While looking through a box of photographs the other day, I came across some negatives from the 1970s.
The first strip was taken in 1970, when I was a revolutionary librarian at the Black Conscience Library in Detroit. I was pregnant with my first daughter, Jilo. Uri grew up to be an engineer. Phil later confessed to being a snitch, Miriam is Tyra’s mother. I was 23.
The second strip was made in 1974 in Atlanta. Shirley was visiting from Detroit, as was Tyra. Jim, my husband, was a printer with the Atlanta Voice. I was at home full time. Ife, my second daughter, was about to turn one year old. Jilo was 3. Tyra was 2. I was 26.
Although this is not a clock, which was the theme for this weeks Sepia Saturday, it does reflect time. You can see more timely entries here.
Memories of Easter – dying eggs in my Graham grandparent’s basement on Easter Saturday with my sister and cousins. Easter baskets with jelly beans and chocolate eggs and one big chocolate Easter bunny. Tiny fuzzy chicks. The year someone gave us 4 or 5 real chicks that died one by one in their box in the basement. Sugar eggs decorated with wavy blue, pink and yellow icing and a little scene inside. Reading the book “The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes”, new clothes, going to church. Going by the Grandmother Cleage’s after church. What I don’t remember is gathering for a big Easter meal like we did for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I wonder why?
I have some Easter hats here and although you can’t see them clearly, my sister and I are holding some stuffed bunnies. To see other Easter or bunny Sepia Saturday offerings click here.
Recently I received a phone call from my cousin Jacqui. We met by phone several years ago. My great grandmother Jennie was her grandmother Willie’s sister. Jacqui sent me photographs of ancestors I did not have – one of Eliza (for whom this blog is named) and of two of Eliza’s children – Anna and Ransom. Earlier this month, Jacqui sent me a packet of information about her father’s side of the family. Included was this photograph of her father, Ubert Conrad Vincent and also some of his parents. Read more about the Tulanes and Vincents in these posts. Hitting the Google Jackpot. Naomi Tulane’s Engagement Photograph. Willie Allen Tulane. Victor and Willie Allen Tulane. Victor, Willie and Children’s Graves. And more. I had no idea I had done so many posts on this branch of the family.
Anyway, back to the phone call from cousin Jacqui. She mentioned that she did not know the names of her grandparent’s parents. Of course I decided to see what I could find. The information I started with was from a Power Point Program Jaqui used for a presentation about her father.
Rev. Andrew B. Vincent
Born on Cherokee Territory in Ashville, NC
Professor at Shaw University.
Later became Dean – School of Theology
Received an honorary Doctoral Degree on his retirement in 1904.
Cora P. Exum
*Born in Wilson, NC
*Professor at Shaw University
*Taught Domestic Science
*She had 14 children.
I first looked at Ancestry.com and found Andrew and Cora Vincent in Raleigh, North Carolina in the 1900 and 1910. In both of these censuses everyone was listed as “black” with self and parents born in North Carolina and they were enumerated in Raleigh Ward 3, Wake, North Carolina.
In 1900 the household included
Andrew D Vincent 43
Cora P Vincent 31
Mable Vincent 13
Ubert C Vincent 9
Cora P Vincent 6
Ruth E Vincent 4
Baby Vincent 3/12
Andrew and Cora were married in 1884 and had been married for 16 years. She had birthed 8 children and 5 were living. His occupation was listed as missionary. They were all identified as black.
In 1910 the household included
Andrew B Vincent 50
Cora P Vincent 42
Ubrot C Vincent 19
Cora Vincent 16
Ruth Vincent 14
Alfred B Vincent 10
Reba G Vincent 6
Burnice Vincent 2
Alice Hardin 20 (listed as a servant)
Rev. Andrew Vincent was working as a missionary for a Sunday school.
In the 1919 Raleigh, NC City Directory, Andrew, Cora and Cora Pearl Vincent were all listed as teachers.
