Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, Virginia

The D.D.G.C.

I finally ponied up for expanded access to Newspapers.com’s holdings and immediately tapped into a vein of articles about my Allen family in Newport News, Virginia. Expect a river of posts, starting with the earliest print references I have found to my great-grandfather John C. Allen Sr.

rp 3 7 1908

Richmond Planet, 7 March 1908.

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Richmond Planet, 2 April 1910.

John Allen arrived in Newport News from Charles City County in 1899, an unlettered farm boy. Less than ten years later, he held high office in the Knights of Pythias of North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, an African-American fraternal organization founded in Richmond in 1869 after a black man was denied membership by the Pythians’ Supreme Lodge.

These notices, published in Richmond’s black newspaper, signaled to the public the fraternal organization’s trustworthiness and largesse and undoubtedly attracted new members and expanded its influence.

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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.

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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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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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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Photographs

MY grandmother.

Every time I see you as a little girl, I think of one time you came, and I was going Overtown and you said you were going with me. You wanted to go with me. So I carried you with me, and I saw a lady I had been working with, and she had a granddaughter named Lisa, too. And so she said, “Oh, hello, Grandmother, you have your Lisa, too!” And I said, “I have my Lisa, too.” And you said, “Don’t call her Grandmother ‘cause she is not your grandmother.” That lady just laughed about that thing. You said, “Don’t call her Grandmother. She is not your grandmother. She is my grandmother.” Yes, sir. But you were ‘sleep before I got to Orcutt Avenue.

Margaret Allen newspaper

Margaret Colvert Allen (2 August 1908-11 February 2010)

Missing my grandmother on her birthday.

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