My grandmother Fannie Turner Graham’s father was named Howard Turner. She did not have a photograph of him but said he looked like her grandfather, Dock Allen and my grandfather, Mershell Graham. When my grandmother was four, her father Howard was killed at a barbeque. Her parents, Howard and Jennie (Allen) Turner had been talking about selling their portion of the Turner land and moving to Montgomery. Howard and his father had an argument before the barbeque and my great grandmother, Jennie, believed that Howard’s father had him killed so that he could not sell the land. Jennie took the deed to a lawyer and asked him to look over the deed because she wanted to sell the land. When she returned he told her the title wasn’t clear and she didn’t own the land. She figured her father-in-law had gotten it back. Jennie moved back to her parent’s home in Montgomery with her children and went to work as a seamstress. You can read her story here. Years later, my grandmother met one of her cousins on the street and learned that her grandfather did not get the land after all and had not had her father killed. This is all the information I had.
When I began searching online all I knew about my Turners was that they lived in or near Hayneville, Alabama: that my great-grandfather owned his farm: that my great grandfather’s name was Howard and that he was born about 1864. The 1880 census was available with an all name index through Family Search and I found Howard Turner, age 16, living with his family in Hayneville. He was a clerk in a store. It was a very emotional moment to find my great, great grandparents names. Joe and Emma Turner. The family included Lydia 18 born about 1862, Howard 16, born about 1864, Joe age 13 and ‘at school”, Annie 11 and Alonza 7. Joe senior and Emma were listed as 39. Below is the family sheet for Joe and Emma Turner.
With this information I was able to find them on Ancestry in the 1870 census, which was indexed only by head of household at that time. They were enumerated In Hayneville Beat 1, Lowndes County. Emma was and her parents were born in SC. Joe was born in Alabama. Joe was a farmer with $300 worth of personal goods. Neither he nor his wife Emma could read or write. The children were Lydia, 8, Howard 7, Fannie 6, Joe 3 and Annie born in August of that year. Joe Turner is in the 1866 census with 5 in the family living in Lowndes County, AL. From son Joe’s death record I learned that Emma’s maiden name was Jones. Or so the informant said.
In 1900 Joe and Emma owned their farm. Two of their grandchildren, Anelyzor (Annie) and Joseph Davis were ennumerated with them. Emma had given birth to 11 children and only three were still alive. Those three were Joe, Alonza and Lydia parent of the above Annie and Joe. They had been married 39 years, which would place their marriage before slavery in 1861.
Emma died soon after the 1900 census. Joe remarried in 1902 to Luella Freeman, 40 years his junior. They went on to have 8 children – John, Anna, Daniel, Buck, Josephine, Talmudge, Luella, and Selena who was born after Joe died February 7, 1919 of “prostatic trouble and old age.” Luella died in Chicago in July of 1977. I think, but I need to send for the death certificate to check. Below is the family sheet for Joe and Luella Turner.
Now I need to find estate records, a will…. something that will give me names and places. I want to look at land records too. And newspapers from Lowndes County, Hayneville from 1892 when Howard died. This means a trip to an archive. Something I have never done. I need to check something else too, in Mildred Brewer Russell’s book “Lowndes Court House” it says that Joe Turner was one of a number of “prominent Negro politicians” during reconstruction. I have yet to find anything else about this, such as what office he held. It would be great to meet some of Joe Turner’s other descendents too – hopefully with some photos and able to tell me where Moss cemetery is since it seems to be no where but on their death certificates. I picture a lonely, deserted place in the woods with no markers. Just sunken areas.
Dock Allen’s Story
As told to me in a phone conversation with my cousin Jacqui Vincent
Dock Allen was a white man’s son but not the one he ran away from. His owner was a mean man who kept vicious dogs so that the slaves would be afraid to run. Dock decided he was going to escape anyway but he did some things to throw the dogs off of his track. He walked through a wet field of wild ramps. He rubbed himself with them, poured the water on himself and practically rolled around in the field so the onion smell would hide his own.
