V is for Vaudeville

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My grandparents - Albert B. Cleage & Pearl D. Reed in 1909.
My grandparents – Albert B. Cleage & Pearl D. Reed in 1909.

For this year’s April A-Z Challenge I am blogging everyday using items taken from the letters written by my grandfather to my grandmother from 1907 to 1912, starting with “A” and moving right through the alphabet to “Z” during April.

This letter was sent while Albert was on the Steamer Eastern States during the summer of 1909 on July 15.  Pearl had left Indianapolis to visit her sisters in Benton Harbor, Michigan for the summer.  The hard times that he mentions were the result of her mother’s objection to their relationship. At the end he mentions a Vaudeville he attended. Click images to enlarge.

7-15-09_00017-15-09_00027-15-09_00057-15-09_0006On Board the Steamer
Eastern States
July 15/’09

My dear Pearl-

Words are in adequate for me to express the pleasure that was mine on going to the office today and receiving two letters from you, both of which I read and re-read.

The description you gave of your surroundings was fine and it certainly made me long to be with you and enjoy with you the pleasures which such condition must afford one.

You say you are unhappy, and though that man part of me appreciates that feeling entertained by you that you cannot be quite happy without me – I beg of you,  for a few short weeks (for your own sake) forget me in the sense of longing to be with me and fill each moment of your life with such thoughts and activities that will mean most to you in the way of health & happiness.  After such a strenuous life as yours last winter – filled with anxiety, fear etc, such a needed rest as is your privilege now to enjoy – should be greatly welcomed and your pleasures not marred by anxious thoughts of him who has brought naught but sorrow and discontent into your home and hardships into your life.  For all of which dear, forgive me.  I could not do differently.  I would not if I could and could not if I would. 

These little things are but the trifling price we pay for love – I believe with someone who wrote: – to fully enjoy and appreciate the blessings of heaven, it is well to have spent a few moments in H___.

You say you love me more than I will ever know. Is it possible?  Remember that the part that I’ll never know of will do no one any good.

In thinking that you probably had forgotten me, I was not judging you by myself “for if thinking be forgetting, then dear, I have forgotten you long ago.”

When you spoke of being out in the country I was reminded of your rustic hero of whom you told me the Sabbath we went to Meridian Heights. Did you see him again?  You must be careful of snakes and men, both are dangerous.  But the old man who was kind enough to entertain you with funny stories will not bite, I guess.  You see, I am trying to make you afraid of men so none of those country chaps will steal you from me.

The flowers were beautiful and I appreciated them as reminders of the fact that I am not forgotten.  I hope it will be possible for me someday to see all of those beautiful places you speak of, with you.

Now about that skin disease you speak of – it is a disease known to medical science as Vitilligo or Leukoderma.  It is incurable and peculiar to the Negro race.  Its cause is not definitely known.  Miss Locklear whom you met has a brother so afflicted.

 It is now very late sweetheart.  Most everyone is asleep and I too am tired and sleepy.

I attended a vaudeville in Buffalo today – Two colored women singers were features of the program.

Good night Sweetheart.  Your Albert

 

Maybe he saw the famous Griffin sisters.  I found their picture while searching Indianapolis newspapers for news items about my family and found it again online in goggle news archives.  There are links to several news articles below.Griffin_sisters_photo

An Obituary for Emma Griffin  from “The New York Age” 7 September 1918 Page 6

“Emma GRIFFIN DEAD; Ellis avenue. Miss Griffin died a Christian. Emma Griffin was born in Louisville, Ky., and was 44 years of age. She made her first appearance on the stage with her sister at Kohl and Middleton’s Museum, Chicago, when they were girls. Their first appearance as regular professionals was with John W. Isham’s original octoroon company, headed by Fred J. Piper and Madam Flower. When they had gained fame with the octoroons they entered into vaudeville and remained in that field and made money. When Mabel Griffin was taken ill at Youngstown, O., eleven weeks ago and had to return home ill, Emma took Margie Lorraine as a partner and opened at the Star Theatre, Pittsburgh, ten weeks ago, but broke down and returned home ill. Both sisters were bedridden in separate rooms during a period in which a benefit was given for them at the States Theatre of special pictures by Theda Bara. No performers appeared and the occasion marked the first theatrical “movie” benefit in history. Elizabeth Hart and Cassie Burch Slaughter conducted the benefit Miss Griffin was well educated, having been a student of the State University of Louisville. As an actress she was a comedienne of the May Irwin type and was a clever mirth provoker despite her avoirdupois. As an orator she had recognized ability, recently demonstrated in politics as a suffragette. The stand she took on behalf of the rights of performers against managers was well known. The deceased was a charitable woman and always interested in the welfare of her profession. Miss Griffin was the oldest child of Henry Griffin, deceased, and Blandina Duncan. The funeral was held Tuesday, September 3, and was largely attended.”

