April 7, 1904 – Mother Very Ill, Minnie’s New Address

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library/University of Georgia Libraries. Click to enlarge.
Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library/University of Georgia Libraries. Click to enlarge.
Pearl Reed

Homer Jarrett
#230 Bird St., City

 

2730 Kenwood Ave
City
April 7, 1904

Dear Homer;
Forgive me for not writing sooner, but don’t you know I did write but tore up the letter a few hours after. Mother is very ill now and has been since Easter eve. I am having a terrible time. I could not go to church Easter Morn and have just received an invitation to a friends at her birthday anniversary but had to send her my regrets. Pity me.
Your little friend

P.S. I am in an awful hurry, forgive this writing.

Your Pearl

P.S. Minnis address is #337 Colfax Ave. Benton Harbor Mich.

Charles WATKINS

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.

Charles Watkins was a friend of my grandfather Mershell C. Graham.

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Many Industrial Opportunities In California.

(Special to the Emancipator.) By Charles D. Watkins.  Los Angeles, Cal. Aug. 15

Out here in Southern California the wages for colored help are very good, living conditions are fine and food cheaper than in many other sections. Cook women get from $40 to $65 a month in apartment houses and private homes; maids or house girls, from $40 to $60; janitors and porters (men) are paid from $60 to $80; and elevator men receive the same amount Chauffeurs receive from $75 to $150 a month. There is a greater demand for this kind of help here than can be supplied.

There are a number of colored business men here, including real estate dealers, grocers, druggists, merchants, physicians, clergymen, teachers and twelve lawyers. The colored population of Los Angeles is 35,000 and everybody works.

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“‘Hands Up’ Just a little desperato. You know why.” A photo of Charles Watkins he sent to my grandfather Mershell.
 
The Tulane building in 2004.  During the time of this event the Tulane family lived upstairs and the store was downstairs.

Here is a story my cousin Jacqui told me about her grandfather, Victor Tulane and his rescue of  Charles Watkins  in Montgomery, Alabama.  This story was told to her by her mother, Naomi Tulane Vincent.  It happened in 1917.  The Tulane family lived above the store on Ripley and High Street.  The Watkins family lived several blocks away on Union Street.

Walking distance between the Tulane’s @ A and the Watkin’s  @ B was about 3 minutes according to Google Maps.

It was the middle of the night when the Tulane family woke up to car lights shining in the windows.  They got up and looked out into the yard.  It was full of white men in cars and trucks.  Victor Tulane told his wife, Willie Lee and his daughter, Naomi to go back to bed, everything would be all right.

He let the white men in and they told him they were looking for the Watkins boy. Charles Watkins was 28.  Watkins, they said, had insulted one of their wives and they wanted him. Was he there, they asked?  Victor told them that nobody was there except his wife and daughter, they could look for themselves. They went through the whole building, looking everywhere. Finally, satisfied that Watkins wasn’t there, they left.

As dawn approached, Victor brought Charles Watkins out from his hiding place beneath the floor.  He put him in the car, piled produce on top of him, drove him out in the country where his nephew, Roscoe McCall  had arranged to put him on a train heading north to Chicago.

Here is a companion version of the same story passed down by Roscoe McCall’s branch of my family.. It was taken from an interview my cousin Margaret McCall Thomas Ward did with her Aunt Stella McCall, in 1986. Stella (Brown) McCall was married to Margaret’s uncle, Roscoe McCall. Louise was Stella and Roscoe’s daughter.

Louise: Oh and mother you can also tell her about how Daddy was getting that man out of Montgomery for looking at the white girl. And then they were going to hang him and Daddy had to take him out on that lonely road and get him out of town. And …

Stella: they got stopped on the road.

Louise: The police, the posse, don’t they call it a posse? Or whatever.

Stella: Yes.

Louise: came after him and then when they shined the light on Daddy. They were in a field and they saw that it was Mr… your grandfather McCall’s son and they said “Oh Rossie…”

Stella: Because his father, not cutting you off, Ross’s own, father had worked at the jail and had charge of the colored prisoners…

Margaret: So this incident of Uncle Ross in the field, what happened?

Stella: They stopped him, right at that field.

