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sepia saturday

My grandmother Fannie’s Fan

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Grandmother Fannie’s Fan today.

IMG_0484Only the skeleton remains. It used to be covered with gossamer thin white material with little sparkling threads, like the fan below. All rotted away now.

fan1895
The fan once looked similar to this one.  Click photo to see another fan.

I found this page with a short modern history of fans and the language of fans –

Photos of 1800s African American women & Church Hand Fans + the Courting Language of the Fan

 

Fannie Turner before marriage - 1909.
Fannie Turner before marriage – 1909.

I wonder if she carried the fan when she was married.

For more Sepia Saturday posts CLICK!
For more Sepia Saturday posts CLICK!
Categories
The Book of Me

All Four of My Grandparents

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Fannie & Mershell  after marriage in 1919.
Fannie & Mershell Christmas 1969
Fannie & Mershell Christmas 1969

My maternal grandparent’s names were Mershell Cunningham Graham and Fannie Mae Turner Graham.  They were both born in Alabama in 1888. Mershell was born in Coosada Station, Elmore County. Fannie was born in Hayneville, Lowndes County.  Both counties are near Montgomery.

Before moving to Detroit, Mershell worked on passenger trains in the dining car. After coming to Detroit in 1917 he worked on a Great Lakes Cruise ship as a steward and finally put in 30 years at Ford Motor Company in the parts dept at the River Rouge Plant, before retiring.

My grandmother Fannie, managed her uncle Victor Tulane’s store in Montgomery before her marriage. After their marriage in 1919, she didn’t work outside of the home.  They both lived until I was in my mid-twenties. My grandfather died in 1976 at 86 years. I was 26. My grandmother died in 1977 at 87.  They both died in Detroit.   We spent every Saturday at their house when I was growing up and for the last year of college, they lived downstairs from us. They lived in that flat until they died. So I knew them and also research them.

Albert & Pearl 1922. Detroit
Albert & Pearl 1922. Detroit
Albert & Pearl 1950s
Albert & Pearl 1950s

My paternal grandparents were Albert Buford Cleage and Pearl Doris Reed Cleage.  Albert was born in Louden county, TN in 1883. Pearl was born in Lebanon, KY in 1886. They were married in Indianapolis in 1910.  My grandfather worked on a Great Lakes Cruise line summers until he finished Medical school and became a family physician.

We lived down the street from them for several years when I was 5 and 6 years old. We saw them often.  My grandfather died in 1957 after being ill for awhile. He was 73. I was 11.  My grandmother lived until 1982. She was 96. I was 35.  I knew both of them. I also research them.

Below are links to some of the many posts about my grandparents on this blog.

G is for Grandmothers

 Poppy Could Fix Anything

The Steamer Eastern States

 

 

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Grahams sepia saturday

Fannie Mae Turner Graham’s Bible

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My grandmother Fannie with my mother Doris, Howard and Mary V. 1931 In their Detroit East side backyard.
bible cover
Howard Alexander Turner Graham. Born Sept 7, 1928 in Detroit.
died – 3-2-1932. Scarlet Fever

Nanny's_Bible

Between some pages my grandmother’s Bible are little snippets of hair.  It is a well used Bible. The covers are missing. Part of the front cover remains, tucked between pages. On this and on the back pages, corners worn away, she wrote about the births of her children and deaths of her two sons. I don’t know who the hair came from, but I would guess from her children. They were all blond as babies.

nannybiblentries

Mershell and Doris with their father. 1925.Belle Isle, Detroit.
Mershell and Doris with their father. 1925.Belle Isle, Detroit.

