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 …”
30th day of May 1860 Alexander Cleage
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.
Several years ago I found a mention of Juda Cleage in the testimony by Adeline Cleage Sherman during the pension hearings for Katie Cleage that occured in 1890. So I know she was dead by 1890 but that is all. “No he did not tell us, the woman that was with her told that it was white. Aunt Juda Cleage was the woman, but she is dead.“
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.
- 1852 Age 15 – Appears as “Joe (white)” (number 94) in 1st list of enslaved with ages and valuation. Wiley Turner estate file page 657.
- 1856 Age 18. 2nd List of enslaved and livestock divided for heirs. Wiley Turner estate file page 717.
- 1857 Dec Age 19 3rd “Valuation of entire slave property of decd- names of…” Joe appears as “Yellow Joe” Wiley Turner estate file page 796.
- 1860 slave Census
- 1861 11 Jan. Age 24 Alabama seceded from the Union.
- 1861 Age 24 – Marriage to Emma Jones (1842–1901) – during slavery. 1900 US Census
- 1862 Age 25 — Birth of Daughter Lydia Turner (1862–) 1870 US Census
- 1864 Age 28 — Birth of Son Howard Turner (1864–1892) 1870 US Census
- 1865 9 June Age 29 – Bill from Dr. W.H. Haigler for Quinine for Joe. Wiley Turner estate file page 637
- 1865 Age 29 – Final list of enslaved. Joseph (#27) Wiley Turner estate file page 544.
- 1865, April Age 29 – Civil War ends.
- 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.
- 1868 August 27 Age 32- Land Transaction
- 1968 Letter from an agent of the Alabama Freedman’s Bureau about intimidation happening in Lowndes County.
- 1869 Age 33 – Birth of Daughter Anna Turner (1869–) 1870 US Census.
- 1870 Age 34 – Residence Hayneville, Lowndes, Alabama. 1870 US Census.
- 1871, Nov. Age 35 – Elected constable Hayneville, Lowndes County, AL
- 1872 Age 36 – Land transaction
- 9 Jan 1876 Age 40 – Birth of Son Alonza Turner (1876–1944) 1880 US Census.
- 1880 (before) – Death of Daughter Fannie Turner (1866– before 1880)
- 1880 Age 44 – Residence Prairie Hill & Gordonsville, Lowndes, AL. Farming 1880 US Census and 1880 Agricultural Census.
- 1890 -1891 • Age 54 — Turner v. Turner Probate Court land dispute. Hayneville, Lowndes County, AL.
- 1891 Age 55 — Death of Son Howard Turner (1864–1891) Mentioned in court case above and news article.
- 1900 Age 64 — Residence Gordonsville, Lowndes, Alabama. 1900 US Census.
- 1901(about) Age 65 – Death of Wife Emma Jones (1842–1901) Lowndes County. Emma disappears from records and Joe remarries.
- 1902 January 22 – Age 66 – Marriage Luella Freeman (1880–1977) Gordonsville, Lowndes, AL. “Alabama, Marriages, 1816-1957″
- 1903 – Age 67 — Birth of Son John Van Turner (1903–1943) Lowndes County AL. 1910 US Census.
- 1904 – Age 68 – Birth of Daughter Anna E. Turner (1904–1924) Lowndes County. 1910 US Census.
- 1906 October 10 – Age 70 – Birth of Son Daniel Turner (1906–) Lowndes County. 1910 US Census.
- 1908 Age 72 – Birth of Son Buck Turner (1908–1931) Lowndes County Alabama 1910 US Census
- 1909 Age 73 – Birth of Daughter Josephine Turner (1909–1915) Lowndes Cty 1910 US Census
- 1910 Age 74 – Residence Precinct 4, Lowndes, Alabama. 1910 US Census.
- 1911 Age 75 – Birth of Daughter Elizabeth Turner (1911–) Hayneville, Lowndes, Alabama. 1920 US Census.
- 1912 Feb 25 – Age 76 – Birth of Son Talmadge Turner (1912–1987) Lowndes County Alabama. 1910 US Census.
- 1914 August 21 – Age 78 – Birth of Daughter Luella Turner (1914–1916) Lowndes County Alabama. 1910 US Census.
- 1915 February 19 • Age 79 – Death of Daughter Josephine Turner (1909–1915). Alabama, Death Index, 1908-59.
- 1916 March 24 – Age 80 – Death of Daughter Luella Turner (1914–1916). Alabama, Death Index, 1908-59.