In 1920 the family was enumerated in New York, New York. Andrew was not ennumerated there. Perhaps he was out of town on an Evangelistic tour when the census people came to the house because he is back by the 1925 census. Household Members: Name Age
Cora Pearl Vincent 50
Ubert C Vincent 27
Pearl Vincent 24
Reba Vincent 15
Bernice Vincent 11
Claudia Foy 36
Hebda Vincent 9
Cora was listed as the married head of the household. Ubert was a doctor at Bellevue Hospital. The whole household was identified as black and born in North Carolina.
In the 1925 New York State Census, the family is ennumerated in New York, New York. All were identified as “C” colored. Housework meant Cora and Pearl were doing their own housework in their own home.
Household Members Name Age Occupation
Andrew Vincent 67 minister
Cora Vincent 45 housework
Pearl Vincent 20 housework
Bernice Vincent 16 at school
Heba Vincent 14 at school
Next I went to Family Search. I searched for Andrew Vincent and didn’t find who I was looking for, so I put in Cora P. Exum. The first couple to come up were A.B. Vincent and Cora P. Exum for 26 July 1884. The marriage took place in Goldsboro Twp., Wayne, NC. There were no parents listed for Cora but A.B.’s were listed as H. Vincent and N. Vincent. Both were identified as black.
Back to Ancestry.com. I looked for H. Vincent and found some John H. Vincents in the 1870 census and decided to just look for all the Vincents in N.C. in 1870. There were over 8,000. On the first page I found a Nettie Vincent married to Henry Vincent. I believe they got Nellie’s age wrong as in the 1880 census she and Henry are the same age. Relationships are not given in the 1870 census.
The household included:
Henry Vincent 35
Nellie Vincent 54
Brown Vincent 12
Phillip Vincent 13
June Enox 2
Abz Bird 2
Henry was listed as mulatto. The rest of the family was listed as black. Henry was a wagon maker. Nellie was keeping house and Brown was at home. I know that people often went by their middle names so this seems a good possibility for Andrew’s family. It would help to know what his middle name was.I found Henry and Nellie Vincent in the 1880 census. They lived alone. They were both enumerated as being 50 years old. Henry was a farmer.
To confuse matters a bit, there was a 60 year old Caroline Vincent living one house over from Henry with her 24 year old son, Brown Vincent. In the 1870 census there was a Caroline Vincent and a house full of Vincents, including a 14 year old Brown Vincent living in the same area as Henry, Nellie and our Brown. I think that this Brown is Caroline’s son and not Andrew Brown Vincent, who should be at Shaw University by that time.
Today I found a death certificate for Phillip Vincent (remember him from the 1870 census above?) His parents are listed as Henry and Caroline Vincent with the informant being Phillip’s wife. Perhaps she got the name wrong? Perhaps Henry had two families and two sons named “Brown.”
I was unable to find Cora Pearl Exum in any census before her marriage record of 1884. Some time ago, I had access to the ProQuest Historical Newspaper Collection and I was able to find and download, many items related to the Tulane/Vincent family. I finally remembered this and looking through them, I was able to find an obituary for both Andrew and Cora Vincent. The Chicago Defender, national edition May 28, 1927. Obituary 2 “May 28, 1927 Physician’s Father Dies. Andrew Brown Vincent of 116 W. 130th St., father of Dr. U. Conrad Vincent, well known physician of 209 W 135th St. died at his late residence Saturday morning. The funeral was held Wednesday evening from Abyssinia Baptist church. “
Ta tum! His middle name was BROWN! Today, I goggled Andrew Brown Vincent – Shaw University and found : VINCENT, ANDREW . . . . . Pleasant Grove, N. C. on page 9 as a student in Shaw University’s Normal Department in the 1876 – 1877 school catalogue. I also found an ebook History of the American Negro with an entry several pages long on Andrew Brown Vincent, mother’s name Nellie Vincent. Much interesting information.
Cora’s obituary reads as follows, with, unfortunately, no mention of parents or siblings. The New York Amsterdam News June 29, 1932. pg 11
Hold Last Rites of Mrs. Vincent Mother of Physician Dies at Home Here – Husband Was N.C. Educator The body of Mrs. Cora Pearl Vincent, 55, who succumbed June 21 at the residence of her son, Dr. Ubert Conrad Vincent, 251 West 138th street was buried Friday beside that of her husband in the family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery.