Further along he came to a farm. By that time he was very tired so he climbed up into the hay loft and covered himself with hay. The tracking dogs came and he could feel their breath as they walked over him, but they didn’t find him because of the onion odor. Eventually they left.
This was the same place where Eliza lived. Later he decided to give himself up and the white people at the house send a message his master. When he came to get Dock he said that no one had ever out smarted his dogs and that any man who was smart enough to do that deserved to be free and he freed him. Dock stayed on that place and married Eliza.
I found Dock Allen in in the 1867 voter registration database living in Montgomery, AL. He appears with his family in the 1870, 1880 and 1900 census in Montgomery. According to the records he was a carpenter born in Georgia. He owned his own home. In the 1900 census he and Eliza had been married 40 years which puts the beginning around 1860.
I have three addresses for him, 237 Clay street, 216 Holt street and finally 444 S. Ripley street where he lived for the five years before he died March 29, 1909 of “inflammatory bowels” after being ill for several weeks. His mother is listed as Matilda Brewster on his death certificate. No father is listed. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery.
I would like to find information about a runaway matching his description in the Dallas/Lowndes county area around 1860. Probably that will have to wait until I am able to go to Alabama and do some research there.
Eliza is in the largest photo towards the center of the chart. Her mother is Annie Williams. Both were slaves of Edmund and Jane Harrison of Lowndes and Montgomery Alabama. Later, I hypothesize, Eliza went with the Harrison’s daughter, Martha when she was married to Milton Saffold. Milton and Martha (she and her children are in the violet boxes) had three sons and then Martha died. Eliza had a daughter, Mary with Milton. Later Milton married Georgia Whitting (She and her sons are in the green boxes). Oral history says that Eliza and Mary were freed soon after this. Eliza later married Dock Allen, a free man and a carpenter. They had 8 children that survived to adulthood (blue boxes). Around 1874 Milton Saffold had a relationship with Clara Bolten (peach boxes) and they had two children together. Clara had a third daughter with an Irwin. Milton Saffold went to California and died there in 1879.
Anna was born in 1869, Eliza’s third daughter and her second one with Dock Allen. In the 1870 census Anna is listed as one year old. In the 1880 census she is listed as eleven years old and at school. By the 1900 census she was no longer living at home and according to oral history had moved to Chicago where she passed for white, got a job as a bank teller and eventually married the bank manager, a widower with children. The last postcard she sent to my grandmother, Fannie, was sent January, 17, 1945. She was 76 years old. I found this card in my grandmother’s well used and well worn Bible along with swatches of hair, church cards and inspirational verses clipped from newspapers.
The postcard reads:
Many thanks for your xmas card. hope this find your mother much better. We are having so much snow and ice I am afraid to go out. I guess Detroit is getting it’s share also. With love to all aunt a.
It is addressed to
Mrs. Fannie Graham
My grandmother, Fannie wrote all over everything. She has written on this card in the same way. At the top next to the date it says Last time!
Around the address area she wrote Mom died 3/28/54. Daisy died 11-24-61.
Aunt Beulah died 4/27/1962
Frank Elkins Sr. died 5/2/62
Bud died 5/21/60.
Abbie died 4/8/66
Fannie Graham – my maternal grandmother
Mom – Fannie’s mother and Anna’s younger sister – Jennie V. Turner
Daisy – Fannie’s younger sister
Aunt Beulah – Anna and Jennie’s sister.
Frank Elkins Sr – Fannie’s daughter Mary’s father-in-law
Bud – Bud Elkins, Fannie’s son-in-law.
Abbie – Anna and Jennie’s sister who lived with Fannie for many years before her death.
20 Mar 1911 Monday Article
Guard Body of Suicide – Policemen Hold Long Vigil.
Estal Loc Townsend Cheats Tuberculosis by killing himself with Carbolic Acid After Attempt to End Life by Shooting Fails.
