Category Archives: Alabama

Y – YELLOW Sunshine Cake

Swansdown Cake Flour cookbook

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times.

Click any image to enlarge

Today we are going back to delicious luncheons. On January 3, 1919, Alberta Boykin , who I wrote about in depth in 2021, entertained the Edelweiss Club at the home of her sister. A delicious two course luncheon was served. I have chosen to start with a combination salad and finish with a Sunshine Cake. Which as you can see in the picture above, is a delightful YELLOW.

The Emacipator, January 1919

A combination salad The Montgomery Times 12/25/1919

Article from Dec 25, 1919 The Montgomery Times (Montgomery, Alabama)

A Combination Salad

Take two apples, two peppers, two onions a ripe tomato, a bunch of celery, and some crisp lettuce leaves. Cut the celery into small pieces and mix them with the following dressing: Pour a beaten egg into a small saucepan, add one-half cupful of vinegar, one-half cupful of milk or cream, one table-spoonful of butter, one teaspoonful of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook until thick, then cool and pour over the vegetables. Chill and serve on the lettuce leaves.

The Helping Hand, Montgomery, Alabama • Fri, Oct 20, 1916Page 3

Sunshine Cake. Beat six egg whites until stiff. Boll together a cupful of sugar and a quarter of a cupful of water until it hairs, pour over the whites, beat well and cool. Then beat the yolks of the eggs, add to the whites and a cupful of pastry flour sifted with a teaspoonful of cream of tartar and a pinch of salt, flavor and bake slowly for 40 to 60 minutes. Cover with frosting when cool.”

X – XMAS Meeting With Madge Brown

Unnamed friend of my grandmother Fannie Turner Graham standing in for Madge Brown.

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times.

Click any image to enlarge

The_Emancipator December 25, 1918

The weather that Christmas day was clear and cold, with temperatures dipping down to 24 degrees.

Madge Brown

In the 1920 census, Madge Brown lived with her parents, John and Julia Brown. Both parents were born during slavery in the mid 1850s. They would have been teenagers when the Civil war ended and they were emancipated. Mr. Brown was a farmer and owned his own farm free and clear. He had a truck farm and a stall at the city market where he and his wife sold vegetables. Mrs. Brown gave birth to eight children and six were living.

Madge’s sister, Elizabeth B. Deramus, her husband, James and their one year old son shared the home. Elizabeth taught music and her husband was a medical doctor. All the adults in the household were literate. Madge taught at Booker T. Washington school.

Rites Held For Madge M. Brown Retired Teacher

Miss Madge M. Brown, local retired public school teacher died here Friday night following a lingering illness. She was the daughter of the late John Napolean and Julia Arrington Brown.

Having served in the local school system 30 years, she was honored 3 years ago at Carver High school on her retirement. Her professional career included assignments at Loveless and Carver High.

She was active in several social and civic organizations and was a member of Dexter Avenue Baptist Churh, the March Month Club of Deter, Beta Sigma Chapter of the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority and the local chapter of the National Federated Club.

Miss Brown was educated at Howard University and the local Alabama State Teachers College.

She is survived by two sisters, Mesdames N. Brown Saffold, Montgomery: Mrs. A. Brown Madison, Atlanta. Nieces included Medames Anna M. Blackwell, San Francisco, Cal’ Anne De Ramus Brown, Schenectady, N.Y., Dr. Helen dermus Mitchell, N. Y. City: nephews, Milton darden, Atlanta, Medames Laura Saffold Carter, Formosa (China), Mildred Banks, Baltimore, Md., June King, John Brown and Zisley Safford, all of this city.

Birmingham Mirror, Birmingham, Alabama • Sat, Feb 10, 1962 Page 10


Vesuvius School was located on Shady, near the blue building. Billingslea is on Walker near Shady.

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times.

Click any image to enlarge

Vesuvius School was located in North Montgomery, among railroad tracks and warehouses. There was a black community up there. The first mention of Vesuvius School was in 1899 when the staff was given as one teacher, Nanie Hardaway.

