Three generations of my Cleages. Front left is Henry, with Louis behind him, center is my father, Albert B. front right is Hugh. Behind Hugh is my great grandmother Celia Rice Cleage Sherman. Back left is my grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage holding baby Barbara Cleage Martin. This photograph was taken about 1921 somewhere around Detroit, Michigan, perhaps on Belle Isle. My grandfather took the photo. There is another from the same day with him in the photo taken by my grandmother.
I finally was able to see a copy of my great grandmother, Anna Celia Rice Cleage Sherman’s death certificate. I had been searching for it for years, not realizing that her first name was “Anna”. It doesn’t have her parent’s names or tell where in Athens, Tennessee she is buried. What it did was to tell me when and where she died and to verify some of the information I already have.
My grandfather, Albert B. Cleage Sr was the informant, he provided the information. I thought his close friend, Dr. P.B. Gamble signed, but the initials are wrong.
She died on May 31, 1930 of Cerebral Apoplexy, a stroke, which she suffered on May 28, 1930. That would have made my Aunt Anna 6 years old, the age she told me she was when she saw her grandmother suffer a stroke while sitting at their kitchen table.
Great grandmother Anna Celia married Roger Sherman in Athens, Tennessee on April 25, 1897. He was 51 and she was 42. He was a carpenter and worked for himself. It was the second marriage for both of them. His 4 children were all grown and living on their own. She had 5 children. In 1900 the oldest daughter, Josie was married with two children and was sharing the house with Roger and Celia Sherman, as were three of her younger brothers (Henry, Edward and Albert) who were all students. Jake, the 2nd oldest, had been working in Knoxville as a waiter for several years.
Celia and Roger Sherman were living together in the 1910 Census, but by the time of the 1920 Census, Mr. Sherman was living with his daughter, Mamie Sherman Kennedy, in Winston Salem, NC. Later that same year he died. His body was also shipped back to Athens for burial in an unnamed cemetery.
Anna Celia lived in Athens with her son Charles Edward and his family in 1920. In 1924 he died. She moved to Detroit where her other three sons lived. In 1930 she is enumerated with my grandfather and his family. Several months later, she died.
On the death certificate, my grandfather says that he doesn’t know when she was born but guesses her to be about 65. He was 47 at this time. His oldest sister was 57. If their mother was 65, she would have been 8 when her daughter was born. She was old enough when Freedom came to remember her life on the Rice plantation where she was born. If only she could have written it all down. In the 5 censuses I find her, the date of birth is given as “about 1855”. She was closer to 75 than 65 when she died. He says that she was born in Tennessee. The information on the census records are split between Virginia and Tennessee. All agree her mother was born in Virginia.
What else do I want to find out about my great grandmother Anna Celia Rice Cleage Sherman? I want to know where she is buried. I want to find her in the 1870 Census and I want to find out her mother’s name and what plantation they came off of.
In my minds eye, I see a large stone grave marker in Hammonds Cemetery that said “Sherman”. I did not go up to it, just saw it across the grass. When I get back to Athens, I am going to go look at that marker and see if it has any other information on it. Not to mention looking at every other stone there.
The header picture shows my grandfather and his family about 1930.
Last night I visited Genealogy Bank. I spent several hours looking for items about any of the Cleages of Athens Tennessee. I was just beginning to think this was a crazy way to spend Friday night when I saw another item mentioning my grandfather, Albert B. Cleage and his brothers on a road trip, stopping at the home of the Cobbs on the way to Athens. I clicked through to read. It was in the Colored Section of The Lexington Herald.
“Dr. A.B. Cleage, Messrs. Jacob, Henry and Richard Cleage, of Detroit, Mich, were guests of Mr and Mrs. J.W. Cobb Tuesday for a short stay. They were en rout to Athens, Tenn., their former home to bury their mother.”
I have spent years looking for a death record for my great grandmother Celia Rice Cleage Sherman without finding any. My aunt Anna Cleage Shreve, who was born in 1923 and remembered that her grandmother had a stroke in their kitchen around 1930. I am thinking that they shipped her body home to Athens, TN on the train while they drove down.
Richmond was a little over 5 hours from Detroit and 3 hours from Athens. It was a good place to stop and get a nights sleep and a good meal during the time when public accommodations were not open to black people.
Now I have to find where she is buried and more about Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Cobb of Richmond, KY.
Since finding this, someone told me the death certificate information was on familysearch. It is, and the reason I haven’t been able to find it is before was that I didn’t know her first name was Anna. I’ve been looking for Celia Rice. The 1930 census is the only other place I have seen her listed as Anna and I thought that was a mistake! I’ve ordered the Death Certificate and now will be waiting on pins and needles, hoping that her parent’s names will be on it and the cemetery where she’s buried will be listed. Can’t wait!
