Category Archives: A to Z 2021

C – Can’t Continue!

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 yeterday 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.

B – Alberta Boykin

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. This year I will present snapshots from the lives of some of those women as my A to Z theme. A few of them are related to me, most are not. They were friends of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner Graham. This is my ninth year participating in the A to Z Challenge.

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.

Transcribed below. Click to enlarge.

Remarkable Show

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

The Southern Indicator Columbia, South Carolina 14 Nov 1914, Sat  •  Page 12. Transcribed to the right. Click to enlarge.

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.

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.

Alberta Boykin was staying with her cousin in the house at the top of this map. As you can see by the other labeled housed there were several other Edelweiss Club members living in this same area. Mary McCall was my grandmother Fannie’s aunt, her mother’s sister.
The Emancipator Montgomery, Alabama 11 Jan 1919, Sat  •  Page 3

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 at 18 Highland Ave, with a mortgage. He was a mail carrier for the city. Lillie was 32 and a grocery sales lady. 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 1920. Did she die? Did she marry? 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.

Madeline Abercrombie

Madeline Abercrombie

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. This year I will present snapshots from the lives of some of those women as my A to Z theme. A few of them are related to me, most are not. They were friends of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner Graham. This is my ninth year participating in the A to Z Challenge.

Madeline Abercrobie was born September 7, 1890. She was the second and youngest child of Nicholas and Frances Abercrombie. She had one brother, named Nicholas after his father, ten years older than she was. She lived in the house at 605 High Street for her whole life.

Madeline was nine years old. She and her family lived at 605 High Street and attended school for eight months of the year. She, along with everybody in the household was literate.

Her father Nicholas Abercrombie was  54 years old, a self employed barber. He first appears in the 1860 census before the Civil War as a free twenty year old mulatto living with two other young men, Jack and Napolean Abercrombie, also described as mulattos. All three were barbers and did quite well. By 1883, Nicholas owned his own home, which was mortgaged.

The Abercrombie home is on High Street, near S. Bainbridge. Click to enlarge.

Madaline’s mother, Frances Abercrombie was 49 years old. She had given birth to two children and both were living. She worked as a seamstress from home. Two of her mother’s sisters lived in the household. Ida Abercrombie, was a teacher in the public schools. Mary Abercrombie was a seamstress, also working on her own account.

Fifteen year old Mary Hill lived with them. She was listed as a servant and was literate. She later became a teacher. She and Madaline both attended school for eight months of the year, the full school year. Everyone in the house was literate. Brother Nicholas was grown and living on his own.

In 1910 Madeline was 19. She attended school and was not employed. She was single. Her father, Nicholas was still barbering. They still lived at the same address on High Street. Their house was right down the street from Victor Tulane’s grocery store/residence. The First Congregational Church was across the street and down a block. They were well within the Centennial community.

Her mother, Frances, was no longer working as a seamstress.  She had given birth to two children and both were still alive. Her first child, son Nicholas Jr. married and living with his wife and two small children nearby.

Frances’ sister Ida, 33, lived with them and taught school. They had two lodgers. Fannie Lewis a widow of 40 was a seamstress. She given birth to one still living child. Eulala Lewis, age 22 and single was a taught school. She was probably the daughter of Fannie Lewis.

Familiar Figure is Gone

Click to enlarge

A figure familiar to the city of Montgomery for the past sixty years, disappeared from the walks of men, when Nick Abercrombie, a widely known colored barber, died a few days ago. It is certain that Nicholas Abercrombie was above seventy years of age and it was probable that he was eighty. Yet he worked at the trade he had followed to the Saturday before his death on Monday.

He was born in Wetupka, but he came to Montgomery before the war, and he was a familiar figure in the business section of the city for three score years. For a long time he was a part of the force of Gallagher’s barbershop, that typically old fashioned barbershop on Dexter avenue which was favored by all the older generations of Montgomery to the very day its proprietor died and which had a large clientage that was never won away by the more modern shops.

In this place Nicholas Abercrombie shaved and conversed with a long line of governors of Alabama. For that matter he has probably shaved every public man in Alabama, big or little. He had courtly manners, which he brought down from the old South, and he was popular with the public of Alabama. He stood well in the esteem of both races in Montgomery. He had many recollections of the men who have made Alabama history.

The funeral, which was held at his home on High street, the services were conducted by Bishop C. M. Beckwith of the Alabama Diocese of the Episcopal Church. Many floral offerings testified to the esteem in which he was held. He reared and educated a large family which stands in the front rank of their race in the city. He is survived by his aged wife, three daughters and one son, Nicholas Abercrombie, Jr.

