In the 1940 Census, the Frank and Mary Elkins family was living at 3045 Anderdon Street in Detroit, Michigan. The rent was $30 a week and they had lived in the same house in 1935. Everybody in the household had been identified as “W(hite)”, that was crossed out and “Neg(ro)” was written over it. Unfortunately, no household on this page has the person who provided the information to the enumerator identified.
The father of the family, Frank Elkins, was 57 years old and had completed 4 years of high school. He worked at an auto plant as a courtesy driver. One of his granddaughters has informed me that he worked as a driver for Graham Paige Motors.
His wife, Mary, was 47 and not employed outside the home. She had completed 2 years of High school. She had made $50 in the last year outside of wages or salary. Daughter Mary was 21 and single. She had completed 4 years of high school and was not enrolled in school. She was not employed outside of the home.
Mother Mary Elkins and son Frank “Bud” Elkins
Young Frank was 19, single and had completed 1 year of college. He had attended school sometime since March 1, 1940. He was not employed. His daughter, Dee Dee, remembers that Frank graduated with honors from Cass Technical High School and went right to work, starting Elkin’s Electric Company. He tried to join the Electricians Union, but they barred Black folks from joining. In 1941 Frank and my aunt Mary V. Graham were married at Plymouth Congregational Church.
I published a longer post that included this information (without the actual pages) along with entries from my grandmother’s other journals in 2010. I am only including information from 1940 this time.
Feb. 5, 1940 Dear God and Little Book: the mail has just brought us the long looked for letter from Wayne University and the Board of Education that Doris has received the yearly scholarship to Wayne… I shed tears of joy… for more reasons than one or even two and the main reason is she deserves it for being such a sweet little “trick”…even if we do say so ourselves.
February 12 – Doris’s birthday – 17 today. We had a nice dinner, cake, ice cream and gifts for her from all.
March 12, my birthday, among all a purchase certificate from JL Hudson’s from our daughters and dad
April 3 – Mary Virginia is 20 today. We had nice dinner cake and ice cream and gifts from us all – also Aunt Daisy never forgets with money. Dad celebrates Christmas day.
June 7, 1940 Doris received $100 scholarship from the Deltas today… Isn’t that grand! It served 2 years.
June 10 — Mary Virginia has just gotten (through Jim and May) a good job at the County Bldg — God is so good to us. and today our Mershell Jr would have been 19 if he had lived – but we still say – God knows best.
After I finished writing about my Grahams in the 1940 Census yesterday, I looked at some maps of the enumeration district. Here are some photographs I put together from Google maps showing what the area looks like now and what streets were included in their enumeration district. My cousin Barbara and I visited the area in 2004 and it looked just like this.
The Enumeration District is outlined in red. My grandparents house is the “A”. The yellow line traces the route to the elementary school.
An ariel view from google of my grandparents block. Their house was located where the “A” is. There used to be an alley but it is now overgrown as they don’t maintain alleys in Detroit any more. The Jordan house and the Graham house shared the enclosed space. There was another alley next to the Jordan house which is included inside the fence.
The site of my grandparents house. Now a storage area.
Unmaintained side alley next to the house site.
The factory across the street from my grandparents house.
Thomas Elementary school. The school my mother and her siblings attended. Now deserted and burned.
Looking down the street from elementary school toward the ruined Packard plant. My Uncle Mershell was hit and killed by a truck on the way back to school with his older sister, Mary Vee after lunch. I think she always felt she was somehow responsible.
The 1940 census was released yesterday. Today I was able to find both sets of grandparents, with my parents still living at home, the only great grandparent still alive, three families of cousins and my in-laws who were married and living in their own home with the first of their twelve children, baby Maxine. Today I am going to write about my mother’s family, the Grahams.
My grandparents were enumerated on April 12, 1940. They lived, as I expected, at 6638 Theodore Street in Detroit. The entire enumeration district was white with the exception of my grandparents and their next door neighbors, the Jordans. Just noticed my grandparents and family were enumerated as “white”. Among the adults over 40 was a mix of naturalized citizens from Italy, Poland, Canada, Switzerland, England, Germany and natural born citizens from the southern United states. There were a few people who had filed their first papers towards gaining citizenship and a few “aliens”. The younger adults and the children were almost all born in Michigan. The majority of people in the district had lived in the same place since 1935. Among the workers on my grandparents page were a janitor, two maids, a laborer at a spring factory, a bender at an auto plant, a checker at a dress shop, a grinder at an auto factory, a delivery man for a print shop, a stock clerk at an auto factory, a stenographer, a time keeper at a machine shop, a manager for a coal and ice concern and a salesman for a radio concern.
My grandmother, Fannie, was the informant for her family. She and Mershell were both 50. He had completed 8th grade. She and 20 year old daughter, Mary V., had completed 4 years of high school. My mother, Doris was 17 and had completed 4 years of high school and was attending college. Mershell had worked 52 weeks as a stock clerk at an auto factory and earned $1,720 during 1939. Mary V. was working as a stenographer at a newspaper office and had earned nothing in 1939. They owned their own home which was worth $3,500 and had lived in the same house in 1935.
