These are three of Edward and Mattie (Dotson) Cleage’s six children. Alberta was born in 1908, baby Ola in December of 1916 and Helen in 1910. There was an older brother, Lawrence, who died at a year old. Two more daughters, Beatrice and Juanita, were born later. Edward was the only child of Lewis and Celia (Rice) Cleage to remain in Athens, Tennessee. His other four siblings moved first to Indianapolis, IN and then to Detroit, MI. Edward suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and died at 46, when his youngest daughter was four years old. For more Sepia Saturday offerings.
Naomi Tulane Vincent. Her engagement photograph. There is a matching one of her husband Ubert but, unfortunately, I do not have one. Naomi was the daughter of Victor and Willie (Allen) Tulane. She was married in Montgomery, Alabama in 1920 and then moved to New York as the wife of a society doctor. For more Sepia Saturday offerings.
I spent yesterday looking for information on this family to go with the photographs and a few random remarks from my cousin Margaret about them. Here is what I found. Annabel was born in 1882, the second of the six children of Edward and Mary (Allen) McCall. Her mother was a fine seamstress, sewing privately and her father was turn-key at the Montgomery jail.
Annabel married earlier than her other siblings to a man by the last name of Martin. They had one son in 1908 who they named Jefferson. Unfortunately Mr. Martin soon died. In 1910 she married his brother Edward Martin, a widower who brought his two young sons to the marriage, Edward, 3 and Estil, 2. Edward was fifteen years older then Annebel. He was a tailor who owned his own home and was his own boss. Annabel was working for the United States Gov. at the post office in Nashville, TN.
They had five more children together. Young Anna was born in Alabama in 1913. Edward, Thelma and Caruso were born in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky in Jan. 1915, March 1916 and October 1920. Geneva was born in between Edward and Thelma, although there is barely enough space for her to fit in. I did not find A birth record for her in Kentucky.
In 1920 we find the family in White City, Florida. Not only is Edward going by Edwin but they have added an “s” to Martin and claim all of their parents were no longer born in Tennessee and Kentucky (him) or Alabama (her) they were born in Italy. They are also listed as white instead of mulatto as they had been previously. Edward is still tailoring from his owned home. Annabel is not working outside the home although with 7 children under 13 she’s working plenty inside it. The census was taken in January and Caruso was not born until October, back in Kentucky. Edward #3 is now listed as born in Aabama, Geneva in Louisiana and Thelma in Arkansas. Either one of the children got creative with the ennumerator, they were on the lam or they were passing and covering their tracks.
The photograph taken above is from my grandmother Fannie’s album. She wrote on the top “Annabel her family + us”. Annabel and my grandmother were first cousins. My aunt Mary V. is the little girl standing apart looking at the camera. She was born in 1920. My grandmother is holding Mershell, born in 1921 on her lap. My mother was born in Feb. 1923 so I would put the year at 1922. That must be Caruso leaning on his mother Annabel’s knee. The little girls are probably Geneva and Thelma. That is my grandfather Mershell Graham leaning so cool in the back.
In 1930 Annabell and her family were still in Detroit. The two oldest boys are no longer at home. They would have been 22 and 23. The rest of the children are living at home. Annabel works as a seamstress at a store. The three oldest children are delivery people at a fur store. I think this would be Annis Furs which used to be in Detroit right behind Hudson’s. My great grandmother and her daughter Daisy were worked there for many years. The Martin family is back in the Negro race.
Family and church members accompanied my father as he signed up to run for City Council in Detroit, MI in 1965. We all have on our Cleage for Council buttons. That’s him in the front with the bow tie. I am looking melancholy over on the left. My cousin Ernie is in the striped sweater. Rev. Hill’s ( assistant pastor) wife in the back with the hat. My grandmother (Pearl Cleage) looking happily proud on the right. This followed the Freedom Now Party loss in 1964 and the 3 + 1 campaign in 1963 and preceded the run for the 13th District congressional seat in 1966.
