Category Archives: Eliza

Dock and Eliza Animated

Eliza Williams Allen

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.

Children and Grandchildren

My children and grandchildren.
My children and grandchildren.

The birth of my tenth grandchild earlier this week made me wonder how many grandchildren the women in my family had in the past. I combined this with when they had their first child and how many children they had.  Here is what I found.

December 1970. Me and my oldest daughter.
December 1970. Me and my oldest daughter.

I was born in 1946. My oldest daughter was born in Detroit in 1970 when I was 23 years old. My youngest son was born when I was 41. My first grandchild was born when I was 52. I was 68 when my youngest grandchild was born. I have six children and ten grandchildren.

My mother holding me.
My mother holding me.

My mother, Doris Graham Cleage, was born in Detroit Michigan in 1923. She gave birth to two daughters. The oldest (me) was born when she was 23 in 1946. My sister was born in 1948 when my mother was 26. I had 6 children and my sister had 1. My mother was 47 when her first grandchild was born and she would have been 64 when her youngest grandchild was born.   Doris had two children and seven grandchildren.

My grandmother holding my mother.
My grandmother holding my mother.

My maternal grandmother, Fannie Mae Turner Graham, was born in Lowndes County, AL in 1888.  She gave birth to 4 children, all in Detroit. The first was born in 1920.  The  fourth was born in 1928 when she was 40.  Both boys died in childhood. Fannie’s oldest daughter (my aunt) had 3 children and my mother had 2.  My grandmother was 56 when her first grandchild was born.  She was 65 when her youngest grandchild was born.  Fannie Mae had four children. Two died in childhood.  She had five grandchildren.

"Pearl Cleage and baby Albert"
Pearl Reed Cleage and baby Albert. 1911 Indianapolis, IN

My paternal grandmother, Pearl Reed Cleage, was born in 1886.  Her first child was born in 1911 when she was twenty five. Her youngest child was born in 1924 when she was thirty nine.  Her first grandchild (me) was born when she was sixty years old.  She was seventy six when the youngest grandchild was born.  Pearl had seven children and nine grandchildren.

Pearl’s mother, my great grandmother Anna Allen Reed She was born about 1849.  She gave birth to her first child when she was 16, in 1865.  She gave birth to my grandmother Pearl, her youngest child, when she was 37.  Anna was 40 when her first grandchild was born.  She had been dead for 15 years when her youngest grandchild was born in 1924. Anna had eight children and thirty-six grandchildren.

Celia Rice Cleage Sherman with grand daughter Barbara Cleage. About 1921 in Detroit, MI.
Celia Rice Cleage Sherman with grand daughter Barbara Cleage. About 1921 in Detroit, MI.

My great grandmother, Celia Rice Cleage Sherman was born about 1855 in Virginia.  She was taken to Tennessee as a small child. Her first child was born in 1873 when she was eighteen years old.  Her youngest child was born in 1883 when she was 28 years old. Celia’s first grandchild was born in 1897 when she was 42 years old.  She was 69 when her last grandchild was born in 1924. Celia had five children and twenty-one grandchildren.

Great grandmother with Daisy and Fannie
Great grandmother with Daisy and Fannie

My maternal great grandmother, Jennie Virginia Allen Turner, was born free in 1866 in Montgomery, AL. She gave birth to three daughters. The first two daughters were born in Lowndes County. My grandmother was the oldest, born in 1888 when Jennie was 22.  Daisy was born in 1890. In 1892 Jennie’s husband died. She later remarried and her youngest daughter was born in Montgomery, AL in 1908 when she was 42. Of her 3 daughters, only my grandmother had children.  Jennie Virginia Allen Turner had three children and four grandchildren.


My maternal 2X great grandmother,  Eliza Williams Allen was born into slavery about 1839 in Alabama. She gave birth to 13 children. Eight survived to adulthood.  All were born in Alabama. The oldest daughter was born into slavery in 1856. Eliza was about 17 years old. Her other children were born free in Montgomery, AL.  Her youngest child was born in 1879 when Eliza was 40.  Eliza had thirteen children and eighteen grandchildren.


