Category Archives: Houses

U -Union Street

This is my ninth year of blogging the A to Z Challenge. Everyday I will share something about my family’s life during 1950. This was a year that the USA federal census was taken and the first one that I appear in. At the end of each post I will share a book from my childhood collection.

Present day photo of the parsonage

This information is quoted from the application for Historical Designation of the St. John’s Parsonage/Parish Home for Working Girls. I can no longer find it online but have a PDF. It was accepted on June 28, 2016 and entered into the National Park Registration.

St. John’s Parsonage/Parish Home for Working Girls
“This large, 2 story, domestic building resembles the many two-family houses that characterize the neighborhood, but it was consciously designed to house the pastor as well as board working girls and women

Property Name St. John’s Congregational Church & Parsonage/Parish Home for Working Girls Reference Number 16000140 State Massachusetts County Hampden Town Springfield Street Address 69 Hancock Street Multiple Property Submission Name N/A Status listed 6/28/2016 Areas of Significance Architecture, Ethnic Heritage, Religion, Social History

” Planned with 26 rooms, all accessible off of central halls on four levels with staircases front and rear, the first floor contained the pastor’s living quarters, a parlor for boarders, and church offices. A guest chamber, thirteen dormitory rooms, and lavatories were arranged on the second floor and in the attic . Bath facilities were provided on each floor. The basement contained a kitchen, dining room, sewing room, and laundry. “

A rough layout of the first floor as I remember it.

“Windows in the front bay are part of a reception room on the first floor, and a boarder’s room on the second. Three vertically aligned windows in the next bay indicate the location of the front stairs leading from the first story to the attic. A large, one-story bay window is contained in the pastor’s office behind the stairs. Rooms in the pastor’s residence are represented by windows on the first story, as well as in a one-story wing appended to the southeast corner of the building. Second-story and attic windows were for boarders’ rooms. The rear stairs are contained in a second extension in the center of the rear wall. A porch formerly spanned the remaining section of the rear wall at the southwest corner of the house, where a doorway exited the pastor’s kitchen.”

Kristin and Pearl on the front porch with Sherrie Ann Johnson.

The only book I had in those days with a main character who wasn’t white or an animal. In fact, there were not even any minor characters of color. And she preferred her own little homemade black doll to the fancy doll the sailor gave her.


Memories of Union Street

I Was There – The 1950 U.S. Census

The other day I was thinking about when the next census would released – 2022.  I enjoyed finding my family and placing them in context in the 1940 Census. I thought that I know much of the information that would be asked on the 1950 Census.  Why wait?  I Googled a blank form for the 1950 Census. This is the first of a series based on all of the unpublished censuses – 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010. I was there!

Click to see the 1950 and all US census forms
From the Springfield MA City Directory, 1951
Recent photo of the house we lived in at 643 Union Street. Combination rooming house upstairs and parsonage downstairs.

The 1950 Census is the first one in which I make an appearance. I was three years old. We lived at 643 Union Street in Springfield, Massachusetts. This was the parsonage/ community house located next to the church.

Rev. Albert B. Cleage

My father, Albert B. Cleage, was the “head” of the household.  He was 38 years old and had worked for 52 weeks as the pastor of St. John’s Congregational Church. I do not know how much he earned the previous year, but I’m sure it was on the low side of the $2,992 average wage. He was born in Indiana and both of his parents were born in the United States. He had completed at least 1 year of post degree college work.

Pearl, Doris & Kristin Cleage

My mother, Doris G. Cleage, was my father’s wife.  She was 27 years old and was born in Michigan.  Both of her parents were also born in the U.S.A.  She had completed four years of college and had not worked outside of the home the previous year. She had given birth to two children, both of them still alive.  Three year old Kristin and one year old Pearl had both been born in Massachusetts. My parents had been married 6 years. Everybody in the house was identified as “Neg(ro)”.  My mother took education classes at Springfield College in 1950 but I’m not sure if it was before or after April, when the census was taken.

Some things that I know about my family at that time that aren’t listed include that we did not own a car and that my father hoped to eventually find a church in Detroit so they could move back home.  This happened the following year, 1951.

