Category Archives: Reeds

Thomas Ray Allen 1847 – 1907

This is an introduction to Thomas Ray Allen. The other posts during the A to Z Challenge will expand on details mentioned here.

Thomas Ray Allen was born into slavery about 1845 on Foster Ray’s plantation in Lebanon, Marion County Kentucky.  Thomas’ mother, Clara was sixteen years old. His father’s name was Louis Allen.  Two years later his sister Sarah was born and two years after that his sister Annie (my great grandmother) was born. Slave holder Foster Ray was a farmer/merchant with lands in Kentucky, Missouri and Illinois.

Foster died in January 15, 1863 leaving everything to his wife Marietta Phillips Ray and his nephew Nicholas Ray. Unfortunately there is no probate list naming the enslaved.

Troops at Camp Nelson in May 1864

On August 15, 1864 Thomas enlisted as “Thomas Ray” in Company D, 5th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops – Calvary in Lebanon Kentucky.  He was 18 years old, 5 ft 5 in. with black hair, black eyes and copper complexion. Occupation given as “farmer”.  On March 25, 1865 Thomas was appointed bugler.  The bugler’s job was to sound directions to the troops when there was too  much confusion and noise for the commanders to issue orders by mouth.

On Thomas’ enlistment papers Addison Taylor of Marion County is listed as his slave owner, however in his pension file Thomas says several times that Foster Ray was his only former owner.  Foster Ray and Addison Taylor, who lived in the adjoining counties of Casey and Marion Kentucky, were cousins.

From March 14 through 18 Thomas was relieved from duty after falling from his horse and receiving a concussion. On March 19, he was returned to duty as they found nothing else wrong with him.  On August 15, 1866 Thomas was mustered out in Helena Arkansas, along with the rest of his regiment.

He returned to Lebanon Kentucky and in the 1870 census was living with his younger sister Sarah Ray Primus, her husband Felix and their young children. Felix and Thomas were both laborers.

On 9 March 1871 Thomas Ray and Georgiana McDougal (aka Martin) were married in her home county of Larue, Kentucky.  Her older brother Thomas MacDougal had also served in the USCT, although he was part of a different company.

Thomas Ray appears in the Indianapolis City Directory in 1877 as a hostler, a stableman who cares for horses. In January of 1878 he and his first wife Georgiana were divorced.  About 1879 he was introduced to the woman who would be his second wife, Katy Wiley by a mutual friend, Lottie Sullivan.  About this time Thomas decided to stop using the surname “Ray”, his former enslaver’s name.  He began to  go by his father’s surname, “Allen”.  He explained his choice in his Will here, Thomas Allen – Last Will and Testament.

Finding this envelope addressed to my grandmother C/o Mrs. Katy Allen sent me on a search to find out who Katy Allen was and from there to discover my USCT Uncle Thomas Allen.

Thomas Allen and Katy Wily were married by Rev. Jacob R. Raynor, a local Baptist minister on March 5, 1880.  In 1887, they were living in the cottage at 2157 N. Capital, which they bought and lived in until his death in 1907 and Katy’s move back to Ohio near the end of her life.

By 1887 his niece and nephew, George and Sallie Reed, had moved to Indianapolis. They were soon followed by their mother, his sister Anna Reed and the rest of her family by 1894.  They shared his home for several years.

In August of 1890 Thomas was 45 years old and approved for a military pension of $12 a month due to total deafness of the right ear and disease of digestive organs. In 1894 his pension was inexplicably dropped to $6 a month. Over the next 13 years he fought to have it raised to at least $8 a month, to no avail. He was examined by doctors who documented his deteriorating health.

Family members, former United States Colored Troop members and friends from throughout the years testified regularly that he was who he claimed to be, and that Thomas Ray and Thomas Allen were one and the same.  The also testified that he was ill and debilitated. Because this was long after slavery was over and he was living far from the place where he had been enslaved, nobody from the same plantation testified for him.

