North Carolina, Oral History, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Treasures.

I’m in D.C. for work this week, and I was able to steal away from my conference to spend a few hours with O.H.D., my grandmother’s first cousin. Cousin O. has lived in the District since 1940 and in her Capitol Hill row house since 1945. Our conversation was wide-ranging, but I, of course, drew out stories of our family’s history. Cousin O. spoke of my grandmother Hattie, of my grandfather, of her grandmother Louvicey Artis Aldridge (from whom she received her middle name), of her uncles Johnny and Zebedee Aldridge, of C.E. “Uncle Columb” Artis, of her aunts Lula and Frances Aldridge, of Uncle Fred Randall, of Alberta Artis Cooper, of C.C. Coley (in whose restaurants she occasionally filled in as cashier and in whose convertible she rode during Howard University homecoming parades), of Lucian and Susie Henderson, and of many others. She knows me well and had set aside a tiny treasure she’d recently uncovered — a postage stamp-sized photo of her first cousin, James Earl Aldridge. Cousin Earl, born the year before Cousin O., was the son of John and Ora Mozingo Aldridge. He passed away in 1975. As always, love and thanks, Cousin O.

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James E. Aldridge Sr. (1919-1975).

 

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Business, Migration, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Restaurateur, litigant, race man.

I was running some random Google searches when I ran across this Howard University yearbook entry. Charles C. Coley, class of 1930, was the son of Mack D. and Hattie Wynn Coley, grandson of Frances Aldridge Wynn, and great-grandson of J. Matthew Aldridge.

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In the 1910 census of Brogden township, Wayne County: school teacher and widower Mack D. Coley, 45, and children Blonnie B., 12, Blanche U., 10, Charlie C., 7, and Rosevelt, 5, and great-aunt Kattie, 74.

In the 1920 census of Mount Olive, Brodgen township, Wayne County: on Rail Road Street, teacher Mack D. Coley, 54; wife Lillie, 40, teacher; and children Blonnie, 22, teacher; Blanche, 20;  Charley, 17; Rosevelt, 15; and Harold, 2.

In the 1930 census of Washington, D.C.: at 70 Que Street, Northwest, Charles Coley, 26, and wife Harriett, 20, lodgers in the household of Oscar J. Murchison. Charles worked as a lunchroom waiter. Harriett was a native of Hawaii. They divorced before long, and Charles married Frances Elizabeth Masciana (1920-2010), the District-born daughter of an Italian immigrant father and an Italian-African American mother.

During the 1930s, Great Depression be damned, Coley began to build his entertainment and culinary empires, which eventually came together under C.C. Coley Enterprises, headquartered on U Street, D.C.’s Black Broadway. He rented jukeboxes to establishments across the city and owned several barbecue restaurants and other businesses in Northwest D.C. (More than a few Wayne County home folk newly arrived to the District got jobs working in Coley businesses.) On 16 December 1939, the Pittsburgh Courier screamed “Charge ‘Sabotage’ in Music Box Scandal” over a story whose heading was longer than its column inches.

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Coley was unfazed by this dust-up. In 1942, he was able to place an ad in Howard University’s yearbook touting several of his enterprises, the Hollywood Tavern, the Varsity Grill, the New University Pharmacy, the Pig ‘N Pit, and Northwest Amusement Company Records.

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In 1942, C.C. put his financial weight behind the Capital Classic, an early fall match-up between black college football teams that anchored black D.C.’s fall social calendar. The Washington Post, in articles published 30 October 1980 and 9 September 1994, described the Classic’s genesis this way:

“Begun in 1942 by now-retired businessmen Charles C. Coley, Jerry Coward and Jessie Dedman, who were later joined by attorney Ernest C. Dickson, the Classic was a black business community extravaganza. From their offices on then fashionable U Street, the entrepreneurs founded the Capital Classic, Ltd. company to lure the interest and dollars of D.C.’s thousands of “colored” fans away from the professional teams which wouldn’t employ or seat blacks properly, and return those dollars to the black college teams.”

“The Classic offered the community, according to one of the printed programs, ‘. . . a massive arena where the radiant beauty of Negro women, who for so long, where beauty is concerned, have been in the shadows — shaded by the accepted Nordic ideal can move proudly to stage center and radiate the bronze charm that will always be the heritage of women of color.'”

Coley was also an early civil rights activist. His financial backing enabled trailblazer Hal Jackson break into D.C. radio, and an op-ed piece in the 14 April 1943 edition of the Pittsburgh Courier gave details of more direct action. Angered by the difficulty he had catching cabs in Washington, Coley contacted the Urban League with a proposal. He would pay the salary for a man to work full-time tracking instances of discrimination by cabbies. “Mr. Coley has these taxicab drivers who pass up passengers, white or colored, at the Union Station or anywhere else in the city, fighting for their licenses.” The city’s Public Utilities Commission was shamed into putting its own spotters on the street. “Discrimination is being met a knockout blow — not by what Mr. Coley said, but what he did. … This story is … being passed along for the benefit of some Negroes who, in similar situations, never think of putting their money where their mouth is.”

