This is my thirteenth post for the April A-Z Challenge. M is for music, and in this case, the music of my second cousin, Hubert Averette. We never knew each other because my grandmother, Pearl’s, and her brother, Hugh’s families were out of contact for over 80 years. When Hubert’s son, Alex let me know that there was a 45 with two songs that his father both wrote and sang, available on Ebay, I decided to buy it. My sister and I listened to it on her record player and enjoyed it.
Hubert was a teacher by profession. Although his love of music didn’t lead to a musical career, he didn’t let that stop him from performing and enjoying music. His son Alex described the making of the record and his father’s love of music to me and I want to share the story in his own words. At the end of the post, you can listen to both of the songs.
My Dad was a prolific songwriter and singer. He even tried a shot at becoming a rock star in the early ’70s. He could sing just like Elvis and he was a huge fan but, on those two songs, ‘Another Way’ and ‘There’s a Time and a Place for Everything’, he was using his own singing voice. He played piano and guitar, but not on that record. The band that provided musical accompaniment and backup vocals on my Dad’s record was only hired for the record. My father wrote the two songs on the 45. He had picked those out from 24+ songs he had written up to 1970.
The band that backed up Dad at the nursing homes and concert halls was none other than our family. We sang in nursing homes for free, music halls for donations in late ’77 and raised a total of $1,000 for the heart fund research by doing it. Dad did vocals and guitar, Mom played the piano, I played the drums, and my sister played the rhythm sticks and the xylophone. We had such fun and enjoyment doing this together as a family; my sister and I cherish these memories, as well as many others growing up. My Mom and Dad were such wonderful loving parents and friends to us. My Mother was such a good caring person and my father was such a brilliant, talented man, the world missed out on it, but our family didn’t, that’s for sure!
This postcard was written to my grandmother, Pearl Reed, after a visit to two of her sisters in Benton Harbor, MI in 1909. Pearl was 23 and her niece was about 7. I wonder why she chose a picture of the Ohio Penitentiary.
Dear Pearl, I am glad you got home and I worst (sic) you were here know (sic). Margaret Busby
Miss Pearl Reed 2730 Kenwood Indianapolis, Indiana
I didn’t have any castles in my photo stash, but this morning I remembered this postcard of the Ohio Penitentiary that my grandmother Pearl’s niece sent to her in 1909. Surrounded by stone walls, like the castle below, it is my entry for Sepia Saturday 171. I did post this in 2010 but I don’t think anyone ever saw it, so here it is again. The Penitentiary was demolished in 1998. To see photos of then and now – including a photograph that shows a little tower – go to Old Ohio Penitentiary.
This is my first post for the April A-Z Challenge. I will be blogging everyday using the letters of the alphabet as a prompt. Today I am going to write about one of my great grandmothers, Anna Allen Reed.
Anna Allen Reed was my father’s mother’s mother. I don’t have any photographs of her but my grandfather said that my Aunt Gladys looked just like her grandmother and that Anna Reed was the meanest woman in the world.
When I started asking for information about the family and tracing my grandparent’s family in the 1970s, my grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage sent me a paper on which she had written her parents and grandparents on the right hand side and her husband’s on the left. She listed their children and their professions below. Scotch tape held the two papers together. Although she always said her grandmother, Clara was a Cherokee Indian, there is no evidence to support this. The mtDNA test that my Aunt Gladys took that goes back through the material line is L3e2a1b1, which goes back to Northeast or Central Africa. I also cannot find the family before 1870 which indicates, to me, that they were probably enslaved. They are listed in the censuses as “mulatto” or “Black” or “Negro”, depending on year and location. Anna was Catholic and raised her children as Catholics.
In 1870 twenty five year old Anna was living with her 3 year old son, George and working as a cook in a household in Lebanon, KY. Her maiden name was listed on several of her children’s documents as “Ray”. On others it was listed as “Allen”. In 1870, her oldest daughter, Josephine, lived with Clara and James Greens. By 1880 Anna Reed was living with 6 of her 8 children, next door to Clara and James Green. She was supporting her family as a “laundress”.