The Weekly Advertiser
Montgomery, Alabama · Friday, October 27, 1899

In 1903 it was proposed that the city rent the vacant Vesuvius Hotel for $15 a month, put in some blackboards, stoves etc., and use it for the school, which had been meeting in a church in the area. The hotel had been vacant since 1895. This was approved. There were 85 students and two teachers.

The Montgomery Advertiser, June 29, 1904

Unfortunately, the following year, a spark from a passing train set the building on fire and it was completely burned down except for the walls. The school went back to meeting in a nearby church until the city bought a three room house in the area on Shady Street.

By 1918 there were 160 students. Mary Hightower was the principal. Viola Love, Clara Hamilton and Minnie Williams made up the teaching staff. In 1922 the Billingslea School was built to replace Vesuvius.

Mary Howard Hightower belonged to the same generation of the Edelweiss Club members parents and had not attended any of the meetings. Viola Love wasn’t a member. Clara Hamilton and Minnie Williams were.

U – ULYSSES Naomi Rodgers

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times.

Click any image to enlarge

Ulysses Naomi Rodgers was born in 1882, the year after her older sister Lucretia. She had two younger brothers, Gordon and Julian. The family started out in Wetumpka, about 20 miles from Montgomery, where her father was a teacher. By 1900 they were in Montgomery and her father was the pastor of Old Ship Methodist Church. Founded in 1855, before the end of slavery, it is the oldest black church in Montgomery. Their mother did not work outside of the home.

Old Ship A. M. E. Zion Church. This is the original building where Rev. Rodgers preached.

Ulysses and her siblings attended school. The two sisters graduated from State Normal School in 1902. Ulysses began teaching in the public schools while Lucretia taught music from the home. Her brothers went to college. Julian became a lawyer and moved to Detroit. Gordon became a doctor.

The Emancipator (Montgomery, Alabama) · 6 Apr 1918, Sat · Page 4. Ulysses Rodgers is Rodgers above.

In January 1919, Rev. Rodgers died when he fell while working on the roof. He was 61. His widow lived with one or the other of her daughters until her death

The Emancipator Montgomery, Alabama • Sat, Sep 27, 1919 Page 3

Ulysses continued to teach until she married Andrew Cato Brown later the same year. She was 37. He was 44 and the owner, manager of A. C. Brown groceries. They had no children and remained in Montgomery until the ends of their lives.

The Emancipator, Montgomery, Alabama • Sat, Oct 4, 1919, Page 4


Swayne School being demolished 1948 The Montgomery Advertiser
Montgomery, Alabama • Sun, Jun 27, 1948Page 13

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members and guests of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times.

Click on any image to enlarge!

I did not realize that the Freedmen’s Bureau founded many schools. In this article from the Britannica I found: “Its greatest accomplishments were in education: more than 1,000 Black schools were built and over $400,000 spent to establish teacher-training institutions. Among the historically Black colleges and universities that received aid from the bureau were Atlanta University (1865; now Clark Atlanta University) and Fisk University (1866; originally the Fisk School), named for Gen. Clinton B. Fisk of the Tennessee Freedmen’s Bureau, who gave the school its original facilities in a former Union army barracks. Howard University, founded in 1867 through an act by the U.S. Congress, was named for Maj. Gen. Howard.”

Swayne College in Montgomery was one of those schools.

Click to enlarge.


Named for Union General and Freedmen’s Bureau Agent Wager Swayne, Swayne College was dedicated 21 April 1869. The Bureau appropriated $10,000 for the building and the local black community purchased 3.5. acres for the site. Future officeholder Elijah Cook submitted the winning location of Union and Grove Streets. The building stood three stories high and was constructed by Henry Duncan with ventilation by Isaac Frazier. George Stanley Pope became the first principal of the school with occupancy in October 1868, and Fisk alumnus Charles Duncan became the first black principal. The American Missionary Association operated the school, and its high standards mirrored the influence of the local Congregationalist church. Swayne contained desks, blackboards, maps, and an organ costing $200. With tuition free to local students, it offered coursework in the alphabet, reading and spelling, advanced reading, arithmetic, geography, and writing. Closing in 1937, Swayne College paved the way for black education in Montgomery and was succeeded by Booker T. Washington School.

