Category Archives: Montgomery Alabama

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 Each item is transcribed directly below the clipping.  Click on any image to enlarge.


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


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.”


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.


I found this information on 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

Naomi 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.  Each item was found on and is transcribed directly below the clipping.   Click on any image to enlarge.


Naomi Tulane was my grandmother Fannie’s first cousin, their mothers were sisters. Naomi’s father was Victor Tulane, a very successful black Montgomery businessman. She played the piano at my grandparent’s wedding.

Naomi Tulane’s Engagement photograph
Ubert Vincent, MD – the groom

Montgomery Girl and New York Physician Wed

Montgomery, Ala., May 3.- 1920

One of the most brilliant weddings of the season to take place in this city was that of Miss Naomi Tulane and Dr. U. C. Vincent of New York City, which was solemnized here Wednesday, April 28 at 4:30 P.M., at the home of the bride’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. V.H. Tulane, 401 S. Ripley Street. The spacious home was artistically decorated with palms, roses and smylax.

Just before the bridal party entered, Mr. Allen Carleton, the sweet-voiced tenor, sang “Dear Heart”, which was followed by, “O’, Promise me,” sung by Miss Bertha L. Loveless. The wedding march pealed forth and Miss Alma Alexander, bride’s maid, entered, attired in a beautiful nile green taffata with gold trimmings  and picture hat to match. She was followed by Miss Miriam Garrett of Los Angeles, Cal. also bride’s maid, who wore a lovely gown of nile green taffata with trimmings of pink and hat to correspond.

Mrs. Ruth Dixon of Detroit, Mich., sister of the groom, was matron of honor. She was beautifully gowned in white satin with silver trimmings and a hat of shell pink.

The groom entered with Mr. Richard Harris of Montgomery, as best man. Then, Dorothy Lindsey and Victoria McCall, two veritable little fairies, the flower girls, entered, scattering sweet rose petals along the brides path. They were clad in dainty frocks of white organdy.

The bride entered with her father. She was beautiful in a creation of Duchess satin, real lace and pearl trimmings, the veil being trimmed with sprays of orange blossoms. In her right hand she carried a lovely shower boquet and indeed made a beautiful picture.

The ceremony was performed by Bishop J.W. Alstork, while soft music was played by Mrs. T.J. Mayberry who presided at the piano.

Immediately after the ceremony the bride changed to the traveling costume which was a handsome suit of blue tricotine with hat and accessories to match .

Pittsburgh Post Gazette Tue May 4, 1920 advertising a blue tricotine traveling suit.

A large number of guests were present. many handsome and useful gifts were received, including silverware, cut glass, linens, Money and various household furnishings.

The bride is a charming and highly esteemed young woman, the daughter of Mr. V.H. Tulane, a trustee of Tuskegee Institute and a substantial business man. Dr. Vincent is a young and promising physician who has already achieved much distinction in his profession. He is a member of the staff of Bellevue Hospital in New York City being the first physician of the race to hold this position.

A number of prominent out-of-town guests were present at the wedding, among whom were Mrs. Booker T. Washington and Mrs. Mollie Mallett of Chicago, a sister to Mr. Tulane; Miss Miriam Garrett, Los Angeles, Cal; Mrs Ruth Dixon, Detroit, Michigan.; Mrs. H.C. Bryant, Miss Nellie Bryant, Mrs. W. M. Coleman, Mrs. Alice Jackson, Dr. A. M. Brown, Birmingham, Ala.; Mrs. Jordan Taylor and Mr. and Mrs Peat of Wetumpka, Ala.; Miss B. Davis, Miss Marie Simms and Mrs. Taylor of Columbus, Ga.

Amid showers of congratulations the young couple left on the evening train for New York City, their future home.”

Bridal Breakfast Served By Mr. W. Simon

“On last Wednesday morning Mr. Willie Simon, expert caterer of High Street presented the bridal party of the Tulane-Vincent wedding with an elaborate bridal breakfast.