Three pastors officiated at the funeral services the same afternoon at Abyssiania Baptist Church. They were the Rev. A. Clayton Powell, Jr., assistant pastor of the church; the Rev. J.W. Brown of Mother Zion and the Rev. Richard M. Bolden of the First Emanuel Church.
Arrangements for the funeral were in the hands of the Turner Undertaking and Embalming Company, 107 West 136 street, and the pallbearers were Drs. Paul Collins, Ira McCowan, Chester Chinn, J.W. Saunders, Charles A. Petioni, William Carter, Jesse Cesneres and Police Sergant Samuel Jesse Battles.
Mrs. Vincent, whose husband, Dr. Andrew B. Vincent, was on the faculty of Shaw University for fifteen years, was born at Wilson, N.C., in 1873. She resided at Raleigh, N.C., until arrival in New York thirteen years ago. She was the mother of fourteen children, six of whom survive her. Besides Dr. Vincent they are Ruth, Pearl, Albert, Berniece and Mrs. Reba Ragsdale, the latter of the Dunbar apartments. Ruth, who lives in Chicago, came East for the funeral of her mother. The other children reside at 1849 Seventh avenue, where Mrs. Vincent made her home.
Read a variety of Sepia Saturday posts by other people here.
Today is National Quilting Day. I am going to post about making the “Sixties Blues” quilt. About 1975, when I was pregnant with my 3rd daughter, I decided to make a quilt. I have a box of African fabric scrapes that I used. As the years went by and more babies came along, mine and those of friends, I made many African fabric patchwork quilts. Sometimes I had a pattern but usually I just put the fabric together however it moved me. Here is one I made for my granddaughter Kylett several years ago.
In 2008 I took a Photo-quilting class. Over the years, I had made patchwork quilts but had no idea there were methods to square up the corners and other fine points I never learned because I was making it up as I went along. It took me much of this 8 week class to design my first photo quilt, sew the top together and baste the three layers (top, fill and backing) together. This is my Ancestor baby quilt using pictures of family babies from the early 1900′ to the 1920s. At this same time I was getting back into printmaking. My major in college was printmaking but once I graduated, I ended up living various rural areas and I did not have access to the supplies and equipment I needed until we moved to Atlanta four years ago. where I took a class, in printmaking to refresh my mind after a 40 year break. After that semester ended, I decided to continue with the printmaking and put the quilt on the back burner. For three years.
This fall I decided to take another quilting class to force myself to finish the baby quilt. I didn’t quite finish in the first 8 weeks so I signed up for the next eight weeks and FINALLY completed the quilt, which I will put in the Annual Southwest Atlanta Art Center. I decided to do the “Challenge quilt” for the show held each spring at Southwest Atlanta Arts Center. For each show there is a “challenge quilt” that participants can do or not. This year it can be no larger than 24 X 24 inches and has to be all one color, including the thread. I decided to do one about the years of my life from 1966 to 1969. Although there were high points to those years, there were also some depressing times so I chose blue for the color. I have been making collages for all of my adult life. I have done a collage on the wall in most of the houses we lived in over the last 40 years. I decided to do this quilt much like a collage.
I have plenty of photographs from that period. I chose the ones I wanted to use, scanned them and used photoshop to fix them if they needed it, resized them and turned them blue. I inverted several so that they look like negatives. I printed the photographs on Jacquard cotton squares, 8.5 x 11 inch cotton sheets with a removable backing. (I’m not being paid by Jacquard). I made 5 squares, 8 x 10.5 inches, two and a half on top and two and a half on the bottom. I used one square for each year, give or take a bit. I arranged them much the same as I would for a collage on a wall using various sizes and shapes, over laping when I liked the look of it. There are some light spots that I am going to color in with blue pencil to be within the guidelines.
