Schools I’ve Attended – Mumford – Detroit

My Life
Those Places Thursday
By Don Taylor

I lived in Detroit for a short while.  While there, I attended Mumford High School. It was one of the most challenging times in my life. My experiences in school, at work, and life in general, were mostly negative and difficult for many different reasons.

My stepfather was a mean drunk and beat on my mother frequently. Skinny, scrawny, fifteen-year-old me couldn’t do anything about it. I tried to stop him a couple of times, but he just smacked me into a corner and into submission. I didn’t realize at the time, but I learned years later that my mom miscarried during one of those regular beatings. Finally, one day mom packed my little sister, Sharon, me, and all she could fit into the car and started driving. I don’t think she knew where we were going at first but decided a few miles down the road when her head cleared a bit. She had left my step-father a couple of times before, only to go back to him after several weeks. This time she seemed serious; I was hoping. We headed east, lived in the car for a few days and drove the seven-hundred miles from Minneapolis to my mom’s hometown, Detroit. She didn’t have family or anyone there who could help, but she knew the city and knew she’d figure something out.

She found an apartment for us. It was an old, dilapidated place in a mostly industrial area. I don’t remember exactly where it was, but it was a very bad part of town at the time – I’m pretty sure it was on Third Avenue between Forest Ave and what is now Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. There were many empty lots nearby with the rubble of a time long past. There were a couple old, 19th-century hotels remaining in the area that had been converted into apartments. We were in one of them. Behind the building was an empty lot and beyond that the John C. Lodge Freeway. I remember one night I was stopped for WWW (Walking While White) in a black neighborhood. The police stopped their patrol car, jumped out, pulled their guns, threw me up against a fence and want to know what I was doing in the area. Admittedly, I was wearing a large winter coat, much more coat than necessary for the weather, but it was the only one I had. I probably looked like a shoplifter. They searched me, determined I didn’t have any drugs or weapons, and finally let go. Having one cop hold a gun on me while the other searched my pockets was scary. God, would they not find anything and then plant something on me just to make an arrest. I was really afraid. That experience gave me an understanding of what “driving while black” (DWB) is like for people of color in this country. The exception is that their experiences are much worse and more common.

Sharon slept with my mom in the bed and I slept on the couch. The couch smelled like it came from the previous century, and I’m sure it probably did. It wasn’t ideal, but we were warm, dry, and had lots more room than we did living in the car. I enjoyed reading as a vehicle for escape and, like so many teenage boys, I read science fiction. Unfortunately, reading was impossible because the one 40-watt light bulb hanging from the ceiling barely lit the room and we had no other lamps. We couldn’t watch TV and cook on the hotplate at the same time because we had to be careful to not blow any fuses. The fuse box was in the basement, four stories down. The TV was so old that it had continuous tuning. Rather than stepping between channels like most TVs of the time, we tuned it like a radio. Between channels six and seven we could tune into FM Radio, airplane frequencies, even emergency radio transmissions.  Of course, the picture was horrid, but at least it was a diversion.

My mom found a job in Northwest Detroit – just beyond Highland Park and I think it was near Marygrove College. She decided it would be better for me to go to school out there rather than in the inner city. She worked at a dry cleaner and the owner’s mother watched Sharon, who was two at the time, during the day while mom worked. Mom used her work address as our home address so that I could go to a better school. I walked to Mumford High School and hurried to the cleaners afterward because I worked there also. I’d “mark-in, assemble, and bag.” The laundry, in those days, would mark a person’s clothing with an indelible pen identifying the owner. After the laundry was washed and pressed, I’d gather the entire order together (assemble) and then bag it up. Occasionally, I had to press shirts which I didn’t like doing. I wasn’t very good at it and was slow, but I had to do it when the work was backed up. I don’t remember how much I earned, but it wasn’t much – maybe 75 cents an hour. I worked from after school until closing when mom, my little sister and I drove home together, made something to eat on the hotplate. After that, we watch the blurry, flickering TV until bedtime. One time an irate customer pulled a gun and pointed it at mom, which really scared me. Luckily the guy’s wife made him put the gun away.

