I found this article today. It had a photo included but it was so dark it was impossible to see anything except that it was the same photograph that I had in my Cleage photos and often wondered what the occasion was. It was a program in honor of J.L. Cook, founder of the Athens Academy. I had no idea that my grandfather’s sister, Josie Cleage, was a member of the first graduating class. That is my grandfather below, on the far right wearing a white suit. You can read more about Dr. Cook here – The Church and School that Jake Built. Click to enlarge article and photos.
These Photographs were taken during the same trip.
Celia Rice Cleage Sherman is the earliest name I can call for this line. By the time I asked, nobody remembered her mother’s name. Celia Rice was born into slavery in Virginia about 1855. Sometime before freedom, she was taken to Tennessee. Celia had 4 sons, including my grandfather Albert, and 1 daughter, Josephine (also called Josie). MtDNA is passed from the mother, to the daughter, to the grandaughter to the great grandaughter in a straight line. Although sons receive their mothers MtDNA, they do not pass it on to their children. Their children will receive their own mother’s MtDNA. So, I am going to be talking about daughters of daughters in this post.
Josephine married James Cleage, (from a different Cleage family) and had 5 children, 2 sons and 3 daughters, Henrietta, Lucille and Hattie Ruth. My cousin Felix, a descendent of Hattie Ruth, shared a chart of family members with me about five years ago. There are probably more family members out there since then. Additions and corrections welcome!
Henrietta had 1 son and 3 daughters, Margaret, Hortense and Ruth. I don’t have any information about their children. Lucille had 2 sons and 1 daughter, Mary, who had 1 son only. Hattie Ruth had 5 daughters, Vivian, Betty, Beverly, Marion and Erma.
Vivian had 2 daughters, Josephine and Laura. She had 7 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and 1 2xgreat grand at the time I received my list.. I don’t know how many were daughters. Josephine had 2 sons. Laura had 5 children, 2 boys and 3 girls. She has at least 2 granddaughters.
Betty had 3 daughters, 2 lived to adulthood. Sandra had 3 daughters, Bernita, Jamiliah and Aisha. Bernita had 5 daughters. Jamiliah had 1 son and 3 daughters. Aisha had no children. Charlene had 2 daughters and 5 granddaughters.
Beverly had 1 son and 2 daughters, Tanya and Kim. Tanya has 1 daughter, Danelle. Kim has 2 daughters, Mahogany and Celeste.
Marion had 2 sons and 2 daughters, Alma and Ruth Anne. There were 5 grandchildren, but I don’t know how many were daughters of daughters.
Erma had 3 sons and 7 daughters, Beatrise, Marcella, Haleema, Fatima, Aleah, Ameena, Leshia. I don’t know the breakdown of her 16 grandchildren, but I know there were some granddaughters.
Special thanks to my cousin Denora for permission to use the header photograph of Hattie Ruth’s daughters, granddaughters and great grands. And to Felix for the information in the chart. And to Tanya for getting her DNA tested. Family makes it happen.
Josephine Cleage, who was always called Josie, was born in 1873 in Louden County, Tennessee. She was the first child of Louis and Celia (Rice) Cleage. In the early years, Louis worked on a farm and Celia kept house. Eventually there were four younger brothers – Henry, Jacob, Edward and Albert. Josie’s father Louis was remembered as a drinker who didn’t always bring his pay home. He started working on the railroad and several years later her parents went their separate ways.
In September 1894, twenty year old Josie married 22 year old James 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. James’ parents were Jerry Cleage and Charlotte Bridgeman. You can read more about them here -> Jerry Cleage and Charlotte Bridgeman and here -> Jerry Cleage, A Slave for Life
Both were born after the Civil War. Their first daughter, Henrietta was born in 1897 with second daughter Lucille following in 1899.
