Today would be my grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage’s 127th birthday. She was born in 1886 in Lebanon, KY and died in 1982 at the age of 96 in Idlewild, Michigan. Here is a photograph taken in 1929, on the side of the house on Scotten Ave. in Detroit. My grandmother was 43. Anna was 5 and Gladys was 7.
Minnie Averitte Reed was born in Lebanon, Kentucky in 1878. She was the second child of Buford Avritt and Anna Allen Reed and Anna’s 6th child. Anna and Buford were never married and couldn’t have been even if both were willing as Buford was white and Anna was black.
Two year old Minnie first appears in the 1880 census living with her mother and five older siblings in Lebanon Kentucky. Her mother’s parents lived next door.
By 1893 Anna Reed was in Indianapolis, Indiana. Minnie was 15. Her two older sisters had already married and moved to Berrien County, Michigan. In 1898, when Minnie was twenty years old, she married James Mullins. By 1900 they had one daughter, Helen who was a year old. Everyone in the household was identified as “B” for black. James was working as a fireman. At that time the Indianapolis Fire Department with all the black fireman operating out of the firehouse at 441 Indiana Avenue.
By 1910, there were 6 more children. James was born in 1900. Ben was born in 1901. Arthur was born in 1904. Pearl was born in 1906. The twins, Anna and Marie, were born in 1908 and Minnie was born in 1910. The family was still living in Indianapolis and James Mullins had continued working as a fireman. Everybody was identified as “Mulatto”.
By 1920 the family had moved to Detroit, Michigan. My grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage, Minnie’s younger sister, and her family lived in Detroit. Three more children had been added to the family. William was born in 1913, Harold was born in 1914 and Barbara Louise was born in 1916. James was working as a carpenter at an auto plant. Arthur was working at the Packer Auto Plant. The two oldest boys were around 20 and no longer living in the home.
In 1930 Minnie and her family had moved to Benton Harbor, Michigan where her two older sisters and their families lived. Minnie was identified as ‘white’ while the rest of the family was identified as “Indian”, specifically “Cherokee”. James was working as common laborer. Son Arthur, who works at a foundry and is “Cherokee” and his wife were living down the street as was sister Louise Reed Shoemaker. Youngest son, John was 9 years old.
You can read about the Mullins family in 1940 here 1940, Minnie and James Mullins. They were back in Detroit and only three of the sons were still at home. Minnie died in Minneapolis, Minnesota of pneumonia in 1963. She was 84 years old.
Hugh joined the US Army on July 13, 1898 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was discharged on November 13, 1898 in Willets Pointe, Queens, New York. He joined the US Navy a month later on December 8, 1898 in New York City. He worked as a Coal Passer on the USS Newark. The Newark saw action in South America and Asia. In 1900, Hugh was in China. Here is a description of the ship’s activity during the time Hugh was a member of the crew from The Dictionary of American Fighting Ships.
The USS Newark
Departing New York 23 March 1899, the cruiser steamed down the coast of South America on patrol, stopping at numerous ports along the way. In the middle of her cruise 7 April, she was ordered to proceed through the Straits of Magellan to San Francisco. The ship, low on coal, was forced to put into Port Low, Chile, from 31 May to 22 June to cut wood for fuel. Finally arriving Mare Island Navy Yard 4 September, Newark underwent repairs and then sailed 17 October via Honolulu for the Philippines arriving Cavite 25 November. The warship took station off Vigan, Luzon, landed troops for garrison duty, then moved on to Aparri 10 December, receiving the surrender of insurrectionists in the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, and Bataan.
On 19 March 1900, she sailed for Hong Kong to rendezvous with monitor Monadnock 22 March and convoy that ship to Cavite, arriving 3 April and staying there until sailing for Yokohama 24 April, arriving 3 days later. The ship then hoisted the flag of Rear Admiral Louis Kempff, Assistant Commander of the Asiatic Station and sailed 20 May for China to help land reinforcements to relieve the legations tinder siege by the Boxers at Peking. Arriving Tientsin 22 May, Newark operated in that port and out of Taku and Chefoo, protecting American interests and aiding the relief expedition under Vice Admiral Seymour, R.N., until sailing at the end of July for Kure, Japan, and then Cavite where she hoisted the pennant of the Senior Squadron Commander in the Philippines. She sailed for home in mid-April 1901, via Hong Kong, Ceylon and Suez, arriving Boston late July 1901. She decommissioned there 29 July.
