Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:
1) Determine which event in your ancestral history that you would love to be a witness to via a Time Machine. Assume that you could observe the event, but not participate in it.
2) Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or in a comment on Facebook.
Although it took me until Sunday morning to decide, I chose to be present when my first female ancestor from Eliza’s line appears, enslaved, on these shores. I want to know where she landed and where she came from. Was she a Mende, as my DNA test suggests? Were any of her people with her? I want to be there when she was sold to see what plantation she was taken to and who her first owner was. I want to know what her family named her and what slave name she was given.
Since I’m working on my ongoing project, a photograph quilt of babies in the family, I thought I would share it. Maybe that will help me to continue quilting and finally finish it. I started about three years ago. I have made many baby quilts over the years, crib size quilts, but I never completed a full sized one. I can design and put them together but finish, no. So when I saw the class listed at the local arts center for photo quilting I decided to do it. It is double bed size. I have added the outer edging which is the same brown print you see. I have two rows left to quilt before I finish the outer edge. I am hand quilting because using a machine on this one didn’t seem right. Here are the people on my quilt from top left corner across, row by row. I will give parents names and dates of birth and death for the children only. Maiden names only. Mostly. Row 1 1. Annie Lee Pope – daughter of Beulah Allen and Robert Pope. Born 1903 Montgomery, AL. Died 1971 Milwaukee, WI 2. Alice Wright – daughter of Jennie Allen and unknown Wright. Born 1908 Montgomery, AL Died 1994 Detroit, MI. 3. Charles Gilmer – son of Annie Lee Pope and Ludie Gilmer. Born 1922 Milwaukee WI. Died 1992 Los Angeles, Ca. 4. Stella holding Roscoe McCall Jr.- son of Stella Brown and Roscoe McCall Born 1918, Montgomery, AL. Death date unknown. Row 2 1. Margaret McCall – Daughter of James McCall and Margaret Walker. Born 1919 Montgomery AL. Died 2007 Detroit, MI. 2. Jennie holding Daisy, Fanny beside her. Daughters of Jennie Allen and Howard Turner. Daisy born 1890. Died 1961. Fannie born 1888. Died 1974.Both were born in Lowndes County, AL and both died in Detroit. 3. Celia Rice Cleage Sherman holding her granddaughter Gladys Cleage – daughter of Pearl Reed and Albert Cleage Sr. Born in 1922 in Detroit. Still living! 4. Hubert Vincent – son of Naomi Tulane and Hubert Vincent. Born 1923. Died 1994. Both in New York, NY. Row 3 1. Theodore Kennedy – son of Alberta Cleage and Theodore Kennedy. Born 1928 in Chattanooga, TN. Still living! 2. Albert B. Cleage Sr. and Jr. – son of Albert B. Cleage Sr. and Pearl Reed. Born 1911 in Indianapolis, IN. Died 2000 Calhoun Falls, SC. 3. Annie Willie holding Vennie Jean Williams – daughter of Annie Butler and Arthur Williams. Born 1921 Arkansas. Died 2008 Arkansas. My husband’s grandmother and Aunt. 4. Sadye and Virgil Harris. Sadye born 1917 in Birmingham, AL. Died 2008 in Maryland. Virgil born 1913 in Birmingham, AL. Died 1988 in AL. They are cousins of cousins. Sadye helped me greatly with my research. Row 4 1. Howard with big sisters Mary V. and Doris Graham – children of Mershell Graham and Fannie Turner. Howard 1928 – 1932. Doris 1923 – 1982. Mary V. born 1921 – 2009. All born in Detroit and died in Detroit. 2. Alberta, Ola and Helen Cleage – daughters of Mattie Dodson and Edward Cleage. Alberta born 1910 Athens, TN. Died Ohio 1956. Ola born 1916 Athens, TN. Died 1988 Athens TN. Born 1910 and died 1990 both in Athens TN. 3. Barbara Cleage – born 1920 Detroit, MI. Still living! 4. Pearl holding Albert B. Cleage Jr. – son of Pearl Reed and Albert Cleage. Born 1911 Indianapolis, IN. Died 2000 Calhoun, SC. Row 5 1. Pearl with Henry Cleage – son of Pearl Reed and Albert Cleage. Born 1916 in Detroit, MI. Died 1996 in Anderson, SC. 2. Theresa Reed – daughter of Hugh Reed and Blanch Young. Born 1914 Indianapolis, IN. Death information unknown. 3. Charles Gilmer son of Annie Lee Pope and Ludie Gilmer. Born 1922 Milwaukee WI. Died 1992 Los Angeles, Ca. 4. Naomi with Hubert Vincent – son of Naomi Tulane and Hubert Vincent. Born 1923. Died 1994. Both in New York, NY.
