I looked at Sanborn maps to locate the members of the Edelweiss Club. First I had to find out where they lived. In the items in The Emancipator the address of the house where the meeting was to be hosted was often given, but that didn’t happen every time and it didn’t tell me where the other members lived, nor where they were in relationship to each other. I did what I do when I am studying people, I made each of them a tree on ancestry.com. All 37 of them, or as many as I could find.
I searched for them in the Montgomery City Directory for 1919 or in the U.S. census for 1920. Those gave me their addresses and their occupation. If I found the census and they were living with their families (most were) I also found their ages, their parents ages and occupations and information about their siblings. With that information I could start a tree later to learn more. At the beginning, I just wanted to find basic information for my blog post and then I wanted to find where they lived. When I decided to write something about them for National Novel Writing Month, I created more complete trees to find out when they moved to Montgomery, if they married, if they moved out of Montgomery to points North, East and West.
Where did the women live in Montgomery? Were they spread out or did they live near each other? I have only been to Montgomery twice, once in 1975 and once in 2009. I knew where the neighborhood my grandmother had lived in was, and it was mostly torn down and absorbed into downtown Montgomery. The building that housed her uncle Victor Tulane’s grocery store, was still standing, but that was about it. What churches did the members attend? Were they active in church work? Did they sing in a group? For those that worked in a family business, as my grandmother Fannie Turner did, where was the business located? Was there (hopefully) an old and faded photograph of it in the paper? Was there, perhaps a photo of the young woman in the newspaper? And a question difficult to find an answer to, were the unidentified women in my grandmother’s photo album Edelweiss members?
While looking for information, I came across a document about gentrifying, they called it “rehabbing”. It the area where Victor Tulane’s store was and they gave me a name for the neighborhood where the store, my family and most of the Edelweiss members lived – The Centennial Community, a historic black Montgomery community. Some of the churches and schools and a few of my family had lived in the black community known as West Montgomery. That was where Washington Park, where the last dance was held, was located. It was on the other side of town from the Centennial Community. I found where the “Peacock Tract”, an early black, community was located and why there was a school way up in the northeast part of the city – another smaller, black community. Some of these questions I have answered – I found most of the members lived within walking distance of each other. At least so it looks on the map. I found all of my family members living within walking distance of each other. I located cemeteries, churches, drugstores, and private schools. There were a number of schools that were not a part of the public school system that had been started by northern missionaries after the Civil War. Aside from finding where the young women lived using the Sanborn maps, I was also able to find the relative size of the houses and schools. For the schools and churches, the type of heat and the source of light was given. If the streets were paved or not was more information. Most of the streets were not paved. Some of the schools had no heat. Lights were lanterns, or big windows in some cases. Reading the news articles, there were many drives by black citizens to raise money to repair schools, buy equipment and even built new additions.
Recently while looking through my tree for the Jackson Family of Autauga County, Alabama, (which I have long suspected of being the slave holders for my maternal grandfather Mershell Graham’s family), I found the will and estate file for Crawford Motley Jackson who died in 1860. In the file I found my grandfather’s mother Mary Jackson listed along with her mother Prissy Jackson.
The list was arranged in family groups, with the names, ages and appraisement. values. I added the birth years. This is the full list of 135 people enslaved by C. M. Jackson at his death. The underlined names signal a new family group.
A list of negroes (sic) belonging to C. M Jackson deceased presented to undersigned, George Rives, John D. Graves and Philip Fitzpatrick appointed appraisers of said estate by Probate Court of Autauga County Alabama on the 15th of March 1860 by Absalin Jackson administrator of said estate with appraised value of same made by us opposite their names.
Name Age Birth Valued
Ned 57 1803 $215
Clem 57 1803 60 (unsound)
Richard 25 1835 60 (unsound)
Rachel & 19 1841 1400
Giles 50 1810 1330
Ester & 35 1825 750 (unsound)
Katherin 11 1849 800
Eliza 9 1851 550
Giles Jr 15 1845 1100
Daniel 3 1857 300
Edmund 33 1828 1530
Belinda 35 1825 1000
Ben 15 1845 1130
Coosa 13 1847 1065
Oran 12 1848 930
Dorcus 10 1850 700
Mark 8 1852 530
Texas 6 1854 500
Labun 3 1857 300
Peggy 2 1858 250
Mathew 31 1826 1400
Julia & 26 1834 1400
Lud 10 1850 800
Naomi 8 1852 550
Rush 6 1854 400
Jenny Lind 5 1855 275
Anna 2 1858 200
Clark 30 1830 1300
Amanda & 18 1842 1400
Winter 8 1852 500
Katy & 28 1832 1400
Jim Polk 6 1854 450
Maria 8 1852 550
Archy 4 1856 300
Peggy 27 1833 1200
Rocksy 7 1853 600
Jim 24 1836 1530
Harriett & 18 1842 1400
William 48 1812 1100
Vina 47 1813 850
Denis 18 1842 1500
Charlotte 16 1844 1400
Sam 13 1847 1150
Nelson 11 1849 1020
Rebecca 4 1856 400
Nancy 3 1857 300
Jacob 30 1830 1200
Martha & 27 1833 1430
Eliza 9 1851 700
Frank 7 1853 750
Henry 3 1857 300
Henry 25 1835 1500
Cloe 19 1841 1500
Abram 12 1848 1300
Jackson 21 1839 1500
Silva & 24 1836 1500
Franky 6 1854 450
Laura 3 1857 325
Laban 37 1823 1100
Aga 21 1839 1300
Billy 2 1858 275
Mary & 37 1823 1150
Ellenboro 38 1822 1200
Davy 18 1842 1300
Fanny 15 1845 1500
Lucy 13 1847 1030
Solly 9 1851 900
Isabell 6 1853 600
Lewis 4 1856 400
Prissy & 35 1825 1200– my great great grandmother.
