2731 Kenwood Ave Indianapolis Ind. January 18, 1905
Homer, having just returned from a long walk with Helen, Jim and Ben, I wish to speak with you. I shall pretend that I see you and I can get on nicer or better. Homer I am sorry that our short acquaintance was so very disappointing to you and that I was and am so very contrary and flighty but you will see Homer, that I can’t be otherwise I could not if I tried. Of course I shall not say that I do try – for I should speak untrue. Maybe it is just as well that we did not go any more than we did together.
Listen, you speak of the gifts from you to me. Why, Homer, I would have given them back to you because I did not think myself worthy of them, do you understand? I was and am proud of the books and the parasol and shall always be and love them.
But Homer, listen if you do not believe anything that I say any more, don’t you think that I better cease writing to you? You do not care for me or you would trust me. Do you know that people generally trust those that they truly care for? Do you always expect proofs of things? Do you never think of trusting anybody, even those you profess to care for? Homer, this being the case I think we should cease to correspond, don’t you? You do and would not believe anything I should say and so it would be all of no avail.
Mother is getting on nicely and sends her best regards to you and advises you to be a good boy.
Minnie and family are quite well. They send love and best wishes to you. The children often speak of you to me.
Love from all to you.
Glad you heard from your mother and that she is well.
Our church is carrying on revival now and I think I shall attend tomorrow night.
Homer, Good By Yours Sincerely, Pearl D. Reed
In January of 1905, Minnie Mullins and her four children were visiting Indianapolis from Benton Harbor, Michigan. Minnie was 27 years old. She was the mother of four children – Helen, Jim, Ben and Arthur.
2730 Kenwood Ave. Indianapolis, Ind January 15, 1905
Your letter was received with delight. Was so glad to hear from you. Do you believe it? Of course you don’t. You never believed a thing I told you, do you, friend? Forgive me Homer, I did not mean to annoy you, and I forget that this year I was not to quarrel, not to worry anyone, if I could possibly avoid it.
Your scenic description was splendid, I could almost picture myself there among the mountains. So glad to hear that you have a church so very near you and that you are so pleased with your surroundings.
Mother is much better now. She sends her love to you. Do you believe it? Mr. Mullins and family are quite well. She sends her best regard to you. There is nothing of unusual happening that I know of Homer, to tell you of now so I shall say good-night.
I was very disappointed to find that the other one was for your mother instead of me. I would have sent it on to her but you never cared to tell me her address, but I shall send it as I send this to you. I wonder if she would be angry if she knew to whom it had been sent?
Homer you have no idea how much you are missed, of course you are not out very often, but, we knew that you were here.
Sorry you did not see Minnie and family they send their love to you. Did you see Wilson before you left? I heard that he was looking for you, but I did not see him myself.
Mother is very ill with tonsillitis. She is sorry that you left without telling her goodbye, and sends her love and best wishes to you.
I am growing sleepy Homer and I shall cease for this time. It is just 12:30 o’clock. All are asleep but me and mother.
O, Homer tell me all that happens will you? Remember nothing will be too trivial, for I shall be interested in all that you do and everything that happens to you.
Write very very soon. Yours ever sincerely, Pearl D. Reed
Wilson Mullins was Mr. James Mullins younger brother. He was a chef and owned a cafe for several years. I found several news items about him.
Mr. Jarrett, Homer your letter was received, gladly and I shall try to answer every question which you asked of me. I am very sorry to hear that you are leaving town so suddenly, we shall all miss you very much. You spoke as if someone could influence you in regards to leaving or remaining.
Just for an instant we will say that someone does care for a certain person, and that person wishes to visit his home and mother and friends, whom he has not seen for a long time. Do you think that she would be selfish enough to try to persuade him to remain here, and feeling that his heart is there? I do not think she is that kind of a girl. It is perfectly natural for one to turn homeward at Xmas tide.
Minnie, if she comes at all, will be here about Saturday at noon. Haven’t heard from her for nearly two weeks.
You think that you will not enjoying going to the entertainment alone Monday? I am sorry, for sure. Will you accompany us to Mrs. Rodger’s home and go from there to Church? If you will, be here at 6:15 or 6:00 o’clock if possible, if you are not here at 6:15 we shall go on alone.
Shall be pleased to see you Sunday afternoon. In regards to Xmas present, why anything that you get I shall like it. Do not worry about it for I should be pleased with anything.
Homer your sarcastic letter was received. I am glad the mistake was mine and that my poor letters give you something to laugh and make fun of. Will you please forget that errand of Mercy?
It is too bad that you have to work on Sundays. Do you mind it? If you do, I sympathize with you. Do you like this place better than the other?
If nothing happens to prevent it, I shall visit my church Sunday eve. We had a letter from Minnie yesterday. They are all well and send their love to you. The baby Arthur walks now.
I shall cease writing now for it is time to prepare supper.
Hoping to see you Sunday Eve, I remain
Yours Sincerely, Pearl D. Reed
Arthur Mullins records say he was born September 6, 1904, 1905 or even 1901(marriage record), however if he’s walking in December of 1904, it’s unlikely he was born 3 months earlier or in the next year. His three older siblings were born in 1899, 1900 and 1901. His next sibling was born in 1906. Which just goes to show, records can be wrong.
Mr. Jarrett, Dear friend, your letter was received, of course and I was a little disappointed to learn that you would be unable to visit us for so long, but if McFadden advises it I am sure it is for the best. I shall expect to see a wonderful change in you, whenever we do meet, so much so that I shall feel like an insignificant, little minx beside you. I should so like to see you just as near perfection as is possible, Homer, truly.
We wanted you with us Thanksgiving, but I suppose that is impossible also. I think that Minnie will be home Xmas and we should like to have you out then if you could come. You want news but I know very little just now. It is near nine o’clock and I am going to cease worrying you, for I know that you are tired of this stuff, are you not?
Listen! I do not wish to interfere with your Culture Laws, Homer, so if you think it best, I shall not expect an answer from this, for a long time. I am following the instructions in the book which you sent but I do not expect to be perfect for it is not in me.
Mother and I request your presence at our home Wednesday Evening. From eight till ten o’clock. Please do not find an excuse Homer, and I will promise not to run away this time. It is not formal and we shall look for you.
Homer Jarrett 412 Muskingun St. City (penciled in ##23 W. Ohio City)
2730 Kenwood Ave. City August 24, 1904
Mr. Jarrett; Friend I write to beg forgiveness for running away Sunday evening. You will forgive me when you learn that I went on an errand of mercy. When I returned Mr. and Mrs. Ewing were almost ready to go home. Did you attend the entertainment at Ninth Presbyterian Church last night?
Good by, Pearl Doris Reed
What entertainment was happening at Ninth Presbyterian Church on August 23?
And what was a conundrum supper?
Looking around online, I found that a “conundrum supper” was a fund raising ploy used in the late 1890s and the early 1900s. Each menu item was presented in the form of a riddle.
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.
P.S. Minnis address is #337 Colfax Ave. Benton Harbor Mich.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.