In 1940 my husband’s parents, Chester and Theola Williams and baby Maxine were renting the house at 395 North Knox street in Bowie, Chicot County, Arkansas for $1 a month. I will tell you that it is very hard to find illustrations for places out in the country unless the family took them. Google maps does not even make an attempt to get in close enough to see the house, although we can see what the neighborhood looks like now, lots of trees and a little distance from Dermott, where they later lived.
Chester Williams was 23. He was a farmer and working as a farm hand. He had worked 24 weeks in 1939 and earned $240. Chester was asked the extra questions and both his parents were born in Arkansas and he grew up speaking English. Farming was his usual occupation.
Theola was 20 years old. She didn’t work outside of the home. Both of them had completed 4 years of high school and lived in the same place (not the same house) in 1935. Jocelyn Maxine was 11 months old. They were enumerated on April 25. Chester Jr. would be born in September of that year so he was already on the way.
They had one roomer, Eliza Robinzine. (Note to those helping index the 1940 census, I’m sure if I were indexing this the arbitrator would say it was something different but it looks like Robinzine to me.) Eliza was 66 years old and born in Mississippi. She was a widow and had completed 4 years of college. In 1935 she worked 32 weeks as a school teacher, earning $360.
Theola’s mother, Amy Davenport lived next door. She rented her house for $1 a month and had not worked in 1935. She was born in Arkansas, a widow, 49 years old and had completed 5 years of school. She lived alone and had lived in the same place in 1935.
Looking at the 8 other households enumerated on that page we find that people had from no schooling (2 elderly women) to 4 years of college. Six families owned their own homes with values of $7,000, $500, $480, $300, $200 and $75. People were working at a variety of jobs. There was an undertaker, two real estate salesman, a secretary, a butcher, a carpenter and a cook. One man did odd jobs at a laundry, one was doing timber work and three people were seeking work. Most people were born in Arkansas but several were born in Mississippi and Louisiana. Two children living with their grandparents were born in Illinois and one man was born in Texas. Everybody was identified as Neg(ro).
You can see the 1940 Census Image with the Williams family HERE.
I have written quite a few stories about Naomi Vincent and her family. She was my grandmother Fannie Graham’s first cousin. The year and a half before the census had been a life changing one for this family. Naomi’s husband, Dr. Urbert Vincent, died in December of 1938 leaving her a widow with four young children.
In the 1940 Census Naomi Vincent was 41 years old. She had been born in Alabama. She and her children were living at 251 138th Street, Harlem, NY. The house, on “Striver’s Row” was worth $9,000. Naomi had finished 2 years of college. She was not working outside of the home and had a number of boarders. Naomi was the informant for her family. Most of the lodgers spoke for themselves. Everybody in the house was identified as Neg(ro). All but three people in the house were born in New York. Everybody but 2 year old Barbara had lived in the same place in 1935.
The oldest child, Ubert, was 16. He was attending school and had completed 3 years of high school. Sylvia was ten, attending school and had completed 4 years of school. Jacqueline was 6 and was enrolled in school. Barbara was 2. They were all born in New York.
There were 6 lodgers and a servant living in the house. Charles McGill, a widower, was 65. According to the census, he had 1 year of school. He was a butler to a private family and had worked 52 weeks in 1939 earning $80.
Seeing that Charles worked 52 weeks in 1939 and only made $80 made me curious about what he had been doing before. Looking back at the 1930 census, Charles had been a lodger in the Vincent home. At that time he was a chauffeur for a private family. There were five lodgers in the home in 1930.
Back to the 1940 Census and the other lodgers. Jennie Mount was 71, single and had 8 years of schooling. She was not employed. Beatrice King was 31. She was married, had 3 years of high school and was not employed. Her 6 year old son, Stanley also lived there. Fifty-six year old Rosalie Moseley was single with 2 years of college. She was born in Georgia and worked as a cook for a private family. In 1939 she was employed for 24 weeks and made $240, which was a lot better than Charles McGill had done. Charles Earle was single and 56 years old. He had 1 year of high school, was born in Connecticut. He was employed as a Red Cap with Grand Central Railroad. In 1939 he worked 52 weeks and earned $900.
Margaret Fuller was a servant in the household. She was born in South Carolina, 23 years old, single and had worked 8 weeks in 1939, earning $75. Even this was way better than 52 weeks for $80. Maybe they left off a zero. I hope they did.
To see the 1940 census page with the Vincents click HERE.
Here are some earlier stories about Naomi Vincent: Another Photographic Mystery Solved, More on the Exciting Vincents, In Which I Hit the Google Jackpot, Naomi Tulane’s Engagement Photo. And one more about Striver’s Row.
