R – REMEMBERING Marriage Vows

The wedding of an unknown couple in Montgomery, Alabama in 1911. My cousin, Jackie Vincent shared this photograph with me years ago.

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members and guests of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times.

Click on any image to enlarge!

How many among the Edelweiss members and guests were married? Twenty-eight were married. Of these, five got divorced. Nine never married. Before I counted them up, I thought there would be more who never married. Here are some of the marriage announcements from local newspapers. There seven weddings mentioned below.

The Emancipator, Montgomery, Alabama Sat, Apr 19, 1919 · Page 2

They moved to Chicago and remained together. They had no children.

The Montgomery Times
Montgomery, Alabama • Thu, Dec 21, 1922Page 7

This marriage ended in divorce after several years. He went back to Texas and married someone else. She remained single and described herself as a widow on future censuses.

The_Emancipator_1918_04_06_page_3

This couple moved to Chicago. They had two sons. Both of the couple died young. She died of TB and he died several years later.

The Emancipator, Montgomery, Alabama
Sat, Jun 21, 1919 · Page 2

My grandparents stayed together. They had four children. Both sons died in childhood.

The Emancipator, Sat Dec 28, 1918

They remained together, relocated to Detroit and had five daughters.

The Journal, Huntsville, Alabama • Thu, Jun 22, 1911 Page 3

This surprise marriage ended in separation and divorce. She went to Montgomery to teach and then to Detroit, where she died young. He remained on his farm. Messalaine is “a soft lightweight silk dress fabric with a satin weave”.

The Emancipator, Montgomery, Alabama May 08, 1920 · Page 1

They lived in New York City and had four children. Unfortunately Dr. Vincent died young and left Naomi a well provided for widow.

The Emancipator, 1920 May, 8 page 2

At last! A description of the food served! More about planked mackeral here https://us.gozney.com/blogs/recipes/cedar-plank-mackerel-recipe

Q – QUINCE Honey and Effie May Todd

Effie May Todd

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times.

Effie May Todd was born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1893. She was the fourth of the five children of Frank and Mattie (Coleman) Todd. Although her parents had been born into slavery, both were literate by 1900. All of the children attended school.

The Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, Alabama • Tue, Jun 20, 1911Page 26

In 1902 Effie’s father left his job as a janitor at the Capital and became a mailman, riding out into the rural areas of Montgomery County to deliver mail.

In 1907 Effie May Todd won a prize for garden work at State Normal School. This photo is from Tuskegee Institute, 1906.

Effie graduated from State Normal high school in 1907. The following year her mother Mattie died. Effie was 14. Two years later, in 1910, The oldest brother, Henry was married and in his own home. Beatrice and Annie, were both teaching. Effie and Frank were both attending school. The house was paid for without a mortgage.

Frank Todd died in 1913.

Effie started teaching in 1914 and taught at Booker T. Washington until she married Arthur Chisholm in 1919 and they moved to Detroit.

The Emancipator, Montgomery, Alabama Sat, Apr 06, 1918 · Page 4
The Montgomery Advertiser Oct. 4, 1916

Time for another luncheon suggestion. Today I needed a “Q”. Quince came to mind immediately. I searched for it on Newspapers.com for Montgomery and voila, several recipes appeared. There was one for pie and several for jellies but I thought the quince honey on rolls sounds quite delicious. They give a complete luncheon menu. I’m not sure if It would have been served at an Edelweiss meeting, but it might have been. A surprise for me, as I went googling quince is that I have a quince bush in my yard. I don’t think it bears fruit, but I’ll have to go check. It does have lovely red blooms in the late winter.

By Pancrace Bessa

There is a bit of room left so I will give you the outline of Effie Todd Chisholm’s life. She remained in Detroit for the rest of her life. Eventually she divorced her husband. She and Mary Monroe shared a home on Scotten Ave., right down the street from my Cleage family until her death from pneumonia in 1939 at 46. She didn’t have any children, although she raised her niece until she died of tuberculous at 17. She taught and was active in several clubs.

The Michigan Chronicle, Detroit, Michigan • Sat, Dec 23, 1939Page 4

P- PEKIN Theater

The Emancipator April 3, 1920

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times.

During this time period up until the 1960s, theaters were segregated in the South and even in some places in the North. The main floor would be for white people and the balcony would be for black people.