- 1918 – Age 82 Joe Turner owned 240 acres, according to a news article in The Emancipator.
- 1919 7 Feb Age 83 – Death Lowndes County. Alabama, Death Index, 1908-59. Death Certificate.
1919 April 28 – Joe Turner’s Will
- 1919 Birth of Daughter Selena Turner (1919–2011) Lowndes County AL. 1920 US Census.
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.
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
Today I’m going to write about my mother’s parents, Mershell and Fannie (Turner) Graham grandparents in my preview of the 1950 Census.
In 1950 Mershell and Fannie Graham were still living at 6638 Theodore Street. The single family frame house was built in 1913 and was probably worth about $7,000. The Grahams bought the house in 1923. If they had a 30 year mortgage, they would have had 3 more years until it was paid. I like to think that they had already paid it off. The house probably cost less than $2,000 when they bought it in 1923.
The house was heated with forced air using a converted coal to gas furnace. There were three bedrooms and a bathroom complete with indoor plumbing and running water upstairs, including a claw foot bathtub and a flush toilet. Downstairs were three more rooms, making six in all (not counting the bathroom). The kitchen had an electric refrigerator and a sink with hot and cold running water. There was also a full attic and full basement. They did not own a television but did have a radio, probably more than one. I remember one in the kitchen and one in my grandfather’s bedroom.
Mershell Graham had worked 52 weeks as a stock clerk in an auto factory. His annual wages were probably about average, $3,210. He had completed 8 years of school. He was not a veteran. Mershell and Fannie had been married once and this marriage had lasted 31 years. Fannie had birthed 4 children. She had completed high school, and had not worked outside of the home.
Living with them was Fannie’s 75 year old widowed aunt, Abbie Allen. Abbie had birthed 2 children and her 1 marriage occurred 46 years ago. She hadn’t worked in the past year. She had completed 7th grade.
All three of them would have given “Negro” for race, but if the census taker didn’t ask and assumed, they may have been enumerated as “white”. All three were born in Alabama and all of their parents had been born in the United States.
Helpful links for figuring out costs and wages were:
- Historical Census of Housing
- Cost of Living in 1950 – including some news of the day
- Money and Inflation – 1950s
- National Average Wage Index
Other posts in the 1950 series
Today I am previewing my paternal grandparent’s, Albert and Pearl Cleage’s, household in 1950.
In 1950 the Cleage household consisted of Albert B. Cleage, his wife Pearl and five of their seven children. Albert was a Physician. He was 66 years old and had retired from his medical practice, my Aunt Gladys remembers. He was born in Tennessee and both of his parents were born in the United States. He had completed over 5 years of college. He and his wife had been married for 40 years. This was the only marriage for both.
Pearl D. Cleage was 64 years old. She had given birth to seven children. She was born in Kentucky and had completed 12 years of school. She kept house and had not worked or sought work outside of the home during the past year. Her parents were born in the US.
Louis Cleage, their son, was 36 years old and also a physician in a private practice. He had completed over 5 years of college and never been married. He worked 52 weeks. Henry Cleage, a son, was 34 years old. He had worked 52 weeks as an attorney in private practice. He had been married once and divorced about 6 years. Hugh Cleage, a son was 32 years old. He had never been married. He worked 52 weeks as a postal worker at the US post office. Not sure of his salary yet. He had completed 2 years of college. None of them had been in the military.
Barbara Cleage, a daughter, was 30 years old. She had worked the previous year as receptionist her brother’s doctor’s office. She had never been married and had no children. She had completed a year of college. Anna Cleage was the youngest daughter at 26 years old. She had completed over 5 years of college and had worked the previous year as a pharmacist in hr brother’s doctor’s office. She had never been married and had no children. All of the children were born in Michigan. Everybody in the household was identified as Neg(ro).
By 1950 the Cleages had moved from their house on Scotten Avenue to 2270 Atkinson. This three story brick home with full basement was built in 1919. Because it was bought only 2 years before, in 1948, I believe there was a mortgage.
There were two full and two partial bathrooms. There were four bedrooms on the second floor and two in the attic. On the first floor there was a kitchen; a breakfast room; a dining room; a living room; a library and a sun room, adding another six rooms and making twelve rooms in total.
