Category Archives: Allen

Watch Night – Born into Slavery and Died in Freedom

Angela Walton-Raji of the blog My Ancestor’s Name suggested that tonight we observe Watch Night by naming our ancestors who were born into slavery but lived to see freedom. I decided to join her.

I have no photograph of Annie Williams (mother of Eliza Williams Allen) who was born about 1820 in Virginia and died after 1880 in Montgomery, Alabama.

I do not have a photograph of  Matilda Brewster (mother of Dock Allen) who was born in Georgia.

Eliza Williams Allen B. Alabama 1839 – 1917
Dock Allen B. Georgia 1839 – D. Alabama 1909










Eliza Williams Allen was my great great grandmother. She was born in Alabama about 1839 and died free in Montgomery, Alabama in 1917. She was a seamstress.  You can read more about Eliza here A Chart of the People in Eliza’s Life and Eliza’s Story – Part 1 with links to the other 3 parts.

Dock Allen was my great great grandfather. He was born a slave in Georgia about 1839 and died free in Montgomery, Alabama in 1909.  He was a cabinet maker. You can read more about Dock Allen here Dock Allen’s Story.

I have no photographs of  my great grandparents William Graham who was born about 1851 or his wife Mary Jackson Graham born about 1856. Both were born in Alabama and died dates unknown.  William Graham was a farmer. They were my grandfather Mershell C. Graham’s parents. I know very little about them but I have been gathering information which I will post soon.

I do not have photographs of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner Graham’s paternal grandparents.  Her grandfather Joseph Turner was born in Alabama about 1839. He died in Lowndes County, AL in 1919. He was a farmer and owned his own land. His wife Emma Jones Turner was born about 1840 in South Carolina and died about 1901 in Lowndes County Alabama.  You can read more about them here,  Emma and Joe Turner of Gordensville, Lowndes County, Alabama.

Celia Rice Cleage Sherman with grand daughter Barbara Cleage.
Celia Rice Cleage Sherman with grand daughter Barbara Cleage.

Frank Cleage was born around 1816 in North Carolina. He was enslaved on the plantation of first Samuel Cleage and then his son Alexander Cleage.  I do not have a picture of Frank Cleage and have no stories about him. His name appears on my great grandfather, Louis Cleage’s death certificate.

In the 1870 Census he was living with his wife, Judy and six children, including my great grandfather, in Athens, Tennessee. I also have a marriage record for Frank and Judy dated 20 August, 1866.  I don’t know if they were married before and the children are theirs or if they came together after slavery. Judy was born about 1814.

Frank is mentioned in a work agreement between Samuel Cleage and his overseer in this post – Article of Agreement – 1834.

They were both born in slavery and lived most of their lives as slaves but they lived to see freedom and to see their children free.

No photograph of Louis Cleage B. 1852 in Tennessee and died 1919 in Indianapolis, IN.  Louis and Celia were my grandfather Albert B. Cleage’s parents. Louis was a laborer. You can read more about Louis Cleage here – Lewis Cleage – Work Day Wednesday.

Celia Rice Cleage Sherman was born into slavery about 1855 in Virginia.  She died about 1931 in Detroit, Michigan. She was a cook. You can read more about Celia Rice Cleage here Celia Rice Cleage Sherman.

I do not have photographs of my great grandmother Anna Allen Reed who was born about 1849 in Lebanon, Kentucky and died in 1911 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  She was my grandmother Pearl’s mother.

Anna’s mother Clara, my great great grandmother, was born 1829 in Kentucky and died after 1880 in Kentucky.  I need to write them up. You can see some of their descendents here My Father’s Mother’s People.


Visit to Oakwood Cemetery – Montgomery, Alabama 2009

Entry to Oakwood Cemetery. Office on the left.