In 1904 the doctors found him to be suffering rheumatism, chronic diarrhea and disease of the stomach. His pension remained at $6. By 1906 Dr. John W. Norrel gave evidence that Thomas’ ailments made it impossible for him to support himself.  By July 1907, the medical testimony declared that he was in much worse shape and would not last much longer without some relief.

At age 60, on September 16, 1907, Thomas Allen died at home in his own bed.  He left his wife to apply for a pension as a surviving widow, which she did successfully.  Neither he nor she had any children.  In the 1910 census, Katy Allen was living in the same house and doing laundry to supplement her pension. She died in 1915.


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


Making Connections

Last year I made contact with one of my DNA matches on 23 & Me, but I did not know how we were related because I  did not know that the name Primus was part of my family tree at that time.

Click to enlarge documents below. To navigate back to the blog post, click on the arrow up there at the top of the page.

My grandparents – Dr. Albert Buford Cleage  and Pearl Doris Reed in 1909 outside of Witherspoon United Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana during the time the letters were written.

In November of 2016, during “National Novel Writing Month” I was working on writing a book  using my grandfather Dr. Albert B. Cleage’s letters to my future grandmother, Pearl Reed Cleage.

At one point he was sending letters to my grandmother c/o Katy Allen. I couldn’t find Katy Allen the first time I looked a few years ago when I was first blogging about the letters.

I took another look and found Kate Allen in the Indianapolis directory.

Using Katy Allen’s address I was able to find her in the 1900 census, along with her husband Thomas Allen.

Looking at his death certificate, I was stunned to find that “Clara Green” was listed as his mother.  That was my great grandmother Anna Ray Allen Reed’s mother. Thomas Allen was her brother.

I found Thomas Ray in the 1870 census living with Sarah Primus/Prymous. Family relationships are not given in the 1870 census.  I had experienced family members living together without being identified as such before and wondered if Thomas and Sarah were siblings.

I set up a tree for Sarah and the Primus family and eventually found a death certificate for one of the children where Sarah’s maiden name was given as “Ray”, which was Thomas’  last name before he changed it from the slave owner’s surname of “Ray” to his father’s name, “Allen”.  Read about that name change in his Will here.

My grandmother’s handwritten family tree gives her grandmother’s name as “Clara Hoskins.” I was never able to find her using that name because she was married to James Green in the 1870 and 1880 census and using Clara Green.

I had found Perry and Rachael Hoskins living near Clara in the 1870 and 1880 census. They had also been free and enumerated in the 1860 census. I decided to take another look at them.

Although the Death Records for Marion County do not include the 1880 and 1890, I found their graves in Find-a-grave. And I found their Wills.

Perry died first. He left everything to his wife Rachael. Racheal left money to St. Augustine Catholic Churches priest and for the upkeep of her husband’s grave. She also left $20 each to Sarah Jane Primus and Anna Reed.  Unfortunately she did not mention any relationship with them.

One day recently, I received an email from 23 & Me.  I had 80 new relatives waiting to discover our link. I decided to go look and see who they were.

I have not checked 23 & Me recently because I can never make the connections between the DNA and my tree.  I wrote a contact who matched me, my aunt Gladys and several of my second cousins in the Reed line. She wrote back and gave me two names that didn’t mean anything to me. Then she added the message “Also look for the name Primus or Promise. My dad’s great grandmother was Sue (Susan) Rae Primus”.  PRIMUS! Just the family I had been looking for a connection with!

You can see Susan Primus up in the 1870 census as a nine year old. I had found Susan, one of Sarah’s daughters, but I had not found her marriage record, so her married name meant nothing to me, but Primus! These were the very people I had spent the last couple of months researching!  And because I had done all that research, I knew who they were.  The connection between two of my great great grandmother’s children has been made.

Now I want to find the link between Perry and Rachael Hoskins and my great great grandmother Clara.

You can find other blog posts about Anna Ray Allen Reed and family here The Reeds

Thomas Allen – Last Will and Testament 1907


Last week I decided to take one more look at a question I had about my grandfather Albert B. Cleage’s letters to his future wife, Pearl Reed. Who was the Katy Allen at 2715 N. Capital St. Indianapolis?  Albert sent Pearl letters there for several months in 1910. I had looked for Katy Allen several years ago when I first posted some of the letters on my blog, and found nothing. I only had her name and street address.