Nearly wordless. My grandfather Mershell C. Graham was one of the founders. He is standing behind his daughters, Mary V. and Doris (my mother). Their cousin Margaret is standing between them. They are in the front row, towards the left side of center. Elementary age. My grandmother, Fannie, had just given birth to their son Howard so was not there.
Clarence Elwood Reed was the youngest son of Anna Reed and the brother next in age of to my grandmother Pearl. When I was collecting stories about the family my aunts and uncles told me that Clarence was a good looking man who went to Chicago from Indianapolis, never married and lived a wild life.
Clarence missed the 1880 census in Lebanon, Kentucky where I found his mother and older siblings because he wasn’t born until 1882. His mother appears in the Indianapolis, IN city directory in 1893 and I assume that her younger children were with her, joining the older children who had relocated from Kentucky around 1885. Clarence would have been 11 years old. In 1893 he appears in the City Directory in his own right, still living at home at 529 Willard, with his mother and older brothers but now out working as a laborer. In the 1900 Census he is described as doing day labor, being literate and single at 18. The family has moved down the street to 225 Willard. In 1906 he has moved with the rest of the family north of downtown Indianapolis to 2730 Kenwood Ave. Clarence is still laboring. Unfortunately Willard Street is gone and 2730 Kenwood is a parking lot, so no photos of those houses.
In 1908 Clarence married Elnora Jackson in Chicago. I only found the certificate in the last week on Family Search. Clarence was about 22 and Elnora was 35. This marriage didn’t last long. They were divorced February 3, 1911.
In 1915 Clarence is back in Indianapolis, IN where he married Josephine Smith. She was born in 1888. I actually found this marriage record, which I sent for, before finding the first marriage. This record said that this was the second marriage and that the first ended in divorce in 1911. His job is listed as laborer.
In 1918 Clarence had moved back to Chicago where he was laboring at the Wilson Packing House. He is still married to Josephine, who he lists as the person to contact on his WW1 draft information card. He is described as Negro, short, of medium height with brown eyes and black hair.
I cannot find Clarence or Josephine in the 1920 or 1930 census anywhere in the United States. In 1942 Clarence turns up in the WW2 draft registration cards. He is described as a light complexioned Negro with black hair and brown eyes. His contact person this time is Adela Reed. New wife? Daughter? I have no idea. Can’t find her in 1920 or 1930 either. He is laboring in Swift and Company Union Stock Yard and is 62, but actually 60 because they took two years off of the birth year that all the other records show and make it 1880.
In 1946 Clarence is mentioned in his oldest brother George’s estate papers as Clarence Reed, brother in Chicago Illinois. And that is the last I find for Clarence. So far no death record. And no photographs.
I plan to send for the application for a marriage license from his first marriage.
Several years after my mother’s death, I found a cigar box full of unidentified things – pocket watches, big buttons, lockets. This locket had the note inside saying “? In locket in Daddy’s things”. I don’t know who the women are. The initials on the front seem to be H.J.G or maybe J.H.G. My grandfather’s name was Mershell C. Graham. His story is sketchy.
I find bits and pieces – unidentified photographs, old notebooks… If I could find him in the 1900 census with his family. He was born in Coosada Station, Elmore County, Alabama about 1888. He chose to celebrate his birthday on Christmas day because he didn’t know the actual day. By the time I found him in the census in 1910 he was working on the railroad. He moved to Detroit in 1917, married my grandmother in 1918 in Montgomery and they immediately removed to Detroit. He worked at Ford Motor Co. for years. He was a founder and trustee at Plymouth Congregational Church in Detroit. He always grew a large, wonderful garden with cabbage, collards and tomatoes. He could, and did, fix anything that needed fixing. He taught himself to read so I assume he never went to school. There is a story that he was a child servant and slept outside the little girls door at night. The other story is that his parents came one one rainy day (from work?) to find him and his brother digging sweet potatoes out in the garden. They had the measles. I’m thinking they were very hungry. Who feels like digging in the rain when they have the measles? There were at least three children older than he was according to his delayed birth certificate. There could have been younger siblings too. Those mentioned were a sister named Annie, and a brother named Bill who went west. My cousin, Margaret, told me that was a way to refer to relatives that passed for white. Perhaps the Jacob, named in front of the little Bible that was also in the box was a brother.
