What better “X” word than “X-ray”? I googled X-ray and 1920 and found the following video about x-rays being used in shoe stores at that time. They show a shoe that they said cramps the toes. I found a similar pair of shoes on my Aunt Ola Cleage in the photo above.
I was not sure of the date of the above photograph of the staff at Annis Furs in Detroit. What I knew was that my great grandmother, Jennie Virginia Turner and her daughters, Daisy and Alice moved to Detroit in 1922. My grandparents, Mershell and Fannie (Jennie’s oldest daughter) had moved there in 1919. By 1930 Daisy was the only one still working at Annis. The photo had to be taken between 1923 and 1929. Looking at old family photographs, I saw that Daisy and my grandmother had their hair bobbed by 1926.
My great grandmother, Jennie Virginia Turner, learned her seamstressing skills from her mother Eliza, who had been a seamstress during slavery. My great grandmother did not teach her own daughters to sew.
Jennie V. Turner had been a seamstress working on her own account in Montgomery and worked at Annis Furs for several years after moving to Detroit, before she retired.
Daisy was “head porteress” at the store, according to the 1930 census. I do not know what Alice did when she worked there because she in 1930 census she was not employed. Daisy was also head numbers runner at Annis Furs. The “numbers” being an illegal lottery. The runner took the bets and gave them to the banker and then paid off from the banker if anyone won. See a link below if you want more information on the numbers game.
There is more information at blog post “They Worked at Annis Furs”
You can read more about the numbers here – Daughter of a Numbers Runner.
Mary Allen, Eliza’s oldest daughter, was born in 1856 in Dallas County, Alabama. The family relocated to Montgomery after Freedom. She married Edward McCall and they had six children together. One died in infancy.
In 1920, when Mary McCall was 63, her husband died. Later that year her oldest son, James Edward McCall and his family, migrated to Detroit. Mary McCall moved with them. She died there in 1937.
Mary McCall’s surviving children all left Montgomery and moved north.
- James Edward McCall migrated to Detroit in 1920.
- Anna Belle McCall Martin moved several times, arriving in Lima, Ohio in 1922. She moved to Detroit in 1930 and lived there for many years before moving to California.
- Leon Roscoe McCall migrated to Detroit in 1920 with his family. Several years later, they moved to Chicago, IL.
- William McCall died as an infant.
- Alma Otilla McCall Howard lived in Holly Springs Mississippi before the family migrated to Chicago by 1930.
- Jeanette McCall McEwen was in Chicago by 1920.
Ransom Allen was born in 1860 Dallas County AL. He migrated to Chicago with his wife by 1920.
John Wesley Allen, his only child, was in Chicago by June 5, 1917.
Dock Allen Jr was born in 1862. He died by drowning in 1891 in Montgomery.
Jennie Virginia Allen Turner was born in 1866 Montgomery. Her first husband Howard Turner died in 1890. She separated from her second husband Edward Wright before 1910. She migrated to Detroit with her younger daughters, Daisy and Alice, in 1922 to join her oldest daughter, Fannie Mae Turner Graham(my grandmother) after she married and moved there in 1919.
Anna Allen was born Montgomery 1869. She left Montgomery for Chicago before 1900. She passed for white and died in Chicago after 1945.
Willie Lee Allen Tulane was born in 1873 in Montgomery. Her husband, Victor Tulane, died in 1931 in Montgomery. She remained there until 1958. Several months before she died, she moved to New York City to live with her only surviving child, Naomi Tulane Vincent who had moved to New York in 1920 after marrying Ubert Vincent.
Abbie Allen Brown was born in 1876 in Montgomery. She married Edward Brown. They were divorced before 1900.
She moved to Detroit in 1946 and lived with her niece, Fannie Turner Graham and her family. She died there in 1966.
Both of her sons moved to New York. The oldest, Earl Brown, lived in New York by 1917. The other, Alphonso Brown was in New York by 1925.
Beulah Allen Pope was born in 1879 in Montgomery. She married Robert Pope. He died in 1941, in Montgomery. By 1948 She had moved to Milwaukee, WI to live with her oldest son, Charles Lee Pope. She died there in 1962. In addition to her son Charles, her daughter Annie Lee Pope Gilmer also lived in Milwaukee. Her youngest son Robert Pope and his family had moved to Chicago by 1942.