Recently I looked again and found Katy Allen listed in the Indianapolis City Directory for several years around 1910. She was listed as the widow of Thomas Allen. I then found her in the 1900 census with her husband and then I found his death certificate from 1907 (all on Ancestry) Thomas’ mother’s name was listed as “Clara Green”.  This was my great grandmother Anna’s mother’s name – which made him my grandmother Pearl’s uncle and her mother Anna’s brother. I had never found any relatives for Anna except those of her mother and children. Anna’s maiden name was given as “Ray” on some of her children’s records.

I looked some more and found Thomas Allen’s Will. It said he used to go by the name of “Ray” which was his former master’s name but he changed it to “Allen” after he got out of the service (he gave his unit as 5th US Colored Calvary). In the military record, there is his former slave holder’s full name! Now this particular branch of the family was very close mouthed about anything to do with slavery, although they did mention those Cherokee Ancestors who passed on no DNA. So, from looking for some info for my book about my grandfather’s letters, I found a new ancestor; my first United States Colored Troops family member; the last slave holder for that particular branch of the family and who the person was at that N. Capital St. address.

Last Will and Testament of Thomas Allen

State of Indiana

Marion County

I, Thomas Allen, a resident of Marion County, Indiana, and being of sound and disposing mind and memory, do make, publish and declare this to be my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills by me made.

I, Thomas Allen, known on the war records of Company D, Fifth United States Colored Calavry, and in matters relating to my pension business (act of June 27, 1890, Inv. Cft. 693170) as Thomas Ray, wish to explain that this difference is caused by my enlisting in the army under the name of my former master owner, whose name was Ray.  However, after my discharge, I took the name of Allen, which was my fathers name and which is my true and correct name, and the name und which I have transacted all other business and under which I was married to my present wife, and the name under which I am known and recognized by my neighbors, friends and acquaintances, and that Thomas Ray and Thomas Allen are the same and identical persons –

Item #1. I give and devise to my beloved wife, Kate Allen, the following described real estate, situated in the city of Indianapolis, County of Marion and State of Indiana, and described as follows: – Lot number twenty-five (25) in Ruddell and Vintons Park Place, Plat Book number four (4), Page one hundred ninety (190) in the Recorder’s Office of Marion County, Indiana.

Item #2. I give and bequeath to my wife, Kate Allen, all of the personal property of which I may die seized.

Item #3. I constitute and appoint Otts Delp executor of this will.  

Witness my hand and seal, this 23rd day of July, A.D., 1907, at Indianapolis Indiana.

Wm. S. Steavens  Henry C. Bade  Thomas Allen

The foregoing instrument signed, sealed and acknowledged by said Thomas Allen as and for his last will and testament in our presence, who, at his request, and in his presence, and the presence of each other, have subscribed our names as witnesses there to, this 23rd day of July 1907.

Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 23rd day of July, 1907.

Bert Delp

Affidavit of Death

State of Indiana, Marion County, Set”

Otto Delp being duly swornm on oath says that Thomas Allen departed this life on or about the 10 day of November 1907 and at the time of his death was a resident of said County and State.

Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 14 day of November A.D. 1907       Otto Delp

Leonard M. Quill Clerk

Proof of Will

Before the Clerk of the probate court of the County of Marion, in the State of Indiana, personally came William S. Stevens and Henry C. Bade subscribing witnesses to the forgoing instrument of writing, who being by me first duly sworn, upon oarth depose and say that Thomas Allen testator named in the instrument of writing purporting to be his LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT, did sign seal, publish and decare the same to be his last will and testament, on the day of the date thereof; that the said testor was at the same time of the full age of twenty-one years, and of sound and disposing mind and memory, and that he was under no coercion, compulsion or restraint, and that he was competent to devise his property. And that the said testator so signed, sealed, published and declared the same to be his last will and testament in manner and form as aforesaid, in the presence of affiant and of – the other subscribing witness…thereto and that each attested the same and subscribed their names as witnesses thereto, in the presence and at the request of said testator, and in the presence of each other.  Wm. S. Stevens   Henry C. Bade

