For this year’s April A-Z Challenge I am blogging a series of sketches about the free people formerly enslaved on the Cleage plantations in Athens, Tennessee and their descendents. Click on any image to enlarge. Click on links for more information.
John Cleage was born in Texas to Richard and Adeline Cleage, he was the oldest of 11 children, 9 survived to adulthood. The family returned to Athens before John was 1 and that is where he grew up. He completed 8th grade and was literate.In 1910 he was married for the first time to Annis Culberson.
Around 1912, John moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where the explosion mentioned in the article occurred. He later moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Here he married his second wife, Willard. They had one daughter, Evelyn. His mother and siblings moved north to Ohio.
Through the years John worked as a laborer, porter and a groom. He moved to Chicago about 1928 and lost touch with his family in Ohio for decades. (I have a news item describing this reunion. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find it in time for this post!) In Chicago he married for the third time to Cornelius Taner. John’s draft registrations describe him as light brown complexion, brown eyes, black hair (until it turned grey) short (about 5’4″) and slender.
John Cleage died on April 27, 1954 in Chicago, IL. He was 76 years old.