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Keeping in Touch in Detroit

Edelweiss in red. Other family in blue. Click to enlarge.

Some have wondered if the women associated with the Edelweiss Club who left Montgomery and moved to Detroit kept in touch with each other. Of course without interviewing them, I can only assemble the clues I have found and say that at least some did. There were other of their friends who moved from Montgomery to Detroit that they kept in touch with.

In Montgomery they lived within walking distance of each other. In Detroit they were much more spread out. My grandparents didn’t have a car until 1934. Before that, they caught buses or streetcars to travel outside of their neighborhood. In my grandparent’s lives, their church, Plymouth Congregational provided the groups to which they belonged to after moving to Detroit. Gwendolyn and Lewis Graham were also members.

Gwendolyn Lewis, Hattie and Fannie Turner in Detroit

Gabriella Snow married James Henry Kelly on 8 July 1917 in Montgomery. Although she was not a member of the Edelweiss Club, two of her younger sisters were. The Kellys moved to Detroit shortly after their marriage. They lived at 185 Rowena St. He worked as a machinist at an American Car and Foundry Company on Russell Street and died in Detroit in November of 1918. Gabriella Kelly returned to Montgomery and went back to teaching. She never remarried and had no children. She was buried from Old Church AME Zion Church in Montgomery.

1. Fannie and Mershell Graham’s house on Theodore. Family photo.

Fannie Turner married Mershell C. Graham on 15 June 1919 in Montgomery. They moved to Detroit later the same day. At first they boarded with friends from home at 1031 St. Jean Ave. Mershell worked as a machinest at an auto plant. Fannie didn’t work outside of the home after their marriage. They had four children and were members of Plymouth Congregational Church.

In 1930 they owned their home worth $8,000 at 6638 Theodore, Detroit. Mershell was working at Ford’s Auto plant as a stock keeper. Oldest son Mershell died in 1927. They had three children at home; ten year old Mary V. , seven year old Doris and one year old Howard.

Children of Gwendolyn and Clifton Graham (Clifton & Lewis) and Fannie and Mershell Graham (Mary V & Mershell Jr.).

Gwendolyn Lewis married Clifton Graham in Montgomery. He left for the army and Gwendolyn remained in Montgomery where their first child was born. By 1919 they were in Detroit and members of Plymouth Congregational Church. Their second child was born in 1920.

In 1930, the Grahams owned their own home worth $9,000 at 4431 St Jean Avenue. He was working as a Prohibition officer for the United States government. Their two sons were Clifton age ten and Lewis age nine. Unfortunately that house is no longer there.

Clifton’s older sister, Mattie and his mother Mary were in Detroit by the early 1920s.

3. 6747 Scotten present day photo from Google

Effie Todd married Arthur Robert Chisholm in Montgomery on 9 August, 1919 after he left the army. By the 1920 census they were in Detroit. They rented a house at 832 Roosevelt Street. He was worked as a laborer at the Packard Motor Company. Effie was not working outside of the home, but they had five borders, including Janie Douglas Binford, also a former Edelweiss member. She was working at the post office.

In 1930 they owned their home worth $14,000, at 6747 Scotten Avenue. Effie was teaching. Mary Monroe was boarding with them and also teaching. Arthur was a driving for a cab company. They had no children, but raised Effie’s niece, Cosette.She was seventeen when she died of tuberculosis in 1929.

They later divorced. He remarried. Effie did not. She continued teaching until she died of pneumonia in 1939. She was buried from Hartford Avenue Baptist Church.

Janie White Douglas Binford had one child with her first husband, who she divorced. She later remarried, Alphonso Randolph Smith, on 21 Feb 1921 in Detroit. He was a postal worker. Died June 24, 1946. She attended St. Matthews Episcopal Church.

In 1930 they owned their home worth $9,000 at 5717 Parker Avenue. Unfortunately there is now a vacant lot there. Alphonso worked as a postal carrier. Janie worked as a postal clerk. There were two sons, John age nineteen and Paul age fifteen. Alphonso’s mother lived with them and didn’t work outside of the home. There were two lodgers.

Clara Robinson Baily. Married an older man. They separated and later divorced before she left Montgomery. They had no children. She was in Detroit by 1920 and lived at 449 E. Jefferson. She died in Detroit two years later in 1922. Her death certificate gave occupation as postal clerk and residence as 3130 Chestnut Street.

