Category Archives: Detroit

The Proposal Accepted

Mershell and Fannie (Turner) Graham. August 1919 Detroit, Michigan.

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.  Our club held it’s first meeting last Friday evening at Madaline’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.

 Now, Shell, about your question.  Willie Lee and several others have been telling me that we were to get married for a month or more.  I’ve been wondering where it all came from.  I know you wrote me some time ago that you had “something to tell me,” but I never dreamed it was on this subject.  It’s all okay though and if you will overlook my deficiencies, I’ll say yes. You know you like good cooking and I’d have to learn to do that, even after working in a grocery store all my life. Ha, ha!  Now that you know about my inability as a cook does it shock you?  Just let me know what you think about it.

 Now, Shell, please don’t write any of this to any one, for it’s our own business and we can keep them guessing awhile longer.  What do you say?  Do this for me as a special request.

 Well, dear, I’m so sleepy that I can’t write longer so you must let me off tonight with just one kiss.  Ha, ha!

              As ever,
              your Fan

To see the proposal letter click  The Proposal – Migration Story.

___________________________

Being in the middle of the corona pandemic 2020, I decided to look back at my family history and see if anything was mentioned about the spanish influenza pandemic of 1918. I remembered that my grandmother wrote in a letter to my grandfather that church attendance was down because of the flu.

Because my grandmother was living in Montgomery, Alabama at the time, I took a look to see what the Montgomery newspaper’s were saying about the flu in November, 1918.

The article below came out the same day as the Sunday service mentioned in the letter.

Click to enlarge.

Click for more about Dr. Bell’s Pine-Tar-Honey mentioned in the advertisement above.


A to Z REVEAL 2020

My mother Doris Graham and her older sister Mary Virginia Graham in 1929
A to Z

This year as we begin the 2020s, I decided to go back a hundred years to the 1920s and write about what happened to my family during that decade. My grandparents had settled down to marriage and family and my parents and their siblings were too young to participate in any “roaring” that was going on.

While preparing my posts, I found out several things that I wish I had asked my grandparents about, but strangely never thought to do so. I managed to cover all of the letters in the alphabet and to tie them in with my family in some way. I actually started in February to decide on the words for each letter and to chose photographs. In March I started writing the posts. The plan is to be completely done by the time I post this.

Click to go to A to Z website

Siblings

Howard, Mary Vee and Doris Graham 1930

This picture was taken at Belle Isle in 1930, which used to be a city park in the Detroit River and was free to all. It has since been changed to a state park and there is a fee for entry. Howard must have been almost one year old, he had been born the previous September. He seems to be wearing a gown. Mary Vee was ten and Doris was seven.

Click to see other Sepia Saturday offerings

“The friendliness of Anna Cleage” Dec 25, 1943

The Detroit Tribune Dec 25, 1943
Anna Cecelia Cleage leaning on the fence.

My father’s youngest sister, Anna Cleage, is the only person I recognized in this “Saddle Shoe” column. In December of 1943 she was 19 years old and a student at what is now Wayne State University. Anna was 14 years younger than my father, Albert “Toddy” Cleage and two years younger than my mother, Doris Graham. From looking at these news items, I would guess that my mother went around with the older crowd, while Anna hung out with the younger group. The names in news items I recognize are the friends of my parents and those my Uncle Henry mentioned when he talked about the olden days. I always found my Aunt Anna very friendly and quite talkative and willing to share her memories with me when I would visit. She is the one who remembered when her grandmother, Anna Celia Rice Cleage Sherman had a stroke at their kitchen table when Anna was five. She was named for her grandmother – Anna Celia Rice Cleage Sherman.

Daisy Turner Dead at 70. Nov 24, 1961

Alice and Daisy Turner – Boblo Island 1961. Last photograph.

Mrs. Daisy Turner, 70, of 4536 Harding, was dead on admittance to Receiving Hospital last week after collapsing in the bedroom of her home.

Mrs. Alice Turner, 65, of the same address, a sister, told police that her sister complained of an upset stomach for several days prior to her death.

