Category Archives: Grahams

The Grahams in the 1930s

Fannie’s mother Jennie Virginia Turner, Mary Virginia, Fannie, Doris. In back Howard and father Mershell Graham.

My grandfather Mershell C Graham was the son of Mary Jackson Graham who we saw auctioned off with her family after the death of slave holder Crawford Motley Jackson in 1860. We move forward 70 years to 1930 and see what the life of the Graham family was like during that decade. Click on any image to enlarge in another window.

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The decade began with the Graham’s living in the house at 6638 Theodore where they had been for almost seven years. There were five family members – Mershell (42), Fannie (40), Mary Virginia (10), Doris(7) and Howard(almost 2). They owned their home which was valued at $8,000. They owned at least one radio. Everyone was identified as Neg(ro). Mershell and Fannie had been married ten years.

Both Mershell and Fannie had been born in Alabama, as had their parents. They were 32 and 30 when they married. Both were literate. The children were all born in Michigan. The two oldest girls attended school. Howard was too young.

Mershell was working as a stock keeper in an auto factory for wages. He had been at work the day before the census taker came to the house. He was a citizen and not a veteran. Fannie had not worked outside of the home in the past year.

There were 50 names on this census sheet. Aside from the Jordan family who lived next door to the Grahams, everyone on the page was white, a number having been born in other countries. None of the males on this census sheet had served in the armed forces. All of the school age children were attending school. Three men were unemployed. One of the married women worked outside of the home as a laundress.. There were three widows. One was 70 years old, lived with her son and did not work outside the home. One worked as a servant and one as a laundress. Both for private families. One single daughter worked as a telephone operator. One single sister-in-law worked as a “janitress” in a steel factory. All of the adults were literate. One household Had spoken Polish and one German & French, before coming to the United States. Fifteen people were born in Michigan. Others were born in Canada, Ohio, Scotland, Poland, Pennsylvania, England, Missouri, Washington, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, Alabama and Switzerland.

These statistics only include the people on the enumeration page. Not all of the people on the map below were included on the same page as my family.

My grandparent’s block.
As now there are so many things are happening in the outside world while we live our lives, so it was for the Grahams in the 1930s.

Posts for the Grahams during the 1930s
Mershell Graham’s Notebook – 1930s
Home Library 1931
Sisters and Dogs – 1932
Howard Alexander Graham Death Certificate – 1932
One Hundred and One Famous Poems 1933
Sisters 1933
13 Years Old, Mary Virginia Graham 1934
Going out 1937
Mary Virginia Graham – Social Reporter 1937
1937 Christmas Activities
My Social Butterflies – 1911 & 1937
The Social Sixteen 1937-1938
My Mother in the News 1937-1940
Mary Virginia Graham Colorized – 1938
Family Group – 1939
My Mother Smiling in a Hat – 1939
Thanksgiving 1939
Marian Anderson in Detroit, 1939

Auctioned

From the Digital Archives of the Alabama Department of History and Archives

Last spring I looked at the probate record of Crawford Motley Jackson and found the enslaved listed by family groups, all 135 of them. One of those groups was made up of my 2 x great grandmother Prissy and her children, including my great grandmother Mary. I wrote that up in Appraisement of the Negroes Belonging to the Estate of C. M. Jackson

C. M. Jackson died in February 1860. In December of that year, the administrator of the estate, Crawford M. Jackson’s brother Absalom Jackson and other family members who were heirs to the estate, agreed to sell land and 19 of the 135 enslaved, including the seven members of my family – Prissy and her six children.

The Autauga Citizen (Prattville, Alabama) 20 Dec 1860

State of Alabama
Aut
auga County

22 Dec 1860

This instrument following that on Thursday 20th December a meeting was held between Absalom Jackson admin of Crawford M. Jackson deceased who as distributor of said estate was entitled to one half there of, Mrs. Temperance E. Young, Nimrod W Long (represented under a power of attorney by James O. Long) James O. Long, Evans A Long, and Lunceford C Long each of the last being entitled as distributed to one fifth part of the other half of said estate – and Mrs. Temperance Jackson who by agreement with all the distributes above named had released her claim to the indebtedness due her by the estate for an assignment of all said distributes of one sixth part of the said estate – this meeting was held for the purpose in the first place of setting apart the slaves to be sold by the administrate for the payment of debts under the decree? Of this court of probate already made.