At Mumford, I encountered institutional racism for the first time. I was shocked that school had programs in place that separated students along racial and economic lines. The biology class I left in Minnesota before leaving was the same class at Mumford and used exactly the same textbooks. After a few days, I mentioned to the teacher that in Minnesota, the students did all the lab exercises, and wondered why the instructor did the lab work while we merely watched then answered the lab questions based on what we observed the instructor do. Oddly enough I was immediately put into “college prep” group that did the lab work. It wasn’t lost on me that the college preparatory group was mostly white. It was obvious that these students received a much better education and encouragement to succeed rather than shuffled through the system.

A couple of weeks later my stepfather showed up at school. He tracked us down by discovering that my school records had been transferred to Mumford and he drove there to retrieve us. He promised Mom and me that he wouldn’t hurt her again and swore he had quit drinking. My mom, like so many battered women, believed him, so we returned to Minnesota. He followed us all the way, probably to make sure she didn’t try to run again. One time we escaped to Billings, MT when he found us, he not only followed us all the way but pushed us at 60 miles per hour when Mom’s old clunker couldn’t make it up the hills fast enough for him.

Most of my stories bring back fond memories as I write, but this post is a catharsis rather than a joyful trip down Memory Lane. In writing this, I’ve finally processed many painful events that I haven’t thought of in decades. Our foray to Detroit taught me many things, including fear of the police and the existence of institutional discrimination. It also taught me the importance of working my way out of despair, which is one of the greatest lessons that my mother ever taught me.

Chester Parsons and the 1820 Census

Census Sunday
Brown/Sanford/Parsons Line
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Following ancestors through all the census records is often difficult, particularly in census records before 1850, when only the head of household was named. Tracing my 4th great-grandfather, Chester Parsons was straight-forward from the 1880 census back to the 1850 census, even on to the 1830 Census, while Chester was in Saline, Michigan. Before that, he was a young man in someone else’s household not in Michigan. The path to understanding is to take what you know, hypothesize what should be, then see if research fits.

What I think I know.

  • Chester was born on 1 December 1799 in Sandisfield, Berkshire, Massachusetts.
  • Chester married his first wife in Greene County, New York in 1824.
  • In May 1826, Chester and his young family moved from New York to Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan Territory.
  • He and his family appear in 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses. The family seems to have been very stable living in Saline, Michigan, for over 60 years.
  • Chester’s father, John Parsons, died in 1813 in Greene County, New York.
  • In 1820 Chester would have been 20 years old.

My Speculation.

Because Chester probably lived with his father when his father died in 1813 and Chester probably resided in Greene County when he married in 1824, I presume the 20-year-old Chester also was living in Greene County during the 1820 Census. If so, who was he living with?

Search & Results

A quick search on Family Search of all families with the Parsons surname living in Greene County, New York in 1820 yielded four candidates, Samuel, Orrin, Albert, and Stephen. I’m looking for any of those people that might have Chester living with him.

Samuel Parsons – This Windham household consists of 1 Male (Age 26-45) and no other males. Chester’s oldest brother was named Samuel and would have been 33-years-old. This Samual is possibly, even likely, Chester’s brother.

Orrin and Samuel were enumerated next to each other in the 1820 Census.

Orrin Parsons – This Windham household consists of two males (one 16 to 26 and one under 10. There is also a female 16 to 26 in the household. Chester’s 2nd oldest brother was named Orrin and was 25 at the time. It is likely this was him with his wife, and first, previously unknown, son.

Albert Parsons – This Windham household consisted of five individuals, apparently Albert age 16-26, male 10-16, and male under 10 and two females, one, an apparent wife 16 to 26 and another age 10 to 16. There is no known Albert Parsons in my research before this. I will probably need to do more research to determine this Albert’s place in the family or determine he isn’t related. In any event, Chester is not in that household either.

Conclusion

Chester’s father John died in 1814. It appears that Samuel and Orrin each married and established households of their own. Chester, his brother John, and their mother were probably either missed in the 1820 Census or were living in the household of someone without the surname Parsons in Greene County, New York.

