Mershell, Mary V. and Doris Graham, my mother sitting on their front steps waving balloons on sticks. It was 1926. The house was on Theodore, the east side of Detroit. Sometimes I dream about this house and the porch usually figures in the dreams as I leave or enter or start down the street going somewhere.
Mershell Graham was born June 10, 1921 in Detroit Michigan. He died on November 2, 1927, at St. Jopseph Hospital, also in Detroit, from traumatic cerebral hemorrhage resulting from a fracture at the base of the skull during an automobile accident. Mershell was described as a single, colored male, a school boy age 6 years 4 months and 23 days old. He lived at 6638 Theodore Street with his family. He was buried in Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery on November 4, 1927. Both of his parents, Fanny Turner Graham and Mershell C. Graham were born in Montgomery Alabama. His father, my grandfather, Mershell Cunningham Graham, was the informant.
You can read more personal memories and descriptions of my Uncle Mershell’s death at these links links – Births, Deaths, Doctors and Detroit Part 1; 1940 Census – the Grahams – Supplemental Material; Go Bury thy sorrow – complete words and tune. Mershell Cunningham Graham
My grandfather Mershell Graham holding little Mershell and my aunt Mary V. They are sitting outside of the Conservatory on Detroit’s island park, Belle Isle. The photo is dated 1925. Usually my mother and her sister had their hair cut short but in this and a few other pictures they have braids.
More about Belle Isle – 2 posts and some info.
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.
“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#
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…
This is the tenth post in the April A-Z Challenge. I am going to write about what I know about Jacob Graham. I had planned to write about family Jewelry but when I looked at the locket below and saw the initials were J.H.G. I started thinking about Jacob Graham again. I don’t believe the locket was his because men don’t wear lockets. I wonder who it belonged to and who the two women are. But, that isn’t today’s question.
Several years after my mother’s death, I found a cigar box full of unidentified things – pocket watches, big buttons, lockets. The locket in the picture above 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 J.H.G. My grandfather’s name was Mershell C. Graham. In the box was a small New Testament inscribed to Jacob Graham.
The Little New Testament
“Given to Jack Graham 1913.
Jacob Graham was born Aug 18 – 1892. Died June 30 1913.”
presented to him by his brother + sister in law
James + Elizabeth Canfield
July 4th 1875
When I read these words in the small New Testement, packed away in a small box of my grandfather, Mershall Graham’s things, I wondered who Jacob Graham, Elias Hopkins and James and Elizabeth Canfield were and how they were related to my grandfather?
My Grandfather – A Mystery
My grandfather is a mystery. From his delayed birth certificate I learned that his parents were Mary Jackson and William Graham and that he was the forth child born about 1888 in Coosada Station, Elmore County, Alabama. From my mother I heard that he had an older brother named William who went west and that he had a sister named Annie who had several children.
1900 and 1910 Censuses
In 1900, Jacob Graham was ten years old and living with a 60 year old widower named Zacharia, who is identified as his father, and two siblings, Abraham and Annie. All of the children were attending school. There is no William and no Mershell in the household. I cannot find my grandfather in 1900.
In 1910, I couldn’t find Zacharia or Jacob. Annie was a widow with three children working as a servant for Oscar and Emma Barron and still in Elmore County. Abraham was living in Nashville, Tennessee. My grandfather, Mershell, was working on the railroad .
Jacob’s Death Certificate
On Jacob’s death certificate, I found that he died in June, 1913 of tuberculosis at the Fresh Air Camp in Montgomery County. Unfortunately, no parents names were listed. The Fresh Air Camp was founded in 1911 by the Montgomery Anti-tuberculosis League. They held regular 2 week sessions during the summer for women, children and men to try and build them up so they wouldn’t get TB. The leading cause of death in Alabama in the late 1800s, early 1900s was tuberculous. There were efforts all over the state to fight the disease. The Fresh Air Camp was one of them.
Elias Hopkins and James Canfield
Elias Hopkins and James Canfield were both born in Wales. They both lived in Youngstown Ohio when the 1870 census was taken. James Canfield continued to live in Youngstown for the rest of his life. Elias Hopkins went to Australia. His son, Percy Isiah Hopkins was born there. By 1900 the family had returned to the US and was living in Jefferson County, Alabama. In 1910 both Elias, who was a contractor and Percy, who was a physcian, were living in Dothan, Alabama, about 108 miles from Montgomery. Dr. Percy Hopkins was associated with Frazier-Ellis Hospital in Dothan, which did care for some TB patients. He often traveled some distance to see patients. Perhaps he spent some time at the Fresh Air Camp, met Jacob Graham and passed the little book on to him.
A question for another day is – How did my grandfather get the book from Jacob? Were they siblings? Sounds like a question for Q(uestion) or S(ibling) to me.