These campaigns were run as educational, not to win. Not that that wouldn’t have been a welcome surprise. My family talked politics morning noon and night. Not just talked, lived. Two of my uncles started a printing business and for years the family and friends put out The Illustrated News, an eight sheet pink paper where they wrote about the issues of the day, mostly local but as this was the time of the civil rights movement, bombs and demonstrations and riots, there was also some national news. I remember riding in sound cars, passing out information at the polls, silk screening posters, leafleting. The summer of 1966 I spent lots of time with Jim, who is now my husband, campaigning. We capped it off by attending a “Victory Party” for Ken Cockrel, who hadn’t won. Those were the days my friend…
I have been thinking about this poem often lately, don’t know why. I have the book that used to belong to my uncle Henry and before him, to my grandparents. I remember reading it growing up. My husband is called Jim and I sometimes say “Good bye Jim, take care of yourself!” when he’s leaving. I copied this from here, although I could have scanned it in.
by James Whitcomb Riley
Old man never had much to say-
‘Ceptin’ to Jim,-
And Jim was the wildest boy he had-
And the old man jes’ wrapped up in him!
Never heerd him speak but once
Er twice in my life, and first time was
When the army broke out, and Jim he went,
The old man backin’ him, fer three months;
“After all,” said George, waving his drink around impressively, “a rolling stone is worth two bushes.” He finished his drink and swaggered to the couch and sat down.
This bit of logic gave our little party pause. For who could deny it?
George and his wife, Vel, Louis and his wife, Melba, and I and my wife, Barbara, and Paul and his girl, Gloria, were gathered together, as was our custom on Saturday nights at George’s house. It had started out like an enjoyable evening. Plenty of liquor and good friends. But then somehow the conversation wiggled around to the girls’ favorite topic. To wit: Why Gloria should not marry Paul. Of course we fellows had a position to defend and we argued, to wit: vice versa.
You see the argument wasn’t really about Gloria and Paul. We all knew they would marry as soon as she graduated from Wayne U. this coming June. The girls just used this discussion as an excuse to get their licks in concerning our husbandly weaknesses.
Like what Barbara said, “How can she marry him?” she shrieked, “always buying boats and fishing poles and shotguns and going away for two months vacations. He’ll never save any money.”
This boat business was their latest and most intense beef. We four fellows had bought a small cabin cruiser together. Everything was fine when we all dressed up in yachting caps and cruised along the Lake Shore Drive and around the Belle Isle Bridge. But when we started going up into the lakes fishing, the girls suddenly tired of the sport. Besides no one could recognize them from the bridge anyway.
And so as the liquor flowed, our little party grew tense. Just like the last weeks’ party and the one before that. Everyone was swelling up. Faces were getting that strained look. Cords were standing out in the girls’ necks as they screamed their illogical accusations. The more they drank, the louder and higher they shouted and also vice versa. They weren’t the sweet little girls we used to know.
We men, I realized, were nowhere. We had logic, truth and compassion on our side. The girls had volume. And what availeth logic against a woman’s hard breathing, shrill and rasping emotional tantrum? I was drinking to escape when George dropped his atom bomb amongest them. You could almost hear the air escaping from their sails.
“I repeat,” said George, pressing home his point, “A rolling stone is worth two bushes.” He blew out a cloud of cigarette smoke. “Even with moss on them,” he added.
The girls looked dazed. Gloria sniffed her drink. She wasn’t married yet.
“Umm,” said Melba pointedly.
Ah,” said Barbara shrewdly.
“Huh?” said Paul. He wasn’t married yet either.
“Of course, as you say,” George continued thoughtfully, “it’s better to have loved and lost, than never the twain shall meet.” He poured himself a drink and I noticed that his hand was shaking. It was strong medicine that he was using, but the case called for it.
“Yeah,” said I.
“Yeah,” said Louis.
“Huh,” said Paul, he wasn’t married yet.
It was unanswerable logic that George was uttering. This was plain to Louis and me in our condition. Maybe Paul too. However, the girls weren’t quite convinced. Their condition was comparable though.