Hugh Marion Reed Averette left the Navy on December 2, 1901, in Boston, Massachusetts. He returned to Indianapolis, Indiana and resumed life as a civilian.
Other stories in the series about my Uncle Hugh Marion Reed Averette
Thomas Perry was born in 1915 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Sometime before 1928 he moved with the rest of his family to a new name and a new life in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from Belmont High School in 1933 and then completed two years of college.
By 1936 he was 21 years old, had registered to vote but declined to give a party affiliation. He was working as an auto mechanic. A field he continued in through the years, although in 1940 his occupation was listed as an Air Hammer Operator for a Deep Well Pump Manufacturer.
Sometime after 1940, Thomas married Geneva Lucile Adams. Their son Thomas Hugh was born in 1943. Pierre Antone was born in 1946. In 1947 he applied for a patent on a Trailer Dolly and Steering Arm. I was surprised today when I googled Thomas Perry Averette to find that he had applied for several patents. From 1947 to 1971 he took out at least five. To see other drawings or download more information on these inventions, click on the links.
In 1951 he filed for the first of three patents on the Sheep Foot Tamper. He filed on two more in 1963 and 1967. I thought this was strange because as far as I knew, he never had any dealings with sheep. A little more investigation showed that there was no connection to farming. My husband told me he was familiar with that technology and had seen it applied with the sheepfoot roller used in road construction when he worked for the Michigan Department of Transportation.
In 1971 Thomas filed for a patent for Lifts for Peddles of Musical Instruments which would attach to a piano peddle and raise it to the height comfortable for a child to use. I was able to verify that the inventor Thomas Perry Averette was the same as my Thomas by comparing addresses in the directories to the one on the patent.
Over the years Thomas consistently registered to vote. At first he declined to state his party preference but in 1948 and 1950 both he and his wife, Geneva, registered as Democrats. In 1952, perhaps because of Eisenhower, he switched to Republican. In 1958, when he was back to registering as a Democrat.
Thomas Perry Averette died in 1986 in San Bernadino County, California. His son Pierre died in 1990, his wife Geneva in 1993 and his oldest son Thomas, died in 1996.
Theresa Pearl was born in 1913 in Indianapolis Indiana. Her middle name, Pearl, was for my grandmother, Pearl Reed Cleage. That is probably why there are more photographs of her in the family photo collection than of any of the other children. Theresa spent her early years in Indianapolis, Indiana.
In 1930 Theresa was a 17 year old student living with her family in Los Angeles California. She was identified by her nickname “Tut”.
About 1932 Theresa married Bennett Shaffer. Both of them had finished 2 years of college. Their daughter, Betty Jeanne, was born in 1934. Their son, Bennett Shaffer Junior, was born in 1935. The family lived in Los Angeles.
By 1940 Thresa and family were living in Glendale, California at the Glen Haven Sanitarium. Although the census page says the name was Glen Haven Sanitarium, all of the investigating I have done turns up the Glendale Sanitarium in Glendale, California. Theresa and her husband, Bennett, were both 27 years old. Bennett worked as distribution manager of a daily newspaper. Six year old Jeanne was attending school. Bennett was only four and too young for school.
Theresa Pearl Averrett Shaffer died in 1941 at age 28. She is buried Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. Bennett died the following year.
For other photographs of Theresa go to these posts:
The younger Hugh was born in 1910 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was the second child of Hugh Reed Averette and Blanche Celeste(Young) Averette. Sometime between 1920 and 1928 the family relocated to California. In 1930 they were living at 220 Welcome Street in Los Angeles. The house was built in 1895 and has 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. The house is 1,071 sq. feet. The lot is 4,768 sq. feet. I would guess there were not 2 baths in 1930 when Hugh’s family was living there.
Hugh married Edna Marsden in 1930. He was 20 and she was 18. On his marriage certificate he gave the following information. Name: Hugh Marion Averette. Race: white. Occupation: book binder. Father: Hugh R. Averette. Mother: Celestina Joven. Place of birth: Michigan.
