Here is my Uncle Henry Cleage with his adoring mother, Pearl. Henry was born March 22, 1916, the third of my grandparents 7 children. He always told us his nickname was “Happy”. He looks pretty happy here. Henry grew up to be an attorney, a printer, an editor, a writer, a farmer and a philosopher. Not in that particular order. He lived until 1996, when he died from cancer.
Last week Megan and Jim Heyl were kind enough to do some cemetery sleuthing for me. In spite of the rude and unhelpful attitude of the office staff, they found the groundskeeper to be helpful. He located the sod covered headstones of my paternal grandparents. The Heyls dug them out and replaced them on top of the sod so that they are now showing. More on Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery in the future.
I don’t know where my grandparents were going in these photographs from the 1950s. They were traveling with a group. I know they started in Detroit and ended up back in Detroit. In between they seem to have gone to the sea shore, the far west and possibly places in between. For other train related (or not) posts, click Sepia Saturday.
Today is my Grandmother, Pearl Doris Reed Cleage’s, birthday. If she were alive today she would be turning 125 years old. In her honor I have posted some photographs of her from the little black album with the little photos taken by her sons around 1938.
She was born in Lebanon, KY in 1886 and moved with her family to Indianapolis, IN when she was about six. She met her husband, Albert Cleage, at Witherspoon Presbyterian Church where she sang in the choir. They married in 1910 after he received his Physician’s License. Their first child, my father, was born in 1911. Pearl was warned never to have more children because it would probably kill her. They moved to Michigan soon after and by 1915 had settled in Detroit. My grandmother eventually bore and raised seven children. She died at age 96 in 1987.
For more posts about Pearl Cleage click the following links: Grandmother holding my father in 1911 and My Grandmother’s Family Tree and Indianapolis Research and Two Newspaper Articles 1908 and 1950. For more Sepia Saturday photographs CLICK.
Today I spread all my Cleage photos out on the table and began putting them into order by number or date. While I was doing this, I found another photograph in the sequence that I posted about twice this week. Click here to see the photo of my grandparents, where I speculate that it was taken soon after their marriage. Several people wondered what he was holding over his shoulder. Click here to read about my discovery of the numbers on the back of most of the photographs.
I can see the people more clearly in this group photograph but, it is in bad shape. Starting from the left, are two headless women and I don’t know who they are. The little girl is my Aunt Barbara, next to her is my Uncle Hugh, Uncle Louis, Uncle Henry, Theodore Page (who looks like he has a double), a mystery girl, and the FLAG that my grandfather held over his shoulder. Behind them are, an unknown man, my great grandmother Celia Rice Cleage Sherman, her son Jacob, my father Albert “Toddy”, three people I don’t know then my grandfather Albert B. Cleage Sr. In the background are some other people. I don’t know who they are or where they are.
Click here to read other Sepia Saturday stories and to join in with a Sepia Saturday post of your own.
While researching my paternal grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage, I found many references to her singing in her church and at community events in Indianapolis, Indiana. Later I looked in the online datebase, ProQuest Historical Newspapers and found numerous society shorts in the Chicago Defender column “Brief News from the Buckeye State” about Pearl Cleage singing with the Harmony Trio in Cleveland, Ohio. The articles were dated from 1915 to 1922.
Finally I came across an article dated December 30, 1922 with the title “William Anderson Buried.” It mentioned that he left to mourn his passing Mrs. Margaret Anderson, a son, William Anderson Jr and a daughter Mrs. Pearl Cleage Johnson. So, was Pearl Cleage Johnson his step daughter? How did she go from Pearl Cleage in a May 21short about singing to Mrs. Pearl Cleage Johnson in the obituary? If so why was there no marriage announcement? Was Cleage her maiden name? Probably not since she was singing as Mrs. Pearl Cleage. Perhaps a former marriage?
Recently I came across this information again while cleaning up my files and decided to see what I could find out about Mrs. Pearl Cleage Johnson. I started by looking for Pearl Cleage on FamilySearch. References to my grandmother Pearl Cleage appeared and then a marriage record for Pearl Cleage to Burl Johnson in Clevland Ohio on August 19, 1921. The brides name was Pearl Holmes Cleage,maritial status was divorced. She was born in 1884 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. . Her mother’s maiden name was Margaret Banks. Her father’s name was Harry Holmes.