Charles Lee Pope – Moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin by 1926.
Annie Lee Pope Gilmer married and was in Milwaukee by 1922.
Robert Pope and family were in Chicago by 1942.
They left in this order:
Anna moved to Chicago alone between 1880 and 1900.
Ransom moved to Chicago with his wife, son and daughter-in-law between 1917 and 1920.
Mary and her oldest son James Edward McCall moved to Detroit in 1920.
My great grandmother Jennie joined her oldest daughter, my grandmother, Fannie in Detroit in 1922.
Abbie moved to Detroit in 1946 to stay with her niece, my grandmother Fannie.
Beulah moved to Milwaukee, WI about 1947, to live with her oldest son Charles, who never married.
Willie Lee moved to New York to live with her daughter several months before her death in 1958, leaving no more of Eliza’s children or grandchildren in Montgomery.
Three of my grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage’s sisters lived in Benton Harbor with their families. My grandmother lived in Detroit. This situation called for regular visits between Detroit and Benton Harbor, Michigan.
My uncle Henry shared some of his memories of Mr. Mullins in the 1990s. “Mullins was always referred to that way. He was a very stern, hardy type. Admired the Irish. Had the long Irish upper lip himself. A very ‘Indian’ looking fellow. They lived in Benton Harbor and later moved to Detroit.
‘Sir Walter Lipton’, that’s the only kind of tea he’d drink. Rather, whatever kind he drank was that. He’d be talking about only drinking ‘Sir Walter Lipton’, and when he finished, Minnie would tell him, “Oh, Mullin, hush up! You know that’s Salada Tea.” When he moved to Detroit with his family the last time they figured he was 90 something years old. He died one day walking from Tireman all the way downtown. I think he just fell out. Like the old one horse shay, he just give out.“
Henry continued, “Aunt Minnie would talk a lot of trash. She said he’d sit down with a bottle of wine and eat all the food, talking a lot of trash about he was a working man, he needed his strength and the rest of them were all starving to death. All that was Aunt Minnie’s talk. We never heard his side of it. They lied on him and he never defended himself. They never made fun of him because he’d a beat everybody’s brains out. He never found it necessary to say anything. I think Aunt Minnie embellished the truth because I know we went there and tore up his lawn, his pride and joy, and he didn’t say anything much. He had a grape arbor. We (Me, Hugh, Bill and Harold), had a tent out there. We’d get to wrestling and tear up the tent and the grapes and he didn’t say anything. Probably crippled Bill and Harold after we left because they should have known better, we were just kids.”
I found quite a number of short news items mentioning the family trips. They were not nearly as entertaining as Henry’s stories.
Dr. and Mrs. A. B. Cleage Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Cleage, Henry Cleage and Miss Helen Mullins, of Detroit, Miss Virginia Lane and Mrs. Josie Cleage of Indianapolis, Ind. and Clarence Reed of Chicago, who have been guest of Mrs. Minnie Mullins, of Broadway, have returned home.
The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan) – 13 Jul 1923, Fri – Page 4
It sounds like they had a real family party.
Dr. and Mrs. A.B. Cleage – my grandparents
Mrs. Jacob Cleage, wife of my grandfather’s brother Jacob.
Henry Cleage – my grandfather’s brother.
Miss Helen Mullins – my grandmother’s sister Minnie’s oldest daughter.
Miss Virginia Lane – not a family member.
Clarence Reed – my grandmother’s brother.
Mrs. Jossie Cleage – my grandfather’s sister who married a Cleage from another branch.
Mrs. Minnie Mullins – my grandmother’s sister
Mrs. Minnie Mullins and small son, John of Broadway, have gone to Detroit to visit the former’s sister, Ms. A. B. Cleage, who is ill.
The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan) – 14 Jan 1925, Wed – Page 4
Dr. A. B. Cleage and family, of Detroit, have returned home following a week’s visit with Mr. and Mrs. James Mullins, of Broadway.
The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan) – 6 Sep 1927, Tue – Page 4
Dr. Albert B. Cleage and family of Detroit, have returned home after a weeks visit with Mr. and Mrs. James Mullins on Broadway.