 Grizzly Bear article 1910 – you can see the photo above and a short description of their act.

Griffin Sisters “The First and Only Colored Women’s Theatrical Booking Agency in the United States and their Desires and Intentions.” This was a very interesting article from “The Freeman” that went into depth about their lives, beliefs and careers. I recommend it!

U is for Union Station

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My grandparents - Albert B. Cleage & Pearl D. Reed in 1909.
My grandparents – Albert B. Cleage & Pearl D. Reed in 1909.

For this year’s April A-Z Challenge I am blogging everyday using items taken from the letters written by my grandfather to my grandmother from 1907 to 1912, starting with “A” and moving right through the alphabet to “Z” during April.

U is for Union6/21/10

Dear Pearl –

Hope you are well and happy, and that it is still possible for you to go with us tomorrow.

Is it hot enough for you? am going to be very busy today.  Meet me at the Union depot tomorrow morning no later than 7:30 a.m.

Tomorrow I shall become a gentleman of title & hereafter shall be considered by the world – doctor, but to you I hope to always remain – just Albert.

us_extGood photos and history of Union Station “By 1900, approximately 150 passenger trains a day passed through the station.  In 1910, the number peaked at around 200 passenger trains a day.  The railroad tracks, still at grade level and declared dangerous to pedestrians and motorists, were elevated between 1915 and 1919.”

T is for Thomas Dixon

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My grandparents - Albert B. Cleage & Pearl D. Reed in 1909.
My grandparents – Albert B. Cleage & Pearl D. Reed in 1909.

For this year’s April A-Z Challenge I am blogging everyday using items taken from the letters written by my grandfather to my grandmother from 1907 to 1912, starting with “A” and moving right through the alphabet to “Z” during April.

1-21-10 clanAt school 3 Pm     Jan 21, ’10

My dear sweetheart,

Your letter came this morning.  It was a pleasant surprise. Am glad you got home alright Sabbath Eve, Yes, I attended Services Sabbath night.  I thought you might be there and I’d loose an opportunity of seeing you if I should stay away.  I see you so seldom, you see, I can’t afford to let an opportunity pass.

You talk about being lonely yesterday. I was lonely for truth. Yesterday was a holiday. Our university celebrated its 91st birthday. So all day long I just sat around and enjoyed in day dreams. In the afternoon conditions became so intolerable that I visited my sister in Norwood. Wish I could have been with you.

So you see the poet was also right when he said:- Thy fate is but the common fate of all, for into every life some rain must fall.” –

You can censure me unjustly about that book preposition. It would have been a pleasure for me to have served you in that little way.  I only wanted you to suggest something, however and had decided to get the “Clansman” by Thomas Dixon Jr. and have it for you Sabbath. You remember I tried to tell you about it.

I heard yesterday that you would be at choir practice, and I expected you, and was disappointed when you did not show up, but know it was not your fault.  All were out but you, even Laurence and Mr. Thompson.  Mr. Bradley was also there. Mr. Ratcliffe was very enthusiastic, and they all seemingly transacted a “lot” of business.  Trusting that ere this the clouds have passed away and you are again your sweet-joyous, happy self. –

Your Albert

Ah, so here we have the title of a book that they read.  The racist movie, “Birth of a Nation” about the rise of the Ku Klux Klan during Reconstruction, was based on  Dixon’s racist book “The Clansman”.  I wonder what they said about it. Being the children of people who had been slaves, the first generation born after slavery, and who fought for their rights through the years, I can imagine it wasn’t complementary.  The book was published in 1904.  It’s available free online here The Clansman – Project Gotenberg ebook.

the_clansman

 

 

 

 

R is for Remember

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My grandparents - Albert B. Cleage & Pearl D. Reed in 1909.
My grandparents – Albert B. Cleage & Pearl D. Reed in 1909.

