African-American Genealogy & Slave Ancestry Research Alabama Grahams Investigations

Finding Proof of Relationship in an Obituary

Click to enlarge.
“13/Feb/1918 on Barron’s farm.”
A photograph from my Graham photo album. Annie Graham and her children lived on Oscar Barron’s farm for several decades. I believe these are her children – at least the 3 youngest. Click to enlarge.

Graham, Mrs. Annie, Elmore. Funeral service will be Sunday at 11 a.m. at East Chapel MP church. The Rev. Paul Cook will officiate. Burial will be in Jackson Cemetery with Ross-Clayton Funeral Home directing. Survivors include one daughter, Mrs. Emma Reves; sons, Clyde Jackson, William Jackson, Birmingham, and Joe Jackson; a brother, Marshall Graham, Detroit, Mich.; 16 grandchildren; 43 great-grandchildren; three daughters-in-law, Mesdames Edith, Odessa and Ethel Jackson; and other relatives. She was a member of the Esters of America Society No. 1.

When I first found this obituary for Annie Graham Jackson on, I wondered about a son named “Joe” as I had never heard of him before. At first reading I thought that “Marshall Graham” in Detroit was her son, formerly identified as “Mershel”. On re-reading I realized that the “Marshall Graham” was listed as her brother, my grandfather Mershell who lived in Detroit. His name was sometimes listed as “Marshall”.

I have been looking for something to tie my grandfather Mershell C. Graham to Annie Graham and her brothers. All of them listed the same parents, but I could not find them in the same household. This does it.

I had also been looking for some documentation that Paul Jackson, the name that appeared on their records, was their father, as they always appeared with their mother (who was listed as single) in the censuses.

Jackson, Clyde, Elmore. Funeral services will be Sunday at 3 p.m. from Jackson Chapel AME Zion Church with Rev. J. D. Harriston officiating. Burial will be in Long’s Cemetery with Ross-Clayton Funeral Home directing. Survivors include the widow, Mrs. Edith Jackson; three daughters, Mrs. Hattie Glenn, Mrs. Alice Roper and Mrs. Annie B. Jackson; four sons, Clyde Jackson B. Jr., Montgomery, William Jackson, Cleveland, Ohio, and Sam and James Jackson Elmore; nine grandchildren; five sisters, Mrs. Emma Reeves and Mrs. Rosa Mae Thomas, both of Montgomery, Mrs. Delphine Walker, New York, Mrs. Hannah L. Farley, Deatsville, and Mrs. Mary K. Tonsel, New York; five brothers, Will Jackson, Birmingham, Powell Jackson, Elmore, John Jackson, Florida, and Henry and Joe Jackson, both of Millbrook; five sisters-in-law; three brothers-in-law; and one son-in-law. He was a member of Ivy Vine Lodge No. 103, F. & A. M.

In Clyde Jackson’s obituary in The Montgomery Advertiser, all of Paul Jackson’s children are mentioned, both those with Annie Graham (underlined in blue) and those with his two wives, Anna Edwards Jackson and Hattie Abrams Jackson (underlined in red).

After church in Detroit about 1927. Mershell Graham, holding my mother Doris, Fannie, Mary V. and Mershell Jr.


You can read a post about Annie Graham at this link “S” is for Possible Sibling, Annie Graham

13 replies on “Finding Proof of Relationship in an Obituary”

Is that Plymouth Congregational, my home church, which was formerly a synagogue, in the background of the last photo?

This is some serious detective work, Kris. Yet another occupation that you might’ve successfully pursued! (Smile.) How does it feel to have finally made the connexions that you so long searched for?

Kris, I hope that you don’t mind, but I’d like to use this post for a commercial — for YOU!

I wanted to thank you for your eight-page “Little Poems During the Pandemic” booklet, which you kindly snail mailed me! Small as it is, it really packs an emotional punch! It’s a hauntingly beautiful collection of dreams, imaginings and recollections, all expressed in what one would expect from a Cleage — namely, vivid verse.

The fact that you made it yourself also places you in the proud tradition of your late Uncle Louis, who ran a printing shop next to his doctor’s office on Detroit’s Old West Side, the looted remnants of which I was privileged to visit and photograph a few years ago with your son, James. I’m glad to see that “ruff draft” printers, which used to produce your fascinating family newsletter, the precursor of, lives!

I don’t know what the inspiration for your “Little Poems” was, but I keep it next to my bed cuz it’s helping ME get thru this dislocating pandemic! Thanx for blessing me with this latest example of your creativity.

Because you’re so great at family history, I sometimes forget that you’re an equally great artist! I’m glad to share your bloodline … spiritually and religiously (Plymouth Congregational/United Church of Christ, Central Congregational/Shrine of the Black Madonna)! (Smile.)

Thank you Paul for letting me know. It really means a lot.

Louis didn’t run the printing shop though, Henry and Hugh did. He helped them buy the first press and later Milton Henry helped buy an upgrade.

We started using Ruffdraft when we put out the family newsletter “Ruff Draft” when the kids were homeschooling. After that, whenever I printed up chapbooks or anything else, I always used the “Ruffdraft” for the publishers.

I just erased a paragraph. and who knows what it said! Oh, how lucky I was to be raised by people who had the imagination and skills to do whatever they thought needed to be done.

The inspiration for the little book was running across a “how to make a tiny book” lesson on a blog I follow. I decided to make one and since I have so many small poems already written on my ruffdraft blog, I used them. My blog posts would have been way too long!

I adored the old Plymouth Congregational, now Plymouth United Church of Christ (UCC), which I used to attend with my maternal Aunt Marian, the church’s organist, in the early 1960s!

She began under the Rev. Horace A. White (whose widow, Juanita, was one of my father’s best friends; she lived down the street from us in Highland Park) and continued under the Rev. Nicholas Hood, Sr.

As you’ll recall, Plymouth had a wonderful circular sanctuary! My baby sister, Laura, and I used to crawl under the benches — from one end of the church to the other! I’m sorry to admit that I never cared for Plymouth’s replacement, which, by comparison, is colorless and characterless.

About 15 years ago, I told “Big Nick” after he spoke at the Detroit Historical Museum that his very rational preaching “spoiled” me for any other minister. He smiled, knowing that I had much later joined your father’s church, Shrine of the Black Madonna #1, and replied, beaming, “Yes, but not for Al Cleage [sic], who was, after all, a UCC preacher!” From this I inferred that UCC ministers have a reputation for rationality!

My sister and cousins and I sometimes went with my grandfather when he was repairing the furnace or something else around the church. I don’t remember crawling under the pews, but it was very exciting to be able to roam around the empty church. It was before Central bought the building on Linwood so that was the only church we had the run of like that.

Yup — that’s what me and my siblings had because of “Auntie” — the run of the church! I’m grateful for that cuz, to be frank, the Reverend Hood’s weighty oratorical meditations could be rather taxing for children! (Smile.) I was delighted to later learn that your family helped to found my home church, one of dozens of connexions between our families.

That must have been a real euphoric moment! – great when the final link is found. Wishing you further successes like these. As always, loved the photographs, a tangible sense of the ways life was lived more calmly and more meaningfully in those.

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