Business, Maternal Kin, Oral History, Other Documents, Photographs, Virginia, Vocation

Texaco liked the work.

In the summer of 2002, my uncle Charles C. Allen told me this about my grandfather John C. Allen Jr.:

[Daddy] had to get reestablished after the war. But he had a friend named Buster Reynolds. And Buster Reynolds was reputed to have made his money in the numbers, and so when the numbers were getting real hot and heavy, when it was reputed that the Mafia was trying to take the numbers over, Buster got out. And he built this service station, and he had a Texaco franchise, and he had Daddy to build the station. And Texaco liked the work so much that Daddy built two more stations for Texaco. And both of the stations that were built in the black community are still up. They’re not gas stations anymore, but the buildings are still up. And the one that was built Overtown is gone. But even the station that was in the white community, Texaco had him to build that one, too.

Today I found this:

2 1 1948

The Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia), 1 February 1948.

My uncle passed away in January; I wish dearly that I’d been able to share this with him.

Texaco 2

The former service station at 28th and Chestnut, Newport News, 2002.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Photographs

Well done.

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My uncle Charles C. Allen passed peacefully last night, surrounded by love. I am grateful to have been able to say goodbye last week and to receive one last lesson — on living and dying with grace — from his bottomless well of wisdom.

His eldest son’s words speak loudest:

“Last night, we lost the rock of the family, my father Charles C. Allen. His illness was brief, and he died on his own terms surrounded by the people he loved. He was married to my mother for 57 years (they’d known each other for over 60 years) and leaves three children, three grandchildren, and three surviving siblings. Dad possessed a tremendous sense of dignity, integrity, and inner fortitude. He was a friend to many. If you needed advice, he’d offer it (sometimes you didn’t need to ask), if you needed a shoulder to lean on, he was there. If you had done him wrong, he turned the other cheek and looked for ways to meet in the middle. Over the course of his 81 years, he mentored literally dozens of people of all races and creeds. Dad lived a full and productive life, and he did it his way. We will miss him, but will also live our lives as a direct reflection of his values and work ethic.”

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My heroes — my father, my mother, my uncle.

——

 Charles Claybourne Allen

21 September 1935-20 January 2017

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Education, Maternal Kin, Photographs, Virginia

Dorothy Whirley, Class of ’48.

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1948 yearbook, Frederick Douglass Senior High School, Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

Senior Dorothy L. Whirley listed “no discrimination” as the characteristic of a true democracy, “stocking runs” as her pet peeve, and “to become successful” as her plan after  graduation. Dorothy, the daughter of Matilda Whirley and McKinley Steward, was born in Charles City County, Virginia, in December 1929. Her grandmother was Emma Allen Whirley (1879-after 1930), daughter of Graham and Mary Brown Allen.

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Maternal Kin

Signature Saturday, no. 8: the McNeelys.

My great-great-grandfather Henry W. McNeely taught for a few years after Freedom and surely could read and write. His wife Martha, despite her transparent assertions otherwise, could not. Their children received educations that they had been denied, and when Henry’s brother Julius died without direct heirs about 1913, all signed off on the distribution of his estate. (All except Addie McNeely Weaver, who had recently passed.)

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Several of Henry’s grandsons’ signatures appear on World War II draft registration forms, including Luther’s son Robert H.; Edward’s son Quincy; and Addie’s son James.

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Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Photographs

Kiners, depicted.

More photographs of my Kiner cousins courtesy of their Kiner cousin, Peggy King Jorde. As set forth here, my cousin Edna Reeves (1885-1969), daughter of Fletcher and Angeline McConnaughey Reeves of Charlotte, North Carolina, married William H. Kiner and settled with him in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their children were Addison F. Kiner (1906-1990), Carroll M. Kiner (1907), and Evelyn C. Kiner ().

William Kiner & sons Addison & Carroll

William Kiner and sons Carroll and Addison, circa 1912.

Young Evelyn Kiner Marthas Vineyard

Evelyn Kiner, Martha’s Vineyard, circa 1915.

Evelyn Kiner on pony

Evelyn Kiner on a pony, circa 1917.

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One of these women is Edna Reeves Kiner, and the photo appears to date from the 1930s. This is said to be in New York City’s Central Park, but I have not been able to identify the monument.

Carroll Kiner

Carroll Kiner, perhaps the 1940s.

Carroll Kiner at Marthas Vineyard

Carroll Kiner, at right, Martha’s Vineyard, perhaps 1940s?

Evelyn Kiner at work

Evelyn C. Kiner at work, New York City, circa late 1960s.

And then there are these two photos:

Daddy Reeves 2

Believed to be “Daddy” Reeves.

Daddy Reeves

“Daddy” Reeves succumbs to pneumonia. Undated, and no page 5 story attached.

Who was “Daddy” Reeves? Certainly not Edna’s father Fletcher Reeves, who died in 1910. Nor her brother John, who died in 1915. Older brother Frank Reeves, perhaps?

All photos courtesy of Peggy King Jorde Archive.

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Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Photographs, Virginia

My people.

Going back six generations, I have 126 direct ancestors. I have images of only a sixth of them. Twenty, to be exact.

Here they are:

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From top left across each row to bottom right:

One (of 64) great-great-great-great-grandparent — William M. Harrison (1817-1865); two (of 32) great-great-great-grandparents — Margaret Balkcum Henderson (1836-1915) and Mary Eliza Balkcum Aldridge (1829-1924); five (of 16) great-great-grandparents — Louvicey Artis Aldridge (1865-1927), Martha Miller McNeely (1855-1934), Harriet Nicholson Tomlin Hart (1861-1926), Edward C. Harrison (1847-1908) and Mary Brown Allen (1849-1917); six (of eight) great-grandparents — Bessie L. Henderson (1891-1911), J. Thomas Aldridge (1886-1968), Lon W. Colvert (1875-1930), Caroline McNeely Colvert Taylor (1883-1957), John C. Allen Sr. (1906-1948) and Mary Agnes Holmes Allen (1877-1961); all four grandparents — Margaret Colvert Allen (1908-2010), John C. Allen Jr. (1906-1948), Hattie Henderson Ricks (1910-2001) and Roderick Taylor (1883-1947); and my parents.

Hat tip to A. Kearns for the inspiration.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Photographs

Rest in peace, Melroy Houser Sr.

My grandmother’s mother’s family often sought the warmth of other suns, and by 1940 all of her aunts and uncles had left North Carolina. In consequence, I did not grow up knowing my McNeely kin, but I often heard wonderful stories of them. My grandmother treasured all her aunts, but had a special regard for Emma McNeely Houser, who migrated to Bayonne, New Jersey, around the time my grandmother was born. All three of Emma’s children have long passed away, and she had only a handful of grandchildren. Just over a year ago, I traveled to Augusta, Georgia, to meet her son Henry‘s middle son Melroy Houser. I wrote here of my visit, which was filled with reminiscing and easy laughter.

I received word from one of his sons that Cousin Melroy passed this morning. I wish that I had gotten to know him better, but will always cherish those hours on a warm May afternoon. My deepest condolences to his children, who, like me, carry a legacy as McNeely great-grandchildren.

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