After I finished that one, I decided I like to work small and quickly made a smaller quilt which I wanted to look like the album pages that the original photographs were on. Then my grandaughter came to visit during her spring break and I didn’t get any more quilting done. She returned home today and I’m thinking about my next quilt. The next session starts next week and the show opens April 29 at Southwest Art Center and stays up about a month if you are going to be in Atlanta, drop by.
A quilted wall hanging made of sepia photographs taken in 1938 by my father, Albert B. Cleage Jr and his brothers.
Top row: Hugh Cleage, Barbara Cleage, Albert B. Cleage Jr., Henry Cleage, Gladys Cleage, Albert B. Cleage Jr
Middle row: Henry Cleage, Doris Graham (My mother), Hugh Cleage, Gladys Cleage, Barbara Cleage, Hugh Cleage, Louis Cleage playing the lute.
Bottom row: Louis Cleage, Gladys Cleage, Anna Cleage, Henry Cleage, Albert Cleage Jr. Anna Cleage and family friend Paul Payne.
These are all from a small photo album with contact sheet size photos. Every family member has their own page, as several friends do. Everybody except Anna, the youngest. Why? Did she dislike getting her photo taken? Did she take the page out? Did they ignore her because she was the youngest?
This quilt is 20in x 15 in. I am enjoying working small.
Today is my Grandmother, Pearl Doris Reed Cleage’s, birthday. If she were alive today she would be turning 125 years old. In her honor I have posted some photographs of her from the little black album with the little photos taken by her sons around 1938.
She was born in Lebanon, KY in 1886 and moved with her family to Indianapolis, IN when she was about six. She met her husband, Albert Cleage, at Witherspoon Presbyterian Church where she sang in the choir. They married in 1910 after he received his Physician’s License. Their first child, my father, was born in 1911. Pearl was warned never to have more children because it would probably kill her. They moved to Michigan soon after and by 1915 had settled in Detroit. My grandmother eventually bore and raised seven children. She died at age 96 in 1987.
For Sepia Saturday #200, I am re-sharing a piece written by my mother, Doris Graham Cleage, which I first shared in February 2011. I am going to let her tell you about her home life and early years in this piece compiled from some of her writings when she was in her 50s. This is my entry for Jasia’s103rd Carnival of Genealogy, Women’s History and for Sepia Saturday #63.
In Her Own Words
My parents married in Montgomery, went to Detroit and roomed with good friends from home, Aunt Jean and Uncle Mose Walker (not really related) A favorite way to pay for your house was to take in roomers from home and it was a good way for them to accumulate a down payment on their own house.
Mary Vee was born in this house. It was a very difficult delivery, labor was several days long. The doctor, whose name was Ames, was a big time black society doctor, who poured too much ether on the gauze over Mother’s face when the time for delivery came. Mother’s face was so badly burned that everyone, including the doctor, thought she would be terribly scared over at least half of it. But she worked with it and prayed over it and all traces of it went away. Mary Vee’s foot was turned inward. I don’t know if this was the fault of the doctor or not, but she wore a brace for years.
Finally that year ended and they bought a flat together with Uncle Cliff and Aunt Gwen (not really related). Mother got pregnant again very soon. Mershell Jr. was born the next year, 1921. I can imagine how she must have felt. She had never kept house, never cooked and never really had someone who told her what to do since she had worked at eighteen. She had never taken care of little children or babies.
Meanwhile I guess Daddy was enjoying being the man of the house, treasurer and trustee at Plymouth, with a good job, a good wife and money accumulating in the bank for a home of his own someday.
Mershell Jr. was born in1921 at Dunbar Hospital, with a different doctor. When he was a year old, I was on the way. The flat was too small. Grandmother Jennie T. was consulted, sold the house in Montgomery and moved to Detroit with daughters Daisy and Alice. She and Daddy and Mother bought the Theodore house together in 1923. I was born in Women’s hospital and came home to that house where I lived for twenty years, until I married. Mother and Daddy lived in it for 45 years.