The house was heated by steam heat, with radiators in every room. The house was fully electrified, had hot and cold running water and indoor plumbing. There were two bathtubs and 4 flush toilets in the various bathrooms. In the kitchen there was an electric refrigerator. The stove was gas. The sinks all had hot and cold running water. There was a radio and probably a television. A friend who lived across the street from my grandparents says that his parents bought their house for $15,000 in 1952. My cousin Jan found papers about 2270 Atkinson. When my grandparents bought it early in 1949, the cost was $12,600.
The other day I was thinking about when the next census would released – 2022. I enjoyed finding my family and placing them in context in the 1940 Census. I thought that I know much of the information that would be asked on the 1950 Census. Why wait? I Googled a blank form for the 1950 Census. This is the first of a series based on all of the unpublished censuses – 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010. I was there!
The 1950 Census is the first one in which I make an appearance. I was three years old. We lived at 643 Union Street in Springfield, Massachusetts. This was the parsonage/ community house located next to the church.
My father, Albert B. Cleage, was the “head” of the household. He was 38 years old and had worked for 52 weeks as the pastor of St. John’s Congregational Church. I do not know how much he earned the previous year, but I’m sure it was on the low side of the $2,992 average wage. He was born in Indiana and both of his parents were born in the United States. He had completed at least 1 year of post degree college work.
My mother, Doris G. Cleage, was my father’s wife. She was 27 years old and was born in Michigan. Both of her parents were also born in the U.S.A. She had completed four years of college and had not worked outside of the home the previous year. She had given birth to two children, both of them still alive. Three year old Kristin and one year old Pearl had both been born in Massachusetts. My parents had been married 6 years. Everybody in the house was identified as “Neg(ro)”. My mother took education classes at Springfield College in 1950 but I’m not sure if it was before or after April, when the census was taken.
Some things that I know about my family at that time that aren’t listed include that we did not own a car and that my father hoped to eventually find a church in Detroit so they could move back home. This happened the following year, 1951.
I have added two articles from April, 1950 concerning my parents activities. Read more about our life on Union Street at – U is for Union Street. Read an overview of news and other happenings for the 1950s here American Cultural History 1950 – 1959.
For this post I used ancestry.com, newspapers.com, family photos and personal knowledge.
Graham, Mrs. Annie, Elmore. Funeral service will be Sunday at 11 a.m. at East Chapel MP church. The Rev. Paul Cook will officiate. Burial will be in Jackson Cemetery with Ross-Clayton Funeral Home directing. Survivors include one daughter, Mrs. Emma Reves; sons, Clyde Jackson, William Jackson, Birmingham, and Joe Jackson; a brother, Marshall Graham, Detroit, Mich.; 16 grandchildren; 43 great-grandchildren; three daughters-in-law, Mesdames Edith, Odessa and Ethel Jackson; and other relatives. She was a member of the Esters of America Society No. 1.
When I found this obituary for Annie Mae Graham on Newspapers.com, I wondered who the son “Joe” was. I had never heard of him before. At first reading I thought that “Marshall Graham” in Detroit was her son, formerly identified as “Michele” in census records. On re-reading, I realized that the “Marshall Graham” was named as her brother, and was my grandfather Mershell who lived in Detroit. And that Joe was Annie’s son, Michele.
I had been looking for something to tie my grandfather Mershell C. Graham to those I suspected were his siblings – Annie, Jacob and Abraham Graham. All of them listed the same parents on their delayed birth records and death certificates, but I could not find them in the same household. In 1900 my grandfather was not in the home with the other children. I have yet to find him in 1900.
Annie Graham’s great grandson, Cedric Jenkins, saw the obituary and contacted me on Ancestry. That was the first he had heard of my grandfather Mershell. We exchanged photographs and information. Annie and Mershell certainly look like sister and brother in the photos below.
After Cedric got in touch with me, I realized I had a DNA match on 23 & me with the surname Jenkins. That Jenkins matched my maternal first cousin, Dee Dee, and was identified as a probable third cousin. He turned out to be Cedric’s nephew.
Using an obituary, a genealogical paper trail, DNA and a newly connected cousin, I was finally able to connect my grandfather Mershell Graham to his sister.
Cedric was also able to identify the children in the photo above as Annie Mae Graham’s children. In the front are Joe (Michele) and Emma. On the mule closest to us is Will and next to him is Clyde.
Mershell Graham with his wife Fannie and children Doris (my mother), Mary Virginia and Mershell Jr. Standing in front of Plymouth Congregational Church in 1927. Detroit, Michigan.
Other posts about Mershell’s siblings
Note: I published an earlier version of this post but I got so much new information that I decided to re-write it but keep the comments from the first post, as I did not want to leave that one up.