O is for Opportunity and Operation

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 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.


Wed. 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.

After more research I found that the Mrs. White my grandfather writes about was indeed the wife of the pastor.

The Indianapolis Star Indianapolis, Indiana · Thursday, March 24, 1910

6 thoughts on “O is for Opportunity and Operation

  1. Damn those unanswered questions!

    I’m still impressed with all your detective work – though I know as you mentioned you have had help from other family members and so on.

    1. My father’s father (my grandfather) wrote these. Amazingly, both of them sometimes signed their letters A.B.C. and their writing in that case looks identical.

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