4536 Harding. Family photo. Jennie, Daisy and Alice Turner. Family photo.

5. Daisy Turner never married. She and her mother and sister Alice moved to Detroit in 1922. They lived with sister Fannie and husband Mershell until they saved enough money to buy their own house. Mother Jennie was a seamstress at Annis furs. Younger sister Alice didn’t work outside of the home. Daisy was head porter at Annis Furs.. All attended Plymouth Congregational Church.

In 1930 they owned their home worth $7,000 at 4536 Harding on Detroit’s East side. They kept in touch with Mary Monroe over the years.

The Detroit Tribune, Detroit, Michigan • Saturday, October 25, 1941 Page 4
6. 18417 Norwood. Annie & Louis Gilmer present day photo from Google

6. Annie Wimbs married Louis Gilmer on 24 Dec 1918 in Montgomery. They were married by Rev. Callahan of Dexter Ave. Baptist Church. They moved to Detroit by 1925. In 1927 they lived at 5304 24th Street. In 1930 lived at 18417 Norwood, in Conant Gardens, northeast Detroit. They had five children.

7. Mary Monroe never married. Moved Detroit. 1930 rooming with Effie and husband at 6747 Scotten Ave., Detroit West Side. She was a teacher in the city schools. In 1950 her niece was working at a fur store. Did Daisy help her get the job? She remained in the house on Scotten after Effie’s divorce and death.

Daisy in the dark dress with the pin with other workers at Annis Furs. Family photo.
The Detroit Tribune, Detroit, Michigan • Saturday, November 15, 1941 Page 4
Daisy and Alice Turner and their mother Jennie have dinner with Mary Monroe.
The Detroit Tribune, Detroit, Michigan Sat, Oct 27, 1956 · Page 3

“THIS IS YOUR LIFE,” honoring Miss Mary F. Monroe of Scotten avenue, former teacher in Alabama State for approximately 30 years of more, took place at New Light Baptist Church, 30th and Cobb streets, Saturday, Oct. 10th. This was a surprise affair for this great mathematician and founder of the popular Century of Progress Club which is about 22 years old. Left to right, seated, members of Miss Monroe’s family, Mr. George L. Carter, Mrs Tommie Dorsey, Miss Mary Monroe, Miss Temple Moore, Miss Daisy Turner and Mrs Helen Hamilton. Standing, left to right and also looking on as Mr. Clarence K. Howard makes cash presentation to Miss Monroe are Fred Hewlett, Dr. William H. Benson, Mrs. Bessie B. Benson, Mrs. Fred Hewlett, Mrs. Jessie Beasley and Mr. George Beasley, all out of town guests; Mrs. Gwendolyn Graham, Mrs. Madaline Nesbitt Phillips, Mrs. Mattie Shannon, Mrs. Bertha Debbs and Mr. John W. Askew. – Photo by F. Williams.

A Dance in Washington Park

Friends of Fannie and Mershell, members of Edelweiss, some music, some dancing.

I can’t believe that I forgot to include the final event of the Edelweiss Club in my A to Z! It was the invitation card that was included in a post in the 2018 A to Z Challenge and a question by Anne of Anne’s Family History about the Edelweiss Club started my investigation. Click on any image to enlarge.

Fannie Turner (colorized)

Monday am
June 2, 1919

My dear shell:

Your letter just came and everything in is was ok.

I laughed so loudly over certain parts of it that Naomi and Rufus wanted to know if they might read it too…. I told them they were too young to read such.

As I wrote you last time, your plans suit me all ok and as you say when you get here, we can talk the balance over.

This leaves all of us in pretty good health. Aunt Mary had Mams, Daisy, Alice and me to dinner yesterday – (Sunday) and believe me we had some time and some dinner.

“Bob” leaves for Chi this p.m. Uncle is a little better tho very weak. The club is planning a dance for next Tuesday P.M. the 10th.- Hope you can be here for it, but. If you can’t I’ll try and not cry. Ho! Ho!

Are you staying at Mrs. Walker’s altogether now? I’ll ask you the other questions when I see you, I’d better not write it…

Mershell “Shell” Graham

I wonder if you want me to meet you? Or if you will come on by the house – guess that will be better for us to meet at house after not having seen each other for so long. What you say? Write me one more letter before leaving- for I guess this is the last one I’ll write before we meet.

With lots of love etc.

Your Fanny
P. S. Give my love to all the folks.

This card was enclosed with the letter

After reading my grandmother’s letter and the invitation, I wondered about several things. Where was Washington Park? How did they manage music in a park? How did they get to the park when it was quite a ways from their neighborhood? What kind of dancing did they do? And most importantly- did my grandfather make it from Detroit to Montgomery before the dance?

I found the answers to all of my questions. Unfortunately there was no mention of the dance in any of the newspapers.