Louise: No mother, start with how they were standing outside the drugstore… he and that other one, that Watkins boy and the white girl came by and she told her boyfriend that they had, that this Watkins fellow had winked at her and that started a riot in the city.

Roscoe McCall

Stella: Winked at her.

Margaret: Is that right?

Stella: A riot.

Margaret: Well, how did Uncle Ross get him out of the city?

Stella: Out of the city?

Margaret: You said that they were in the field and the police came and said…

Stella: Now all before this started, Ross had a friend out in the country. This man was a good friend of his and they would go hunting out there. And that’s why he knew the man… his name… I can’t think of his name… what was his name…anyway, well he had a home down in the country and he would go down there every summer you know, just take a week off and hunt and…

Louise: A good place to hide out.

Stella: To hide out. Yes.

Margaret: That’s all?

Stella: And there was a railroad train coming out of Montgomery going on to Atlanta and Ross got this man out of Montgomery and had this porter on this train to stop at this little station down there in the country and nobody would ever think a train would stop there and he stopped just like he got him to do and he put this man on this train in the back and had a place for him to stay and stay shut up and he did that until he got to Atlanta and he was safe.

Margaret: And did he stay in Atlanta or did he leave Atlanta?

Stella: Oh he left Atlanta. We didn’t hear any more of him. But Ross saved his life! They were going to lynch him uh huh, oh yes. Ross had some narrow escapes in that time.

Margaret: He did?

Stella: Yes, because you see this one was taking him for that and that one was taking him for this and it was terrible.

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Before he left Montgomery, Charles  Watkins was a grocer, operating a grocery store near the family home on Union Street. In 1917, he lived in Chicago with his wife and children and worked in the stockyards. By 1920 he was living in Los Angeles, which he described as the land of opportunity. He worked as a carpenter and made a good life for himself and his family there.

Naomi married Dr. Ubert Vincent in May of 1920 and moved to New York City.

Rosco McCall moved to Detroit in 1919. His family followed in early 1920. They later settled in Chicago where he worked as a Pullman Porter.

My grandfather Mershell Graham had moved to Detroit and was working there in 1917.

I found some of William Watkins extended family on Ancestry.Com and was able to see some photos of the family.  Unfortunately they had never heard this story.

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Most of the information for this post is from family oral history. I found corroborating information on Ancestry.com in Census Records, Directories, Death Records, Military Records and Marriage Records. News items were found on Newspapers.com. I also used Google Maps. The photographs are from my family photos.

 

V.H. Tulane

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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Victor Tulane was my grandmother Fannie’s uncle by marriage.  He was the husband of Willie Lee Allen, my great grandmother Jennie Virginia Allen’s sister.

The Emancipator 23 Mar 1918 Sat pg 3
Victor Hugh Tulane

I thought his obituary summed up his life pretty well.

Victor H. Tulane Dead

 Montgomery, Ala., Jan, 16., 1931

Transcribed from The Chicago Defender Jan 17, 1931 via ProQuest Historical Newspapers online database.

Victor H. Tulane, a leader of his Race here for many years, died at his home, 430 S. Union St., at the age of 57.  His rise to affluence, through his own industry and native shrewdness, was little short of remarkable.  Prior to his death he owned a mercantile business and operated a real estate agency of considerable scope. Tulane first came to Montgomery when he was 15 years old, having walked here from Wetumpka, where he was born.  His first job was porter in a saloon, but later he opened a store at the corner of High and Ripley Streets. which he operated for about thirty years.  He later rented his store and entered the real estate business, and before his death had accumulated a comfortable estate.

For many years Tulane served on the board of trustees of the Tuskegee Institute.  He was also chairman of the board of trustees of the Hale infirmary.  He was widely known for his generosity and willingness to serve in charitable movement.  He was actively connected with the community chest and was one of the first to donate toward the Y.M.C.A. building for colored persons.

Surviving are his widow, Willie L. Tulane of Montgomery, and his daughter, Naomi Tulane Vincent, New York city.  Funeral arrangements will be announced later by the Loveless Undertaking company.

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Victor Tulane wrote this letter to my grandmother Fannie as her mother and sisters were in the process of moving up from Montgomery to join her in Detroit.  This was soon after Fannie and my grandfather, Mershell, bought their house on Theodore, where they lived for over 40 years.  They had two children under five and the third, my mother was on the way.  

