Seamstresses at Annis Furs in Downtown Detroit. Taken in the 1920’s. My great grandmother, Jennie Virginia Allen Turner is in the second row, far left. Her daughter Alice is next to her. Skip the next woman and her daughter Daisy is there, 4th from the left. The three of them got jobs at Annis Furs soon after moving to Detroit from Montgomery, Alabama about 1924. I remember a little teddy bear Daisy made for my younger cousin Marilyn Elkins out of scraps of real fur. To read more about my Great Grandmother Turner, click Jennie Virginia Allen Turner.
Below is a photograph from the Burton collection at the Detroit Public Library. The Annis Fur Company is in the corner building. Although this was taken in 1917 I think the area looked pretty much the same 7 years later. To see a photograph of the Woodward Ave in 1910 click at Shorpy. You can see Annis Fur Post and Grinell Bros Pianos on the left, looking down the crowded street, past the Eureka Vacuum sign.
For more photos of crowds of women and other fascinating subjects, click Sepia Saturday.
I posted this chart last year for Labor Day. Here is a chart showing 7 generations of workers from my 3X great-grandmother to my children. My direct line is highlighted in yellow. The women with children combined whatever else they did with cooking, cleaning, washing clothes and raising the children. The first generations started their work life as slaves in Alabama. You can see a similar chart for my paternal side HERE.
After reading My Grandfather was an Enumerator on the blog ABT UNK, I decided to write something about my grandmother Fannie M. Turner who was an enumerator for the 1910 US Census in Montgomery, Alabama. She was 22 and lived with her mother and younger sisters in Montgomery, although not in the district she enumerated. Her grandmother Eliza Allen lived in the district. It was looking at the entry for Eliza that I first noticed that my grandmother was the enumerator. Recently I found a newspaper article online about the appointed census takers that said in part:
“Montgomery – City – Whites: Albert S. Ashley, E.F. Davis, James C. Westbrook, Leopold Loab, Thomas Robinson, R. Brownlee Centerfit, Charles S. Spann, Louis Lyons, Edgar W. Smith, Mrs. Fannie B. Wilson, Handy H. McLemore, Thomas M. Westcott, Alto Deal, Miss Gene Finch, Frank G. Browder. Negroes–To enumerate negro (sic) population only–Gertrude V. Wilson, Eli W. Buchanan, Fannie M. Turner, David R. Dorsey.”
Fannie M. Turner began work April 15, 1910 and enumerated her Aunt Abbie and her Grandmother Eliza on pg 2. She finished on April 26. Mrs. Fannie B. Wilson (white) completed the enumeration of Montgomery, Ward 4 by counting the white residents on several pages after that. As noted in the newspaper article, Negro enumerators could only count Negros. I wonder how that worked. Did my grandmother go to the door, note that they were white and tell them someone else would return to count them later? Did the neighbors alert her? Since she was already familiar with the neighborhood, did she already know where the white people lived or did all the white residences live in the same area?
My grandmother was a working woman who managed her Uncle Victor’s grocery store from the time she graduated from State Normal School until she married my grandfather in 1919. Wish I knew the stories she must have had to tell about that two weeks of counting the citizens in Ward 4.
Dock Allen was born around 1832 into slavery in Georgia. He died free in 1909 in Montgomery Alabama. He was a carpenter. His mother, Matilda Brewster was born in Georgia into slavery. I don’t know when or where she died.
Eliza Williams Allen was born into slavery about 1839 in Alabama. She died free in Montgomery Alabama in 1917. She was a seamstress. Her mother, Anne Williams was born into slavery in South Carolina about 1820 and died free in Montgomery before 1900.
Dock and Eliza’s daughter Jennie Virginia Allen Turner was born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1866. She was a seamstress. She died in 1954 in Detroit, Michigan. In 1887 she married Howard Turner. He was born in Lowndes County Alabama in 1864. He was murdered in Alabama in 1892. His father, Joe Turner, was born into slavery in Alabama about 1839. He was a farmer. He died free in Alabama in 1919. Howard’s mother, Emma Jones, was born into slavery in South Carolina about 1840 and died free in Alabama in 1901.