“Black laundresses were … in great demand in southern Jim Crow society. Because of the widespread call for their services, laundresses could, in some cases, manage to exercise some small degree of independence. They could, for example, choose to do laundry four to six days a week, depending on how many households they chose to serve. But economic necessity usually dictated that number, and the washerwomen were usually obligated to work as much as possible. Laundresses made $4 to $8 a month, and theirs was one of the hardest possible domestic trades; the more clothes that people accumulated in the post-industrialized clothing boom of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the more work was left for the washing women. These women desperately needed the income … They had to make their own soap from lye, starch from wheat bran, and washtubs from beer barrels that they cut in half. They would cook dinner for their families while ironing. Without running water in their homes, the washerwomen had to carry gallons of water from local pumps, hydrants, or wells in order to wash, boil, and rinse customers’ clothes. It was backbreaking work.“
Anna had eight children. Her oldest daughter was listed as a Campbell in the 1870 census and I don’t know who her father was. George was listed as “Ray” in that census. According to my Aunt Barbara, Anna married George Reed and when he died she married his brother, Palmer Reed. They had two children together – Sarah and Louise. I have found no marriage records for Anna with George Ray or George Reed or Palmer Reed. Sometime after the children were born, Palmer left and Anna had a long term relationship with a white doctor named Buford Avritt. They had four children together, Hugh was born in 1876, followed by Minnie in 1878, Clarence in 1882, and my grandmother Pearl in 1886. This chart may help make sense of the relationships. Eventually, they all used the surname “Reed”.
A Chart of Anna Allen Reed’s children and their fathers. Click to enlarge.
Anna Allen Reed was mulatto and Buford Avritt was white. They lived in Kentucky at a time when such a marriage would have been illegal, even if they had wanted to get married. There is no legal record of this relationship. It is oral history that has gone down through various branches of the family. Minnie’s middle name was Avritt. Hugh and his family eventually changed their name from Reed to Averette. There are no stories of Buford Avritt supporting the family, buying them a house or groceries or sending the children to school.
Anna’s son, George, was the first member of the family to move north to Indianapolis, Indiana looking for work in the Van Camp Cannery. As soon as he was able, he sent for the rest of the family. A George Reed, identified as “colored” appears in the Indianapolis Directory in 1884 as a laborer. He would have been about 17 years old. His older sister, Sarah married James Busby in Indianapolis in 1889. By the 1893 Indianapolis Directory Anna (Widow of George) and George Reed, laborer are listed at 31 Willard Street. The next year and in the years following, Anna was listed as the widow of Palmer.
In 1900 Anna and her family were living at 529 Willard Street in Indianapolis. She was 51 and no longer working. Living with her are 28 year old George, 18 year old Clarence, 16 year old Pearl and Josephine’s daughter, Bessie who was 14. Josephine is dead. Minne and her family are living next door at 525 Willard. Sarah and Louise were living in Berrien County, Michigan and Hugh was in the Navy. Neither Anna or George could read or write. All of the younger people in the home were literate.
In 1905 George bought a house at 2730 Kenwood Avenue. This house was north of downtown. This was the house that my grandmother lived in when my grandfather, Albert B. Cleage, was courting her. Anna did not approve of my grandfather. He believed it was because he was “too dark” for her liking. My grandmother saw him in spite of her mother and sometimes it resulted in anger on her mother’s part. In 1910 my grandparents were married in the Kenwood house so there must have been some acceptance, although bitter feelings seem to have remained.
On February 22, 1911, Anna Allen Reed died of a cerebral hemorrhage. My grandmother Pearl filled out the information on the death certificate. Anna was listed as being 58, although she was closer to 68. She was the widow of Palmer Reed and born in Lebanon, KY. Her father’s name was Robert Allen and her mother was Clara Green. Anna’s occupation was “housewife”. She was buried in Mt. Jackson Cemetery in Indianapolis.
Although I spent much time in Indianapolis when one of my daughter’s lived there, I was unable to get photos of the houses they lived in because they had been torn down.
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