It was a feast so artistically and temptingly prepared that it displayed in a high degree the great genius which Mr. Simon possesses in the culinary art. The bill of fare was as follows:

Planked Spanish mackerel.  (note: the picture in the link is not exactly the same, but the picture will give you an idea of planked mackerel with potatoes surrounding..)

Dutchcess Potatoes encircled all around the plank with four large pockets, garnished with pimentoes and parsley.

One pocket contained asparagus; another contained extra sifted early green peas. A third pocket held mushrooms, while the fourth was filled with Mexican sugar corn.

In the center of the plank was mackerel surrounded with creole sauce, and on the sides of plank were stuffed bell pepper and tomatoes with Risote.

In the center and top of the fish was a large grapefruit made into a basket which held a combination salad. On the handles of the basket were stationed two small dolls dressed as bride and groom.”



There were so many articles about the wedding, that I am not going to write up her life. The links below are about Naomi Tulane Vincent’s life.

The Celebrated Tulane Coffee

Naomi Tulane Vincent and son Ubert

Mystery Photograph Identified

Another Photographic Mystery Solved

More on the Exciting Vincents

In Which I Hit the Google Photo Jackpot

1940 Census – Naomi Tulani Vincent


 The news items were found on The photos are from my collection.

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 Each item is transcribed directly below the clipping.  Click on any image to enlarge.


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”–


I found the information for this post on in Census Records, Directories and Death Records. The news item was found on The photographs and  speech are from my personal collection.

Lowndes Adams

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 Each item is transcribed directly below the clipping.  Click on any image to enlarge.


Lowndes Adams was a close friend of my grandfather Mershell. He sang a solo at my grandparent’s wedding. I found more than a few news items about him  singing at various events.  Then I found this one in The Montgomery Times.

$25.80 Verdict Awarded Adams

“A jury in the circuit court this afternoon returned a verdict for the plaintiff in the case of Lowndes W. Adams vs. M.M. Sweatt.

The suit was for money alleged to have been paid to Mr. Sweatt. The judge gave Adams $25.80, the amount sue for.”

Millard M. Sweat was a white real estate agent. I was unable to find out what the case was about. While trying to find more information about that case, I came across a case in 1914 where an insurance company did not want to pay him and then this one in 1915 where he finally wins.

L.W. Adams Wins Insurance Case

In the list of applications for rehearings handed down by the supreme court this morning is the case of the Afro-American Insurance company against Lowndes W. Adams. It seems that Emma Broadnax had her life insured for the benefit of Lowndes W. Adams.

The Afro-American company alleges that the papers filed with the company gave the name of Adams as a grandson of Emma Broadnax and when she died the company refused to pay the insurance on her life, alleging that she did not set forth the facts in the case, as to being related to her.

The supreme court held that Emma Broadnax had the right to insure her life for whom she pleased and rendered a decision in favor of Lowndes W Adams for the sum of $542.42. The Afro-American Life Insurance company made a motion for a rehearing. The court this morning declined this motion and Lowndes W. Adams wins his suit against the company.

Emma Broadnax was rooming with the Adams family she died October 1, 1913.  I found very little about her, two directory entries and a death record.  The $543.43 she left Lowndes would be worth $13,264.21 in today’s money.

Lowndes’ father died in 1909 when he was eighteen years old. Both of his brothers were dead by 1900. He had two older sisters and three younger ones. He completed high school and worked as a a porter, a stenographer, an agent for the Avant Company and eventually at the Ford Factory when he moved to Detroit.

Lowndes Adams and Rufus Taylor

Here is a letter that Lowndes wrote to my grandfather Mershell after his move to Detroit.

204 Oak Street
Montgomery, Ala
May 17, 1918

Dear “Shell”:

Really I had begun to say little mean things about you, for it did look like you were going to take as long to write as you did when you first landed in Detroit.  You may know what a pleasure it is at all times to receive a letter from a friend and pal.

