Tag Archives: #Mershell C. Graham

The Grahams in the 1950 Census

Today I’m going to write about my mother’s parents, Mershell and Fannie (Turner) Graham grandparents in my preview of the 1950 Census.

In 1950 Mershell and Fannie Graham were still living at 6638 Theodore Street. The single family frame house was built in 1913 and was probably worth about $7,000.  The Grahams bought the house in 1923. If they had a 30 year mortgage, they would have had 3 more years until it was paid.  I like to think that they had already paid it off. The house probably cost  less than $2,000 when they bought it in 1923.

house deed

The house was heated with forced air using a converted coal to gas furnace. There were three bedrooms and a bathroom complete with indoor plumbing and running water upstairs, including a claw foot bathtub and a flush toilet.  Downstairs were three more rooms, making six in all (not counting the bathroom). The kitchen had an electric refrigerator and a sink with hot and cold running water.  There was also a full attic and full basement. They did not own a television but did have a radio, probably more than one. I remember one in the kitchen and one in my grandfather’s bedroom.

Mershell Graham had worked 52 weeks as a stock clerk in an auto factory. His annual wages were probably about average, $3,210. He had completed 8 years of school. He was not a veteran. Mershell and Fannie had been married once and this marriage had lasted 31 years. Fannie had birthed 4 children.   She had completed high school, and had not worked outside of the home.

Abbie Allen Brown

Living with them was Fannie’s 75 year old widowed aunt, Abbie Allen. Abbie had birthed 2 children and her 1 marriage occurred 46 years ago. She hadn’t worked in the past year. She had completed 7th grade.

All three of them would have given “Negro” for race, but if the census taker didn’t ask and assumed, they may have been enumerated as “white”.  All three were born in Alabama and all of their parents had been born in the United States.

Helpful links for figuring out costs and wages were:

Other posts in the 1950 series

Mershell & Annie Mae Graham Sibling Relationship Proved

Graham, Mrs. Annie, Elmore. Funeral service will be Sunday at 11 a.m. at East Chapel MP church. The Rev. Paul Cook will officiate. Burial will be in Jackson Cemetery with Ross-Clayton Funeral Home directing. Survivors include one daughter, Mrs. Emma Reves; sons, Clyde Jackson, William Jackson, Birmingham, and Joe Jackson; a brother, Marshall Graham, Detroit, Mich.; 16 grandchildren; 43 great-grandchildren; three daughters-in-law, Mesdames Edith, Odessa and Ethel Jackson; and other relatives. She was a member of the Esters of America Society No. 1.

When I found this obituary for Annie Mae Graham on Newspapers.com, I wondered who the son “Joe” was. I had never heard of him before. At first reading I thought that “Marshall Graham” in Detroit was her son, formerly identified as “Michele” in census records. On re-reading, I realized that the “Marshall Graham” was named as her brother, and was my grandfather Mershell who lived in Detroit. And that Joe was Annie’s son, Michele.

I had been looking for something to tie my grandfather Mershell C. Graham to those I suspected were his siblings – Annie, Jacob and Abraham Graham. All of them listed the same parents on their delayed birth records and death certificates, but I could not find them in the same household. In 1900 my grandfather was not in the home with the other children. I have yet to find him in 1900.

Annie Graham’s great grandson, Cedric Jenkins, saw the obituary and contacted me on Ancestry. That was the first he had heard of my grandfather Mershell. We exchanged photographs and information. Annie and Mershell certainly look like sister and brother in the photos below.

After Cedric got in touch with me, I realized I had a DNA match on 23 & me with the surname Jenkins. That Jenkins matched my maternal first cousin, Dee Dee, and was identified as a probable third cousin. He turned out to be Cedric’s nephew.

Using an obituary, a genealogical paper trail, DNA and a newly connected cousin, I was finally able to connect my grandfather Mershell Graham to his sister.

O. Barron’s Farm 1918, Elmore County, Alabama

Cedric was also able to identify the children in the photo above as Annie Mae Graham’s children. In the front are Joe (Michele) and Emma. On the mule closest to us is Will and next to him is Clyde.

Mershell Graham with his wife Fannie and children Doris (my mother), Mary Virginia and Mershell Jr. Standing in front of Plymouth Congregational Church in 1927. Detroit, Michigan.

Other posts about Mershell’s siblings

R is for Relatives, of the Elusive Kind
Mystery Photograph
Annie Graham – Sibling?
Jacob Graham – Sibling?
Inside Cover of Mershell C. Graham’s Bible

Note: I published an earlier version of this post but I got so much new information that I decided to re-write it but keep the comments from the first post, as I did not want to leave that one up.

Poppy in the Garden

My maternal grandfather Mershell C. Graham in his garden with my cousin Dee Dee. About 1946. We called him Poppy.

