Category Archives: Great Migration

Prologue: Montgomery

complete-montgomery-2
1916 shell cane
cliffgrahamyoung

Clifton Graham

Fannie Mae Turner before marriage
First_Congregation_Christian_Church_in_Montgomery_Alabama

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Mershell Cunningham Graham

My grandfather Mershell C. Graham was born in Coosada Station, Elmore County around 1886. He was not given a middle name. He picked “Cunningham” as an adult. His father farmed. He had a sister and several brothers. At some point the brothers all left for the city, leaving their sister Annie, who stayed in Elmore County for her whole life.

The two older brothers, William and Crawford disappeared into the unknown after the 1880 Census. My grandfather left for nearby Montgomery and from there to Detroit. Jacob died young. Abraham moved first to Nashville, Tennessee and then to Cleveland Ohio, where he died in 1948 of tuberculosis.

Click all images to enlarge in a new window.

The 1910 Unitd States Census is the first census that my grandfather Mershell (Shell) Graham appears in. Twenty-two year old Shell worked at a railroad repair shop in Waycross Georgia. He was boarding with Irwin and Mary Warren and their three daughters. The Warrens owned their home free of mortgage. Irwin Warren worked as a car inspector for the railroad. Mary Warren did not work outside the home. She had birthed four children and three were living. The daughters, ages 18,15 and 7, attended school. Everyone in the household was literate and identified as black. Below is the household with Mershell Graham at the bottom as a border.

1910 Census form. Click to enlarge.

“Waycross began as a crossroads for southeastern travel. We were first a hub for stagecoach traffic, and then became a center for the railroad when it laid its tracks in the mid 1800’s. As the Plant System Railroad started to grow, so did the town surrounding it.”
Waycross Facts

Mershell was close friend with Cliffton John Graham, who was not a blood relative. He lived with the family for five or six years before migrating to Detroit. My grandmother referred to Mary Graham, Cliff’s mother as her mother-in-law. Cliff came to Detroit at around the same time as my grandfather

Joseph Graham. Born Dec. 25, 1850. Died Dec 9, 1909. He is not dead but sleepeth.

Death of friend Cliff’s father Joseph L Graham(1853–1910) December 28 1909. Montgomery, Alabama, USA

Cliff’s father Joseph Graham, his mother Mary, sister Mattie, Cliff. 715 S. Union Street, Montgomery.

Age 24 — In 1912 Mershell Graham lived at 715 Union Street. This was his close friend, John Clifton Graham’s family’s home. My grandfather was a waiter and Cliff was a bartender. Also living in the house were Cliff’s widowed mother Mary and his sister Mattie.

The asterisk in front of a name meant that they were black. The dots were added by me. (m) means married. (wid) means widow. The letter “h” before the address means “house”. The letter “b” before the address means boards. The Grahams that are not marked, are not in the household with my grandfather Mershell.

1912 Montgomery City Directory

My grandfather Shell’s brother Jacob was three years younger. Jacob died from TB at age 21, on June 30, 1913 in Montgomery County at the Fresh Air Camp. The Fresh Air Camp was set up to try and give health to those with TB.

Death Certificate for Jacob Graham
224 Tuscaloosa Street. Mershell on the railing, Mary in the rocking chair and Clifton seated on the steps.

In 1914 my grandfather was 26. The Graham’s had moved from Union street to 224 Tuscalousa. Mary Grham was working as a cook. Clifton and Mershell were both bartending. Mattie was a teacher.

1914 Montgomery City Directory


Age 27 – Residence 1915 • Montgomery, 224 Tuscaloosa bartender

1915 Montgomery City Directory


In 1916 my grandfather was living with the Grahams at  224 Tuscalousa. His employment is listed as “Farmer.” Clifton is now a funeral dirrector, Mary is a widow and Mattie is no longer in the home, she was studying nursing in Kansas City.

Mattie Graham in her nurses outfit in Kansas City.
1916 Montgomery City Directory

By late 1916, early 1917 my grandfather had made the move to Detroit. He received a letter dated February 16, 1917 from Seligman & Marx at 293 Catherine Street. Catherine Street was located in Detroit’s Black Bottom.