Well, Cliff and Chisholm are there and how do they like Detroit.  Tell Chisholm I know he will conserve a week looking at the skyscrapers and be sure to hold him when he is taken out to the lake.  It was a great surprise to know that he left with Cliff, as no one seemed to have been aware of his leaving until several days back.  Of course there is no need of advertising your intentions, but he and Cliff both got away without my knowing.

We have been having some real cool weather for this time of the year, and it has caused everything to be unbalanced somewhat.

Yes, I thought strongly of leaving this place on account of the depressing standing of our business and since it has changed for the better, I think I’ll stick a little longer.  I thought that my leaving would have been compelling from that point of view.

Edgar is home now, the Pullman Company gave him a run out of here to Mobile so he has transferred here.  He told me that he saw you and so many others that he knew and all seem to be getting along fine.

Would you believe me if I say that John Blakey, Lewis Gilmer, Rufus Taylor and myself are the only boys here and we look “motherless.”

Say, I want you to write me if you should see anything that you think may interest me.  Have you payed any attention along the typewriter lines; and should you see anything in the papers concerning this particular line of work – send it to me.

Was in Pensacola on April 29 to see my sister.  Had a dandy time, and went out to the Navy yard and saw some of our latest methods of war-fare.  Tell Chisholm and Cliff to write me sometimes, and my regards to Charlie Anderson and wife in fact, all of my friends that you come across.  Now I am expecting to hear from you real soon.  With best wishes from us all,

Your chum,

I wrote about Lowndes for the 2016 A to Z Challenge and you can read that in this post  Ula Mae’s Uncle Lowndes Adams I also wrote about him in Lowndes Adams Found in 1965 and Three Men in Hats.


I found this information on in Census Records, Directories, Death Records and Military Records. The news item was found on The photograph and letter are from my personal collection.

Kizziah Jackson

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 Each item is transcribed directly below the clipping.  Click on any image to enlarge.


Death Claims Mrs. Kizziah Jackson

“On June 16th, Mrs. Kizziah Jackson, a well known citizen, died at the home of her son, Mr. Anderson Jackson, 746 Riply St. The funeral services were held at First Baptist Church, Dr. A. J. Stokes pastor, officiating. The deceased is survived by one daughter, Nancy Brown two sons, Messrs. Anderson and James Jackson, one sister, Mrs. Anabel Jackson, Mt. Meigs; and a brother, Mr. Dunk Jackson of Verbena. The interment took place in Oakwood Cemetery.”

First Baptist Church Ripley Street. For the story of the “Brick-a-day” church click the link in the transcription.

Kizziah Jackson was born into slavery around 1855 in Alabama. Her mother’s name was listed as Viola Jackson on her death certificate.  I was unable to find either of them, or any of the siblings mentioned in her obituary, in the 1870 census. The 1870 census is the first one in which formerly enslaved people were listed by name. During slavery days we were listed by age and color under the slave holders name in a separate slave census.

In the 1880 census, Kizziah Jackson was living in Bullock County, Alabama. She was the only adult in the home and was listed as single. She had two children, Nancy Jackson, age seven and George Jackson, age five.  Nancy attended school. Kizziah worked as a cook and laborer.

The 1890 census was destroyed by fire so we lose 20 years of records. In 1900 Kizziah Jackson was still in Bullock County. She was 45 years old and listed as a widow. She worked as a cook. Kizziah had given birth to four children and all four were living. The two youngest lived with her. Anderson was nine and attending school. James was five.

Nancy Jackson Brown, the oldest child, was 27 years old,. She was married to her second husband. Of the two children she had given birth to, only one daughter was still living. She lived with her paternal grandparents.

I have not found son George after the 1880 Census. He would have been 25.

In the 1910 Census, Kizziah and her younger sons had moved to Montgomery. They shared a home with Nancy.  Her husband was not enumerated in the home. Nancy’s daughter died the year before in 1909, at the age of sixteen. Nancy worked as a washer woman. Anderson was 19 and worked as a porter at a grocery store. James was 16 and worked with a blacksmith. Everybody in the household, except Kizziah, was literate. No occupation was listed for her. There was one lodger, Mary McGee, who worked as a cook.