Subscried and sworn to before me in witness of which, I hereunto affix the seal of said Court, and subscribe my name at Indianapolis, this 14 day of November A.D. 1907

Leonard M. Quill Clerk

5 Generations of Pearls: 1886 – 2003

5 Pearls
5 Pearls

Names are sometimes repeated in a family generation after generation. In my family, Pearl is one such name. My grandmother, Pearl Doris Reed Cleage, was the first Pearl.  She was born in Lebanon, KY in 1886, the youngest of 8 children.

  1. Pearl Losin Mullins was the son of Pearl’s sister Minnie Mullins.  He was born in 1908 in Indianapolis, IN. and died in 1986 in California.
  2. Theresa Pearl Averette, was the youngest daughter of Pearl’s brother Hugh. She was born in 1913 in Indianapolis, IN. and died in 1941 in California.
  3. Barbara Pearl Cleage, daughter of Pearl was born in 1920 in Detroit, MI.
  4. Pearl Michelle Cleage, my sister, daughter of Pearl’s oldest son Albert and 2nd granddaughter was born in Springfield, MA in 1948.
  5. Anna Pearl Shreve is my grandmother’s youngest daughter’s daughter.  She was born in 1960 in Detroit, MI.  Anna Pearl was the 4th granddaughter.
  6. Ayanna Pearl, my daughter and my grandmother Pearl’s great granddaughter, was born in 1976 in Jackson, MS.
  7. Jann Leya Pearl, great granddaughter of Pearl Reed Cleage, was born in 1983 in the Detroit area.
  8. Liliana Pearl Nowaczewski, is another great granddaughter of the original Pearl. She was born in 1989 in Michigan.
  9. Chole Pearl is the youngest family Pearl.  She was born in 2003 in New Orleans, LA and is a great great granddaughter of Pearl Reed Cleage.


Lillian Louise Reed Shoemaker


My grandmother’s older sister is wearing a cameo broach here, but is otherwise unadorned.  Lillian Louise Reed was born about 1873 in Lebanon, Kentucky. She was the fourth child of Anna Allen Reed. Her father was Palmer Reed.  In 1889, her sister Sarah married James Busby and moved to Benton Harbor, Michigan. On June 10, 1891, Louise married Michigan native, Solonus Shoemaker, in Berrien County, Michigan. She lived the rest of her life there and died in 1938 at the age of  65. Daughter, Mildred, was born in 1899. Son, Floyd 4 years later in 1903.  She is buried in Chrystal Springs Cemetery in Benton Township, Berrien County.

Mrs. Shoemacker, Berrien Resident For 44 Years, Dies

“Mrs. Lillian Louise Schoemacker, 63 died at 4:30 a. m. today at her home, 693 Maiden Lane. She was born at Lebanon, Ky., October 27, 1874. She was married to Solumun Schoemacker on June 26, 1891, in Berrien county where she had been a resident for 44 years.

Mrs. Schoemacker leaves a son and daughter, F.E. Schoemacker and Mrs. Mildred Wright, both of Benton Harbor; three sisters, Mrs. Sarah Busby of Benton Harbor, Mrs. Minnie Mullen and Mrs. A. B. Cleg of Detroit; three brothers, H.M. Reed, Clarence Reed of Chicago, George Reed of Indianapolis, Ind.

Friends may view the body at the Reiser mortuary. Funeral arrangements are incomplete.”

Note: The last name is spelled “Shoemaker”. “Cleg” is spelled “Cleage”.

For other jewelry laden photographs, or in some cases pet laden, visit Sepia Saturday click the photo below of a woman wearing more jewelry than anybody in my family album wore.


Seven Generations of L3e2a1b1 – My Grandmother Pearl’s MtDNA

Information chart from 23andMe MtDNA page.
Information chart from 23andMe MtDNA page.