“That’s silly,” said Vel.
“Yeah,” said Melba.
“Yeah,” said Barbara.
“Yeah,” said Gloria. She wasn’t married yet but she was a woman.
“Silly?” George tried to sound preposterous and failed miserable. He sounded silly.
“Who ever heard of two bushes with moss on them?” asked Vel, looking around for help.
“Yeah,” said Barbara shakily.
“Yeah,” said Melba in a daze.
“Yeah,” said Gloria belligerently, she still wasn’t married yet.
The color was coming back to George’s face. “Have you ever heard of one bush with moss on it?” he asked, raising one (left) eyebrow. It was a stunning question.
Vel was plainly confused. She looked around for help, but the girls were very busy drinking and looking the other way.
“Why y-yes,” she stammered.
“Just like I said,” shouted George triumphantly. “What’s sauce for the goose is nine sour grapes in time.”
“Yeah,” said Louis.
“Sour grapes, indeed,” said Barbara fighting a losing battle.
She looked heavily at Melba. Melba looked heavily at Vel, who in turn, looked heavily at Gloria, who in turn looked heavenly. Gloria was single.
They finished their drinks with four gulps and refilled. They hitched themselves closer together. They looked at each other again, this time wild eyed. They had no more to say.
Paul was looking wild eyed too. So we hurried him into the kitchen before he queered the works. We wanted to examine this thing we had discovered, too.
“Sensational,” said Louis, looking admiringly at George, who was leaning against the refrigerator with his hand on his navel, like Napoleon.
Uncanny,” said I, dancing with glee.
“What?” said Paul.
“It will revolutionize men,” said George modestly, looking narrowly into the distance.
“It will revolutionize women,” said Louis in awe.
“It will revolutionize the world,” said Paul who wasn’t married yet.
George held up his hand for silence. “Tell them,” he began scowling with the weight of his message.
“Tell who? Asked Paul.
“Mankind,” shouted George, irked at this ignorance. “Mo,” he retracted, “Just tell the men.”
“Tell them,” he began again, “never to make the mistake of arguing with a woman logically.”
“Hear, hear,” cried Louis and I.
“Hear, hear,” cried Paul, seeing the light.
“For in that direction,” he continued, “madness lies.” He was pacing up and down before us now, filled with the message. “We must talk trash,” he said “Yes, trash,” he thundered. “Plain, unadulterated trash.”
He was winded. I went to the kitchen table and poured four drinks. With a certain dignity I gave to each his own. We touched glasses.
George spoke. “I firmly believe,” he said firmly, “that we men can be as silly as the next woman.”
“If not sillier,” said Paul. He wasn’t married yet.
Montgomery, Ala., Jan, 16.
Victor H. Tulane, a leader of his Race here for many years, died at his home, 430 S. Union St., at the age of 57. His rise to affluence, through his own industry and native shrewdness, was little short of remarkable. Prior to his death he owned a mercantile business and operated a real estate agency of considerable scope.
Tulane first came to Montgomery when he was 15 years, old having walked here from Wetumpka, where he was born. His first job was porter in a saloon, but later he opened a store at the corner of High and Ripley Sts. which he operated for about thirty years. He later rented his store and entered the real estate business, and before his death had accumulated a comfortable estate.
For many years Tulane served on the board of trustees of the Tuskegee Institute. He was also chairman of the board of trustees of the Hale infirmary. He was widely known for his generosity and willingness to serve in charitable movement. He was actively connected with the community chest and was one of the first to donate toward the Y.M.C.A. building for white (sic.) persons.
Surviving are his widow, Willie L. Tulane of Montgomery, and his daughter, Naomie Tulane Vincent, New York city. Funeral arrangements will be announced later by the Loveless Undertaking company.
Transcribed from The Chicago Defender Jan 17, 1931 via ProQuest Historical Newspapers online database.
More about this branch of the family to come. Victor’s wife, Willie Lee Allen Tulane, was one of Eliza’s daughters.