O – OPHELIA Peterson and OAKWOOD Cemetery

Ophelia Peterson’s and Victor Tulane’s graves. Oakwood Cemetery, Montgomery, Alabama.

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times.

I first “met” Ophelia Peterson in the Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery. My daughter Ife and I were walking around looking for my uncle Victor Tulane’s grave. We went by it several times but missed it because there was an upright gravestone saying “Ophelia M. Peterson” so we passed by without looking at the flat, cement slab, which was the grave we were looking for. I had no idea who she was until I began to investigate the Edelweiss Club.

Ophelia Mamie Peterson was born in 1871, although it says 1899 on her grave stone. In each census, her birth date dropped a few years. In 1880 it was 1871, by 1950 it was 1895. She was 93 when she died.

Back to the beginning. Ophelia was born in Tuskegee, Macon County Alabama. In 1880 she lived with her mother Harriet Cumming and younger brother, Egbert Peterson. She was nine years old and attending school. Her mother was a cook.

Unnamed students at Tuskegee Institute 1890.

Ophelia was active in the local Colored Temperance Society. She graduated with the 12th class of Tuskegee Normal School in 1893. She and her mother moved to Montgomery where Ophelia taught school until 1908. After that she worked as a sick nurse, going to people’s homes to care for them during serious illnesses.

Ophelia was very involved in her community. She was a frequent guest at the Edelweiss Club and hosted Mary Church Terrell when she was in town to do war work among the African American troops at Camp Sheridan. As a member of The Tuskegee Club she hosted several meetings. She owned her home free of mortgage.

In 1964 Ophelia Peterson died at home. She was 93 years old. I could not find the relationship between Ophelia and the two survivors mentioned in her obituary. She never married and had no children. Her mother and siblings were dead. Perhaps they were cousins.

Entrance to Oakwood Cemetery, Montgomery, Alabama

4 thoughts on “O – OPHELIA Peterson and OAKWOOD Cemetery

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.