On Sunday, February 9, 2009 my daughter, Ife and I drove over to Montgomery, AL. It’s only a 2.5 hour drive from Atlanta.  She had to pick up some art work and I wanted to see if the store my Grandmother Fannie managed before she married was still standing.  I also wanted to find Eliza and Dock Allen’s graves in Oakwood Cemetery.

Oakwood Cemetery layout from Google Maps. The older section has Dock and Eliza’s graves. The Newer one holds the Tulanes. The Tulane housing projects, named after Victor Tulane, are across from the cemetery.

First we picked up the art.  The artist’s husband gave us directions to the cemetery and the store.We found the cemetery easily.  It was open and there was a man walking into a little office near the entrance.  Ife parked and I went in and showed him the information I had, a location for the grave site of Victor Tulane.  He told us to follow him to the place we could look.  it was out of that one and around a few blocks and over the tracks to the newer part of the cemetery, which he drove up into, us following. He finally stopped and said it should be there in, that area, waving vaguely around.

Ife and I got out and started looking.  There were old graves, some newer ones from the 60’s and even 70’s and some from the 1800’s.  we walked up and down hills and probably over graves and couldn’t find it.  He came back with a map and asked if we’d looked further down.  So we went in that direction. I told him I had some death certificates and asked if he could tell me where the graves were located if I gave him the names.  He said I should bring them up to the office and he would copy them and look in the file.

We continued to look and finally Ife saw this grave with the name we were looking for “Tulane”. It was a child’s grave. On the other side it said “Alean”. She looked next to it and there was the grave we had spent all that time looking for. We had walked by that place several times but there was an upright grave marker that said “Ophelia M. Peterson” so we just went by without looking at the flat, cement slab, which was the grave we were looking for. I still don’t know why Ophelia’s stone is right up above it or who she was.

We then went up to the office and I took my death certificates in.  He copied them and asked if he could copy Dock Allen’s photograph, which I had stuck in the mylar pocket with the death certificate.  After making copies, he got out his file drawers and found Victor Tulane and two children, age 2 and 10 months.  My mother used to talk about how spoiled their daughter Naomi was, but she never mentioned or maybe even knew that they had lost two babies. I think that might help explain the spoiling.  He found Dock and Dock Allen (father and son) and Eliza.  He said they were buried on that side in Scotts Free Burial Ground – when it started they let people bury for free.  He drove ahead of us and showed us the section where the graves were and we walked around and finally found the grave marker for Dock and Eliza.  We regretted not bringing flowers or something to leave but we hadn’t expected to even get in.



Ife standing to the right of Dock and Eliza’s grave. Tulane Homes in the background.

As we were leaving the Cemetery, wishing we had brought some flowers or an offering of some kind, I noticed a name out of the corner of my eye, “Sallie Baldwin.” It was like finding another relative. A cousin of a cousin and I spent weeks, months figuring out how our families connected and about her relatives. Her mother  was alive then and kept giving us information that my friend didn’t believe but it always turned out to be true. James Hale, a well known and well to do black Montgomery businessman contemporary with the Tulanes, was her son-in-law and is buried here also.

Sallie Baldwin and family.

When we left the cemetery we drove down Ripley Street towards the store. Ripley runs next to Oakwood Cemetery.  The block where my grandmother and her family lived with Dock and Eliza Allen is now paved over for parking lots and government buildings. The store is still there and looking good.  I feel that it’s time for another trip to Montgomery.

The Tulane building in 2009.

1940 Census – Those in Montgomery

By 1940 there were only 3 of Eliza’s children remaining in Montgomery, Alabama. Willie Lee, Abbie and Beulah.  Willie Lee lived on S. Union. Abbie lived on Ripley. Beulah and Robert Pope lived on W. Jeff Davis Ave., you have to scroll down and to the left to see the blue pointer for their house.

View Montgomery Family – 1940 in a larger map

Willie Lee Allen Tulane. A photo from the 1930s.