I have added two articles from April, 1950 concerning my parents activities.  Read more about our life on Union Street at – U is for Union Street. Read an overview of news and other happenings for the 1950s here American Cultural History 1950 – 1959.


For this post I used,, family photos and personal knowledge.

910 Fayette Street – Not the House I Thought It Was!

While looking for information about the house my grandmother Pearl Reed and her family lived during the time she wrote the letters to Homer Jarrett, I decided to look in the real estate section of the Indianapolis newspapers.  I came across an an item offering the  house that my grandfather Albert B. Cleage and his brothers lived in at 910 Fayette, for rent. (Click on images to enlarge.)

910 Fayette is at the bottom of the list.
The little blue house on the left was 906 and 908 until the numbers were changed and then it became 910 and 912. The two story house on the right was 910 and 912 until the addresses changed and then it was 914 and 916.  This is a Google photo.

When visiting Indianapolis a decade ago, my daughter Ayanna drove me around the city looking for family homes. We found nothing but parking lots and weed covered land where our ancestors used to live, until we found a little blue house numbered 910 Fayette standing and in good condition.

I took this photo the day we found the house. You can see the number 910 on the door.

My father, Albert Buford Cleage, Jr, was born at 910 Fayette on June 13, 1911. His parents had married the year before when Albert Sr. completed his medical training and received his physician’s license. I imagined how crowded it must have been  with Jacob, his wife Gertrude, Henry, Albert and later Pearl sharing one half of the small two family home.

Next, I looked at the Sanborn Fire Maps for Indianapolis, Indiana, to see how and if the house had changed over the years. The oldest map was from 1887. I could not find 910 Fayette. The street numbers only went up to 350.

The next map was from 1898. I found the house on the forth lot from the corner.  The house was a two story, divided frame house, with a one story room on the back and a porch across the front. The house and the small outbuilding behind it (outhouse?) had wood roofs with wooden shingles. The house number is printed in the street in front of the house with the current address, 910, closest to the house and the previous address (164) beneath it in parenthesis.

1898 Map. Red marks 910 Fayette.

Using the number, 164, I went back to the 1887 map. I found a house on the third lot, numbered 162. Next to it was an unnumbered lot. It would have been 164 and it was the fourth lot from the corner. The house I was looking for had not yet been built.

1887 Sanborn Fire map. Red marks the lot where 910 would eventually be built.

Next, I pulled up the 1914 Sanborn map and located 910 Fayette. I noticed that the house was marked as a frame house but with only 1.5 stories.

Red again makes the spot.

But wait, 910 is the third house from the corner on this map instead of the fourth. Looking at the fourth house, more closely, I saw that the number closer to the house was now 914 and the one below it, the old number, was 910! The house I thought was the one my father was born in was not the little blue house, but the larger house next door. Both houses were divided to hold two households.

The former 910, now 914 Fayette.

I found a photograph online at several real estate sites, of the renovated house. It looked like half of that house would be much less crowded for five adults and eventually a baby, than the smaller blue one next door.  In 1905, it rented for $12.50 and had five rooms. My grandfather and his brothers and their families lived there from 1909 to 1912. At that time they spread out to larger quarters.


Go To this post to read an 1895 article about renumbering and renaming streets in Indianapolis – Why Renumber and Rename Streets?

Index to Streets In My Life – 1946 – 2014

Dates are approximate

A is for Atkinson – 1951 – 1953   Atkinson paternal grandparents home – 1949 – 1987

B is for Broadstreet, Detroit – 1969 ( Spring – fall)