Hugh worked as a book binder for several years. His son, Hugh Marion Averette was born in 1932 in Los Angeles. (I will not be talking about this son any more, any references to “Hugh” will be to the Hugh Marion Averette born in 1910.) Hugh appears on several voter registration lists. He voted Democratic.
He and his wife Edna parted ways by 1936 when Hugh married Mabel Katherine Congrove in Clark County, Washington. Mabel was the recent widow of Charles Sanford and brought six children to the marriage – Evelyn May age 7, Margaret age 5, Frederick age 4, Gladys age 2 and twins Donald and Ronald, 9 months old. Hugh adopted the children and they all went by the name of “Averette”.
Hugh and Mabel’s son Beauford E. Averette was born in 1937 and named after his great grandfather, Buford E. Avritt. In 1940 the family lived in a rented home in Salem, Oregon. Hugh worked in housing construction as a carpenter. Both he and his wife had completed high school. She did not work outside of the home.
Their youngest son, Hubert Marion Averette was born in 1943. I don’t know if it was before or after the family moved to Silverton, Oregon into the house pictured above. Hugh died in 1993. He, wife Mabel and son Hubert are buried in Silverton Cemetery Marion County, Oregon.
Other stories in the series about my Uncle Hugh Marion Reed Averette
Before I begin, I want to let you know that I switched out several photographs in my original collage. I realized I didn’t have enough photographs of Hugh’s family to write about all of them this week and I am in writing about them mode! I also switched out another photo for one of the ship Hugh was on during the Spanish American War. After I received his death certificate and found out that he shipped on the Newark, I realized that I have to write another post about him. While I was changing pictures, I added the now available Sepia Saturday #165 prompt so that I can incorporate that into this series. There are still 28 photographs. I will write about the photos I removed in future posts. Now back to Anna Roberta.
Anna Roberta was born in 1907, the oldest of Hugh and Blanche Celeste’s four children. She was named after both of her grandmothers. She spent her childhood in Indianapolis, Indiana. Around 1925, Anna lived with her aunt Pearl’s family in Detroit while attending teacher’s college. Her Aunt Pearl was my grandmother and her father Hugh’s baby sister. During one of my family history gathering sessions, my uncles Henry, Louis and Hugh (who was named after his Uncle Hugh) had a heated discussion about their memories of that time. They were all several years younger than Anna.
When Anna Roberta stayed on Scotten while attending Wayne, her father, (Uncle Hugh) came in and started threatening to remove his belt because he knew Anna had been seeing Wesley again. Louis says this couldn’t have happened because she was in grad school at the time. Henry added, “He didn’t just threaten to take off his belt, he did. What would her being in grad school have to do with him taking off his belt? He was showing off to us. I remember we sort of snickered. And she wasn’t in grad school, she was in teachers training school.” Hugh said her boyfriends name was Wesley…
Anna worked as a book keeper for the Talking Machine Company in 1930 before marrying Ralph Franco Flores, a machinist, in Los Angeles, California. On her marriage application Anna listed her race as “white”, her birth place as “Indiana”, father as “Hugh Averette” and her mother’s maiden name as “B. Celeste Young”. Ralph’s race was listed as “Indian and Mexican”. He was born in Arizona.
Over the next 15 years Ralph continued to work as a machinist. Anna worked in the house and gave birth to six children – Rosa born in 1931, Rafael in 1932, Miguel in 1935, Enrique in 1939, Elena in 1943 and Carmen in 1946.
Anna and her husband registered to vote as Democrats over the years. Starting in 1944 the family shared the house of Anna’s father-in-law. at 2515 Alcazar Street. Brother-in-law Louis, who worked as an x-ray techician, also lived there. The father-in-law died in May, 1946, several months after Anna’s last daughter, Carmen Averette was born. I found a photo of the house on Google Maps. It must have been crowded because it is small. It was built in 1927. Perhaps the father-in-law built it or bought it new because he was living there in 1930.
The house has two bedrooms, one bath and is 864 square feet. In 2012 it was assessed at $246, 642 . I wonder what it cost when it was new. A jacaranda tree flowering in the front and mountains from the back, I hope the family was able to spent a lot of time outside.
