Rosa Nixon 1889 – 1970

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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Rosa Nixon was a friend of my grandparents. One of her sisters married into the same family that one of my grandmother’s first cousins married into. She graduated in the class of 1906 at State Normal School for Negroes, as did Mattie Graham.

Miss Rosa Nixon Accepts Position In Baltimore

Montgomery, Ala., Feb. 20-  Miss Rosa Nixon of this city, resigned her position as head of the Art Department of the local State Normal School on Monday of this week in order to accept a position in the Baltimore Colored High School. The resignation went into effect Tuesday, the 19th inst., and Miss Nixon will leave to take up her new work at Baltimore on Thursday morning, February 21st.

Miss Nixon is one of the leading art teachers of the race, having studied in the foremost art schools of the country. Her excellent work as a teacher, club worker and member of the local Red Cross Auxiliary in this community will be sadly missed and her host of friends here are loath to have her go to another field. Miss Nixon has been head of the Art Department in the Normal School here for several years, during which time she has enlarged and developed the department to a high standard of efficiency.

Rosa Nixon 1912 Montgomery, Alabama.

While looking through my grandmother Fannie’s photographs, I came across this picture of Rosa Nixon. I wondered who she was. On the back it says “Mershell C. Graham – Rosa. And then in my mother’s handwriting it says ‘Not related! – One of Daddy’s girls, I suppose – he didn’t marry until 1918.’

Rosa Nixon was born into a family that started off after slavery with more advantages than most. Her grandmother Winnie Nixon, received land, livestock, furniture and money upon the death of her former slave master, William Owen Nixon of Lowndes County, Alabama in 1868. In 1870 she had real estate valued at $4,000 and personal property valued at $1,000.  All except the youngest two of her nine children attended school.  One of them was Rosa’s father, Alfred Nixon.

Rosa Nixon was born in September, 1889 in Montgomery, Alabama, the second of the four daughters of Alfred and Hattie (Clayton) Nixon. Hattie and her youngest baby girl, Zenobia died within a few months of each other in 1895.  Zenobia was a year old. Hattie was 25.

Alfred Nixon worked as a porter and then as a bar tender. He remarried in 1901. He and his second wife, Mattie Coleman. They had three children together. One died. Two boys, Alfred Floyd and William O. Nixon were born in  1902 and 1904. Rosa graduated from Normal School in 1907. My grandmother Fannie and all of her cousins also graduated from this school, which went from first grade through high school.

The Montgomery Advertiser July 30, 1907

Receive Diplomas

Graduation At Normal School For Negroes

Program Includes Addresses by Tom Benjamin, Music and Addresses by Principal Paterson, and Several Friend of School

Twenty-four students, seventeen girls and seven boys received diplomas yesterday morning from the State Normal School for negroes (sic.). The graduating exercises included addresses by ten of the students, vocal and instrumental music, and remarks by Principal W.H. Paterson and friends of the school. The dominant note in each of the speeches made to the students and patrons of the school was that the negroes must educate their children, that they must supplement the work being done, by the State and that they must throw safeguards around the morals of their children as well as giving them assistance in securing knowledge.

Incidentally, the municipality of Montgomery was criticized for its failure to give negro children equal opportunity with white children in the schools and the lack of school room for negro children in this city was pointed out.

The closing exercises were held in the chapel, which is on the second floor of the main building. The twenty-four graduates formed a double semi-circle on the stage, which was decorated in the colors of the school, and the class of 1907. Sitting with the class on the stage were many of the negro preachers of Montgomery, including Bishop J. W. Alstork.

Simplicity marked the dress of the girls in the graduating class. They wore calico dresses. Frequent allusion was made to this simplicity of dress by Principal Paterson and the other speakers. The Principal said he had promised the girl students that he would provide the cloth if the girls would make the dresses and wear calico. they had readily consented and this simplicity of dress, he said, would be adhered to in the future. It was done, he said, in the interest of the poor parents of many of the student.

