Marion Lucy Pettiford – Graduation 1919

marion_lucy_pettifordverso_Marion_Lucy_PettifordI found this postcard in my Cleage family photographs. She is not a relative.  Her family lived down Balch street from my Grandparents while they lived in Kalamazoo. Her father and my grandfather also belonged to some of the same groups.  The Dunbar group for the uplift of the Race was one of them. My grandparents moved to Detroit in 1915 but must have kept in touch with the Pettifords.

Marion was the third child of Joseph Pettiford and the first child of Joseph and his second wife, Mary A. Brown Pettiford.  All of the children were born in  Kalamazoo. I was able to fill in some of the questions using but it was when I started looking through historical newspapers that I found out much to flesh out the bare bones of the family.

Joseph Wilson Pettiford was the son of Young Pettiford who was the son of Edmund Pettiford, born in 1795 in North Carolina into a community of free people of color. The family moved to Ohio, where Joseph was born, and later to Indiana, where Edmund died.

By the 1890s, Joseph and his family were living in Kalamazoo, MI. Located in the SW corner of the state in Berrien County.  He worked as a custodian (not a janitor, he informed the local paper) in the county Courthouse for over 20 years. It was an elected position.  He was very active in the Masons, holding local and state posts. Both he and his wife were active in 2nd Baptist Church.  He could cook up a good possum dinner, according to the local paper, The Kalamazoo Gazette.

In 1922 Mary Pettiford suffered a fatal stroke while out fishing with her husband near South Haven. Her funeral was well attended.  Marion was listed among the children and that is the last I can find of her.  In 1928 Joseph died. Unfortunately the obituaries after 1922 are not online for the Kalamazoo Gazette. I’m sure it was a long one after all his years at the courthouse and perhaps it mentioned what happened to Marion.

I checked the 1930 census, the 1940 census. All of her siblings in the 1930 and 1940 census. The marriage records online at and I checked newspaper articles at Ancestry and at  So far, no luck. I will continue to check back now and then and report any new findings.


Eighth Grade Graduates Exercises at Vine School

The eighth grade graduates of the city schools will hold their graduating exercises at the Vine Street school auditorium, Friday morning at 9:15.

  • The program will include:
  • “Star Spangled Banner” – Francis Scott Key
  • “Keep the Home Fires Burning”- Ivor Novello
  • Prayer – Rev. Thomas Hollaway
  • “Winter Song” – Thomas Facer – Class
  • “Sabre and Spurs” – Hohn Phillip Sousa –  Junior High Orchestra
  • “Rockin’ Time”, Gertrude L. Knox  –  Girls’ Chorus
  • Address – Rev. I.J. Hansen
  • “Hym of Peace ” (Arr. from Fifth Symphony) – Beethoven  –  Class
  • Violin solo, Mazurka Charles Allen  – Mary Brooks
  • “Cowboy Song” – Frank Kotte  – Boys’ Chorus
  • Presentation of Certificates
  • “The Union Jack” Stephen Adams  – Class
  • “America”
Lake Street School, from which Marion Lucy Pettiford graduated in 1919.

For more information and photos of the early Pettifords, Weavers and other free people of color visit – The Weaver Settlement

For a beautiful picture of an extended Pettiford family reunion in 1935 – Pettiford reunion photo from 1935


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29 thoughts on “Marion Lucy Pettiford – Graduation 1919

  1. The lovely photo of Marion fits in well with the theme photo because she is wearing very pretty boots. It would be good to hear what happened to Marion later in her life.

  2. That’s a lot of Pettifords in that picture! And really too bad it isn’t possible to trace Marion Pettiford any further than her mother’s funeral. She would have been 17 at the time of her mother’s passing, & only 23 when her dad passed away. Tough times for a young woman just trying to make her way in the world. I hope she realized at least some of the dreams for her future.

  3. Nice research!!
    I was annoyed at not being able to enlarge the Pettiford picture
    on that link you provide….
    Well, not your fault!!
    It still rings weird in my ear about “free folks”…
    Let’s hope it will come to that for you folks too!!
    But given certain slurs in the medias recently,
    I must concede that color remains a problem for “some”….
    Will we EVER learn?!?

    1. I enlarged the family photo by right clicking and opening in a new window or tab. Lots of fun to be had there, poring over the faces.

  4. Kalamazoo is a great name for a town, and that’s a lovely photograph of young Marion you found in your collection. Of course she could well be in that group photograph, if you only knew more about her. I assume you have checked the 1930 census records, but she would likely have been married by then.

    1. I checked the 1930 census, the 1940 census. All of her siblings in the 1930 and 1940 censuses, marriage records online at and I checked newspaper articles at Ancestry and at I looked for archives of the Kalamazoo Gazette but they only went to 1922. So far, no luck. I will continue to check back now and then and report any new findings.

  5. That annoying habit of taking on a husband’s surname on marriage makes tracing a woman’s ancestry challenging!
    I bet that postcard was sent out to the relatives with great pride.

  6. RE Weaver Settlement – – was just reading his article/link last night, with research of family from NC and VA. Families moving from NC/VA to OH and IN. !

  7. I wanted to reply about your work, but everything i would have said …

    keep on… keepin’ on!!!

  8. Eighth grade graduations must have been celebrated more then than when I graduated. I don’t remember having any special exercises or even having a certificate.

  9. I’m hopeful every time I post some ancestor online that it will trigger someone to contact me with information.
    Who knows. Some descendant of Marion might be seeking info about her and come to this page. She or he might be able to tell you what happened to Marion later in life.

  10. Well that was a blast from the past. Kalamazoo. That is a great word to say. No wonder Glen Miller used it for a song. You’ve got me singing. I’m wondering if 14 used to be the legal age for leaving school if you wanted to the same as it used to be in Australia. Hence a Graduation photo – some would leaver and go to work, others would continue with their studies.

  11. Good work on the research as usual, Kristin. I love the grad photo – she looks older than 14! Great shoes, too!

    1. I’ve seen 14 year olds that look like women or children depending on their rate of maturation.

      I like those shoes too.

  12. I love that finding a photo like this proves that a person existed, where there doesn’t seem to be any other proof in records or anything. What happened to her!?

  13. That’s a shame that information about her peters out, it would be good to know more about her; a charming picture nevertheless.

  14. She’s so lovely and looks like she’s just floating in space. I do hope you find out more about her.

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