During the virtual Williams/Butler reunion on Saturday evening, there was some consternation about how many children Catherine Jones Williams gave birth to.
On the 1910 Census, Catherine Jones Williams said that she had given birth to 10 children and that six were still living. In the booklet from the Williams/Butler Reunion 1988 that Julia Williams Boyue put together, there were family trees for both the Williams and Butler families.
I put the names into my ancestry.com tree and was able to find information and connections with most of them. Some, I could not find. If they were born after 1880, they would not be in that census. The 1890 census was destroyed. The next census they would have appeared in was 1900. They could easily have been on their own so never appeared in the same household with Catherine Jones Williams or they may have died. Since Arkansas did not begin keeping death records before 1914, there would be none available.
In the same book there are 15 children listed for William and Mattie (Hawkins) Butler. The answer given during the reunion was 18. I am looking forward to finding out the other names!
Earlier this year I met via Ancestry.com Cedric Jenkins, a newly found cousin, who is a descendant of my grandfather Mershell Graham’s sister Annie Graham. He shared this funeral program and also programs for Annie Graham’s children, which I will share in the coming days. My grandfather and his sister lost contact after he moved to Detroit.
My Great Great Grandfather, Frank Cleage, was born around 1816 into slavery in North Carolina. By 1834, Frank was enslaved on the plantation of Samuel Cleage in McMinn County, TN. Samuel Cleage and his traveling group of family and slaves passed through North Carolina moving from Virginia to Tennessee in the 1820s. Perhaps he picked up Frank as payment for one of the fine brick houses he sold along the way. After Samuel’s death, Frank went to his son, Alexander Cleage, as part of the estate. The photographs of the slave owners came from my cousin. I do not know their original source. I do not have a picture of Frank Cleage and have no stories about him. I decided to use a photograph of my Grandfather Albert B. Cleage Sr and his siblings – the first generation of black Cleages to be born free, next to some of the bricks from a Cleage building, built during savery, in McMinn County as the header for this story.
The earliest mention I have of Frank is in a work agreement between Samuel Cleage and his overseer in – “Article of Agreement – 1834“. It includes the paragraph below which mentions Frank. Click on any of the images below to enlarge. Click on links to see full document.
“… to keep the hands his Cleage’s negroes (sic) employed and make them work as would be right to correct them when they deserve but not to be cruel or abuse them but make them do their duty and not suffer them to run about from the farm at nights. The hands or negroes are Bill, Henry, Joe, Frank, Lea, Fannie, two little boys and Peter. Bill is not to be a hand until his master Cleage directs as he is stiller and is to remain in the still house which Cleage carrys (sic) on stilling. …”
My Great Great Grandmother Juda is first mentioned in the Will of Jemima Hurst Cleage’s father, Elijah Hurst. He gave her 4 slaves, including Juda. Alexander Cleage and Jemima Hurst married November 22, 1832. Juda and Jemima would both have been about 19 years old. Although I have found no record proof at this time, I believe that Juda and the other slaves were part of Jemima’s dowery.
“Dec. 2, 1844
… 7th I will and bequeath to my daughter Jemima Cleage and her heirs forever the four negroes (sic) she has had possession of Big Anny, Judi, Jane, and Matilda together with all the other property I have given her …”
Frank is mentioned again in the 1852 Bill of Sale after the death of Samuel Cleage and the division of his slaves and property between his children and wife. David Cleage, Walter Nutter and Elizabeth Cleage Nutter sold Frank to their brother, Alexander Cleage.
“Know all men by these presents that one David Cleage and Walter Nutter and his wife Elizaeth H. Nutter, have this day bargained and sold to Alexander Cleage and his heirs and assigns forever, Joe forty four years of age, Tom Eighteen, Lynd eleven, Frank thirty nine, Phillip forty, Lewis twenty six, Sam two, Martha twenty one, Lea thirty four, Julian forty three, Patey five.
