Memories of Grandmother Turner

My great grandmother, Jennie Virginia Allen, was born October 1, 1866 in Montgomery Alabama, seven months after the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. She was the forth child of formerly enslaved Eliza and Dock Allen. Her mother was a seamstress and her father was a carpenter. The girls were taught the seamstress trade while the boys were taught the carpenters trade. She married Howard Turner in 1887 when she was 20 and Howard was 23. My grandmother Fannie was born the following year. According to the 1940 Census she completed the sixth grade.

Below are my mother’s memories of her grandmother.

Grandmother Jennie Virginia Turner. No idea who that is crouched in the car!

Memories of grandmother

By Doris Graham Cleage

Today I’m going to write about Grandmother.  Grandmother Turner was born about 1872, nine years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Don’t know if she finished high school – but she did go. Her mother taught her to sew and it was a good thing she did because grandmother worked the rest of her life supporting herself and her children at sewing.  That is, she worked after husband Howard Turner died. They married when she was about sixteen. Don’t know his age.  He looked something like grandmother’s father and also like my father, mother said.  He was a farmer’s son from around Hayneville, AL, but he preferred the big city – Montgomery.  His father had three sons and planned to give each one a large share of the farm when they married.  Howard and Jenny received their farm, but neither one liked the country. One day they were in Montgomery.  He was at a Bar-B-Q.  She was at her parents with their daughters, Fannie Mae, 4, and Daisy Pearl, 2.  someone brought word that he had been shot dead.  Apparently no one ever knew who did it, but mother always said grandmother thought his father had it done because he was angry that Howard would not farm and had even been talking about selling his part.  The father did not want the land sold, but wanted it to stay in the family forever.  (Bless his heart!).  He and the son had had some terrible arguments before they left to come to the Bar-B-Q. I often wondered why he was there and grandmother wasn’t.  She always seemed to like a good time.

I remember her laughing and singing and dancing around the house on Theodore. She was short, about five feet I guess, with brown eyes, thin dark brown hair that she wore in a knot. She was very energetic, always walking fast.  She always wore oxfords, often on the wrong feet, and never had time to change them.  We used to love to tell her that her shoes were on the wrong feet.  (smart kids!)

Grandmother Jennie Turner with daughter’s family, Mary V, Fannie, Doris.
In back Howard and father Mershell Graham. Detroit about 1932

She never did things with us like read to us or play with us, but she made us little dresses.  I remember two in particular she made me that I especially liked.  My “candy-striped” dress – a red white and blue small print percale.  She put a small pleated ruffle around the collar and a larger one around the bottom. I was about five, I guess, and I really thought I was cool!  The other favorite was an “ensemble” – thin, pale green material with a small printed blue green and red flower in it – just a straight sleeveless dress with neck and sleeves piped in navy blue – and a three – quarter length coat of the same material – also straight -with long sleeves and lapels – also piped in navy blue.  She never used a pattern.  Saw something and made it!  She taught us some embroidery, which she did beautifully but not often. She never fussed at us – never criticized – and I think she rocked me in the upstairs hall on Theodore when I was little and sick.  The rocker Daddy made stood in that hall.  I remember lots of people rocking in that chair when I was small.

"Jennie Allen Turner funeral"
This photograph was taken in Montgomery during 1892 while the family was in mourning. Jennie holds two year old Daisy while four year old Fannie stands beside her.

Grandmother went to work when her husband was murdered – sewing for white folks – out all day fitting and sewing – and sewing all night – finishing while mother and Daisy stayed with their Grandfather Allen, who would tell on them when Grandmother came home and she would spank them.  Mother said she remembered telling Daisy to holler loudly so Grandmother wouldn’t spank them hard or long and it worked!

"Jennie Allen Turner and Daughters"
Fannie, Jennie (mother) Alice. Daisy standing. Montgomery, Alabama.

Grandmother stayed single until she was about 37 or 38 when she married someone Mother hated – looked Italian, hardly ever worked.  Liked a good time. Fathered Alice and left when she was very small.  Somehow when mother spoke of him I had the feeling he would have like to have taken advantage of her.  She was about 20 and had given up two college scholarships to stay and help Grandmother.

Alice with Easter basket. It looks like she has already had polio.

Sometimes after her husband’s death, Grandmother took the deed to the farm to a white lawyer. (was there any other kind?) and told him to sell it for her.  He went to see it and check it out – told her to forget it – her title wasn’t clear, but he never gave the deed back and she figured he made a deal with her father-in-law. (The rest of the land story.)

Dog trot cabin

 Aunt Abbie (note: Jennie’s sister) said the father-in-law built Grandmother and Howard a “shotgun” house on the farm.  She would turn up her nose as she said it.  You know that is a house like this – no doors on front or back, you could shoot a gun through hall without damage.  Animals (pigs, dogs) would wander into the hall and have to be driven out.  Aunt Abbie only stayed there when the plague was raging in Montgomery.  Yellow fever (malaria) and/or polio every summer.  Many people sick or dying.  Huge bonfires in the streets every night to ‘purify’ the air”, and closing the city if it got bad enough – no one in or out.  More than once they fled the city in a carriage through back streets and swamps because they were caught by the closing which was done suddenly to keep folks from leaving and spreading the “plague”

"Jennie Annis Furs"
Jennie Turner 2nd row on right end. Alice next to her. Daisy in center of that row.

In Detroit, when they came in 1923 when Mother and Daddy had bought the house on Theodore and had room for them (room? only 5 adults and 3 children!)  Grandmother, Daisy and Alice got good jobs, (they were good – sewing fur coats, clean work and good pay.) at Annis Furs (remember it back of Hudsons?)  and soon had money to buy their own house much farther east on a “nice” street in a “better ” neighborhood (no factories) on Harding Ave. While they lived with us I remember violent arguments between Alice and I don’t know who – either Grandmother or Daisy or Mother.  Certainly not Daddy because when he spoke it was like who in the Bible who said, “When I say go, they goeth. When I say come, they cometh.”  Most of the time I remember him in the basement, the backyard or presiding at table. Daisy and grandmother were what we’d call talkers.

"Daisy, Jennie and Fannie"
Daisy Turner, Jennie Turner and Fannie Turner Graham

Grandmother got old, hurt her knee, it never healed properly. Daisy worked and supported the house alone. Alice only worked a little while.  She had problems getting along with people.  Grandmother was eventually senile.  Died of a stroke at 83 or so. Alice spent years taking care of her while Daisy worked. Daisy added to their income by being head numbers writer at Annis!! 

I got this from Wikipedia about playing the numbers. “The numbers game, also known as the numbers racket, the policy racket, the Italian lottery, the policy game, or the daily number, is a form of illegal gambling or illegal lottery played mostly in poor and working class neighborhoods in the United States, wherein a bettor attempts to pick three digits to match those that will be randomly drawn the following day. In recent years, the “number” would be the last three digits of “the handle”, the amount race track bettors placed on race day at a major racetrack, published in racing journals and major newspapers in New York.

Gamblers place bets with a bookmaker (“bookie”) at a tavern, bar, barber shop, social club, or any other semi-private place that acts as an illegal betting parlor. Runners carry the money and betting slips between the betting parlors and the headquarters, called a numbers bank or policy bank. The name “policy” is based on the similarity to cheap insurance, which is also a gamble on the future.[1]”

I think the numbers writer – Daisy in this case, would take the bets in the store (the numbers people picked and their bet money) and pass them along to the numbers runner, who would take them to the center. She would get a cut.

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Athens Teachers – 1894

Teachers at Athens Tennessee Academy.

This information came from an article in an unnamed newspaper sent to me several years ago. To read the full article about the Athens Academy from The Athens Post, 21 December 1894. Page 22 – see Athens Tennessee Academy  Henry William Cleage – 1894

STANDING LEFT TO RIGHT

MISS M. LEA JONES
a native of Dallas, Texas, attended Knoxville College for a number of years. She received her appointment as intermediate teacher to the Athens Mission in the Spring of 1900.

HENRY W. CLEAGE
is a native of Athens. He entered and finished the course of the Athens Academy under Rev. Cook’s administration. He then attended Knoxville College. His teaching one year at Riceville gave him his first ideas of the practical side of the profession in which he is now engaged. At present he is a member of the corps of instructors of the Academy of Athens.

MRS. MINNIE J. ARTER
in childhood enjoyed the advantages of the public schools of Americus, Ga., her native home. After graduating from Knoxville College, she taught seven years in the city schools of Americus and seven years in the mission schools in Alabama. She is now in charge of the teachers’ home and parsonage.

PROF. COLLIER
all of Mr. Collier’s instructors in his youth, except one, both in and out of the Atlanta University, were teachers from the North. He was graduated from the State Normal School at Fayeteville, N. C. Mr. Collier’s experience extends from the rural district to the principalship of graded schools. He is at present substitute teacher in the Athens Academy. Mr. Collier is in very feeble health.

SEATED LEFT TO RIGHT

MRS. MINNIE B. CLEAGE
is not in the profession now, but she finished the course at the Academy of Athens, and was a student at Knoxville several years. She is now the wife of Henry W. Cleage.

JAMES W. FISHER
attended the public graded schools of Eufaula, Ala, his home town, during most of his boyhood. He next attended Knoxville College in which he pursued his studies for five years. He was in charge of the Mt. Zion District school in Alabama for three years. His present position is assistant principal of the Athens Academy.

REV. JOHN T. ARTER,
principal of the Athens Academy, is a graduate of the class of ’95, Knoxville College; also of the class of ’98, Alleghany Theological Seminary. For two years he served at Catherine, Ala., as pastor of the U. P. (United Presbyterian) Church. He now has charge of the Athens U. P. church.

MRS. LOUISE COLLIER
entered the City School In Savannah GA when quite a child. Later she attended the Atlanta University for a number of years. While yet in school she accepted a position as teacher near Americas, GA. She afterwards taught in the city graded schools of Americus where she continued to teach for seventeen years, resigning there to accept her present position in Athens.

MISS CHRISTIANITA TOTTEN
of the Danish West Indies, came to this country in 1891, entered Knoxville College and graduated from the Normal department in 1885, after which she taught in the Missions for Freedmen for six years. She is now in charge of the sewing department and is very active in the mission work of Athens.

Related Posts


H is for Henry William Cleage

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Mother and daughters

MV 15 – mother – Doris 12 5 -1936

My grandmother, Fannie Turner Graham, with her daughters, my aunt Mary V. and my mother Doris. They are standing in their back yard. During the 1940s house was sided with insulbrick, a covering of tarpaper”Insulbrick was a fast, easy, inexpensive shingle-like way to cover vertical walls on the exterior of a property in the first half of the 20th century. It was generally used on the sides and backs of some homes before the 1950’s. Eventually, vinyl siding began to replace it, and then aluminum. Because of the brick pattern that was printed on it, from a distance it can resemble and old brick wall, but it is actually made of asphalt, and in texture and shape resembles a roof shingle.

The next year we see my great grandmother Jennie Allen Turner standing with her daughters, Daisy on the left and my grandmother Fannie on the right, outside of the fence surrounding my grandparent’s backyard.

"Daisy, Jennie and Fannie"
Daisy Turner, Jennie Turner and Fannie Turner Graham

And because it is Thanksgiving week here in the U.S.A., I include a clipping from 1939 of my great grandmother hosting a dinner with her daughters and her granddaughters and her son-in-law, my grandfather.

“On Harding Avenue, Mrs. Jeannie Turner bade the members of her family to dine with her. At the table were her daughters, Misses Daisy and Alice Turner; Mr. and Mrs. M.C. Graham, and her granddaughters, Misses Mary Virginia and Doris Graham.”

Other Mother and Daughter posts

Mothers and Daughters
St. John Road, 1981 – Sepia Saturday #178
Two Sisters – Braxton, MS & Atlanta,GA – June, 1980
Grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage’s Birthday
The Ludington Lighthouse, 1956
2600 Cascade Road SW – Atlanta GA – 1972 -1974
U is for Union Street

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Our New Refrigerator – 1948

Ice box. Ice cost $8 a month.

In 1948 I was almost two years old and I lived in Springfield, Massachusetts. My family had an ice box. The ice cost $2 a week and was delivered daily. I don’t actually remember ice being delivered by horse wagon, but that’s how it worked. Ice came in blocks 25, 50, 75 0r 100 pounds, depending on the size of your ice box. We were a bit behind the average because by 1944 85% of households in the USA owned a refrigerator.

According to an online article, the ice rested on a metal corrugated shelf which allowed for the ice to melt with the water passing through a tube in the bottom of the compartment to a flat pan located under the icebox to catch the water. Some finer models had spigots for draining ice water from a catch pan or holding tank. People would lift the bottom flap, empty the water pan, and replace the pan for the next day’s use.

That summer, we spent three week visiting family in Detroit. While there discussion took place between my paternal grandparents and my parents about purchasing an electric refrigerator to replace our ice box in Springfield.

Steiger’s Department store in 1947

When we had returned home to Springfield, my mother and I went downtown to Steigers Department store and bought an electric refrigerator on time. Below is a letter she wrote to my paternal grandparents about the purchase. It is transcribed below the image.

July 17, 1948

Dear Folks,

Well – Kris and I went down to Steigers and bought the refridgerator yestereday- to the tune of $315.00! Can you imagine? I had been thinking in terms of $200! It is a G.E. De Luxe 8 ft. (medium size) and is certainly beautiful. They also had a Philco – same size – same everything – but only $277.00. I sort of favored it, but I called Toddy and he said (from the bed of course) “G. E. – period!” So it will be delivered next Wednesday.

The store gave us a ten percent ministers discount of $31.50. Carrying charges came to about $20 – so final price was about $304. Down payment was $56.70 and beginning August we’ll make eighteen monthly payments of $13.80. That should hardly be felt because ice comes to amost $8 a month and I’m sure I’ll save more than $5 on food – to say nothing of convenience and peace of mind!

Kris is completely recovered and she told me yesterday – “That’s the way” – then smiled and said “Gamma.” Then she said “Gamma’s hat” and pointed to her head.” What hat does she remember? The black shiny one at the station? Anyway she looked pleased about it.

Write soon, Doris

In my mind, I can still hear my grandmother Cleage saying “Dat’s de way!” as she did to the littlest ones.

My stylish grandparents – Albert and Pearl Cleage. He is wearing the rakish white hat and she is wearing the stylish black hat, with a feather. Was that the hat I remembered? It is very memorable.
June 1948 during that trip to Detroit at my maternal grandparent’s house.

My grandmother Fannie, my grandfather Mershell and my mother Doris. I am standing on the table. I was 22 months old. My mother was about three months pregnant with my little sister Pearl.

This is the same refrigerator still working fine in 1962. My mother standing in front of it 14 years later.

That refrigerator was still going strong when I moved out on my own in 1969. When my parents left Detroit in 1975 and moved to a house that had a more modern fridge they left it behind. That new one, I might add, did not last as long as the one my mother bought in 1948.

This is the inside of the refrigerator. The freezer is that door on the right. There were two ice cube trays.
Ice cube tray. You had to run a bit of warm water on it to get the ice cubes out.
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Links to related posts

K is for King St. Springfield, MASS

Cousins Christened – 1948

1948 Sears Christmas Book – add for refrigerator

Purebreds and Conscientious Objectors

Mary Vee Graham, Hugh Cleage, Doris Graham (my mother) 1940

World War 2 began in 1939. On Sept 16, 1940 the US Selective Service instituted draft registration. Not long after this photograph was taken, my uncle Hugh Cleage and his three brothers registered for the draft. On December 7, 1941 Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The United States declared war on Japan. Three days later Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

Armed Services Totally Segregated

Black men were excluded entirely from the Air Corps and the Marines. In the Navy they were restricted to the role of messmen. In the army black soldiers were totally segregated. Training camps were in the south. Officers were all white. Racism was rampant and often reported in the black press. My father and his brothers decided they could not and would not live in that situation.

My father, Albert B. Cleage Jr, who was enrolled in Oberlin Seminary, was not drafted . Ministers, priests and seminarians were automatically exempt. My uncle Dr. Louis Cleage was a physician. He went down and tried to enroll in the navy as a doctor. He was refused because the only role for black men in the navy was as messmen.

My uncles Henry and Hugh claimed the status of conscientious objectors and farmers. Hugh had taken an agricultural course at Michigan State College (now Michigan State University).

Article below typical of those found in the Black Press

On June 16, 1941 there was a small item in the Daily Telegram of Adrian, Michigan that the parents of Hugh Cleage visited him at the home of Lloyd Ruesink., a farmer in Adrian, Michigan. In January of that same year, Ruesink advertised for a hired hand. Since anyone I might ask about this is no longer living, I will hazard a guess that Hugh was a hired man and was gaining experience that would stand him in good stead when he and Henry became farmers during WW2.

By 1942, Hugh and Henry, with the help of their family, had purchased a 180 acre farm near Allenton in St. Clair County. They called it Plum Nelly, as in plum out the county, nelly out the state.

From Detroit to Allenton.
Cows going out or coming in.
Purebred holstein
Young calf.

Galloping horse. My cousin Ernest Martin remembers there was a horse, or horses. This photo was in the photo box. Could be one.
The farm house with lightening rods on the roof.

My grandfatherAlbert B. Cleage Sr in front. His brother Henry to his left. On the far side of the calf from L to R are Uncle Jake, Henry’s son Richard and unknown to me man with cigarette.

Their younger sister, Anna (AKA Pee Wee) sold the eggs in Detroit around the neighborhood. While she was up in Idlewild, she needed someone at home – her mother – to handle the egg route. Like a paper route, but with eggs.

P.S. “Pee Wee” speaking. My egg route book is in my room on the table in the small bookshelf. You know that black book, don’t you? Oh, yes, add Mrs. Duncan on Scotten to Monday’s list.

Farm deferments during WW2

Some guidelines for deferment for farmers were:

1. A farmer who resided on his farm and operated it alone was required to have at least eight milk cows.

2. If both a farmer and his son lived on the farm together, 16 animal units were required for the man to obtain deferment.

3. By Feb. 12, 1943, in order to get deferment, the farmer had to raise at least 10 animal units.

4. By May 12, 1943, the farmer had to have at least 12 animal units. Feed for the stock had to be produced on the farm where the resident lived.

Since there was a variety of different types of animals on different types of farms, guidelines were often flexible. For example:

For one milk cow there had to be three beef cows; or four two-year-old steers; or four feed lot cattle; or 16 ewes; or 80 feed lot lambs; or flock of 75 hens; or 250 chickens raised; or 500 broilers; or 40 turkeys raised; or nine hogs raised. Breeding herd was not considered at all.

A typical example if a farmer lived on a farm alone, and had the following stock, he would meet the requirement of eight animal units and would be entitled to deferment: 2 milk cows…2; 18 hogs raised…2; flock of 150 hens…2; raise 250 chickens…1; 16 ewes…1; Total animal units = 8.

Memories and Taking a New Look

I remember hearing stories about the alternating visits Henry and Hugh made to Detroit on holidays, always leaving one on the farm to milk and feed the stock. One of the last stories Henry told me of coming back to the farm after a storm and walking from town (the train) and nearly passing Hugh on the road without recognizing him they were so bundled up.

Once, when Henry and my mother were looking for some land outside of Detroit, we drove up to the former Plum Nelly. It was on the Belle River and I remember my cousin Ernest fell in and got wet. It was a beautiful place and Henry wanted to buy it but it was to become a part of a state park.

Recently I was looking on Newspapers dot com and came across the little item about Hugh Cleage of Allenton, buying a purebred cow.I looked for more the above post is the result.

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Related links

Cows and Conscientious Objectors
1940 Census – Albert B. and Pearl (Reed) Cleage
Holstein Friesian cattle

Dr. Louis Cleage Proves Billy Eckstine’s Voice Influences Blood Pressure

In November of 1945 my uncle Dr. Louis Cleage participated in an experiment to measure the effect that Billy Eckstine’s singing had on the young women he sang to. He used an electrocardiograph and measured their blood pressures and heart rates while listening to him sing “Jelly, Jelly Blues to them. It turned out that their blood pressure and heart rate rose during the experiment.

The photograph below that accompanied one of the articles in the online archive of the Michigan Chronicle must have been better in the original. Unfortunately, I don’t have an original.

Click to open articles in a different window.

Michigan Chronicle , November 17, 1945.

Billy Eckstine’s power to sing and make young women’s hearts beat faster was proven Saturday during an experiment conducted by Dr. Louis J. Cleage in his clinic at 5383 Lovett street. (Photo 1) Shows Billy Eckstine holding hands and crooning to Miss Frances Carter, whose heart reaction is shown before (A) and (B) after he finishes singing. Her blood pressure rose 20 points and her heartbeat increased from 90 to 120. (Photo 2) Miss Louise Lester awaits her turn as Dr. Cleage adjusts his electrocardiograph before she listens to Billy’s singing. Her chart (C) shows a 10 point increase in heartbeats (D). Her blood pressure rose two points. All of which proves that Eckstine does have a definite heart and emotional appeal when he sings to young women. No wonder he is thrilling female admirers at Paradise theatre. For Eckstine can now be called the “heart-throbber.” The experiment is conclusive proof that women listening to him feel an increase in heartbeats. – Photos by Fowler.

Test Proves Eckstine Has Way With Women
By Larry Chism

Billy Eckstine, vocalist now appearing at Paradise theatre with his band is a “heart throbber.” This means that his singing does something to the women listening to his songs.

***

When women listen to Billy sing their hearts beat faster and their blood pressure rises.

Conclusive proof that a singer can make a girl’s heart beat faster and draw from her an emotional response was made Saturday when Dr. Louis J. Cleage used an electrocardiograph to record the reactions of two young women to Billy (heart-throbber) Eckstine’s singing.

The experiment, which proved that swoon singers have a way with the hearts and emotions of women, was conducted at the clinic of doctor Cleage at 5335 Lovett, Saturday morning.

The blood pressure of Miss Louise Lester of West Grand boulevard rose from 130, before Eckstine start singing, to 132 after he had finished singing “Jelly, Jelly Blues” to her. The electrocardiograph recorded an increase in the rate of heart beats from 70 per minute to 80 during the serenade by Eckstine.

***

The reaction of Miss Frances Carter of 7515 Cameron was more pronounced. Her blood pressure rose from 125 to 145 as she listened to Eckstine’s singing of I’m Falling for You.”

Her rate of heart beat rose from 90 per minute to 120 as the handsome young singer serenaded her. A soothing effect of his singing was recorded after the first tremors of emotion passed following the first few minutes of the singing experiment.

The mere presence of Eckstine in the same room showed a definite reaction on the part of Miss Carter who admits that she is an ardent fan of Eckstine, who can now rightfully and scientifically lay claim to being a “heart-throbber” vocalist.

The experiment was arranged by Milt Herman, publicity director of Paradise theatre.

More about Louis Cleage and the Paradise Club

Uncle Louis Plays the Organ
Louis Jacob Cleage – Obituary 1913 – 1994
Dialogue in Poetry
Louis Cleage – W8AFM
Orchestra Hall – history
Old photos of Orchestra Hall aka the Paradise Club

Grade 2 Boys, Deseronto Public School, 1954/55 (Sepia Saturday Theme Image 645, 29 October 2022)

Dock Allen 1839-1909

Dock Allen. This photo was in my grandparent’ dining room.

Before the War

Dock Allen was my 2X great grandfather. He was my maternal grandmother’s maternal grandfather. He was born into slavery about 1839 in Georgia to 19 year old enslaved Matilda Brewster. Eventually he was taken to Alabama. I do not know what happened to his mother.

It had been a wet spring, that 1860 in Dallas County, Alabama. Dock Allen was 21 years old and already a good carpenter.  He was a white man’s son, but the man who then held him in slavery was not his father.  His owner was known as a cruel man who kept vicious dogs to instill fear in his slaves. He wanted them to be afraid to run.  When Dock made up his mind to escape, he had a plan  to throw the dogs off of his track. There was a swampy area where wild ramps grew. He rubbed himself with them, poured the water on himself and rolled around in the field so the strong onion odor would hide his own human smell.

He had been running and running. He was bone tired. He could hear the dogs tracking him in the distance when he came to a small farm near Carlowville.  He couldn’t go any further. He climbed up into the hay loft, covered himself with hay and lay there barely breathing.  The dogs came into the hay room. He could feel their breath as they walked over him, but they didn’t smell him because of the ramps.  Eventually they left.

Eliza
Eliza Williams Allen

This was the same place where Eliza and her small daughter Mary, lived. Eliza had been freed several years before. She lived on the farm of Nancy Morgan.  Did Eliza hear the dogs and see Dock stumble into the yard?  Did she silently direct him to hide in the hay?

For unknown reasons Dock decided to give himself up. Nancy sent a message to his master.  It wasn’t long before he came to the house. He said that no one had ever out smarted his dogs and that any man who was smart enough to do that deserved to be free and he freed Dock.  Dock stayed on that place and he and Eliza married.  They stayed together until he died in 1909 at age70.

Reconstruction and After

Dock Allen registered to vote in Montgomery, Alabama in 1867. In 1870 the family appears in the same household with a wealthy white cotton broker and his family. I cannot find the house in the Sanborn Fire Maps so I don’t know if there were two houses on the lot. In 1875 he was again among the voters. Unfortunately Reconstruction came to an end in 1877 when the Union soldiers left the South and black people were once again without a vote for a hundred years.

Dock and Eliza Allen and children.

The Montgomery City Directory starts with 1880, so I am not sure when the family moved into their own house, but from 1880 – 1904 Dock Allen and his growing family owned the house on the corner of Clay and Holt. Dock and Eliza raised nine of the thirteen children born to them to adulthood. There were six girls and three boys. All of them attended State Normal school through the elementary grades and were literate. The youngest daughter completed high school and two additional years there.

I highlighted the house in orange. Daughter Mary and family live next door on Clay in the two story house.

In 1882 the oldest boy Henry drowned in the Alabama River, which was about a block from their home. The third son, Dock Allen Jr. drowned in August 1891 trying to walk the moonlit path from a boat.

After her husband was killed at a barbecue in June 1891, my great grandmother Jennie Virginia moved back to her parent’s house with her two young daughters. My grandmother Jennie was four years old and her younger sister Daisy was two.

His daughter Abbie married a river boat gambler and had two sons. Earl was born in 1896 and Alphonso was born two years later. I don’t know if she ever left home.

1900 Census, she and her two young sons were living in her parents home. Beulah, the youngest child, was still at home. In 1900 there were the four grandchildren (ages 11, 7, 5 & 3), three daughters, Eliza and Dock living in the house at 237 Clay Street. The women were all seamstresses and Doc was a carpenter. Oldest daughter Mary lived next door with her husband and five children. Daughter Anna had moved to Chicago where she was passing for white.

My mother Doris Graham Cleage wrote the following about her mother’s growing up years:

I know very little about their childhood except that they spent most of it in their Grandfather Allen’s house (which was in Montgomery) because their father died when Mother was about four and Jennie T. had to work to support them.  It was a big house, Mother said, with a big porch around two sides and pecan trees in the big backyard.  She never used the words “happy” or “unhappy” to describe her childhood and I have the feeling that it was happy on the whole.  She told several incidents:

Their Grandfather took care of them while Jennie T. worked and when they were bad, he told Jennie T., who would sometimes spank them.  Mother said she told Daisy to cry loudly when Jennie T. spanked them and so make the spanking short and not too hard.  She said this worked!  (This always surprised me because I never thought of Mother as a person who ever consciously manipulated people.  Whenever she told this…and she didn’t mention it until she was in her eighties…she looked very pleased with herself.)

Everyday her Grandfather swept the backyard “smooth as silk” (it was dirt) and told Mother and Daisy not to set foot on it.  (I hope this was just part of the yard and they had some space left for play, but I don’t know.)  They got spanked with the flat of his saw if they made footprints on it.  Mother said they would play on it when he dozed off, not realizing their footprints would give them away.

On Sundays they could do absolutely no work at all.  Dinner had to be cooked the day before and could be warmed up.  They couldn’t even sew a button on.  They all went to the Congregational Church (black, of course) every Sunday morning.  In the afternoons, Mother had to read the Bible to her Grandfather who would often doze off during the reading.  Mother would get up and play and watch and run back if he seemed to be waking up. I don’t know if he still did carpenter work at this time.  Mother said he was a good cabinetmaker and would make furniture for people.  I don’t know if this is all he did or if he also built houses or what.  But I do know he made cabinets, tables, chairs, beds and whatever.

Changes in 1904

The Montgomery Advertiser, March 28, 1904

James Edward McCall is the oldest son of Ed McCall, for twenty-three years a cook at the Montgomery police station and one of the best known and most respected negroes (sic) in Montgmery.  Ed McCall was owned by W.T. McCall of Lowndes County.  His aged master is still living on the old plantation and he has no truer friend or more devoted servant than Ed McCall.  The mother of the young poet was Mary Allen, daughter of Doc Allen, for many years a well to do negro (sic) carpenter of Montgomery.  She was owned before the war by the late colonel Edmund Harrison of this county.”