23 Mar 1917, Fri  •  Page 7 The Montgomery Advertiser Montgomery, Alabama

Madaline Abercrombie began teaching in 1917 at the age of 26. At first she taught in the public schools and then began giving private music lessons in her home. In 1930 at the age of 39, she married Joseph Albert. First a bit about the Edelweiss Club and then a summary of her later life.

Click to enlarge

The Edelweiss Club had it’s first regular meeting at the home of Miss. Madeline Abercrombie on High St., Friday evening Nov. 22nd despite the inclement weather, the following were present; Misses Alberta Boykin, Clara Bailey, Juanita Davis, Jessie Freeman, Ernestine Shaw, Willease Simpson, Bessie Nelms, Cecile Walton, Effie Todd, Fannie Turner, Annie Wimbs, and Mrs. Alice Cotton.

            Misses Todd, Davis and Wimbs were awarded the prizes. After a delicious salad course, the club adjourned to meet with Miss Juanita Davis Dec. 6th.

Weather Forecast. For Montgomery and Vicinity – rain tonight; Friday, cloudy and much colder. East to southeast winds, shifting to north tonight or Friday morning and becoming fresh to strong. For Alabama – rain tonight; colder in north portion. Friday, colder and generally fair.

24 November 1918
Montgomery, Alabama

Dear Shell,

This has been some cold day, but we went to church this A.M. and heard a splendid sermon on “Thanksgiving,” Rev Scott never spoke better. He’s really great. The people never will appreciate him until he’s gone. Last Sunday was Harvest and it was fairly good. Might have been better but for the flu. They realized $12.50 from it. (note: = about $209 in today’s money) Our club held it’s first meeting last Friday evening at Madeline’s. She put on a strut too. We certainly had a good time. We are all feeling okay. Mama is so much better, though she complains yet...

From a letter my future grandmother Fannie Turner wrote to my future grandfather, Shell Graham (ie. Mershell)

From The Alabama Journal. April 9, 1973

Journal Closeup

Madeline Albert

One of those things that warms a teacher’s heart happened to Mrs. Madeline Abercrombie Albert of 609 High St. recently. Her former pupils gave her a surprise party.

About 30 of the hundreds of Montgomery children she has taught to play the piano over nearly a half-century showed up. And her students include some accomplished musicians.

One of them teaches music in the Montgomery school system now. Another plays for a band of professional musicians. Others include doctors, lawyers and a host of other professionals. She’s proud to have taught them.

“I just charged 25 cents a lesson,” she says. That was two lessons a week at $2 a month. Her prices didn’t go up with inflation of everything else during the years.

Born in Montgomery in 1890, she is a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School and Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute.

She taught second and third grade in Bessemer for 10 years, then for a while at Booker T Washington here. She began to teach piano at her home, which she continued for another 40 years before she retired in 1967.

“I played jazz and everything.” She says. “They used to have matinees in the old Majestic Theatre on Bibb Street. I got $18 the first week playing for that.”

Her piano pupils, numbering as many as 70 a year came in shifts, one after another, from the wee hours of 5 a.m. or so, sometimes into the week hours of the next day.

She also played without pay nearly 15 years at St. John’s A.M.E. Church. She’s no a communicant of St. John the Baptist Church.

She likes waltzes, “That’s not dancing,” she says of today’s dance styles.

And she is a trained hairdresser.

She claims mixed heritage. Both parents were born in slavery, her father the son of a white Scotch-Irishman, she says – Stan Bailey.

Alabama Journal Jan 9, 1973, pg 5

Madaline Albert died April 30 1973, Montgomery, Alabama United States. She was 72 years old and a widow.

Obituary

Albert, Mrs. Madaline, 609 High Street died at her home Monday. Funeral Services will be Saturday at 11 a.m. from St. John Catholic Church South Union Street. Rev. Michael J. Farrell will officiate. Burial will be in Oakwood Cemetery, Ross-Clayton Funeral Home directing. Survivors include a foster son, Reuben Cotton; devoted friends. Mrs. Carrie B. Brown. Mrs. Amanda Grayson, Mrs. Gertrude Graysen, and other relatives. She was a retired teacher of piano. Rosary will be Friday at 7 p.m. at the Funeral Chapel.  The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama) · 3 May 1973, Thu · Page 57

A to Z Challenge Theme REVEAL – 2021

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.