C is for Calvert, Detroit – 1954 – 1958

Chicago Blvd, Detroit – 1953 – 1954

Cascade Rd. SW, Atlanta – 9/1972 – 9/1974

D is for Dexter, Detroit

E is for Elmhurst – 3/1969 – 11/1969

F is for Fairfield – summer 1968 –  January 1969

G is for Grand River, Detroit – fall 1970 – spring 1973

Glendale, Detroit – Spring 1970 – Fall 1970

Hogarth & Linwood – Church

I is for Inglewood Court, St. Louis – Williams home

Idlewild Cottage – 1943 – 1992

J is for Joy Road, Detroit

K is for King St. Springfield, MASS – 8/1946 – fall/1948

L is for Linwood

Layfette – 1968

Lovett – Cleage Printers & Cleage Clinic

M is for Monterrey – early winter 1971 – early spring 1972

N is for North Martindale, Detroit – fall/1970 – early winter/1971

O is for Oregon Street, Detroit, MI – fall 1958 – summer 1968

Old Plank Road – 1960 – 1967

P is for South Payne Drive, Idlewild, MI – 1981 – 2004

Q is for Quiet Street – Watermill Lake – 2004 – 2007

R is for Route 1 Box 173 1/2 – 1976 – 1983

Rt 1 Box 38 – The Luba Project 1975 – 1976

S is for Sixth Avenue, Mt. Pleasant 1974 – 1975

Scotten, Detroit – Paternal grandparents 1919 – 1948

T is for Theodore St. Detroit – Maternal grandparents home 1922 – 1968

Third Avenue, Detroit – 1966

U is for Union Street – 1948 – 1951

V is for Venetian Drive – 2007 to present

 W is for Wilkins Street – 1971 – 1972

X is for eXcelsior Springs, MO – 1983 – 1986

Y is for Yates Township – 1986 – 2003

 Z is for Zamziwillie – endless

2254 Chicago, Halloween

2254 Chicago Blvd.
2254 Chicago Blvd.

I don’t remember hearing memories of childhood Halloween celebrations from my parents. I do have a few memories of my own. When I was about 7 years old and we lived in the parsonage at 2254 Chicago Blvd in Detroit, the Youth Fellowship met in the basement. They were having a Halloween party. I remember my sister and I watching them come in all dressed in various costumes.  I don’t know if it was the same year as this photograph was taken or not.

From the 1956 Youth Fellowship Yearbook
From the 1956 Youth Fellowship Yearbook

That same year we dressed up and went over to our cousin’s house to help distribute candy to the trick-or-treaters. I remember wearing my Aunt Mary Vee’s skirt and dressing as a Gypsy.  We never were allowed to go trick-or-treating, but enjoyed passing out the candy. When we were highschool age, we would sometimes leave town for the day to avoid the whole holiday and passing out candy by not being home.  I have no pictures of us in any Halloween costumes.

When my own children were old enough to know Halloween was happening, we did not live in the city. I remember my very young daughter’s going with the older neighbors up and down our short block trick-or-treating in Mt. Pleasant, SC. It was unseasonably cold and they had to wear winter coats over their homemade costumes.

We moved to Mississippi the next week, where we lived out in the country and there wasn’t any trick-or-treating, instead there would be an evening carnival at the school. The students would dress up and there would be booths with games and treats. In Excelsior Springs, MO I don’t remember my kids going trick-or-treating but two had paper routes and their customers gave them so much candy! Way, way more than anyone needed in a year.

The next move was to Idlewild, MI, in the middle of the Manistee National Forest. Some years there was a school carnival. Other years the kids went to town and trick or treated the 2 block business area. A couple of years my Aunt Gladys and Henry had a get together with cider and doughnuts for Halloween. The year when I was librarian at the Yates Township library we had a community party  with bobbing for apples, a fishing booth and refreshments. Here is an article about it from the Ruff Draft, our family newsletter.


This post was written with both Sepia Saturday #201 and The Book of Me “Halloween” prompt in mind.

Reading The Newspaper – 1962

This is the 23rd post in the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing ChallengeThe photograph for today is a corner of our living room at 5397 Oregon in Detroit. My mother and I are reading the newspaper. I was 16.

reading_the_newspaper_1962It is probably Sunday, because my mother is still in her bathrobe. And who reads the Saturday paper so avidly? I think the bathrobe was light pink, but I’m not sure. The couch was an old one that my mother brought from Sally and Ivy’s mother when we lived on Calvert.  They moved out to Southfield, near the zoo, and bought new furniture. I remember going to visit once and hearing the lions roar.

The couch was old. My mother had a slip cover made. It was blue with a blue design.  I patched it once, in a fit of fix-it-up. It has been a long time since I have read a newspaper offline.  I wonder what we were reading about.

The couch and more of that corner of the living room. My uncle Henry took the photos.