Alabamama Historical Association

Swayne School on the lower left in “Congo Square”. No idea about that name.

The school had no lights, stove heat and two outhouses in the back. The Congregational church is right up the street at the top of the map. That was my grandparent’s church.

Montgomery. Educational Notes, Huntsville Gazette
Saturday, Mar 29, 1890, Huntsville, AL Vol: XI, Issue: 18, Page: 3


Educational Notes

Dear Gazette;
This afternoon just after having enjoyed a good dinner at some one else’s expense, I took a stroll to the different public schools in our city.
First to Swayne school under the management of Prof. J. D. Bibb and there I found a very fine school with a daily attendance of about three hundred and fifty pupils, and an able corps of 5 assistants. Prominent among them I found Miss Lila Mosley, quite young but said to be a fine Instructress.
In the fifth grade Miss Venus Hardaway with a large class, and while she is one of the old teachers there, yet she is one of our very pleasant and much loved young ladies.
Then I visited the school on the hillside, or Cemetery Hill school, under the management of Rev. Mr. Jones. That school too is in fine condition with a large attendance of pupils about three hundred and twenty-five daily. There I found Miss F. Allen teaching the fourth grade and her class like everyone else seem to be in love with her. But the old place is not what it used to be when our E. J. Lewis, was its Principal. Yet the present Principal holds the Fort well, and through the kindness of our city Fathers, two new rooms have been added making six instead of four rooms.

Venus Hardaway is the mother of Edelweiss member Gwendolyn Lewis Graham and taught before and after her husband’s death.

R – REMEMBERING Marriage Vows

The wedding of an unknown couple in Montgomery, Alabama in 1911. My cousin, Jackie Vincent shared this photograph with me years ago.

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members and guests of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times.

Click on any image to enlarge!

How many among the Edelweiss members and guests were married? Twenty-eight were married. Of these, five got divorced. Nine never married. Before I counted them up, I thought there would be more who never married. Here are some of the marriage announcements from local newspapers. There seven weddings mentioned below.

The Emancipator, Montgomery, Alabama Sat, Apr 19, 1919 · Page 2

They moved to Chicago and remained together. They had no children.

The Montgomery Times
Montgomery, Alabama • Thu, Dec 21, 1922Page 7

This marriage ended in divorce after several years. He went back to Texas and married someone else. She remained single and described herself as a widow on future censuses.


This couple moved to Chicago. They had two sons. Both of the couple died young. She died of TB and he died several years later.

The Emancipator, Montgomery, Alabama
Sat, Jun 21, 1919 · Page 2

My grandparents stayed together. They had four children. Both sons died in childhood.

The Emancipator, Sat Dec 28, 1918

They remained together, relocated to Detroit and had five daughters.

The Journal, Huntsville, Alabama • Thu, Jun 22, 1911 Page 3

This surprise marriage ended in separation and divorce. She went to Montgomery to teach and then to Detroit, where she died young. He remained on his farm. Messalaine is “a soft lightweight silk dress fabric with a satin weave”.

The Emancipator, Montgomery, Alabama May 08, 1920 · Page 1

They lived in New York City and had four children. Unfortunately Dr. Vincent died young and left Naomi a well provided for widow.

The Emancipator, 1920 May, 8 page 2

At last! A description of the food served! More about planked mackeral here

Q – QUINCE Honey and Effie May Todd

Effie May Todd

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times.

Effie May Todd was born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1893. She was the fourth of the five children of Frank and Mattie (Coleman) Todd. Although her parents had been born into slavery, both were literate by 1900. All of the children attended school.

The Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, Alabama • Tue, Jun 20, 1911Page 26

In 1902 Effie’s father left his job as a janitor at the Capital and became a mailman, riding out into the rural areas of Montgomery County to deliver mail.

In 1907 Effie May Todd won a prize for garden work at State Normal School. This photo is from Tuskegee Institute, 1906.