Jennie and Howard’s daughter, Fannie Turner Graham was born in Lowndes County, AL in 1888. She died in Detroit, Michigan in 1974. She managed a grocery store before her marriage to Mershell C. Graham in 1919. Mershell and both of his parents were born in Alabama. Mershell moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1918. In 1919 he returned to Montgomery to marry Fannie. They both returned to Detroit immediately following the wedding where they roomed with friends from Montgomery for several years. Mershell worked at Fords Motor Co. in the parts section. When they were ready to buy their own house they sent for Fannie’s mother, Jennie and two sisters. All of Fannie and Mershell’s children were born in Detroit. In 1946 Fannie’s Aunt Abbie came up from Montgomery and lived with Mershell and Fannie until her death in 1966.
By the 1960s all of Dock and Eliza’s children and grandchildren had left Montgomery and were living in Detroit, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; Madison, Wisconsin and New York City. Mershell’s relatives remained in Alabama but contact was lost and we don’t know what happened to them. Joe and Emma’s children stayed in Lowndes County, some moving to Montgomery and Birmingham by the 1930 census. Because my grandmother lost touch with them before leaving Alabama I only know by following the census where they went. I believe some eventually moved to Chicago but I’ll have to wait for the 1940 census to verify.
My cousins and I grew up in Detroit surrounded by family on both sides, who had left Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee to end up there. Of my grandparents five granddaughters, two remain in Detroit as do their children and grandchildren. One now lives in California where the majority of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren were born and live. My sister and I, along with most of our children and grandchildren live in Atlanta Georgia.
Rents Collected Homes Bought
Loans Negotiated And Sold
I am enclosing check from this M.R. & Ins. Co; for ten dollars which the sec’y should have mailed you some time ago.
We are winding up the affairs of this company and will send you another payment on stock acct. pretty soon. I think that the company will be able to pay off it’s stock holders dollar for dollar.
I trust this will find all well and getting along nicely.
Your mother’s things were shipped yesterday. Trust they will arrive on time and in first class condition. Remember me to all the folks. Tell the kids hello!
Let us have a line from you when convenient.
Howard Turner and Jennie Virginia Allen were married in June of 1887. Howard’s father, Joe Turner gave them land to farm in Lowndes County, Alabama. Joe wanted the land to stay in the family forever. By 1892 Joe and Howard were arguing constantly about Howard and Jennie’s desire to sell the land and move to Montgomery. The day of the fateful bar-b-que the arguments had been particularly violent. Jennie was in Montgomery visiting her parents , with their two young daughters, when word came that Howard had been shot dead at the bar-b-que.
Jennie moved back to her parent’s house with her children, Fannie and Daisy. She took the title to the land to a lawyer and asked him to make sure all was in order so she could sell. When she returned the lawyer told her that the title was not clear and she didn’t own the land. Jennie believed that her father-in-law had paid the lawyer to get the land back for himself. She cut ties with the Turners and went to work as a seamstress, the trade her mother Eliza had taught all six of her daughters.
Many years later, when Fannie was grown, she ran into one of her Turner cousins. She asked the cousin about what her mother believed – that Joe Turner had his son killed to keep the land. It wasn’t true. The lawyer had stolen the land for himself. They didn’t know who killed Howard.
Fannie was my maternal grandmother. Howard and Jennie were my great grandparents. Joe Turner was my great great grandfather. I didn’t know his or wife’s name, nor any of Howard’s siblings names until I found them in the 1870 and 1880 census in Lowndes County, Alabama when I began to do online research in the 1990s. Joe and Emma Turner lived on the farm with their children, Lydia b. 1862, Howard b. 1863, Fanny b. 1864, Joe b. 1867, Anna b. 1869, Alonza b. 1873.
I found my greatgrandmother’s autograph/memory book in an envelope in a box where my mother saved little notebooks, wallets etc. The first part of the book, including the cover have vanished. Going by what is left I think my greatgrandmother started the book when she was 19 years old.
Transcribed entries numbering from top left down column, over to second column, etc.
Miss Virginia Allen
Mom passed aged 84
Mar 28 1954
When I am far away
From you believe
Me to be your
Montgomery Ala Mar 14th/86
Jennie’s brother, Dock, was born in 1862, four years before Jennie. He worked as an errand boy and a barber – he drowned in 1891 on Aug. 30 Trying to “walk the moonlight path.”
May you live long and prosper in this live
And your last days be thee best
Is my prayer. Yours Respectfully,
J W Saffold
Jan 7th 1886
The secret of happiness, is love
Your true friend
Sept. 29, 1884
I wish you would
Remember they creator
In the days of thy youth when the evil
Days are not nor the years draw nigh
When thou may sayeth I have no
Pleasure in them
M. McCall is Jennie’s oldest sister Mary.
May flowers cheer your
Path way through
Life may life be a comfort unto you
R. was Jennie’s brother Rance.
Remember me as your loving little
Daughter when I am gone to come
Compliments of Fannie M. Turner
Mar 16 – 18/97 – Age 11
Fannie was my grandmother.