After Estal Lee Townsend, 19 years old, 227 East New York street, a driver, had committed suicide in a room at 120 North Pennsylvania street yesterday, bicycle officers guarded the body for almost three hours until coroner Durham arrived. The officers were acting under specific instructions given earlier in the week that bodies of persons dying from other than natural causes should not be touched until seen by the coroner.
Townsend swallowed the contents of a phial of carbolic acid while visiting a friend, Frank Black, at the Pennsylvania street address. The suicide was a victim of tuberculosis. He tried to kill himself last Friday night. It is said, by shooting. He was in the act of firing a bullet into his brain when a friend knocked the weapon from his hand. The bullet penetrated the ceiling of Townsend’s room.
Yesterday Townsend spent several hours in Black’s room and although despondent gave no hint of his intention to end his life. About 4:45 o’clock Townsend stepped into an adjoining room.
EMPTY BOTTLE TELLS STORY
A few minutes later Black heard groans and found his friend sitting on the floor at the side of a bed. An empty bottle labeled carbolic acid was on the floor beside him. Black asked Townsend if he had taken the acid and the dying boy nodded his head in the affirmative.
Black notified the police and Bicyclemen Trimpe and Bernsuer went to the room with Dr. A.B. Cleage of the City Dispensary, the policemen worked over the young man, but he died in agony within a short time.
Efforts were made to find Coroner Durham but he was not at his home or office. Trimpe and Bernauer would allow no one to touch the body and it lay on the floor until nearly 7 o’clock. The two officers in the meantime had been relieved by Bicyclemen Schlangen and Glenn. Coroner Durham finally was reached and he pronounced the case one of suicide.
Relatives of Townsend said he had been suffering from tuberculosis and had realized that he could not recover. The body was taken to an undertaking establishment and will be cared for by a sister of Townsend, Mrs. Mary Dickson, 52, West Twenty-sixth street.
My mother wrote this as part of her family history memories for my sister and me in 1980. I am putting the whole piece here then I will reprint each sister’s section with the new information I found and corrections that needed to be made after I found descendants for most of them. My mother’s grandmother was Jennie Virginia Allen Graham. The women she writes about are her grandmother’s sisters, her great aunts. When “grandmother” is mentioned that is Jennie Virginia.
Now a word about her sisters….Aunt Willie was the oldest….married well…Victor Tulane (Tuskegee trustee and owner of a general store and many houses). He was not what you’d call a “faithful” husband, but Aunt Willie (the family said) looked the other way because he always took such good care of his wife and only child, a daughter Naomi, who was sent to Howard, married a doctor and went to live the high life in New York. Aunt Willie had a beautiful apartment over the store. Always had a maid and never worked. She was living like this when Grandmother was a struggling widow. She was the last sister to leave Montgomery. She died in New York. Her son-in-law had died, left her daughter wealthy with apartments in NY paid for, insurance, money for the education of the four children in the bank, etc. I remember shoes hand made in Italy being in the boxes of impossible things she sent mother. They were always distant “rich relations”. Don’t remember even seeing any of the children except one young woman who came to Detroit briefly, stayed with Margaret McCall. Saw Aunt Willie once. She and Aunt Abbie came to visit us when I was small. Don’t remember her saying much or ever smiling while Aunt Abbie was as you remember her, friendly.
Aunt Abbie married a Mississippi Riverboat gambler, swarthy and handsome and no good, who stayed home on two visits long enough to give her two sons and then sent her trunks of fine clothes to wear or sell to take care of herself and the boys. Whenever she talked about him she sounded like she hated him. She resented the lack of money. Said once the oldest boy Earl (named for his father) screamed for days with toothache and she could not take him to the dentist who didn’t want any fancy clothes or jewelry. She resented raising the children alone. I got the feeling she hated them and they hated her and she resented him being off having a good time while she stayed home with the problems. She talked about him In a completely different way than she talked about her Jewish policeman who bought her a house on Ripley St. and spent much time there, for whom she loved to cook and keep house.