My 3X maternal line great grandmother, Annie Williams, was born into slavery about 1820 in Virginia. I only know of one child, Eliza above, who was born in Alabama in 1839 when Annie was about 19. Annie died before the 1900 census so did not answer the question “How many children did you give birth to?” There is no oral history of Eliza having siblings.  Annie had one daughter and eight grandchildren.


My 2X great grandmother Emma Jones Turner was born into slavery about 1842 in South Carolina. She was later taken to Alabama.  She gave birth to ten children. Six of the children survived to adulthood.  Her first child was born when she was about 18 years old and the youngest was born when she was 30. Emma had ten children, and sixteen grandchildren.


Who Was Eliza?

Who was Eliza?

The Search Begins

A Brief Explanation for Eliza’s Story

Eliza Williams Allen – a photograph

Eliza and the people in her life

Escape – Dock Allen

Finding Eliza Part 1

Finding Eliza Part 2

Finding Eliza Part 3

Eliza’s daughters part 4

She was owned before the war by the late Colonel Edmund Harrison of this county

The 4th Annual Gene Awards

Visit to Oakwood Cemetery

Seven Generations of L3e3b-My MtDna

Stolen From Africa

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.

Stolen from Africa

Do you know the immigration story of one or more female ancestors? Do you have any passenger lists, passports, or other documentation? Interesting family stories?

africa_americaI don’t have any immigration stories, passenger lists, passports or even the names of the women who came to the United States, probably in the 18th century, against their will from Africa.  Until I took an mtdna test several years ago and persuaded my father’s sister to do the same I didn’t know what part of Africa they were from. We have no oral history of the Middle Passage.

In 2008 my sister received a free mtdna testing kit from African Ancestry.  Since she wasn’t interested, she passed it on to me. The results came back L3e for the haplogroup and they said I shared dna with the Mende people of Sierra Leone.

Later I decided to test again with Family Tree and my father’s sister also tested. My results came back L3e3*.  My aunts came back L3e2*. They said her results were the same as a broad area of Sub-Sarahan Bantu speaking groups.

In 2011 23andMe had a free offer to entice more African Americans to test and I took it. The results came back L3e3b.  Neither of these testers were so specific with a group as African Ancestry was.  They were more general, saying that L3e3b is one of the Sub-Saharan groups. One said they had matches from both Sierra Leone and Ethiopia. One map I found shows the group originating around Ethiopia and migrating out towards West Africa.

Reading online I found that most African Americans in the United States left from a fort on  Bunce Island in Sierra Leone. The photos on the left of the the montage show the fort back when it was being used and then the overgrown, green island and fort as they are today.I also found that most slave ships coming into the United States docked on Sullivan’s Island outside of Charleston, South Carolina.  The people were sold at auction on the north side of the Exchange building in Charleston, shown on the far left side of the photo. Other photos include maps of Sierra Leone and Charleston/Sullivan’s Island, an actual photograph taken in the 1800’s aboard a slave ship, and an old drawing of the auctioning off of slaves.

In 1974-1975 my family and I lived in Mt. Pleasant, right outside of Charleston.  My husband was working for the Emergency Land Fund trying to help black farmers save their land. We often went swimming at the beach on Sullivan’s Island, without knowing that our African ancestors probably landed near there after crossing the Atlantic ocean during the 1700s.

When my oldest daughter was born in 1970 we decided to give her a family name and an African name. I picked a name out of a children’s story we had in the Black Conscience Library. The name was Jilo. We could never find out what kind of name Jilo was or what it meant. After I received the information that Eliza’s line went back to the Mende people of Sierra Leone, I found a list of names and found that the name Jilo comes from  Sierra Leone.

In the spring of 2013 my daughter Ife, her two children and I went to Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, to see the place where the slave ships landed.

The view of the harbor from Fort Moultrie, South Carolina.

My grandson and I standing by the sign on Sullivan's Island.
Sanding with my grandson next to the sign on Sullivan’s commemorating the entry site for the thousands of Africans that arrived through that port.

To see photos of my mtdna line click My Matrilineal Line and More.

Getting An Education – Fearless Females

What education did your mother receive? Your grandmothers? Great-grandmothers? Note any advanced degrees or special achievements.

