Today while looking for old Easter pictures, I found a partial answer to the question I asked at the end of my blog post on the migration from Montgomery to points north – Did Lowndes Adams and my grandfather ever see each other again, or keep in touch? I found a photo from 1965 of Lowndes and four of his sisters. I don’t know where it was taken, not at my grandparents house for sure, but it shows they did keep in touch. From L to R we have: Jessie, Maude, Jane, Alice and Lowndes.
Here is a list of household members in the 1900 census.
James M Adams 53
Ida Adams 41
Sarah Adams 18
Emaline Adams 16
Maud Adams 13
Ida Jessie Adams 12
Lowndes W Adams 9
James Russel Adams 6
Alice Adams 3
Although Jane doesn’t appear in this census, she does appear in the 1910 census as an 8 year old.
After posting Migration Story Part 3 last week my cousin, Ruth (who is not related to Nan) asked her cousin (who is related to Nan) if Nan was married to Rufus Taylor, who was Victor Tulane’s cousin and my grandparent’s friend. The answer was, yes, Rufus was Nan’s third of four husbands. After Rufus died, Nan married a Mr. Murphy and ended up in Ohio, where she died in 1988.
After reading the letters my grandfather’s friends wrote to him in Detroit from Montgomery, I wondered what happened to those he left behind. Did they stay? Did they leave? I know that my grandparents never returned to Montgomery once they married so I wondered if he ever saw any of them again. I didn’t find them in the photographs in the backyard of the house on Theodore but, if they had moved to Detroit there wouldn’t have been any backyard photos. Those were reserved for out of town guests.
The six young men mentioned were Lowndes Adams, Robert Blakley, Rufus Taylor, Lewis Gilmer, Edgar Speigner and Nathan. I was able to follow them with varying degrees of success. There were twists and turns and connections and dead ends. And always more information to look for and check. Today I decided to write up what I have found so far.
Lowndes William Adams was born February 11, 1893, in Montgomery, Alabama to James and Ida Adams. James was a grocer. Lowndes was the 5th of 7 children. They all were educated and several of his sisters were teachers. Lowndes worked as a stenographer and later was the branch manager of an insurance company. He never married and shared his home with his widowed mother, several sisters, nieces and nephews. He was in Montgomery in 1930. He died in Detroit in 1977. My grandfather died in 1973. I wonder if they had a chance to spend time together.
Lowndes older sister, Emma Lena, married Edgar Speigner before he registered for the WW 1 draft in 1917. Edgar was born September 17, 1882, in Montgomery. He and his brother Charles were raised by their mother, Carrie Taylor who was a cook. Tall and stout, he worked as a pullman porter all of his adult life. Edgar and his wife Emma, raised four children. He died in 1954 in Montgomery, Alabama.
Rufus Taylor was born January 19, 1886 in Montgomery. His parents were Jordan and Fannie Taylor. Rufus was a cousin of Victor Tulane. Victor was married to Eliza and Dock’s daughter, Willie Lee. Rufus lived with the Tulane family for many years and worked in the store first as a clerk and then as a salesman. He remained in Montgomery and married Nan Nesbitt Jones. As far as I know he had no children but helped raise Nan’s son, Albert, from her first marriage. Nan Nesbitt was the niece by marriage of another of Dock and Eliza’s daughter, the youngest, Beulah. That is, Nan was the stepdaughter of Beulah’s husband’s sister. (Are you confused yet?) Rufus died in Montgomery at the age of 51 in 1937.
I believe Nathan was Nathan Nesbit, a cousin of Nan but have not been able to follow a trail, yet.
Lewis Abram Gilmer was born in Alabama on May 18, 1885. I’m not sure if he was born in Montgomery but he was raised there by his parents Louis and Carnelia Gilmer, along with 7 siblings. His father was a porter, a butler and a chauffeur. Lewis worked as a bank messenger in Montgomery. He and his wife, Annie, had four children. The oldest was born in 1910 in Montgomery. The second was born in1924 in Mississippi and the two youngest were born in 1925 and 1927 in Detroit, Michigan. Lewis worked as a porter at a department store in Detroit. He died there in July, 1969. I tried to find a link between Lewis Gilmer and Ludie Gilmer, who was the son-in-law of Beulah Allen Pope. No luck. Both their wives were named Annie but not the same Annie.
John Wesley Blakley was born January 22, 1893 in Montgomery, Alabama. He married Virgie Dorsette Beckwith, who wanted to leave the south according to John’s letter to Mershell. He was a barber in Atlanta before WW 1 and in Chicago, Illinois afterwards. He and his wife do not seem to have had any children. John was in Chicago in 1942. I have not yet found a death record or census records for 1900, 1910 or 1920 so I do not know his parent’s names or if he had siblings.
Really I had begun to say little mean things about you, for it did look like you were going to take as long to write as you did when you first landed in Detroit. You may know what a pleasure it is at all times to receive a letter from a friend and pal.
Well, Cliff and Chisholm are there and how do they like Detroit. Tell Chisholm I know he will conserve a week looking at the skyscrapers and be sure to hold him when he is taken out to the lake. It was a great surprise to know that he left with Cliff, as no one seemed to have been aware of his leaving until several days back. Of course there is no need of advertising your intentions, but he and Cliff both got away without my knowing.
We have been having some real cool weather for this time of the year, and it has caused everything to be unbalanced somewhat.
Yes, I thought strongly of leaving this place on account of the depressing standing of our business and since it has changed for the better, I think I’ll stick a little longer. I thought that my leaving would have been compelling from that point of view.