For five thousand two hundred and fifty dollars being his distribution share out of the proceeds of the slaves of Samuel Cleage deceased, We warrant said negroes (sic) to be slaves for life and that we as the heirs, at law of Samuel Cleage have a right to convey them.
Given under our hands and seals this 20th day of March 1852.”
In 1860, Alexander Cleage wrote his Will. He leaves to his wife, Jemima Hurst Cleage, 13 slaves. Frank and his wife Juda and 5 of their children are in that group. Because he didn’t die until 1875, all of them were free before the will was executed.
“Second; I give and devise to my beloved wife Jemima Cleage for and during her natural life the following described negro slaves – to wit: Amy and her child a boy called Jeff, Juda and her five children to wit: Charles, Angelen, Lewis, Laura and Frank, Jane and her child Adaline and a negro man called Tom, they all being negroes that came to my said wife from her father and from her father’s estae and the increase of each negroes as she received from her father and from his estate. Also I give and devise to my wife Jemima Cleage for and during her natural life my home farm upon which I now live containing about eleven hundred and twenty five acres in addition to the negros above given to my wife for life. I also give and bequeath to her for her natural life a negro man called Frank the husband of Juda and another negro man called Tom known as Tom Lane, I also give to my said wife all my household and kitchen furniture, farming tools and farming implements, all of my livestock and provisions which may be on hand …”
The Commercial has a special dispatch from Nashville, which says:
“The Tennessee State Convention have unanimously passed a resolution declaring slavery forever abolished, and prohibiting it throughout the State.
The convention also pasted a resolution prohibiting the Legislature from recognizing property in man, and forbidding it from requiring compensation to be made to the owners of slaves.”
In 1866, soon after the end of the Civil War, Frank and Judy Cleage were legally married in Athens, TN.
In the 1870 Census Frank was living with his wife, Juda and six children, including my great grandfather, in Athens, Tennessee. I had been looking for my grandfather’s father, Lewis Cleage and found this census record on Ancestry.com. Although this Lewis was the right age, and there were no other Lewis Cleages anywhere in the right age range, I had no name for his father and relationships are not specified in the 1870 census. He could have been living with his uncle and aunt, I didn’t know.
Frank, age 54, worked as a laborer, was born in N. Carolina and nobody in the household could read or write. Juda, age 56, was keeping house. Their personal estate was worth $300. Juda and all the children were born in Tennessee. The children were Adaline 14, Lewis 16, Laura 11, Phillip 9 and Andy 7. There was no Charles or Frank mentioned, although there was a Charles Cleage living elsewhere in Athens, TN, I don’t know for sure if he was the Charles mentioned as one of Juda’s children in Alexander’s Will. Aside from Lewis Cleage, I cannot find family members again after this census. Did they change their names? Die in one of the several epidemics of cholara and yellow fever that swept the county during the 1870s? Believe me, I’ve tried every permutation of “Cleage” and searched page by page the McMinn County 1880 Census and the one for Louden county, where I find Lewis and Celia and their children living in 1880.
After searching a variety of spellings of Cleage, I was able to track Lewis/Louis Cleage from job to job and location to location up through the 1910 Census. I could find no death certificate for him. I finally found him living at the same address as his daughter, Josie Cleage and her family in Indianapolis, IN in 1918, while researching at the Indianapolis Library where I could check each Directory, year by year, on microfich. Frank Cleage’s name appears on my great grandfather, Louis Cleage’s death certificate. Jacob Cleage, my grandfather’s older brother was the informant. He did not remember Louis’ mother Juda’s name or where his grandparents were born. This, along with the Will of Alexander Cleage of 1860, documented the names of my Great Great Grandparents, Frank and Juda Cleage.
Joe Turner was my 2X great grandfather. I have been able to follow him from the age of twelve in a slave census; through several lists of the enslaved in Wiley Turner’s probate record. Joe Turner was my maternal grandmother Fannie Turner’s grandfather. When Fannie was about three, her father Howard Turner and his father, Joe fell out over a land deal. Howard was murdered at a bar-b-que and ties were cut between my grandmother and her father’s family. Therefore I have no family stories or photographs of them.