In the 1919 Directory, Kizziah Jackson was living with her son James. She is listed as a domestic. He worked as a presser. Anderson was married and worked as a drayman. He lived on South Ripley.  Nancy was a laundress  and lived on Jeff Davis.

Kizziah Jackson died on June 16th at her son, Anderson Jackson’s home. She was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery.

Card of Thanks

“We wish to thank the following ladies of S. Ripley St. Mrs. Eliza Jackson, Mrs. Ella Taylor, Mrs Ethel Brown, Mrs. Hettie Cloud, Mrs Fannie Williams, Mrs. Annie Cato and Mrs. Laura Sharp, for their kindnesses to our mother, Mrs. Kizziah Jackson, during her recent illness and death; also for beautiful floral designs.

Mrs. Nancy Brown.        Anderson Jackson.        James Jackson.”


I found this information on in Census Records, Directories, Death Records, Military Records and Marriage Records. The news items were found on

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 Each item is transcribed directly below the clipping.  Click on any image to enlarge.


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.”


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
In writing this story I used writings by my mother, Doris Graham Cleage; Census, death, and other records from and a surprising number of news items found on

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.”


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.


I found this information on in Census Records, Directories, Death Records, Military Records and Marriage Records. The news items were found on



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 people and places in my grandparent’s life. Each item is transcribed directly below the clipping.  Click on any image to enlarge.


Lewis Gilmer was one of my grandfather’s good friends. Annie Wimbs and my grandmother were both members of the Edelweiss Club.

The Emancipator Sat. Dec 28 1918

Wimbs-Gilmer Wedding

“On Tuesday morning at six o’clock, Miss Annie Wimbs and Mr. Lewis Gilmer, two popular young people of Montgomery, were happily married at the residence of Mrs. Josephine Curtis on So. Jackson Street. Rev. P. A. Callahan performed the ceremony. The bride is the daughter of honorable Ad Wimbs, of Greensboro, Alabama, and has been teaching in the public schools of this city. Mr. Gilmer is a highly esteemed young man and holds a responsible business position in this city. The many friends of the young couple wish them much happiness.”

Lowndes Adams, Rufus Taylor and Lewis Gilmer, Lowndes niece Edoline with puppies.

The Emancipator Sat Oct 25, 1919.   A year later, more news! Birth of their first child, Iola.

“Mr. and Mrs. Louis Gilmer were recently made the proud parents of a little girl. Mrs. Gilmer was formerly Miss Annie Wimbs.”

Lewis Abram Gilmer was born in Montgomery, Alabama on May 18, 1885. He and his seven siblings were raised there by their parents Louis and Cornelia Gilmer.  His father was a porter, a butler and a chauffeur.    Lewis worked as a bank messenger in Montgomery.  He and his wife, Annie, had five children.  Iola was born in 1919 in Montgomery.  Cornelia was born in 1924 in Mississippi.  Ellen, Willese and Dolores were born in 1925, 1927 and1931 in Detroit.

Lewis worked as a waiter when he first came to Detroit and then as a porter in a department store. Annie worked as a teacher in Montgomery before she married and did not work outside the home afterwards. By 1930 they bought a house in the Conant Gardens neighborhood of Detroit.

Members of Lewis Gilmer’s family moved to Detroit and lived on Scotten Avenue, several blocks from my other grandparents, the Cleages who were not from Montgomery. Some of the Gilmers later returned to Montgomery.

Annie Gilmer died in 1948. Lewis lived another twenty years and died in 1969.  Their descendants are numerous and widespread.


I found this information on in Census Records, Directories, Death Records, Military Records and Marriage Records. The news item was found on



First Congregational Church Montgomery, Alabama

This year I am going through an alphabet of news items taken from The Emancipator newspaper, published  between 1917 and 1920 in Montgomery, Alabama.  Each item was found on and is transcribed directly below the clipping.   Click on any image to enlarge.