Other posts about Mershell C Graham going to Detroit

Bound For the Promised Land
One Way Ticket
Letters From Home
Those Left Behind
Founding a New Congregational Church
The Proposal
The Proposal Accepted
Rev. E. E. Scott
Winter In St. Antoine
The Steamer “Eastern States”

Bound for the Promised Land

“The Reason,” by Albert A. Smith. The Crisis, (March, 1920)

From Florida’s stormy banks I go;
I’ve bid the South “Good by”;
No longer shall they treat me so,
And knock me in the eye.
The northern states is where I’m bound.
My cross if more than double –
If the chief executive can be found.
I’ll tell him all my trouble.


Thousands have gone on there before,
And enjoyed their northern live;
Nothing there they can deplore,
So they wrote back for their wives.
Thousands more now wait to go
To join the glorious sop.
The recruiters failed to take one more
Because the “Crackers” made ‘em stop.


Arise! ye Darkies now a-slave
Your chance at last has come;
Hold up your head with courage brave,
‘Cause times are changing some,
God is punctual to his word,
Faithful to his dating;
Humble prayers is what he heard,
After years of faithful waiting.
All before this change was made
They took me for a tool.
No respect to me was paid –
They classed me for a fool.
For centuries I was knocked and cuffed,
And imposed upon by southern “whites”;
For fifty years they had me bluffed
And robbed me of my “right.” . . .

Hasten on, my dark brother,
Duck the “Jim Crow” laws.
No “Crackers” north to slap your mother
Or knock you in the jaw.
No “Crackers” there to seduce your sister,
Nor hang you to a limb,
And you’re not obliged to call them mister,
Nor show your teeth at them.

Now, why should I remain longer south,
to be kicked and dogged around?
“Crackers” to knock me in the mouth
And shoot my brother down.
No, I won’t. I’m leaving today,
No longer can I wait.
If the recruiters fail to take me ‘way,
I’m bound to catch a freight.

by Mr. Ward
originally published in the Chicago Defender, November 11, 1916

In 1916 the word was everywhere – move north, you have a better chance. Friends and neighbors who had made the journey sent back word. The Chicago Defender sent newspapers all over the countries with articles about lynchings and poems like the above. There were articles about a better life in the north. Jobs that paid a living wage. About being able to vote. Pullman porters distributed the Defender throughout the south, even though the white authorities tried to prevent.

Heading of the Chicago Defender

The newspaper was read extensively in the South. Black Pullman porters and entertainers were used to distribute the paper across the Mason/Dixon line. The paper was smuggled into the south because white distributors refused to circulate The Defender and many groups such as the Klu Klux Klan tried to confiscate it or threatened its readers. The Defender was passed from person to person, and read aloud in barbershops and churches. It is estimated that at its height each paper sold was read by four to five African Americans, putting its readership at over 500,000 people each week. The Chicago Defender was the first black newspaper to have a circulation over 100,000, the first to have a health column, and the first to have a full page of comic strips.

“During World War I The Chicago Defender waged its most aggressive (and successful) campaign in support of “The Great Migration” movement. This movement resulted in over one and a half million southern blacks migrating to the North between 1915-1925. The Defender spoke of the hazards of remaining in the overtly segregated south and lauded life in the North. Job listings and train schedules were posted to facilitate the relocation. The Defender also used editorials, cartoons, and articles with blazing headlines to attract attention to the movement, and even went so far as to declare May 15, 1917 the date of the “Great Northern Drive.” The Defender’s support of the movement, caused southern readers to migrate to the North in record numbers. At least 110,000 came to Chicago alone between 1916-1918, nearly tripling the city’s black population.

NPR “The Chicago Defender”

Mershell on the railing, Mary Graham in the chair and Clifton on the steps of 224 Tuscaloosa Street in Montgomery, AL

On February 14, 1917. he sent a letter from Detroit to Montgomery to ask for a recommendation from Seligman & Marx, Wholesale Grocers. Which means he had relocated to Detroit sometime before February 14. And to make that trip he took the train.

In the 1916 Montgomery City Directory, my grandfather was was living with Clifton and Mary Graham. They were his “adopted family” and as far as I know not blood relations.