Other posts about my great grandmother.
Celia Rice Cleage Sherman is the earliest name I can call for this line. By the time I asked, nobody remembered her mother’s name. Celia Rice was born into slavery in Virginia about 1855. Sometime before freedom, she was taken to Tennessee. Celia had 4 sons, including my grandfather Albert, and 1 daughter, Josephine (also called Josie). MtDNA is passed from the mother, to the daughter, to the grandaughter to the great grandaughter in a straight line. Although sons receive their mothers MtDNA, they do not pass it on to their children. Their children will receive their own mother’s MtDNA. So, I am going to be talking about daughters of daughters in this post.
Josephine married James Cleage, (from a different Cleage family) and had 5 children, 2 sons and 3 daughters, Henrietta, Lucille and Hattie Ruth. My cousin Felix, a descendent of Hattie Ruth, shared a chart of family members with me about five years ago. There are probably more family members out there since then. Additions and corrections welcome!
Henrietta had 1 son and 3 daughters, Margaret, Hortense and Ruth. I don’t have any information about their children. Lucille had 2 sons and 1 daughter, Mary, who had 1 son only. Hattie Ruth had 5 daughters, Vivian, Betty, Beverly, Marion and Erma.
Vivian had 2 daughters, Josephine and Laura. She had 7 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and 1 2xgreat grand at the time I received my list.. I don’t know how many were daughters. Josephine had 2 sons. Laura had 5 children, 2 boys and 3 girls. She has at least 2 granddaughters.
Betty had 3 daughters, 2 lived to adulthood. Sandra had 3 daughters, Bernita, Jamiliah and Aisha. Bernita had 5 daughters. Jamiliah had 1 son and 3 daughters. Aisha had no children. Charlene had 2 daughters and 5 granddaughters.
Beverly had 1 son and 2 daughters, Tanya and Kim. Tanya has 1 daughter, Danelle. Kim has 2 daughters, Mahogany and Celeste.
Marion had 2 sons and 2 daughters, Alma and Ruth Anne. There were 5 grandchildren, but I don’t know how many were daughters of daughters.
Erma had 3 sons and 7 daughters, Beatrise, Marcella, Haleema, Fatima, Aleah, Ameena, Leshia. I don’t know the breakdown of her 16 grandchildren, but I know there were some granddaughters.
Special thanks to my cousin Denora for permission to use the header photograph of Hattie Ruth’s daughters, granddaughters and great grands. And to Felix for the information in the chart. And to Tanya for getting her DNA tested. Family makes it happen.
Angela Walton-Raji of the blog My Ancestor’s Name suggested that tonight we observe Watch Night by naming our ancestors who were born into slavery but lived to see freedom. I decided to join her.
I have no photograph of Annie Williams (mother of Eliza Williams Allen) who was born about 1820 in Virginia and died after 1880 in Montgomery, Alabama.
I do not have a photograph of Matilda Brewster (mother of Dock Allen) who was born in Georgia.
Eliza Williams Allen was my great great grandmother. She was born in Alabama about 1839 and died free in Montgomery, Alabama in 1917. She was a seamstress. You can read more about Eliza here A Chart of the People in Eliza’s Life and Eliza’s Story – Part 1 with links to the other 3 parts.
Dock Allen was my great great grandfather. He was born a slave in Georgia about 1839 and died free in Montgomery, Alabama in 1909. He was a cabinet maker. You can read more about Dock Allen here Dock Allen’s Story.
I have no photographs of my great grandparents William Graham who was born about 1851 or his wife Mary Jackson Graham born about 1856. Both were born in Alabama and died dates unknown. William Graham was a farmer. They were my grandfather Mershell C. Graham’s parents. I know very little about them but I have been gathering information which I will post soon.
I do not have photographs of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner Graham’s paternal grandparents. Her grandfather Joseph Turner was born in Alabama about 1839. He died in Lowndes County, AL in 1919. He was a farmer and owned his own land. His wife Emma Jones Turner was born about 1840 in South Carolina and died about 1901 in Lowndes County Alabama. You can read more about them here, Emma and Joe Turner of Gordensville, Lowndes County, Alabama.
Frank Cleage was born around 1816 in North Carolina. He was enslaved on the plantation of first Samuel Cleage and then his son Alexander Cleage. I do not have a picture of Frank Cleage and have no stories about him. His name appears on my great grandfather, Louis Cleage’s death certificate.
