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A-Z Challenge 2020 African-American Genealogy & Slave Ancestry Research Cleages

R – Rice, Celia in the 1920 Census

Celia Rice Cleage Sherman with granddaughter Barbara Cleage 1921. Detroit.
1920 Census

In 1920 my great grandmother Celia Rice Cleage Sherman lived with her son Edward and his family in Athens, Tennessee. She was 64 years old and could read but not write. She was not working for pay. She was married but her husband was living in North Carolina with his daughter. By June he was dead of tuberculosis of the bowels, apparently a difficult disease to diagnose and treat.

Edward Cleage was the head of the household. He was 38 years old, literate, owned his own house and was a barber operating his own shop. Mattie Dotson, his wife, was 32 years old. She was literate and did not work outside of the home. They had four daughters, Alberta 11 and Helen 9 were attending school. Ola was 3 and a half and the baby, Gertrude Beatrice was only a month old.

Mattie’s brother Walter Dotson and his family lived next door. He was 39 and taught in the public school. He also owned his own home free of mortgage. His wife Flora did not work outside of the home. They had three children, Lincoln who was 6, Rosalia was 3 8/12 and Eugene was 4/12. Both households were described as “mulatto.

On this same census page there were seven older people who lived alone because of being widows or widowers. One of them was Amanda Cleage, a widow who at 73 was still supporting herself as a laundress from her home. She rented her place and was unable to read or write. I feel that I know Amanda quite well after doing an in depth investigation of her a year or so ago. It was like seeing an old friend to find her one of my great grandmother’s neighbors.

William Wilcox and his neighbor George Pinson were both identified as black. Both worked as hotel waiters for wages. Both were literate. George Pinson was a widower. William Wilcox’s wife, Vester did not work outside of the home.

Herbert Vanburen and his wife Annie rented their home. He worked as a far laborer on his own account and Annie Vanburen took in laundry. They had seven children. The oldest, Winnie was 19 and was a looper at a hosery mill. A looper was given a finished sock without the toe portion. She placed it into a machine that would attach the toe using several needles and thread, and it would come out looking as if the whole sock was one piece.

The next four children, ages 14 to 8 attended school. The youngest two were six year old twins and not yet in school. Everyone who was old enough was literate and everybody was described as mulatto.

Other single people were 67 year old Rosa Baker who was a widow, illiterate and did not have employment. Charles Reynolds owned his house free of mortgage, was literate and did general laboring on his own account. He was 54. Louise Wilds was 61, a widow and could read but not write. She took in laundry on her own account. They were all described as black.

Forty six year old Low and his wife Ida Lillard, forty three, lived on the other side of the Cleages. They rented their house. He could read but not write. She was literate. Low and his oldest son, twenty year old Clarence both worked as laborers on the railroad. The two youngest children were six and five, too young for school. The family was described as black.

Henry Lattimer was 41 and worked as a laborer in construction. His wife Vonnie was 32 and did not work outside of the home. They were both literate. He was described as black. Vonnie and the six children were described as mulatto. The oldest son, Leake, was 19 and like his father worked as a construction laborer. Sixteen year old Cleona had attended school in the past year was literate and worked as a knitter at a hosiery Mill. The 10 year old and 7 year old attended school. The two youngest were under three.

There were two white families living nearby. Both of them rented. Bose Gregary was literate, although his wife was not. He worked as a driver for a grocery store. His wife didn’t work outside of the home. Their oldest three children attended school. The younger two were too young.

Alfred Wilcox was also white. He and his wife were not literate. He also worked as a driver for a grocery store for wages. I wonder if the two families were connected, but I am running late here with no time to look into that. His wife didn’t work outside of the home. They had four children. The oldest were 8 and 7 and not yet in school. The youngest two were under three.

