While researching my paternal grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage, I found many references to her singing in her church and at community events in Indianapolis, Indiana. Later I looked in the online datebase, ProQuest Historical Newspapers and found numerous society shorts in the Chicago Defender column “Brief News from the Buckeye State” about Pearl Cleage singing with the Harmony Trio in Cleveland, Ohio. The articles were dated from 1915 to 1922.
Finally I came across an article dated December 30, 1922 with the title “William Anderson Buried.” It mentioned that he left to mourn his passing Mrs. Margaret Anderson, a son, William Anderson Jr and a daughter Mrs. Pearl Cleage Johnson. So, was Pearl Cleage Johnson his step daughter? How did she go from Pearl Cleage in a May 21short about singing to Mrs. Pearl Cleage Johnson in the obituary? If so why was there no marriage announcement? Was Cleage her maiden name? Probably not since she was singing as Mrs. Pearl Cleage. Perhaps a former marriage? Recently I came across this information again while cleaning up my files and decided to see what I could find out about Mrs. Pearl Cleage Johnson. I started by looking for Pearl Cleage on FamilySearch. References to my grandmother Pearl Cleage appeared and then a marriage record for Pearl Cleage to Burl Johnson in Clevland Ohio on August 19, 1921. The brides name was Pearl Holmes Cleage,maritial status was divorced. She was born in 1884 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. . Her mother’s maiden name was Margaret Banks. Her father’s name was Harry Holmes.
I found her at 16 in the 1900 census living with her mother’s sister and her husband. Living in that household were Harvey Martin and his wife Vaudalia, their three children, Vaudalia’s sister Marnir and niece Pearl. I found Vaudalia and Margaret Banks in the 1880 census living with their parents Pleasant Owen and Clara Banks, in Delpos, Van Wert, Ohio. Baby sister Mamie (not Marnir) were also there. I found that Clarinda was born in Ohio and Pleasant came there from Virginia before 1850. He fought with the U.S. Colored Infantry in the Civil War. Once I get started it’s hard to stop looking. I found two other marriage records for Pearl Holmes. She married Robert Williams June 6, 1908 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. She married Jerome Cleage on September 23, 1914 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. It gives her previous husband’s name as Williams but doesn’t say if she was divorced or he died. Jerome’s birthplace was Reah Springs, Tennessee. His father’s name was Richard Cleage and his mother’s name was Adeline Wason. What I learned about Pearl’s life from various online records was that she was born in Fort Wayne Indiana in 1884. Her father died before 1900 leaving her mother a widow working as a servant in Dayton Ohio while Pearl lived with her aunt. Pearl married three times and had no children. She was active in her church, St. John’s A.M.E. (the oldest African American church in the Cleveland area) both singing and in club work. In the 1910 census she and her new husband Robert Williams, a teamster, were living with her mother, 4 year old brother and stepfather in Cleveland. In 1920 she is not with Jerome Cleage and again living with her mother, brother and stepfather. In 1930 her stepfather was dead and her mother is living with her and husband Burl in Cleveland. I found one photograph of Pearl in 1939 as a member of ‘Cleveland’s Popular Mystery Pals Club.” Unfortunately it is a horrible copy in the online paper and it is impossible to see what she looks like. Burl died in 1947. I have not found a death date for Pearl yet.
In part two I look for a connection between my grandmother Pearl’s husband Albert Cleage and the other Pearl’s second husband, Jerome Cleage who both came from south east Tennessee.
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:
1) Determine which event in your ancestral history that you would love to be a witness to via a Time Machine. Assume that you could observe the event, but not participate in it.
2) Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or in a comment on Facebook.
Although it took me until Sunday morning to decide, I chose to be present when my first female ancestor from Eliza’s line appears, enslaved, on these shores. I want to know where she landed and where she came from. Was she a Mende, as my DNA test suggests? Were any of her people with her? I want to be there when she was sold to see what plantation she was taken to and who her first owner was. I want to know what her family named her and what slave name she was given.