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

Mary Virginia born April 3rd 1920 at 5:10 AM on Saturday.  Detroit Mich at 1031 St. Jean Ave, 7 #. Dr. Ames & …
2nd baby – Mershell C. Graham, Jr. born June 10th – 1921 at 7:45 PM.  On Friday.  Detroit, Michigan. Dunbar Hospital. 8 1/2#  Dr. Turner.  Died 11/1/27 killed by auto.
3rd baby – Doris J. Graham born February – 12th – 1923. 5:10 A.M. – on Monday at Women’s Hospital Beaubien and For(est) Detroit, Michigan  7#

nannybirths4th baby – Howard Alexander G(raham) born at Woman’s Hospi(tal) Sept 7th ’28 at 5 P.M.  7#10 oz. Dr. Turner

__________________

Our baby Howard was taken ill Nov. 17th 1931 – Dr. turner came + pronounced it Diabetes … cured — Jan 1932… On Feb 20- 1932, he developed Scarlet Fever – was sent to Herman Kiefer Hospital an(d) on acct of his condition died March 4th 1932 and was buried Sat. March 5…Private funeral at Memorial Park Cemetery 3 1/2 years old born 9/7/…

—–#—–

Our loss is truest g… God fills the pla… by our 2 ba…

Categories
Grahams

Belle Isle – Summer 1922

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“Belle Isle. Grandma Graham – Mary Virginia – Clifton – Mershell Jr + Fan

This photograph was taken about two years after the one of my grandmother Fannie at Sugar Island. Grandma Graham was my grandfather, Mershell Graham’s adopted mother. Mary Virginia was born in April 1920 so she would be 2. Clifton was the son of my grandfather’s adopted brother, Clifton.  Mershell Jr was born in June of 1921 so he must be about 1 year old. My mother was born in February, 1923 so my grandmother may have been just pregnant with her here.  The park tables and benches are so unanchored. They are all cement now.

Categories
Grahams

Almost 100 years ago – Sugar Island July 3, 1919

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“Sugar Island Group” My grandmother, Fannie Mae Turner Graham is lounging in the middle front. She had moved to Detroit with my grandfather in 1918 after their marriage in Montgomery, AL.

Sugar Island is a small island in the Detroit River between Grosse Ile and Boblo Island. Sugar Island is part of Grosse Ile Township, Wayne County, Michigan, USA, and lies about 0.5 miles (0.80 km) west of the border with Canada. Currently the island is uninhabited and was recently converted to wildlife refuge by the US Fish and Wildlife service (see below). The majority of the island is wooded and it is known for its white sandy beaches and easy access by boat.” From Wikepedia

More of the Sugar Island Group.
“The A.A.O.C. Club Bunch (I don’t know what the initials stand for_
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“Dinner On Sugar Island.”
Categories
Photographs Wordless Wednesday

My Daughter and Grandmother – 1972

My grandmother, Fannie Turner Graham and my oldest daughter, Jilo. Detroit, 1972.
My grandmother, Fannie Turner Graham and my oldest daughter. Detroit, 1972.

My mother wrote about her mother’s life in these posts:

 

Categories
A-Z Challenge 2013

G is for Grandmothers

a-to-z-letters-gThis is my seventh post for the April A-Z Challenge. I am going to write about my grandmothers and Good Housekeeping magazine’s October, 1912 issue about their “Composite Reader”. I read a post over at Shery’s blog, A Hundred Years Ago, this morning. It got me thinking about my grandmothers and also wondering what the rest of the article said. I found it in the Cornell University Home Economics Archive.  Some other articles in the magazine were:

  • The Woman of the Future  by Thomas A. Edison: About the wonders that electricity will bring to women and final enable them to be raised up to the level of the superior male mind because their housework will be negligible and actually engineering.
  • Mirandy on the Love Test  by  Dorothy Dix:  An article written in what is supposed to be the dialect of a black woman, gives advice. I could not get through the whole article for being irritated.
  • Practical Eugenics – letters responding to an earlier article which I could not find. Mostly talking about stopping the birth of “imperfect” children or to stop children from being born to “imperfect” parents.
  • The Ideal Suburban Home of the Near Future: by Sarah  Louise Arnold, talks about ideas for communal apartment living that may come before moving to that ideal small house in the suburbs.

Click to enlarge for reading.
Click to enlarge for reading.

Some of these articles reminded me of a book my grandmother Fannie had called “Ideal Home Life” which was written in 1909.  There were article in The Indianapolis Recorder written during that time that also talked about simplified and gracious living.  Instead of eugenics, they concentrated on “uplift” and had articles about ways to teach those who didn’t know the proper way to keep house and raise children, how to do it.