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A-Z Challenge 2020 Cleages Detroit

Q – Quiet Hugh Clarence Cleage

Hugh Clarence Cleage was born at home June 2, 1918 in the house on 24th Street. He was the fourth son and also the fourth child of the Cleages. Hugh was named after two of his mother’s brothers. He was 20 months old when 1920 started and almost 13 years old when the decade ended.

Like his siblings, Hugh attended Wingert elementary school, McMichael Junior High and Northwestern High School. But that was in the 1930s. I know he liked to fish and skate and play tennis and was kind and patient and could fix things. Some of these skills must have been practiced during his young years.

Strangely, I don’t know any stories about Hugh as a young child. He was the quiet one who was right there in all of the activities going on, but his siblings were just more forthcoming with stories and he probably couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Maybe some of my cousins will read this and share stories they may have about Hugh as a young boy.

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A-Z Challenge 2020 Detroit Photographs

P – PLYMOUTH Congregational Church – 1928

"Plymouth Church photo"
Plymouth Congregational Church – September 1928. Detroit, Michigan

Northern Congregationalists went south to Montgomery, Alabama after the Civil War.  First Congregational Christian Church was founded in 1872.  They also supported a school nearby. My grandmother, Fannie Turner, attended both the school and the church. She met her husband, Mershell Graham, in the church.

When Mershell Graham, my grandfather, migrated north to Detroit in 1918 many of his friends, who were also members of First Congregational Church, were also leaving segregated Montgomery.  In 1919 a group of nine gathered together to form Plymouth Congregational Church.  They first met in member’s houses and in borrowed space  until they were able to purchase their own building, a former Synagogue, in 1927. They moved in, in May 15, 1927.

Plymouth had been in the building a little over a year when this photo was taken. My grandfather, Mershell C. Graham, is standing behind his daughters, Mary V. and Doris (my mother). Their cousin, Margaret McCall, is standing between them. They are in the front row, towards the left side of center. The minister, Rev. Laviscount, is standing behind Mary V. My grandmother, Fannie, had just given birth to their youngest son, Howard, so she was not able to be there.

History of Plymouth United Church of Christ
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A-Z Challenge 2020 Detroit Grahams

O – OLDEST – MARY Virginia Graham 1920

Mignon Walker, Fannie Turner Graham, Mary Virginia Graham
Written by grandmother Fannie Turner Graham

Mary Virginia born April 3rd 1920 at 5:10 a.m. on Saturday. Detroit Mich at 1031 St. Jean Ave., 7 #

On April 3, 1920  Mary V. Graham was born at home with  Dr. Ames attending. My mother, Doris Graham Cleage did not remember him fondly when she wrote her family memories in the 1970s. “It was a very difficult delivery, labor was several days long.  The doctor, whose name was Ames, was a big time black society doctor, who poured too much ether on the gauze over Mother’s face when the time for delivery came.  Mother’s face was so badly burned that everyone, including the doctor, thought she would be terribly scared over at least half of it. But she worked with it and prayed over it and all traces of it went away.  Mary V’s foot was turned inward.  I don’t know if this was the fault of the doctor or not, but she wore a brace for years.”

Mary Virginia Graham’s Cradle Roll enrollment. She was the first baby born into Plymouth Congregational Church.
Mary Virginia Graham Elkins Remembers Her childhood

What do I remember about Mom & Dad’s early years?  Well, I know they used to speak about when they first came up here in 1919 after they got married and stayed out on Mack Ave (which was real country then) for awhile – then roomed with Aunt Jean and Uncle Mose (who were my godparents) at 4513 St. Jean Ave (the house is still standing)  Also Dad’s (adopted) brother, Cliff and his bride Gwen, roomed there too.  I (Mary V) was born at the house April 3, 1920 and Aunt Gwen had Lewis the following May, 1920. 

Aunt Jean became the first colored policewoman here.  Uncle Mose worked for the government.  They were both very fair.