Clarence Elwood Reed was the youngest son of Anna Reed and the brother next in age of to my grandmother Pearl. When I was collecting stories about the family my aunts and uncles told me that Clarence was a good looking man who went to Chicago from Indianapolis, never married and lived a wild life.
Clarence missed the 1880 census in Lebanon, Kentucky where I found his mother and older siblings because he wasn’t born until 1882. His mother appears in the Indianapolis, IN city directory in 1893 and I assume that her younger children were with her, joining the older children who had relocated from Kentucky around 1885. Clarence would have been 11 years old. In 1893 he appears in his own right, still living at home at 529 Willard, with his mother and older brothers but now out working as a laborer. In the 1900 Census he is described as doing day labor, being literate and single at 18. The family has moved down the street to 225 Willard. In 1906 he has moved with the rest of the family north of downtown Indianapolis to 2730 Kenwood Ave. Clarence is still laboring. Unfortunately Willard Street is gone and 2730 Kenwood is a parking lot, so no photos of those houses.
In 1908 Clarence married Elnora Jackson in Chicago. I only found the certificate in the last week on Family Search. Clarence was about 22 and Elnora was 35. This marriage didn’t last long. They were divorced February 3, 1911. I don’t know if it has anything to do with the time he spent in the Indiana State Prison in La Porte where we find him in the 1910 census. I don’t know yet what he was there for. Occupation this time, hotel porter.
In 1915 Clarence is back in Indianapolis, IN where he married Josephine Smith. She was born in 1888. I actually found this marriage record, which I sent for, before finding the first marriage. This record said that this was the second marriage and that the first ended in divorce in 1911. His job is listed as laborer.
In 1918 Clarence had moved back to Chicago where he was laboring at the Wilson Packing House. He is still married to Josephine, who he lists as the person to contact on his WW1 draft information card. He is described as Negro, short, of medium height with brown eyes and black hair.
I cannot find Clarence or Josephine in the 1920 or 1930 census anywhere in the United States. In 1942 Clarence turns up in the WW2 draft registration cards. He is described as a light complexioned Negro with black hair and brown eyes. His contact person this time is Adela Reed. New wife? Daughter? I have no idea. Can’t find her in 1920 or 1930 either. He is laboring in Swift and Company Union Stock Yard and is 62, but actually 60 because they took two years off of the birth year that all the other records show and make it 1880.
In 1946 Clarence is mentioned in his oldest brother George’s estate papers as Clarence Reed, brother in Chicago Illinois. And that is the last I find for Clarence. So far no death record. And no photographs.
I plan to send for the application for a marriage license from his first marriage. I would like to make sure that the prisoner in 1910 is really my Clarence so I need to check on how to determine that. I’ll keep looking for him in the censuses. He has got to be there somewhere.
My grandmother Fannie Turner Graham’s father was named Howard Turner. She did not have a photograph of him but said he looked like her grandfather, Dock Allen and my grandfather, Mershell Graham. When my grandmother was four, her father Howard was killed at a barbeque. Her parents, Howard and Jennie (Allen) Turner had been talking about selling their portion of the Turner land and moving to Montgomery. Howard and his father had an argument before the barbeque and my great grandmother, Jennie, believed that Howard’s father had him killed so that he could not sell the land. Jennie took the deed to a lawyer and asked him to look over the deed because she wanted to sell the land. When she returned he told her the title wasn’t clear and she didn’t own the land. She figured her father-in-law had gotten it back. Jennie moved back to her parent’s home in Montgomery with her children and went to work as a seamstress. You can read her story here. Years later, my grandmother met one of her cousins on the street and learned that her grandfather did not get the land after all and had not had her father killed. This is all the information I had.