There was an end table with a lamp and a brass ash tray. Both my mother and Henry smoked. The table had a fake leather top and a big drawer. One of my daughters has that table now. The lamp was white with red flowers and green leaves painted on it. There were gold lines at the top and base. The old television, in a wood cabinet ,was still working.  Later it died and for awhile there was a smaller TV, that worked, sitting on top of it.

The walls were beige. When we moved in, they were covered with wall paper. As soon as she could afford it, my mother had Mrs. Bruce’s brother come and paint it a clean, beige color.  There is no art work above the couch in this photograph. When I graduated from high school and began studying art at Wayne State University, my mother would tack one of my drawings up on the wall. Later on she had me frame them for her, badly. I never could cut the mats right.  You can’t see the rug here but it was a faded wine colored pattern. It was wall to wall and never replaced while we lived there.

My Parents Time in San Francisco – January to July 1, 1944

This is the 23rd post in the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing ChallengeThe photograph for today is of a corner of the living room in my parents  apartment in San Francisco. It was 1944.

San Francisco Desk
My father’s desk in the San Francisco apartment. Photos of his sisters, Gladys and Barbara on the desk and one of my mother on the bookcase.  This desk looks like one that I have from my mother, but it’s not. I think the apartment was furnished. Surprised the typewriter isn’t visible.

My parents, Albert B. Cleage Jr and Doris Graham, were married in Detroit on November 17, 1943. They left immediately after the ceremony for Lexington, Kentucky, where my father had accepted a call from Chandler Memorial Congregational Church.  They were there only two months when he accepted an interim pastorship at the new, experimental San Francisco Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples.  He served from January of 1944 through June of the same year.  The captions under the photographs are taken from what my parents wrote on the back when they sent the pictures back home to their families.

church & house San Francisco
The Church – on the corner. We live upstairs – rear – behind the jungle. (Rubber, Magnolia – Olive, etc.)
church sign- san francisco
This is Romeo and Patrick and me – fat jaws and all. June 1944
Mountains! Taken out our front window – over the housetops across the street.
This is Post Street looking toward the Ocean. Looks like you could follow it right on up to Heaven, doesn’t it? June 1944
Looking down at the “Fillmore slum” from our front window. The lady who bakes cakes for us lives over there –
Guess who this gangster looking talent is. June 1944.
Birds eye view of my mother hanging up clothes in the backyard.

Following is an excerpt from a biography of my father, about his time in San Francisco. I wish I had the box of letters I know existed from those six months.

“Cleage does not remember his work with the famous Fellowship Church of All Peoples with any fondness.  The new congregation, which had about fifty members when he was there, was a contrived, artificial affair, he says.  ‘An Interracial church is a monstrosity and an impossibility,’ he said. ‘The whites who came, came as sort of missionaries.  They wanted to do something meaningful, but this was not really their church. The blacks regarded it as experimental too, or were brainwashed to think that it was something superior.’ He called his white counterpart, Dr. Fisk, ‘well-meaning,’ and said Fisk thought he (Fisk) was doing a great work, but had no understanding of tension and power.  He felt the Lord looked in favor on this work, and any whites that joined him were headed for glory. He hated to have problems mentioned. Problems included the property left deteriorating after the Japanese were moved out, and the boilermakers’ union ‘which set up separate auxiliary units for black so they could discontinue the units after the war.’ Cleage joined in with NAACP efforts to get at these injustices.  He was told he could stay at the Fellowship of All Peoples if he wanted to, and he said ‘they were nice people, but it did not seem to me it was a significant ministry.’ About Fisk, he said, ‘He talked about the glorious fellowship washed in the blood of the Lamb; I talked about hell on the alternate Sundays.  He felt upset about my preaching, but he didn’t want to raise racial tension in his heaven.'”

From Hiley Ward, Prophet of the Black Nation. (Piladelphis: Pilgrim Press, 1969), p. 55.


You can see a newspaper clipping of my parents and a very short post about their time in San Francisco here Newspaper Clipping of My Parents. Soon after July 1, my parents moved to Los Angeles, where my father studied film making for a year before he was called to pastor St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield, Massachusetts.

