Births Deaths Marriages, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Virginia

Aunt Lizzie, found.

Cousin B.J., my partner in all things Aldridge, sent me this clipping a few days ago from the 28 June 1952 edition of the Norfolk New Journal and Guide:

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1612 Lovitt Avenue was the house in which Tilithia Brewington King Godbold Dabney had lived in her latter years. Who was this Elizabeth Aldridge? And who was in the family plot?

We quickly suspected that this was Lizzie Aldridge, sister of my great-great-grandfather John W. Aldridge and B.J.’s great-great-grandmother Amelia Aldridge Brewington, but knew little of Lizzie’s whereabouts as an adult. I’d wondered if our Lizzie was this woman, found in the 1900 census of Norfolk, Norfolk County, Virginia: North Carolina-born  dressmaker Lizzie Aldridge, 30, shared a household with a boarder, William Hendricks, 36, a divorced day laborer. So there was some precedent to the speculation that Lizzie had migrated to Norfolk. But why the “Mrs.”? We don’t know for sure, but quickly determined that this death announcement was definitely for Lizzie Aldridge, daughter of Robert and Mary Eliza Balkcum Aldridge, and she seems to have been the longest-lived of their children. In other words, Elizabeth Aldridge was Tilithia Dabney’s aunt.

In the 1870 census of Brogden township, Wayne County:  Robt. Aldridge, farmer, with wife Eliza, and children George, 18, John, 17, Amelia, 14, Mathew D., 13, David S., 12, Amanda, 10, Ella, 9 Eliza, Robert and Joseph, 7 months, plus farmhand Isham Gregory.

In the 1880 census of Brogden township, Wayne County: Robt. Aldridge, wife Elizar, and children Matthew, Sloan, Amanda, Louella, Lizzie, Robert, Joseph, and Fannie.

By 1898, Lizzie (and, it appears, her teenaged nephew Zebedee, John’s oldest son, and her sister Louella) had migrated to Norfolk, Virginia. Here are their listings in the city directory:

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In the 1900 city directory, Louella remains at 100 Henry, but Zebedee, working as a fireman, is living with his aunt at 17 Nicholson. Nonetheless, as noted above the census taken that year showed Lizzie sharing a household only with a boarder.

On 4 July 1902, Wayne County Superior Court set off a dower and partitioned Robert Aldridge’s land  among his wife and heirs. With Lot No. 10, Lizzie Aldridge received 32 acres on the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad and Stoney Run Branch valued at $193. (Louella, referred to as Louetta, received a similar share, but two years later it was divided among her siblings when she died without heirs.)

In the 1904 Norfolk city directory, Lizzie is at 17 Nicholson, but in 1906, she is listed at 100 Henry. As “Elizabeth Aldridge,” she is living at 100 Henry in the 1907 and 1908 directories, too.

In the 1910 census of Norfolk, Virginia: Elizabeth Aldridge is listed as the keeper of a lodging house at 100 Henry Street. She had nine lodgers, all born in North Carolina, and one of whom, 22 year-old Jessie Baker, may have been Jesse Frank Baker, son of Lizzie’s first cousin Mary Ann Aldridge Baker.

Per city directories, as early as 1913, Lizzie Aldridge was living at 852 Henry in Norfolk.

In the 1920 census of Monroe Ward, Norfolk, Virginia: at 852 Henry Street, Elizabeth Aldridge, 49, keeper of a lodging house, headed a household that included her 7 year-old adopted son Elisha Newton and eight lodgers aged 16 to 20, all North Carolina-born and working as longshoremen or, in one instance, a fireman on a boat.

In the 1930 census of Norfolk, Virginia: in rented quarters at 940 1/2 Hanson Avenue, 60 year-old laundress Elizabeth Aldridge, her adopted son Arther E. Newton, 18, and a boarder named Mack Rice, a longshoreman. Elizabeth claimed to be a widow who first married at age 21.

In the 1940 census of Norfolk, Virginia: at 938 1/2, Elizabeth Aldridge, 70, was herself a lodger in a household headed by Lena Forekey.

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As for the “family plot,” B.J. discovered the following (probably partial) list of Aldridge family members buried together in Norfolk’s Calvary cemetery: Elizabeth Aldridge, Section 22, Block 22, Lot 182, Space SW 0 06/15/1952; John Dabney, Section 22, Block 22, Lot 182, Space W CTR 0 12/29/1974; Tilithia Dabney, Section 22, Block 22, Lot 182, Space NW 0 11/24/1965; and Arthur Newton, Section 22, Block 22, Lot 182, Space SE 0 09/09/1979.

 

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Business, Migration, Newspaper Articles, Paternal Kin, Photographs, Virginia, Vocation

Home-cooking a specialty.