When I began searching online all I knew about my Turners was that they lived in or near Hayneville, Alabama: that my great-grandfather owned his farm: that my great grandfather’s name was Howard and that he was born about 1864. The 1880 census was available with an all name index through Family Search and I found Howard Turner, age 16, living with his family in Hayneville. He was a clerk in a store. It was a very emotional moment to find my great, great grandparents names. Joe and Emma Turner. The family included Lydia 18 born about 1862, Howard 16, born about 1864, Joe age 13 and ‘at school”, Annie 11 and Alonza 7. Joe senior and Emma were listed as 39. Below is the family sheet for Joe and Emma Turner.
With this information I was able to find them on Ancestry in the 1870 census, which was indexed only by head of household at that time. They were enumerated In Hayneville Beat 1, Lowndes County. Emma was and her parents were born in SC. Joe was born in Alabama. Joe was a farmer with $300 worth of personal goods. Neither he nor his wife Emma could read or write. The children were Lydia, 8, Howard 7, Fannie 6, Joe 3 and Annie born in August of that year. Joe Turner is in the 1866 census with 5 in the family living in Lowndes County, AL. From son Joe’s death record I learned that Emma’s maiden name was Jones. Or so the informant said.
In 1900 Joe and Emma owned their farm. Two of their grandchildren, Anelyzor (Annie) and Joseph Davis were ennumerated with them. Emma had given birth to 11 children and only three were still alive. Those three were Joe, Alonza and Lydia parent of the above Annie and Joe. They had been married 39 years, which would place their marriage before slavery in 1861.
Emma died soon after the 1900 census. Joe remarried in 1902 to Luella Freeman, 40 years his junior. They went on to have 8 children – John, Anna, Daniel, Buck, Josephine, Talmudge, Luella, and Selena who was born after Joe died February 7, 1919 of “prostatic trouble and old age.” Luella died in Chicago in July of 1977. I think, but I need to send for the death certificate to check. Below is the family sheet for Joe and Luella Turner.
Now I need to find estate records, a will…. something that will give me names and places. I want to look at land records too. And newspapers from Lowndes County, Hayneville from 1892 when Howard died. This means a trip to an archive. Something I have never done. I need to check something else too, in Mildred Brewer Russell’s book “Lowndes Court House” it says that Joe Turner was one of a number of “prominent Negro politicians” during reconstruction. I have yet to find anything else about this, such as what office he held. It would be great to meet some of Joe Turner’s other descendents too – hopefully with some photos and able to tell me where Moss cemetery is since it seems to be no where but on their death certificates. I picture a lonely, deserted place in the woods with no markers. Just sunken areas.
In 1992 Margaret wrote back with corrections to my tree.
Dearest Kristin, I’ve had this buried on my desk too long. So to expedite information transfer, I’ve added to your lineage chart, the corrections I am sure of. I can help you in time with dates (birth and death) I certainly would like to help identify photos and perhaps I could share or exchange some with you. I’m quite happy to have help in unraveling some of the family secrets. Your interest will encourage me to start digging and tracing the Allen’s line again. Doc and Eliza died in Montgomery, Alabama and are buried in Oakwood Cemetery there. I’ll stay in touch with you. Let me know if and when you visit Detroit. Sincerely yours, Margaret
1998 – At this time we lived at the end of a dead-end dirt road in Idlewild, Michigan. We had two large dogs that ran lose in the fenced yard so people did not just walk up on the porch. I looked out of the window one day I noticed two confused looking woman standing in the road. I figured they were looking for someone else and went to see if I could help. One of them turned out to be a friend of my cousin Margaret bringing me a folder full of information from her with a note:
Dear Kristin, your letter asking for information on our mutual family history acted as a stimulant to get me going at research again. I had put my search on hold for (I can’t believe it) almost ten years. Your interest got me going again. I did not write then because I had no further information, but I decided to go to the LDS in Salt Lake City to try to get more information on Edmund and Jane Harrison. I have not been able to establish the connections we are looking for (namely the ownership of Eliza and Dock Allen before 1864. I am enclosing Xerox copies of census records and marriage records on the Harrisons. I’ll share what I can learn as I go along. My hope is that between us we can come up with some answers. I did not learn a lot in Salt Lake City. But I’m on the search trail again. Love, Margaret
P.S. Marion is a long time friend of mine who has done extensive research on family histories. I asked her to contact you and deliver this material since she is visiting Idlewild.