The children grew up, got married and had families of their own. Anna Roberta Averette Flores died in 1987 at age 80, a year before her mother. Anna’s husband, Ralph Flores died in 1990. He was 83 years old.
Other stories in the series about my Uncle Hugh Marion Reed Averette
Blanche was the oldest child of James Harvey Young, a teacher and Roberta Ruth (Jordan) Young, a housewife. Blanche was born on October 26, 1887 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her brother Clifford was born in 1897 followed by three sisters, Nellie, Bessie and Elizabeth. Blanche’s mother died in April of 1901 shortly after the birth of Elizabeth. In December of the same year, her father James married Sibba Turner, a divorcee with a young child.
They went on to have four more children. The youngest children were born in California. Blanche’s younger sisters, Nellie and Bessie moved with them and appear to have remained in California. Their older brother joined them there after leaving the US Army. James Young died before 1920. I wonder if Blanche’s family reconnected with her siblings when they moved to California years later.
Blanche remained in Indianapolis. She completed 2 years of high school at Manual Training High School. This was an innovative and highly praised school. You can read more about it by clicking the link. She was an 18 year old student when she married 30 year old Hugh Marion Reed. His occupation was listed as janitor and I wondered if he had worked at the school.
Anna Roberta, their oldest child was born the following year. A son, Hugh Marion was born in 1910. Theresa Pearl was born in 1913 and Thomas Perry in 1915. The family remained in Indianapolis until their move to California in the 1920s. When Blanche surfaces in the 1930 census she is using the name Celesta Averette. Her birth place has changed from Indiana to Michigan. The three children are using the Averette surname. Theresa “Tut” and Thomas are said to have been born in Kansas. Anna’s birth place remains Indiana. Husband and son Hugh were not enumerated in the household.
Later that year Anna and Hugh (the son) both married. Daughter Anna seems to be keeping to the truth most faithfully. She gives her mother’s maiden name as “B. Celeste Young”, born in Indiana. Son Hugh gives his mother’s maiden name as “Celestina Joven” born in Michigan.
In the 1940 Census Celeste Averette was living with her son Thomas Averette. Also living there was a mystery man of 67 years also named Thomas Averette. Is this Hugh Marion Reed Averette with the wrong name?
Celeste kept to this spelling of her name. It is the name used on her voter registration form where She is listed as a republican. This was not unusual for black voters back in those days who remembered both Abraham Lincoln and the Dixicrates. Celeste Averette is also the name on Hugh’s death certificate, where she was the informant.
Blanche Celeste Averette died February 3, 1988. She was 100 years old.
Other stories in the series about my Uncle Hugh Marion Reed Averette
Hugh’s parents were never married. His mother, Anna (Allen) Reed had 4 children when Hugh was born on April 23, 1876 in Lebanon Kentucky. Anna was described as “mulatto” in the 1870 and 1880 censuses. According to my Aunt Barbara, Anna had been married to George Reed and after he died married his brother Palmer Reed. I have no documentation for this. At any rate, they parted company at some point.
Hugh’s father, Buford Avritt, was a doctor with an office in nearby Bradfordsville. This was Kentucky in the 1800s and Buford could not have married Anna even if he had wanted to. As far as I know they never shared a house and there are no family stories that he supported his children or made life easier for Anna. In fact, I know nothing about the nature of their relationship except that they had 4 children together. Hugh was the first of the children. I think a little chart here might make things less confusing.
Older brother George and sister Sarah (known as Sallie) first appear in the Indianapolis Directory in 1887. His mother, Anna, appears in the 1892 Directory. That would make Hugh between 11 and 16 when he moved to Indiana. He finished the eighth grade and worked as a laborer for several years before enlisting in the US Army on 13 July 1898 in Indianapolis, IN for three years. He was 22 years old. He then enlisted in the U.S. Navy out of New York City on 8 December 1898. He was discharged in 1901 in Boston, MA.
My Uncle Henry remembered that his uncle Hugh Reed passed for white and joined the Navy, working as a stoker during the Spanish American War. His uncle Hugh told them he would be so tired after his shift that he would just lay down on the floor and go to sleep until time for the next shift. They were locked down there during the shift. Click to read an account of a Coal Passer during the Spanish American War.