In 1886, the first citywide system of streetcars was established in the United States in Montgomery, Alabama. Segregated seating was officially mandated in the early 1900s. There was a Montgomery streetcar boycott from 1900 to 1902 to protest segregated service. The boycott failed and the city council passed the Montgomery Streetcar Act in 1906 that codified segregated seating.

The Montgomery Advertiser
Montgomery, Alabama • Thu, Oct 16, 1902 Page 3

In 1903 the Montgomery Street Railroad Company got permission and land to build a park for African Americans in West Montgomery. Parks were also segregated. Black people were not allowed in white parks. Washington Park was not within walking distance from the Centennial neighborhood so the streetcars heading to the park were often crowded. In fact, there were letters to the paper complaining because there was not room on these cars for white people. There were also excursion cars for special events that ran from some where in the neighborhood to the park. I don’t know if there were enough people going to the dance to call for excursion streetcars or if the dance goers had to ride the regular segregated buses.

The Montgomery Advertiser 1904 May 26 page 6

The section below from a Sanford shows the buildings available at the park. I wondered about dancing on the grass and what music would be provided, but there was a dance hall. There was probably a piano there or maybe they had a local band. Would there have been a gramaphone? A player piano?

Washington Park and facilities

I found in the newspapers that the dances popular at this time in Montgomery were the foxtrot, the one-step and the waltz. And, most importantly, my grandfather did arrive in time for the dance! They spelled his name “Michael” instead of “Mershell” but he arrived the day before the dance and in plenty of time for his wedding.

The Emancipator
Montgomery, Alabama · Saturday, June 14, 1919
Thunderstorms were predicted. I hope they didn’t impact the dance.

Reflections on the 2024 A-Z Challenge

Madeline Abercrombie – a member of the Edelweiss Club

I have just completed my eleventh A to Z Challenge. This year I wrote about the Edelweiss Club of Montgomery, Alabama. I had no posts written when the challenge began. This made for the usual nerve wracking experience of writing all day to get the post ready to go live by midnight. And also squeezing in visits to other blogs.

I have researched the 37 members intensively over the past several years, but had not looked at recipes of the day nor at the schools where the teacher members taught except in general, so I did learn about those things. I was surprised to see that most of them did marry, even if some married late and some divorced. I learned that their parents were pretty interesting. I tried to avoid getting sidetracked on them, although there were some good stories there. I’m considering writing about that generation next year, taking it back to my great grandmother Jennie Virginia Allen Turner’s life in Montgomery from the 1860s, to the time of her marriage in 1886.

This year I just didn’t seem to have the zest that I usually experience during the challenge. I was just holding on and getting through. Maybe it’s the depressing conditions all around, local, national and worldwide. Whatever it was, I did finish. I am glad I finally wrote up some of the Edelweiss women and their possible delicious luncheons.

I mostly read the same blogs I follow all year or those that I have on file from past challenges. I tried a few new ones as we went on, mainly finding them through comments on mine or other’s blogs or a few from the list.

These are the blogs I most often read and commented on:

There were others that I visited less often and there were some I discovered late in the challenge.

You can find an index to my April posts here A to Z Challenge 2024 – The Edelweiss Club

Thank you to everyone who makes the challenge work and to everyone who read my posts and to those who commented, I tried to visit and comment back. Also thanks to my husband Jim who proofreads my posts. I do sometimes change up afterwards, so he is not to blame if some errors crept in!

Reflecions 2024 #AtoZChallenge


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.

Click any image to enlarge

I was hoping to find a recipe for zucchini bread in the Montgomery newspapers in 1918, 1919. Alas, twas not to be. I did find these advertisements and a song shared below.


Last, a song from World War 1. And we’re done!

Y – YELLOW Sunshine Cake

Swansdown Cake Flour cookbook

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.

Click any image to enlarge

Today we are going back to delicious luncheons. On January 3, 1919, Alberta Boykin , who I wrote about in depth in 2021, entertained the Edelweiss Club at the home of her sister. A delicious two course luncheon was served. I have chosen to start with a combination salad and finish with a Sunshine Cake. Which as you can see in the picture above, is a delightful YELLOW.

The Emacipator, January 1919

A combination salad The Montgomery Times 12/25/1919

Article from Dec 25, 1919 The Montgomery Times (Montgomery, Alabama)

A Combination Salad

Take two apples, two peppers, two onions a ripe tomato, a bunch of celery, and some crisp lettuce leaves. Cut the celery into small pieces and mix them with the following dressing: Pour a beaten egg into a small saucepan, add one-half cupful of vinegar, one-half cupful of milk or cream, one table-spoonful of butter, one teaspoonful of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook until thick, then cool and pour over the vegetables. Chill and serve on the lettuce leaves.