2. Secondly to set apart to Mrs. Temperance Jackson one sixth part of the negroes (sic) remaining for division – thirdly to set apart to Absalom Jackson and the other distributes above named their respective share of the negroes (sic) remaining for division during these – by agreement between the parties the ??? named slaves were set apart to be sold by the administrator for payment of debts under the decree above referred to, to wit

            names                         ages             estimate value

1.         Coosa                           13                    $1065.00
2.         Lucy                             13                     1030.00
3.         Fanny                          15                     1500.00
4.         Mathew                       31                     1400.00
7.        Justin & 2 children    26                     1400.00
8.         Naomi                           8                        550.00
9.         Rush                             6                        400.00
10       Jenny Lind                   5                        275.00
11       Anna                             2                        200.00
12       Prissy                          35                     1000.00. My 2X great grandmother
13       Harjo                             9                         900.00
14       Griffin                           8                         900.00
15       Frank Prince                6                         650.00
16       Jim Buck                     23                     1500.00
17       Delila child of Prissy   2                        200.00
18       Iba                  “          12                     1004.00
19       Mary               “             4                       450.00.
My great grandmother

Which negroes (sic) are retained by the audit for sale as above – stated, the value set down being taken from the appraisement, but it being appointed that slaves are not worth as much …

The Autauga Citizen (Prattville, Alabama) 20 Dec 1860

Things I wonder – Who bought them? A family member or someone else? Was the family kept together? Why were these particular people chosen to be auctioned off? In 1870, the first census after Freedom, the whole family appears together. Except for Harjo. Did he die? Was he sold away? Did he change his name?

If you can make out any of the words I skipped or any of the words I wrote but may have transcribed wrong, please let me know!

Appraisement of the Negroes Belonging to the Estate of C. M. Jackson

Recently while looking through my tree for the Jackson Family of Autauga County, Alabama, (which I have long suspected of being the slave holders for my maternal grandfather Mershell Graham’s family), I found the will and estate file for Crawford Motley Jackson who died in 1860. In the file I found my grandfather’s mother Mary Jackson listed along with her mother Prissy Jackson.

The list was arranged in family groups, with the names, ages and appraisement. values. I added the birth years. This is the full list of 135 people enslaved by C. M. Jackson at his death. The underlined names signal a new family group.

21 April 1860. Appraisement of the Negroes belonging to the Estate of C M. Jackson. No. 1, Book 7 Minutes 573

A list of negroes (sic) belonging to C. M Jackson deceased presented to undersigned, George Rives, John D. Graves and Philip Fitzpatrick appointed appraisers of said estate by Probate Court of Autauga County Alabama on the 15th of March 1860 by Absalin Jackson administrator of said estate with appraised value of same made by us opposite their names.