_________________

Neither Daisy Turner nor Alice Turner ever married, so the item should have read Miss Daisy Turner and Miss Alice Turner. Alice was born in 1908, she was actually 53 when her older sister Daisy died.

Click on the red links in the paragraphs below to learn more.

"Jennie Allen Turner funeral"
This photograph was taken in Montgomery during 1892 while the family was in mourning for husband and father, Howard Turner. Jennie Virginia Allen Turner holds two year old Daisy while four year old Fannie is beside her.

Daisy Turner was my grandmother Fannie Turner Graham’s younger sister. She was born in 1890 in Lowndes County, Alabama. Her father, Howard Turner, was shot to death at a barbque when she was one year old. She grew up in her mother’s parent’s (Dock and Eliza Allen) house in Montgomery. Her mother, Jennie Allen Turner was a seamstress.

Jennie married again and had one daughter, Alice Wright in 1908. After she and her second husband separated, she went back to her maiden name and Alice was always known as Alice Turner.

"Jennie Annis Furs"
Daisy is in the center of the center row. Her mother Jennie Allen Turner is in the first seat on the right in the same row. Alice is seated next to her mother.

Daisy graduated from State Normal School and taught school for several years in the Montgomery area. Then she worked at her uncle, Victor Tulane’s store., also in Montgomery. Later Daisy worked at Annis Furs in Detroit.

My mother told me that Duncan Irby was the love of Daisy’s life. It was a star crossed love and they never married. Both devoted themselves to their families and died single.

Daisy Pearl Turner died November 24, 1961. My mother was afraid she had died of food poisoning and so threw out all the food at Daisy’s and Alice’s house.

I was 14 that year and working hard to buy everyone in the family the right gift. I remember thinking I would not be buying anything for Daisy that Christmas.

Marian Anderson in Detroit, Dec 12, 1939

Reading an article in the Dec 12, 1939 edition of The Detroit Tribune, about a concert Marian Anderson gave in Detroit, I was surprised to find a number of family members and friends among those who attended. My mother had several of Marian Anderson’s records, but she never mentioned hearing her in person. Click on images to enlarge.

“According to Anderson biographer Allan Keiler, she was invited to sing in Washington by Howard University as part of its concert series. And because of Anderson’s international reputation, the university needed to find a place large enough to accommodate the crowds. Constitution Hall was such a place, but the Daughters of the American Revolution owned the hall.

“They refused to allow her use of the hall,” Keiler says, “because she was black and because there was a white-artist-only clause printed in every contract issued by the DAR.” Denied a Stage, She Sang For A Nation

The Detroit Tribune Dec. 12, 1939

Photographs of some family members and friends who attended the concert. Family photographs.

Jacob Cleage 1874-1942

Jacob Cleage 1874 – 1942
The Detroit Tribune. 1942 Dec 12
“Jacob Cleage of 5670 Hartford Avenue is quite ill at his home.”

Jacob Cleage was the second child and first son of the five Cleage offspring of Louis Cleage and Celia Rice Cleage Sherman. He was born in 1874 in either McMinn or Loudin county Tennessee. According to his death certificate he was in the Spanish American War. For years he worked as a waiter in Knoxville, where he met and married Gertrude Brunt. They had no children.

They moved to Indianapolis, Indiana where all of his siblings, except Edward, moved. He continued to work as a waiter and also in real estate. Eventually they all ended up in Detroit, Michigan. He worked in the Sheriff’s department for several years. Continued to sell real estate and, according to his death certificate worked as a janitor.

I found the above clipping in the archives of The Detroit Tribune. I announced his serious illness five days after he died. I could find no mention of his death in the paper. I found his death certificate on Ancestry and the one new piece of information I found was that he served in the military during the Spanish American War.

Jacob Cleage’s death certificate with notes. There is so much information here. Click to enlarge.

To clarify, Jacob Cleage’s nephew, Louis Jacob Cleage was his physician. Louis Jacob Cleage was named after his grandfather Louis and his uncle Jacob.

More information (or misinformation) about Jacob Cleage here – Jacob and Gertrude Cleage in the 1940 Census.

