Business, Newspaper Articles, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Mound City Medical Forum gets ready.

Speaking of Tom Aldridge

Pittsburgh_Courier_Mound_City_Doctors__8_14_1937 highlighted

Pittsburgh Courier, 14 August 1937.

This is the earliest photograph I have seen of my great-grandfather, and he was 51 years old here. His hair, fallen over his forehead, seems thicker than in later studio portraits. Otherwise, disappointingly little detail can be seen. Twenty-four years later, he would be elected president of the National Medical Association.

Standard
Military, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Pvt. Aldrich.

On 28 May 1917, James Thomas Aldridge appeared before a registrar in Brooklyn, New York. I imagine Tom dragging his feet, and his reluctance to serve shows through his notably exaggerated response to Question 9 — “Have no father (dead) Mother and three sisters to help to support” — and the basis for his claim for an exemption — “Dependents and poor health.” Tom described himself as a “student (medical),” and evidence demonstrates that he had entered medical school in the fall of 1916. (He may have done his first year at Leonard Medical School, then transferred to Meharry, from which he graduated in 1920. But what was he doing in Brooklyn? He wasn’t a resident, as demonstrated by the home address and precinct listed on the card.) Tom also gave his birth date as 14 May 1895, which would have made him 22. His age, however, is listed as 27. Neither is correct. He was born in 1886, and was 31 in 1917, but always fudged heavily on his age, possibly to disguise the long years that passed between finishing eighth grade in Dudley’s local school and entering high school at Shaw. Either way, he was called up.

005152198_04713

Until a couple of days ago, my knowledge of my great-grandfather’s World War I service was limited to brief mentions in his obits that he had been in the Medical Corps. While looking for something else, though, I ran across an Ancestry.com database, “New York Abstracts of World War I Military Service 1917-1919.” And there, under his preferred spelling — more about that later — was James T. Aldrich.

Serial number 2,546,996. White.

Huh? How ever did Tom pull that off?

In any case, there it is — his World War I record. Service did not take him far from his home in East Harlem. (Maybe his health was poorish, after all?) Enlistment in the Medical Reserve Corps on Broadway in January 1918. Then about nine months at the Army base that Governors Island once was. (On 8 October 1918, just before leaving Governors Island, he married Athalia Freeman.) Then on to Camp Alexander in Newport News, Virginia, for six months until his discharge in May 1919. Camp Alexander, established in 1918, served as an embarkation and debarkation camp for African-American troops.

40808_1120704930_0015-01040 copy

Standard
Maternal Kin, Military, Other Documents

Draft card revelations: McNeely.

Most of my grandmother’s male McNeely first cousins were too old to have served in World War II. They were required to register nonetheless, and the draft cards I’ve found offer interesting little snapshots of their lives:                                  RHMcNeely WW1

RHMcNeely reverse

The scars on Robert Henry “Jinx” McNeely‘s head were external evidence of the skull fracture he received when his bicycle collided with an automobile in 1937. His aunt, Mary Bell Woods McNeely Frink, was his mother Margaret Woods McNeely’s sister, but she was also his stepmother, having married (and divorced) his father Luther McNeely after Margaret’s death. She is an interesting choice for “person who will always know your address,” as, as far as I know, Jinx’ wife Katie Woodsides McNeely was living at the time. Jinx started working as a drugstore porter, making customer deliveries and running errands on a bicycle, in his teens.

QE McNeely

QE McNeely reverse

Though he was close to her age, my grandmother never knew her uncle Edward McNeely‘s son Quincy. Ed and his wife, Lucille Tomlin McNeely, divorced early, and by 1920 she and their son had moved 100 miles west to Asheville, North Carolina. Quincy married Addie Sims in 1930, then Elizabeth [last name unknown] by 1935. He does not appear to have fathered children, and he died in Detroit in 1966.

JG McNeely

JG McNeely rev

I’ve written of James “Red” McNeely alias Smith here. He was the cousin closest in age to my grandmother, but I heard her mention him only once. After their mother Addie McNeely Smith‘s death, aunt Minnie McNeely reared James and his older sister Ardeanur. He moved to High Point, perhaps in his early 20s, and may have been briefly married to a woman named Mildred.  (They appear together in the 1930 census of High Point, but I haven’t found a license or anything else about her.) It did not last, and he had no children. Red was a pool room operator and died in 1960.

CGTaylor

CG Taylor rev

This really wrecks my notions about when the Columbus, Ohio, branch of my McNeely family really put down roots in that city. The card shows that in 1942, 19 year-old Carl Taylor was living in Statesville — in the household of his first cousin, Louise Colvert Renwick — but his mother Janie McNeely (not Taylor?) was living in Columbus and working at a Children’s Home.  My inability to find Janie’s family in the 1940 census makes it difficult to pinpoint when she migrated north. In any case, she apparently moved back and forth between North Carolina and Ohio during the 1930s before settling permanently in Columbus, perhaps during the War.

Standard
Education, North Carolina, Photographs

Spaulding remembers.

Last night, the C.C. Spaulding High School Class of 1965 honored my father at their 50th reunion banquet. He began his coaching and teaching career at this little school in Spring Hope, North Carolina, newly married and fresh out of Saint Augustine’s College. Seven years past Brown v. Board of Education, Nash County schools were still segregated, and the children of Spaulding were mostly from struggling farm families. Neither slender resources at home nor paltry county funding could tamp down a spirit of camaraderie and pride in achievement that lasts even to this day.  Occasionally, when I’m home, we will run into one of my father’s old students or players — now in their late 60s — and they always beam to see him, the first of generations of young men and women who benefitted from his tough, but unstinting, guidance.

I took these photos of Spaulding’s gymnasium on a road ramble in November 2011. The school, now a community center, still anchors little Spring Hope. I have no independent memory of Spaulding — my father left for Rocky Mount City Schools in the late ’60s — but I was cradled there. My mother tells me that, at basketball games, teenaged girls would volunteer to change my diaper while she cheered the team on. The class of ’65 was the first to know me, and I thank them.

IMG_6721

IMG_6734

Little has changed.

Spaulding 65

Spaulding High School Class of 1965.

Standard
Letters, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

By all means Ward should have the Spingarn Medal.

DuBois Ward Spingarn

Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963. Memorandum from W. E. B. Du Bois to Spingarn Medal Award Committee, January 2, 1933. W. E. B. Du Bois Papers (MS 312). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Uncle Joe Ward

Iconic photograph of Major (later Colonel) Joseph H. Ward during his World War I service, from Emmett J. Scott’s The American Negro in the World War (1919).

WARD_--_JNMA_Article_re_Tuskegee_Page_1

WARD_--_JNMA_Article_re_Tuskegee_Page_2

WARD_--_JNMA_Article_re_Tuskegee_Page_3

Journal of the National Medical Association, volume 21, April-June 1929.

Though it’s hard to imagine a more resounding endorsement than one emanating from Dr. W.E.B. DuBois (himself a winner), the NAACP’s 1933 Spingarn Medal in fact went to YMCA secretary Max Yergan for his missionary work in South Africa.

[For a earlier bit of correspondence from Dr. DuBois to the Wards, see here.]

Hat tip to cousin A.W.P., Dr. Joseph H. Ward‘s granddaughter, who alerted me to this document.

Standard