In 1940 James McCall and his family lived at 4880 Parker Ave. on the east side of Detroit. The house was worth $5,000. He was 58 years old and had completed 4 years of college. He had worked 52 weeks in 1939, earning $1,600 managing a Printing Establishment.
His wife Margaret was 52 years old. She had completed 4 years of high school and was not working outside of the home. She was the informant. Everybody in the house was born in Alabama, had lived in the same house in 1935 and was identified as “W(hite)”. I would guess that people are wrongfully identified as “white” because the enumerator would not ask race, they would assume they “knew” by looking.
Oldest daughter, Victoria, was 24 years old, single and had completed 4 years of college. She had worked 40 weeks in 1939 as a public school teacher, where she earned $1,600. The youngest daughter, Margaret was 21 years old. She had worked 24 weeks in 1939 and earned $240 as a secretary of a Printing company.
The McCall’s owned their own printing company and published a newspaper “The Detroit Tribune”. My aunt, Mary V. Graham, who was their cousin, worked at the same printing establishment in the 1940 census. In the 1990’s she shared her memories of her work there. Mary V’s job was to read newspaper articles to James McCall because he was blind. From what she read to him, he would formulate his editorial articles. He had a braille typewriter that he used to write the articles. Mary V said she learned so much, reading to him and talking to him about various topics. She remembered that he was a wealth of information and knew a lot about everything.
You can see the 1940 census sheet with the McCalls HERE. Other posts featuring James McCall are Poems by James E. McCall and James McCall Poet and Publisher and “She was owned Before the War by the Late Colonel Edmund Harrison…”
View 1940 Detroit, Michigan – Where we lived in a larger map
By 1940 there were only 3 of Eliza’s children remaining in Montgomery, Alabama. Willie Lee Allen Tulane, Abbie Allen and Beulah Allen Pope. Willie Lee lived on S. Union. Abbie lived on Ripley. Beulah and Robert Pope lived on W. Jeff Davis Ave. Scroll down and to the left to see the blue pointer for their house. View the Montgomery Family – 1940 in a map on Google Maps. Enlarge to see the locations.
Willie Tulane lived at 430 S. Union Street. She owned the home and had lived there in 1935. It was worth $2,000. She gave her age as 55 although, since her age on the 1880 census was 7, she was closer to 67. She had attended 8 years of school. Willie had not worked in the past year. She was the informant. Everybody in the house was identified as Neg(ro).
There were two boarders. Louise McHaney age 25, worked as a private maid. She earned $260 a year. She was single and had attended school for 8 years. The other boarder was Charles Williams, a 52 year old Insurance salesman. He had attended school for 7 years and was married but separated from his wife. He earned $1,040 in 1935. Both boarders had worked 52 weeks out of the past year. You can see a copy of the 1940 Census page with Willie Tulane on it on Ancestry.com HERE.
Abbie Allen had stopped using her married name, Brown, in the 1930 Census and she still was using her maiden name. She’s listed as a widow. She owned her home at 444 Ripley Street where she had worked as a seamstress for 40 weeks during the past year. She gave her age as 42, although being age 5 in the 1880 census, she was closer to 65. She was identified as Neg(ro). She had lived in the same house in 1935. It had been her parents home and she had lived there since about 1900. It was valued at $500. She had gone to school for 7 years. Abbie was the informant. You can see a copy of Abbie Allen’s 1940 census page on Ancestry.com HERE.
Beulah and Robert Pope owned their home at 235 W. Jeff Davis Ave. It was worth $400. They had lived there in 1935. Beulah had attended college for 2 years and was not working outside the home. Robert had completed 4 years of college and was a clerk for a wholesale drug company. He had worked for 52 weeks during 1939 and earned $1,720. Both were identified as Neg(ro). He was listed as 58. In 1880 he was listed as 6 years old so he was actually about 66. Beulah was listed as 53. In the 1880 census she was listed as 1 year old so she was closer to 61. Beulah was the informant.
I became interested in how accurate the ages were when I noticed that Aunt Abbie was younger than the youngest sister, Beulah. I went back to the 1880 census to see what ages were given when they were close to their births. I wonder if they just didn’t keep up with how old they were or if they were trying to seem younger.
In the 1940 Census, the Frank and Mary Elkins family was living at 3045 Anderdon Street in Detroit, Michigan. The rent was $30 a week and they had lived in the same house in 1935. Everybody in the household had been identified as “W(hite)”, that was crossed out and “Neg(ro)” was written over it. Unfortunately, no household on this page has the person who provided the information to the enumerator identified.
The father of the family, Frank Elkins, was 57 years old and had completed 4 years of high school. He worked at an auto plant as a courtesy driver. One of his granddaughters has informed me that he worked as a driver for Graham Paige Motors.