For this year’s April A-Z Challenge I am blogging everyday using items taken from the letters written by my grandfather to my grandmother from 1907 to 1912, starting with “A” and moving right through the alphabet to “Z” during April.

This postcard was written during my grandfather’s summer working on the Steamer Eastern States.  Click on all images to enlarge.

7/15/09

What do you remember about the 15th of last month?

A.B.C.

Remember_1909

Unfortunately there was no card or letter written around June 15th so I had no idea what happened then.  But this was such an unsatisfactory post that I had to go back and try and solve the mystery.  This is what I found, looking at 2 postcards and a letter mailed on June 20 from Buffalo, although at least 1 was written on the 19th in Toledo.

calendar-notesAll of the letters were addressed to 311 W. Ray Street, Indianapolis, IN.  This was not where Pearl lived.  It was the address of her brother Hugh and his wife Blanche.  In several letters my grandfather asked Pearl to thank Blanche for the good feelings she had for their relationship.  I can only suppose that something happened as they were saying good-bye before the trip that angered her mother so much that she could not receive Albert’s letters at home.  The first postcard is the one with the cadavers. The second one can be found here D is for Detroit.

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6-20-09_00026-20-09_00036-20-09_00046-20-09_00066-20-09_00076-20-09_0008

Q Is For Questions

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My grandparents - Albert B. Cleage & Pearl D. Reed in 1909.
My grandparents – Albert B. Cleage & Pearl D. Reed in 1909.

For this year’s April A-Z Challenge I am blogging everyday using items taken from the letters written by my grandfather to my grandmother from 1907 to 1912, starting with “A” and moving right through the alphabet to “Z” during April.

“May 27, 1910

My dear Sweetheart:

…This letter I am sure will prove disconnected and uninteresting due to my perturbed condition of mind – This is a time you know where the most important material questions of my life must be met and settled and when I realize that to a very large degree my success in life depends upon the wisdom of my choice it makes me over anxious and perhaps a bit worried – the great question is: – where shall I locate and where does the greatest success await me? And what makes the situation so perplexing, it seems that everyone I meet has a different piece of advice – of course in the end I shall make my own choice praying that mine will also be God’s. I expect to see you Sabbath, your Albert”

Q is for Questions

 

P is for Pearl

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My grandparents - Albert B. Cleage & Pearl D. Reed in 1909.
My grandparents – Albert B. Cleage & Pearl D. Reed in 1909.

For this year’s April A-Z Challenge I am blogging everyday using items taken from the letters written by my grandfather to my grandmother from 1907 to 1912, starting with “A” and moving right through the alphabet to “Z” during April.

My grandmother, Pearl Doris Reed, was born in Lebanon, Kentucky in 1886.  She was the youngest of the eight children of Anna Allen Reed.  The older children had a different father, Palmer Reed. The four youngest, including Pearl, were the children of Buford Averitt, a white physician.  By 1888 Pearl’s oldest brother, George, had moved to Indianapolis Indiana to work at Van Camps cannery. The rest of the family soon followed. She attended school, graduating from high school and took piano lessons.

Albert and Pearl met at church.  They both signed the petition to organize a United Presbyterian Church on April 30, 1907.   Pearl sang in the church choir and also at community and church events.  By the time I heard her sing she had a frail, old voice.  I wish I could have heard her back in her prime.  In 1907 Pearl was 21. Three years later, when this letter was written, she was 24.  On September 21 he and Pearl Doris Reed were married at her home.

In 1911 Pearl’s mother died and the first of their 7 children was born – Albert B. Cleage Jr, my father.  In 1912 the family moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan where my grandfather set up in private practice.  And that takes us to the end of the time covered in these letters.

7-21-10_0002 7-21-10_00017/21/10

My dear Sweetheart-

I hope that ere this your aches and pains etc., are now only a memory and you again your sweet normal self.  You can’t know how much I enjoy those little walks and how much I appreciate the sacrifice you have to make in order to be with me.  They are sweet memories that I shall never forget.-

The difficulties that we have had to overcome have but added a tinge of sweetness to our courtship which in name shall end soon but in reality I trust shall never, never end.  If marriage offered anything other than greater opportunities for love and loving – I would have no desire to change our present relationship. Would you?

Whatever my disappointment in life have been and what ever my sorrows are, they are forgotten and lost in the sweet anticipation that I shall soon have you with me and can see you when I choose.  Do you think you will not get tired of me?