I came across this photo while looking for a picture for my cousin last night. I don’t remember seeing it before, although I must have because it’s in my box of Graham photographs.

Since the end of the April A-Z Challenge this year, I’ve been working on my grandfather’s migration story – his move from Montgomery, Alabama to Detroit, Michigan in 1917. The more I look, the more I find, much more than I had originally been looking for.

When I saw the prompt for Sepia Saturday this morning, it reminded me of the picture of my grandfather in the garden and I decided to post it while I continue to work on putting together his larger story.

For other Sepia Saturday Photos, click .

M – MERSHELL C. Graham Jr – 1921

After church about 1927. Grandfather Mershell Graham holding my mother Doris, Grandmother Fannie next to him. In front: Mary Virginia and Mershell Jr.
2nd baby -Mershell C. Graham born June 10th – 1921 at 7:45 P.M. on Friday. Detroit, Mich, Dunbar Hospital 8 1/2 # Dr. Turner . Died 11/1/27 killed by Auto

Mershell Cunningham Graham Jr was born at 7:45 pm on June 10 in 1921, a Friday, He was the first son and second child of Mershell and Fannie (Turner) Graham.  He was delivered at Dunbar Hospital by Dr. Turner.  Mershell was a big baby, weighing 8 1/2 pounds. He joined older sister, 14 month old Mary Virginia.  Twenty months later his younger sister, my mother Doris, was born.

Mershell was an active boy, falling down the clothes chute and breaking a window  during a game of “who can hit their head against the window the hardest” with his younger sister, Doris.  In family photographs, he shows no fear of the ferocious puppy or the family chickens.

On November 1, 1927, he was hit by a truck on his way back to school after lunch. He died just after midnight on November 2.  My sister, cousins and I grew up with warnings to be careful crossing the street and to remember what happened to Mershell.

Baby Mershell sitting on the picnic table with Grandmother Graham, big sister Mary Virginia, mother Fannie on the right and Clifton Graham at Bell Isle 1922
Mershell Jr and pal Toodles – 1923 , 2 years old
Clifton, Mary Virginia, Lewis and Mershell Jr. Siblings and cousin/friends
MV – MC Jr – Doris – Mother with chickens -1923
Doris, M.V. Mershell, Toodles. Dated 1926 and 1927. Maybe it was January.
May 1927. Mary V., Mershell, Doris. In back: Aunt Daisy, Grandmother Jennie T., Mother Fannie

Mershell’s school books 1927

My mother wrote on the page of practice writing above “Mother teaching him to write his name.”

Related links  –  Births, Deaths, Doctors and Detroit Part 1;   1940 Census – the Grahams – Supplemental Material

The Proposal Accepted

Mershell and Fannie (Turner) Graham. August 1919 Detroit, Michigan.

24 November 1918
Montgomery, Alabama

Dear Shell,

 This has been some cold day, but we went to church this A.M. and heard a splendid sermon on “Thanksgiving.”  Rev. Scott never spoke better.  He’s really great.  The people never will appreciate him until he’s gone.  Last Sunday was Harvest and it was fairly good.  Might have been better but for the flu.  They realized $12.50 from it.  Our club held it’s first meeting last Friday evening at Madaline’s.  She put on a strut, too.  We certainly had a good time.  We are all feeling okay.  Mama is so much better, though she complains yet.

 Now, Shell, about your question.  Willie Lee and several others have been telling me that we were to get married for a month or more.  I’ve been wondering where it all came from.  I know you wrote me some time ago that you had “something to tell me,” but I never dreamed it was on this subject.  It’s all okay though and if you will overlook my deficiencies, I’ll say yes. You know you like good cooking and I’d have to learn to do that, even after working in a grocery store all my life. Ha, ha!  Now that you know about my inability as a cook does it shock you?  Just let me know what you think about it.

 Now, Shell, please don’t write any of this to any one, for it’s our own business and we can keep them guessing awhile longer.  What do you say?  Do this for me as a special request.

 Well, dear, I’m so sleepy that I can’t write longer so you must let me off tonight with just one kiss.  Ha, ha!

              As ever,
              your Fan

To see the proposal letter click  The Proposal – Migration Story.
To read all about the wedding, click Announcement

___________________________

Being in the middle of the corona pandemic 2020, I decided to look back at my family history and see if anything was mentioned about the spanish influenza pandemic of 1918. I remembered that my grandmother wrote in a letter to my grandfather that church attendance was down because of the flu.

Because my grandmother was living in Montgomery, Alabama at the time, I took a look to see what the Montgomery newspaper’s were saying about the flu in November, 1918.

The article below came out the same day as the Sunday service mentioned in the letter.

Click to enlarge.

Click for more about Dr. Bell’s Pine-Tar-Honey mentioned in the advertisement above.