Although I inherited DNA from my paternal Grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage, I did not inherit her MtDNA, which goes through the maternal line, from mother to daughter to granddaughter etc. I had to convince one of my father’s sisters to be tested. My Aunt Gladys agreed. Oral history told us that my Grandmother’s mother’s mother was a Cherokee Indian, however, her MtDNA L3e21b1, originates in Sub-Saharan Africa.  No Native American DNA showed up at all, in either my MtDNA or my autosomal (total) DNA.

Names and photos of some of those who share Clara's mtdna.
Names and photos of some of those who share Clara’s mtdna.


Clara Hoskins is the first woman in this ancestral line that I can name.  She was born about 1829 in Kentucky. Her daughter, Annie Allen,  and her 5 granddaughters were also born in Kentucky. From there, the family moved to Indianapolis, IN and on to Benton Harbor and Detroit Michigan and spread out from there to California, Illinois, Windsor and Toronto.

Annie passed her mtDNA to all of her 8 children but because it passes from mother to daughter, only the five daughters passed it on to their daughters. The son’s children received their mother’s MtDNA.  Those 5 daughters birthed 15 granddaughters, who birthed 12 known great granddaughters. Josephine’s daughter Bessie, disappeared so I don’t know if she had children.  From those 12 great granddaughters I have 11 known 2x great granddaughters.

 There are several lines that I lost about here. I can only vouch for 1 3x great granddaughter but there are possibly others from those 5 unknown to me lines.  Hopefully, someone will let me know. This makes a total of 42 known descendents with Clara’s MtDNA.

Anna’s oldest daughter, Josephine, had one daughter, Bessie, who ran away from home in her youth and was never heard from again. Unfortunately, I don’t know Josephine’s married name so I can’t try and find Bessie.  She last makes an appearance in the 1900 census living with her grandmother in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Lillian Louise Reed Shoemaker had a son and a daughter, Mildred, who had 1 son only.

Sarah Reed Busby had 5 daughters.  Elleretta had 2 sons only.   Margaret had 2 daughters,  Sarah and Arlene. Sarah had a daughter. Queen had 1 daughter, Elaine, who had 2 daughters, Marina and Lori.  Lori had 1 son and 1 daughter, Alexis. Marina had  2 daughters, Sinclaire and Sidne. These daughters are all still in school.  Sophia had 1 daughter, Bernadine, who had 1 son only. I have no children for Marie.

Minnie Reed Mullins had 5 daughters.  Helen had 2 sons and 2 daughters, Patricia and Joyce. Patricia has 1 daughter, Anastasia. Joyce has 2 daughters, Elizabeth and Kristinia.  I don’t know if either of them had children.  Georgie Anna had 1 daughter, Barbara Anne. I don’t know if this daughter had any children.  Hughie Marie had 1 daughter, Patrice, who has 1 daughter, Katherine, who has no children. Minnie had 1 daughter, Deborah Anne.  who has no children. Barbara Louise had 4 sons only.

My grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage had 3 daughters, Barbara, Gladys and Anna. Barbara has 1 son only. Gladys has 3 sons and 1 daughter, Jan. Jan has 1 son and 3 daughters, Shashu, Jann and Sadya. Shashu has 1 son and 1 daughter, Lyric. Lyric is too young to have children.  Anna has 2 daughters, Anna and Maria. Anna has 2 sons and 2 daughters, Liliana and Sophia. Liliana has 1 toddler daughter. Maria has 2 children by adoption who will not share her mtdna.

M is for the Music of Hubert Averette

a-to-z-letters-mThis 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.

“Rock Star” photo of Hubert Averette wearing a silver lame shirt sewed by wife, Janice, from his own design. It was used as the cover photo for the record.

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!

There’s A Time And A Place

Another Way

Postcard To My Grandmother From Her Niece – 1909 – Sepia Saturday #171

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.

A is for Anna Allen Reed

a-to-z-letters-aThis 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.

Gladys Cleage, Anna Reeds lookalike.

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.

My grandmother's handwritten family tree.
My grandmother’s handwritten family tree.

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”.

According to Sharecropping, Laundry, and Black Labor in the New South,

“Washer_Woman”. Artist unknown.

“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.