Child Lizza 2 1858
Ibi 12 1848 1000
Harjo 9 1851 900
Griffin 8 1852 900
Frank Pierce 6 1854 600
Mary 4 1856 450 – my great grandmother
Allen 40 1820 900
Disy & 33 1827 1100
Noah 13 1947 1100
Phillis 11 1849 1000
Allen 8 1852 700
Sopha 5 1855 500
Edna 4 1846 325
General August 3 1857 200
B. Mary 41 1819 800
Jessy 17 1843 1400
Dallas 15 1845 1300
Betty 12 1848 1100
Vina 11 1849 1000
Louisa & 24 1836 1500
Jane 5 1865 400
Josephine 3 1857 275
Little Aaron 30 1860 1300
Amanda & 22 1838 1400
Harrison 3 1857 250
Pamela 2 1858 200
Old Sy no valuation assessed
D?? George 42 1838 800
Robert 36 1824 1300
Cysue 28 1832 1450
Joe 26 1834 1500
George 56 1804 300
Milly 46 1814 400
Charles 16 1844 1500
John 12 1848 1250
Menerva 10 1850 975
Georgiana 5 1855 425
Nick 45 1815 1100_________\
Violet & 41 1809 900
Child Richard 1 1859
Sarah & 21 1839 1000
Child Mrs. Tempe Jackson
Brown 19 1841 1100 has a lifetime estate
Peter 14 1842 1300 in these negroes (sic) at …
Hanna 12 1848 1000 Can’t read the rest.
Tennessee 10 1850 850
Pauline 8 1852 700
Jennetta 5 1855 500__________ /
Old Aaron 58 1802 250
Rose 56 1804 225
Joe Black 27 1833 1250
Jim 23 1837 1500
Washington 19 1841 1000
State of Alabama } Personally appeared before me John Zeigler acting justice of the Autauga County }peace in and for said county George Rives &, John D. Graves & Phillip Fitzpatrick appraisers of the Estate of Crawford M. Jackson deceased and being duly sworn , depose and say that the foregoing appraisement as agreed upon by them is just according to their knowledge and brief.
Sworn to and subscribed before me this the 5th day of April M. D. 1860
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.
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
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.
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
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)
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.
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
Today I found a new app on My Heritage, Deep Nostalgia. It takes still photographs of faces and animates them. It was a bit strange, who knows if that is how the actual people moved when they were alive and moving. It was interesting to play around with though.
Below is are animated photos of Eliza (who this blog is named for) and Dock Allen, my 2X great grandparents through the maternal line. Click links below to see animations.
Mr. Joe Jackson was the youngest son of Annie Mae Graham, my grandfather Mershell C. Graham’s sister. In his early youth he was known by Michele, but later changed to Joe. A thank you to my cousin Cedric Jenkins for sharing this program with me.
Earlier this year I met via Ancestry.com Cedric Jenkins, a newly found cousin, who is a descendant of my grandfather Mershell Graham’s sister Annie Graham. He shared this funeral program and also programs for Annie Graham’s children, which I will share in the coming days. My grandfather and his sister lost contact after he moved to Detroit.
Graham, Mrs. Annie, Elmore. Funeral service will be Sunday at 11 a.m. at East Chapel MP church. The Rev. Paul Cook will officiate. Burial will be in Jackson Cemetery with Ross-Clayton Funeral Home directing. Survivors include one daughter, Mrs. Emma Reves; sons, Clyde Jackson, William Jackson, Birmingham, and Joe Jackson; a brother, Marshall Graham, Detroit, Mich.; 16 grandchildren; 43 great-grandchildren; three daughters-in-law, Mesdames Edith, Odessa and Ethel Jackson; and other relatives. She was a member of the Esters of America Society No. 1.
When I found this obituary for Annie Mae Graham on Newspapers.com, I wondered who the son “Joe” was. I had never heard of him before. At first reading I thought that “Marshall Graham” in Detroit was her son, formerly identified as “Michele” in census records. On re-reading, I realized that the “Marshall Graham” was named as her brother, and was my grandfather Mershell who lived in Detroit. And that Joe was Annie’s son, Michele.
I had been looking for something to tie my grandfather Mershell C. Graham to those I suspected were his siblings – Annie, Jacob and Abraham Graham. All of them listed the same parents on their delayed birth records and death certificates, but I could not find them in the same household. In 1900 my grandfather was not in the home with the other children. I have yet to find him in 1900.
Annie Graham’s great grandson, Cedric Jenkins, saw the obituary and contacted me on Ancestry. That was the first he had heard of my grandfather Mershell. We exchanged photographs and information. Annie and Mershell certainly look like sister and brother in the photos below.
After Cedric got in touch with me, I realized I had a DNA match on 23 & me with the surname Jenkins. That Jenkins matched my maternal first cousin, Dee Dee, and was identified as a probable third cousin. He turned out to be Cedric’s nephew.
Using an obituary, a genealogical paper trail, DNA and a newly connected cousin, I was finally able to connect my grandfather Mershell Graham to his sister.
Cedric was also able to identify the children in the photo above as Annie Mae Graham’s children. In the front are Joe (Michele) and Emma. On the mule closest to us is Will and next to him is Clyde.
Mershell Graham with his wife Fannie and children Doris (my mother), Mary Virginia and Mershell Jr. Standing in front of Plymouth Congregational Church in 1927. Detroit, Michigan.