From the 1916 Polk Montgomery Directory

Separate but equal was a legal doctrine in United States constitutional law, according to which racial segregation did not necessarily violate the Fourteenth Amendment.

My maternal grandfather, Mershell C. Graham was one of those who listened and decided to leave Montgomery and head to Detroit.

There was no food served to black people either on the train or at stops below the Mason-Dixon line. He would have bought a box with food for the journey, fried chicken, sandwiches, perhaps fruit, biscuits, and cake. Maybe enough to share with a fellow passenger who hadn’t brought food.

Although the price was the same for both black and white passengers, the accommodations were anything but equal. Below is a description. There are several other links at the end of this post to information about segregated travel.

A Way of Travel
“From the 1830s through the 1950s, people traveled in trains pulled by steam locomotives. Cars in these trains were almost always arranged in a particular order—an order that reflected social hierarchy. Coal-burning steam engines spewed smoke and cinders into the air, so the most privileged passengers sat as far away from the locomotive as possible. The first passenger cars—the coaches—were separated from the locomotive by the mail and baggage cars. In the South in the first half of the 20th century, the first coaches were “Jim Crow cars,” designated for black riders only. Passenger coaches for whites then followed. Long-distance trains had a dining car, located between the coaches and any sleeping cars. Overnight trains included sleeping cars—toward the back because travelers in these higher-priced cars wanted to be far away from the locomotive’s smoke. A parlor or observation car usually brought up the rear

Jim Crow Journeys: An Excerpt from Traveling Black
The 1880s railroads and segregation
From Jim Crow to Now: On the Realities of Traveling While Black

One Way Ticket

I pick up my life, And take it with me,
And I put it down in Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, Scranton,
Any place that is North and East, And not Dixie.
I pick up my life And take it on the train,
To Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Seattle, Oakland, Salt Lake
Any place that is North and West, And not South.
I am fed up With Jim Crow laws,
People who are cruel And afraid, Who lynch and run,
Who are scared of me And me of them
I pick up my life And take it away On a one-way ticket
Gone up North Gone out West Gone!

By Langston Hughes

In early 1917 my maternal grandfather Mershell C. Graham decided to leave Montgomery, Alabama and seek a new life in Detroit, Michigan. He was far from alone. Spurred on by daily life, reports in the Chicago Defender and reports from those who had gone before, thousands of black men and women were leaving the south and heading, as the poem said, North and West.

Lowndes Adams, a friend who remained in Montgomery wrote to my grandfather in April 1917,


204 Oak Street
Montgomery, Ala
April 7, 1917

Dear “Shell” – From my early acting in answering your letter, you may know or imagine how proud I was to receive a letter from the boy. I have thought of you often and wondering at the same time, if I was just to receive a postcard from you; for as you have said about me, I consider you one of my closest and most trusted worthy friends. It doesn’t seem that one can realize the feeling that exists until a separation, but after looking into the proposition, knowing that you had to get located, being in a new land, and being among strangers would consume lots of your time. I am certainly pleased to know that you are so well satisfied with Detroit and the surroundings. Yes, I would be tickled to death if I could be up there with you, for I am sick and tired of this blooming place. I know it must be an inspiration to be where you can breathe a little freedom, for every body down here are beginning to feel that slavery is still existing in the south.
The Teacher’s Association has been in session here from the 4th to the 7th and quite a number of visitors are here. The boys thru my chivalry managed to give a subscription dance, and believe me I came in an inch of being fagged out. You know how you have to run a “jinke” down to get a $1.00 from him. We had quite a success as well as an enjoyable one. Cliff was to make the punch but on account of his training being too late for him to even come to the ball, it fell my time to do something and I did wish for you but managed to brave the situation and tried to follow as close as I could remember my seeing your making punch and for a fact I really made that punch taste like “a la Shell punch”, and it turned out to be perfect class.

Alabama Medical Association will convene here on 9 and 10 and they are giving a dance at Tabors Hall on Randolph and Decatur Sts. No, not a full dress affair, so I think I shall attend. Sam Crayton is here from Chicago and he is very anxious for me to return with him, but I am afraid he will have to go and I come later.

