Tag Archives: #Mary V. Graham Elkins

Aunts & Uncles

book+of+me+adYesterday I talked about cousins, today I am going to share something about my aunts and uncles, some plain old aunts and uncles and some great and some 2X great.

Pearl and Albert with their children and 3 of the grandchildren. My sister and I were at our other grandmothers and the youngest 4 were not yet born. 1951.
Pearl and Albert with their children and 3 of the grandchildren. My sister and I were at our other grandmothers and the youngest 4 were not yet born. 1951.

 Because my family seemed to socialized mainly with each other and a few long time family friends, I saw a lot of my aunts and uncles. When I was growing up, we spent every Saturday with my mother’s sister, Mary V. and her daughters at our maternal grandparents. We all rode over and back together. We also lived down the street and went to the same school so we saw her often.

My father’s family was very close and worked on political and freedom causes together through the years. We all went up to Idlewild together. Uncle Louis was our family doctor. My first jobs were working with Henry and Hugh at Cleage Printers.  I babysat one summer for Anna and Winslow.  I worked at North Detroit General Hospital in the pharmacy with Winslow. I worked with Gladys and Barbara at the Black Star sewing factory. My mother married my Uncle Henry years after my parents divorced so he was like a second father to me.  I raked their memories for stories about the past for decades.

My mother and her sister with cousin Dee Dee inbetween. Front row: Me, sister Pearl and cousin Barbara.
My mother and her sister with cousin Dee Dee inbetween. Front row: Me, sister Pearl and cousin Barbara.
  • Aunts by blood and Uncles by marriage.
    Aunts by blood and Uncles by marriage.
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Aunt Abbie – my great grandmother Turner’s sister.

I had 4 aunts and 5 uncles, by blood. Two of my uncles died when they were children so I never knew them. All of my aunts married so there were 4 uncles by marriage. Three, Ernest, Frank and Edward, were eventually divorced from my aunts. I didn’t see them very much after that. Ernest lived in NYC and only appeared now and then so I didn’t know him very well beyond the fact he was very good looking and polite. Uncle Frank, who we called ‘Buddy’, was a an electrician. I remember him taking us to Eastern Market and boiling up a lot of shrimp,which we ate on soda crackers. And a story he told about a whirling dervish seen in the distance that turned into a dove. Edward, who we called Eddie was a doctor and I remember little about him except he was quiet and when I had a bad case of teenage acne, offered to treat it for me.  Uncle Winslow was there to the end. I saw him often and I felt very connected to him. He had a wicked sense of humor and liked to talk about the past when I was in my family history mode. None of my uncles were married during my lifetime so I had no aunts by marriage.

We didn’t call our aunts and uncles “aunt” and “uncle”.  We called them by their first names only.  I did know two of my great aunts, my maternal grandmother’s sisters, Daisy and Alice.  I knew one of my 2 X great aunts, Aunt Abbie. She lived with my grandparents until she died in 1966. Aunt Abbie was Catholic and I still have a Crucifix that she gave me.

I remember calling Daisy “Aunt Daisy”, but Alice was just “Alice”.  Aunt Daisy had a distinctive voice and she laughed a lot. I remember going to dinner at their house once, and going by on holidays.

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My maternal grandmother’s sisters, Aunts Alice and Daisy. On Bob-lo Island 1961.

There were a host of great aunts and uncles that I never met but I knew from stories about them so that I felt like I knew them.  Aunt Minnie and Uncle Hugh were my paternal grandmother’s siblings.  I must have met several of my paternal grandfather’s siblings but I was small and don’t remember them, Uncle Jake, Uncle Henry, Aunt Josie and their spouses.  And on the maternal side I heard so much about my great grandmother Jennie’s siblings that I felt I knew them too.  When I started researching, these were not strangers – Aunt Willie, Aunt Mary, Aunt Beulah, Aunt Anna.

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2X Great Grandmother Eliza and her children. My 2X great aunts and uncle.  Aunt Mary, Ransom, Aunt Abbie, Aunt Beulah, Eliza, Great Grandmother Turner, Aunt Anna and Aunt Willie. Don’t know why Ransom was just ‘Ransom’.