What were my grandmother’s doing at this time?

"Pearl Cleage and baby Albert"
Pearl Reed Cleage and baby Albert. 1911 Indianapolis, IN

Fannie Turner before marriage - 1909.
Fannie Turner before marriage – 1909.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pearl Reed Cleage was born in Lebanon, KY in 1884. In October of 1912, she was 28 had been married for almost two years to Albert B. Cleage Sr. Her mother, Anna Allen Reed, died the previous year. Pearl had one son (my father) who was about 17 months old.  They lived in Kalamazoo, MI where my grandfather had opened a medical practice.  While they lived in Indianapolis, IN, my grandmother’s name appeared in the newspaper quite often for singing at church and civic events. I found no such articles in the Kalamazoo papers. Her growing family probably put an end to that. I hope she was still able to sing in her church choir. My Uncle Louis was born in August of 1913.

Fannie Turner Graham was born in 1888 in Hayneville, AL and was 24 years old in 1913. She moved to Montgomery with her mother and sister when she was four and was still living there in 1912 with her mother and two sisters. She was managing her Uncle Victor Tulane’s grocery store. In 1911 she was a member of the Progressive Twelve Club. They seem to gather for sewing and socialization.  She attended First Congregational Church services with her family.  It wouldn’t be until 1919 that she married my grandfather, Mershell Graham.

 

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Grahams

My Grandmother Fannie Mae Turner Graham’s Birthday Today

Fannie Mae Turner Graham would be 112 today if she had not died in 1977.  This photograph was taken in my grandparent’s backyard during a trip home to Detroit from Springfield, Massachusetts in 1948.

My grandmother Fannie, my grandfather Mershell and my mother Doris. I am standing on the table.
My grandmother Fannie, my grandfather Mershell and my mother Doris. I am standing on the table.  1948 – Detroit, Michigan.

My grandmother, Nanny is looking at me and smiling while I stand on the little table. My grandmother was 60 years old, 6 years younger than I am today. I turned 2 in August of that year.  This was my first visit to Detroit. My grandmother came to help my mother when I was born, but she hadn’t seen me since. This was my grandfather’s first time seeing me.

My mother was several months pregnant with my sister Pearl.  We traveled by train. When I got back to Springfield, I came down with a case of roseola. There were no lasting effects for me or for my yet to be born sister.

Categories
Carnival of Genealogy Grahams

Questions I Wish I’d Asked

Thanksgiving with Mershell and Fannie Graham - 1963.
In these photograph: Me, Aunt Abbie, Mershell C. Graham, My grandfather carving the turkey, I am eating and my sister is next to me on the other side of the table is my mother, my grandmother Fannie, her younger sister, Alice. My uncle Henry took the photographs.  Click to enlarge this photo.

The generations gathered around my Graham grandparents dining room table in 1963 for Thanksgiving dinner. There was turkey with cornbread dressing cooked by my grandfather. There was white rice, cranberry jelly, green beans, corn pudding and sweet potatoes. There was my grandmother’s finely chopped green salad and her homemade biscuits with butter and with a relish plate holding olives, sweet pickles and carrot sticks.

One thing there wasn’t, was talk about the old days. My grandparents were born in 1888.  My grandmother was born Fannie Turner in Lowndes County, Alabama. My grandfather was born Mershell Graham in Elmore County, Alabama.  They met and married in Montgomery.  My great great Aunt Abbie was born in 1877 in Montgomery, Alabama and was the second to youngest child of Dock and Eliza Allen. My mother told us stories she had heard from her mother, mainly about Dock and Eliza and their children. I remember once my older cousin was trimming Aunt Abbie’s toenails when Aunt Abbie mentioned that she used to trim her grandmother’s toenails when she was a girl. And that her grandmother also had arthritis.  I have always remembered that, but I didn’t ask any follow up questions about her grandmother, Annie Williams who was born a slave and was full grown and the mother of a fully grown woman when she was freed. And Aunt Abbie didn’t say anything else about it.