She came to live with Mother to take care of Daddy (!) so Mother could come to Springfield and help me when Kris was born. In later years when they lived on Fairfield, Mother and Daddy used to argue about this and they would call me in to referee. He’d say he took Aunt Abbie in out of the goodness of his heart like all the rest of her family, and that she was not supposed to stay on them forever but was to go live with Aunt Margaret. Mother would say Aunt Abbie came to take care of him because (here she would make a mouth at me) he could not take care of himself and work even tho he could cook better than she and do everything else in the house too. I think we are always angered at the way men can say this is the limit. I can’t or I won’t do this or that and we seem to have lives where you do what is to be done since you have no one who will hear you if you say you can’t or won’t…hold my hand Charlie Brown! And that he knew very well she was going to live with them and visit Margaret occasionally. Mother was right. He said Aunt Abbie came to have cataracts operated and to be taken care of. He was wrong. Her eye operations came years later. He said to me once that he had always taken care of Mother’s people and she would have nothing to do with his. I know how Grandmother depended on him to fix things around their house and he was most agreeable and I always thought he loved it. They made over him when he came with his box of tools. I was always there as helper, but he got very tired and mistreated about having both Alice and Aunt Abbie to take care of. He didn’t like either one. But I never could get him to send them to a nursing or residence home to live. He always said what would people say if I did that. When people talk like that I give up because they are obviously making the choice they prefer.
Back to Aunt Abbie. She loved to cook and do everything else about the house. Mother would not let her do anything except clean her own room and do her own washing and ironing and Mother hated everything about housekeeping except cooking, but she said her husband expected her to take care of him and his house and (she didn’t say this) she’d be damned if she’d let anyone else do it as long as she could. I couldn’t talk to her about it.
Aunt Anna was the sister who went to Chicago, got a job as teller in a bank, married the bank manager who was a widower with children. He knew she was black but no one else in his family ever did. I’ve often wondered what they did for birth control. They were young when they married. He was well to do. She used to write Mother and Mother would write back c/o general post office. Said she loved him but felt very lonely all the time not to be able to see her family and knew the children would have nothing to do with her if they knew. She was supposed to look like Margaret McCall. She got sick. Wrote Mother she was not to live long. That there might be no more letters. That she would dearly love to die with her family He had died years before…had left his money to her…had asked her to promise to stay near the children to pass so they would not be embarrassed…and leave the money to them. She promised and told mother she had made her bed and would lie in it to the end but would surely see them in Heaven. Mother was the only one she wrote to. The rest would not answer letters. That was the last letter.
Aunt Mary married someone named James McCall whom I never knew. Also never heard anyone say who he was or what he did. As I write this it strikes me that the men these sisters married were for the most part very shadowy creatures. I’ve seen a picture even of only one. Strange. Aunt Mary looked rather like Aunt Abbie but was quiet and rather grim, I thought. Lived with Aunt Margaret and her son Uncle Jim all her life as far as I know. I think Aunt Mary helped with money although I don’t know where she got it. Uncle Jim, her son, was blind. There were two children, Margaret and Victoria, and no help from the state. He caned chairs and wrote poetry for a living. I think they were very poor but did better when the state helped blind people And they got enough money from somewhere to buy the Detroit Tribune and make money.
Aunt Beulah who looked something like Grandmother, I’ve heard, married someone named Pope and went to Milwaukee. Don’t know what he did or what she was like. Never saw her. Sent one son through dental school Robert Pope. Very handsome, his twin sister, a beauty married well, had one child the one who kept pushing me around when they came to visit us. I must have been about four, so was he, and he wanted to follow MV everywhere and not let me come. I went anyway. I remember him banging my head against the wall beside the stairs. Strange. He especially hated me because I could cut up my own meat and his mother wouldn’t even let him try. Ha ha!!! Another son of Aunt Beulah was a teacher who married had one daughter who wrote once to Mother and Daddy about family history. Wonder what she got together. I keep hoping to find someone who has already done all the hard work. Back to Aunt Beulah, who was considered the least beautiful of the sisters. Her son Robert built her a beautiful home and stayed there with her until she died not too long ago. Ten or twelve years. They all spoke of her with envy.