The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan) – 30 Aug 1928, Thu – Page 4
Mr. James Mullins 1863-1944
Minnie Averitt Reed Mullins 1878 – 1963
Josephine “Josie” Cleage
Clarence Elwood Reed
What it was like to drive 100 years ago
1900-1930: The years of driving dangerously
On November 1, 1927 Mershell C. Graham Jr was killed when he was hit by a truck on the way back to school after lunch. He was taken to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, a Catholic Hospital on Detroit’s East side. Dr. Turner was there with him when he died.
From the back pages of my grandmother Fannie Turner Graham’s Bible
“Our darling little Mershell Jr. was run over by a truck on Tuesday Nov. 1st – ’27 at 12:45 PM. on his way to school from lunch. skull crushed etc. – Neck broken – shoulder fractured- rushed to St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital – never regained consciousness – died – same night at 2:10 – Dr Turner at his sid(e) (Fun)eral-Nov 4th … (Lavi)scount offic(iated) sang….”
Something has gone out of our hearts but I get comfort from the following song which I’ve so often heard my mother sing: – as best I remember it:
“Go bury thy sorrow,
Go hide it with care,
‘Go bury it deeply,
The world has it’s share.
Go tell it to Jesus,
He even will hear,
His is the best solace
He always is near.”
God be with us, strengthen and comfort us in these, the saddest hours we’ve ever known, and prepare us to meet our darling boy in heaven. Amen.
8/25/29 We went to cemetery for first time today
9/7/28 – Howard came in place of Mershell, we thot – he was such a beautiful darling – stayed with us 3 1/2 years – then God took him….
Now we go to cemetery weekly.
I hope this chart makes it easier to keep track of the people in my April A to Z 2020. If anything is confusing, please let me know.
I have tried to include only those members of the family who appear in this series on life in my family during the 1920s.
There were no photographs of the Grahams inside their home. There is this one of the children on the front steps.
My maternal grandparents, Mershell and Fannie Graham, bought their house on Theodore Street on the East Side of Detroit in 1922. My grandmother was pregnant with my mother Doris. They lived in the house on Theodore for 45 years until the neighborhood became increasingly violent. In 1968, after experiencing several home invasions and gun shots fired into the house, they bought a two family flat with my parents near the University of Detroit.
The Brass Bed
Poppy bought a brass bed soon after he married. He was, the story goes, walking down the street when he saw a brothel being evicted and the belongings being set out on the street. This wonderful brass bed was among the items and he bought it on the spot. Growing up we – sister and cousins – spent many happy hours playing in my grandfather’s room. We used to be able to slip between those brass bars at the foot of the bed. My sister Pearl has the big bed now.
My mother memories of growing up in this house.
I lived at home until I finished college and married. Everyday when I got home from school the minute I opened the door I knew what we were having for dinner. The house would be full of the good smell of spaghetti or meat loaf or greens or salmon croquettes or pork chops and gravy or steak and onions. We had hot biscuits or muffins every day. My father did not like “store bought” bread. I hardly knew what it tasted like until I married. Our friends were welcome. The house was clean. Our clothes were clean and mended.
She also remembered being in the car with her father when their car got stuck on the railroad tracks down the street and the train hit them. I found an entry for that in my grandfather’s little notebook. Although it happened in 1935, I am going to copy it here. My mother was 12.
Car struck by M.C. (note: Michigan Central) engine Mar. 10th 1935
At 2:15 P.M. Doris in car with me.
No one hurt very bad.
Doris received small cut on left hand
M.C. RR settled for $25.00 part cost on fixing car.
Here are two other posts about the house on Theodore
The Cleage family moved from 24th street to 6429 Scotten Ave. in 1920, between January and July 10. I visited this house once when I was about 22 months old. My parents and I traveled by train to Detroit for a visit. At that time my father was pastor of St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield, Massachusetts. I remember nothing about that visit, unfortunately. I never asked my father or my aunts and uncles to describe the house for me. Luckily someone took a front and side view of the house and there were some photographs taken inside the house, not necessarily in the 1920s.
In 1930 the house was worth $10,500, according to the census. By 1940, it was only worth $5,000. Perhaps because they were just coming out of the depression in 1940? It was a large brick house and I’m sure they filled it up with seven children, two parents and a couple of dogs. I think that the boy’s rooms were in the attic. I will share some photographs of the house over the years. They lived there until 1948 when they moved to Atkinson Street.