First Congregational Church was where my grandparents met and the church they attended when they lived in Montgomery.  My grandmother Fannie, her siblings and cousins also attended the school that the Congregational missionaries from the North started. It went from elementary through high school and became State Normal School.

The Emancipator – Sat – July 3, 1920


First Congregational Church of Montgomery has the hope of becoming a real center for community betterment.

This Church stands for independence, freedom, fellowship and for a social gospel.

There will be conducted in connection with our church life a wide awake Sunday School Christian endeavor in the evenings, Worship each Sunday at eleven o’clock, and from time to time lectures, literary exercises, ad amusements furnished to interest the young people.

Our watch word, “Welcome.” Whosoever will let him come, and take the water of life freely.

(Rev. Chas. J. Stanley) Pastor.


The photograph below is of First Congregational Church, which later changed it’s name to First Congregational Christian Church, came from The Montgomery Advertiser. There is a bit of the history of the church in the sidebar.

The original building burned to the ground after a lightening strike in 1995. The congregation has rebuilt in the same spot.


Dandy, Stoudemire Wedding

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.

Herbert Lee Dandy and Queen Elizabeth Stoudemire were married by my grandparent’s pastor. They were probably also members of his church. Queen Elizabeth and my grandmother Fannie lived about four minutes apart.  Herbert and Queen Elizabeth were ten years younger than my grandparents and there is no indication that they were intimate friends.

The Emancipator_Sat_Jun_15_1918

“Dandy – Stoudemire Wedding

Mr. and Mrs. Stafford Stoudemire wish to announce the marriage of their daughter Queen Elizabeth, to Mr. Herbert Dandy, Tuesday night June, 12, 1918 at nine o’clock at their residence, 516 S. Bainbridge St. Rev. E. E. Scott officiating.”

Herbert Lee Dandy was born about 1894 in Mount Meigs, Montgomery County, Alabama.  His parents farmed rented land. Neither of them learned to read or write, but Herbert managed to attend school to the fourth grade while also working on the farm. Herbert’s mother gave birth to five children, two in a first marriage and three with her second husband, Herbert’s father. The first two boys did not live with her and her second husband. Herbert’s two full siblings were dead by 1910. By 1911, both of his parents were also dead.

According to Herbert’s WW I draft registration card, he was a tall and slender African American man with black hair and black eyes. He was working as a teamster for the Southern Ice Company.

On June 12, 1918 at age 25, Herbert married 18 year old Queen Elizabeth Stoudemire. She went by her middle name “Elizabeth” instead of “Queen”.  That August, Herbert was inducted into the army. He was out again in December of the same year.

In 1920 the young couple lived with her parents in a rented house. Elizabeth’s father, Stafford Stoudemire worked as a drayman for a wholesale grocery company. Herbert was a truck driver for the same grocery company. Elizabeth did not have a paying occupation. Her mother, Lucy, was a seamstress. Everybody in the household was literate. Elizabeth had attended school through the 8th grade.

By 1930 the Stoudemire’s were living with Herbert and Elizabeth in the house the younger couple owned. It was valued at $1,000. Over the years Herbert drove trucks, was a chauffeur, a pitman for the Alabama Power Company and finally a janitor. Elizabeth never worked outside of the house. After Mr. Stoudemire died in 1932, his widow continued to live with her daughter and son-in-law. She worked as a maid in a woman’s college and then did laundry for a private family. She died in 1943.

Herbert died in 1961. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery. His wife, Elizabeth ordered a Veteran’s headstone. Elizabeth had a half brother, Reuben, who moved to Detroit for awhile but later returned to Montgomery.  She died in 1977.  They never left Montgomery, Alabama and never had children.


I found this information on in Census Records, Directories, Death Records, Military Records and Marriage Records. The news item was found on I also used Google Maps to figure the distance between houses.