Effie graduated from State Normal high school in 1907. The following year her mother Mattie died. Effie was 14. Two years later, in 1910, The oldest brother, Henry was married and in his own home. Beatrice and Annie, were both teaching. Effie and Frank were both attending school. The house was paid for without a mortgage.

Frank Todd died in 1913.

Effie started teaching in 1914 and taught at Booker T. Washington until she married Arthur Chisholm in 1919 and they moved to Detroit.

The Emancipator, Montgomery, Alabama Sat, Apr 06, 1918 · Page 4
The Montgomery Advertiser Oct. 4, 1916

Time for another luncheon suggestion. Today I needed a “Q”. Quince came to mind immediately. I searched for it on for Montgomery and voila, several recipes appeared. There was one for pie and several for jellies but I thought the quince honey on rolls sounds quite delicious. They give a complete luncheon menu. I’m not sure if It would have been served at an Edelweiss meeting, but it might have been. A surprise for me, as I went googling quince is that I have a quince bush in my yard. I don’t think it bears fruit, but I’ll have to go check. It does have lovely red blooms in the late winter.

By Pancrace Bessa

There is a bit of room left so I will give you the outline of Effie Todd Chisholm’s life. She remained in Detroit for the rest of her life. Eventually she divorced her husband. She and Mary Monroe shared a home on Scotten Ave., right down the street from my Cleage family until her death from pneumonia in 1939 at 46. She didn’t have any children, although she raised her niece until she died of tuberculous at 17. She taught and was active in several clubs.

The Michigan Chronicle, Detroit, Michigan • Sat, Dec 23, 1939Page 4

O – OPHELIA Peterson and OAKWOOD Cemetery

Ophelia Peterson’s and Victor Tulane’s graves. Oakwood Cemetery, Montgomery, Alabama.

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times.

I first “met” Ophelia Peterson in the Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery. My daughter Ife and I were walking around looking for my uncle Victor Tulane’s grave. We went by it several times but missed it because there was an upright gravestone saying “Ophelia M. Peterson” so we passed by without looking at the flat, cement slab, which was the grave we were looking for. I had no idea who she was until I began to investigate the Edelweiss Club.

Ophelia Mamie Peterson was born in 1871, although it says 1899 on her grave stone. In each census, her birth date dropped a few years. In 1880 it was 1871, by 1950 it was 1895. She was 93 when she died.

Back to the beginning. Ophelia was born in Tuskegee, Macon County Alabama. In 1880 she lived with her mother Harriet Cumming and younger brother, Egbert Peterson. She was nine years old and attending school. Her mother was a cook.

Unnamed students at Tuskegee Institute 1890.

Ophelia was active in the local Colored Temperance Society. She graduated with the 12th class of Tuskegee Normal School in 1893. She and her mother moved to Montgomery where Ophelia taught school until 1908. After that she worked as a sick nurse, going to people’s homes to care for them during serious illnesses.

Ophelia was very involved in her community. She was a frequent guest at the Edelweiss Club and hosted Mary Church Terrell when she was in town to do war work among the African American troops at Camp Sheridan. As a member of The Tuskegee Club she hosted several meetings. She owned her home free of mortgage.

In 1964 Ophelia Peterson died at home. She was 93 years old. I could not find the relationship between Ophelia and the two survivors mentioned in her obituary. She never married and had no children. Her mother and siblings were dead. Perhaps they were cousins.

Entrance to Oakwood Cemetery, Montgomery, Alabama

K – Gabriella Snow KELLY

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times.

Gabriella Snow Kelly was not a member of the Edelweiss Club. Her younger sister Alice Snow was. Both were teachers. Gabriella Kelly is here because I needed a “K” . I did a bit of research on her and decided to share it in the research form, along with her obituary which gives us an overview of her life.

Research for Gabriella Snow Kelly

I found that the Mrs. Kelly whose husband, James Henry Kelly, died in Detroit in 1918 and mentioned by my grandfather Mershell in his letter of proposal to my grandmother Fannie Turner, was Gabriella Snow, club member Alice Snow’s older sister. She had married several years earlier and she and her husband relocated to Detroit.  According to his death certificate, her husband died of a syphilitic heart attack, probably sudden and certainly fatal. His wife took his body back to Montgomery for burial and never re-married. She taught and died many years later and is buried with him in Oakwood Cemetery.