Announcement

This year I am going through an alphabet of news items taken from The Emancipator newspaper, published  between 1917 and 1920 in Montgomery, Alabama.  Most are about my grandparent’s circle of friends. Each item is transcribed directly below the clipping.   Click on any image to enlarge.

_____________

“Pom, Shell & Fan” My maternal grandparents, Mershell and Fannie (Turner) Graham. August 1919 Detroit, Michigan two months after their marriage.

“Mrs. Jenine Turner Wishes to announce the engagement of her daughter, Fannie Mae, to Mr. Mershell C. Graham, of Detroit, Mich. The Marriage to take place in the spring”

The Wedding – June 1919
Graham-Turner Wedding

On Sunday, June 15th at four o’clock Miss Fannie Turner and Mr. Mershell Graham were happily united in marriage at the home of the bride on E. Grove St. The home was prettily decorated for the occasion.

Just before the entrance of the bridal party, Mr. Lowndes Adams sang a beautiful solo, immediately after which the groom entered the parlor to the strains of Mendelson’s wedding March, with Mr. Clifton Graham, his brother, as best man. The bride entered with her uncle, Mr. V.H. Tulane, who gave her away, gowned in white satin with real lace and pearl bead trimmings the hat, a beautiful creation of white Georgette, the bride made a very pleasing appearance.  She carried a large bouquet of roses and fern.

The home was crowded to its fullest capacity, fully two hundred guests being present which bespoke the esteem and popularity in which the young couple are held.

The presents were many and varied, consisting of silver, cut glass, linen, wearing apparel, money, and many useful household articles.

Rev. E.E. Scott performed the ceremony and Miss Naomi Tulane presided at the piano.

The guests were served delicious refreshments.

The happy couple left Sunday evening for Detroit, Mich., their future home.

Everybody mentioned in these articles will appear in this years challenge, plus a few others.

________________

I found this information on Ancestry.com in Census Records, Directories, Death Records, Military Records and Marriage Records. News items were found on Newspapers.com. I also use Google Maps. The photograph is from my family photos.

Did Poppy Go To The Theatre?

1958 behind the house on Theodore.  L > R Sister Pearl, Kristin (me), Mershell “Poppy”, Aunt Mary V. Cousin Marilyn in the front and Cousin Barbara in the back

While looking for news stories about my ancestors, I came across this little item at newspapers.com. Mershell C. Graham was my maternal grandfather. I do not imagine that he went to the play.  I wonder if he even saw this announcement and how they came to pick him.

Mershell C. Graham
6638 Theodore, Detroit

You have won two free tickets to “Once Upon A Mattress” at the Shubert Theatre. Call Miss Lee at Classified Advertising, The Free {ress, WO 2-9400, extension 13, between 8:30 A.M. and 5:00 P.M. Monday.

The play was an adult version based on the fairy tale, The Princess and The Pea For an over view of the musical, click ->  Once Upon A Mattress.

The Shubert in 1963 – a year before it was demolished.  Photo from the Burton Historical Collection.
The Shubert was demolished in 1964. Photo from the Walter P. Reuther Library
Click to see more Sepia Saturday offerings

Other posts about Mershell C. Graham

Poppy Could Fix Anything
Mershell’s Notebook
Graham Turner Wedding 1919 Montgomery
From Montgomery To Detroit – Founding a New Congregational Church
Poppy The Worker
Poem for Poppy

Poppy’s Garden 1953

 When I was growing up we spent Saturdays at my mother’s parents house, along with my cousins Dee Dee and Barbara and later, Marilyn.  When the weather was good we spent it outside in the backyard. There was a vegetable garden, lots of flowers and space for anything we could think of.

In the summer of 1953 I turned 7 in August. Dee Dee turned 10 in September. Barbara had already turned 6 in January. Pearl was 4.5 until December.  Poppy was 64. He would retire in December of that year when he turned 65. The yard was surrounded on all sides by a wooden fence that made it feel like a world apart.  In the photographs I can see the big house across the alley and a factory on Warren but when I was playing in the yard I didn’t much notice those things.

"collards"
In the collards – Pearl, Barbara, Kris with Poppy

Pearl and I are holding dolls and I have a purse I remember getting when we lived in Springfield, MA. A young lady who might have been the church secretary had a grown up purse just like it.  It was brown leather and had a golden metal clasp that turned to open and close. Looks like collards with the poison Poppy sprinkled to kill the cabbage worms. I think I see a little cabbage butterfly holding on to the underside one of the leaves.

"geni of the magic carpet"
Geni of the magic carpet go, go, go.