Further Research

  • It is possible that Chester and family lived with sister Mary/Polly in 1820. Research Mary/Polly Parsons’ life.
  • It is possible that Chester and family lived with a female sibling of John Parsons, Jr. Research the lives of the other Parsons of Sandisfield, Massachusetts that located to Windham, Greene County, New York between 1800 and 1820.

Ancestor Bio – Almira Chamberlain Sanford (1804-1845)

52 Ancestors – Week 2018-07
By Don Taylor

Almira Chamberlain married young and died young, at only 41 years of age. She was a pioneering woman who went west with her husband, from her native Vermont to Genesee and Orleans counties in New York. Then again further west, Almira moved to Saline, Washtenaw County Michigan.

Research Brown Line – Ancestor #101

List of Grandparents

Almira Chamberlain Sanford (1804-1845)

In the year Almira Chamberlain was born, 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr mortally wounded Alexander Hamilton in a dual, Napoleon Bonaparte was proclaimed Emperor of France, and Louis & Clark left on an expedition to explore the newly purchased land west of the Mississippi. Almira was born on 21 August 1804.[i] I believe her father was Benjamin Chamberlain, her mother is unknown. The 1810 Census suggests that she had two older brothers and an older sister.[ii]

Marriage

Almira married Ezra Sanford in 1819. [iii]She was 15 and Ezra was 27. The young couple headed west and were in Bergen, Genesee County, New York by August 1820 when the census was taken.[iv]

They had nine children – eight boys and one girl. They were Ezra (1820), William (1823), Henry (1824), Amos (1827), Ann Maria (1829), John W. (1831), Orlo (1835), George Poindexter (1835), and Charles A. (1838). All of the children were born in New York except for Charles who was born in Michigan.


The family was in New York through the 1830 census and appears to have consisted of Ezra, Almira, and their first five children.[v]

In 1834, her son Henry died at the age of ten.

In 1836, Ezra headed west with 16-year-old Ezra, (Jr.), and 13-year old William to prospect a new homestead. The following year he returned to New York for his wife and other children and located them in Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan, arriving on July 4th, 1837,[vi] the year that Michigan became a state and only five years after Saline became a town.

The 1840 Census suggests that Ezra junior had created his own household, but Charles, George, Orlo, John, Ann Maria, Amos, Henry, and William were still home. [vii]

Almira (Chamberlain) Sanford died in Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan on July 7th, 1845. She is buried at Benton Cemetery.


Endnotes

[i] History of Washtenaw County, Michigan, William Sanford – Pages 1408 and 1409. Chas. C. Chapman & Co. (1881). History of Washtenaw County, Michigan: Together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships … and biographies of representative citizens : history of Michigan. Chicago: Chas. C. Chapman & Co. https://archive.org/details/cu31924028870520.

[ii] 1810 Census (FS), Family Search, 1810 Census – Benjamin Chamberlain Head – Bennington, Vermont. “United States Census, 1810,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XH21-YST : accessed 7 February 2018), Benj Chamberlain, Bennington, Vermont, United States; citing p. 87A, NARA microfilm publication M252 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 64; FHL microfilm 218,668.

[iii] See Endnote #1 above.

[iv] 1820 Census (FS), Family Search, 1820 – Ezra Sanford – Bergen, Genesee, New York. “United States Census, 1820,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHLV-7VN : accessed 24 September 2017), Ezra Sanford, Bergen, Genesee, New York, United States; citing p. 43, NARA microfilm publication M33, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 72; FHL microfilm 193,727.

[v] 1830 Census (FS), Family Search, Ezra Sanford – Clarendon, Orleans, New York. “United States Census, 1830,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHG5-KP2 : 29 July 2017), Ezra Sanford, Clarendon, Orleans, New York, United States; citing 96, NARA microfilm publication M19, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 115; FHL microfilm 17,175.

[vi] See Endnote #1 above.