The graduating class consisted of Frederick D. Adair, Edna T. Barnett, Maris H. Brown. Dora D. Beverly, Melissa B. Culpepper, Mattie E. Graham, James B. Hatcher, Nora J. Holly, Olivia C. Hunter, Helen E. Jones, Adam J. Joseph, Queenie V. Lee, Gertrude R. Lucas, Rose H. Nixon, Alfred A. Poole, Sadie M. Richardson, Olivia A. Royal, Mary L. Sawyer, Rosa L. Shaw, Emmaline L. Simpson, Cornelius S. Sampson, Henry J. Todd, Charles D. Watkins, Ellen A. Wimbs.

According to the custom of the school, the ten students making the highest marks, prepared essays. Three essays were delivered without reference to manuscripts. They gave evidence of careful preparation and some of them were delivered with fine effect. None but members of the graduating class were on the program, which was as follows.

Invocation.

Piano Duet, “Jeunesse Doree” – (Smith)-Helen Jones and Rosa Nixon.

Salutatory and Oration, “The Christian Ministry” – James E. Hatcher

Oration, “Nature & Mysteries” – Emmaline Simpson.

Vocal Quartet, “Over the Hills at Break of Day” – (Geibel) – Olivia Royal, James S. Hatcher, Sadie Brown, Alfred Poole.

Oration, “The Conditions and Needs of Women Wage- Earners” – Hosea L. Shaw.

Essay, “The Leisure Class” – Olivia A. Royal.

Piano Solo. “Fanfare” – (Ascher) – Nora Holley

Oration, “The Genius of Japanese Civilization” – Olivia C. Hunter

Essay, “The Most Lasting Monuments” – Sadie B. Brown.

Vocal Duet, “When Gathering Clouds” – (Shuey) Sadie B. Brown, James E. Hatcher

Oration, “Has the Negro Race Made Any Real Progress?” – Charles D. Watkins.

Oration, “Women in History” – Helen E. Jones.

Piano due, “La Baladine” – (Lysberg) – Mary Sawyer and Dora Beverly.

Oration, “The Duty of the Hour” Rosa Nixon

Essay, “The Results of Fraternities” Harry J. Todd

Sojourner Truth Club Essay – Helen N. Jones

Valedictory. “Through Trials to Triumphs’ – Dora Beverly.

Presentation of Diplomas

“My Old Kentucky Home” – By the Class

Benediction

Principal Paterson announced that Helen Jones had won the prize annually offered by the Sojourner Truth Club, an organization of negro women, for the best essay on achievements by the race. The Jones girl then went forward and read the essay written on “Self help.” It was also announced that Wilson Walker, Sadie Castle, Effie May Todd and Lena Davenport had won prizes for garden work.

At the conclusion of the graduating exercises, brief addresses were delivered by Bishop Alstork, Nathan Alexander and other friends of the school.

In concluding the exercises, Principal Paterson said the school now owned property valued at $30,000, and that plans were making for an extension of its work another year.

During the year just closed, the school enrolled 1,055 pupils.

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Rosa’s father died in 1908. There are no death certificates in Alabama at that time but I found a notice of his death and funeral in the local Montgomery paper.

The Montgomery Advertiser October 1, 1908

Funeral Notice

“The friends and acquaintances of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred F. Nixon, are respectfully invited to attend the funeral of the former, from the Old Ship Church at 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 1st, 1908.”

Alfred Nixon owned his house free of mortgage when he died in 1908.  In 1910, Rosa and her older sister Eugenia were both teaching. The three youngest children were all attending school. Her step-mother was not working outside of the home. The step-mother’s mother also shared the home.

Rosa taught at art at State normal School. She was active in community and social activities, heading the Red Cross Drive in 1917. In 1918 the art department, under Rosa Nixon’s supervision, bought a potters wheel. The students were all excited and looking forward to making a plate each.

We have now reached the article that started this post. Rosa Nixon, now 28 years old and the head of the Art Department of State Normal School, is headed to Baltimore, Maryland to head the Art Department at the Colored High School there. She boarded with several other teachers. That summer she attended art classes at Columbia University in New York City.

In 1921 Rosa was appointed to head the Art Department of Dunbar High School in Washington DC. Over the years she organized trips to museums, art galleries and other places of interest to her art students. She also continued to expand her own skills with workshops and classes.