"Letter to Fannie Graham from Victor Tulane."
Letter to Fannie Graham from Victor Tulane

Rents Collected                                                                                     Homes Bought         
Loans Negotiated                                                                                            And Sold 
Estates Managed

V.H. TULANE
REAL ESTATE AND INSURANCE
SCOTT BUILDING 123 MONROE ST.
Telephone 388 555                                                                                        
                                                                                                      Montgomery, ALA.,        Nov. 23, 1922

Dear Fannie,
I am enclosing check from this M.R. & Ins. Co; for ten dollars which the sec’y should have mailed you some time ago.

We are winding up the affairs of this company and will send you another payment on stock acct. pretty soon.  I think that the company will be able to pay off it’s stock holders dollar for dollar.

I trust this will find all well and getting along nicely.

Your mother’s things were shipped yesterday.  Trust they will arrive on time and in first class condition.  Remember me to all the folks.  Tell the kids hello!
Let us have a line from you when convenient.

Your Uncle,
Victor

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Other posts about Victor Tulane

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. Photographs and correspondence from my family archives.

Ubert Conrad Vincent

This year I am going through an alphabet of news items taken from The Emancipator newspaper, published  between 1917 and 1920 in Montgomery, Alabama.  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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Ubert C. Vincent married my grandmother Fannie’s first cousin, Naomi Tulane. You can read about their wedding under “N” for Naomi.

The Emancipator (Montgomery, Alabama) · 27 Dec 1919, Sat · Page 3

Dr. U.C. Vincent Visits Montgomery

Montgomery, Ala., Dec. 23.

Dr. U.C. Vincent of New York City is spending the holidays here as guest of Mr. and Mrs. V.H. Tulane.  Dr. Vincent is an intern at the noted Bellevue Hospital of New York. He also holds a responsible position as Medical head of one of the departments in the hospital. He is the only colored man that has ever held this special post at Bellevue and in a recent meeting of the physicians held in New York, Dr. Vincent gave a demonstration of a new operation which he invented. A creditable article concerning his brilliant future as a physician appeared in a recent issue of the Crisis Magazine.

Dr. Ubert Conrad Vincent

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I think this obituary gives a good over view of his life.

To Bury Dr. U.C. Vincent From Mother A.M.E. Zion Church

Dec. 22nd at 1 P.M.

New York Amsterdam News Dec 24, 1938 pg. 1; ProQuest Historical Newspapers

Funeral services for Dr. U. Conrad Vincent, well-known Harlem surgeon who died of a kidney ailment Sunday at his home, 251 West 128th street will be held in Mother A.M.E. Zion Church, 140-6 West 137 street, Thursday at 1 p.m. The Rev. B.C. Robeson, pastor of the church and the Rev. Adam Powell, Jr., pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church, will conduct the services. Burial will be in Woodlawn Cemetery.

Although ailing since June and often suffering much pain, Dr. Vincent carried on his practice until a late hour Saturday. He took a sudden change for the worse Sunday morning and died at 2:45 p.m.

Dr. Vincent was born in Raleigh, N.C. forty-five years ago, and was the son of Dr. Andrew Vincent, a former professor in Shaw University. He studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, from which he was graduated in 1918.

After receiving his medical degree, Dr. Vincent served in internship in Bellevue Hospital in 1919. During that year he was resident surgeon under Dr. E.L. Keyes. He was reputed to be the first Negro to enter Bellevue Hospital as an intern.

Dr. Vincent started the practice of medicine in June 1920 with the ambition of establishing in Harlem a modern sanatorium for the hospitalization of the community’s well-to-do. He set to work on his ambition, which became an obsession in 1927, and his dream was realized on March 17, 1929, when the institution was opened to the public.

The New York Age Sat_ Mar 23, 1929

Vincent’s Sanatorium, as it was named, was a fifty-bed fireproof five-story structure at 2348 Seventh avenue, said to have been built and equipped at a cost of $150,000.The building is now being used to house a WPA music project.