Included in the folder was a copy of the 1870 Census with Dock and Eliza’s household. There was also a list of the large slave holders in Lowndes County in 1860 and a copy of the obituary of Edmund Harrison’s wife, Jane. Wait a minute…. she died surrounded by her loving family? I thought (according to my mother’s story) that she was childless? And I saw they lived not in Virginia but in Alabama, Lowndes County.
Marion proved to be a big help to me, giving me advice and recommending sources of information. One, gave me the names and husbands of Edmund Harrison’s three daughters. Something was off with my mother’s story.
Somewhere in here I got my first genealogical software – family tree maker for mac.
In May of 2000 long time family friend Leontine “Teen” Smith died in Detroit. I attended the funeral and met Cousin Margaret face to face for the first time since I was a child. We got together and made plans to do so again. For the next 7 years we shared information, photographs and ideas.
On July 12, 2002 I joined Ancestry.com. Whooo Hooo!! I spent a lot of time at first finding information about Edmund Harrison. I ran into some people researching because they were Harrisons and hoped they had found some slave records, some photos, something. But no, they did not. They had suggestions though. One was to check and see if Jane Harrison had a will. I didn’t think so since she was married.. Another suggestion was that I find the records from the church the Harrisons attended because some of them listed the slaves that attended. I spent months online in 2002 and 2003 trying to find records that would give me proof that Annie and Eliza came from the Harrison’s plantation. To no avail. I also looked for Dock and Eliza Allen in the 1860 census in Montgomery. They weren’t there. I looked in Lowndes County because Edmund Harrison had a large plantation there. I looked for Annie and Eliza Harrison Could find none of them.
In 2003 I sent for and received death certificates for Dock and Eliza Allen, hoping to find the names of their father’s. Nope. Their mother’s names were there but the space for father’s names were empty. Margaret was certain that Edmund Harrison was not Eliza’s father.
Margaret sent me several tapes she made. One was a tape done in 1985 with her uncle Roscoe’s wife, Stella McCall. Roscoe was Aunt Mary’s son. Stella and Margaret discussed life in Montgomery at the turn of the last century….and Mary McCall, Eliza and the other sisters. Partial transcription below.
Margaret: Now, did her mother and father live near where they lived? Did Dock Allen and Eliza…? Stella: Who? Did who live? Margaret: The Allens, Mary McCall’s mother and father. Did you ever know them? Stella: Now Miss McCall’s father was white. Margaret: Who? Stella: Miss McCall’s father was white and then her mother married this man that she had. Oh yes he was white. That must have happened way back in, I’d say, near the time of slavery days because she was quite old. Quite old. Margaret: Who was quite old? Stella; Miss McCall. Oh yes. I couldn’t guess her age. She was very quiet about it anyway.(laughs)
Margaret: She never talked about her mother and father? And her real father. She only acknowledged this one, the stepfather. But Eliza was her own mother.? Stella: Who? Margaret: Eliza Allen, that was her mother? Stella: Eliza, yes Miss Allen. You know there were five of those girls. Five of them. Miss Willie and Abbie Allen and… Margaret: Jennie. Stella: Jennie and … name another one. Margaret: Willie. Stella: I named Miss Willie back here. I get confused. There was another… Margaret: There was Anna. Stella: Oh, Anna was the one who first made the move to Chicago and when people weren’t even traveling to Chicago. Oh it was a great thing anybody go to Chicago at that time. Ohhh it was a big deal. Well, this Anna, one that was in Chicago, she would come down one time a year and see her mother and they never heard from her because she didn’t write because she had a white husband up there and that’s the way they worked that, but that’s it. (note: she doesn’t appear in Montgomery in the 1900 census) Margaret: Now