I’ve written of Cousin Tilithia Brewington King Godbold Dabney here and here. Her restaurant in Norfolk, the Strand Cafe, made a deep impression on my grandmother, who laughingly recalled waiting tables there on childhood visits and being dazzled by Cousin Tilithia’s menu offerings.

Thanks to B.J., great-granddaughter of Tilithia’s sister Mattie Brewington Braswell, who found these Norfolk Journal & Guide articles, we now know more about the cafe:

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12 March 1921.

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9 December 1922.

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28 May 1927.

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Newspaper Articles, Photographs, Virginia

Newport News Jacks and Jills.

My Aldridge cousin Barbie Jones has access to an archive of early editions of the Norfolk Journal & Guide, an African-American newspaper. All morning, she’s been pelting me with gems pulled from the pasts of both my Aldridge-Brewington family and my mother’s close family in Newport News. Here’s the first — stay tuned!

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Norfolk Journal & Guide, 20 March 1948.

All five of my grandparents’ children, just three days before my mother’s birthday.

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Free People of Color, Letters, Migration, Paternal Kin, Virginia

An Artis founding story.

A cousin sent me this undated letter a few days ago, asking if I knew anything about it. She is descended from my great-great-great-grandfather Adam Artis‘ brother Richard Artis. Her Richard is not one of the Richards listed to in the document. (There were several contemporaneous Richard Artises just in the Wayne-Greene-Wilson County corner, none of whom I can link to one another.) The family history recounted in the letter smacks of the apocryphal, but it is interesting, and I will try to follow up on it.

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DNA, Maternal Kin, Virginia

DNA Definites, no. 21: Randolph.

I came back from vacation to find a nice new match at Ancestry.com. R.M. and I are double eighth cousins, as I am descended from two children of Isham and Jane Rogers RandolphThomas I. Randolph (1722-1788), who married Jane Cary (1751-1774), and Susannah Randolph, who married Carter Henry Harrison (1736-1793). (Thomas Randolph, Susannah Randolph Harrison, and Bettie Randolph Railey’s sister Jane Randolph married Peter Jefferson and gave birth to Thomas Jefferson.)

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Ancestry estimates our relationship as 5th-8th cousins and rates the match as “Good,” meaning that we share 6-12 cM. (Which is quite high for 8th cousins, but is attributable to (1) our double lineage and (2) luck.) That’s lower than I’d ordinarily pursue, but I’ll take it.

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Education, Maternal Kin, Other Documents, Virginia

To get up a school in the county.

On 19 August 1868, Thomas Leahey, Assistant Sub Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen & Abandoned Lands (better known as the Freedmen’s Bureau), took pen in hand:

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Leahey’s brief letter suggests deep familiarity with Joseph R. Holmes, my great-great-grandfather Jasper Holmes‘ brother. He is telling Holmes that he has moved his office from Farmville to Charlotte Court House and wants him to notify Holmes’ “people” — the community he represented — where they can find him. Leahey’s invitation to meet at any time implies previous visits, though to date I’ve found no evidence of them in Freedmen’s Bureau records. Leahey’s inquiry “whether there is a School for colored Children at Keysville, and if there is not what are the prospects of getting up one.”

Just three days later, in a clear hand and with fairly sound grammar speaking to years of practiced literacy — though he was only three years out of slavery — Holmes replied. He advised that a small for-pay school operated in the Keysville area and expressed pleasure at Leahey’s interest in education. He apologized for not having been to see Leahey sooner — “I have been so busey” — and mentioned that he was headed to Richmond the following day. (Who was “Lut. Grayham” A lieutenant in the U.S. Army’s First Military District?) If “life last,” he promised, he would see Leahey on the next court day.

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Apparently, Holmes and Leahey did meet, then and perhaps on other occasions. The next bit of correspondence found between them is dated 24 November 1868, when Leahey sent Holmes a voucher for a school’s rent. Whether this is the private school Holmes referred to in his August letter or a school established by the Freedmen’s Bureau is not clear. Leahey asks that “Mrs. Jenkins” sign the rent voucher as well as triplicate leases for the school. (I haven’t found copies of either to date.)

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Who was Mrs. Jenkins? Below is a short stretch of the 1870 census of Walton township, Charlotte County, Virginia. It shows part of Joseph Holmes’ former neighborhood, just west of the town of Keysville. “Former,” because Holmes had been shot dead on the steps of Charlotte Court House in May 1869, as detailed here. There are his children, Payton, Louisa and Joseph Holmes, living with the family of Wat and Nancy Carter, whom I believe to be Holmes’ mother and stepfather. Two households away is 30 year-old presumed widow Lucy Jenkins, “teaching school.” Jenkins, born in Virginia, was no Yankee schoolmarm; I’m searching for more about her. Her commitment to the little school at Keysville, even after Holmes’ assassination, evinces some mettle.

1880 Lucy Jenkins

Records from “Virginia, Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872,” database with images, www.familysearch.org, citing microfilm publication M1913, National Archives and Records Administration.

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