Category Archives: Mystery

Mystery Woman and Girl

mystery woman and girlThis bit of photograph was under another photograph in my Graham grandparent’s Black Album.  Unfortunately, I did not make a note of the photograph that I pried off of this one years ago.  Ah, the mistakes I made back then.

Beating Rugs

This is the 22nd post in the February Photo Collage Festival and a Sepia Saturday offeringToday I am sharing a mystery photograph from my Graham collection. This week’s prompt is “unknown people”.

I don’t know who they are. I assume they are friends of my grandparents from Montgomery, Alabama who spent the day beating carpets and then posed for this photo.  The older woman doesn’t look very happy about any of it.  I would date them in the early 1900s.

We were beating carpets and don't we look like it.
“We were beating carpets in the backyard and don’t we look like it.”
Verso of the photo above.
This seems to be the same family on a different day.
This seems to be the same family on a different day.
To see more unknown people, click.

More Information About Yesterday’s Photo and a Discovery

Last night I posted an undated photograph of my grandparents.  I assumed it was taken soon after they were married in 1910.  Then one of my daughter’s asked me when it was taken and where it was taken.  I went back to my box of Cleage photos to see if I could find some others taken on the same day.  After going through quite a few pictures, I noticed that there were numbers on the back of the photographs.

Here is the back of the photo in question.  That is my handwriting.  I started looking for other photos with the number 573.  Voila!  I found two.  One says ‘Toddy and Theodore Page”, not in my handwriting.  Toddy is my father and Theodore Page was the nephew of  Gertrude, my great uncle Jacob’s wife.  He was living with them in Detroit, according to the 1930 census.

Taking a side trip, I began to look for information about  Theodore (Roosevelt) Page.  I found him at age 6 living with his parents, Jacob and Anna Eliza Page, and siblings William and Ophelia living on a farm in Mississippi in 1910.  By 1920 he was 16 years old.  He and his mother were living with sister his Ophelia and her husband, Henry Red, in Arkansas.  He worked on the family farm and had attended school in the last year. I’ve been trying to find Uncle Jacob’s wife’s maiden name for years.  Maybe finding her sister will help.

The other photo with the number 573 on it is a very blurry group photo.  I see my grandmother Pearl on the far left with little Barbara in front of her.  Hugh is next to Barbara,  My father is in the front row center, next to him is my great grandmother, Celia Rice Cleage Sherman, a little kid, probably my uncle Henry is next.  Behind Henry we see Theodore Page.  My grandfather is on the end.  Is he still holding the mystery object from the other photo?   

Now I’ll make another attempt to date the photo.  My father was born in 1911.  He could be 10 or 11.  Barbara was born in 1920.  She could be 2. Gladys was born the end of September in 1922.  Does my grandmother look pregnant?   My estimate is summer of 1922.

With this new information I will begin sorting, and scanning the box of photos in the near future.

More About Annabell’s Family

I spent yesterday looking for information on this family to go with the photographs and a few random remarks from my cousin Margaret about them.  Here is what I found.  Annabel was born in 1882, the second of the six children of Edward and Mary (Allen) McCall.  Her mother was a fine seamstress, sewing privately and her father was turn-key at the Montgomery jail.

Annabel married earlier than her other siblings to a man by the last name of Martin.  They had one son in 1908 who they named Jefferson.  Unfortunately Mr. Martin soon died.  In 1910 she married his brother Edward Martin, a widower who brought his two young sons to the marriage, Edward, 3 and Estil, 2.  Edward was fifteen years older then Annebel.  He was a tailor who owned his own home and was his own boss.  Annabel was working for the United States Gov. at the post office in Nashville, TN.

They had five more children together. Young Anna was born in Alabama in 1913.  Edward, Thelma and Caruso were born in  Muhlenberg County, Kentucky in Jan. 1915, March 1916 and October 1920.  Geneva was born in between Edward and Thelma, although there is barely enough space for her to fit in.  I did not find A birth record for her in Kentucky.

In 1920 we find the family in White City, Florida.  Not only is Edward going by Edwin but they have added an “s” to Martin and claim all of their parents were no longer born in Tennessee and Kentucky (him) or Alabama (her) they were born in Italy.  They are also listed as white instead of mulatto as they had been previously.  Edward is still tailoring from his owned home.  Annabel is not working outside the home although with 7 children under 13 she’s working plenty inside it.  The census was taken in January and Caruso was not born until October, back in Kentucky.  Edward #3 is now listed as born in Aabama,  Geneva in Louisiana and Thelma in Arkansas.  Either one of the children got creative with the ennumerator, they were on the lam or they were passing and covering their tracks.

“Annabel- her family + us”

The photograph taken above is from my grandmother Fannie’s album.  She wrote on the top “Annabel her family + us”.  Annabel and my grandmother were first cousins.  My aunt Mary V. is the little girl standing apart looking at the camera.  She was born in 1920.  My grandmother is holding Mershell, born in 1921 on her lap.  My mother was born in Feb. 1923 so I would put the year at 1922.  That must be Caruso leaning on his mother Annabel’s knee.  The little girls are probably Geneva and Thelma.  That is my grandfather Mershell Graham leaning so cool in the back.

In 1930 Annabell and her family were still in Detroit.  The two oldest boys are no longer at home.  They would have been 22 and 23.  The rest of the children are living at home.  Annabel works as a seamstress at a store.  The three oldest children are  delivery people at a fur store.  I think this would be Annis Furs which used to be in Detroit right behind Hudson’s.  My great grandmother and her daughter Daisy were worked there for many years.  The Martin family is back in the Negro race.

Wordless Wednesday – their own marching band

Poppy’s locket

Several years after my mother’s death, I found a cigar box full of unidentified things – pocket watches, big buttons, lockets.  This locket had the note inside saying “? In locket in Daddy’s things”.  I don’t know who the women are.  The initials on the front seem to be H.J.G or maybe J.H.G.  My grandfather’s name was Mershell C. Graham.  His story is sketchy.

I find bits and pieces – unidentified photographs, old notebooks… If I could find him in the 1900 census with his family.  He was born in Coosada Station, Elmore County, Alabama about 1888.  He chose to celebrate his birthday on Christmas day because he didn’t know the actual day.  By the time I found him in the census in 1910 he was working on the railroad.  He moved to Detroit in 1917, married my grandmother in 1918 in Montgomery and they immediately removed to Detroit.  He worked at Ford Motor Co. for years.  He was a founder and trustee at Plymouth Congregational Church in Detroit.  He always grew a large, wonderful garden with cabbage, collards and tomatoes.  He could, and did, fix anything that needed fixing.  He taught himself to read so I assume he never went to school.  There is a story that he was a child servant and slept outside the little girls door at night.  The other story is that his parents came one one rainy day (from work?) to find him and his brother digging sweet potatoes out in the garden.  They had the measles. I’m thinking they were very hungry.  Who feels like digging in the rain when they have the measles?  There were at least three children older than he was according to his delayed birth certificate. There could have been younger siblings too. Those mentioned were a sister named Annie, and a brother named Bill who went west. My cousin, Margaret, told me that was a way to refer to relatives that passed for white.  Perhaps the Jacob, named in front of the little Bible that was also in the box was a brother.