Daddy got a job at Fords and they finally moved out (to Theodore, I think)  He bought that house.  Uncle Cliff and Aunt Gwen bought a house also, right down the street from where they were staying.  In fact, Aunt Gwen is still living and must be 90 plus and still in the same house.  My cousin, Lewis, is retired from the Post Office, I think.  He should because he turned 71 in May, and lives with his Mom.  Never married.  A confirmed batch.  I also know that Daddy worked through the big depression in the 30’s and we always had something on the table, clean clothes, etc.  and Mama never worked a day in her life after she married.  Dad wouldn’t let her.  Said no wife of his was going to work, but stay home and keep his house and raise his children. Typical in those days.  They got along and I am sure Doris and I had a happy childhood.

I can remember Poppy waiting till Xmas Eve to go and get our tree.  We (Doris and I) usually went with him…and bringing it home to decorate.  He had a stand that he made himself.  We went up to the attic to haul down boxes of decorations that had been carefully put away.  Some very old.  I can remember one little fat Santa that Mom always put in the window, he had a pipe in his mouth. 

Doris and I shared a bedroom which had the door to the attic in it.  When we were at the “believe in Santa Claus stage” we thought that once we went to sleep he would tip down the attic stairs and put our toys, etc, under said tree.  I think I laid awake waiting for the old boy to show up.  Of course I never saw him ’cause I went to sleep, but the stuff was always under the tree.  Mom was always busy in the kitchen getting stuff together for Xmas dinner and the house would be full of wonderful odors.  If Xmas fell on a Sunday, we would go to church. And we used to have lots of snow. 

Although we came up during the depression, we always had something to eat and something under the ole tree even if it wasn’t what we asked for.  It was a tradition that Xmas dinner was at our house and Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma Turner’s.  Daddy cooked the ole turkey and made the most delicious stuffing.  He could cook.  Mom learned from him.  She couldn’t boil water when they got married.  Dad taught her cause he had worked in restaurants as a young man.

Reprinted from family newsletter – Ruff Draft 1990s.

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A-Z Challenge 2020 Detroit Grahams

N – NINETEEN TWENTY EIGHT Howard Graham was born

Howard Alexander Graham was my mother’s youngest brother. He was named after my grandmother Fannie’s father, Howard Turner. Howard was born September 7, 1928, in the year following his older brother Mershell’s death by trauma after being run over by a truck on the way back to school.   My grandparents felt that Howard had been sent to fill the space left by Mershell.  Unfortunately he died of Scarlet Fever, exacerbated by  Diabetes in 1932.

Baby Howard, father Mershell, big sister Doris, mother Fannie.
The Arrival

A baby Howard A(lexander) Graham   was born to Mershell C. and Fannie Turner Graham – Woman’s Hospital. 

On the 7th day of September 1928 at 5:10 o’clock P.M.
Address 6638 Theodore Street.
Autograph of Mother  Fannie T. Graham
Autograph of Father Mershell C. Graham
Autograph of Doctor A.L. Turner M.D.
Autograph of Nurse Aunt Abbie Allen
Autograph of others Aunt Jean Walker presented this book to him.

Baby’s First Photograph

Feb. 4, 1929 Dad snapped baby and me thru the dining room sun window not very good – sorry as now he has whooping cough? Weathers been too bad to take him out to have pictures made…

From my Grandmother Fannie’s Bible pages of family records.

20 months old – On May 28th 1929 – Howard was ready for bed – (Dad’s working nights) Mary Virginia and Doris kneeling to say prayers – he said “Wait dirls” – “britches coming off” ie. (Diapers) – Never soils or wets bed after 1 year old. A most remarkable baby.

