B – Alberta Boykin

In 2018 I did a series of posts for the A to Z Challenge based on articles taken from The Emancipator, an African American newspaper published in Montgomery Alabama from 1917 – 1921. I mentioned the Edelweiss Club in several posts. There were 37 young women who attended the club meetings. This year I will present snapshots from the lives of some of those women as my A to Z theme. A few of them are related to me, most are not. They were friends of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner Graham. This is my ninth year participating in the A to Z Challenge.

Alberta Boykin was born in Alabama about 1893, the second and youngest child of Charles and Texanna (Thomas) Boykin. Her older sister, Wilhelmina had been born three years earlier in Florida. The girls never appeared in a census with their parents who presumably died before 1900, when we find Alberta living with her mother’s sister Sarah. I could not find Wilhemina in the 1900 census but did find her in the 1910 census living with her uncle William Boykin, her father’s brother in Camden, South Carolina. Their father had been born in Camden. Her mother was born in Montgomery, Alabama.

In 1900 Alberta was seven years old and lived with her mother’s sister, Sarah Thomas Wright. Sarah Wright was 40 and divorced from her former husband, John Wright.  John Wright later married my great grandmother Jennie Allen Turner, as her second husband. That marriage also ended in divorce.  Sarah Wright had no birthed children but three of her nieces lived with her. In addition to Alberta, there were the Barnett sisters Lillie, age 15 and Sadie who was 14, daughters of her sister Ellen Thomas and Frank Barnett. All of the girls attended school. Sarah owned her home, which was mortgaged. She taught at the State Normal School.

In 1908 Alberta graduated from State Normal School for Negroes. She was 15. She played Wagner’s Lohengren on the piano for her part in the program.

Transcribed below. Click to enlarge.

Remarkable Show

Exhibition of Negro Normal School is Excellent.

Beginning of Final Exercises at President Paterson’s School Show That Fine Work has been done.

With commencement sermon and a variety of public ceremonies, the State Normal School for Negroes of which W. B. Paterson is president has begun it’s twenty-fourth anniversary, but it was, as usual, with its display of industrial work, that it won for itself the greatest measure of admiration.

During yesterday morning its public recitations were of a high degree that placed the school in the front rank of its kind in the South. In class work, in recitation, declamation and oratory, it was eminent for excellence, but its labors were shown to perhaps the best advantage in the actual results of its pupils…

 The program for Monday night was:… Instrumental Dust – LaChasse Aux Gazelles—(Calvin.) – Alberta Boykin and Annie Wimbs…

Tuesday morning at 10 o’clock a program of selections from the works of Paul Laurence Dunbar, the greatest negro poet, will be given.

At 3 p. m. the Alumni of the school will have their annual reunion and exercises.

On Tuesday from 9 to 3 o’clock the exhibit of school work, industrial and literary, will be open to visitors and a cordial invitation is extended by Professor Paterson to the citizens of Montgomery, white and colored, to visit the institution.

The Jackson Street cars stop at the school.

In 1914 at age 21 Alberta was in Columbia, South Carolina attending and teaching at Benedict College

The Southern Indicator Columbia, South Carolina 14 Nov 1914, Sat  •  Page 12. Transcribed to the right. Click to enlarge.

Benedict College is a private historically black, liberal arts college in Columbia, South Carolina. Founded in 1870 by northern Baptists, it was originally a teachers’ college. It has since expanded to offer majors in many disciplines across the liberal arts. Wikipedia

Benedict College, Columbia, South Carolina, Forty-Third Year _ Faculty for the year 1914-1915….

Normal Practice School (Consisting of Primer Class and First Five Grades) Miss J. Alberta Boykin, L. I., A. B. Assistant

Courses


Benedict College offers instruction in the following:
College- four years’ course, leading to A. B. or B. S. Large place is given to the sciences. The laboratories are modern.
Normal- four years’ course, leading to the degree of L. 1 Practice school in connection furnishes two years’ experience in teaching. The practice teaching is required in the third and fourth years. Experiments performed in the laboratory by students under direction of competent instructor.

Weather forecast for the day of the Edelweise meeting.
For Montgomery and Vicinity – Rain this afternoon probably changing to snow flurries, followed by clearing during tonight. Colder tonight, with lowest temperature about 26 to 28 degrees. Thursday, fair and cold. Fresh northerly winds.

Alberta Boykin was staying with her cousin in the house at the top of this map. As you can see by the other labeled housed there were several other Edelweiss Club members living in this same area. Mary McCall was my grandmother Fannie’s aunt, her mother’s sister.
The Emancipator Montgomery, Alabama 11 Jan 1919, Sat  •  Page 3

In 1920 Census, 27 year old Alberta Boykin was listed as a lodger in her cousin Lillie Barnett Carlton’s home. Albert Carlton was listed as the head. He was 33 and owned his home at 18 Highland Ave, with a mortgage. He was a mail carrier for the city. Lillie was 32 and a grocery sales lady. Alberta was 24 and taught at the Normal School. There was another lodger, Lula M. Johnson who taught at the Normal School.

I cannot find anything about Alberta Boykin after 1920. Did she die? Did she marry? Her ending is a mystery, as was her beginning.

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I found this information at Newspapers.com, Census records on Ancestry, and other places on the internet.

10 thoughts on “B – Alberta Boykin

    1. That would be nice. I have been reached out to by descendants of other of the women. Usually they are looking for more information because they are great grandchildren with little information. I do enjoy when that happens.

  1. This series will be invaluable to descendants of the Edelweiss Club members. The first two women you have written about sound fascinating. The club seems to have provided social networking as well as professional support to these remarkable women. Look forward to learning more.

    1. It seems to be mostly social with whist played and delicious refreshments served. Probable a welcome relief from the weeks work.

  2. I strained to read the whole newspaper article and then found you’d transcribed it for your readers’ benefit! I wonder if Alberta ever met her brother who went to live with an uncle when she was sent to her aunt’s? She was an accomplished and well-educated young woman. I wonder if she was considered too old to marry or whether she married and moved far away somewhere with her husband–up North? How could you track her down then?
    Something that I was reminded of is that, like today, people divorced and remarried, had blended families and lived with relatives. After her parents died, Alberta lived first with an aunt, then with a married cousin. Perhaps extended family members extended a welcome to each other more than they tend to do nowadays. Or perhaps, as then, it differed by class and region.

    1. Sorry about that! I’ve added a line that they are transcribed, also made all so they will enlarge.

      Alberta spent time in South Carolina and people were always visiting back and forth and traveling so I am sure the sisters did see each other.

      The members of the Edelweiss Club who married were usually in their late 20s or older, so she wasn’t too old when she disappeared. Other women did seem to disappear but I found them living in other states with siblings when I looked at their households. On Ancestry I can do a search all over the country for people and find them marrying in another state. Or they show up on their children’s social security applications and death certificates. I’ll check on her later and perhaps she will show up.

    1. I am running so fast to try to stay current! More like treading water to avoid sinking! I’m afraid she died, but I’ve been wrong before 🙂

  3. I enjoyed reading your profile of Alberta who rose from the early death of her parents to become a talented pianist and admirable young woman. I hope you are able to find out about her later life.

  4. Alberta sounds like a capable and talented woman. My grandfathers were both born in the 1890’s so contemporaries of hers. Alas, neither of them played anything 🙂

    As usual, the meticulousness of your research blows my mind, every time.

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