[vii] 1840 Census (FS), Family Search, 1840 Census – Ezra Sanford – Saline Township, Washtenaw, Michigan. “United States Census, 1840,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHYX-63Z : 15 August 2017), Ezra Sandford, Saline Township, Washtenaw, Michigan, United States; citing p. 140, NARA microfilm publication M704, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 211; FHL microfilm 14,797.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 22

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at several clippings from the Donna Darling Collection that relate to her playing at the Capital Theater.[i]

The first clipping is an article about “New Entertainment Feature is Popular,” which mentions Donna and her show “Little Jewel Revue.” Beneath the clipping, Donna wrote “Lansing week Mar 7th.” When I compared Donna’s note and the article I was confused for a moment. The article mentions DeLano Dell developing a following while in Jackson; I thought of Jackson, the capital of Mississippi. Further investigation indicated there is a Jackson, MI about 39 miles south of Lansing. Also, Cinema Treasures indicates there was a Capitol Theatre in Lansing[ii] and does not indicate there was a Capitol Theater in Jackson, MS.[iii]

Note: [iv]

NEW ENTERTAINMENT
FEATURE IS POPULAR

————

Each week the Capital Theater’s “Presentations” are growing in popularity and Manager McLaren’s latest in entertainment is finding a ready welcome at the hands of Capitol patrons.

Delano Dell, who has become a regular fixture at the Capitol as a sort of “Master of Ceremonies,” has developed a large following during his short stay in Jackson and this week will offer some brand new comedy Songs and dances in addition to his usual comedy chatter. “Clem” and his Merry Gang will play a couple of red hot jazzy selections of the “Gang” will be assisted by that scintillating beauty, Donna Darling, and her “Little Jewel Revue.” Miss Darling who has appeared at the Capitol before is known as one of the most beautiful girls in vaudeville today and her assisting artists are also eye easy. They will offer a combination of singing, dancing and comedy numbers with elaborate costumes and the whole presentation will be given in a very attractive stage setting.


Then there were two clippings showing the programs. The first one showed her Program running Sunday through Wednesday, March 7th through the 10th. Only 1920 and 1926 included Sunday, March 7th. The cartoon, “Felix Baffled by Banjos,” was released in 1924,[v] which dated the event as not 1920. Additionally, another clipping indicated Donna playing the 4th, 5th, and 6th with the same type and layout of the program. The second clipping show some of the same people playing and some new items. Additionally, the film “Cupid a la Carte” was released in January 1926[vi] further fixing the date of this show as 1926.

Finally, on the same page as the clippings regarding the Capitol Theater, there was a photo of Donna. From its appearance, I think it is probably taken at the back door to the theater in March 1926. Donna is wearing a fur coat and there is snow on the ground.

Key features:

  • The venue is the Capital Theater in Lansing, Michigan.
  • The date is March 4-10, 1926.
  • The show is the “Little Jewel Revue”
  • Also showing attractions included:
    • “Clem” and his Merry Gang
    • Al J. Amato and his Singing Band
    • Alvin and Alvin European Clowns and Fun Makers
    • Bert Chadwick – The Eccentric Ethiopian
    • Cecile Forbes, Dorothy Clyne, and Jand Sadler
    • DeLano Dell – Comedian
    • Frazier Bros. Athletic Artistry
    • Mahon and Scott with their Aguinaldo Serenaders “America’s Foremost Apache Sensation:
    • Miller, Packer, and Seltz “The Yaps”

Analysis

It is not clear from the March 4th, 5th, and 6th, ad if Cecile Forbes, Dorothy Clyne, and Jane Sadler were part of Donna Darling’s “Little Jewel Review” or not.

Actions

Added: March 4-10, 1926 – Donna Darling and “Little Jewel Review” played at the Capital Theater in Lansing, Michigan.

Sources

[i] Donna Darling Collection – Image 1420.

[ii] Cinema Treasures – Search: Lansing Michigan All – http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/united-states/michigan/lansing?status=all

[iii] Cinema Treasures – Search: Jackson, Mississippi All – http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/united-states/mississippi/jackson?status=all

[iv] I have cropped, edited, and sized the clippings for the web.

[v] IMDB – Baffled by Banjos (1924) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0140830

[vi] IMDB – Cupid á la Carte (1926) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0429910

Where my Ancestors were 100 years ago.