Our baby Howard was taken ill Nov 17th 1931 – Dr. Turner came and pronounced it Diabetes… cured — Jan 1932…

On Feb 20 1932, he developed Scarlet Fever – was sent to Herman Kiefer Hospital on account of his condition, died March 4th 1932 and was buried -sat March 5,

Private Funeral at Memorial Park Cemetery. 3 1/2 years old — born 9/7/28

_____

Our loss is truest gai…. God fills the pla(ce) ..by our 2 bo(ys)…

Other related posts:

Poem for Howard
Howard Alexander Graham Death Certificate
Fannie Mae Turner Graham’s Bible
Births, Deaths, Doctors and Detroit

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A-Z Challenge 2020 Detroit Grahams

M – MERSHELL C. Graham Jr – 1921

After church about 1927. Grandfather Mershell Graham holding my mother Doris, Grandmother Fannie next to him. In front: Mary Virginia and Mershell Jr.
2nd baby -Mershell C. Graham born June 10th – 1921 at 7:45 P.M. on Friday. Detroit, Mich, Dunbar Hospital 8 1/2 # Dr. Turner . Died 11/1/27 killed by Auto

Mershell Cunningham Graham Jr was born at 7:45 pm on June 10 in 1921, a Friday, He was the first son and second child of Mershell and Fannie (Turner) Graham.  He was delivered at Dunbar Hospital by Dr. Turner.  Mershell was a big baby, weighing 8 1/2 pounds. He joined older sister, 14 month old Mary Virginia.  Twenty months later his younger sister, my mother Doris, was born.

Mershell was an active boy, falling down the clothes chute and breaking a window  during a game of “who can hit their head against the window the hardest” with his younger sister, Doris.  In family photographs, he shows no fear of the ferocious puppy or the family chickens.

On November 1, 1927, he was hit by a truck on his way back to school after lunch. He died just after midnight on November 2.  My sister, cousins and I grew up with warnings to be careful crossing the street and to remember what happened to Mershell.

Baby Mershell sitting on the picnic table with Grandmother Graham, big sister Mary Virginia, mother Fannie on the right and Clifton Graham at Bell Isle 1922
Mershell Jr and pal Toodles – 1923 , 2 years old
Clifton, Mary Virginia, Lewis and Mershell Jr. Siblings and cousin/friends
MV – MC Jr – Doris – Mother with chickens -1923
Doris, M.V. Mershell, Toodles. Dated 1926 and 1927. Maybe it was January.
May 1927. Mary V., Mershell, Doris. In back: Aunt Daisy, Grandmother Jennie T., Mother Fannie

Mershell’s school books 1927

My mother wrote on the page of practice writing above “Mother teaching him to write his name.”

Related links  –  Births, Deaths, Doctors and Detroit Part 1;   1940 Census – the Grahams – Supplemental Material

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A-Z Challenge 2020 Cleages Detroit

L – Louis Cleage

On back in his own handwriting: Mr. Louis Cleage age 11 1925

Louis Jacob Cleage was the third of Albert and Pearl Cleage’s seven children. He was born in Kalamazoo Michigan in 1913 before the family moved to Detroit. During the 1920s Louis went from age 7 to age 17. He attended Wingert Elementary school and Northwestern High School. Later he went on to Medical School and went into practice with his father.

Louis loved to tinker with things and build contraptions, some of which were used at the fairs they put on in the backyard. At one time he wanted to be an engineer but that was a difficult profession for a black man in those days and so he became a doctor.

In the book “Prophet of the Black Nation” (published byPilgrim Press, 1969) a biography of my father Albert B. Cleage, by Hiley Ward, wrote on page 77:

Louis-now the M.D. – could write short papers. Louis just put it down, but you can’t grade this son (note: she was talking about Albert) by his younger brother’s method.

Mrs. Cleage, the 81 year old matriarch, watched me closely as I wrote down her words. “I feel sorry for parents raising colored children,” she said, “for so many don’t have the fight like I do.” Perhaps I grinned a little at this point, in admiration of the energy of this tremendous lady still full of the old vinegar for her sons. “You smile, but you don’t know,” she said. “You have to do something in a country like the United States.”

She did the same with all her youngsters. “Louis was brokenhearted when he got a C in chemistry. So I went to his counselor.’You come with me,’ I told him. ‘I’m taking him out of that class. I can’t have a child ruined by a man who hates colored people.’ I took him to another class, and the new teacher was amazed – he was an A student all along.”