1300 Lafaytte – 1968

Pearl standing, me seated, my father. The photographer told us to look in that direction.

This is the 17th post in the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.   The next four  posts will be about some of the places that I lived that I didn’t cover in the Alphabet Challenge last year. Today I am going to remember 1300 Layfette, Detroit. My father, who was still using his name, Rev. A.B. Cleage lived here for a year during 1968-1969. I was a senior at Wayne State University.

In the aftermath of the 1967 riots my father had received many crazy letters, including death threats. Several people involved in the movement had been beaten or shot during this time period. There were also the more well known assassinations that took place.  I remember one sermon when my father announced that he had heard there was a price on his head and plans to kidnap him and hold him for ransom.  He told the congregation that if he was kidnapped, give them nothing for his return.  Strangely, I don’t remember worrying about this.

The flat on the left was the one my father lived in. The 12th floor is about half way up.
The flat on the left was the one my father lived in. The 12th floor is about half way up.

It was during this time that it was decided that he would move out of his first floor flat on Calvert, that had no security measures, and into the an apartment on the 12th floor of the very secure 1300 Lafayette apartments.

Here is a description written by Hiley H. Ward in his 1969 biography of my father, Prophet of the Black Nation, about the apartment and the atmosphere of the times.

“…He has continued to live alone, until recently in a twelfth-floor panoramic apartment ($360 a month, two bed-room) in the exclusive downtown eastside Lafayette Park overlooking the river, Detroit and Windsor, Canada. His church described his moving there as a security measure… in his immaculate apartment two of three paintings remain unhung after a number of months – not a sign of particular interest in the place.”

Several things I remember:

  • My father leaving my sister and me standing out in the hall while he went through the apartment with a drawn gun to make sure nobody was there.
  • The picture above being taken by a Detroit Free Press photographer for an article they were doing about my sister Pearl’s poetry for the Sunday magazine, Parade.
  • The time I spent a week with him while my mother and Henry went out of town. He went over to his mother’s house on Atkinson for dinner every night. I decided to just fix myself dinner. I did, but I left the tea kettle on and forgot about it. It melted on the burner. I still have a lump of the remains.  During this visit I was instructed to give no one the phone number or the address.

    All that remained of the tea kettle.
  • Watching the 4th of July fireworks.

I was trying to reconstruct the layout of the apartment from memory when I decided to look online.  Currently the same apartments are in use as co-op apartments and I was able to find the layout and placement at the website for the current cooperative apartments.

1300_apt_sixAt the same time that my father was living here, The Black Star Co-op  being developed.

Rt 1 Box 38 – The Luba Project 1975 – 1976

In November of 1975 the Emergency Land Fund closed the South Carolina office and moved Jim, along with us, to their model farm 30 miles south of Jackson, Mississippi.  We left Mt. Pleasant, SC and moved to Simpson County.  The farm was to serve as a testing ground and example of ways to make money on a small acreage.  There were rabbits and green house tomatoes with plans for raising potatoes and running a grading shed for cucumbers and potatoes.

Ife and me pregnant with Ayanna 1976

We lived in the house on the 5 acres.  Two workers were to have trailers behind the house later.  We added goats, chickens and a garden.  Jilo started school at Piney Woods School.  We started going to Voice of Calvary in Mendenhall. I learned how to can, freeze and pickle. Jim and I learned how to milk the goat.  The chickens lived and we had eggs.  We met a couple from Maine, she was a nurse midwife and he raised goats.  He taught us all we needed to know about raising goats and rabbits. She delivered our third daughter, Ayanna at a friends house.  Our oldest daughter Jilo was awake and watched Ayanna born. Ife slept through it all.

Tanya, Feline and Bambi – our first goats

I remember our first litter of rabbits and checking the goat, Tanya, a thousand times to see if she’d gone into labor yet. Finally finding the two kids, already up and around the morning after the night we didn’t check.  I remember picking black berries outside the back door and making pies and finally getting some milk from the goat.  Putting up 10 quarts of yellow squash and finding it mushy and inedible. Making cheese.

kris, jilo and Ife '76
Before Ayanna – Kris, Ife & Jilo

I remember the smell of pine trees on a hot summer day.  Tornadoes touching down nearby.  Jilo as a rock in the school play.  Jim’s 16 year old sister spending the summer with us.  All the visitors and work and milking and new baby and being tired. Going to Michigan and St. Louis for visits,  Learning to drive a jeep and a pickup truck.