With the failure of the hospital undertaking in September 1930, Dr. Vincent’s health and spirit received a severe blow, from which he never recovered. It is believed.  He enjoyed a large practice, specializing in genitourinary diseases.

Dr. Vincent was married in 1920, and is survived by his widow, Mrs. Naomi Tulane Vincent; a son, U. Conrad Vincent, Jr., 15; three daughters, Sylvia, 9; Jacqueline, 4, and Barbara, 18 months; three sisters, Mrs. Pearl Morton, Mrs. Reba Ragsdale, Misses Ruth and Bernice Vincent and a brother Alfred Vincent, all of New York City.

Wainwright & Sons, undertakers, of 162 West 136th street, are in charge of the funeral arrangements.

“The Harlem Surgical Society regrets deeply the death of one of its esteemed members. Dr. U. Conrad Vincent.” a letter from that group states. “Dr. Vincent by his scientific work, reflected great credit on the entire Negro profession, and Dr. Vincent also directed alone the finest private hospital that this community has ever had, and it probably would have been open today had it not been for the fact that he became ill about that time.

“In addition to being a very able surgeon, Dr. Vincent was always interested in the general welfare of all the people of this community. He rendered great service to the poor of Harlem as a member of the Surgical Staff of Harlem Hospital.”

Signed:

Dr. Louis T Wright, President

Dr. Joel V. Holden, Secretary

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I want to add this –

“In 1918, Bellevue accepted its first African-American resident, Dr. Ubert Conrad Vincent. This was an historic event. He was one of the ew African Americans to become an intern at a major U.S. hospital during that time, and so his appointment received national attention. Dr. Vincent had graduated from the University of Pennsylvania earlier that year. His matriculation at Bellevue Hospital was temporarily delayed because the offer was recinded after his picture was forwarded. Dr. Deaver, a professor from the University of Pennsylvania, played a role in ensuring that he could start his urology residency, albeit three months late.

Dr. Vincent had a successful tenure at Bellevue Hospital. He trained under Dr. Edward Keyes, the founder of the American Association of Genito-Urinary Surgeons in 1888, and it’s first president. Gr. Vincent introduced and improved a procedure for surgical relief of varicoceles known as the “Vincent Operationn”, described in Keyes’ urology textbook.”  from The Journal of the National Medical Association Vol. 96, No. 3, March 2004 pg. 373

I found this information on Ancestry.com in Census Records, Directories, Death Records and Military Records. News items were found on Newspapers.com and Genealogy Bank.

Thomas Queen

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. The news items were found on Newspapers.com. Each item is transcribed directly below the clipping.  Click on any image to enlarge.

My grandparents had no known connection with Thomas Queen, but I needed a “Q” and he did appear in The Emancipator.

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Notice of Mortgage Sale

Under and by virtue of the power of sale contained in that certain mortgage executed by Tom Queen and Lula Queen, his wife, to Mrs. S.J. Harrington on the 5th day of January, 1917, which said mortgage is recorded in Book 277 of Mortgages at page 120, in the office of the Judge of Probate of Montgomery County, Alabama, the undersigned, Mrs. S.J. Harrington will on the 18th day of March, 1918, during the legal hours of sale, proceed to sell at public auction, for cash, at Court Square Fountain, in the City of Montgomery, Alabama, the following described real estate, lying in the County of Montgomery, State of Alabama, and which is conveyed by the said mortgage, to-wit:

Lot Twenty-five (35) and the West one (1) foot off of Lot Twenty-six (28) in Block, “A”, according to Rutter and Hardeman’s Subdivision of Part of Chappell’s Plat No. Three (3) in the Peacock Tract, said subdivision being recorded in Plat Book 2, page 58, in the office of the Judge of Probate of Montgomery County, Alabama.

The above sale is made for the purpose of paying the debt secured by said mortgage and the interest there on and the expenses incident to the sale, including attorney’s ee.

Mrs. S.J. Harrington,

Mortgagee,

Blakey & Strassburger, Attorneys

Thomas Queen was born in Alabama in 1865, the year the Civil War and slavery ended. In the 1880 census, his parents, Frank and Diana Queen and older brother James were farm laborers. They were illiterate. Thomas was nine and had not attended school.  His three younger siblings were too young for school.