It’s better to trust and be deceived
and reap that truste , an that deceiving.
Than doubt the heart, that if believed
Would bless your heart, with true believing!
June 24th 1884
“Memory” Book –
Note the entries written by DockAllen and Dock Allen, Jr. – they are probably the same – grandmother’s brother
This was added years later by my mother, Jennie’s granddaughter.
There are few
friends in this wild world that love
is fond and true. But Jennie when you count them over, place me among the few
J. M. Nesbitt
To Miss V. Allen
I hope that your future live may be such,
As to permit you to be worthy of
A welcome in heaven.
Your well wisher
April 4/22 Ala
My grandmother Fannie Turner Graham’s father was named Howard Turner. She did not have a photograph of him but said he looked like her grandfather, Dock Allen and my grandfather, Mershell Graham. When my grandmother was four, her father Howard was killed at a barbeque. Her parents, Howard and Jennie (Allen) Turner had been talking about selling their portion of the Turner land and moving to Montgomery. Howard and his father had an argument before the barbeque and my great grandmother, Jennie, believed that Howard’s father had him killed so that he could not sell the land. Jennie took the deed to a lawyer and asked him to look over the deed because she wanted to sell the land. When she returned he told her the title wasn’t clear and she didn’t own the land. She figured her father-in-law had gotten it back. Jennie moved back to her parent’s home in Montgomery with her children and went to work as a seamstress. You can read her story here. Years later, my grandmother met one of her cousins on the street and learned that her grandfather did not get the land after all and had not had her father killed. This is all the information I had.
When I began searching online all I knew about my Turners was that they lived in or near Hayneville, Alabama: that my great-grandfather owned his farm: that my great grandfather’s name was Howard and that he was born about 1864. The 1880 census was available with an all name index through Family Search and I found Howard Turner, age 16, living with his family in Hayneville. He was a clerk in a store. It was a very emotional moment to find my great, great grandparents names. Joe and Emma Turner. The family included Lydia 18 born about 1862, Howard 16, born about 1864, Joe age 13 and ‘at school”, Annie 11 and Alonza 7. Joe senior and Emma were listed as 39. Below is the family sheet for Joe and Emma Turner.
With this information I was able to find them on Ancestry in the 1870 census, which was indexed only by head of household at that time. They were enumerated In Hayneville Beat 1, Lowndes County. Emma was and her parents were born in SC. Joe was born in Alabama. Joe was a farmer with $300 worth of personal goods. Neither he nor his wife Emma could read or write. The children were Lydia, 8, Howard 7, Fannie 6, Joe 3 and Annie born in August of that year. Joe Turner is in the 1866 census with 5 in the family living in Lowndes County, AL. From son Joe’s death record I learned that Emma’s maiden name was Jones. Or so the informant said.
In 1900 Joe and Emma owned their farm. Two of their grandchildren, Anelyzor (Annie) and Joseph Davis were ennumerated with them. Emma had given birth to 11 children and only three were still alive. Those three were Joe, Alonza and Lydia parent of the above Annie and Joe. They had been married 39 years, which would place their marriage before slavery in 1861.
Emma died soon after the 1900 census. Joe remarried in 1902 to Luella Freeman, 40 years his junior. They went on to have 8 children – John, Anna, Daniel, Buck, Josephine, Talmudge, Luella, and Selena who was born after Joe died February 7, 1919 of “prostatic trouble and old age.” Luella died in Chicago in July of 1977. I think, but I need to send for the death certificate to check. Below is the family sheet for Joe and Luella Turner.
Now I need to find estate records, a will…. something that will give me names and places. I want to look at land records too. And newspapers from Lowndes County, Hayneville from 1892 when Howard died. This means a trip to an archive. Something I have never done. I need to check something else too, in Mildred Brewer Russell’s book “Lowndes Court House” it says that Joe Turner was one of a number of “prominent Negro politicians” during reconstruction. I have yet to find anything else about this, such as what office he held. It would be great to meet some of Joe Turner’s other descendents too – hopefully with some photos and able to tell me where Moss cemetery is since it seems to be no where but on their death certificates. I picture a lonely, deserted place in the woods with no markers. Just sunken areas.