In 1929 Rosa married John Henry Hampton, a postal worker. She continued to teach at Dunbar although she and her husband maintained a house in Baltimore. In 1940, Rosa’s widowed older sister, Eugenia and her two sons, both young men, were living in a separate flat in Rosa and her husband’s house. In 1951, after 30 years of service, the school board retired her. It doesn’t sound like she went willingly. She was 61 years old. Rosa’s husband died in 1961. One of her nephews was living with her when Rosa died suddenly at the age of 81, on December 11, 1970.

The Baltimore Sun Sun Dec, 13, 1970

Hampton

Suddenly, on December 11, 1970. Rosa N., of 2004 North Bentalou Street, beloved sister of William and Alfred Nixon. She is also survived by three nephews, Samuel N. and William W. Phillips and Rene Alvarado, four nieces, Mrs. Joyce Davis, Mrs. Myrtle Lancaster, Mrs Laura Nixon, and Mrs. Camille Lee and other relatives.

Friends may call at the Charles R. Law Funeral Home, 802 Madison Avenue. Services on Tuesday, 12 Noon from St. James Episcopal Church, Lafayette & Arlington Avenues. Family will receive friends on Monday evening from 7 to 9 P.M. at the above funeral home. Interment Arbutus Memorial Park.

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I found this information on Ancestry.com in Census Records, Directories, Death Records and Military Records. The news item was found on Newspapers.com and Genealogy Bank.The photograph is from my personal collection.

12th and Atkinson – 1952 & 1967

Pearl seems to be wondering what that boy is doing.

Here we have my sister Pearl swinging in 1953. This playground was two blocks down from our house, the parsonage on Atkinson. My father’s church was across the street. Right outside the playground was the building where the 1967 Detroit rebellion began  after police raided and arrested people attending a welcome home party for a returning Vietnam veteran.

Armed, standing across from Economy Printing. You can see the playground. 1967.

 

Me on the far left watching and waiting my turn at the playground water fountain. 1952.

You can see Economy Printing on the far left. The playground is right next to it. The rebellion was in full swing here.

Funeral for Tayna Blanding, four year old, was killed as a hail of police and National Guard bullets swept an apartment building where she huddled on the floor. Officials said the flare of a match used to light a cigarette was mistaken for the flash of a sniper’s gun.  It was held at my father’s church, then Central United Church of Christ, later Shrine of the Black Madonna.
The playground as it appears on Google today. A swing set seems to be in the same place.

Related posts

My Riot Journal

Rebellions Make Strange Leaders

“A” Is for Atkinson

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13 Years Old, Mary Virginia Graham, 1934

13 yrs Mary Virginia 1934

A photograph of my aunt Mary Virginia Graham standing on the front steps of the house on Theodore in Detroit. She was named for both of her grandmothers. The writing on the photo says “13 yrs Mary Virginia 1934”.   A double exposure shows my mother sideways, overlapping.

My mother Doris with her sister Mary Virginia aka M.V. at Belle Isle.

This photo looks like it was taken the same day at Belle Isle, which was 5 miles from the house. The dresses are the same.  My mother is standing the same way that she in in the double exposure.

6638 Theodore Street, Detroit, Michigan.

Other posts about Mary V.

Mary Virginia Graham Colorized

Christmas Memories

Mary V’s Shoes

Old County Building and Mary V. Elkins

1940 Census – the Grahams

Three Generations – 1939

And a post about the house on Theodore

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Girls Riding a Bike, From the Porch of 5397 Oregon, 1962

One of my uncle Henry Cleage’s photographs from the porch of our house at 5397 Oregon in Detroit.  Below is a photo of the house and porch from which he took the photos. They were developed at Cleage printers, where Henry and Hugh had a full dark room.

I do not know who the little girls are. I have memories of riding bikes when I lived here, but no photographs.  I remember going bike riding all around the neighborhood with my cousins, Dee Dee and Barbara. We rode in the street, which I wasn’t supposed to do. My sister and I used to go bike riding too but we usually had a destination – the library or my grandmother’s house. I lost that bike when I left it unchained outside of a store on W. Grand Blvd. We were on the way home from the Main Library.

View of the porch.  My mother and I are sitting on the porch. Henry took this photo too. About 1962.