On My Maternal Side
My 3X great grandmother, Annie Williams,  was born about 1820 in Virginia into slavery. According to the 1880 Census, when she was about 60, she spoke English and could not read or write.

Eliza - my 2x great grandmother

Her daughter, my 2X great grandmother, Eliza Williams Allen, was born in Alabama about 1839 into slavery. She was freed by 1860. According to the 1910 census, she was about 67, spoke English and could not read or write

"Jennie Allen Turner in hat"
Jennie - my greatgrandmother

Her daughter, my great grandmother, Jennie Allen Turner was born free in Montgomery, Alabama in 1866. According to the 1880 Census, she was 13 years old, had attended school in the past year, spoke English and was literate.  I found one of my favorite books at her house “Lydia of the Pines.”

Fannie - my maternal grandmother

 Her daughter, my Grandmother Fannie Mae Turner Graham, was born in 1888 in Lowndes County, Alabama. She grew up in Montgomery. According to the 1900 census, she was 11 years old, at school, spoke English and was literate. My mother told me that when Fannie graduated from high school – State Normal, was offered a scholarship to Fisk but refused it and took a job in her uncles store, which she managed until she married in 1918. Also according to my mother, Fannie could quickly add long columns of numbers in her head.

Doris - my mother

My mother , Doris Graham Cleage,  was born in Detroit in 1923. She graduated from Eastern High School in Detroit and received a full scholarship to Wayne State  where she earned a BA with distinction as a Sociology major in June/1944. She returned to school in 1951 and earned teaching certification. In 1958 she became a masters candidate in education, completing her Master’s of Education Degree in the fall of 1958.  She took postmasters classes in education during a sabbatical in 1963. She also took evening classes  in 1968, when I was a senior at Wayne State.

My great grandmother, Emma Jones Turner (My grandmother Fannie’s paternal grandmother) was born about 1840 in South Carolina into slavery.  According to the 1880, 1900 and 1910 census she spoke English and was literate. I wish I knew more about her. I never heard a story about her. After my grandmother’s father was killed when she was 4 years old, her mother broke all ties with her husband’s family.

On My Paternal Side

Celia - my great grandmother

My great grandmother Celia Rice Cleage Sherman was my grandfather’s mother. She was born about 1855 into slavery in Virginia and brought to Tennessee as a child. She was about 10 when freedom came. In the 1880 census she could neither read nor write. By the 1930 census she spoke English and could read but could not write.  I wonder if my grandfather or his siblings taught her to read when they went to school.

My 2X great grandmother, Clara Green was born into slavery about 1829 in Kentucky. She was my grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage’s grandmother. In the 1880 census she was listed as about 55, spoke English and could not read or write.

Her daughter, my great grandmother Anna Allen Reed  was born  about 1849 in Kentucky into slavery.   According to the 1910 Census she spoke English but could not read or write. Anna’s four older children were illiterate while the four youngest were literate.

Pearl - my paternal grandmother

Her youngest daughter, my grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage was born in Lebanon, Kentucky in 1886. In the 1900 census she was 16 and where it says if you were or were not in school it says “Book 1” I don’t know what that means.  At any rate she was literate and spoke English. My Aunt Barbara told me she finished high school. I remember my grandparent’s house being full of books.



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.

Off The Same Plantation, but Not A Relative

Eliza was also owned by Col. Harrison.  Her mother, Annie Williams, was born in Virginia. I am trying to figure out if any information in this article can help me in my research.
The Montgomery Advertiser, Wednesday Morning, November 14, 1917

“Old Charles,” Faithful Servant For Almost a Century, Passes Away

 Charles Leftwich, born into slavery in “Old Virginny,” at Lynchburg in 1831, in early manhood sold to a new master and carried to bondage to Lowndes County, Ala. died here November 7 at four score years and six.  His death was mourned by white and black alike.  He heard the “angel voices calling”, and in death as in life, ever obedient, he answered the call.  In youth, In young manhood, in middle life, and finally while body was bent and head hung low, as those who knew him say, he was loving, faithful, and true.  “Old Charles” is no more, but through the avenue of almost a century he walked among friends he made because of his deeply affectionate nature and entire faithfulness.