you’re saying Mary the oldest one had a different father from the others? Stella: Now yes, that’s what my mother told me. She said. Oh no, Miss McCall was the top of the bunch. She was as blue eyed as she could be. She had blue eyes and no trace of any darkness. So she was the first child. The other’s now Aunt Jennie she had a different one. You could look at her and tell. And Abbie, the same thing. Willie, oh yes, Miss Willie she had black hair. She was more of an Indian type. I don’t know who her daddy was but they were all different. Back in those days they paid no attention to difference (laughs) That’s right. No, they didn’t. They really didn’t. Margaret: So you feel, you know, that Mary’s father, was white? Stella: I don’t feel, I know it (laughs) Margaret: But you don’t know who? Stella: I know the people that know about her… yes she’s white. Looks to me like she’s all white. (laughs)
About this time Margaret asked me to look for a connection between Milton Saffold, a lawyer and son of Rueben and Mary (Phillips) Saffold who had a big plantation (Belvoir) in Dallas County and Edmund Harrison. She had received some information that Milton Saffold was her grandmother’s father. Was there a way Saffold could have come in contact with and fathered Margaret’s grandmother Mary?
I started looking on Ancestry.com and the web to see if I could find anything that would tie them together. I found earlier that Milton Saffold married Edmund Harrison’s daughter, Martha. I found Martha with her parents in the 1850 census. I found from the online marriage record that Milton Saffold married Martha in 1851. Mary was born about 1856. I looked for Saffold and Martha in the 1860 census but they were not together. I found Milton with several children and a new wife living with his sister and her family. I couldn’t find Martha at all. I found on Ancestry.com that Milton had married Georgia Whitting in 1857. I assumed Martha was dead.
2003 – In October I received a letter from my sister Pearl. Janis and her mother Sayde Harris had come up to her at a book signing in Maryland and given her a chart showing connections between our family and theirs. They were related, they said, to our cousins Margaret and Victoria through Milton Saffold. I emailed Janis Mercer.
“My mother was the first child of my grandmother who was one of seven children born to Dock Allen, a free man and Eliza, a woman freed from slavery at seventeen. Before being freed this woman, my mother’s grandmother had been trained as a seamstress in the “big house” of the white master, Colonel Edmund Harrison, who was her father. Her mother, Annie, was the slave seamstress in the “big house”. For three generations, in slavery and in freedom, each mother taught her daughters to sew. My grandmother earned her living as a seamstress for white folks in Montgomery, Alabama. But she never taught my mother or her other two daughters to sew.”
My mother wrote me this as part of a piece she was writing about her own mother, Fannie Turner Graham. We grew up hearing it. There was also the part about Colonel Harrison’s wife. She was so angry about her husband having this child, my great great grandmother Eliza, with a slave that she was cruel to both Annie and and Eliza. Col. Harrison, the story went, finally freed both of them and married Eliza to a free man, Dock Allen, who was a carpenter in Montgomery, Alabama.
Because he was always referred to as “Colonel Harrison of Virginia” I pictured him driving Annie and Eliza in a carriage from Virginia to Montgomery, finding a free carpenter and arranging a marriage between his daughter and the carpenter before returning to his plantation in Virginia. I wasn’t really clear on the distance or terrain between Virginia and Montgomery, AL but I wondered why he took her all the way to Alabama. Later I read that freed slaves had to be taken out of the state they had been enslaved in.
In 1980 my mother began writing down her memories and stories of all her great aunts, Eliza’s daughters. She wrote about her mother and about herself growing up too. She made duplicates and sent my sister and myself both copies.