Willie Tulane lived at 430 S. Union Street. She owned the home and had lived there in 1935. It was worth $2,000. She gave her age as 55 although, since her age on the 1880 census was 7, she was closer to 67. She had attended 8 years of school. Willie had not worked in the past year. She was the informant. Everybody in the house was identified as Neg(ro).

There were two boarders. Louise McHaney age 25, worked as a private maid. She earned $260 a year. She was single and had attended school for 8 years.  The other boarder was Charles Williams, a 52 year old Insurance salesman.  He had attended school for 7 years and was married but separated from his wife. He earned $1,040 in 1935. Both boarders had worked 52 weeks out of the past year. You can see a copy of the 1940 Census page with Willie Tulane on it on HERE.

Abbie Allen, photo - 1966.

Abbie Allen had stopped using her married name, Brown, in the 1930 Census and she still was using her maiden name. She’s listed as a widow. She owned her home at 444 Ripley Street  where she had worked as a seamstress for 40 weeks during the past year. She gave her age as 42, although being age 5 in the 1880 census, she was closer to 65. She was identified as Neg(ro). She had lived in the same house in 1935. It had been her parents home and she had lived there since about 1900.  It was valued at $500.  She had gone to school for 7 years. Abbie was the informant. You can see a copy of Abbie Allen’s 1940 census page on HERE.

Robert and Beulah (Allen) Pope. Date of Roberts photo not known. Beulah's photo is from the 1950s.

Beulah and Robert Pope owned their home at 235 W. Jeff Davis Ave. It was worth $400. They had lived there in 1935. Beulah had attended college for 2 years and was not working outside the home. Robert had completed 4 years of college and was a clerk for a wholesale drug company.  He had worked for 52 weeks during 1939 and earned $1,720.  Both were identified as Neg(ro).  He was listed as 58. In 1880 he was listed as 6 years old so he was actually about 66. Beulah was listed as 53. In the 1880 census she was listed as 1 year old so she was closer to 61.  Beulah was the informant.

I became interested in how accurate the ages were when I noticed that Aunt Abbie was younger than the youngest sister, Beulah. I went back to the 1880 census to see what ages were given when they were close to their births. I wonder if they just didn’t keep up with how old they were or if they were trying to seem younger.

Beards in the Family

Dock Allen – 1839 – 1909

To read more about Dock Allen and his escape from slavery, click Dock Allen’s Story.

Husband and sons with beards.
To see more beards and hair, CLICK.

This weeks theme is hair, specifically facial hair. I only have one photo of an ancestor with a beard. Dock Allen is sporting a pretty nice one.  My husband and sons are doing their part to bring more bearded photos into my albums.

My best find of 2011

Even though it’s now Sunday night so I’m 24 hours late, I decided to do the Saturday Night challenge.  The question on Genea-Musings Saturday Night Genealogy fun  was to decide which of my genealogy research adventures in 2011 was my “very best” and to write about it.

My most exciting find of 2011 was discovering a newspaper article that validated my family’s oral history that my great great grandmother, Eliza Allen and her daughter Mary came off of the plantation of Colonel Edmund Harrison.  My cousin Margaret and I looked for years for something to prove the connection without any luck.   You can read all about it in my blog post here.  My only regret is that Margaret is no longer here to share my find.

"McCall family"
Mary Allen McCall with son James and his wife Margaret. Front row - his daughters Victoria and Margaret. Detroit about 1924.

Maternal Family Tree of Workers – Labor Day

I posted this chart last year for Labor Day.  Here is a chart showing 7 generations of workers from my 3X great-grandmother to my children.  My direct line is highlighted in yellow.  The women with children combined whatever else they did with cooking, cleaning, washing clothes and raising the children.  The first generations started their work life as slaves in Alabama.  You can see a similar chart for my paternal side HERE.

Jeanette McCall McEwen – Death Certificate 1897 – 1931

4744 Langley. Jeanette on stoop with son Robert with google maps photograph.

I received Jennette McCall McEwen’s death certificate in the mail this week.  I wrote about her earlier here and here.  Here is the new information I gleaned both from the death certificate and from a re-reading of other documents I have for this family.