In 1920 my great grandmother Celia Rice Cleage Sherman lived with her son Edward and his family in Athens, Tennessee. She was 64 years old and could read but not write. She was not working for pay. She was married but her husband was living in North Carolina with his daughter. By June he was dead of tuberculosis of the bowels, apparently a difficult disease to diagnose and treat.
Edward Cleage was the head of the household. He was 38 years old, literate, owned his own house and was a barber operating his own shop. Mattie Dotson, his wife, was 32 years old. She was literate and did not work outside of the home. They had four daughters, Alberta 11 and Helen 9 were attending school. Ola was 3 and a half and the baby, Gertrude Beatrice was only a month old.
Mattie’s brother Walter Dotson and his family lived next door. He was 39 and taught in the public school. He also owned his own home free of mortgage. His wife Flora did not work outside of the home. They had three children, Lincoln who was 6, Rosalia was 3 8/12 and Eugene was 4/12. Both households were described as “mulatto.
On this same census page there were seven older people who lived alone because of being widows or widowers. One of them was Amanda Cleage, a widow who at 73 was still supporting herself as a laundress from her home. She rented her place and was unable to read or write. I feel that I know Amanda quite well after doing an in depth investigation of her a year or so ago. It was like seeing an old friend to find her one of my great grandmother’s neighbors.
William Wilcox and his neighbor George Pinson were both identified as black. Both worked as hotel waiters for wages. Both were literate. George Pinson was a widower. William Wilcox’s wife, Vester did not work outside of the home.
Herbert Vanburen and his wife Annie rented their home. He worked as a far laborer on his own account and Annie Vanburen took in laundry. They had seven children. The oldest, Winnie was 19 and was a looper at a hosery mill. A looper was given a finished sock without the toe portion. She placed it into a machine that would attach the toe using several needles and thread, and it would come out looking as if the whole sock was one piece.
The next four children, ages 14 to 8 attended school. The youngest two were six year old twins and not yet in school. Everyone who was old enough was literate and everybody was described as mulatto.
Other single people were 67 year old Rosa Baker who was a widow, illiterate and did not have employment. Charles Reynolds owned his house free of mortgage, was literate and did general laboring on his own account. He was 54. Louise Wilds was 61, a widow and could read but not write. She took in laundry on her own account. They were all described as black.
Forty six year old Low and his wife Ida Lillard, forty three, lived on the other side of the Cleages. They rented their house. He could read but not write. She was literate. Low and his oldest son, twenty year old Clarence both worked as laborers on the railroad. The two youngest children were six and five, too young for school. The family was described as black.
Henry Lattimer was 41 and worked as a laborer in construction. His wife Vonnie was 32 and did not work outside of the home. They were both literate. He was described as black. Vonnie and the six children were described as mulatto. The oldest son, Leake, was 19 and like his father worked as a construction laborer. Sixteen year old Cleona had attended school in the past year was literate and worked as a knitter at a hosiery Mill. The 10 year old and 7 year old attended school. The two youngest were under three.
There were two white families living nearby. Both of them rented. Bose Gregary was literate, although his wife was not. He worked as a driver for a grocery store. His wife didn’t work outside of the home. Their oldest three children attended school. The younger two were too young.
Alfred Wilcox was also white. He and his wife were not literate. He also worked as a driver for a grocery store for wages. I wonder if the two families were connected, but I am running late here with no time to look into that. His wife didn’t work outside of the home. They had four children. The oldest were 8 and 7 and not yet in school. The youngest two were under three.
Hugh Clarence Cleage was born at home June 2, 1918 in the house on 24th Street. He was the fourth son and also the fourth child of the Cleages. Hugh was named after two of his mother’s brothers. He was 20 months old when 1920 started and almost 13 years old when the decade ended.
Like his siblings, Hugh attended Wingert elementary school, McMichael Junior High and Northwestern High School. But that was in the 1930s. I know he liked to fish and skate and play tennis and was kind and patient and could fix things. Some of these skills must have been practiced during his young years.
Strangely, I don’t know any stories about Hugh as a young child. He was the quiet one who was right there in all of the activities going on, but his siblings were just more forthcoming with stories and he probably couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Maybe some of my cousins will read this and share stories they may have about Hugh as a young boy.