In one she mentioned a strange phone call from her cousin Margaret McCall Ward, who was a librarian and a genealogist and a founder of the Fred Hart Williams Geneological Society in Detroit. The first black genealogical group in Michigan. My mother wrote:
“Note of recent strange happening here: Teen (note: a longtime family friend) is still working on her family tree and sees Margaret who works in that dept. of the library. Margaret kept sending word to me by Teen that she would be happy to help if I wanted to get the family history together….I never called….but finally did one day when Teen insisted….somewhere in the conversation Margaret said of course you know our grandmothers were not really sisters (Aunt Mary and Grandmother Turner whom I had always thought were Dock Allen’s children…had never heard a suggestion of anything else)..I said o really…how…she mumbled…I mentioned Dock…she said you’ve seen the sisters you know how different they looked…I knew she meant some were light like her grandmother and some were dark like mine… they had different mothers? I said..she mumbled again (I have never heard her mumble before …different fathers? I said, really intrigued by this deep family secret now to be uncovered…more mumbles..at any rate, I said, if they weren’t sisters, we aren’t cousins, right?…more mumbles…I let it go, said good-bye and crossed her off the family list….who needs her?…. then a few weeks ago (the other conversation on the phone was months ago) she sends word by Teen that as she was helping someone search records she came across a record pertaining to our family and it proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that our grandmothers were sisters and we are cousins. I told Teen off again on again cousins I do not need and have heard no more…but I’m curious about what she was talking about in the first place and what she found in what records…I mentioned it to MV who had never heard it…she called Aunt Gwen (the only one left in that generation to talk to) who is the gossip of the group who said as far as she knew they were all full sisters and brothers (there were two of these.) I await further developments but not with baited breath…”
In 1982 my mother died of ovarian cancer. I inherited her photographs, scrapbooks and letters which she had inherited from her mother. In 1991 I wrote to my aunt, my mother’s only sister, Mary Vee and asked her to tell me about her parents and grandmother. She told me the little she knew and suggested I write to cousin Margaret asking for help with the family tree. I did. A year later I received a reply filling in blanks in the tree. She wrote that my letter revived her interest in looking at this branch of the family again, and be sure to look her up if I got to Detroit.
Elias Hopkins presented to him by his brother + sisterinlaw James + Elizabeth Canfield July 4th 1875 Youngstown Ohio (Initials that I can’t make out. First seems to be Y)
Who are these people and how did they happen to give Jacob Graham the Bible in 1913? It is a small pocket size New Testament. The edges of the pages are golden. It has a flap that used to open and close but it is all starting to fall apart. I don’t want to handle it more then I can help. But here is one last scan.
I have not found out how these people are connected to my grandfather Mershell Graham.
So much for wordless….
After posting this I decided to go look for Jacob Graham at Family Search. I used the pilot program and found a death record for Jacob Graham who died June 30, 1913 at the Salvation Army Fresh Air Camp. I googled the Fresh Air Camp and found several photographs in the Alabama Archives about Fresh Air camps the Salvation army ran in Montgomery for Old men and others for poor women and children. I also found a google book “By Alabama. Dept. of Archives and History”, Thomas McAdory Owen, an entry that mentioned under the section Benevolent Insititutions in Alabama, that the Salvation army had a Fresh Air Camp on the upper Wetumpka Road, founded in 1911 conducted by the Montgomery Anti-Tuberculosis League for tubercular cases.( Alabama official and statistical register.) I’m sending for the death certificate.
Eliza was my great great grandmother. We grew up hearing a story about her. In this blog I will talk about how I found her using a combination of oral history, records and lots of help from cousins and cousins of cousins.
This first post, though, is just to get my feet wet. Yesterday I heard Luckie Daniels talk about genealogical blogging during our AAHGS Metro Atlanta Chapter meeting. This morning I decided to dive in and set one up. I was pretty surprised to learn that I already had two accounts with Google Blogger. I set one up in 2007 and one in 2009 but never actually set up a blog. In my confusion I used the name I wanted for my blog on one account and set up to follow several blogs on the other account. I cannot find a way to delete one or the other so my plan is to use this blog and this account for everything.
Now, how do I get an interesting view, a couple of columns and some photographs on here…..