In April of 1897 Josie’s mother, Celia, married her second husband William Roger Sherman of Athens, Tennessee. By 1900 the whole family was living in Athens. Josie, now 27, and her family were living next door to her mother, step-father and brothers. Husband James, 29 was teaching school. According to the 1900 census Josie was able to read and write.
Sometime after 1890 Jacob Lincoln Cook, 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 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 first son, James Oscar, was born there. My grandfather, Albert, 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 a porter and later at a printing shop. 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 program in charge.
My uncle Henry Cleage remembered family visits to Indianapolis during the summers. He said his Aunt Josie was a real intellectual who read a lot and could talk about a variety of topics. He also remembered catching fireflies and that someone in the family had a goat. My aunt Anna Cleage Shreve remembered her uncle James as a very quiet, gentle man who helped around the house. Uncle Edward’s daughter Juanita Cleage Martin wrote in her memoirs that she remembered her aunt as being tall with a pleasant smile, easy going with a lot of hair.
Josie’s 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 settled. After Josie’s husband James A. Cleage died in 1933, Josie also moved to Detroit. In 1940 she was living not far from her brothers with her son David and his family on Stoval.
Josephine Cleage died in July of 1956 at age 82 and is buried in Detroit Memorial Park East Cemetery.
This is a photograph of the congregation of Witherspoon United Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, IN in 1909, two years after they organized. This photograph is from the personal collection of my cousin Vivian Vaughn McDonald. My grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage is the third person on the top right. My grandfather, Albert Cleage is next to her. They wouldn’t be married for two more years. Next to Albert is his brother Jacob and next to him is their brother Henry. Directly in front of my grandfather Albert is Jacob’s wife, Gertrude. Three people over from Henry is James Cleage, their sister Josephine’s husband. He was from a different Cleage branch. In the second row, second from the right is Henrietta Cleage, oldest daughter of James and Josephine. Although the woman 4th from the left, front row, looks like Josephine to me, I’m told Josephine was not there for the photo but was home pregnant with Hattie Ruth, the youngest of her five children.
In the 1909 Indianapolis City Directory Witherspoon United Presbyterian Church is listed as located in Realty Hall with Rev. David White as Pastor.
Here is another photograph in front of the church. Also from my cousin Vivian’s collection. Josephine Cleage is on the far right, wearing a dark dress. The history below if from the Witherspoon web page, however they seem to have taken the history section down.
On April 30, 1907 the Presbytery of Indiana of the United Presbyterian Church held a called meeting at Realty Hall in response to a petition signed by 31 persons asking to be organized into a United Presbyterian congregation.
Begins With 31 Members
Prof. David Graham of Rushville was moderator and Rev. W. W. McCall of Greensburg was secretary. Other members present were Rev. Fred W. Schmuch of Milroy, Rev. N. B. McClung of Vevay, Rev. Mr. McDill of Madison, and Dr. Cowan of Indianapolis.
The petition was discussed at some length. By unanimous vote an organization was decided upon. The 31 members who signed the petition were as follows: Henry W. Cleage, Mrs. Carrie Perkins, Mrs. Emma Moore, A. T. Roney, Mrs. Cora Donann, Mrs. Cathern Crenshaw, Mrs. Daisy L. Brabham, Albert Cleage, Mrs. Gertrude Cleage, James Myers, Mrs. A. L. McElrath, O. F. Dennis, Mrs. Hattie Mitchell, H. M. Mitchell, Mrs. Theresa Finley, Othello Finley, Miss Edith Finley, Miss Luell E. Hibbett, Mrs. Mary Peterson, Mrs. Anna Bowman, John T. Fox, Miss Pearl Reed, Thomas H. Bransford, Mrs. O. F. Dennis, Miss Alice Mathews, Miss Hilda Reeder, W. J. Perkins, Henry Moore and H. L. Hummons.
For other fine Sepia Saturday photographs dealing with windows or lights or who knows click here. My family seems to have a habit of starting churches. To see a photograph of the congregation of a church started by the maternal branch of the family click Plymouth Congregational Church.