I never spoke with my grandparents about attending movies but My Uncle Henry shared this memory to me in the 1990’s. There was a segregated theater on Grand River, a big business street several blocks from my grandparent’s house on Scotten. Black people were supposed to sit in the balcony. This was in Detroit, Michigan. Once Henry was going to the movies with his cousin, Minnie “Girl” Mullins (she was named after her mother Minnie, hence the “girl”). After they purchased their tickets, the man was standing there directing them towards the balcony. Minnie put her nose in the air, said she wasn’t sitting up there and went and sat downstairs. Nothing happened, they weren’t thrown out or arrested or anything. He admired Minnie for her boldness. Henry’s younger sister, Gladys, didn’t remember the movies being segregated by the time she was going. This would have been in the 1920s.

In Montgomery, The Pekin Theatre was opened in 1913. The advertisement below appeared in the local white newspaper. It was located in the business section of the Centennial neighborhood.

The Montgomery Times Montgomery, Alabama Wed, Apr 07, 1915 · Page 7
The Pekin Theatre, colored motion pictures. Metal/wooden roof. Concrete floor.

Most of the movies shown were the same as those shown downtown in the white theaters. But sometimes they would show a “race” movie, one made with a black cast playing all the parts, not just maids and servants. The Homesteader by Oscar Micheaux was one such movie. It was shown in 1919 at the Pekin. I bet some of the women in Edelweiss went to see it.

The Emancipator June 14, 1919
The Emancipator, Montgomery, Alabama · Saturday, December 13, 1919
Film posters from the week of December 13 at the Pekin Theatre

This is a very interesting but long – 39minutes – video about Oscar Micheaux and The Homesteader. You have to click through to Youtube to watch.

O – OPHELIA Peterson and OAKWOOD Cemetery

Ophelia Peterson’s and Victor Tulane’s graves. Oakwood Cemetery, Montgomery, Alabama.

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times.

I first “met” Ophelia Peterson in the Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery. My daughter Ife and I were walking around looking for my uncle Victor Tulane’s grave. We went by it several times but missed it because there was an upright gravestone saying “Ophelia M. Peterson” so we passed by without looking at the flat, cement slab, which was the grave we were looking for. I had no idea who she was until I began to investigate the Edelweiss Club.

Ophelia Mamie Peterson was born in 1871, although it says 1899 on her grave stone. In each census, her birth date dropped a few years. In 1880 it was 1871, by 1950 it was 1895. She was 93 when she died.

Back to the beginning. Ophelia was born in Tuskegee, Macon County Alabama. In 1880 she lived with her mother Harriet Cumming and younger brother, Egbert Peterson. She was nine years old and attending school. Her mother was a cook.

Unnamed students at Tuskegee Institute 1890.

Ophelia was active in the local Colored Temperance Society. She graduated with the 12th class of Tuskegee Normal School in 1893. She and her mother moved to Montgomery where Ophelia taught school until 1908. After that she worked as a sick nurse, going to people’s homes to care for them during serious illnesses.

Ophelia was very involved in her community. She was a frequent guest at the Edelweiss Club and hosted Mary Church Terrell when she was in town to do war work among the African American troops at Camp Sheridan. As a member of The Tuskegee Club she hosted several meetings. She owned her home free of mortgage.

In 1964 Ophelia Peterson died at home. She was 93 years old. I could not find the relationship between Ophelia and the two survivors mentioned in her obituary. She never married and had no children. Her mother and siblings were dead. Perhaps they were cousins.

Entrance to Oakwood Cemetery, Montgomery, Alabama

N – Anita NESBITT

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times.

Click to enlarge

Anita Nesbitt was born in Montgomery, Alabama, the third of the twelve children of Joseph and Mattie (Wilson) Nesbitt. Eight survived to adulthood. In 1900 Anita’s mother said she had birthed four children and all were living. In 1910 Mattie who was 36, had birthed 12 children of which seven were still living. She’ had given birth seven times during the decade between the census of 1900 and 1910 There was one set of twins.

Her parents were both literate. The children all attended school. Her father, Joseph was a house carpenter. They lived on the same block of Tuscaloosa as Gwendolyn Lewis and Nellie Taylor and several blocks from the Booker Washington School, where Anita taught for some years.

The teachers associated with the Edelweiss Club were: Georgie W. Farris, Effie Mae Todd, Cecile Walton, Daisy Turner, Anita Nesbitt, Madge Brown, Juanita Davis, Jessie L. Freeman, Naomi Rodgers and Janie Binford.

When she was eighteen Anita graduated from State Normal school in 1916. The following year she started teaching at Day Street School. After that she taught at Booker T. Washington until 1926 when she married. She was 29. Her husband worked at the Veteran’s Hospital in Tuskegee, Alabama, about 38 miles from Montgomery. They had one son. When her husband died in 1978 she moved to Nashville, Tennessee to live with her son, who was a dentist. That is where she died in 1982 after a long illness.

M – MUSIC

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times.

While looking for possible sources that can account for why the name of “Edelweiss” was choosen for the club, I came across this piece of piano music.

There were several piano teachers giving private lessons in the community. Recitals and musicals by these classes and other groups happened regularly. The second number on the program below is Edelweiss, op. 31 – Lange!

The Montgomery Times Sat, Mar 02, 1912 ·Page 3

I’ll be looking for a delicious salad course to share when we get to “S”.

The women in Edelweiss were a musical group. Some, like Bertha Loveless, sang at weddings and at community affairs, other’s played the piano for gatherings and weddings. Many played piano duets or solos at their graduation from State Normal School. My grandmother Fannie played the piano, although she wasn’t playing by the time I came around. Perhaps some of them played “Edelweiss”.

Madeline Abercrombie

Madaline Abercrombie not only played the piano, but taught others to play during her years as a teacher in Montgomery schools. Later she decided to only teach in her own home.

My Fannie wrote to my future grandfather, Mershell,

Our club held it’s first meeting last Friday evening at Madeline’s. She put on a strut too. We certainly had a good time. We are all feeling okay.

The Alabama Journal January 9, 1973

I wondered what the price of a piano was in those days.

The Montgomery Advertiser, Nov 25, 1915

There were also wanted advertisements like those below.

The Montgomery Advertiser, Sunday May 6, 1917

You can read a full post about Madeline Abercrombie from 2021 here Madeline Abercrombie

L- LEAVING Montgomery

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times.

The Great Migration

In 1916 the word was everywhere – move north, you have a better chance. Friends and neighbors who had made the journey sent back word. The Chicago Defender sent newspapers all over the country with articles about lynchings and poetry. There were articles about a better life in the north. Jobs that paid a living wage. About being able to vote. Pullman porters distributed the Defender throughout the south, even though the white authorities tried to prevent it.

About half of the Edelweiss woman left Montgomery for parts North. They were part of the Great Migration of over six million black people who left the South between 1916 and 1970. My grandparents and most of their friends and family left Montgomery during the early part of the migration.

They left Montgomery and went North.

Fifteen stayed in Montgomery. Three stayed in the south, but moved north to Birmingham, Alabama. One moved to Nashville, Tennessee.

Almost always they traveled on segregated trains in Jim Crow cars until the train crossed into the North.

Ten went to Detroit, including my grandmother and her sister Daisy. One went to Chicago, one to New Jersey and one to Springfield, Ohio. Sometimes siblings went together. Sometimes one went first and others followed. Women married and left with their husbands. They roomed with those who had gone before them and made a place for those that followed. New churches were started by members who found themselves in a city without a church like the one they left behind.

Find more information about the Great Migration in these blog posts:
Eliza’s Children Move North
Letters from home – Montgomery to Detroit 1918
Founding a New Congregational Church
Those Left Behind
Going Down South 1931 – My father describes his trip South.

K – Gabriella Snow KELLY

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times.

Gabriella Snow Kelly was not a member of the Edelweiss Club. Her younger sister Alice Snow was. Both were teachers. Gabriella Kelly is here because I needed a “K” . I did a bit of research on her and decided to share it in the research form, along with her obituary which gives us an overview of her life.

Research for Gabriella Snow Kelly

I found that the Mrs. Kelly whose husband, James Henry Kelly, died in Detroit in 1918 and mentioned by my grandfather Mershell in his letter of proposal to my grandmother Fannie Turner, was Gabriella Snow, club member Alice Snow’s older sister. She had married several years earlier and she and her husband relocated to Detroit.  According to his death certificate, her husband died of a syphilitic heart attack, probably sudden and certainly fatal. His wife took his body back to Montgomery for burial and never re-married. She taught and died many years later and is buried with him in Oakwood Cemetery.