Back in Indianapolis, Hugh lived with his family and worked as a laborer. In 1906 when he married Blanche Celeste Young, the occupation listed on the marriage license was janitor. Oldest daughter Anna Roberta was born in 1907. Son Hugh Marion was born in 1910. Theresa Pearl was born in 1913 and youngest son Thomas Perry was born in 1916.
In both the 1910 and 1920 census Hugh and his family were living in Indianapolis. According to his brother George’s 1946 will, Hugh was living in Los Angeles at that time. I spent years looking for him in Los Angeles. Finally, he turned up in 1928 where, according to the U.S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers Hugh Reed was admitted for treatment 13 December 1928 with rectal prolapse. Rectal prolapse occurs when the intestine comes out through the rectum.
I was unable to find Hugh Reed in either the 1930 or 1940 census. I could not find a death record for him or any member of his family. Then, several weeks ago, I got a phone call from my cousin’s husband Eric, (a fellow researcher and a very good one!). He told me to check my messages on Ancestry.com and waited while I did. Now, he never calls so I knew this had to be big. It was. He had found Hugh’s death record and the reason we couldn’t find him. Hugh’s name on the death record was listed as Hugh Reed Averette. Was it a case of faulty transcription? Or had the family moved to California, changed their name and decided to fade into the white population by “passing”?
For the next several weeks I was unable to devote full time to researching. One morning I got another call from Eric – he had found the answer to our question by locating Blanche Reed (now Celeste Averette) in the 1930 census. Three of the children were living with her, Anna, Theresa and Thomas. Neither Hugh or his son, Hugh, were enumerated in the household.
Using Ancestry.com and Family Search we found marriage records for Hugh’s children and birth records for their children – all under the name of Averette. This week I will write about each member of Hugh’s family. Today I will finish with Hugh by saying that there was a Hugh Reed living in Eugene Oregon in 1940 that fits the profile of my Hugh Marion Reed. His son was living in Silverton Oregon which is 77 miles from Eugene. I have found no record, except for his death record that gives Hugh’s name as Averette. If he was undergoing medical treatment from the Veteran’s administration I assume he would have to go by Reed, unless there was a legal name change.
Hugh and all of his siblings listed Palmer Reed as their father on legal documents. They all used the last name of “Reed”. It is only on some of the death certificates, when someone else in the family was filling out the information, that various forms of Buford Avritt appear. The story in my family was that Dr. Buford Avritt refused to help the family during hard times claiming “I know nothing about you people!” when George and Hugh went to him for help. I was told to not even mention the name of Buford Avritt to my grandmother. The question that will probably never be answered is, did Hugh decide to use his father’s name or did Blanche decide to do it?
Other stories in the series about my Great Uncle Hugh Marion Reed Averette
I posted the photograph on the left in 2010 in Wordless Wednesday – Mystery Couple. At the time I didn’t know who either of them were and wasn’t sure about the uniform he was wearing. By googling I found that it was a World War 1 army dress uniform.
I posted the photo on the left a couple of months ago in Theresa Pearl’s Birthday – March 10, 1919. My cousin was scanning and sending me old photographs and this was one of them. Although only one of the children was labeled I knew who the other was because of other photos. I think that is probably their mother.
Today I was looking on Ancestry.com trying to fill in some of the gaps and noticed there was a little waving leaf next to Uncle Hugh Reed’s brother-in-law, Clifford Edison Young. I decided to look and see what they had. There were several historical records, including a record of burial in the Los Angeles National Cemetery. It said that he was a Sergent in the United States Army during World War 1.
I thought of the photo of the mystery man in uniform immediately. I found the photograph and looked at it. I thought that the woman next to him looked like the woman with the two children – Blanche Young Reed. I am convinced that the soldier is Clifford but I’m not sure about the woman because Blanche had three younger sisters. Clifford was two years younger than she was and the three sisters were younger than they were. The sister in the picture looks younger than the soldier to me so I think that it was Nellie, Bessie or Elizabeth. Perhaps there is another picture that will turn up and completely solve the mystery.