Edgar is home now, the Pullman Company gave him a run out of here to Mobile so he has transferred here. He told me that he saw you and so many others that he knew and all seem to be getting along fine.
Would you believe me if I say that John Blakey, Lewis Gilmer, Rufus Taylor and myself are the only boys here and we look “motherless.”
Say, I want you to write me if you should see anything that you think may interest me. Have you payed any attention along the typewriter lines; and should you see anything in the papers concerning this particular line of work – send it to me.
Was in Pensacola on April 29 to see my sister. Had a dandy time, and went out to the Navy yard and saw some of our latest methods of war-fare. Tell Chisholm and Cliff to write me sometimes, and my regards to Charlie Anderson and wife in fact, all of my friends that you come across. Now I am expecting to hear from you real soon. With best wishes from us all,
Your chum, Lowndes
Montgomery Ala Feb 27/1918
My Dear Pal; Your letter of a few days ago was received, and I can assure you that a line from my old friend was highly appreciated. I remember writing you some time ago and for some reason I did not hear from you until now, but failing to put my address on my letter naturally would leave you in doubt as to where to write me, all of which I am very sorry. I was indeed glad to hear that you and the other boys were all enjoying the very best of health and that the government has used good judgment in classing all of you in class A-1 and I only want you to know that when ever you all get there, you can rest assured that you will have the opportunity of seeing me for I am now in the old city taking my examination, they passed me all OK. So you can see it is very likely I shall soon be somewhere in a training camp, I do wish however that it was possible for me to train somewhere in the Northern camps instead of the southern camps. I am sure you understand why. I shall leave tonight for Atlanta where I shall wait until they are ready for me to report for duty. I was out to see your Mother Monday afternoon. Found her looking and feeling the very best of health and was very glad to see me and to know that I had heard form you. Of course she is worried over the thought of you boys having to go to the army, but said that if there was no way to keep out of it, why she felt she would have to make some sacrifice which is indeed a fine spirit. I also stopped by Gwen and her mother’s. They were both looking fine. She was sick when I was here Xmas so I didn’t get a chance to see her and of course you know I couldn’t leave the city without seeing the Fairest Lady of the land. Glad to say that she is looking just fine said that she would like so much to see you.
Montgomery is as dry as a chip. There is really nothing doing here, all of the boys of our push have gone away with the exception of four Adams, Taylor, Gilmer and Nathan. Mack; I wish it was possible for me to say just at present whether or not I will be able to come west or not this spring or even in the summer but as things are arranged now it is hard for me to say. But if I am not called in to service real soon, why I shall have more time to think it over.
I am doing nicely in Atlanta. I have the 5th chair in a 12 chair shop, which, of course is the largest shop there. So far as getting along OK why I really have no reason to complain, but there is a desire to have that privilege to breath for once in life one deep breath of pure free atmosphere as a man, as well as meeting again with old friends.
I wish to be remembered to Cliff and Chisholm and to you all. I hope your every efforts will be crowned with success.
Trusting that I shall hear from you again real soon, I am your friend, J.W. Blakely, #8 Central Ave. Atlanta, GA
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.
Dear “Shell” – From my early acting in answering your letter, you may know or imagine how proud I was to receive a letter from the boy. I have thought of you often and wondering at the same time, if I was just to receive a postcard from you; for as you have said about me, I consider you one of my closest and most trusted worthy friends. It doesn’t seem that one can realize the feeling that exists until a separation, but after looking into the proposition, knowing that you had to get located, being in a new land, and being among strangers would consume lots of your time. I am certainly pleased to know that you are so well satisfied with Detroit and the surroundings. Yes, I would be tickled to death if I could be up there with you, for I am sick and tired of this blooming place. I know it must be an inspiration to be where you can breathe a little freedom, for every body down here are beginning to feel that slavery is still existing in the south. The Teacher’s Association has been in session here from the 4th to the 7th and quite a number of visitors are here. The boys thru my chivalry managed to give a subscription dance, and believe me I came in an inch of being fagged out. You know how you have to run a “jinke” down to get a $1.00 from him. We had quite a success as well as an enjoyable one. Cliff was to make the punch but on account of his training being too late for him to even come to the ball, it fell my time to do something and I did wish for you but managed to brave the situation and tried to follow as close as I could remember my seeing your making punch and for a fact I really made that punch taste like “a la Shell punch”, and it turned out to be perfect class. Alabama Medical Association will convene here on 9 and 10 and they are giving a dance at Tabors Hall on Randolph and Decatur Sts. No, not a full dress affair, so I think I shall attend. Sam Crayton is here from Chicago and he is very anxious for me to return with him, but I am afraid he will have to go and I come later. Well, the U.S. is really in War with Germany and we can’t tell what the next war may bring. It will mean suffering for humanity, and we people down here especially. I am just as neutral as can be and expect to stand pat in the idea. Yes, people are leaving here in droves for all directions and now you can miss them off of the streets. As many people that hung around the drug store on Sunday, you can scarcely find a dozen there now. I have seen Miss Turner but once and that was down town. I know she keeps you well informed of herself. There is no news of interest. My sister Jessie was married in February and is now living in Pensacola, so you see so far 1917 has been lucky for me. Now old boy, I shall expect for you not to allow such long gaps between our writing each. All of my family sends the best of wishes to you and Mrs Wyman and Hubby. The boys and girls join in with me and send their share.