In the 1870 Census he was living with his wife, Judy and six children, including my great grandfather, in Athens, Tennessee. I also have a marriage record for Frank and Judy dated 20 August, 1866. I don’t know if they were married before and the children are theirs or if they came together after slavery. Judy was born about 1814.
Frank is mentioned in a work agreement between Samuel Cleage and his overseer in this post – Article of Agreement – 1834.
They were both born in slavery and lived most of their lives as slaves but they lived to see freedom and to see their children free.
No photograph of Louis Cleage B. 1852 in Tennessee and died 1919 in Indianapolis, IN. Louis and Celia were my grandfather Albert B. Cleage’s parents. Louis was a laborer. You can read more about Louis Cleage here – Lewis Cleage – Work Day Wednesday.
Celia Rice Cleage Sherman was born into slavery about 1855 in Virginia. She died about 1931 in Detroit, Michigan. She was a cook. You can read more about Celia Rice Cleage here Celia Rice Cleage Sherman.
I do not have photographs of my great grandmother Anna Allen Reed who was born about 1849 in Lebanon, Kentucky and died in 1911 in Indianapolis, Indiana. She was my grandmother Pearl’s mother.
Anna’s mother Clara, my great great grandmother, was born 1829 in Kentucky and died after 1880 in Kentucky. I need to write them up. You can see some of their descendents here My Father’s Mother’s People.
This post is a combination of information I found through records and memories of my aunts and uncles about their grandmother Celia. She died before I was born so I never had the chance to meet her.
Celia Rice was born in Virginia about 1855. Her father was a member of the Rice family and her mother was enslaved on the Rice plantation. She was brought to Tennessee when she was small. By the time I asked, nobody remembered her mother’s name. She was about ten when freedom came.
My aunt Gladys said that when Celia was a child, she had to walk around in the sun. The masters wife did not want her to be confused with the white children of the family, who she resembled.
On April 23, 1872 Celia Rice and Louis Cleage were married in Athens, McMinn County Tennessee. They moved to Louden County, TN where their five children were born over the next 11 years. Josephine “Josie” was born in 1873. Jacob was born in 1875. Henry was born in 1877. Charles Edward was born in 1879. My grandfather, Albert, was born in 1883. Louis did farm work and Celia did house work. She was unable to read or write.
My uncle Louis said that Lewis C. worked all day for 50 cents. Celia worked all week for 50 cents. He often spent his on good times before he got home. Many nights he spent in jail – drunk – playing the guitar and singing!
The marriage doesn’t seem to have been a happy one and by 1899 they had split up and Celia married Roger William Sherman, a carpenter, in Athens, Tennessee. She was 45 years old. By 1900 oldest daughter, Josie, was married to James Cleage (Different Cleage family, not related but off of the same plantation.), a teacher and they had several children. Jacob was not at home in the 1900 census. Edward, Henry and Albert were at home and all students. Celia could read. She had birthed five children and all five were living and doing well.
After her husband died, Celia lived with her son Edward and his family in Athens, TN for some years and then she moved to Detroit where her other three sons lived.
My uncle Henry said she used to give him an apple every once in awhile and slip him a nickel. He was her favorite. My aunt Gladys says they used to stop by her room sometimes and she would try to show them how to tat and crochet and it was kind of interesting, sitting on her bed, watching.
My Aunt Anna says, Grandma Celia was in Detroit for a while…making the rounds between uncle Henry, uncle Jake and ours….She would get tired of one house and occupants…complain and move to another... there was a Rev. Rice… he was a big shot in the Presbyterian Church… he came to town in a blaze of notoriety….to speak at some church… Granma [Celia] wanted to go…but Daddy wouldn’t hear of it! His name and picture were in the paper…Anna said she saw the paper and that he looked just like Granma.
My uncle Henry remembers one time his Grandma Celia wanted to go back to Athens. “….and Daddy said he could not send her to Athens. And they went on for about ten years and then, pretty soon she said, well, I’m going to Athens if I have to go up and down the street and beg. He was fussing and hollering and she said ‘I am going to go to Athens. I am going to go home.’ And finally he had to give her the money to go. I guess it just gets in you sometimes. You know, living with us was no picnic. She had to go and he didn’t have the money.”
I have been unable to find a death record, certificate or burial information for my great grandmother. She was living with my Grandfather Albert Cleage in the 1930 census. Going by the Memories of my Aunt Anna, she must have died soon after.
My Aunt Anna remembers being about 5 and in the kitchen when Granma Celia had a stroke. She was sick for quite awhile before she died. She remembers when Celia died they laid her out in the living room…Henry was a broken man! She places Henry at about 13 years old.