My grandfather, who we called Poppy, was a mystery. My mother only had little parts of stories she had gotten from her mother, things that just made the mystery deeper in most cases.  What were his siblings names and what happened to them? Are the ones I’ve found that I think are his siblings, really his siblings? In 1900, I found these possible siblings living with a man who is listed as their father but has a name not listed on any of their death certificates, was he their father with a different name?  And where was he, my grandfather, in 1900? Why wasn’t he there, or anywhere else I can find? Where was their mother?  What was the name of the little white girl he was servant of when he was a boy?  The one he slept on the floor outside of her bedroom door?  The one who changed his name from Michele to Mershell because Michele sounded too “foreign”? How did he learn to read?  Did he go to school? Did he know his grandparents and what plantation did his parents come off of? There was a photograph of his sister and her children in the album.  I would like to ask him what their names were.  Are they the ones I’ve found in the census?

I would like to ask my grandmother some of the same questions about her father’s family. Howard Turner died when she was 4 and her mother moved away from that community and went back to her family in Montgomery. I was able to find her father’s family because I knew his name, his age and the community he came from but I have no stories about his parents and siblings or what plantation they came off of. I only know that his father, Joseph Turner of Hayneville, Lowndes County was a farmer and owned his own land and had given his son some land which he didn’t want him to sell and the two of them argued about it.

When we went by my other grandparent’s house for desert I would ask where my grandfather’s mother, Celia Rice Cleage Sherman is buried. And why my grandmother Pearl thought her grandmother was Cherokee.

Unfortunately, I can’t go back to 1963 and sit around the table and steer the conversation around to who was where and when and  how and why.  I can only use the information I do have to keep looking and hope that one day some cousins from those mysterious lines will turn up and perhaps have some of the answers to my questions.

_______________

To read more stories about oral history from the Carnival, CLICK the icon.

This was written for the Blog Carnival “The Ancestors Told; the Elders Listened; We Pass It On”.

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Grahams poetry & literature Turner

Mershell Graham and Fannie Mae Turner Marriage License – June 11, 1919

On June 11, 1919 Mershell Graham and Fannie Mae Turner applied for a marriage license in Montgomery, Alabama. They were married by Rev. E.E. Scott at First Congregational Church in Montgomery on June 15.  I have no photographs of the marriage or memories that were handed down. I could find no record of their marriage license in the Montgomery Advertiser. They seemed to have no section devoted to “News of the Colored Folk” as some newspapers did.

Mignon, Jean, Hattie, ?,?,?,Emma Topp, Mershell, Fannie

Moses McCall on Belle Isle.

Soon after the ceremony my grandparents left and returned to Detroit where Mershell was working.  I assume they took the train, which would have been segregated at that time. They roomed with friends from home, Moses and Jean Walker. There were other roomers, all of them saving up to be able to purchase their own homes.

To read Mershell’s letter of proposal read  The proposal To read Fannie’s letter of acceptance read –  The acceptance 

I found several marriage related, handwritten poems in my grandparents papers and have printed them below. I wonder if they read these during the ceremony or exchanged them.

The gift
Yes, take her and be faithful, still, and may your bridal bower,
Be sacred kept in after years, and warmly breathed as now,
Remember tis no common tie that binds your youthful hearts
Tis one that only truth should breath and only death should part.

Remember tis for you she leaves her home and mother dear,
To have this world with you alone, your good and ill to share,
Then take her and may future years mark only joys increase
And may your days glide sweetly on in happiness and peace.

The Brides Farewell

Soon, soon I’ll go – from those I love
You, Mother, Sister, among the nest,
Where I will often think of you,
Far in the distant west.

Farewell, Mother, though I leave you
Still I love you, Oh! believe me
and when I am far away
Back to you my thoughts will stray.
Oft, I’ll think of you and home
Though in other lands I’ll roam.
Yes, though miles may intervene,
I will keep thy memory green
Mother, sister, from my heart
Thoughts of thee shall never depart.