Grandmother, Daisy and Alice got good jobs, sewing fur coats, clean work and good pay, at Annis Furs (remember it back of Hudson’s?) and soon had money to buy their own house, much farther east, on a “nice” street in a “better ” neighborhood (no factories) on Harding Ave. While they lived with us I remember violent arguments between Alice and I don’t know who – either Grandmother or Daisy or Mother. Certainly not Daddy because when he spoke it was like who (?) in the Bible who said, “When I say go, they goeth. When I say come, they cometh.” Most of the time I remember him in the basement, the backyard or presiding at table. Daisy and Grandmother were what we’d call, talkers.
About four blocks around the corner and down the street from Theodore was a vacant lot where, for some years ,they had a small carnival every year. I don’t remember the carnival at all. I never liked rides anyway. Not even the merry-go-round. But I remember it being evening, dark outside and we were on the way home. I don’t remember who was there except Daddy and I. He was carrying me because I was sleepy so I must have been very small. I remember my head on his shoulder and how it felt. The best pillow in the world. I remember how high up from the sidewalk I seemed to be. I could hardly see the familiar cracks and printings even when the lights from passing cars lighted things, which was fairly often because we were on Warren Ave. I remember feeling that that’s the way things were supposed to be. I hadn’t a worry in the world. I was tired, so I was carried. I was sleepy, so I slept. I must have felt like that most of my childhood because it’s still a surprise to me that life is hard. Seems that should be a temporary condition.
Boy children are very important to some people and my parents were both pleased to have a son. When Mershell Jr. was killed, run over by a truck on his way to school in 1927, it was a great unhappiness for them. I remember standing beside Mother at the front door. A big policeman stood on the front porch and told her about her child. She did not scream, cry or faint. Daddy was at work. She could not reach him. She put on her hat and coat and went to the hospital. I never saw her helpless. She always did what had to be done.
Howard was born the next year. They both rejoiced for here God had sent a son to replace the one they had lost. He died of scarlet fever at three. When you read carefully the things she wrote, you’ll know what this meant to her. But she never took refuge in guilt feelings or hysterics or depressions. She lived everyday as best she could and I never heard her complain.
Ours was a quiet, orderly house. Everything happened on schedule. Everything was planned. There were very few big ups and downs. When Daddy lost his job during the depression and when my brothers died, it was Mother who stayed steady and encouraging and took each day as it came. Daddy would be very depressed and Mother must have been too, but she never let on. I do remember one day when I was about seven and Howard had just died. I came into the kitchen to get a drink of water. She was at the sink peeling potatoes for dinner and tears were running down her cheeks. I don’t remember what I said or did but she said, “I will be alright, but you go and keep your father company.” I did, and I’m sure her saying that and my constant companionship with my father influenced my life profoundly. She was thinking of him in the midst of what was, I think the most unhappy time in her life. How could God send them a second son and then take him, too?
I remember…when I was very young seven or eight – if I got very angry I would go upstairs by myself-take an old school notebook and write, “I will not be angry” over and over until I wasn’t angry anymore. Anger was rarely expressed in our house. I only remember my father and mother arguing twice as long as I lived at home – and I was twenty before I left. But my sister and I fought often. Antagonism was the strongest feeling we had for each other.
Aunt Daisy took us downtown to the show every summer and to Saunders for ice cream afterward. And I always ended up with a splitting headache. Too much high living I guess. She and Alice would buy us dainty, expensive little dresses from Siegel’s or Himelhoch’s. They all went to church every Sunday at Plymouth (Congregational). Daisy always gave us beautiful tins of gorgeous Christmas candy, that white kind filled with gooey black walnut stuff, those gooey raspberry kind and those hard, pink kind with a nut inside, also chocolates, of course!
I lived at home until I finished college and married. Everyday when I got home from school the minute I opened the door I knew what we were having for dinner. The house would be full of the good smell of spaghetti or meat loaf or greens or salmon croquettes or pork chops and gravy or steak and onions. We had hot biscuits or muffins every day. My father did not like “store bought” bread. I hardly knew what it tasted like until I married. Our friends were welcome. The house was clean. Our clothes were clean and mended.
