I started with high hopes for this years A to Z, way back in February. By the time April rolled around, I didn’t have one post written. Since then I’ve completed two and worked all day yesterday on the third. Last night I realized that this wasn’t the way I wanted to write up the Edelweiss women. I wasn’t enjoying it, I was dreading it. And it wasn’t just that I had to write each one right when it should be being posted, I’ve done that in the past. This year I just wasn’t feeling it.
Instead of soldiering on, coming up with posts I didn’t want to do for a project that’s become very important to me, I decided I needed to step back and drop out. And that is what I am doing. I may post about the same women in the future. Or I may not. I will still try and visit around, although I probably won’t comment as much as usual.
I will continue to post poems for the Global/National/Poetry Writing Month on my other blog, Ruff Draft.
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. They were friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner Graham.
In 2021 I planned to present snapshots from the lives of some of those women as my A to Z theme. I decided not to complete the challenge that year so only completed two biographies. This is the second one.
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.
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
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.
On January 3rd 1919, The Edelweiss Club was hosted by Alberta Boykin at the home of her cousin, Lillian Barnett Carleton. She was living there in the 1920 Census and probably when the meeting was held. There were quite a few members and guests in attendance. I wish I knew what the delicious two course meal consisted of.
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.
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, with a mortgage, at 18 Highland Ave. He was a mail carrier for the city. Lillie was 32 and a grocery sales lady. She was actually the proprietor of the Carlton Fish and Grocery Company, which was located next to her home at 16 Highland.
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 her marriage in 1920. On December 27, 1920, Juliette Alberta Boykin married Richard Brooks. Her ending is a mystery, as was her beginning.
I found this information at Newspapers.com, Census records on Ancestry, and other places on the internet.
Unidentified young women from my grandparent’s photo album. I believe the one on the left is Madeline Abercrombie, based on a newspaper photograph of her several months before her death in 1973. More about that on the A post.
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 by my cousin in Montgomery Alabama around 1920. I mentioned the Edelweiss Club in several posts.
Who were the members of the Edelweiss Club? Thirty seven women attended the monthly meetings judging from news items that appeared in The Emancipator, starting January 12, 1918 and continuing monthly until May 3, 1919. Some of the women were members and some were guests and not all were present at every meeting. Thirty of them were teachers. One was a seamstress. Three worked in family businesses. The other three did not have employment and were relatives of members. Most of the members were single, some married as time went on. Some moved out of town. A good number never married.
All of them came from literate homes. Most of their parents owned their homes, some free and clear, some mortgaged. Their fathers tended to work for themselves as barbers, carpenters and plasterers. Bertha Loveless’ father was an undertaker. Madge Brown’s father was a farmer. Alberta Boykin’s father was a mail carrier. Several lived with their widowed mother or an aunt. Most had multiple siblings.
Their parents were born in the mid 1850s to the 1870 so they would have been teenagers when slavery ended or were born during Reconstruction.
There were no more reported meetings after May 3, 1919.
There were 37 young women who attended the club meetings, more than enough for 26 “A to Z” posts. This year I will present the lives of some of those women as my A to Z theme. This will be my ninth year participating in the A to Z Challenge.