His wife, Mary, was 47 and not employed outside the home. She had completed 2 years of High school. She had made $50 in the last year outside of wages or salary. Daughter Mary was 21 and single. She had completed 4 years of high school and was not enrolled in school. She was not employed outside of the home.
Young Frank was 19, single and had completed 1 year of college. He had attended school sometime since March 1, 1940. He was not employed. His daughter, Dee Dee, remembers that Frank graduated with honors from Cass Technical High School and went right to work, starting Elkin’s Electric Company. He tried to join the Electricians Union, but they barred Black folks from joining. In 1941 Frank and my aunt Mary V. Graham were married at Plymouth Congregational Church.
In February, 1940 my mother entered Wayne University. She received a full scholarship from the Detroit Board of education and a scholarship from the Delta Sorority for an an additional $100.
How much did it cost to attend Wayne in 1940? For residents of Wayne County, which my mother was, tuition for a full time student was $50. There was a $10 fee for entering freshmen. Textbooks would have been $5 or under.
When I went to Wayne from 1964 to 1968, tuition came to about $300 a year. Text books were still about $10. By the time my daughter attended during the 1998 – 1999 school year, tuition and fees were $3,708 a year. She says one book could cost $50. All of us lived at home and commuted, so had no housing costs.
My granddaughter Sydney, who is a freshman at Georgia State University and lives on campus. She could hardly believe these numbers. I just looked and tuition and housing this year, is over $20,000.
I published a longer post that included this information (without the actual pages) along with entries from my grandmother’s other journals in 2010. I am only including information from 1940 this time.
Feb. 5, 1940
Dear God and Little Book: the mail has just brought us the long looked for letter from Wayne University and the Board of Education that Doris has received the yearly scholarship to Wayne… I shed tears of joy… for more reasons than one or even two and the main reason is she deserves it for being such a sweet little “trick”…even if we do say so ourselves.
February 12 – Doris’s birthday – 17 today. We had a nice dinner, cake, ice cream and gifts for her from all.
March 12, my birthday, among all a purchase certificate from JL Hudson’s from our daughters and dad
April 3 – Mary Virginia is 20 today. We had nice dinner cake and ice cream and gifts from us all – also Aunt Daisy never forgets with money.
Dad celebrates Christmas day.
April 12-The Grahams were enumerated. No mention in the Little Book.
June 10 — Mary Virginia has just gotten (through Jim and May) a good job at the County Bldg — God is so good to us. and today our Mershell Jr would have been 19 if he had lived – but we still say – God knows best.
Several days ago Cassmob’s of Family history across the seas blog had an interactive map of places she’s been writing about in Papua, New Guinea. I immediately went to Google Maps to figure out how to do it myself. Below is a map of places my family lived during the 1940 Census in Detroit. If you click on the blue markers it will tell you who lived there and how they are related to my grandparents.
View 1940 Detroit, Michigan – Where we lived in a larger map
Detroit is divided by Woodward Avenue into Westside and Eastside. My Cleages are all clustered close on the Westside, which is also where I grew up. The Grahams are more spread out on the Eastside. Plymouth had a vibrant youth group program in the 1930 and that is where my parents met. The old Plymouth Congregational Church was urban renewed in the late 1970s and moved location but in 1940 it was located at Garfield and Beaubien, right in the middle of what is now the Detroit Medical Center.
There is a way to insert pop up photographs too which I am going to figure out next.
In 1940 my 75 year old great grandmother, Jennie Virginia Turner, lived with her daughters at 4536 Harding, Detroit, Michigan. She lived about 10 minutes by car (not that they had a car) from her oldest daughter, Fannie Graham and her family on Theodore. Her nephew, James Edward McCall, lived about half way between the two with his family on Parker. She was listed as a widow and retired with 6 years of schooling. Everyone in the house is identified as “Negro”. Jennie gave the enumerator the information.
Aunt Daisy was 48 years old, single, with 4 years of high school. She was the only one in the house working outside of the home. She is listed as a stock girl at a retail fur company. It had been my understanding that Daisy was a seamstress but she was also listed as head stock girl at a fur store in the 1930 census so I guess she wasn’t sewing. My mother told me years ago that Daisy also collected numbers at Annis to supplement the family income. When she lived in Montgomery, AL, Daisy was a teacher for several years and worked in her Uncle Victor Tulane’s grocery store as a clerk.
Aunt Alice was 32 years old, single and had completed 9 years of school. This answered a question I had about Alice, did she finish high school after she moved to Detroit at age 15. I don’t think she did. If she started school at 6, she probably stopped when she moved to Detroit.