We didn’t call any of my parent’s friends ‘aunt’ or ‘uncle’. Not surprising since we didn’t call our own aunts and uncles, ‘aunt’ and ‘uncle’.

Left to right: Albert, Josephine, Edward. Back L Henry, back R Jacob
Left to right: My grandfather Albert Cleage with my great aunt and great uncles, Aunt Josie, Uncle Ed. Back L Uncle Henry, back R Uncle Jake.

Old County Building and Mary V. Elkins

Henry_1955
Henry Cleage 1955

When I saw the prompt, I immediately thought of some photos of a building in Detroit that my uncle Henry Cleage took.  I found them in the first place I looked (amazingly). They aren’t labeled or dated but looking at a few old Detroit buildings I found they are of the old County Building. I would date them around 1950 from the people and cars.  These are only a few of the many.  Court was held in the building and Henry was a lawyer. Perhaps he had some cases there.

Old Detroit County Building
Old Detroit County Building

“The cornerstone was laid Oct. 20, 1897, in a ceremony that the Detroit Free Press called at the time “simple but impressive.” Under a headline in capital letters proclaiming, “It is laid!”, the Free Press wrote that it had rained all morning the day of the ceremony, but just at 2 p.m., as officials were gathering at Old City Hall, the sun broke and the clouds parted. A band led the procession down Cadillac Square to a platform decked out in American flags in front of the county building, where Judge Edgar O. Durfee had the honor of laying the cornerstone. Judge Robert E. Frazer gave what the Free Press called a “stirring address,” and Mayor William C. Maybury also participated.”   Go to Old Wayne County Building  – Historic Detroit to read a detailed history of the Old County Building.

top_2_statues

“One of the building’s most prominent features is the pair of large sculptures flanking its center tower and portico. The copper sculptures are known as quadrigae, a Roman chariot drawn by four horses. The pieces were done by New York sculptor J. Massey Rhind, who intended the quadrigae to symbolize progress. They feature a woman standing in a chariot led by four horses with two smaller figures on either side.”  From Old Wayne County Building – Historic Detroit

Mary Vee 1940 - In front of Plymouth Congregational Church.
Mary Vee 1940 – In front of Plymouth Congregational Church.

My mother’s sister, Mary V. Elkins, got a job at the County Building in 1940.

“June 10, 1940 — Mary Virginia has just gotten (through Jim and May) a good job at the County Bldg — God is so good to us. M.V. won high honor in her business Institute for typing and short hand.”  Fannie Mae Turner Graham’s little diary.

Mary V. attended business school after she graduated from Eastern High School, then worked for awhile at her cousin’s Newspaper office until he helped her get a job in the old county building.  She held the job for many years and received  a proclamation from the City of Detroit for her service to the city during a Family Reunion when she was in her 80s.

seasons greetings
Wayne County Courthouse (2)
Wayne County Courthouse

Old Wayne County Building could soon be allowed to seek buyers.  “A Wayne County Commission committee approved a nonbinding agreement today that would settle a nearly 3-year-old lawsuit against the owners of the Old Wayne County Building and allow the owners to seek potential buyers.”  From an April, 2013 article in the Detroit Free Press.

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.

Sisters

This photo of my mother, Doris  and her sister, Mary V. Graham was taken in 1933.  My mother was 10 years old and her sister was 13 years old. The photograph was taken on Belle Isle, an island park in the Detroit River between Detroit and Canada. You can see the river in the background.

They lived with their parents, Fannie and Mershell on Theodore Street. My grandfather worked at Ford Motor Co. at the River Rouge Plant. They had a dog named Bonzo. Their little brother, Howard, had died the year before from complications of diabetes and scarlet fever.

Click for more Sepia Saturday photographs and stories.

 

1940 Census – James and Margaret McCall and Family

4880 Parker now - from Google Maps.

In 1940 James McCall and his family lived at 4880 Parker Ave. on the east side of  Detroit. The house was worth $5,000.  He was 58 years old and had completed 4 years of college. He had worked 52 weeks in 1939, earning $1,600 managing a Printing Establishment.

James and Margaret McCall in the early 1940s.

