927, at St. Jopseph Hospital, also in Detroit, from traumatic cerebral hemorrhage resulting from a fracture at the base of the skull during an automobile accident. Mershell was described as a single, colored male, a school boy age 6 years 4 months and 23 days old. He lived at 6638 Theodore Street with his family. He was buried in Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery on November 4, 1927. Both of his parents, Fanny Turner Graham and Mershell C. Graham were born in Montgomery Alabama. His father, my grandfather, Mershell Cunningham Graham, was the informant.
Howard Alexander Turner was my mother’s youngest brother. Howard was born September 7, 1928, in the year following his older brother, Mershell’s death by trauma after being run over by a truck on the way back to school. My grandparents felt that Howard had been sent to fill the space left by Mershell. Unfortunately he died of Scarlet Fever, exacerbated by Diabetes
Howard died at Herman Kiefer Hospital in Detroit. He had been ill for fifteen days before his death. He is described as a single, colored male age 3 years, 5 months and 27 days old. His mother’s maiden name was Fannie Turner and his father was Mershell Graham. Both were born in Alabama. He was born in Detroit, Michigan and lived at 6638 Theodore St. in Detroit. He died at 5:05 AM on March 4, 1932. His father was the informant.
I wrote more about Howard in these, much more personal posts with copies of his mother’s thoughts and memories: