I look so comfortable leaning into my grandmother. Nannie was 71. It was almost back to school time. One more year ahead at McMicheal Junior High for me. Right now I’m wishing I could go back there again, even for just one of those Saturdays in my grandparents backyard.
Here I am starting my one and only knitting project. When it was done the edges curled up. It was light blue, very long and wrapped around my head and face during the cold Detroit winters. I added fringe to the ends and wore it all through college. I’m wearing it below in 1969. To see other SepiaSaturday offerings click HERE.
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I’m in the front, my mother is propping up my sister Pearl. My father took the photo in our yard. He was the pastor of St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield Massachusetts and we lived in the parsonage/community house right next to the church. We moved to my parents hometown, Detroit, when I was four where we still had plenty of snow.
These photographs are in a crumpling album that my father put together back in the 1940’s. He wrote comments on all the photographs. I have to photograph or scan them before they disappear.
This photo is from a small black album I got from my uncle Henry. It had a lot of small photographs that look like they were cut from a contact sheet. They were pasted on themed pages, a page for my father, a page for each of his siblings, a page for several close family friends, etc. The pages and pictures aren’t labeled. I hope my aunts can shed some light on who the people in the picture are and if it was taken at the Meadows near Detroit. Judging by the ages of the people I know in the album I think the photos were taken in the early 1940’s.
I worked all day yesterday pulling together records and information to write about why Aunt Willie might have been sitting so far from her husband, Uncle Victor, in my last weeks photo. I was going to use the photo on the left side which was taken on the same porch. I was going to talk about her relative’s memories of her as sad and obessesed with her daughter and her well being. About how her husband’s well known unfaithfulness, the death of two of her three children within three years of each other, the son her husband fathered earlier in the same year they were married and how the son, Victor Julius Tulane, and his mother lived right down the street from them in 1900.
Then I got interested in Victor Tulane’s early history, his mother who was a servant and probably former slave of Louis Tulane in Elmore County Alabama and his son, Horatio Tulane, who was twenty years her senior and Victor’s father. I was going to mention that the Tulane family recognized the relationship. How they were a merchant family and that after Victor packed his bags at age twleve and walked the 14 miles from Wetumpka to Montgomery, he became a very successful merchant too.
I was going to mention that Victor’s son, Victor Julius came to live with the family when he was in his teens and was sent to school in Michigan where he became a chemist. But at that point I decided to google Victor J. Tulane and see if I could find a picture of him because I did not have one. I like to have pictures. I had heard he looked very like Naomi, his half sister, but he had blue, blue eyes. I found two photographs of him, both from Crisis magazine. Then I thought I would look for his father. I found a group photograph with him in the Alabama Archives. I was on a roll, why not try to find a picture of Naomi’s husband, Ubert Conrad Vincent who was a well known black doctor in New York during the 1920’s. He pioneered a medical procedure that is known as the Vincent procedure. Here is where I hit the jackpot. I found an 8 page article from the Journal of the National Medical Association, 1975. That gave an in depth look at his whole medical career with 5 photographs, including one of him and his wife Naomi soon after their marriage. Naomi and Ubert’s daughter told me that they met at a cast party for the first black Broadway musical at the home of Noble Sissle so I looked for a cast photo. Found. Last, I looked for a photo of their residence on Striver’s Row in Harlem. Still there and lookin’ good.
Now I will identify the photographs in the collage above, starting from the bottom left.
1. The Crisis Jun-Jul 1959. “First Church – Dr. Victor J Tulane (L), chairman of the trustee board of the John Wesley AME Zion church, Washington, D.C., presents chairman Theodore Taylor of the Washington branch a $100 check toward his church’s NAACP life memership. …”
2. “Dr. Vincent in the door of his Sanatorium”.
3. Noble Sissle with chorus girls from the musical “Shuffle Along”.
4. “Dr. Vincent (right at table) assisting Dr. Keyes (?) in an operation at Bellevue.” (Journal of the National Medical Association January 1975)
1. The Crisis Oct 1933 ” Awards To Dr. Victor J. Tulane of the University of Michigan, election to Sigma, Xi, honorary science fraternity. Mr. Tulane was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by the University of Michigan in June.”
2. A blow up of Victor Hugh Tulane’s head from the group photo above.
3. Skipping over to the group shot on the far right of that row – from the Journal – “Dr. Vincent (right) with (from left) Dr. Marshall Ross, Hon Adam Clayton Powell, Jr, and Mayor McKee.”
1.Tuskegee College Board of Directors. Front row center is Booker T. Washington. Back row far right is Victor H. Tulane (Willie’s husband. Naomi’s father)
2. From the Journal “Dr. and Mrs. Vincent shortly after their marriage.”
3. From google street view, the place the Vincents called home.
My husband’s family is putting together an online family tree. Last week one of his sisters called to ask why their father’s half sister Catherine Williams wasn’t on it. I’ve been looking for Aunt Catherine for decades, starting when I asked my father-in-law what her mother’s name was. He told me he didn’t know because when her mother died and his father married his second wife, Catherine was raised by her grandmother and didn’t grow up with them.
I took this question as a challenge (of course) and started looking again. I have had good luck with Family Search Pilot and marriage records so I started by looking there for Arthur Williams in Dallas County, Arkansas. I knew that he was living in Dallas County in the 1900 and the 1910 from the censuses and that he was born about 1886. I found an Arthur Williams (b. 1887) and Nancy Burrough (b. 1890) were married in Dallas county 21 May 1908. I also found Arthur Williams married his second wife, Annie Willie Butler in Dallas County 11 Jan 1910.
Next I went to Ancestry.com and searched for Nancy Burrough in the 1900 census. She was living in Calhoun County, right below Dallas County, with James and Maggie Burrough, (her parents) and several siblings. She was 8 years old. I searched for Maggie Burrough and found her a widow in 1910. Living with her in Calhoun County were 5 children and one grandchild – 1 year old Carrie C. Williams. This seemed to be Catherine. I searched for Maggie in the 1920 census but didn’t find her or anyone else in the household. I had done wild card searches for Catherine before – Cathe*- because I thought she might spell it with an “i” or a “y”. Nothing. I tried a “K”. Still nothing. I tried the wild card with Cath* and there she was! In Calhoun County Cathrine Williams, now 11 years old, was living with her grandmother Maggie Burrow and her daughter Agnes M. Harrison her two children James E. Harrison and Oma Harrison, Maggie’s son Lindsy Burrow and two other grandchildren Roger L Walsh and Christine Vaughn.
We contacted Jim’s sisters with this information and received more information. Catherine had married a Mr. Hill. She died in Seattle, WA. I looked for her in both the Social Security Death Index and the Washington State Death index. I found that Catheryn Hill, last residence Seattle, born 27 Dec 1908 had died Jun 1979. Her social security card had been issued before 1951 in Missouri. The Washington Death Index told me Catherine N. Hill died 15 Jun 1979 in Seattle. She was 70 and born about 1909.
I passed this information along and suggested sending for death certificates and social security application and marriage license to document this information and make sure this was the right person. One of my sister-in-laws emailed back that she had an obituary for Catherine. I asked her to send me a copy, which she promptly did. Here is what it said.
“Catheryn Nancy Hill, born December 1907 in Thorton, Calhoun County, Arkansas, Departed this life Friday, June 15, 1979 in the Swedish Medical Center, Seattle, Washington.
She was reared by her grandmother, Mrs. Maggie Burrough, and Mr. and Mrs. Jesse McCoy of Thornton, Arkansas. At age 12 she united with the Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Served in choirs, Sunday School and other departments of the church. Reaching adulthood she moved to Little Rock, Arkansas and joined the Mt. Zion Baptist Church there under the Pastorate of the Rev. Fred T. Guy, Sr., later moving to St. Louis, Missouri.
In February the year of 1944, Mrs. Hill moved to Seattle, Washington and united with Mt. Zion Baptist Church by Letter from Union Baptist Church of St. Louis, Mo.
Mrs. Hill, a former Boeing employee was active in Civic, Health, Red Cross, Caring & Coping with young people, church and hospital work most of her life and found doing domestic and catering services an art in Arkansas cities of Hot Springs and Little Rock, St. Louis, Mo. and Seattle, Washington. “HELPING OTHERS” was her motto and source of survival.
Her memories will be cherished by Dad Jesse McCoy, Pine Bluff, Arkansas; brothers: Grover C. McCoy, Seattle, James E. Harrison and Chester A. Williams, St. Louis, Mo., Ambrose T. Williams, Greenville, Mississippi, James T. Williams, Chicago Illinois, Sterling B. Williams, Daphne, Alabama; Sisters: Mrs. Wylverlyn M. Williams, Chicago, Illinois, Mrs. Vinnie Jean Mitchell, Arkadelphia, Arkansas, Mrs. Verta Mae Wright, Wichita, Kansas; Cousins: Mrs. Ruth Johnson Jacobs, Thorton, Arkansas, Mrs. Corrine Fletcher and Mrs Lizzie Hurston, Detroit Michigan, Mr. Lenzie and Mr. James Burroughs, Los Angeles, California; a deceased brother; Rev. Samuel W. Williams M.A., D.D., PhD, was Dean of Religion at Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia.”
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“Naomi sent this to me – Aunt Willie and Uncle Victor. She – beautiful and he -wonderful!!” in my grandmother Fannie’s writing.
Your “Papa’s mouth looks like Roosevelt He was going to say something when Dr. took it.” I assume in Aunt Willie’s writing.
“Naomi sent it to me. Aunt Willie and Uncle Victory (?) 1920?” again in my grandmother’s handwriting.
on the side it says in my mother’s handwriting ”
Willie was Grandmother Turner’s older sister.”
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Edward Cleage was my grandfather, Albert Cleage’s brother. This post is a chapter of a memoir written by his daughter, Beatrice in 1990.
Memories To Memoirs
Written in 1990
By Beatrice Cleage Johnson
Chapter 2 – Early Years of Life
1926 – I remember the early years of my life living at 216 Ridge Street. We used wood and coal stoves for heating and cooking. I will never forget the range stove that my mother cooked on. She made biscuits every morning for breakfast. There was a warmer at the top of the stove for left overs. I would always search the warmer for snacks. We had an outside toilet. Everyone that we knew had these, so we thought this was it. We never dreamed of ever having inside plumbing.
We had a water hydrant in the front yard and every night it was my job to fill the water buckets which had stainless steel dippers in them. My sister also helped with the chores. My other job was to clean the lamp chimneys. We used oil lamps. Momma always inspected them to see if they were clean. I decided then, if I ever made any money I would have electricity put in our house. And I did. I would babysit during the summers and save my money.
I have always loved poetry. I learned many poems and stories from my mother and sisters, such as “Little Boy Blue” and “Little Red Riding Hood”. I think my favorite food was any kind of fruit. I was always happy to see Summer, when the apples and peaches were plentiful. I always looked forward to Christmas. We never saw any oranges until then. I remember my first doll. It had a china head and straw body. I loved it so much. Momma always made a special white coconut cake for Christmas, which I looked forward to. She made other pies and cakes, but the coconut was my favorite. We didn’t get too many toys for Christmas, but my sisters and I enjoyed everything we got for Christmas.
My father became ill and my mother was to be the sole support of the five girls. I was six years of age when my father passed away in 1926. My youngest sister, Juanita, was three years of age and she didn’t remember him, but I did. After he died my uncles took the two older sisters, Helen and Alberta, to Detroit to live with them. Alberta stayed and finished high school there, but Helen came back home and helped Momma care for the three of us. Ola, Juanita and myself went to high school here.
We always celebrated the holidays. Thanksgiving was very special as my birthday would sometimes come on Thanksgiving Day. We always had special food on these days. Pies, cakes, chicken, rabbit. On Halloween we always dressed in our older sister’s and mother’s clothes. One of the main pranks the boys would do was to push the outside toilets over. We used to beg them not to push ours over. In those days, there was no trick or treat. It was all tricks. Easter was also special. Momma would make us a new dress for Easter, and Helen always bought me black patent leather slipper.