Well, the U.S. is really in War with Germany and we can’t tell what the next war may bring. It will mean suffering for humanity, and we people down here especially. I am just as neutral as can be and expect to stand pat in the idea.


Yes, people are leaving here in droves for all directions and now you can miss them off of the streets. As many people that hung around the drug store on Sunday, you can scarcely find a dozen there now.

I have seen Miss Turner but once and that was down town. I know she keeps you well informed of herself. There is no news of interest. My sister Jessie was married in February and is now living in Pensacola, so you see so far 1917 has been lucky for me. Now old boy, I shall expect for you not to allow such long gaps between our writing each. All of my family sends the best of wishes to you and Mrs. Wyman and Hubby. The boys and girls join in with me and send their share.

Your devoted pal,
Lowndes

When I thought about my grandfather ‘s move to Detroit, I pictured him arriving alone, not knowing anyone. After reading the letters he received from home asking him to say hello to people who were already there, I realized that was not the way it happened. My next post will talk about his arrival, locating housing and finding a job.

______________

Note: I have had several people say they don’t know what “Jinke” means. I have never heard or seen the word before, however, I take it to mean “Negro”.

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.
To read all about the wedding, click Announcement

___________________________

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.


James Cleage 1870 – 1933

Witherspoon United Presbyterian Church Congregation. James Cleage is in the back row, 5th from the left. My grandparents are 3rd(Pearl Reed) and 4th (Albert Cleage) from the right. My grandfather’s brothers, Jake and Henry Cleage are next to him.
James Albert Cleage

James Cleage was born in 1870, the eighth of the ten surviving children of formerly enslaved Jerry and Charlotte (Bridgeman) Cleage. His parents had been enslaved on David Cleage’s plantation before the Civil War. Neither Jerry nor Charlotte learned to read or write. Jerry worked as a laborer until his death at age 92.

In September 1894, twenty-two year old James Cleage married twenty year old Josie Cleage. Although they were both named Cleage, it was not because they were related. Josie’s family was enslaved on Alexander Cleage’s plantation while James Cleage’s family was enslaved on David Cleage’s plantation and both families took the surname of “Cleage”. Both were born  after the Civil War.

They had six children – Henrietta born in 1897, Lucille in 1899, James in 1901, Albert David in 1907 and Hattie Ruth was born in 1909. One child was born and died between censuses and I do not know if it was a boy or girl or their name.

James seems to have been the only one of his siblings to get an extensive education. In April 1890 Jacob Lincoln Cook, came to Athens to establish a Presbyterian Mission and founded the Athens Academy. James Cleage was one of the small group of dedicated educators that worked with him and taught there in the early years. In 1900 James was 29 and teaching school at the Athens Academy.  He and his family were living next door to his wife’s mother, step-father and her younger brothers.

In 1900 J.L. Cook was appointed president of Henderson Normal Institute in Henderson, North Carolina. James also went to North Carolina and began teaching at the Institute. In 1901 Josie and James son, James Oscar, was born there. My grandfather, Albert Cleage, lived with his aunt’s family while he was attending high school at Henderson Normal. He graduated in 1902.   By the time Albert David (called David) was born in 1907, the family was back in Athens, Tennessee, but not for long.

By 1905 Henry and Jacob Cleage had relocated to Indianapolis, Indiana and in 1908 James, Josie and their growing family joined them there. Their youngest daughter, Hattie Ruth was born in Indianapolis in 1909.  James worked as mailing clerk for  The Indiana Farmer. Here is a link to the January 2, 1909 issue of that paper.  Josie stayed home and raised the children and kept the house.

Both James and Josie were active in Witherspoon Presbyterian Church. I found these short items in the Indianapolis Star “News of The Colored Folk” during 1911.

March 11, 1911
Officers of the Witherspoon United Presbyterian Church entertained its members at the church at a banquet Tuesday night.  Dr. H.L. Hummons was toastmaster.  Addresses were made by Henry and James Cleage, Mrs. Lillian T. Fox and Mrs. M.A. Clark.

April 9, 1911 Sunday
The Witherspoon United Presbyterian Church will give its annual musicale Friday evening at the church on North West street.  The following program will be given:  Solo, Mrs. T.A. Smythe; reading, Mrs. James Cleage; clarinet solo, Philip Tosch; reading, Mrs. Harriet Mitchel; quartet, Messrs. Lewis, Thompson, Chavis and Thompson.  The church choir will render three selections.  Mrs. Daisy Brabham has charge of the program.

My father and his siblings regularly traveled from Detroit to visit their cousins in Indianapolis. My aunt Anna remembered her uncle James as a very quiet, gentle man who helped around the house.

James’ wife Josie and four of their children. I do not have a picture of James Oscar. Special thanks to my cousins from Uncle James and Aunt Josie’s line for sharing photos with me.

The children all finished several years of high school and then got married or started working or both. Lucille seems to have been the first to relocate to Detroit where her uncles Albert, Jacob and Henry Cleage had settled.

James A. Cleage was 62 when he died from prostrate problems in Indianapolis City Hospital on October 21, 1933. He is buried in New Crown Hill Cemetery.

After he died Josie also moved to Detroit.  In 1940 she lived with her son David and his family on the Old West Side of Detroit, not far from her brothers.

Other posts about this branch of the family.

Nov. 28, 1905 – The Last Letter – An Invitation to Thanksgiving Dinner

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library/University of Georgia Libraries. Click to enlarge.
Pearl Reed

Homer Jarrett
131 Puryear St. City

2730 Kenwood Ave.
Indianapolis, Indiana
Nov. 28, 1905

Mr. Jarrett,
Dear Homer, You are most cordially invited to take Thanksgiving dinner with us at our home Thurs. Nov. 30th. It will be very informal.

Yours sincerely
Anna Reed

P.S. I neglected to tell you that dinner will be served at “7:00 P.M.”
Anna Reed

_______________

click to enlarge

Oct., 24, 1905 – “Most exasperating of people…”

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library/University of Georgia Libraries. Click to enlarge.
Pearl Reed

Homer Jarrett
French Lick, Indiana

2730 Kenwood Ave.
Indianapolis, Indiana
Oct., 24, 1905

Dear Homer

Most exasperating of people, your difficulties and troubles must have ruined your memory, for you asked me to or why I had not answered your letter and you should know that I wrote last and did so about six or seven weeks ago. Did your tribulations run away with your pen, ink, pencils and paper? You have my sympathy, I am sure.

You know very well that you did not come to French Lick to be near me, of course it sounds nice to be told that but of course you do not mean it Homer.

Where you did not answer my letter I thought you had gone south or some other place and was agreeably surprised to get your letter. Glad you are well and coming home, if “even for a visit” O Homer are you coming? Soon? I am curious you see?

What have you been doing with yourself for so long? Everything? How is your mother? Mine is quite well and sends her best regards to you. She tells me that she will be glad to see you again.

We are having ugly weather here Homer, it is raining now, just a fine penetrating rain that soaks you through.

I suppose I’ve about spoiled your temper Homer so I shall cease.

Pearl Doras Reed

P.S.
Wait a second, please, Homer, mother, just now, tells me to tell you that she wishes you were here now to paint this house, for you know you told her that you painted “houses”. She says she is trying to get ready for you Thanksgiving for she expects to have you out here.

Good night
your
Pearl

_________________

Sept 7, 1905 – Pearl Sings & The Weather Cools

Pearl Reed

No envelope.

2730 Kenwood
Sept 7, 1905

Dear Homer;

Your letter came o.k. after I had despaired of receiving it and I was very glad to hear from you. I thought at first that you had gone south and that I should receive my letter back again but I was agreeably surprised to hear from you and that you are so near.

You spoke of the weather, yes I am glad it is cooler. Are you? Last Sunday I visited Riverside Park and although it was cool and I’ve had to wear jackets, I enjoyed it. We stayed out until about 7:30 P.M. and from there to church. We had our supper out there, of sandwiches, hot coffee and cream.

Last night (6th) I took part in a concert at Allen Chapel and did not get home until 1:00 A.M. We had a very nice time.

O Homer what are you doing? Are you well? May “we” hope to see you soon? How is your mother and friends at home? Mother and the boys send their best regards to you.

