1940 Census – Jacob and Gertrude (Brunt) Cleage

The Old West Side Detroit neighborhood where my father's family and aunts and uncles and cousins lived in 1940. Uncle Jake's house was the second one up from the bottom of the map.

Jacob Cleage was my grandfather Albert Cleage’s oldest brother.  He and his wife, Gertrude, lived at 5670 Hartford Avenue, very close to my grandfather’s Cleage Clinic.  The house is no longer there, but there are 3 houses on either side of the spot where it stood   and it appears that all were built from the same plan.

Empty spot marked by "A" where Jacob and Gertrude Cleage's house once stood.
House near 5670 Hartford Ave. The least modernized house of the 3 and perhaps the closest to what their house looked like.

5670 probably looked like this house that hasn’t been renovated or sided. I think their house would have been painted and kept up.  They owned the house and it was worth $1,900 according to the 1940 census.

Jacob Cleage
Gertrude Cleage










There were six people in the household. Everybody was identified as Negro and had been living at the same address in 1935.

According to the census  Jacob Cleage was the head of the house. He was 62 years old and had been born in Florida. He worked as a sweeper in an auto plant with 2 years of high school.  He earned $1,200 in 1935.

Gertrude Cleage, 58, wife, born in West Virginia. She was not working outside the home and had completed 3 years of high school.

John Cleage, 29, son (SON?? first I heard of Jacob having any children), born in West Virginia. He worked in the stock room of an auto factory and earned  $1,600 during 1935. He had 4 years of college and was attending college in 1940. He was married and his wife were seperated.

Jacob Cleage, jr, 24 son (ANOTHER SON???) also born in West Virginia. Not working with 3 years of college and attending college in 1940. He was single.

Robert Evans, 22, lodger, born in Alabama. He had attended school that year and had 2 years of high school. He wasn’t working and had earned no money. He was married.

Countess Evans, 22, wife of a lodger born in Alabama. Shw had 4 years of college, was not working and had earned no money. Countess spoke to the enumerator which probably accounts for the incorrect information.

Jacob Cleage was actually born in Tennessee and Gertrude was born in North Carolina. I never heard that they had any children and I’ve followed them down through the years from the 1880 census and other records and through family stories and photographs. My grandparents lived with them when my father was born in 1911. I can’t find Jacob Jr. or John Cleage any place else, not living apart with a different mother and not in any directories.   If all of these young people were living there in 1935, the lodgers would have been 17. Jacob Jr. would have been 19 and John would have been 24. That would have been a house full of students for one working man to support.  Jacob Cleage died in 1942, just two years later.

I wish Jacob or Gertrude had been the informant because I’ve got to take much of this with a grain of salt until more information comes my way.

Source: 1940 U.S. census, Wayne Co., Michigan, pop. Sch., Detroit, Ward 14 E.D. 84-785  Sheet No. 11 B  HH 191 Jacob Cleage. Informant – lodger. Click to view census sheet.

8 thoughts on “1940 Census – Jacob and Gertrude (Brunt) Cleage

  1. Ugh. Maybe they were fostering or caring for children of a friend or relative? Of course, with names of John and Jacob it will be almost impossible to find them in 1930 without using a surname. And I’d be more than cautious about income levels with the a lodger as the informant. Can’t imagine sharing that information with one’s tenants. Again, ugh.

    1. Susan, they often had family living with them. In 1910 my grandfather and brother Henry shared their home. In 1930, Gertrude’s 26 year old nephew lived with them. I tried looking back to see if there were any of Gertrude’s nephews named John and Jacob but I haven’t researched her family that well. I’m not taking any of it as sure except for the address of the house and the residents. I’m not sure about education levels or income. Who discusses any of that with a lodger? That household was disappointing. I started pulling together all my information about Jacob and Gertrude and had to restrain myself from writing it all in this post.

  2. It’s frustrating when source documents contain information that is obviously incorrect. For my family, I’ve found major variations in the spelling of names from one census to the next.

    1. And those are only the ones we know about! Imagine the incorrect information we DON’T know about! I have one branch of the family where the only information I have is from the censuses and I can only wonder what is wrong.

  3. Disappointing! I would hold open some hope that you’ll find some of these folks in Gertrude’s line. This also interesting in terms of how heavily our governing procedures rely so heavily on the census.

    I have a feeling you’ll be finding the real answers eventually.

  4. Hello,

    My mother’s family’s name is also Cleage which I have just started researching and I can trace it via Marriage Documents and Census records back to Tennessee to 1848 to my Great Great Grandfather; Jefferson Jeff Cleage. As the person stated above, the names have been mispelled at manu official documents but when reviewing documents with signatures, you can clearly see that the correct spelling is “Cleage.” I have discovered that my Great Great Grandfather was more than likely born into slavery and owned by either Samuel or Dave Cleage (aka Clegg) but this is as far as I can get since it’s hard to obtain factual documents pertaining to African Americans; can you provide some guidance as to how I can go further? Thank you. You have a really awesome website and it’s really ironic that I came across your website while searching for my “Cleages.”

    1. Hi Sheryl. Can you email me at kriswms at bellsouth dot net? I may be able to help. Tell me what records you’ve found and who your mother is and where she grew up. Looking forward to you email. There aren’t a whole lot of Cleages out there! Not ironic at all. My family also came off of David Cleage’s plantation.

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