The Helping Hand, Montgomery, Alabama • Fri, Oct 20, 1916Page 3

Sunshine Cake. Beat six egg whites until stiff. Boll together a cupful of sugar and a quarter of a cupful of water until it hairs, pour over the whites, beat well and cool. Then beat the yolks of the eggs, add to the whites and a cupful of pastry flour sifted with a teaspoonful of cream of tartar and a pinch of salt, flavor and bake slowly for 40 to 60 minutes. Cover with frosting when cool.”

X – XMAS Meeting With Madge Brown

Unnamed friend of my grandmother Fannie Turner Graham standing in for Madge Brown.

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.

Click any image to enlarge

The_Emancipator December 25, 1918

The weather that Christmas day was clear and cold, with temperatures dipping down to 24 degrees.

Madge Brown

In the 1920 census, Madge Brown lived with her parents, John and Julia Brown. Both parents were born during slavery in the mid 1850s. They would have been teenagers when the Civil war ended and they were emancipated. Mr. Brown was a farmer and owned his own farm free and clear. He had a truck farm and a stall at the city market where he and his wife sold vegetables. Mrs. Brown gave birth to eight children and six were living.

Madge’s sister, Elizabeth B. Deramus, her husband, James and their one year old son shared the home. Elizabeth taught music and her husband was a medical doctor. All the adults in the household were literate. Madge taught at Booker T. Washington school.

Rites Held For Madge M. Brown Retired Teacher

Miss Madge M. Brown, local retired public school teacher died here Friday night following a lingering illness. She was the daughter of the late John Napolean and Julia Arrington Brown.

Having served in the local school system 30 years, she was honored 3 years ago at Carver High school on her retirement. Her professional career included assignments at Loveless and Carver High.

She was active in several social and civic organizations and was a member of Dexter Avenue Baptist Churh, the March Month Club of Deter, Beta Sigma Chapter of the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority and the local chapter of the National Federated Club.

Miss Brown was educated at Howard University and the local Alabama State Teachers College.

She is survived by two sisters, Mesdames N. Brown Saffold, Montgomery: Mrs. A. Brown Madison, Atlanta. Nieces included Medames Anna M. Blackwell, San Francisco, Cal’ Anne De Ramus Brown, Schenectady, N.Y., Dr. Helen dermus Mitchell, N. Y. City: nephews, Milton darden, Atlanta, Medames Laura Saffold Carter, Formosa (China), Mildred Banks, Baltimore, Md., June King, John Brown and Zisley Safford, all of this city.

Birmingham Mirror, Birmingham, Alabama • Sat, Feb 10, 1962 Page 10

W – Progressive WHIST

Collage of Edelweiss women playing progressive whist.

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.

Click any image to enlarge

I did a quick survey on of the number of mentions “whist” received in Montgomery newspapers. I wanted to see how many people were playing, at least how many got their games into the newspaper. The Emancipator, the only black newspaper, reported 31 games of whist during 1918 and 1919. The Montgomery Advertiser, a white newspaper, reported 23 games during the same time and The Montgomery Times listed 7 games. When I added the word “progressive” there were 17 entries only from The Emancipator.

There was a graft on the side which showed that the number of mentions of “whist” was at a very low point before 1918 and that it peaked around 1920 and after a few years at the height, began going down, down, down. I pushed the years back and the resulting graph is below.

The link below gives directions for playing whist and defines progressive whist.

“Progressive whist or compass whist, is a competition format in which two players from each table move to the next table after a fixed number of games which are played to a fixed format e.g. with the designated trump suit changing each time.

Whist – Wikipedia

The Emancipator, May 2, 1919

Minnie Williams was born in Augusta, Georgia. She was one of the nine children of Edward and Catherine (McCord) Williams. Five of them survived to grow up. Her father was a carpenter and later worked on the railroad. Her mother didn’t work outside the home.

In 1910 Minnie was 16 and living with her older sister and her husband. Her sister was teaching, her brother-in-law was an minister. Minnie was teaching music. This is the second sixteen year old I have found teaching in Georgia. They lived in Waycross Georgia, where my grandfather Mershell was enumerated in 1910 as an auto mechanic working for the railroad.

Minnie was one of the teachers at Vesuvius School in 1919. She also hosted the Edelweiss Club at the home she shared her sister Lula Thomas and family. That year Minnie played the piano at a delightful luncheon where whist was played and Charlotte Ruse was served. She was socially active and could be found playing whist at various functions around town. She attended summer school at Columbia University in New York.