I first found the Turner family in the 1870 census. I was able to follow them through various records both before 1870 and after.
Joe Turner’s birth year changes through the records from 1852, when he is listed as 15 and so would have been born about 1837; to 1843 in the 1870 census; 1841 in the 1880 and 1900 census; 1848 in 1910 and 1839 on his death certificate. I have used the earliest date to estimate his age over the years.
Sources for the information below is in italics at the end of the entries. All took place in Lowndes County Alabama, mostly in the Hayneville area. The links will take you to blog posts.
I first published a timeline in 2016. I have uncovered more information since then so decided to re-do it.
1837 Born into slavery in Alabama.
1850 slave census – 12 year old male mulatto listed among Wiley Turners enslaved. Possibly Joe Turner, as the only male mulatto in the right age range to appear below at 15 in 1852.
1865 December 18 – Slavery legally over in Alabama.
1866 Age 30 – Birth of Daughter Fannie Turner (1866–1880) 1870 US Census.
1866 Age 30 – Alabama State Census Hayneville, Lowndes County. Joe Turner: 1 male under 10 (Howard); 2 males 10-20 (Who are they?); 1 male 40 – 50 (Joe) 2 females under 10 (Fannie & Lidya) ; 1 female 30-40. (Emma)
1867 Age 31 – Birth of Son Joe Turner (1867–1920) 1870 US Census.
1867 Age 31 – Residence Lowndes, Alabama, USA Alabama Voter Registration Records.
Tulani, Ayanna and James , soon after we started homeschooling. Tulani was 11, Ayanna was 13 and James was 7 when we began. This is the story as I wrote it for a newsletter I once published. Click on the pages below to enlarge.
I was born with a head full of black hair that could be pulled up into a little top pony tail. It soon fell out leaving me practically bald with a bit of blond hair. It slowly grew in sandy and kinky like my father’s and grandfather’s rather than wavy/straight like my mother’s and grandmother’s.
From a letter written to her in-laws by my mother, written March 18, 1947.
Kris (with her 2 teeth) says any time for you all laughing at her bald head – I fear it’ll be covered all too soon with first one thing and then another.
When Pearl and I were little, my mother didn’t wash our hair often. Once every two weeks? Once a month? Not very often. She used Breck shampoo, put a little olive oil in the sink full of warm water and poured it over for the final rinse. After and between washings she’d part our hair and put “Three Flowers” grease on our scalp. I remember that sometimes, when I was in elementary school, she would roll it up on kleenix curlers and let me wear it “down” for one day after she washed it. I enjoyed the change from braids but it wasn’t really “down”.
Aunt Abbie, my maternal great grandmother’s sister, lived with my grandparents. She assured my mother that is was all right that Pearl and I didn’t have “good” hair because we had blue eyes. She assured my Aunt Mary V. it was okay her daughter’s didn’t have light hair or eyes because they had “good” hair. The sister’s shook their heads about it.
When I was in sixth grade, a classmate asked me during art class if I had ever had my hair straightened. I had not. She hadn’t either. Ironically, that afternoon after school, my sister and I went to the beauty shop on 12th street near Calvert recommended by Aunt Mary V. and had our hair straightened for the first time. We got pony tails in back and a pony tail down the side. Going to the beauty shop always gave me a headache. I remember listening to my beautician talking to the other women about how hot it was and how her husband was going to have to sleep on the couch because it was too hot to be all up in the bed with another hot, sweaty body.
Eventually I stopped going to the beauty shop, although my sister continued for years. There were the beauty shop headaches and I started taking swimming in junior high and high school. Those horrible bathing caps didn’t keep out the water and my hair soon took back it’s natural form.