In 1896, Thomas married Lula Comer. They had six children together. Four of them lived to adulthood. In 1900 They had been married four years and had one child, three year old William. They were farming on rented land and neither one was able to read or write.

By 1910 They had moved to Montgomery. Thomas worked as a laborer in a railroad shop. Lula was not working outside of the home. Both were able to read and write now. The oldest child, William and one other child (born between censuses so name unknown) had died. The four remaining children were ages nine, seven, five and newborn. The two oldest had attended school. Lula’s brother, Morse and a woman lodger also shared the rented house. Morse was also working as a laborer in a railroad shop. The woman lodger was a laundress.

In January, 1917, the Queens lost their house in Montgomery for unpaid taxes. By 1918 they were living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In November, of that year, Thomas was seriously injured when a gas furnace at the Eliza Plant leaked gas. Twenty five were killed and 19 were overcome, including Thomas.

The Pittsburgh Press – Sun – Nov 10, 1918

In May, 1919 they bought a house at 46 Audley Street. This was probably a happy time, but bad luck was just around the corner.

In 1920 Thomas and his oldest son were working as laborers at the Mill. Lula was a sorter at a reduction plant. The youngest three children attended school. Everybody was literate.

Then, on March 24, 1922, Lulu Queen died of cervical and uterine cancer. She died in the hospital and doesn’t seem to have been under a doctor’s care prior to her death.

On October 9, 1922, while the family was away from home, someone burglarized the house and set it on fire.The firemen were delayed in fighting the fire by mud in the fire hydrant. There was over $3,000 worth of damage to the house.

Pittsburgh Daily Post – 10 Oct, 1922, Tue – pg 7

Trunk Mystery Remains Unsolved

“Richard Jordan, Negro, 24 years old, of Fifth avenue, was held for further investigation in Center avenue police court yesterday morning. Jordan was arrested Friday night following information by Thomas Queen, a Negro, of Audley street, whose home was damaged by fire after a burglar had pried open a trunk, taking $85. Queen testified that Jordan was with him when he put the money in the trunk. Jordan denied having anything to do with the fire or burglary.”

In 1923, the oldest son, Thomas Jr died of acute dilation of the heart. He was under a doctors care for three months before his death.

In 1926, Thomas was held up and robbed on the street by three white men armed with revolvers. The “What” in the title below should be “White”.

Pittsburgh Daily Post -08 Mar 1926, Mon pg 2

What Bandits Rob Negro

While walking in Soho street, near Wadsworth street, last night, Thomas Queen, 50 years old, Negro, of 46 Ardley street, was held up by three white men, armed with revolvers and robbed of $10 and a gold watch valued at $30.

In 1927, Thomas Queen lost his property for nonpayment of taxes. This had happened before in Montgomery.

The Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · 05 Sep 1931, Sat · Page 9

“Thomas Queen, owner or reputed owner, or who ever may be owner. D.T.D. 238, Jan., 1927. $130.60. Chas. A. Waldschmidt, Atty. Lot in Fourth Ward, City of Pittsburgh, 25?109 feet, Audley St., between Emma St. and Battalion AY. Having thereon a 1 1/2- story frame dwelling.” 

In the 1930 census, Thomas Queen lived with his daughter seventeen year old Josephine and her husband, Jeptha Spencer. Thomas was not employed. Jeptha was working as a porter on the railroad.  They lived on Wadsworth Street.

In 1934, Josephine’s husband, Jeptha died of complications from an appendectomy. He left a three year old son, Jeptha Jr., who would later grow up to be a jazz pianist.

Thomas Queen died of capillary bronchitis on March 20, 1936.  He was ill for 5 days. The informant on his death certificate was Mattie Queen, his second wife. He was buried in the Allegheny Cemetery.

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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.

Charles Lee Pope

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. 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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Charles Lee Pope was my grandmother Fannie’s first cousin. Their mothers were sisters.

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The Emancipator Fri day June 6, 1919

“Mr. Charlie L. Pope who has been in school at Hampton for the past few years, was in the city for a few days this week visiting his parents, Mr. and Mrs. R. L. Pope of Jeff Davis Ave. He will spend the summer at Newport News, Va.”