She eventually moved to Birmingham, Alabama, where we find her in the 1940 census teaching and sharing her home with her niece (also a teacher) and great niece. She had two years of college. And that is where we will leave her.


Vesuvius School was located on Shady, near the blue building. Billingslea is on Walker near Shady.

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.

Click any image to enlarge

Vesuvius School was located in North Montgomery, among railroad tracks and warehouses. There was a black community up there. The first mention of Vesuvius School was in 1899 when the staff was given as one teacher, Nanie Hardaway.

The Weekly Advertiser
Montgomery, Alabama · Friday, October 27, 1899

In 1903 it was proposed that the city rent the vacant Vesuvius Hotel for $15 a month, put in some blackboards, stoves etc., and use it for the school, which had been meeting in a church in the area. The hotel had been vacant since 1895. This was approved. There were 85 students and two teachers.

The Montgomery Advertiser, June 29, 1904

Unfortunately, the following year, a spark from a passing train set the building on fire and it was completely burned down except for the walls. The school went back to meeting in a nearby church until the city bought a three room house in the area on Shady Street.

By 1918 there were 160 students. Mary Hightower was the principal. Viola Love, Clara Hamilton and Minnie Williams made up the teaching staff. In 1922 the Billingslea School was built to replace Vesuvius.

Mary Howard Hightower belonged to the same generation of the Edelweiss Club members parents and had not attended any of the meetings. Viola Love wasn’t a member. Clara Hamilton and Minnie Williams were.

N – Naomi TULANE

Naomi Tulane – Engagement photograph

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.

Naomi Tulane was the only daughter of Victor and Willie (Allen) Tulane who lived past her second birthday.   Two daughters died in infancy. Her father was Victor Tulane, a very successful black Montgomery businessman. Her mother was my grandmother Fannies’s sister.

Naomi Tulane elected a member of the Edelweiss Club at this meeting. The Emancipator, Dec 6, 1918

Naomi studied music at Fisk University. She played the piano at my grandparent’s wedding. After finishing two years at Fisk, she took a business course at Tuskegee University. This surprised me because family members told me how bad she was with family finances after her husband died. She also worked sometimes at her father’s grocery store.

She met her future husband while accompanying her father on a trip North to promote Ala-Ga syrup.  She married Dr. Ubert Conrad Vincent of New York City on April 28, 1920 in Montgomery.

Alaga was always the syrup on my grandparent’s table. Still sold today in a bottle.

Dr. U.C. Vincent Visits Montgomery


Dr. U.C. Vincent of New York City is spending the holidays here as guest of Mr. and Mrs. V.H. Tulane.  Dr. Vincent is an intern at the noted Bellevue Hospital of New York. He also holds a responsible position as Medical head of one of the departments in the hospital. He is the only colored man that has ever held this special post at Bellevue and in a recent meeting of the physicians held in New York, Dr. Vincent gave a demonstration of a new operation which he invented. A creditable article concerning his brilliant future as a physician appeared in a recent issue of the Crisis Magazine.

U – ULYSSES Naomi Rodgers

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.

Click any image to enlarge

Ulysses Naomi Rodgers was born in 1882, the year after her older sister Lucretia. She had two younger brothers, Gordon and Julian. The family started out in Wetumpka, about 20 miles from Montgomery, where her father was a teacher. By 1900 they were in Montgomery and her father was the pastor of Old Ship Methodist Church. Founded in 1855, before the end of slavery, it is the oldest black church in Montgomery. Their mother did not work outside of the home.

Old Ship A. M. E. Zion Church. This is the original building where Rev. Rodgers preached.

Ulysses and her siblings attended school. The two sisters graduated from State Normal School in 1902. Ulysses began teaching in the public schools while Lucretia taught music from the home. Her brothers went to college. Julian became a lawyer and moved to Detroit. Gordon became a doctor.

The Emancipator (Montgomery, Alabama) · 6 Apr 1918, Sat · Page 4. Ulysses Rodgers is Rodgers above.

In January 1919, Rev. Rodgers died when he fell while working on the roof. He was 61. His widow lived with one or the other of her daughters until her death

The Emancipator Montgomery, Alabama • Sat, Sep 27, 1919 Page 3

Ulysses continued to teach until she married Andrew Cato Brown later the same year. She was 37. He was 44 and the owner, manager of A. C. Brown groceries. They had no children and remained in Montgomery until the ends of their lives.

The Emancipator, Montgomery, Alabama • Sat, Oct 4, 1919, Page 4