            Name                          Age     Birth              Valued

  1. Ned                             57       1803               $215
  2. Clem                           57       1803                    60  (unsound)
  3. Richard                      25       1835                    60  (unsound)
  4. Rachel &                   19       1841               1400
  5. Child
  6. Giles                            50       1810               1330
  7. Ester &                       35       1825                 750  (unsound)
  8. Child
  9. Katherin                     11       1849                 800
  10. Eliza                              9        1851                 550
  11. Giles Jr                        15       1845               1100
  12. Daniel                           3       1857                 300
  13. Edmund                     33       1828               1530
  14. Belinda                       35       1825               1000
  15. Ben                             15       1845               1130
  16. Coosa                          13       1847               1065
  17. Oran                           12       1848                 930
  18. Dorcus                        10       1850                 700
  19. Mark                              8       1852                 530
  20. Texas                             6       1854                 500
  21. Labun                            3       1857                 300
  22.  Peggy                            2      1858                 250
  23. Mathew                      31       1826               1400
  24. Julia &                         26       1834               1400
  25. Child
  26. Lud                             10       1850                  800
  27. Naomi                           8       1852                  550
  28. Rush                              6       1854                  400
  29. Jenny Lind                   5      1855                  275
  30. Anna                              2      1858                  200
  31. Clark                           30      1830               1300
  32. Amanda &                  18      1842               1400
  33.  Child
  34. Winter                             8        1852                500
  35. Katy &                           28       1832               1400
  36. Child
  37. Jim Polk                        6        1854                 450
  38. Maria                            8        1852                 550
  39. Archy                            4        1856                 300
  40. Peggy                           27       1833               1200
  41. Rocksy                          7        1853                 600
  42. Jim                              24       1836               1530
  43. Harriett &                   18       1842               1400
  44. Child George
  45. William                       48      1812               1100
  46. Vina                            47       1813                 850
  47. Denis                          18       1842               1500
  48. Charlotte                    16       1844               1400
  49. Sam                             13       1847               1150
  50. Nelson                          11       1849               1020
  51. Rebecca                        4        1856                  400
  52.  Nancy                            3        1857                  300
  53. Jacob                           30       1830               1200
  54. Martha &                    27       1833               1430
  55.  Child
  56. Eliza                              9        1851                 700
  57. Frank                            7        1853                 750
  58. Henry                           3        1857                 300
  59. Henry                         25       1835               1500
  60. Cloe                             19       1841               1500
  61. Abram                           12       1848               1300
  62. Jackson                       21       1839               1500
  63. Silva &                           24       1836               1500
  64. Child Winnie
  65. Franky                          6        1854                 450
  66. Laura                            3        1857                 325
  67. Laban                         37       1823               1100
  68. Aga                              21       1839               1300
  69. Billy                               2        1858                 275
  70. Mary &                       37       1823               1150
  71. Child
  72. Ellenboro                   38       1822               1200
  73. Davy                         18       1842               1300
  74. Fanny                       15       1845               1500
  75. Lucy                            13       1847               1030
  76. Solly                              9        1851                 900
  77. Isabell                           6        1853                  600
  78. Lewis                            4        1856                  400
  79. Prissy &                35       1825                1200  – my great great grandmother.
  80. Child Lizza                   2        1858                                      
  81. Ibi                               12       1848               1000              
  82. Harjo                             9        1851                 900              
  83. Griffin                           8        1852                 900           
  84. Frank Pierce                6        1854                 600   
  85. Mary                             4        1856                 450 – my great grandmother
  86. Allen                           40       1820                 900
  87. Disy &                         33       1827               1100
  88. Child
  89. Noah                           13       1947             1100
  90. Phillis                          11       1849             1000
  91. Allen                             8        1852               700
  92. Sopha                           5        1855               500
  93. Edna                             4        1846               325
  94. General August         3        1857               200
  95. B. Mary                       41       1819               800
  96.  Jessy                          17      1843             1400
  97. Dallas                         15       1845              1300
  98. Betty                           12       1848              1100
  99. Vina                            11       1849               1000
  100. Louisa &         24       1836               1500
  101. Child
  102. Jane                  5        1865                  400
  103. Josephine         3        1857                  275
  104. Little Aaron    30       1860               1300
  105. Amanda &      22       1838               1400
  106. Child
  107. Harrison           3        1857                  250
  108. Pamela             2        1858                  200
  109. Old Sy                                                 no valuation assessed
  110. D?? George     42       1838                  800
  111. Robert              36       1824               1300
  112. Cysue              28       1832               1450
  113. Joe                   26       1834               1500
  114. George            56       1804                 300
  115. Milly                46       1814                 400
  116. Charles           16       1844               1500
  117. John                12       1848               1250
  118. Menerva         10       1850                 975
  119. Georgiana         5       1855                 425
  120. Nick                 45       1815               1100_________\
  121. Violet &           41       1809                 900                  
  122. Child Richard   1        1859                                            
  123. Sarah &          21       1839               1000                        
  124. Child                                                                           Mrs. Tempe Jackson
  125. Brown             19       1841               1100               has a lifetime estate
  126. Peter               14       1842               1300               in these negroes (sic) at …
  127. Hanna             12       1848               1000               Can’t read the rest.
  128. Tennessee      10       1850                 850                         
  129. Pauline             8        1852                 700                       
  130. Jennetta           5        1855                 500__________ /
  131. Old Aaron       58       1802                 250
  132. Rose                56       1804                 225
  133. Joe Black         27       1833               1250
  134. Jim                  23       1837               1500
  135. Washington   19       1841               1000

State of Alabama } Personally appeared before me John Zeigler acting justice of the Autauga County  }peace in and for said county George Rives &, John D. Graves & Phillip Fitzpatrick appraisers of the Estate of Crawford M. Jackson deceased and being duly sworn , depose and say that the foregoing appraisement as agreed upon by them is just according to their knowledge and brief.