Did I learn anything new from this census? This was the first time I looked at the whole enumeration district which gave me more of an overview of the neighborhood. I did not know that my grandfather completed 8th grade. I always heard he taught himself to read because he never attended school. I wonder which is true, did he teach himself to read and my grandmother just said he completed 8th grade or did he go to school. No big surprises, mostly seeing in the record what I already knew.
Source 1940 U.S. Census. State: Michigan. County: Wayne. City: Detroit. Ward:15. Enumeration District: 84-862. Household: 331. Sheet Number: 16-A. Date: April 12, 1940. Head of Household: Mershell Graham. Informant: wife, Fannie Graham. To see the census sheet for the Graham Family – click.
This photograph was taken in the alley beside my grandparents house on Theodore in Detroit in 1937. My grandfather, Mershell, was 47. He stands here with his daughters dressed for church. He worked at the Ford Rouge Plant, taking the street car to work everyday and saving the car for going to church and other weekend activities. Mary Virginia, my mother’s older sister, was 17 and a senior at Eastern High School, on East Grand Blvd within walking distance of the house. She graduated in June and in September went to Business College where she excelled in typing. My mother was 14. She graduated from Barbour Intermediate School that year and joined her sister at Eastern High School. Here are their report cards from that year.
Meanwhile, a lot going on in the world in 1937. The montage below contains photographs of some. The Memorial Day Massacre when Chicago police shot and beat union marchers who were organizing at Republic Steel Plant. Ten workers died. Amelia Earhart flew off and disappeared. The German Luftwaffe bombed Guernica, Spain during the Spanish Civil War in support of Franco and inspired the painting of the same name by Picasso . The Japanese invaded China, killing and raping thousands. Roosevelt was re-elected. The Hobbit was published. Gone With the Wind won the Pulitzer prize for Margaret Mitchell. The first animated full length film, Snow White came out. An anti-lynching law was passed. The Golden Gate Bridge was completed and opened with a day for pedestrians to walk across. Buchenwald concentration camp was build. The Hindenburg exploded and burned. King George VI’s coronation took place. Auto workers in Flint, Michigan won recognition for the UAW after a prolonged sit down strike. The Mississippi and Ohio Rivers flooded leaving devastation and death behind. Ethiopia was now in the hands of fascist Italy.
My mother and my grandmother turned out to be more sociable in their youth than they were by the time I knew them. Here are a couple of photographs I found of them being social butterflies.
Progressive Twelve Club – Montgomery, Alabama – 1911
Some of the young women in the Progressive Twelve Club were relatives. My grandmother, Fannie Mae Turner wrote the song. Daisy Turner was her sister. Naomi Tulane and Jennette McCall were first cousins. Some of them are also in the photo below. The information on the back of the photo was stuck to the album page so I’m not sure who is who. The purpose of the Progressive Twelve Club seemed to be sewing. I wish I could have heard them sing this song.
Progressive Twelve Club Song
Composed by F.M.T. 1914
It was a bright September day
In dear old 1911;
our club of 12 was organized
An hour to needlework given
We hear the name “Progressive 12”,
As you’ve already seen;
the Kilarney rose adorns us
Our colors are pink and green.
We’re loyal to our motto
with it we like to delve;
See…hear..speak no evil
as do the Progressive Twelve!
We’re loyal to our motto.
With it we like to delve
see no–hear no–speak no evil,
Oh you! Progressive Twelve!
On Thursdays to our meetings
In sunshine or in rain:
We go to greet our hostess,
and new inspiration gain.
We’ve carried a record high and fair
on which we look with pride
Not only in art but in music,
we’re noted far and wide.
Mesdames Campbell and Dungee sing,
Washington and Miller too,
McCall and Tulane join in,
(while) Laurence and Wilson sew.
Mayberry makes the music
Jones and the Turners two
just work and think of our motto,
with hopeful hearts and true.
The Social Sixteen – 1937 – Detroit, Michigan
My mother, Doris Graham is in the back row center with the flowered dress on. Her sister, Mary V. is seated in the very front. First man in the back right is Frank “Buddy” Elkins who Mary V. would later marry. My father’s sister, Barbara Cleage is seated on the far right, front. I don’t know what exactly the Social Sixteen did but my Aunt Barbara told me that the only reason they had her in the club was because of her 4 older brothers. The young woman at the other end of the couch was my mother’s best friend, Connie Stowers. We used to go visit her once a year. Which I still don’t understand because she lived across town, not in another city.
My Aunt Gladys sent word this weekend that my parents did, indeed, spend some time in Michigan before moving on to Springfield. These photographs are in an album and labeled “En Route to Springfield.” Most of them were taken in Idlewild, at my Uncle Louis’ cottage. There were only a couple taken in Detroit, all of my cousin Dee Dee and her mother, Mary Vee in my Graham grandparents yard. My father may have been taking the photographs in Idlewild, because he doesn’t appear in any of them. Henry and Hugh are not in the photos because, I suppose, they were still on the farm.