You can read more of my memories of my bicycles in this post – “Biking at Old Plank Road, 1962”

 

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Letter from Albert B. Cleage to Pearl Reed. March 18, 1910.

Albert B. Cleage Sr. This photo was enclosed in the letter.
This was the house where Pearl’s aunt lived. She received mail there sometimes because her mother disliked Albert.  The two houses were on opposite streets and shared a yard

3/18/10

My dear Sweetheart:-

How did you spend St. Patrick’s day? It was a lovely day sure and also has today been beautiful.  How are you? Have you gotten entirely well. I hope that pains and aches with you are now “past history.”Does your mother seem to be improving?

These are busy days with me. Examinations for the close of the winter term begin Monday and will last one week after which comes a ten or twelve day’s vacation.- What can I do with so much time all by my lone self. 

Do you remember that last year we planned a day’s outing in the country and I thinking the day appointed, too bad did not show up?  And also how you got angry with me?  See how well I remember. That has been one year ago but it to me certainly does not seem so long.  You did go to Brookside with me, which was the beginning of several very pleasant trips which will always be sweet sweet memories to me.  My vacation is about 10 days off and it may be yet that you will be able to take that trip which we planned last year.

Mrs. White, I believe goes to Lincoln Hospital tomorrow to be operated upon Monday.  Mrs. Brady – Little Marcum Mitchell’s grandmother died at the City Hospital this morning. 

Of course I selected that negative which you liked better, others whose opinion I asked were about equally divided.  I send you the other which is fast fading.

Be careful for yourself.  The things you said in your last letter were surely the product of a melancholie mind – such moods are not good for you. Cheer up!!  Of course, God in His wise providence might call your mother home, and ’tis he alone who can cause me to cease loving you.  So wake up from your dream – you shall nurse, not patients for someone else, but (__?__) for yourself – Won’t you like that better.  Yes, I believe you will – Ha! ha!

Your Albert

{Had better burn this letter up}

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My grandparents, Pearl Reed and Albert Cleage, exchanged letters for several years while they were courting.  The letters go from 1907 when they met to 1912 when they were married, my father had been born and they were moving from Indianapolis, IN to Kalamazoo, MI. Unfortunately I do not have copies of my grandmother’s letters, just my grandfather’s. You can read more of Albert’s letters to Pearl and what else was going on when he wrote them, by looking at the  Index of blog posts I wrote for the A to Z Challenge in 2014. Scroll down past the posts for 2017, 2016 and 2015 until you reach 2014. Perhaps I should give each year’s index a separate page.

At one point, this letter refers back to a letter from a year ago.  You can read it here at K is for Kenwood.

Pearl Doris Reed Cleage – 1884 – 1982

Pearl Reed Cleage. Photo taken in the 1940 at her home on Scotten in Detroit.

Thinking about my grandmother Cleage today. She would have been 133 if she were still living. Pearl Doris Reed Cleage, born in 1884 in Lebanon, Kentucky and died in 1982 in Idlewild, Michigan.

The Cleage family about 1930 in front of their house on Scotten. From L to R Henry, Louis, (My grandmother) Pearl, Barbara, Hugh, Gladys, Anna, Albert Jr (My father) and (My grandfather) Albert Sr.

Links to other blog posts about Pearl Reed Cleage

Dr. Albert B. Cleage and Miss Pearl Reed Wed

1940 Census – The Albert B. and Pearl (Reed) Cleage Family

Two Newspaper Articles

Pearl Reed Cleage With Baby Henry

 

More 5397 Oregon Then and now

4-in-front-of-window-oregon-blogMy father, then Rev. Albert B. Cleage Jr, me, my mother Doris Graham Cleage, my step-father and uncle Henry Cleage. Summer of 1966.

james-couch-blogSitting on the couch, braiding my hair with my mother and sister Pearl. 1963. My son James walking across the room summer of 2017.

after-abs-conference-1967-blogI had just come in from the Association of Black Students’ Symposium at Wayne State in February of 1968.

My cousin Barbara Elkins in the front room.
My cousin Barbara Elkins sitting in the front room.  Early 1960s.

 

Other posts about 5397 Oregon.

Detroit Then and Now – Other then and now photographs

“O” is for Oregon Street – Memories of living in the house on Oregon.