I also spent quite a bit of time trying to find their house, which, according to the census records, was at 128 Morgan Avenue. I found a Morgan St. way over west along the railroad tracks. And also found a Morgan Avenue in a modern map, where Amanda is located on the 1910 Montgomery map.  I surmise that the family lived to the west of the Centennial Community, in the West Montgomery African Community.  

Ah ha! I just found the family in the 1910 census and they are living at 128 Amanda! So they do live right near to Edgar Spiegnar, a couple of blocks from Lowndes Adams family home. (These were both friends of my grandfather) I thought she was the most westerly member until I found Jessie Lee Freeman living several block further west, a few blocks East of my grandfather Mershell’s good friend Lowndes Adam’s family home.

A woman named “Alice Larkins” first appears in the 1850 census as an infant, along with her mother “Mary Larkins” and siblings.  Alice Snow was named after her mother, Alice Larkins. If this is the Alice Larkins who was Alice Snow’s mother, that would make her another descendant of a free-before-the-Civil-war woman.   Alice Snow’s father, Abram Snow, was a carpenter. He died in 1909 at the age of 64.

Alabama Journal, Montgomery, Alabama · Saturday, August 02, 1969

F – Sanitary FOUNTS

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times.

Day Street School is were our Edelweiss Hostess for today, Gwendolyn Lewis, taught. Day Street School was first mentioned in the Montgomery Advertiser in 1898. It was added to the other two public schools for African American students. Day Street School was a two story frame building. There was no light except that which came in through the windows. Heat was from stoves.

In March of 1918, the principal, teachers and the Day School League raised between four and five hundred dollers for improving the school grounds. The school yard was graded and sodded. A concrete wall was built from the street to the front door and the sidewalk was improved. A new flag was purchased by the students. In December of that year sanitary toilets were installed to replace outhouses and a sanitary drinking fount was installed.

Day Street School had twelve teachers in 1918. Five of them – Alice Snow, Gwendolyn Lewis, Sadie Gilmer, Lorene Farris and Jesse Freeman, were associated with the Edelweiss Club.

Gwendolyn, Hattie and Fannie 1919 Detroit, Michigan

Edelweiss Club Meets

The last two meetings of the Edelweiss Club were held at the homes of Miss Madeline Abercrombie on High Street, and Miss Gwendolyn Lewis, on Tuscaloosa Street, February 7th and 22nd respectively. Delightful repasts were served on each occasion. Miss Madge Brown was the guest at the meeting at Miss Lewis’s. Whist was played. The first prize was won by Miss Winefred Nixon; the guest prize by Miss Madge Brown.

Weather Forecast: Probably local rain Friday and Saturday. Montgomery temperature: highest 50; lowest 35

Gwendolyn Lewis was born in 1895, the youngest of the two children of George W. and Venus (Hardaway) Lewis. Her brother Lafayette was three years older. Their father was a postal carrier, the first and only black carrier at the time. Their mother graduated from Fisk University and taught school for several years before her marriage.

In May of 1900, their house burned to the ground. In 1906, when Gwendolyn was eleven, her father was arrested on charges of stealing mail. There was stolen mail found on his person and in his house. He was bound over for trial. His $500 bond was paid by Nathan Alexander, a member of the same church and a respected African American businessman. In 1908, George Lewis died.

After her husband’s death, Venus went back to teaching and taught until 1922. In the 1910 Census the family was living in a house they owned free of mortgage. Brother Lafayette was working as a florest. Gwendolyn was a student and Vensus was teaching.

Gwendolyn graduated from State Normal School in 1912. Other Edelweiss members in that class were – my aunt Daisy, Gwendolyn’s cousin Juanita Davis, Sadie Gilmer, Isolene Hunter and Winifred Nixon.

Gwendolyn began teaching at Day Street School the following year and taught until she married my grandfather’s best friend, Clifton Graham, in August 1918. They moved to Detroit soon after.