Category Archives: Grahams

Mrs. Annie Graham – Obituary

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.

R is for Relatives, of the Elusive Kind
Mystery Photograph
Annie Graham – Sibling?

The Grahams in the 1950 Census

Today I’m going to write about my mother’s parents, Mershell and Fannie (Turner) Graham grandparents in my preview of the 1950 Census.

In 1950 Mershell and Fannie Graham were still living at 6638 Theodore Street. The single family frame house was built in 1913 and was probably worth about $7,000.  The Grahams bought the house in 1923. If they had a 30 year mortgage, they would have had 3 more years until it was paid.  I like to think that they had already paid it off. The house probably cost  less than $2,000 when they bought it in 1923.

house deed

The house was heated with forced air using a converted coal to gas furnace. There were three bedrooms and a bathroom complete with indoor plumbing and running water upstairs, including a claw foot bathtub and a flush toilet.  Downstairs were three more rooms, making six in all (not counting the bathroom). The kitchen had an electric refrigerator and a sink with hot and cold running water.  There was also a full attic and full basement. They did not own a television but did have a radio, probably more than one. I remember one in the kitchen and one in my grandfather’s bedroom.

Mershell Graham had worked 52 weeks as a stock clerk in an auto factory. His annual wages were probably about average, $3,210. He had completed 8 years of school. He was not a veteran. Mershell and Fannie had been married once and this marriage had lasted 31 years. Fannie had birthed 4 children.   She had completed high school, and had not worked outside of the home.

Abbie Allen Brown

Living with them was Fannie’s 75 year old widowed aunt, Abbie Allen. Abbie had birthed 2 children and her 1 marriage occurred 46 years ago. She hadn’t worked in the past year. She had completed 7th grade.

All three of them would have given “Negro” for race, but if the census taker didn’t ask and assumed, they may have been enumerated as “white”.  All three were born in Alabama and all of their parents had been born in the United States.

Helpful links for figuring out costs and wages were:

Other posts in the 1950 series

Mershell & Annie Mae Graham Sibling Relationship Proved

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.

O. Barron’s Farm 1918, Elmore County, Alabama

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.

Other posts about Mershell’s siblings

R is for Relatives, of the Elusive Kind
Mystery Photograph
Annie Graham – Sibling?
Jacob Graham – Sibling?
Inside Cover of Mershell C. Graham’s Bible

Note: I published an earlier version of this post but I got so much new information that I decided to re-write it but keep the comments from the first post, as I did not want to leave that one up.

Poppy in the Garden

My maternal grandfather Mershell C. Graham in his garden with my cousin Dee Dee. About 1946. We called him Poppy.

I came across this photo while looking for a picture for my cousin last night. I don’t remember seeing it before, although I must have because it’s in my box of Graham photographs.

Since the end of the April A-Z Challenge this year, I’ve been working on my grandfather’s migration story – his move from Montgomery, Alabama to Detroit, Michigan in 1917. The more I look, the more I find, much more than I had originally been looking for.

When I saw the prompt for Sepia Saturday this morning, it reminded me of the picture of my grandfather in the garden and I decided to post it while I continue to work on putting together his larger story.

For other Sepia Saturday Photos, click .

Z – ZOO, Belle Isle

Mershell Jr, Mary Virginia (or is that Doris?) and their father, Mershell Graham in front of the Conservatory on Belle Isle. 1920s.

The Belle Isle Zoo was originally established on the island in 1895 with a deer park and a bear den. By 1909, the Detroit Zoo on Belle Isle had 150 animals in 32-acres. The Belle Isle Children’s Zoo was established in 1947 dismantled in the 1970s. In 1980, the Belle Isle Safari Zoo was opened with raised walkways expanded into the wooded area. The Belle Isle Safari Zoo closed in 2002. Historical Gallery and Fun Facts

The route from the Graham home on Theodore to Belle Isle. That is the same route we took in the 1950s from my grandparents house to Belle Isle.

Can’t Get Animals For Belle Isle Zoo

Buying Trip Fruitless; Market Empty; War Blamed

Added to the other shortages which have taken the joy out of life during the past year, we now have the wild animal shortage.

The lack of supply in this commodity was brought forcefully to the attention of E. G. Becket, commissioner of the park and boulevard department. Last week when efforts to obtain additional specimens for the Belle Isle zoo came to naught.

James Timmons, animal keeper at Belle Isle, was sent on a scouting expedition by Mr. Heckel, with instructions to bring back some zebras, camels and any other specimens obtainable. A trip to Cleveland Toledo and Cincinnati resulted in a report from Mr. Timmons that no animals worth buying were to be had.

“The scarcity of wild animals for zoo and menagerie specifically is due to the World War.” H. W. is Busch, park department superintendent, said Sunday. “There have been no importations for more than four years, with the result that what stock is offered for sale is of such poor quality that the city cannot affort to waste its money.”

According to Mr. Busch, the supply of deep sea fish from which the aquarium is stocked also is limited. A recent trip made to the West by Mr. Heckel in quest of deep sea fish failed to produce a single specimen.

The park department has a fund of $2,500 to spend for zoo specimens this year and to date has succeeded in placing but one order, which is for a pair of ostriches. These are expected to arrive within a few weeks.

I can’t believe this is my last A to Z post for 2020!

U – UNDERTAKER – Mershell Graham’s Death 1927

Aunt Daisy Turner, Grandmother Jennie Allen Turner, Mother Fannie Turner Graham Mary Virginia, Mershell and Doris. This is about the only photo where Mershell smiles.
Dr. Alexander Turner, 1926

On November 1, 1927 Mershell C. Graham Jr was killed when he was hit by a truck on the way back to school after lunch. He was taken to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, a Catholic Hospital on Detroit’s East side. Dr. Turner was there with him when he died.

The route from the Graham house, to the elementary school and Mercy Hospital. The highways wouldn’t have been there then.

From the back pages of my grandmother Fannie Turner Graham’s Bible
“Our darling little Mershell Jr. was run over by a truck on Tuesday Nov. 1st – ’27 at 12:45 PM. on his way to school from lunch. skull crushed etc. – Neck broken – shoulder fractured- rushed to St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital – never regained consciousness – died – same night at 2:10 – Dr Turner at his sid(e) (Fun)eral-Nov 4th … (Lavi)scount offic(iated)  sang….”

Thomas School in the last several years before it burned down.
St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Detroit, MI 2200 East Grand Blvd.
Click to enlarge

Something has gone out of our hearts but I get comfort from the following song which I’ve so often heard my mother sing: – as best I remember it:

“Go bury thy sorrow,
Go hide it with care,
‘Go bury it deeply,
The world has it’s share.
Go tell it to Jesus,
He even will hear,
His is the best solace
He always is near.”

God be with us, strengthen and comfort us in these, the saddest hours we’ve ever known, and prepare us to meet our darling boy in heaven. Amen.

8/25/29 We went to cemetery for first time today

9/7/28 – Howard came in place of Mershell, we thot – he was such a beautiful darling – stayed with us 3 1/2 years – then God took him….

Now we go to cemetery weekly.

Mershell Cunningham Graham Jr. – Death Certificate
The Detroit Tribune, May 25, 1957
The undertakers listed on Mershell Graham’s death certificate were Davis and Webster.