His wife Margaret was 52 years old. She had completed 4 years of high school and was not working outside of the home. She was the informant. Everybody in the house was born in Alabama, had lived in the same house in 1935 and was identified as “W(hite)”.  I would guess that people are wrongfully identified as “white” because the enumerator would not ask race, they would assume they “knew” by looking.

Margaret and Victoria McCall - Palm Sunday 1941.

Oldest daughter, Victoria, was 24 years old, single and had completed 4 years of college. She had worked 40 weeks in 1939 as a public school teacher, where she earned $1,600. The youngest daughter, Margaret was 21 years old. She had worked 24 weeks in 1939 and earned $240 as a secretary of a Printing company.

The McCall’s owned their own printing company and published a newspaper “The Detroit Tribune”.  My aunt, Mary V. Graham, who was their cousin,  worked at the same printing establishment in the 1940 census. In the 1990’s she shared her memories of her work there. Mary V’s job was to read newspaper articles to  James McCall because he was blind.  From what she read to him, he would formulate his editorial articles.  He had a braille typewriter that he used to write the articles.  Mary V said she learned so much, reading to him and talking to him about various topics.  She remembered that he was a wealth of information and knew a lot about everything.

You can see the 1940 census sheet with the McCalls HERE.  Other posts featuring James McCall are Poems by James E. McCall and James McCall Poet and Publisher and “She was owned Before the War by the Late Colonel Edmund Harrison…”


View 1940 Detroit, Michigan – Where we lived in a larger map

1940 Census – Frank and Mary Elkins Family

In the 1940 Census, the Frank and Mary Elkins family was living at 3045 Anderdon Street in Detroit, Michigan. The rent was $30 a week and they had lived in the same house in 1935.  Everybody in the household had been identified as “W(hite)”, that was crossed out and “Neg(ro)” was written over it. Unfortunately, no household on this page has the person who provided the information to the enumerator identified.

Frank Elkins at work.

The father of the family, Frank Elkins, was 57 years old and had completed 4 years of high school. He worked at an auto plant as a  courtesy driver. One of his granddaughters has informed me that he worked as a driver for Graham Paige Motors.

Three Marys - daughter Mary, mother Mary and my Aunt Mary V. Graham.

His wife, Mary, was 47 and not employed outside the home. She had completed 2 years of High school. She had made $50 in the last year outside of wages or salary.  Daughter Mary was 21 and single.  She had completed 4 years of high school and was not enrolled in school. She was not employed outside of the home.

Mother Mary Elkins and son Frank “Bud” Elkins

Young Frank was 19, single and had completed 1 year of college. He had attended school sometime since March 1, 1940. He was not employed.  His daughter, Dee Dee, remembers that Frank graduated with honors from Cass Technical High School and went right to work, starting  Elkin’s Electric Company.  He tried to join the Electricians Union, but they barred Black folks from joining.  In 1941 Frank and my aunt Mary V. Graham were married at Plymouth Congregational Church.

Fannie Graham’s Journal Entries -1940

I published a longer post that included this information (without the actual pages) along with entries from my grandmother’s other journals  in 2010. I am only including information from 1940 this time.

Feb. 5, 1940
Dear God and Little Book: the mail has just brought us the long looked for letter from Wayne University and the Board of Education that Doris has received the yearly scholarship to Wayne… I shed tears of joy… for more reasons than one or even two and the main reason is she deserves it for being such a sweet little “trick”…even if we do say so ourselves.

February 12 – Doris’s birthday – 17 today. We had a nice dinner, cake, ice cream and gifts for her from all.

March 12, my birthday, among all a purchase certificate from JL Hudson’s from our daughters and dad

April 3 – Mary Virginia is 20 today. We had nice dinner cake and ice cream and gifts from us all – also Aunt Daisy never forgets with money.
Dad celebrates Christmas day.

April 12-The Grahams were enumerated. No mention in the Little Book.

June 7, 1940 Doris received $100 scholarship from the Deltas today… Isn’t that grand! It served 2 years.

June 10 — Mary Virginia has just gotten (through Jim and May) a good job at the County Bldg — God is so good to us. and today our Mershell Jr would have been 19 if he had lived – but we still say – God knows best.