Beulah married in 1901. In 1904 Dock Allen and the family moved to 444 S. Ripley street. Jennie married the following year. She lived several blocks from the house on Ripley street.

Dock lived there for five years before he died on March 29, 1909 of “inflammatory bowels” after an illness of several weeks.  His mother is listed as Matilda Brewster on his death certificate.  No father is listed. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery.

I would like to find information about a runaway matching his description in the Dallas/Lowndes county area around 1860. 

I found this information in records on Ancestry and elsewhere, newspaper articles in the Montgomery Advertiser, Sanborn Maps and oral history from family members.

Sepia Saturday 641 : Two Men Reading

Mary Vee On A Bike

Fan & Mary Virginia 8 months 12/12/20
The weather was warm for December

On a Sunday in December, when my aunt Mary Virginia was eight months old, my grandmother held her on a tricycle for a photo opp.

The baby doesn’t look very happy about it. She looks cold, or terrified.Even though the weather called for rain instead of snow which made it rather warm for Detroit, I imagine it was still pretty cold.

I don’t know if the tricycle was an early Christmas gift or if it belonged to another child, a friend of the family because Mary Vee was the first and oldest child of my grandparents, Fannie and Mershell Graham.

Another photograph with a story I don’t know.

This is not the first time Bicycles have been a sepia Saturday prompt. Here are some of my past responses:

Biking at Old Plank Road, 1962
Girl On A Bike -Sepia Saturday #162
Buffalo Soldiers on Bicycles
Girls Riding a Bike, From the Porch of 5397 Oregon, 1962

Click to see other Sepia Saturday posts

A Buggy, A Visitor and a Mystery – 1950

The Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts
Nov 04, 1947 · Page 13

We were living in Springfield, Massachusetts where my father was the pastor of St. John’s Congregational Church.

One cool day in 1950 my little sister Pearl and I were playing with our dolls and buggy in the back yard. Perhaps it was one of those in the advertisement to the left.

I was four. Pearl was about 18 months. An older girl appears on the scene. I do not remember who she was. A neighbor? The child of a church member? No idea.

Me and my doll.
Pearl joins me.
Showing the guest my doll.
The guest looks suspicious while I explain things and Pearl looks on.
Uh oh!
Pearl is pointing at something in the guest’s hand. Are my fists balled up? My doll watches
Looking for …

For more posts about me and my family in 1950 go to this link- My family in 1950

For more Sepia Saturday posts, click picture

Riding the Clairmount Bus – 1969

Oddly enough, I do not have any personal photographs of buses. I do have an ancient journal entry chronicling a very bizarre bus ride I took in Detroit down Joy Road on the Clairmount bus in 1969. I had just graduated from Wayne State in December of 1968 and I was enjoying my freedom. I was living in my own apartment and working at the Black Star Clothing Factory. My cousin Barbara was living in New York City, the East Village. at the time and I was plotting and planning a visit with her. I did make it later that summer. I turned 23 that August.

Kristin and Barbara 1969, at her sister Dee Dee’s house.

I didn’t capitalize anything in the journal so I just left it like that.

journal entry

June 25, 1969

I don’t know what is going on, it isn’t good though. i was leaving friday for new york, but i don’t think so soon. i need a bit more time (for what?) i been listening to new leonard cohen record.  two days over and over at first it was tired, but now i really like it, after the old revolution, i liked best the partisan song about coming out the shadows. i am so sleepy .

everybody is mad/crazy, and i really don’t understand at all. i need pearl’s youth card so that I can leave, go to NYC.

 yesterday on the way to a photo show, I was on the clairmont bus on joy rd.  the driver was crazy, he acted like he was taking a pregnant woman to the hospital, he was weaving the bus in and out between cars.  that was bad enough – old ladies rocking, weaving and falling, when suddenly a red light backs up traffic, or just stops it. he pulls belligerently into the lane of oncoming traffic (which lucky for us was empty at the time) and raced two blocks in the wrong lane to pull and bully his way in front of some poor car when the light changed. I was cracking up. the people weren’t, just me.  I couldn’t control myself laughing, mouth open etc. they probably thought I was crazy or something. so ridiculous, can’t even imagine a regular car doing that shit. I just don’t know, I really don’t. some lunatic jehovah’s witness knocked on the door to give me a bible study tract. says god’s kingdom is eminent. we should be so lucky.

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