I also spent quite a bit of time trying to find their house, which, according to the census records, was at 128 Morgan Avenue. I found a Morgan St. way over west along the railroad tracks. And also found a Morgan Avenue in a modern map, where Amanda is located on the 1910 Montgomery map.  I surmise that the family lived to the west of the Centennial Community, in the West Montgomery African Community.  

Ah ha! I just found the family in the 1910 census and they are living at 128 Amanda! So they do live right near to Edgar Spiegnar, a couple of blocks from Lowndes Adams family home. (These were both friends of my grandfather) I thought she was the most westerly member until I found Jessie Lee Freeman living several block further west, a few blocks East of my grandfather Mershell’s good friend Lowndes Adam’s family home.

A woman named “Alice Larkins” first appears in the 1850 census as an infant, along with her mother “Mary Larkins” and siblings.  Alice Snow was named after her mother, Alice Larkins. If this is the Alice Larkins who was Alice Snow’s mother, that would make her another descendant of a free-before-the-Civil-war woman.   Alice Snow’s father, Abram Snow, was a carpenter. He died in 1909 at the age of 64.

Alabama Journal, Montgomery, Alabama · Saturday, August 02, 1969

J – JESSIE Freeman Serves a Two Course Luncheon

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times. Click on any image to enlarge.

The Emancipator, Montgomery January 23, 1919

This is the second time Jessie Freeman has hosted the meeting. This time she served a delicious two course luncheon.

I looked for the hours school was in session to answer Anne’s (Anne’s Family History) question – why were they called luncheon when I said they met in the evening. A school day was from 9 AM to 2 PM. Although that is later than the usual lunch time of 12:30 or 1 o’clock, it was too early for dinner, hence “Luncheon.” That’s my guess.

This week we have two delightful dainty delicious dishes.

For a more savory dish, at the suggestion of my sister, we will serve Pimento Cheese on toast. It was sold in the local Montgomery grocery stores but the best would be homemade. I have looked and looked for an early recipe, to no avail.

The classic combination is grated sharp Cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and diced jarred pimiento. People add various extras – garlic salt, hot sauce, onions, cream cheese. Serve on crustless bread. Make a bread pudding out of those crusts so you don’t waste anything.

For the dessert course, Charlotte Russe, take your pick of flavors.

Two blog posts about ice boxes, which is where these items would be cooled in 1918.

Our New Refrigerator – 1948
Everyday Things Then and Now

I – INFLUENZA

In 1918 and 1919 thirty-seven young women, friends and neighbors of my grandmother Fannie Mae Turner were members of the Edelweiss Club in Montgomery, Alabama. These are snapshots from their lives, place and times. Click on any image to enlarge.

In 1918 Cleo Nelms, the third of the six surviving children of Jesse and Fannie Lee (Grimes) Nelms, was born in Barbour County Alabama but the family moved to Montgomery about 1904.

Her mother worked as a seamstress in the early years of her marriage. Her father, Jesse Nelms was a bartender in Barbour County. Later he worked as a dining car waiter on the train between Montgomery and Alabama. For several years he sang in several groups that performed both on the train and at events. He also sold insurance. He must have made a good living as he sent his daughters to college. Cleo to Fisk and her older sister Bessie to Howard. Youngest daughter Fannie to State Normal School through to a college degree. All three of them taught school.

The “Spanish flu” epidemic hit Alabama first in Huntsville in September of 1918. By October it had spread south to Montgomery. On October 22, more than 12,000 cases were reported in Montgomery.

The reaction reminded me of what we went through during the first few years of the Covid epidemic – schools were closed, masking was recommended, businesses were closed. Gatherings were discouraged.

The Emancipator, Montgomery, Alabama, Sat, Nov 02, 1918 · Page 3

People worried about the months of school students would be missing and urged them to CATCH UP! There were no computer classes so students didn’t have any school work to catch up on.

There was a discussion of whether the teachers should continue to be paid while they were not in the classroom. It was decided they should be or they might give up teaching and find other work. The Edelweiss Club had meetings in November and December of 1918 and continued during the New Year to meet. As far as I can tell they all made it through their pandemic alive.

You can read more about it here, a short piece 1918 Influenza in Alabama