I am standing up at the table where Barbara and I are making something. Dee Dee is sitting on the arm of the swing. She was probably taking Pearl somewhere on the magic carpet (aka swing) the rider would have to say “Geni of the magic carpet, go, go, go!” and then Dee Dee would take you someplace magic.  She would tell you where it was when it was time for you to get out of the swing. Dee Dee was in charge of all the magic.  Each of our households had a little, invisible fairy that lived in the mud castle we built and rebuilt at the foot of the apple tree. Their’s was named Lucy and ours was Pinky. She also kept a box full of prizes that she gave out at appropriate times. I remember packages of soda crackers, prizes from cereal boxes and pieces of chewing gum.

"Pearl and Kris with saw horses"
With our horses.

Here Pearl and I are standing on the grassy part of the yard. The flowers are in full bloom behind us with the vegetables back behind them. We often made the saw horses into mounts. I see my purse over there on the grass to the left.

Greens in my Idlewild garden 15 yars ago.

___________________________

I have participated in Sepia Saturday for so many years that it is hard for me to come up with new photos when the same sorts of prompts come around. This week I am recycling a post from 2012.

To see other Sepia Saturday offerings, click.

For more recent sepia CLICK this

On The Way Home From Work – 1943

poppy sidewalk
My grandfather, Mershell C. Graham. “On the way home from work 1943”

poppy_the_worker_poemFrom my grandmother Fannie’s scrapbook. “That’s my Shell” 1-25-59.

River Rouge Plant in Dearborn, Michigan.
River Rouge Plant in Dearborn, Michigan.

My grandfather, Mershell C. Graham came to Detroit from Montgomery, Alabama in 1917. He worked on the steamer “Eastern States” as a steward for awhile and then as a stockman in the library at the Ford River Rouge Plant in Dearborn, Michigan until he retired in the 1950s. Although he had a car, he did not drive to work, he caught the bus, first walking to the bus stop and then riding over an hour to get to work.

Unknown Man Walking
For other Sepia Saturday offerings, CLICK!

 

A Speculative Circle, Mershell Graham’s DNA

lunceford long connctions chart
A chart showing the other lines and the generations between me and my 4th great grandmother and the Long/Jacksons.
My grandfather, Mershell Graham.
My grandfather, Mershell Graham.

Ancestry.com has a new feature called “speculative circles”. They take groups of people that share DNA and who you do not have any matches in your tree.  They rate the DNA links from “emerging” (not enough people in the group yet.) to “very strong” which means that  the reality of a connection is high. My sister was recently tested and received several “speculative circles.” Most of them were “weak” links. I had also never heard of the people in the trees, nor could I see where we might match up. With one circle, however, there were strong links with 8 out of the 12 people in the circle.

My grandfather Mershell Graham’s sister Annie (Click for more information about Annie) and her children appear in the 1910 US census in Elmore county working as servants for Oscar and Emma (Jackson) Barron .  They were there in the 1920 census and until Emma died. Emma was the daughter of Absolom Jackson, a large slave holder in Autauga County (In 1866 Elmore County was formed from part of Autauga).

I began to think that my family may have been slaves on Absolom Jackson’s plantation. My grandfather was born in 1888 in Coosada, Elmore County, Alabama.  His mother’s name was Mary Jackson.  About 15 years ago a Jackson descendant sent me a copy of the 1832 Will of James Jackson in which he divided up the slaves between two of his sons (Absolom and Crawford) and his son-in-law (Lunceford Long).  1832 was before Mary Jackson (my grandfather’s mother) or her parents were have been born. All of James Jackson’s adult children had large numbers of slaves that, of course, weren’t mentioned in that will. Due to these reasons, I was not surprised that I recognized no names.

Who are they?
On the end it says “13/2/18 on Barrons farm.” I think some of these are Annie’s children.

I started a tree for James Jackson and his family on Ancestry.com. I do that for any people I think might have enslaved any branch of my family.  I use the information to look for wills and bills of sale, anything that might have my ancestors listed.

The circle. The grey lines are between various other circles but not ours.
The circle. The grey lines are between various other circles but not ours.  The orange ones share DNA with us.

All of this is leading up to the circle. We share Lunceford Long’s and his wife Nancy Daniel Jackson Long’s DNA with descendants who have a paper trail.  Lunceford (1797 to 1857) and his wife Nancy are the nearest common ancestors that all of the lines in the circle share. They are the 6th generation back from me. This means that we have DNA from both Lunceford and Nancy.  How could this happen?

At first I thought that meant that one of the sons had a child with an enslaved woman. But the sons are not the closest ancestor, Longford and Nancy are. I believe it means that Lunceford Crawford Long had a baby with an as yet unnamed enslaved woman?  And that said unnamed woman was related to Nancy Daniel Jackson so that they shared DNA?

I take all this to mean that I was right and the Jackson’s did own my ancestors.  Now to look for more wills and other records that might show names I can recognize and hopefully place in family groups.