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Baltimore Afro-American, 13 November 1948.

Despite the photo op above, the Classic soon met difficulties behind-scenes. Coley withdrew temporarily from active promotion in 1945, and Dr. Napoleon Rivers replaced him as guarantor. Quickly, according to a federal lawsuit, Rivers began to “usurp control” and failed to pay Coley’s partners their shares. In ’47, he even set up a rival match — the National Classic — at Griffin Stadium. (For details, see the 23 October 1948 edition of the New York Age.  The National Classic, by the way, moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1954 and morphed into the C.I.A.A. football championship game. See the Pittsburgh Courier, 23 October 1954.) The Classic recovered and prospered until fading away in the 1960s.

Charles C. Coley died 11 April 1986 in Washington, D.C. He is buried in Rock Creek Cemetery.

Wash Post 16 Apr 1986

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C.C. Coley’s Pig ‘N Pit Restaurant at 6th and Florida Avenue, Washington DC. This undated Scurlock Studios image is found in Box 618.04.75, Scurlock Studio Records, ca. 1905-1994, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.

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Migration

The Atlantic Coast Line.

They went where the train went.  Clutching tickets.  A suitcase tied with rope.  To a cafe in Norfolk.  A government job in D.C. A season of day’s work in the Bronx.  A school year in Brooklyn.  The Philadelphia docks.  The Atlantic Coast Line took them.  It brought them back.  It took them again.

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ACL passenger route map, circa 1900.

A cousin married a railroad man.  Twice a week, Mama Sarah in Wilson handed him up a shoebox packed with cornbread and ham and sweet potatoes.  At Dudley, he threw the package off the train to another cousin standing on the ditch bank.  And thus Grandpa Lewis and Grandma Mag were fed.

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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:

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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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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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Births Deaths Marriages, Free People of Color, Migration, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

Anna J. Henderson Simmons.

Something brings me back to Anna J. Henderson Simmons. At no more than 20 years old, she left all the family she knew to follow her new husband 800 miles to Canada, where his Wayne County family had settled decades earlier.   It is hard to get a sense of Anna’s life. Her husband Montreville Simmons achieved a measure of success as a farmer in central Indiana, but evidence suggests that he was a difficult man to live with. Did she ever see her birth family again? Probably not, and evidence suggests that her children had an uncertain grasp on the facts of her early years.

Here’s what I know of my great-great-great-grandfather Lewis Henderson‘s sister:

In the 1860 census of Westbrooks, Sampson County, North Carolina, appear James Henderson, mulatto carpenter; wife Eliza; and four children, Anna J., Susan, Hepsie, and Alexander. Eliza (or Louisa) Armwood, daughter of John and Susan Armwood, was James’ second wife.

Ten years later, the family had moved about 20 miles east-southeast and appear in the 1870 census of Faisons, Duplin County: James Henderson, 52, mulatto farmer; wife Eliza; and children Ann, 17, Susan, 16, Hepsey, 14, Aleck, 13, John H., 11, Nancy, 6, and Betty, 3, plus James’ son James, 27, and boarders James Ammons and Thomas Cox. (Were the latter two relatives of either James or, more likely, Eliza/Louisa?)

The following spring, on 3 March 1871, Anna Henderson married Montraville Simmons, 19, son of Calvin and Hepsie Whitley Simmons, in Duplin County. The license lists Anna’s parents as James Henderson and Louisa Armwood. Montraville had been born in Wayne or Duplin County and migrated to Chatham, Kent County, Ontario, Canada with his family in the 1850s. After the death of his first wife, Victoria Brown, whom he married in Chatham in 1865, Montraville returned to North Carolina for a new spouse. (There’s a suspicious marriage on 16 April 1848 in Oakland, Michigan, between 23 year-old Montreville Simmons of North Carolina and Harriet Lucas of Richmond, Ohio. Was this yet another early marriage for Anna’s Montraville?)

Henderson Simmons

Duplin County, North Carolina, Marriage Register.

The family was captured in the 1881 census of Chatham, Kent County, Ontario, Canada: Montreville Simmons, 40, farmer; wife Annie, 29; and children Elizabeth, 8, Doctor T., 7, Susan M., 4, and Montreville, 2. All were born in the United States except Doctor and Montreville jr., who were born in Ontario, and all were Baptist. [Where in the U.S. was Susan born? Had Anna gone back to North Carolina? Or had the family lived some short period across the nearby border?]

Sometime in the next twenty years, the Simmonses cast their lot permanently as Americans. For reasons unknown, they settled near Logansport, Indiana, in rural Cass County north of Indianapolis. In the 1900 census of Eel township, on Park Avenue in Logansport, the census taker recorded farmer “Montville” Simmons, born April 1850, wife Anna, born March 1861, and sons James R., December 1879, Montville, June 1882, and Dock, December 1879. Montville and Anna were recorded as born in North Carolina; their sons in Canada. Montraville and Anna had been married 28 years and reported five of five children living. The family was described as black. [The evidence concerning the Simmons children is confusing. Census records name Elizabeth (born circa 1872), Doctor/Dock (born circa 1874), Susan M. (born circa 1877), James R. (born circa 1879), Montraville Jr. (born circa 1880) and Edward (born 1881.) However, records in Indiana indicate another daughter, Moncy, who died in 1942.]