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Twins Annie Lee and Charlie Lee Pope in Montgomery, Alabama. They were born February 8, 1903 so I would guess this was taken sometime before 1910. Their parents were Robert and Beulah (Allen) Pope. They were my grandmother’s first cousins. This photo is from the collection of my cousin Ruth Pope Hatcher.

Charles Popes parents, Beulah and Robert Pope lived in Montgomery Alabama and built a house on Jeff Davis Ave. Beulah, as did her sisters, worked as a fine seamstress. She sewed only for well-to-do white people (who paid more) and her daughter Annie Lee.  Robert Pope Sr. worked in a wholesale drug supply company called Durr’s and was an elder at Old Ship Methodist church. There were three children: twins Annie Lee and Charlie Lee were born in 1902. Seven years later, the youngest, Robert was born.

The Emancipator, Saturday October 6, 1917

“Hampton Institute, Hampton, Virginia – Messrs. Alfonso Brown, Julius Alexander and Charlie L. Pope.”

Charles (he hated Charlie and was called Charles)  went to Hampton Institute in 1917. He left after several years. Then worked on the Canadian Pacific railroad and ended up at Ferris Institute (now Ferris State University) in Big Rapids, Michigan, He went to dental school with cousin Alfonso at Marquette Dental College in Milwaukee, but Alfonso couldn’t stand the racism and left for Meharry.

While attending dental school and for some time afterwards, Charles lived with his sister Annie and her husband Ludie Gilmer, a physician.  Robert Sr. died in 1941. Beulah remained in Montgomery until 1947. By that time there was only one of Dock and Eliza’s children and grandchildren left in Montgomery, all the rest had moved north. Beulah moved to Milwaukee and kept house and cooked for Charles. Some years after his brother-in-law died, Charles’ sister also lived with him.

Charles Pope never married. He died in Milwaukee on October 26, 1981. His niece remembers him as being “the sweetest uncle”.  My mother remembered that her Aunt Beulah was the envy of her sisters because of the way her son took care of her in her later years. Charles and his mother Beulah, his sister Annie and her husband Ludie Gilmer are all buried at Forest Home Cemetery outside of Milwaukee.

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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 family members, a special thanks to my cousin Ruth for her personal memories of her uncle Charles. 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.

Duncan Irby

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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According to my mother’s family memories, Duncan Irby was my Aunt Daisy’s lost love. Here is what she wrote in 1980.  Daisy was my grandmother Fannie’s sister.

The Emancipator, Montgomery, Alabama Sat. Oct 20, 1917.

“Mr. Duncan Irby, accompanied by his mother and little sister, also Mrs. Mollie Dillard and Miss Daisy Turner, motored from Selma to this city last Sunday and visited Camp Sheridan.” 

 Doris Graham Cleage’s (my mother) memories of her Aunt Daisy and Duncan Irby

“Maybe here a word about Aunt Daisy.  Look at her picture, sweet, soft, pretty,

"Jennie Allen Turner and Daughters"
Fannie, Jennie (mother) Alice. Daisy standing.

taught school awhile in Montgomery (with high school diploma)  loved Congregational preacher named Duncan Erby who loved her and waited for her for years.  Had the church in Buffalo, NY.  Whenever she really considered leaving, Grandmother did the old guilt trick “How can you leave me to take care of Alice (note: Alice was Daisy and Fannie’s younger sister. She was born 20 years after my grandmother) all by myself?”  and “No man in this world is good enough to touch your little finger.  They are all no good except (maybe) Shell.” (note: Shell referred to my grandfather, Mershell Graham.) and Daisy listened and stayed and played numbers, studied dream books and drank a little apricot brandy.  I always found their house light, cheerful, full of magazines (McCall’s, Journal, etc.) which I loved to read, full of good things to eat.  All three were super cooks and they had always just had a bunch of friends to dinner and to play cards or just about to have.

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 Himelhoch’s.  They all went to church every Sunday,  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, and chocolates, of course!  She loved to eat and to cook. Never seemed bitter or regretful about her lost love.”

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According to his draft registration cards, Duncan Irby was five feet nine inches tall, stout, light complected with brown hair, brown eyes and freckles.