According to both the 1920 census and Robert junior’s birth certificate, the family was rooming at 4744 Langley in Chicago, IL.  See a photo of the house above.  Little Robert was born at home on January 2.  Robert Sr. worked at the post office.

Provident Hospital

On December 16, 1923 second son, Raymond was born in Provident Hospital, one of the first black owned and operated hospitals in the United States.  Robert Sr. was a dental student while Jeanette continued to work inside the home.  The family had moved to 652 E. 46th St.

By the time of the 1930 Census Robert Sr was a practicing dentist.  Jeanette was not working outside of the home. When I first found Robert and Jeanette in the 1930 census several years ago, I wondered why they had no children because I had heard that they were the parents of two boys.  After looking at the neighbors I found that 10 year old Robert Jr and 7 year old Raymond were living as lodgers in the apartment of Harry and Zada McClatchey.  At the time I thought it must be a mistake, but after looking at the death certificate I realized there was a good reason for the boys to be out of the home.

Jeanette died at home of influenza on December 27, 1931.  The informant, the person who gave the personal information on the certificate, was her older brother Leon Roscoe McCall.  Her doctor was her brother-in-law Joseph Howard, MD.  He had begun treating her on Christmas day, although she became ill on the 20th of December. A contributory cause was “phthisis pulmonalis” or consumption.  Jeanette found that she had tuberculosis in February of 1930. The Census took place in April. Robert and Raymond were probably out of the house to keep them from being infected.  She had been unable to continue to do her usual work as a housewife since July 1931. Jeanette McCall McEwen was buried in Lincoln Cemetery in Cook County on December 30, 1931.  Now I’ll send for Robert McEwen’s death certificate to see if he also died of tuberculosis.


Finding Alice

Robert Pope, Jennie V. Turner, Beulah Pope (back) Alice Turner, my Aunt Daisy.

August 18 was my Great Aunt Alice’s birthday.  I decided to do a quick post about her. Found a few photographs.  Wrote out my memories. Something wasn’t right. I wrote a cousin and my sister asking for their memories. They both sent them and of course all of our memories both overlap and are different. I found my mother’s memories. I looked for more photos. I looked for documents. I realized some of what I “knew” I couldn’t document. So, I’ve spent the last week trying to figure Alice’s life out when there is no one left to ask about particulars. Now I’m working on a timeline to incorporate both the facts and the memories and the contradictions. Today I dug out a photograph I vaguely remembered as being of Alice and my great grandmother Jennie in Canada. As soon as I found it, I realized that the young man and one of the other women were also relatives. The woman behind my great grandmother was her youngest sister, Beulah Allen Pope and her son, Robert is the young man in the front. I recognized them because Robert’s daughter sent me a photograph of them that must have been taken the same day because they are wearing the same clothes.  The photo is dated “July 31, 1921 Toronto Windsor, Canada.” I did not realize they were there so early. More wondering and looking.  I have ordered Alice’s Social Security application and death certificate hoping to find more information.

Photo sent by cousin Ruth. Taken in Detroit.

Alphonso Brown – Marriage Certificate

Aunt Abbie, Fannie, Mershell (my grandparents), Alphonso, Henry, Me, Doris (my mother)

Aunt Abbie, my great grandmother’s sister, lived with my grandparents , Fannie and Mershell Graham since the time I was born. Aunt Abbie’s son, Alphonso, came to visit her sometimes during the summer. My mother told me that he never married and lived alone in New York, as did his brother, Earl.

While looking through New York records for anything I could find about Alphonso or Earl, I came across a marriage record for Alphonso Brown and Helen Wilson. I immediately sent for a copy.  It arrived today.  Aunt Abbie’s son was indeed married Dec. 17, 1928 to Helen Wilson in New York.  More family information/memories proved wrong.  This is my second bachelor uncle to actually have been married.