Sworn to and subscribed before me this the 5th day of April M. D. 1860

John J Zeigler J. P.

Fannie Turner Animated

fannie turner portrait 2 1919-0-Animated

This photograph was taken in Montgomery, Alabama, during my grandparent’s engagement in 1919. I animated it using My Heritage, Deep Nostalgia.

My maternal grandmother, Fannie Mae Turner Graham, was born 133 years ago today. She was born in 1888 in Lowndes County Alabama, the oldest child of Howard and Jennie (Allen) Turner. Here is something my mother wrote about her in about 1980.

Somebody’s Daughter My Mother

By Doris Graham Cleage

            Yes, I’ll tell you, I am somebody’s daughter.  My mother was really SOMEBODY.

            She was the first child of my (who else?) grandmother who was one of seven children born to a woman freed from slavery at seventeen and a free man.  The woman had been trained as a seamstress in the “Big House” and she taught every one of her five daughters to sew.  And so my Grandmother earned her living as a seamstress for white folks in Montgomery, Alabama.

            It was fortunate that she had an independent spirit as well as a skill because she lost her husband when my mother was four years old and a younger sister was two.  While grandmother was out sewing, the two children stayed with their grandparents who were very strict.

            One of my mother’s earliest memories was of a spanking with the flat of a saw by her grandfather because she made footprints across the dirt backyard which he had freshly swept to a marvelous smoothness! 

            She also remembered him complaining often about their behavior to their mother when she came home.  She spanked them too. But mother said she learned early that if they cried loudly, the spanking was shorter and less energetic.  Armed with this knowledge, she and her sister made it through childhood and in due time graduated from Normal school (high school). 

            Mother finished in 1906 and she refused scholarships to college.  She chose instead to clerk in her uncle’s general store and eventually managed it.  I think she valued this and her marriage above all other experiences in her life.  I think they held vastly different meanings for her.  I think one represented what she really wanted to do and to be and the other represented what she thought she ought to want to do and be.

            I never knew her very well.  There never was time to talk to her until she was very ill and I took care of her.  This seems very strange to me.  My mother never worked after she married.  She was always at home taking care of her family.  I lived at home until I married.  When I lived at home in Detroit I saw her at least once a week.  When I lived in other cities, we exchanged letters at least once a week.  For the last seven years of her life we shared a two-family flat.  But I never knew her as a person until she was dying.

            Stereotypes and structures.  Forms and duties.  Oughts and shoulds.  How things are supposed to be.  Never how they are.  Cages and gags and straightjackets.  And we don’t know they’re there.

            When I could see and hear my mother as a person, and not as MY MOTHER, I was delighted and dismayed.  Delighted that we had so much in common and that I liked her.  Dismayed that she was eighty-six and ill and that life had made me wait so long to know her.

            She and my father were happily married for fifty-one years.  They loved and respected each other.  Even in delirium I never heard either one say anything but good and loving things about the other.  Mother spoke with peace and sureness about my father.  But her face lit up, her back straightened, her voice got louder and she was alive when she talked of managing Great Uncle Victor’s general store.  She never tired of telling me about taking inventory, counting money, keeping books, dealing with the help and customers and demanding respect from the drummers. 

            Drummers were white salesmen trying to get orders for their products and you can imagine how difficult it was for a handsome black woman doing a man’s job to get respect from them.  But she knew the power of her ability to give or without orders and she used it without apology.  Her whole tone when she straightened her back and raised her head to tell it was not of asking for respect, but demanding it – and loving the demanding!

            She managed the store for the twelve most satisfying years of her life.  Then she married in 1919.  My father never wanted her to work.  She suggested a small business several times.

            He said, “A MAN supports his family.  I am a man. My wife will never work.”

            She knew he was supposed to be right so she didn’t press it.  She wrote that all a woman needs to be happy is “a baby to rock and a man to please.”  And that’s the way she acted.  She kept the house, cooked the meals, rocked the babies and pleased the man. But she never believed that woman was meant only for this because she raised her two daughters by word and deed to believe that women should be whatever they wanted to be.  I don’t remember her ever saying, “But women can’t be freighter captains, or airplane pilots or doctors or engineers.”  she believed I could be anything and I believed it too.

            How restricted she must have felt doing most of the jobs that go with keeping house and raising babies.

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.