Business, Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, Politics, Virginia

Allen testifies and makes a good witness.

The Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia), 19 April 1911.

In 1909, the churches of Newport News’ East End, known as Bloodfields for its violence, commenced a campaign to curtail liquor licenses in the neighborhood. In April 1911, Zion Baptist Church and the Colored League of East End (represented by J. Thomas Newsome) appeared in court to contest the grant of a license to William Gholsen to open a bar at “the old Sam Hall saloon” near 20th Street on Ivy Avenue. My great-grandfather John C. Allen Sr. spoke on behalf of the church — at some length and to good effect. Gholson was denied.

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Maternal Kin, Virginia

Hiding in plain sight.

I don’t understand how I have missed this:

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Almost exactly four years ago, with help from my late uncle Charles C. Allen and my new DNA cousin A.B., I identified Edward C. Harrison as the biological father of my great-grandfather John C. Allen Sr.

The screenshot above shows a portion of the 1880 census of Harrison township, Charles City County, Virginia. Household number 73: Wm. L. Harrison, 32; his mother C.R., 64; and siblings J.C., 24, and E.C., 31. That’s Edward C. Harrison, his brother William Lambert Harrison, his mother Caroline R. Lambert Harrison, and his sister Jane Cary Harrison. (His father William Mortimer Harrison died in 1865.) Household number 74, right next door: Gram Allen, 26; wife Mary; and children Namie, 5, John, 3, and Emma, 1. That’s my great-grandfather John, his mother Mary Brown Allen, his adoptive father Graham Allen, and his half-sisters Namie (Naomi? Nannie?) and Emma. I repeat: living next door.

Were the Allens tenants on the Harrisons’ farm? Graham Allen and Mary Brown married 22 June 1876, when she was just a few months pregnant by Edward Harrison. Were both of them already living on the farm? Why remain under the gaze (and, presumably, control) of the father of Mary’s oldest son? What relationship, if any, did John have his biological father? With other Harrisons?

Before recognizing this census entry, I had no evidence of how Mary Brown and Edward Harrison met or whether John Allen knew his father’s identity.

William Lambert Harrison (1845-1919), John C. Allen Sr.’s uncle.

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Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, Photographs, Virginia

Beauty winner!

My grandmother worked as a dietician at Dorie Miller Recreation Center in Newport News, Virginia. The organizers of a teen beauty contest were looking for more contestants, and my 13 year-old mother casually entered.

“And the winner is … Beverly Allen!”

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Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia), 15 August 1951.

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New Journal and Guide (Norfolk, Virginia), 25 August 1951.

The summer after high school, to while away the hours until enrollment at Hampton Institute, she entered the Fancy Pants and Sport Shirt Ball at the city of Hampton’s African-American beach resort, the Bay Shore Hotel. In a midriff-baring genie outfit whipped up by my grandmother, she took second. (But really? You be the judge….)

New Journal and Guide (Norfolk, Virginia), 30 June 1956.

Sixty-two years later, she’s still beautiful … inside and out.

Happy 80th birthday to this abiding blessing, my mother, with love.

 

 

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Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, Virginia

Voters League meets at Zion Baptist.

The Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia), 10 September 1931.

It appears that the Citizens Civic and Welfare League quickly narrowed its focus and morphed into the Colored Citizens Voters League. By 1931, John C. Allen Sr. was president of the organization for several years. (Zion Baptist was Allen’s home church.)

The Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia), 30 March 1936.

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