On page 48 we read old family friend Oscar Hand describe “In the backyard we used to have a carnival, and all the Cleage brothers took part in it. Dr. (Louis) Cleage had a penny machine then; you paid to see how much shock you could take when you held on to a certain part of the car.”

Click for more info on A-Z
Adult Writings by Louis Cleage

Dialogue in Poetry
The Illustrated News scroll down to see Smoke Rings by Louis Cleage
The Freedom Fight – scroll down to see Smoke Rings by Louis Cleage
Anti Police Brutality Demonstration – scroll down to see Smoke Rings by Louis Cleage
Kennedy Refuses to Support Civil Rights scroll down to see Smoke Rings by Louis Cleage

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A-Z Challenge 2020 Cleages Detroit News Items

K – KEROSENE & Dr. Cleage – 1923

Kerosene Fired

When Poured on Boy.

Three Lads Attack Detroit Youngster in Alley and Endeavor to Kill Him

Special Dispatch to the Enquirer

Detroit, Mich., Aug 16. – The police are investigating a report made by a boy , who is recovering from serious burns in Receiving hospital, that he was attacked by three older boys in an alley, doused with kerosene and set afire.

The boy is Joseph McAdoo, 10 years old. He did not give the names of the three who he said attacked him, or tell the cause of the attack. He said however, that two of the boys held him while a third poured kerosene on his face and ignited it with a match. The alley is behind his home.

Joseph was seen running with his head on fire toward his home, and a neighbor called Dr. Albert B. Cleage, after extinguishing the flames.

The boy will recover, although his face, head, neck, shoulders and one hand were injured painfully.

It was first feared Joseph might lose the use of his eyes.

Joseph told detectives of Scotten Station who were assigned to the case today that he was looking for wooden boxes in the alley when the attack took place. He gave the officers a description of the three.

___________________

BOY, 10 BURNED, ACCUSES OTHERS

Police Doubt Story Oil Was Poured on Victim.

Receiving hospital physicians Thursday were skeptical regarding the story told by 10-year-old Joseph McAdoo, 5424 McKinley avenue, suffering burns about the neck and shoulders, who, after being brought to the hospital, Tuesday, said that three boys whom he met in an alley in the rear of his home drenched his clothing with kerosene and set it afire.

Police of Vinewood station said Thursday that no investigation of the boys story is being made.

McAdoo, a Negro lad gave questioners at the hospital a description of the alleged assailants but furnished no details by which they could be located in the neighborhood of his home.

Mrs. Lucy McAdoo, the boy’s mother, was away from home at the time her son suffered the burns. A neighbor summoned a doctor, who called an ambulance and had the boy removed to Receiving hospital.

In 1923 Dr. Albert Cleage shared an office with Dr. Grimes at 4224 McGraw, above house next to Music store. The office was about half a mile from Joseph McAdoo’s home on McKinley.
Dr. Albert B. Cleage Sr

Joseph Youles McAdoo was the oldest of nine children. In the 1920 census (three years before this incident) he was seven years old and attended school. There were three younger children ages five, almost two and 3 months . The family lived in a rented house in Hamtramck, Wayne County, Michigan, a small city surrounded by Detroit. Joseph’s father worked as a laborer in a can factory. His mother did not work outside of the home in 1920. The baby of three months died six months later of pneumonia. There were eventually nine children in the family.

Joseph had two years of high school before he began to work for a grocer. He eventually became a butcher. Over the years he was married and divorced several times. There were two step children.

On his WWII draft card, he was described as 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing 140 pounds, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair. His only feature that they mentioned was “high cheek bones.”There was no mention of any scars from the burns in his childhood.

On October 18, 1987 Joseh MacAdoo died in Detroit, Michigan. His death certificate was not available online so I do not know what he died of. He was 75 years old.