I found her at 16 in the 1900 census living with her mother’s sister and her husband. Living in that household were Harvey Martin and his wife Vaudalia, their three children, Vaudalia’s sister Marnir and niece Pearl. I found Vaudalia and Margaret Banks in the 1880 census living with their parents Pleasant Owen and Clara Banks, in Delpos, Van Wert, Ohio. Baby sister Mamie (not Marnir) were also there. I found that Clarinda was born in Ohio and Pleasant came there from Virginia before 1850. He fought with the U.S. Colored Infantry in the Civil War. Once I get started it’s hard to stop looking.
I found two other marriage records for Pearl Holmes. She married Robert Williams June 6, 1908 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. She married Jerome Cleage on September 23, 1914 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. It gives her previous husband’s name as Williams but doesn’t say if she was divorced or he died. Jerome’s birthplace was Reah Springs, Tennessee. His father’s name was Richard Cleage and his mother’s name was Adeline Wason.
What I learned about Pearl’s life from various online records was that she was born in Fort Wayne Indiana in 1884. Her father died before 1900 leaving her mother a widow working as a servant in Dayton Ohio while Pearl lived with her aunt. Pearl married three times and had no children. She was active in her church, St. John’s A.M.E. (the oldest African American church in the Cleveland area) both singing and in club work. In the 1910 census she and her new husband Robert Williams, a teamster, were living with her mother, 4 year old brother and stepfather in Cleveland. In 1920 she is not with Jerome Cleage and again living with her mother, brother and stepfather. In 1930 her stepfather was dead and her mother is living with her and husband Burl in Cleveland. I found one photograph of Pearl in 1939 as a member of ‘Cleveland’s Popular Mystery Pals Club.” Unfortunately it is a horrible copy in the online paper and it is impossible to see what she looks like. Burl died in 1947. I have not found a death date for Pearl yet.
In part two I look for a connection between my grandmother Pearl’s husband Albert Cleage and the other Pearl’s second husband, Jerome Cleage who both came from south east Tennessee.
- Part 2 – Jerome Cleage, the doppleganger’s Second husband – is he related to me?
- Indianapolis Research
May 8, 1908 The Indianapolis Star, Friday Sings in Concert at Simpson Chapel
Miss Pearl D. Reed The violin recital of Clarence Cameron White will be given this evening at Simpson Chapel under the direction of the Colored Y.M.C.A. Orchestra. He will be supported by the best local talent. The following program will be given:
Overture – “Northern Lights,” Y.M.C.A. Orchestra
Violin – Hungarian Rhapsodie, Clarence Cameron White
Song – “Oh Dry Those Tears,” Miss Pearl D. Reed.”
Piano – “Vaise in C sharp minor (b) Polanaise in A major. Mrs. Alberta J. Grubbs.
Violin – (a) Tran Merel: (b) Scherzo, Clarence Cameron White
Orchestra – “The Spartan,” orchestra
Vocal – :Good-by”, Miss Pearl D. Cleage
Readings A.A. Taylor.
Selection – “The Bird and Brook,” orchestra
1908 May 16 The Freeman An Illustrated Colored Newspaper page 4 “The Cameron White Recital”
Clarence Cameron White ably sustained his reputation as a violinist at Simpson Chapel church last week under the auspices of of the Y.M.C.A. Mr. White plays a clean violin; he gets all out of it there is – dragging his bow from tip to tip, and more if it were possible. He did not attempt any of the great big things – the big concertos, and perhaps for the best. Yet he showed his capability for such work and at the same time satisfied his audience. His encores as a rule were selections that the audience recognized and through the beautiful renditions it could easily form some estimate of his playing ability. Mr. White was a decided success. Seldom is has a good class of music been so thoroughly appreciated. He was supported at the piano by Samuel Ratcliffe whose playing was commendable. Miss pearl D. Reed proved an acceptable contralto singer. The orchestra under Alfred A. Taylor did some very effective work. Mr. Taylor proved a reader of ability; he read several of his own selections. The audience was magnificent and paid the utmost attention to the renditions.”