Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Migration, Other Documents

Funeral Program Friday: Matilda Whirley.

Not exactly a funeral program, but close enough:

Morning Star Baptist Church of Christ/In Remembrance.

MATILDA WHIRLEY.  December 7, 1910-March 5, 1992.  Matilda “Tillie” Whirley, one of Stephen and Emma Whirley’s eight children, was born on December 7, 1910 in Charles County, Virginia. She was educated in the public schools of Charles County until moving to Baltimore, Maryland. There she completed her education by attending evening classes.  For nineteen years, Miss Whirley worked as a housekeeper in the Ashburton section of Baltimore. She subsequently obtained employment at the University of Maryland, School of Dentistry from which she retired after working there for seventeen years.  At an early age Tillie received Christ as her personal Savior and became an active member of the New Vine Baptist Church in Charles County, Virginia. She was guided in the work of the church by her God-fearing parents. Her mother instructed her in baking the bread for the Lord’s Supper each month and Tillie, believing this was her sacred duty, continued baking the bread until she left Charles County.  After relocating to Baltimore, Maryland, Miss Whirley became affiliated with the Morning Star Baptist Church, under the pastorate of the late Reverend George Jacob Garnett. Because of her strong background as a servant of God, she became a great servant of mankind. At Morning Star, Miss Whirley was a member of the Senior Usher Board, Missionary Society, Samuel Ray Revival Choir, Church School, Building Fund, Lottie Henry Nurses’ Unit, Flower Circle, Women’s Ministry and Board of Christian Education. She was also a member, and later president, of the Pastor’s Aid and a loyal supporter of the Girl Scouts, Fuel Fund, Elevator Fund and any other fund or organization which would benefit her church or community.  Miss Whirley was a devoted, loving, effectual, caring Christian woman and was a friend to all who needed her. She freely gave wise and timely counsel, based on her life experiences, as she sought to make life go a bit smoother for her family, friends, church members, neighbors and co-workers. Miss Whirley was counted upon to be an integral part of church and community activities and participated and served wherever she could. Her dedication and love of God was evident in all she did. Miss Whirley was a good example of one of God’s servants; because of that, we take time to remember her this month.


Births Deaths Marriages, Other Documents, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Funeral Program Friday: Bessie Henderson Smith.

Bessie Henderson schoolgirlBessie, aged about 12.

Jack Henderson named his first child, born 24 September 1917, after his sister Bessie Lee Henderson. In the early years of World War II, she and her only child moved from Wilson to Baltimore, where she lived for 54 years.

zeke & bessieCousin Bessie, right, with her sister Alice Henderson Mabin on the porch of their sister Mildred Henderson Hall in Wilson, 1986.

FP Besse H Smith_Page_1FP Besse H Smith_Page_2

Cousin Bessie is buried in Rest Haven cemetery, Wilson NC.

Bessie H Smith headstone

Maternal Kin, Virginia

Matilda & Dorothy Whirley.

I called her cold, admittedly. Never could she have expected to pick up the phone to a call from her great-uncle’s great-granddaughter. Still, I’ve made lots of these kinds of calls in my life. Dorothy Whirley was decidedly more guarded than most and had a little edge in her voice that sounded almost irritated. She could not deny me though, for what slick stranger could pull names and dates out of Charles City County like that?

Dorothy was the daughter of Matilda Whirley and granddaughter of Emma Allen Whirley, my great-grandfather’s sister. Dorothy could not, or would not, tell me much, except to confirm that Emma, her husband and children had migrated to Baltimore, where she continued to live. Her mother, to whom she had been very close, had died not too many years before our connection, and she seemed somewhat estranged from her remaining kin. She knew of John Allen Sr., but had little more to say about him than that he held himself apart from — thought himself better than — his half-siblings because of his light skin. Our conversation foundered, and I hung up with a promise to send her a family tree. I never got around to it, and she died in 1999. I have not been able to track down any other living Whirleys, but have found small traces of Dorothy and her mother.