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1920 Census A-Z Challenge 2020 Allen Detroit

J- JENNIE Virginia Allen Turner in the 1920s

Robert Pope, Jennie V. Turner, Beulah Pope (back) Alice Turner, Daisy Turnrt. 1921 trip to Detroit, with a side visit to Windsor, Canada

My grandmother Fannie’s mother Jennie Virginia Allen Turner and her two other daughters were still in Montgomery, Alabama when the census was taken on January 19, 1920. My great grandmother Jennie was living in the same house she had lived in during the 1910 census. She owned it free of mortgage. All three were listed as mu(latto) and spoke English.

Jennie was 52 years old. She had been born in Alabama and the census said her father was born in South Carolina, although other records say Georgia. Her mother was born in Alabama.

She worked on her own account as a seamstress from her home. The oldest daughter, Daisy, was 25 and occupation is listed as none, while younger daughter Alice, was 11 and listed as both attending school and working as a clerk in a grocery store. Actually, Daisy was working as a clerk in her uncle Victor Tulanes store. Alice just attended school.

All of their neighbors on the page were listed as B(lack). Thirteen of them rented their houses while three owned their homes. The school age children in these families all attended school, except for one 16 year old who worked as a laundress with her mother.

Some of the married women worked outside of the home and some did not. The single women worked. They held jobs as cooks, laundresses, elevator operators, house servants. With one seamstress and one clerk.

The men worked as porters, carpenters, one doctors keeper, a butler, laborers, a chauffeur, a fireman, a minister, a driver, and a proprietor of a retail store. Thirteen rented and three owned their homes free and clear.

Read more about The Emancipator here The Emancipator A to Z 2018

When her grandchildren were born in 1920 and in 1921, Jennie Turner and her daughters visited Fannie in Detroit. In 1922 when Fannie and Mershell were waiting for the birth of their third child, my mother Doris, Jennie, Daisy and Alice moved to Detroit. The two households bought a house together and eventually my great grandmother and her younger daughters bought another house further out on the East side of Detroit.

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A-Z Challenge 2020 Cleages

I – IDLEWILD -Cleage family visits

The Cleages and friends at Idlewild. My father, Albert in the back far left. Grandmother Pearl 3rd from left. Down front on the right, Barbara, Gladys and Henry. Grandfather standing behind Gladys. I think about 1925.

My grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage, did not think much of Idlewild vacations when her children were growing up, because she still had to do all the cooking, washing and other chores she did at home, but without the familiar home tools. Everybody else loved it and they probably went out on the water in a row boat and went swimming and fishing and visiting friends. Maybe the older ones went to dances. While Grandmother cooked and washed and did the usual. I hope she also had time to sit outside and relax. They rented houses until the 1940s when Louis Cleage built a cottage.

I remember my grandmother reading to us from the book “Told Under the Red Umbrella” the summer of 1953. The electricity went off during a storm and she read to us by the kerosene lamps until the lights came back on. During that trip I am sure my mother and aunts did the cooking.

The Cleage Family on vacation in Idlewild, Michigan about 1928. Left to right: Pearl Reed Cleage, Gladys, Louis back between, Hugh, Anna, Henry, Albert Jr, Barbara, Dr. Albert B. Cleage Sr behind Barbara.

IDLEWILD

Beginning in 1915, African Americans from throughout the country, particularly the Midwest, came to Idlewild in the summer. During the early years the resort offered beaches, boating, and other typical summer diversions. By the 1920s and into the 1960s, however, Idlewild’s rousing nightlife lured swarms of viitors to the community to see elaborate floorshows and some of America’s most popular black entertainers. the Arthur Braggs Idlewild Revue toured the country during the off-season, spreading the Idlewild name. The 1964 passage of the Civil Rights Act – comprehensive legsation that prohibits segregation- opened doors for blacks to stay at previously whites-only resorts. Idlewild’s heyday ended, but it remained the largest African American resort in the nation.

The location of Idlewild is at “A”