Homer forgive this pencil, for the old pen point refused to write at all and I have not another just now and it is 9:30 P.M.

I have worried you to desperation Homer I am sure and I shall say good-bye.

Yours truly, P.D.R.

________________

________________

Looking online I found that “The Old Maid’s Association” was a farcical entertainment for thirteen females and one male that was often put on by church groups as a money raiser in the early 1900s.

Miss Blanche Young mentioned in the news item, married Pearl’s brother, Hugh the following year. In 1905 she was a 17 year old high school student at Manual Training High School, a well respected and innovative new high school. Blanche was several years younger than Pearl. According to several news items, she was active in both the Ninth Presbyterian Church and Allen’s Chapel, as Pearl was. She lived about a mile from Allen’s Chapel and a mile and a half from Pearl.

Blanche was born on October 26, 1887 in Indianapolis, Indiana. She was the oldest of the seven children born to James Harvey Young, a teacher and Roberta Ruth (Jordan) Young, a housewife. Two of her younger siblings died before 1900. The youngest, Elizabeth, died of cholera in 1900 before she was a year old. Her mother died of meningitis in 1901.

Blanche’s father re-married a widow with a young daughter later that year. Soon afterwards he and his new wife moved to Southern California. They took the two youngest daughters. Blanche and her brother Clifford, remained in Indianapolis. Blanche completed two years of high school and married Pearl’s brother Hugh  in 1906 when she was 18 years old.

You can read more of Blanche’s story here Blanche Celeste Reed aka Celeste J. Averette.

August 27, 1905 – A Very Short Letter

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library/University of Georgia Libraries. Click to enlarge.
Pearl Reed

Homer Jarrett
1702 Chestnut St.
St. Louis, MO

2730 Kenwood Ave
August 27, 1905

Dear Homer;

Forgive me for not writing sooner but I thought you did not care to hear from me. How are you? Would like to be friends and hear from you soon and now.

Am in a hurry

Write soon
Just
Pearl Doras Reed

July 16, 1905 – Music Through the Night and A Visit With Homer

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library/University of Georgia Libraries. Click to enlarge.
Pearl Reed

Homer Jarrett
1702 Chestnut St.
St. Louis, MO

2730 Kenwood Ave
Indianapolis, In
July 16, 1905

Dear Homer,

It is just 8:25 P.M. and it happens that we are not going to church this evening, so I am going to speak with you a while, or in other words, spend the evening with you. Are you at home I wonder? I will take it for granted that you are. How are? I am quite well at present. Did you receive the other letter? Of course you did. I forgot, Homer, I am visiting you not writing you. Where did you spend the day? Was it very warm in St. Louis? It was terribly warm here. There did not seem to be a breath of air stirring at times. We visited the First Baptist Church in N. Indianapolis. It is no larger than Calvary. Baptist, if so large. It is very neat and clean and airy and light. The pastor is an old genial pastor if sternly spoken old man and his name, I think is Simmons or something like that. The church is in walking distance from home and so we walked over and mother has had the headache ever since I suppose the sun was too hot or something.

Did not (you) go to church today? O, maybe you will go tonight. Are you near one like at Hot Springs? Some church holds their services in the schoolhouse near us and while I speak to you the singing floats in to me very sweet and clear.

Have you heard from home lately? Your mother is well I hope? O, yes, Homer, do you think you will go to school again? I just thought of you saying that you was thinking of being a Doctor of Medicine. Homer it is hard to give up doing something we have set our hearts on is it not? I was thinking that today on the way to church till I happened to notice an elderly lady, lying in an invalids chair, where it seems, she has lain for a great, great while, and I thought that, how very thankful we should be for health and strength even if we can’t have everything we care and wish for.

Well, I think it’s near 9:00 o’clock, yes the whistle blows just as I speak, and so I shall wish you good-night and very pleasant dreams

Sincerely yours
Pearl D. Reed


Map of locations of Pearl’s house and the school. Click to enlarge
By Nyttend – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org

Front and southern side of Benjamin Franklin Public School Number 36, located at 2801 N. Capitol Avenue in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. Built in 1896 and since converted into apartments, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.