November 17, 1975
Dear ma and Henry,
Here’s our new address.  The new house is fine.  Kitchen, living room and dining room are a large room with ceiling to roof, has three bedrooms, 3 baths, utility and former garage converted to den (very big. It’s clean, wall to wall carpets and paneled throughout. It’s brick.  There are three green houses, one in use for tomatoes and 8 rabbits.  There are near neighbors.  Four different houses about the distance at Old Plank, maybe a bit closer, not much – all white.  Black people are near though.
Jilo won’t be going to school until next year, but they’re doing fine.  Jim likes the work. Today they planted more tomatoes and there’s one man who comes to work with him, more on that later.
Will write more soon – did you all decide on the move yet?  Love, Kris

Jilo_ayanna_newborn_ a
Jilo and newborn Ayanna

February 11, 1976
Dear Henry and Mommy
I was really surprised to go out this morning and find 2 baby goats walking around.  She’d been giving us so many false signs, we didn’t keep checking last night and she delivered alone.  I figured she could do all right, she looks pretty rugged. This weekend we’ll start getting our own goat milk.  by fall we should be doing eggs, milk, vegetables and maybe honey.  Ta Tum.
We had to rush out there this morning and build the milk stand.  we got the wood a month ago, but as usual waited ‘til the last minute was passed to do the job.  Did I tell you I single handedly planted green house 1 with prunings #2.  all the seedlings just about died so, since some of the prunings in #2 were taking root where they were thrown, I decided to try transplanting them and now I just need to do about 10 more and it’ll be done. They look better than the originals!

Jim holding Ayanna, Ife kissing her and Jilo

Jim rototilled the garden area and yesterday he and Mr. Reuben cut down some trees near the spot for firewood and to clear it out.  There were only 2 so I hope for no root interference.
What else?  Jim and I both had milking lessons and finally got little streams coming out. Luckily we met the goat people.  When we tried milking this morning we got not one drop.  The poor goat we so full.  Her udder and nipples are so large and low the kids could find them and had to be shown where they are. They look like those at Belle Isle with the droopy ears, like their mother.
I hope we have dry weather for awhile so we can plant soon.  Everyone and all the animals are doing fine.  I take my driving test tomorrow.  If I can start on a hill I’m ok.  I went to take it last week, but had to get a Mississippi permit first. Write soon.  Love and Happy Birthday – Kris
PS As i was going to the house this morning for iodine for the kids navel – i found 2 cattle on our driveway one went to the front of the house-about 20 min. later both were gone.  Some day!
On envelope: Ta Tum- i finally got my drivers license. and guess who called last night – Daddy!  Jim and I finally caught on to milking.  We got about 1 1/4 qts of milk and the goat kicked it over. Better next time.

Eventually the Emergency Land Fund wanted us to move to the Mississippi Delta to manage a soy bean farm. We decided to stay in Simpson county and moved to 173 1/2 St. John Road.

Z is for Zamzeewillie

My last post in the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge. I am really scraping here. I never lived on or in Zamzeewillie. I’m not even sure that’s how you spell it. My daughter Ayanna was the only one who knew the particulars and she can’t remember. She made it up when we she was about 8 years old. It was around the same time that my then 3 or 4 year old son James became friends with the people only he could see. I was never sure if Nice Helmut, Mean Helmut, Nice Tommy and Mean Tommy lived in Zamzeewillie. They always seemed to be just out of sight in the other room.  Since there are no known photos of this town and none of the Nice and Mean boys I will have to make do with a photo of Ayanna and James with siblings, in our living room in Excelsior Springs.

L to R Tulani, James, Ayanna and in the back Jilo and Ife.

I can’t believe it’s really over! And that I found streets and places for all the letters of the alphabet. Mostly 😉  I really appreciate Gould for hosting the challenge. I don’t think I would have ever written so much about almost every street I ever lived on without it. You can find a list of the 39 blogs that participated here – Family History Through the Alphabet – the Finale.