I must confess that to me it is not altogether a pleasant thought that I can’t be with you nights but was awful glad you were willing for it to be so, although I didn’t want you to appear too willing.

The questions you asked the other evening were very proper ones and as I told you saved me from the job.  You now must think and think hard for a lot more might be asked. 

I shall see your mother soon, perhaps Sabbath. How do you think you could get along with Gertrude and how would you like to stay there? Since I am to be away I had thought it would be best for you to be there.

I now must leave you for I expect many patients are waiting to see the Dr. Shall I see you at church on Sabbath?  If you do not feel well I shall expect to hear from you again soon.

Your Albert

 

O is for Opportunity and Operation

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My grandparents - Albert B. Cleage & Pearl D. Reed in 1909.
My grandparents – Albert B. Cleage & Pearl D. Reed in 1909.

For this year’s April A-Z Challenge I am blogging everyday using items taken from the letters written by my grandfather to my grandmother from 1907 to 1912, starting with “A” and moving right through the alphabet to “Z” during April.

3-29-10_00013/22/10

My dear Sweetheart:-

Your letter which was especially nice, received yesterday afternoon.  I remember now, that the college visit was the substitute.  I had my dates a little mixed, didn’t I? You bet I will be glad of the opportunity of spending a whole big day with you.  Think of some place you would like to go.  After Friday my time is at your disposal.  your letters instead of being an annoyance will be an inspiration – write me another long sweet one. 

I suppose ere this you have learned of the result of the operation on Mrs. White. – The physicians say that unexpected and incurable conditions were met with and recovery is impossible.  She was reported to be dying this P.M. about 5 o’clock, but rallied.  The end is expected any moment. The family are at the hospital now awaiting the result and I fear that ere this reaches you she will be dead.  It is too sad.  I shall try to let you know as soon as possible.

3-29-10_0002Wed. Morn. 4:30

Mrs. White died this morning about 1 AM.

The pastor of United Witherspoon Presbyterian Church was Rev. David F. White. I wondered if this was his wife. Rev. White came to Witherspoon in 1908 from Athens, TN, according to an article in The Freeman An Illustrated Colored Newspaper.  I found several mentions of him, but none of a wife. On Ancestry.com, I found that he had been born in Kentucky in 1873 and that he lived next door to my grandfather and his brothers at 912 Fayette Street. In the 1910 Census, taken in April, over a month after the death described in the letter above, he is described as a widower.  Unfortunately without a first name for the wife, I cannot be sure that this is her.

N is for Nine Hundred and Ten Fayette Street

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The 3 Cleage brothers and Jacob's wife lived in the house at 910 Fayette Street. Back row: Henry Cleage, Jacob Cleage, Albert Cleage, Pearl Reed. Front: unknown woman, Jacob's wife Gertrude B. Cleage.
The 3 Cleage brothers and Jacob’s wife Gertrude,  lived in the house at 910 Fayette Street.
Back row: Henry Cleage, Jacob Cleage, Albert Cleage, Pearl Reed.
Front: unknown woman, Jacob’s wife Gertrude B. Cleage.

 For this year’s April A-Z Challenge I am blogging everyday using items taken from the letters written by my grandfather to my grandmother from 1907 to 1912, starting with “A” and moving right through the alphabet to “Z” during April.

Screen shot 2014-04-13 at 12.33.00 PM
910 Fayette Street in 2011 on Google Maps.

10-18-09_letter10/18/’09 
910 Fayette Indianapolis
Monday night 10:15

Dear Pearl:-

This note is to inform you that Henry and I arrived here last night at about 12 o’clock.  We left our brother much better and I think well on the road to recovery.  Am anxious to see you.  Hope you are well and happy.

As ever, Albert

Left to right: Albert, Josephine, Edward.  Back L Henry, back R Jacob
Left to right: Albert, Josephine, Edward. Back L Henry, back R Jacob

After my grandfather Albert came back from his summer on the Steamer Eastern States, he and his brother Henry went to Athens, TN to visit their brother Edward. Edward suffered from rheumatoid arthritis most of his life. He was the only one of the 5 siblings who remained in Athens. He married Mattie Dotson and they had 5 daughters, although all of them might not have been born at the time of this visit.  Edward died from ‘Tuberculosis and Rheumatism” in 1926, when he was 47 years old.  Curing his brother’s arthritis was something my grandfather mentions several times in his letters. It must have been a great disappointment that he was unable to do so.

ariel_view_fayetteI have been so overjoyed at finding the house where my grandparents started their married life and my father was born that I never went to any site that showed the date it was built. While looking for a good photo on google, I looked at several real estate sites. One of them was the one above. I saw that this house was not built until 1930.  How disappointing. The period I am writing about was 20 years earlier. There must have been an older house there that was torn down and this new one built.