My mother still straightened my hair for special occasions. She heated the comb on the stove and there were the inevitable burnings of the ear. Other times I wore my hair in what a classmate described as a “shredded wheat biscuit”. Sometimes I borrowed some of my father’s Murray’s Pomade and after brushing the stiff, yellowish stuff in, it did lay down and had small waves.
During the summers when I was about nine to thirteen, I spent a week at the mostly white Camp Talahi. Some of the girl campers would ask me “Why is your hair like that?”. At first I would say because that’s the way it grows. Eventually I just responded with “Why is your hair like that?” They would look puzzled.
My last semester of high school I didn’t take swimming and discovered that if I rolled my hair up on those hard, pink curlers I could wear it in a sort of curly side wave on the side and pull the back into a barrette for a low pony tail. Sometimes I even wore it down, somewhat like those hairdos in elementary school. Once Pearl and I braided it all up into lots and lots of little braids, which reminded us of the paintings in Egyptian tombs. We thought it was great, and I would have been way ahead of the times, however my father hated it and I never wore it like that anywhere.
While visiting Pearl at Howard for Thanksgiving of 1966, I let one of her roommates straighten my hair. My mother complimented me and thought it looked lovely. When I went down to Wayne, I met Jim in the Montieth Center. He was aghast that I had straightened my hair. I went into the restroom and washed it out in the sink and that was the last time I straightened my hair. I was 20.
At one point in our lives, Pearl and I complained to each other that we had inherited our father’s kinky hair instead of our mother’s wavy hair. We reasoned that boys were supposed to get their mother’s hair so if he had gotten his mother’s wavy hair, we would have inherited that because girls (in our theory) inherited their father’s hair. Later, when natural hair came in we were so glad we had the hair we did. We didn’t have to do anything but wash and wear to have afros.
The next summer, 1967, we had the Detroit riot/rebellion. My cousins, Janis and Greta, came to visit us for the first time from Athens, TN. They were the same age as Pearl and I. Somehow, it came up that I wanted to cut my hair for an afro. Greta volunteered to do it for me and she did. It was great! I loved it. The only scary part was going to my Grandmother Cleages for the first time afterwards. We were afraid she might say something negative or even mention it during mealtime prayers, but she didn’t. I was one of the first to wear an afro on Wayne’s campus. That fall, in Miriam’s Jeffries project student apartment, I cut several people’s hair for their first afros. I remember Kathy Gamble was sad to see her long hair fall on the floor. I cut Martha Prescod’s and can’t remember who else. I hadn’t cut anybody’s hair before, although I cut my own when it got too long.
I wore an afro until about 1988 when I decided to let my hair grow out and see what happened. I let it grow until 2004 or so when I cut it all off again and have kept it cut ever since.
Until 2014 when I decided to let it grow out. It was more trouble to trim it than it would be to grow it out and have it longer.
I was quite surprised to find this news item awhile ago while searching for information about Jacob Cleage. It would have been interesting to find that my grandfather and his brother were involved in a knife fight, however there are several things in this clipping I know to be untrue.
R.C. Cleage is unknown to me. Jacob was my grandfather’s older brother’s name. My grandfather, A. B. Cleage, was the only medical student name of Cleage in Indianapolis during that time. He did work on the excursion boats out of Detroit during the summer of 1909. However, he graduated in June of 1910 and did not work on the boats in 1910.
My grandfather was married with a baby (my father) in September 1911. My grandmother did receive several postcards from Detroit dated July, 1911. I could find no record of legal happenings and no further news articles about it.
July 12, 1911 (Mrs. Pearl Cleage) Just got back to Detroit, Hope you all are well and happy. Will feel better when I hear from you. Albert.
7/12/11 to Master A. B. Cleage Jr. Did not forget you were 4 weeks old yesterday and tomorrow you will be 1 month. My, but you are getting old fast. Papa
7/21/11 to Mrs. Pearl Cleage Dear Pearl – I am lonesome for you and baby. Want to see you all awful bad. Hope you are well and happy. Albert