1940 Census – The Grahams – Supplemental Material

After I finished writing about my Grahams in the 1940 Census yesterday, I looked at some maps of the enumeration district. Here are some photographs I put together from Google maps showing what the area looks like now and what streets were included in their enumeration district.  My cousin Barbara and I visited the area in 2004 and it looked just like this.

The Enumeration District is outlined in red. My grandparents house is the “A”. The yellow line traces the route to the elementary school.

An ariel view from google of my grandparents block. Their house was located where the “A” is. There used to be an alley but it is now overgrown as they don’t maintain alleys in Detroit any more.  The Jordan house and the Graham house shared the enclosed space. There was another alley next to the Jordan house which is included inside the fence.

The site of my grandparents house. Now a storage area.

Unmaintained side alley next to the house site.

The factory across the street from my grandparents house.

Thomas Elementary school. The school my mother and her siblings attended. Now deserted and burned.

Looking down the street from elementary school toward the ruined Packard plant. My Uncle Mershell was hit and killed by a truck on the way back to school with his older sister, Mary Vee after lunch. I think she always felt she was somehow responsible.

1940 Census – The Grahams

The 1940 census was released yesterday. Today I was able to find both sets of grandparents, with my parents still living at home, the only great grandparent still alive, three families of cousins  and my in-laws who were married and living in their own home with the first of their twelve children, baby Maxine. Today I am going to write about my mother’s family, the Grahams.

My grandparents were enumerated on April 12, 1940.  They lived, as I expected, at 6638 Theodore Street in Detroit. The entire enumeration district was white with the exception of my grandparents and their next door neighbors, the Jordans.  Just noticed my grandparents and family were enumerated as “white”. Among the adults over 40 was a mix of naturalized citizens from Italy, Poland, Canada, Switzerland, England, Germany and natural born citizens from the southern United states. There were a few people who had filed their first papers towards gaining citizenship and a few “aliens”. The younger adults and  the children were almost all born in Michigan. The majority of people in the district had lived in the same place since 1935.  Among the workers on my grandparents page were  a janitor, two maids, a laborer at a spring factory, a bender at an auto plant,  a checker at a dress shop, a grinder at an auto factory, a delivery man for a print shop, a stock clerk at an auto factory, a stenographer, a time keeper at a machine shop, a manager for a coal and ice concern and a salesman for a radio concern.

My grandmother, Fannie, was the informant for her family. She and Mershell were both 50. He had completed 8th grade. She and 20 year old daughter, Mary V., had completed 4 years of high school. My mother, Doris was 17 and had completed 4 years of high school and was attending college.  Mershell had worked 52 weeks as a stock clerk at an auto factory and earned $1,720 during 1939. Mary V. was working as a stenographer at a newspaper office and had earned nothing in 1939. They owned their own home which was worth $3,500 and had lived in the same house in 1935.

Mary Vee 1940 – In front of Plymouth Congregational Church.

Doris 1939. In front of Plymouth Congregational Church.

Did I learn anything new from this census? This was the first time I looked at the whole enumeration district which gave me more of an overview of the neighborhood. I did not know that my grandfather completed 8th grade. I always heard he taught himself to read because he never attended school.  I wonder which is true, did he teach himself to read and my grandmother just said he completed 8th grade or did he go to school.  No big surprises, mostly seeing in the record what I already knew.

 For more information about the Grahams, their enumeration district and photographs of what the area looks like now Supplemental material about the neighborhood.  A photo of my mother, aunt and uncle – Bird’s Eye View, 1940 photograph.  My grandmother’s mother and sisters – 1940 Census – Jennie Virginia Turner.  A map of where my family lived in Detroit during the 1940 Census – Where We Lived.  My grandmother Fannie’s 1940 Journal Entries. My mother at Wayne State University in 1940.

 Source 1940 U.S. Census. State: Michigan.  County: Wayne. City: Detroit. Ward:15. Enumeration District: 84-862. Household: 331. Sheet Number: 16-A. Date: April 12, 1940. Head of Household: Mershell Graham. Informant: wife, Fannie Graham.  To see the census sheet for the Graham Family – click.