For many years my uncle Louis communicated with ham operators throughout the world using his short wave radio. In this photograph he is in the sun room that ran across the back of the family home st 2270 Atkinson in Detroit. Later the radio was moved down to a room in the basement. I do not remember hearing him talk or receive messages, but I seem to hear his voice giving his call letters W8AFM – W 8 Able Fox Mary. At one point we talked about learning the Morris Code so we could get licensed as ham radio operators, but we never did.
For the 4th and final wedding we celebrate the marriage of Paul Payne and Betty Ileen Shreve. They were long time family friends. Paul was born in Ohio but raised in Detroit. Betty was born in North Buxton, Canada. North Buxton was settled in 1849 by formerly enslaved Black Americans. I was told years ago that Betty was related to the Shreve side of my family. The Maid of Honor was Betty’s sister, Doris Mae Shreve. Unfortunately I do not recognized the Ring Bearer and Flower girl. I do recognize Best Man Louis J. Cleage. Always the Best Man, never the groom. He was Best Man at 3 out of 4 of the weddings I’ve shared this month. The wedding took place in Detroit on July 25, 1949. Betty was 18 and Paul was 28.
How do they fit into my family tree? Betty Shreve Payne is the second cousin of my uncle Winslow Shreve who was married to my aunt Anna Cleage Shreve.
My father’s sister, Gladys Helen Cleage was married to Eddie Warren Evans on Thursday, March 25, 1948 at Plymouth Congregational Church by Rev. Horace White in Detroit, Michigan. There were descriptions of the wedding gown and of the brides maids gowns. Unfortunately the last several lines of the article have been lost to the passage of time so we have to guess at the color and particulars of the brides maids dresses. It was mentioned that the grooms sister wore a violet gown. I wonder if the brides sister’s dresses were rose because the theme of roses and violets. But would they dress in rose and carry red roses?
The article misspelled Cleage as “Cleague” a few times, while also spelling it correctly several times. A typo made Paul’s last name of “Payne”, “Cayne”.
I found this photograph in my box of Cleage photographs. I have no idea who they are, however I am going to use them on the second Saturday of our month long Sepia Saturday Wedding prompt.
I don’t know who the bride and groom are. I only recognize my uncle Louis Cleage and the woman second from the right, Velma Payne. I miss being able to send these mystery photos to my aunts for identification. I wrote about Louis as one of the 7 in a boat.
Velma was born on August 4, 1919 and passed away in 2010 at the age of 90. She was the wife of George W. Payne. They had two children. She was a librarian in the Detroit Public Library system for 32 years. She was a librarian at the Oakman branch library when I used to go there as a child. I remember one evening going there after school with my mother and sister and finding the book “Bed knob and Broomstick: or How to be a Witch in 10 Easy Lessons.” It turned out to be one of my favorite books.
Not so wordless Wednesday Talks about Velma Payne and has a wedding portrait of George and Velma Payne.
Building Louis’ Cottages – Idlewild – A post about Louis’ cottage being built in Idlewild and mentions Velma’s brother-in-law, Paul Payne.
Looking at this photograph, I wondered about the lives of the children in the boat. Here are their lives in a paragraph.
Evelyn Douglas, seated on the left in the first row, was born in 1910 in Detroit. She was the only child of Dr. Edward and Louise Douglas. Her father was a dentist. Her mother was a dressmaker before Evelyn was born. Evelyn graduated from the University of Michigan and earned a graduate degree in education. She married Charles E. Beatty, Sr., a pioneering educator, in 1935. He was the first black principal of Perry Elementary School in Ypsilanti, MI which later housed HighScope Perry Preschool program. She taught for 30 years in the Detroit Public Schools. Evelyn was the mother of three children. She died at age 93 in 2003 in Detroit.
Cornelius Langston Henderson, who sits in the middle of the first row, was born in 1915 in Detroit, Michigan. He was an only child and grew up several blocks from the Cleages on Detroit’s Old West Side. Cornelius was named after his father, Cornelius L Henderson Sr., also born in Detroit. Like his father, Cornelius Jr became an engineer. His mother, Gertrude, born in Virginia and taught in the Washington DC public schools before she married. The younger Cornelius graduated from Howard University in Washington DC with a degree in civil engineering. He later took postgraduate classes at the University of Michigan. He worked for the City of Detroit as a civil engineer for over 30 years, where he helped design sewer systems. He was married and raised two sons and a stepdaughter. He died in November of 1993 in Detroit and is buried in Detroit Memorial Park.
Albert B Cleage, Jr, my father, seated on the right end of the first row, was the oldest of the seven children of Dr. Albert B. Cleage Sr and Pearl Reed Cleage. He grew up to be a black nationalist minister and organizer around political and civil rights issues. He founded Central Congregational Church which became Central United Church of Christ and finally the Shrine of the Black Madonna. He had two daughter, my sister and me. He died in 2000.
Directly behind my father is his first cousin Helen Mullins. Born in 1899 in Indianapolis, Indiana, she was the oldest of the 12 children of James and Minnie (who was my grandmother Pearl Cleage’s sister) Mullins. James Mullins held various jobs through the years, including that of fireman, carpenter and laborer. Helen completed highschool. She married Otto Mitchell. They raised four children. In the 1940 census Helen was a telegraph operator for Western Union while Otto worked on the assemble line of an automobile factory in Detroit. They owned their own home. Helen died in 1982.
Helen is holding Barbara Cleage, my aunt. Barbara was the 5th child and first daughter of Dr. Albert and Pearl Cleage. She completed a year at Wayne State. She married Ernest Martin and had one son. Unfortunately the marriage didn’t work out and she returned to Detroit. Barbara worked as a receptionist in her father’s doctor’s office, at Cleage Printers doing layout and finally her true talent came to the fore and she organized and managed the bookstores and cultural centers for the Shrine of the Black Madonna. She was amazing at it. Barbara is 96 and lives in South Carolina.
Next, in the back row middle, we have my uncle Louis Cleage. Born in 1913 he was the 2nd of the seven children. He followed in his father’s footsteps and became a medical doctor, sharing an office with him for some years. Besides having a medical practice on Lovett Ave. in Detroit for many years, he was active in the Movement. He wrote Smoke Rings for the Illustrated News and ran for office on the Freedom Now Party ticket in 1964. He maintained a cottage in Idlewild where the family spent many happy summers. Louis died in 1994.
Last we have a partial, ghostly image of my uncle Henry Cleage. He was the third child born in 1915. He graduated from Wayne State in Detroit and became a lawyer. During WW2 he and his brother Hugh farmed as a conscientious objectors. (Where was Hugh when this picture was taken? Click to read) Henry later left the law and started Cleage Printers where he and Hugh printed far into the night putting out flyers for grocery stores, books of poetry and radical newsletters. He ran for Prosecuting Attorney on the Freedom Now ticket in 1964. After the 1967 Detroit riot, Henry returned to the law and worked for Neighborhood Legal Services until he retired to Idlewild, MI where he fine tuned his Status Theory. He died in 1996.
The photograph in the boat was taken the day of this picnic, summer of 1919.
I used news articles, census and other records from ancestry.com to fill in the lives of Evelyn Douglas and Cornelius L. Henderson, who are not related to me.
My grandfather, Mershell C. Graham came to Detroit from Montgomery, Alabama in 1917. He worked on the steamer “Eastern States” as a steward for awhile and then as a stockman in the library at the Ford River Rouge Plant in Dearborn, Michigan until he retired in the 1950s. Although he had a car, he did not drive to work, he caught the bus, first walking to the bus stop and then riding over an hour to get to work.