Thanksgiving 1949

Time passed and ten years after yesterday’s 1939 Thanksgiving dinner, we find that Jennie Turner is in a wheelchair, having broken her hip in a fall. Her sister, Abbie Allen Brown is in town, the Graham’s are there with their daughter Mary Virginia, her husband and two children.

The Detroit Tribune, Dec 3, 1949

“Three generations were present at the festive board of Mrs. Jennie Turner on Harding ave. A delicious Thanksgiving dinner was served, which Mrs. Turner who has been an invalid for several years, enjoyed in her wheel chair, while surrounded by her daughters, Misses Daisy and Alice Turner, and her daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. M. C. Graham; granddaughter and son, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Elkins, and their two children, and Mrs. Turner’s sister, Mrs. A. Brown.”

Actually Four generations were present – my great grandmother Jennie Turner and her sister Abbie, her daughters (which included my grandmother), my aunt Mary V and her daughters DD and Barbara. My mother Doris and her family (including me) were in still living in Springfield, Mass, and missed this dinner.

Doris Graham Cleage with daughters Pearl and Kristin (me) in Springfield, MA

Thanksgiving 1939

Three Generations. Front row Daisy and Alice Turner. Back: Fannie Turner Graham, Jenny Virginia Allen Turner, Mary Virginia Graham. Doris Juanita Graham. Summer of 1939 at Grandmother Turner’s.

Thanksgiving weekend 1939 was a busy one for my family. On Thursday, Nov 23, there was dinner at Grandmother Jennie Turner’s house on Harding Ave., pictured below. (Click on any image to enlarge.)

“On Harding Avenue, Mrs. Jeannie Turner bade the members of her family to dine with her. At the table were her daughters, Misses Daisy and Alice Turner; Mr. and Mrs. M.C. Graham, and her granddaughters, Misses Mary Virginia and Doris Graham.”

The Detroit Tribune Dec 2, 1939
On Saturday, Nov 25 my mother Doris and her sister “Merrie Vee” Graham, along with a crowd attended the football game between Michigan and Ohio State. I recognize only a few of the names – my mother’s friend Constance Stowers and cousin Victoria McCall.

Wikpedia describes that game thus:
On November 25, 1939, the Big Ten football teams played five conference games. Michigan 21, Ohio State 14. Michigan defeated Ohio State, 21-14, at Michigan Stadium. Ohio State took a 14 to 0 lead in the first 11 minutes of the game on two touchdown passes thrown by Don Scott. Michigan rallied with touchdowns in each of the second, third and fourth quarters. Michigan’s touchdowns were scored by Forest Evashevski (pass from Tom Harmon), Tom Harmon and Fred Trosko (on a fake field goal).

The Detroit Tribune, Dec 2, 1939. Names of my parents (Toddy Cleage and Doris Graham) and their siblings are underlined. I also see the names of several family friends – Oscar Hand, Willie Smith. Other names I recognize – Henry’s first wife Alice Stanton, Cousin Lewis Graham, Mary V.’s friend Shirley Turner and my mother’s friend Connie Stowers.

Sunday night the Junior League of Plymouth Congregational Church had the pleasure of hearing their former president, Toddy Cleage, who was here for the holidays, speak to them on the “Modern Interpretation of the Bible.” A few of those who were looking quite interested were: Noman Morris, Jmes Parker, Lois Simon, Ruth Giles, Shirley Turner, Mary V. Graham, Connie Stowers, Doris Graham, Henry Cleage, Alice Stanton, Anna Cleage, Phyllis Lawson, Eugene Kersey, George Payne, Velma Pullian, Hugh Cleage, Charles Harvell, Bo Johnson, Betty Lewis, Carlyle Johnson, Harriet Pate, Geo. Williams, Lewis Graham, Betty Blande, Roger Campfield, Oscar hand, Barbara Cleage, Gladys Cleage, Willie Smith, Bobby Humphrey, Billy Lawson, Joe Stanton, Florance Pate, Carolyn Plummer, Wilberforce Plummer, Elizebeth Patton. Toddy is in the religious seminary at Oberlin.