ImageThe Baltimore Afro-American, 26 December 1959.

Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, Virginia

Cousin John gets off lightly.

Baltimorean Attends Services for Father.

CHARLES CITY COUNTY, VA. – Memorial services for the late Stephen Whirley, who served as deacon at the New Vine Baptist Church for 47 years, prior to his death seven years ago, were held Memorial Day at the church.

Among the out-of-towners attending was a son, John Whirley, proprietor of Club Ubangi café and nightclub in Baltimore.  — Baltimore Afro-American, 4 Jun 1949.

I happened upon this snippet unexpectedly while updating some old genealogy files.  Stephen Whirley was the husband of Emma Allen Whirley, my great-grandfather John C. Allen Sr.’s sister.  John Whirley was Emma’s step-son.  John and Emma lost contact — intentionally? negligently? — when my grandfather was young, and no one in my family knows much about the Whirleys.  However, thanks to the Baltimore Afro-American, now searchable via Google, my irrepressible almost-cousin John comes to life:

AFRO Goes Out On “Check Day”

Friday, Sept. 10, was Welfare Check Day in Baltimore.

That’s “Mother’s Day” when the money flows (“one great big bash”) and crime soars (“reaches its peak”), all according to Jerry Cartledge, author of the News American’s “Welfare Wastelands” series.

So absorbed was Cartledge with his “Mother’s Day” expose that he challenged one and all:

“Stroll down Dream Street (Pennsylvania Ave.) or Gay St. next Mother’s Day – if you don’t value your life – and see for yourself.”

Seven AFRO staffers decided if American reporters can risk their lives in such places as Vietnam, they could venture out on “Mother’s Day” in Baltimore.

They found the day and night like any other Friday or Saturday and concluded that much of the Mother’s Day piece was pure fantasy which appears questionable in so far as personnel [sic] observation and interview can determine – and that those charges that can checked by police or court records definitely are false.

The busy and dangerous places cited in the article include Pennsylvania, Fulton and Fremont Aves., Gay, Orleans and Madison Sts.; the Wagon Wheel, the Ubangi Club, the Sportsmen, “Della’s” and the Charleston.

The AFRO team hit them all – and some others – and still could not find justify charges that “Mother’s Day” is the worst every month.

Owners like Jack Roosevelt of the Sportsman, Bill Kramer of the Maryland Bar, and all the owners and operators contacted, laughed at claims they put in extra stocks for “Mother’s Day.”

John Whirley of the Ubangi Club said, “I never saw or talked to Cartledge.  Nobody has been in here seeing the things in the article.  Two or so welfare people might come in here.  The receipts (on Mother’s Day) are the same as any other day without the checks.

“I know he’s lying.  I wish he’d come around.  Look around here.  These are working people.  That’s the kind of people I get, working people.”

…    — Baltimore Afro-American, 14 Sep 1965.


Numbers Personalities Pay Fines of $8,500.

BALTIMORE.  Appearing in Criminal Court this week were nearly two dozen numbers personalities who in 1968 were known to literally thousands of lottery players in all sections of the city.

In the group were nine defendants who paid a total of $8,750 in fines alone.

Two persons received jail sentences.

One defendant swallowed a numbers slip.  Another drove his car in reverse up the street to avoid police and a veteran Avenue bar owner and a longtime South Baltimore real estate dealer pleaded guilty.


Getting off lighter was another familiar Avenue figure, John Whirley, 70, owner of the 2200 block Pennsylvania Ave. Ubangi Bar.

Judge Sodaro suspended a prison sentence of three months and imposed a $250 fine and costs on the elderly man who pleaded guilty to lottery violations.

According to testimony before the court, Whirley was arrested in a Vice-Squad raid on his bar at 11:20 a.m., Nov. 25, 1968. An arresting officer said he found one slip indicating $2.50 in play wrapped in a roll of $55 cash in Whirley’s pocket. In the basement, according to testimony, there were two slips containing 15 numbers and $11.50 in play.  — Baltimore Afro-American, 2 Aug 1969.