Yesterday I posted a chart of 7 generations of my maternal side of the family’s work history. Today I’m going to do the same with the paternal side of the family. I have found Lewis and Judy Cleage in the 1870 US Census. I also found their marriage record. I am not convinced that all the children listed living with them are their children, if their ages are correct. But having no other information, I put them in. I do not know what work the children did in the future. I think I will look for them again. Annie Green Reed had two husbands and four more children but I left them off of this chart. They were all laborers or farmers or housewives. Both Buford Averitt and Robert Allen come to the family tree as white men who did not acknowledge their black offspring as far as we know. Oral history and records of birth, marriage and death account for their making it onto my chart. I’ve pinpointed Buford but there are several possibilities with Robert so he has no job here. My direct line is highlighted in yellow. You can see the same chart for my maternal line here Maternal Family Tree of Workers.
After working on the collage I uploaded yesterday for Labor Day, I kept thinking about the work that family members had done over the generations. Here is a chart showing 7 generations of workers from my great-great-great-grandmother to my children. My direct line is highlighted in yellow. The women with children combined whatever else they did with cooking, cleaning, washing clothes and raising the children. The first generations started their work life as slaves in Alabama.
I made the chart using Microsoft Word. That resulted in a very crowded chart. I then imported it into Photoshop where I cut and pasted and moved things around and added the highlights. I later thought I should have added places of birth and death, but I didn’t. Next time. The paternal side chart is available HERE.
I found my greatgrandmother’s autograph/memory book in an envelope in a box where my mother saved little notebooks, wallets etc. The first part of the book, including the cover have vanished. Going by what is left I think my greatgrandmother started the book when she was 19 years old.
Transcribed entries numbering from top left down column, over to second column, etc.
Miss Virginia Allen
Mom passed aged 84
Mar 28 1954
When I am far away
From you believe
Me to be your
Dear brother Dock Allen Montgomery Ala Mar 14th/86
Jennie’s brother, Dock, was born in 1862, four years before Jennie. He worked as an errand boy and a barber – he drowned in 1891 on Aug. 30 Trying to “walk the moonlight path.”
Miss Jennie May you live long and prosper in this live And your last days be thee best Is my prayer. Yours Respectfully, J W Saffold Montg Ala Jan 7th 1886
The secret of happiness, is love Your true friend N.C. Lambert Montgomery, Ala. Sept. 29, 1884
Dearest Janie I wish you would Remember they creator In the days of thy youth when the evil Days are not nor the years draw nigh When thou may sayeth I have no Pleasure in them M.A. McCall Montgomery Ala/Jan/16th 1885
M. McCall is Jennie’s oldest sister Mary.
May flowers cheer your Path way through Life may life be a comfort unto you Compliments from R. Allen
R. was Jennie’s brother Rance.
Dear Jennie Remember me as your loving little Daughter when I am gone to come No more Compliments of Fannie M. Turner Montgomery Ala Mar 16 – 18/97 – Age 11
Fannie was my grandmother.
It’s better to trust and be deceived and reapthat truste , an that deceiving. Than doubt the heart, that if believed Would bless your heart, with true believing! Obediently V.B. Harris June 24th 1884
Grandmother Turners “Memory” Book – Note the entries written by DockAllen and Dock Allen, Jr. – they are probably the same – grandmother’s brother
This was added years later by my mother, Jennie’s granddaughter.
Dear Jennie There are few friends in this wild world that love is fond and true. But Jennie when you count them over, place me among the few J. M. Nesbitt Montgomery, Ala
To Miss V. Allen I hope that your future live may be such, As to permit you to be worthy of A welcome in heaven. Your well wisher Through life Montgomery April 4/22 Ala ThMC Logan