I looked for some older houses and found this one built in 1870. The house my family lived in was probably not a newly built home. Maybe the house they lived in looked more like this, without two bathrooms and the ongoing renovations.

house_close_up highland_house

M is for Mother

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My grandparents - Albert B. Cleage & Pearl D. Reed in 1909.
My grandparents – Albert B. Cleage & Pearl D. Reed in 1909.

For the 2014 April A-Z Challenge, I am blogging everyday using items taken from the letters written by my grandfather to my grandmother from 1907 to 1912, starting with “A” and moving right through the alphabet to “Z” during April. Click on any image to enlarge.

2-20-10 2/10/’10

My dear Sweetheart:-

You perhaps were a little disappointed in not seeing me this afternoon as I promised you should, but I trust that the disappointment caused you no worry.  Henry and I were on our way out to your home and decided that this being Sabbath it was likely that you were over run with visitors and it would be best for us not to swell the number which already might be an annoyance to you mother

Pearl I am sorry that in this hour of your sorrow, that I can’t be in closer touch and relationship with you and I assure you that I will be glad to be of any service to you that I can. If you need my services (I don’t mean professional services) at any time don’t fail to call upon me. You don’t know how much I miss you and long to see you and be with you.

It has been a bad old day – very much in accord with my feelings.  Attendance at church has been rather small all day. Will be out again Tuesday evening, very probably. Received the card Sat. morning.

That your mother will soon be restored to health and strength is the prayer of your devoted

Albert:-

2-20-10_0001It seems that my great grandmother, Anna Reed, has been taken seriously ill.  I wonder if it were a small stroke.  She died of a cerebral hemorrhage the following February.  It must have been very serious for my grandfather and his brother to even consider a visit.

L is for Lincoln Hospital

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My grandparents - Albert B. Cleage & Pearl D. Reed in 1909.
My grandparents – Albert B. Cleage & Pearl D. Reed in 1909.

For this year’s April A-Z Challenge I am blogging everyday using items taken from the letters written by my grandfather to my grandmother from 1907 to 1912, starting with “A” and moving right through the alphabet to “Z” during April.  At one point, this letter refers back to a letter from a year ago.  You can read it here at K is for Kenwood.

3-18-10

3-18-10_00013/18/10

My dear Sweetheart:-

How did you spend St. Patrick’s day? It was a lovely day sure and also has today been beautiful.  How are you? Have you gotten entirely well. I hope that pains and aches with you are now “past history.”Does your mother seem to be improving?

These are busy days with me. Examinations for the close of the winter term begin Monday and will last one week after which comes a ten or twelve day’s vacation.- What can I do with so much time all by my lone self

Do you remember that last year we planned a day’s outing in the country and I thinking the day appointed, too bad did not show up?  And also how you got angry with me?  See how well I remember. That has been one year ago but it to me certainly does not seem so long.  You did go to Brookside with me, which was the beginning of several very pleasant trips which will always be sweet sweet memories to me.  My vacation is about 10 days off and it may be yet that you will be able to take that trip which we planned last year.

3-18-10_0003Mrs. White, I believe goes to Lincoln Hospital tomorrow to be operated upon Monday.  Mrs. Brady – Little Marcum Mitchell’s grandmother died at the City Hospital this morning. 

abcleagesrcool
Photo found with letters.

Of course I selected that negative which you liked better, others whose opinion I asked were about equally divided.  I send you the other which is fast fading.

Be careful for yourself.  The things you said in your last letter were surely the product of a melancholie mind – such moods are not good for you. Cheer up!!  Of course, God in His wise providence might call your mother home, and ’tis he alone who can cause me to cease loving you.  So wake up from your dream – you shall nurse, not patients for someone else, but (__?__) for yourself – Won’t you like that better.  Yes, I believe you will – Ha! ha!

Your Albert

{Had better burn this letter up}

Lincoln_Hospital