Servant of Col. Harrison

As a slave and faithful and devoted servant of Colonel Edmund Harrison, of Lowndes County, when the war broke out Charles was selected by his master as a body guard for the latter’s son-in-law Winston Hunter, when the young man began his service in the Confederate States Army.

Through the blazing heat of Summer, in the sleet, slush, ice, and bitter winds of Winter, for four long and trying years, while the confederacy’s fortunes lay in the troubled balance of the great Civil War, steadfast and true the faithful negro served his warrior master.  It was but natural that a peculiarly strong affection bound the two together, a bond of attachment none the less strong because of any difference of color, it is said.

Return To Old Home

After the war and Charles was free, he returned to the plantation of Colonel Harrison as to his natural home, and there remained until the death of the older master.  Throughout the trying days of the reconstruction immediately following the war there was no change in the former slave.  Day and night he remained true to those who had been good to him, an every ready protector of the women and children in the times that tried men’s souls.

Sorrow stricken after the death of others to whom he was so attached, after the death of “ol morster”, Charles came to Montgomery.  Events changed others – but not Charles, for into life, in ease and in plenty, in privation and in misery, this man with a black skin but a spotless character plodded his humble way as nobly within the city’s gates as he had for many years out where the birds twittered and the balm of the Southern sunshine itself ever the silken corn and fields of snowy cotton.

Served in Kessler Family

About ten years before his death “old Charles” began service with Mr. And Mrs. W.D.C. Kessler.  He soon became so attached to the Kesslers’ first born, then a baby boy, that he was installed as a nurse.  Then this splendid character proved as good a nurse as the gentlest woman.  To other boys were born to the Kesslers, and as each came Charles took him in charge, and guarded them as only he could do.  all of the children were devoted to him and his pride and affection for them were beautiful evidences of his own great goodness.  He wold often say that it was his only desire that he should live long enough for “his boys” to remember him so well that never would they forget him.  That this wish is daily gratified there are several who will attest.

"She was owned before the war by the late Colonel Edmund Harrison of this county."

Yesterday someone  sent me a small newspaper item about my great grandmother on the Cleage side, visiting her children in Indianapolis in 1914.  Then I read a blog post on Reclaiming Kin about breaking down a brick wall with a newspaper article.  This sent me searching newspapers on The Genealogy Bank.  I expected to find more of the little society items about teas and meetings I have found in the past. I found several interesting articles, One about a horse owned by Victor Tulane putting it’s hoof through a car window and a photograph of my mother selling tickets to a church dance in 1951.  I started putting in the names I don’t usually look for, like my grandmother Fannie Turner.  I found two articles about her which I will share later.  Then I put in Edmund Harrison’s name.

Oral history tells us that Col. Edmund Harrison of Montgomery owned my 2x great grandmother, Eliza, during slavery. My cousin Margaret McCall Thomas Ward searched for decades to find something that would prove this.  I joined her search in 2002 but we were unable to find anything … until I came across the article below about Margaret’s father, James McCall.  It is that written record!  I really, really wish I could call Margaret and tell her what I found but she has been gone for almost 4 years now.  This is just a short part of the article, it was very long with many poems included.

 James Edward McCall, A Montgomery Negro Boy, Is an Intellectual Prodigy
“Blind Tom” of Literature Writes Clever Poetry, None of Which Has Ever Before Been Published—Lost His Eyesight by Hard Study.

The Montgomery Advertiser
James Edward McCall

The Montgomery Advertiser,  March 28, 1904.
    “Young McCall’s thoughts are high.  He is a muscian as well as a poet, and his happiest hours are spent in solitude with his thoughts which are ever bright and cheerful nonwithstanding his affliction.
    James Edward McCall is the oldest son of Ed McCall, for twenty-three years a cook at the Montgomery police station and one of the best known and most respected negroes (sic) in Montgmery.  Ed McCall was owned by W.T. McCall of Lowndes County.  His aged master is still living on the old plantation and he has no truer friend or more devoted servant than Ed McCall.  The mother of the young poet was Mary Allen, daughter of Doc Allen, for many years a well to do negro (sic) carpenter of Montgomery.  She was owned before the war by the late colonel Edmund Harrison of this county.”

Mary Allen McCall, James Edward McCall’s mother