Mother often spoke of friends in Montgomery but I never knew her to have a close friend. She was friendly with everyone, especially the Deaconesses with whom she worked at church. She was basically very reserved and what people call today a “very private person”. I don’t remember ever hearing her say “I want” for herself. Oh, she often said, “I want the best for my girls” or “I want you to be good girls” but I never heard her say “I want a new dress… or a day off… or a chocolate bar…” and I never heard her say “I feel this way or that” except sometimes she said, “Oh, I feel so unnecessary.” She was a great one for duty, for doing what was called for and not complaining. You could tell when she was displeased by the expression on her face. Whenever she corrected us, she always explained why, so we came pretty early to know what was expected of us and when we erred the displeased expression was all we needed. She didn’t nag either. No second and third warning. Yet I don’t remember ever being spanked by either parent. If either one said, “Did you hear what I said?”, that did it.
We never talked back to them. We did things we knew we weren’t supposed to do like all children, but we were careful not to get caught. When we did get caught, we were horrified. I never felt confined and resentful, but Mary Vee did.
Mother had some of the same reserve with us that she had with strangers. We rarely talked about feelings, good or bad. She and Daddy tried to keep things as even and calm as possible all the time. So everybody cried alone although you always knew they would do anything for you because they did. You didn’t bring your problems home and share them. You came home and found the strength to deal with those problems. At least I did. If you needed help, you asked for it, but first you did everything you could. I don’t think they ever said no to either of us when we asked for help and that extended to grandchildren too.
Memories of her grandmother, Jennie V. Turner
I remember her laughing and singing and dancing around the house on Theodore. She was short, about five feet I guess, with brown eyes, thin dark brown hair that she wore in a knot. She was very energetic, always walking fast. She always wore oxfords, often on the wrong feet, and never had time to change them. We used to love to tell her that her shoes were on the wrong feet. (smart kids!)
She never did things with us like read to us or play with us, but she made us little dresses. I remember two in particular she made me that I especially liked. My “candy-striped” dress – a red white and blue small print percale. She put a small pleated ruffle around the collar and a larger one around the bottom. I was about five, I guess, and I really thought I was cool! the other favorite was an “ensemble” – thin, pale green material with a small printed blue green and red flower in it – just a straight sleeveless dress with neck and sleeves piped in navy blue – and a three – quarter length coat of the same material – also straight -with long sleeves and lapels – also piped in navy blue. She never used a pattern. Saw something and made it! She taught us some embroidery which she did beautifully but not often. She never fussed at us – never criticized – and I think she rocked me in the upstairs hall on Theodore when I was little and sick. The rocker Daddy made stood in that hall. I remember lots of people rocking in that chair when I was small.
It was in the 1930’s, as the Cleage brothers reached their twenties, that the “art photos” began. Before that, there are some actual studio photos and lots of snapshots. Then we begin to get photos like these, where someone was experimenting, this time with shadow. The first photo to the upper right is of Paul Payne. There was another photo of him, younger, with Hugh Cleage here. Paul was a long time friend of the Cleage family. Above on the left we have the verso of Paul’s photo which says “Tried for shadows in this also?” All three of these photos have the same number.. To the right, we have Barbara Cleage with a double shadow. And below right we have Anna Cleage and Paul, again with strong shadows.
From this period we have many posed portraits of family members. Some are 8 x 10 and some are snap shots. None of them are signed so I don’t know who took them except for the ones that my father took of my mother in California since he was the only one there. The largest group of snapshots taken during this time, including last week’s Wordless Wednesday photographs of the winter scenes, were taken at the Meadows. (Go to the last paragraph on the linked page to learn more about the Meadows) There are over one hundred of them, from all seasons and spread over several years. My Aunt Gladys confirmed that her brother Hugh did set up a darkroom in the basement.
During the 1960’s Henry and Hugh went into the printing business. They had several presses, a darkroom, an enlarger and more cameras. I have boxes and boxes that used to hold 5 X 7 film that now hold photographs taken during that time. More in the weeks to come. To see more Sepia Saturday entries click HERE.