Mappy Monday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Randy Seaver in his blog, Genea-Musings suggested that we look at where our ancestors were 100 years ago. I thought I’d take a stab at it more from a location perspective. In October 1917, my ancestors were in Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota. Just “I” and “M” states. My paternal side are the “I” states; the Roberts were in Illinois and the Scotts were in Indiana. My maternal side are the “M” states; the Browns were in Minnesota and the Montrans (Barbers) were in Michigan, except for my grandmother, Madonna (Donna) who lived in Massachusetts for a short time.

Map of my Ancestor locations in 1917.
My Ancestor Locations in 1917.

Paternal Side:

My paternal grandfather, Bert Allen Roberts, was 14 years old. His father had died in 1908 and he was living with his mother, step-father, brother and two sisters. It isn’t clear if they were living in Turman, Sullivan County, Indiana (1910) or in Hutsonville, Crawford County, Illinois (1920), but I think they were still in Indiana.

Bert’s 71-year-old grandmother, Patience Ann (Marshall) (Dean) Roberts was living in Sesser, Barren Township, Franklin County, Illinois.

Bert’s 34-year-old mother, Clora Dell (Scott) (Roberts) Adams was married to Hosea Adams. It is unclear if they were still in Turman, Sullivan, Indiana, or if they had relocated to Hutsonville, Crawford County, Illinois in 1917.

Clora’s father, Samuel Vaden Scott, had remarried Lavina Allmend after the death of Amanda Jane Haley. The 57-year old was living in Goode Township, Franklin County, Illinois.

My paternal grandmother, Essie Pansy Barnes, was 14 years old. She was living on the farm near Turman, Sullivan County, Indiana.

Essie’s father, Joel Clinton Barnes, was 60 years old and living on a farm near Graysville, Turman Township, Sullivan County, Indiana.

Essie’s mother, Marada A. (Lister) Barnes, was 50 years old and living with Joen on the farm near Graysville, Turman Township, Sullivan County, Indiana.

 

Maternal side

My maternal grandfather, Clifford D Brown, later known as Richard Earl Durand and even later as Richard Earl Brown, (Grandpa Dick) was also 14 years-old. He lived with his family in Backus, Cass County, Minnesota.

Clifford/Richard’s father, Arthur Durwood Brown, was 48-years-old and living in Backus, Cass County, Minnesota.

Clifford/Richard’s mother, Mary Elizabeth (Manning) Brown, was 39-years-old and living with her husband, Arthur, in Backus.

My maternal grandmother, Madonna Mae Montran, (later known as Donna) was married to Thomas Valentine Rooney (her second marriage). (It does not appear that she ever took his surname.) They were probably living in Wrentham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, although they may have located to New York City about that time.  Madonna’s father died before 1900 and I have been unsuccessful in determining his parents.

Madonna’s (Donna’s) mother, Ida Mae (Barber) (Montran) (Fisher) (Holdsworth) Knight was living with her 4th husband, Harvey Knight in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan.

Ida’s mother, Sarah H (Blackhurst) Barber was also living in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. Her husband, Frank Barber, died earlier in 1917.

Thoughts

Thirteen of my direct ancestors were alive in September 1917. That is all four of my grandparents, six of my great-grandparents, and three of my 14 known great-great-grandparents.

Based upon their locations in 1917, I can say my father’s line came from Illinois and Indiana and my mother’s line came from Michigan and Minnesota.  I have a birthplace chart that shows where my ancestors were born that tells a somewhat different story. Grandpa Dick was born in North Dakota but was in Minnesota in 1917. Similarly, my great-grandmother, Mary (Manning) Brown, was born in Kentucky but was in Minnesota in 1917.

My life locations provide some of greatest location distances of anyone I know. I was born in Portland, Oregon; I hail from Minnesota, having lived there during most of my youth and over 35 years total. Over the years, I have lived in Oregon, Minnesota, Michigan, Colorado, Montana, California, Virginia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Georgia, and Maine. Now, I live about 3,200 miles away from my birth location of Portland, Oregon, in Portland, Maine.


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