Clifton Graham

This year I am going through an alphabet of news items taken from The Emancipator newspaper, published  between 1917 and 1920 in Montgomery, Alabama.  Most are about my grandparent’s circle of friends. Each item is transcribed directly below the clipping.  Click on any image to enlarge.

Clifton Graham was the best man at my grandparent’s wedding.

The Emancipator, Saturday, Jun 22, 1918

“Mr. Clif Graham, who has been residing in Detroit, Mich., for the the past year or more, is visiting relatives and friends in the city.”

Clifton Graham and his family were always referred to as my grandfather Mershell Graham’s adopted family.  He wasn’t raised by them and we all knew his birth family was in Coosada, Alabama. I never asked why he had adopted them as his family. I always assumed it was because he was friends with Clifton and they shared the name of “Graham”. Now everybody I could have asked is gone.

My grandfather is on the railing, Cliff is on the steps and mother Mary Graham is seated on the porch of the Graham home. 

Clifton Graham was born July 13, 1889 in Montgomery, Alabama. He was the fifth of the five children of Joseph and Mary (Rutledge) Graham. Only two of the children survived to adulthood – Clifton and Mattie. Both Clifton and his older sister Mattie attended college for several years. He was drafted in July of 1918, married Gwendolyn Lewis the following month and was released from the army in March 1919. While Clifton was in the army and before their son was born, Gwendolyn taught school. Their first son, John Clifton Jr. was born in Montgomery. They moved to Detroit and the second son, Lewis, was born there. In the 1930 Census Clifton Graham worked as a prohibition agent. Later he continued to work for the government.

Clifton’s sister and mother also moved to Detroit. Gwendolyn’s brother, Billingsly Lewis moved with their mother to Chicago around the same time.

__________________

I found this information on Ancestry.com in Census Records, Directories, Death Records, Military Records and Marriage Records. News items were found on Newspapers.com. I also use Google Maps. The photograph is from my family photos.

Reply by V…- MAIL – Letters from Clifton Graham 1945 WW 2

Clifton Graham was the son of my Grandfather Mershell Graham’s “play” brother, that is they were not blood relatives but considered each other brothers because they were both Grahams from Montgomery, AL. I don’t have much information about him and was unable to find much online. He was born May 28, 1919 in Montgomery, Alabama.  By 1920 he and his family were in Detroit, Michigan. Below is a photograph of John Clifton (always called Clifton) and his brother Lewis with my Aunt Mary V. and my Uncle Mershell Graham, as children. They were all living in Detroit and I would guess it was taken on Memorial Day or the 4th of July at Belle Isle, a park in the middle of the Detroit River. My mother was probably a baby at the time and too young to be in the photograph.  Read more here V…-mail.

Clifton, Mary V, Lewis, Mershell Graham. Abt 1923
Clifton, Mary V, Lewis, Mershell Graham. About 1923.  Click to enlarge.

The two letters below were written to my Grandparents in March and July of 1945 by John Clifton Graham from Europe during WW 2.

ww2_cliff_jr_Mar29
Click to enlarge.

March 29, 1945

Dear Folks,

Time permits me to drop you a line or two and let you know that I am well, even though I am somewhat in the inner confines of Germany, a country that has been completely pulverized and at present being subjected to the terror of our Air Forces.

There is much to tell but due to censorship, I am restricted to a great extent, which you no doubt know. The weather the past few days has been grand and spring is in evidence at ever turn in this war torn country.  We are getting a rest for the time being but it is like the lull before a storm, thus by the time this letter reaches you much will have passed under the bridge.

I received a long letter from M.V. last week and will answer today, while time still permits.  I must close now so as to time my correspondence due over a period of 2 weeks, My regards to Grandma Turner, Alice, Aunt Daisy,

Love Cliff Jr.

What was happening in March 1945

March 29: The Red Army enters Austria. Other Allies take Frankfurt; the Germans are in a general retreat all over the centre of the country.
March 30: Red Army forces capture Danzig.
March 31: General Eisenhower broadcasts a demand for the Germans to surrender.

ww2_cliff_jr
Click to enlarge.

June 25 1945

Dear Folks,

Received your letter of June 9th and appreciated the fact that you dropped me a line or two. I heard from M.V. yesterday and she is quite well, likewise my pin up gal Diane.

I have passed the convalescent stage and fit as fiddle once more. I have been transferred out of my present ward and now await transportation to a replacement depot, up somewhere near Paris from there, I shall be assigned to either my original unit or another unit altogehter.

I hope that I can come home from here but at present the outlook isn’t too optimistic but I shall keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.  Give my regards to Grandma Turner, Daisy and Alice and all my love to both of you. Write again soon. 

Your nephew Cliff Jr.

June 5, 1945 – Allies divide up Germany and Berlin and take over the government.
June 26, 1945 – United Nations Charter is signed in San Francisco.July 1, 1945 – American, British, and French troops move into Berlin.
July 16, 1945 – First U.S. atomic bomb test; Potsdam Conference begins.
July 26, 1945 – Atlee succeeds Churchill as British Prime Minister.

Cliff did survive the war and return to make a life for himself in Detroit.  I’m trying to find more specific information but so far I have only found several church booklets from Plymouth United Church of Christ in the 1960s that show he was very active in the church. There are even a few group photographs.  Unfortunately they aren’t labeled so I don’t know which is him.  Found a photograph of him in 1973 with my grandfather, Mershell Graham. Taken just a few months before my grandfather died.

"Clifton and Daddy at Cliff's house - Summer 1973. My last good picture of Daddy" written by my mother, Doris Graham Cleage.
“Clifton and Daddy at Cliff’s house – Summer 1973. My last good picture of Daddy” written by my mother, Doris Graham Cleage.
For more Sepia Saturday, CLICK!
For more Sepia Saturday, CLICK!