Duncan’s parents, Duncan Irby, Sr and Mary Smith were married in Selma, Alabama on Christmas Eve, 1890. Mary Smith Irby was the daughter of a house painter. Duncan senior’s mother, Emmeline Gee, inherited over 100 acres and a horse from a former slave holder, Josiah Irby.  I do not know if Emmeline was enslaved on Irby’s plantation.

“Also I give and devise unto the said Emeline Gee, about fifty acres of land known as the Saw mill field, and bounded as follows to wit commencing at the point at which the P Bluff and Cahaba Road crosses the Athens and Parks Landing Road thence down the P Bluff & Cahaba Road to Chillatchie Creek at the Cahaba Bridge, thence up the said creek to a line between sections 11 and 12; thence West to Parks Landing Road; thence along said Road to the starting point in Township fourteen Range seven in Wilcox County. It is further my will and desire that at the death of the said Emeline Gee, that all the land herein before described and devised to the said Emeline Gee shall go to her and belong to her son Duncan. I also give and bequeath to the said Emeline Gee my Roan Horse named Tom”

After this, Duncan used the surname “Irby” instead of “Gee”. I do not know if they were allowed to take possession of the property. Emeline continued to use Gee as a surname.

Both Duncan senior and his wife Mary Smith Irby were literate. Emeline Gee, Duncan’s mother, lived with the family until her death in 1901.

The younger Duncan Irby was born in 1892. The following year Duncan Sr, a blacksmith, suffered injuries when he was trampled by horses while making some repairs on a hack. He recovered.

Mr. Duncan Irby Seriously Injured.

“Selma, April 4.-(Special.)_ This evening Duncan Irby, a blacksmith, while making some repairs on a hack, was run over and seriously wounded.  Mr. Irby was in front of the horses when they started on a run, dashing the unfortunate man to the ground and trampling upon him. The horses were finally stopped. Not much damage was done to the hack.”   The Montgomery Advertiser Montgomery, Alabama Wed, Apr 5, 1893

The younger Duncan’s only sibling, Mary (To add to the confusion, Duncan Senior’s only sibling was also named Mary) was born the following year, in 1894. Both Duncan Jr and his sister Mary attended school. In 1908 they were both enrolled in  Talledega College, a boarding school,  in the College Preparatory Course. They studied Latin, Algebra, English  Literature, Ancient history and Drawing along with hands on courses in Agriculture and Wood-Turning for young men and Dressmaking and Nurse-Training for young women.

Duncan’s sister Mary became a teacher. She married Edwin Gibson, a teacher and a principal. They had one son, Edwin Gibson Jr.  They later divorced.

Duncan worked with his father in his blacksmith shop and later became a mechanic. The elder Duncan Irby died in November of 1915.

“Duncan Irby, one of the best known colored men in this section, is dead. He was a most reliable man and his death is regretted by whites and blacks.” The Selma Mirror, Selma, Alabama, Fri, Oct 15, 1915
Duncan Irby senior, left everything to his wife Mary Smith Irby, with the proviso that should she ever remarry, everything would go to their children.  She did remarry in 1921. She married Rev. Marshall Talley. The family relocated to Homestead, Pennsylvania. Duncan was 35 in 1930 and worked as an auto mechanic in Homestead.

Several years later, they all relocated to Indianapolis, Indiana. Duncan, his sister who was divorced from her husband by this time and her son Edwin Gibson Jr. formed a household. Edwin Jr  grew up to become a well known architect and the first black architect registered in Indiana.

In 1966 Duncan Irby died of pneumonia brought on by lung cancer. He was 74 years old and had lived in Indianapolis for 34 years. He never married.

“Death Notices Irby.  Mr. Duncan Irby, age 74, 1238 North West St., died Wednesday at Methodist Hospital, beloved brother of Mrs. Mary Gibson, uncle of Edwin Gibson. Funeral Friday 10 a.m., Jacobs Brothers Westside Chapel. Cremation following. Friends may call after 4 p.m. today.” The Indianapolis News, Indianapolis, Indiana, Thu, Aug 4, 1966
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In writing this story I used writings by my mother, Doris Graham Cleage; Census, death, and other records from Ancestry.com and a surprising number of news items found on Newspapers.com.

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.