Montraville Simmons was a successful farmer, but a life of material (if heavily mortgaged) comfort did not necessarily spell ease for Anna. Montraville’s name peppered the local paper regularly, as Pharos-Tribune reporters gleefully chronicled his clashes with neighbors and his personal peccadilloes.

Anna herself managed to stay out of print until 1905, when the ailing woman parachuted into a spat between her husband and his creditors. Headlines blared her surprising intervention, and it’s hard not to see Montraville’s hand as a puppet master in this 11th hour shenanigan.

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Logansport Pharos Tribune, 22 December 1905. 

Sadly (she was only about 50 years old) but perhaps mercifully, within six months, Anna Henderson Simmons was dead. Her death certificate, which contains some curious errors, reported that Annie Simmons, married, died 16 Jun 1906 in Cass County, of Basedow’s disease [now known as Graves’, a disease of the thyroid]. She was born 2 February 1856 in North Carolina and was buried at Free Union Baptist in Irvin township, Howard County, Indiana, by Kroeger & Strain, funeral directors. The informant for the certificate was Montraville Simmons. The father or the son? I don’t know, but it’s hard to believe that either reported Anna as white, though that’s what the certificate notes. It’s less hard to believe that Montraville Jr. might have misreported his mother’s parents as James Harrison and Eliza Henderson. He, after all, had surely never met them. (And when he married Jessie Winslow in Cass County in 1903, he cited his mother’s maiden name as Anna Harrison.)

On 18 June, the Pharos Tribune ran a brief obituary:

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——

Who were Anna Henderson Simmons’ legacies? Is there a lost branch of Hendersons in middle Indiana?

  • Elizabeth Simmons (circa 1872-??) probably died before adulthood. Or she is the same person as Moncy Simmons.
  • Moncy A. Simmons (1872-1942) married first Daniel Bassett, then Newton Palmer; no known children.
  • Doctor R. Simmons (27 November 1874-after 1951) married Fannie Gibson; no children.
  • Susan M. Simmons (circa 1877-1937) married Britton Bassett; two children, who died in infancy. She helped rear her brother Montraville’s son Harold.
  • James R. Simmons (circa 1879-aft. 1900) probably did in young adulthood; no children. Or, he is the same person as Edward Simmons.
  • Montraville Simmons Jr. (circa 1880-31 March 1910) married Jessie Winslow in 1903. His son Harold Simmons was born about 1904. On 7 October 1911, Jessie gave birth to Helen Elizabeth Simmons in Chicago and listed Montraville on Helen’s birth certificate, but he could not have been the child’s father. Similarly, in the 1920 census, Jessie Winslow Simmons, remarried to Earnest W. Griggs, attributes by inference two additional children to Montraville Jr., Frances (born 1913) and Alma (born 1916). Neither were his. Harold is mentioned in his aunt Moncy’s obituary, but does not regularly appear in census records.
  • Edward Simmons (24 November 1883-1936) married only after his parents’ deaths, but married four times in 20 years. He had no children.

In other words, improbable as it seems, Anna’s seven children produced a single grandchild, and he seems not to have any children. There are not, it seems, any Kokomo cousins.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Migration, North Carolina, Oral History, Other Documents, Photographs, Vocation

His name was Golar, and we called him “Doc.”

My grandmother:  He had a brother that was a barber. His name was Golar, and we called him “Doc.” Papa had him in there. Papa had a chair, and Doc had the second chair, and Walker had the third chair. 

Harvey Golar Tomlin was the only one of Harriet Nicholson Tomlin Hart‘s second set of children to see the twentieth century. Harriet and Abner Tomlin had as many as six children together, but I only know the names of three — Milas, Lena and Harvey Golar.

After Ab’s death about 1899, and perhaps Lena’s around that time, too, Harriet packed up her youngest son and took him to Charlotte, where they are found in the 1900 census living at 611 East Stonewall with Harriet’s half-brother William H. Nicholson. This photo may have been taken there:

NICHOLSON -- Doc Tomlin

They did not stay long. In 1902, Harriet gave birth to Bertha Mae Hart, whose father Alonzo she married in 1904. By 1910, Harvey Golar, called “Doc,” had left his mother and stepfather’s household and was living in the Wallacetown neighborhood of Statesville with his half-brother and family: Lon W. Colvert, a barber, wife Caroline, and children Mattie, Gola, Walker, Louise, and Margaret (my grandmother). He trained under Lon and went to work in his shop. In the photo below, which can be dated to 1917 by another taken at the same time and showing a calendar, Doc appears with Lon’s son Walker and a client.

COLVERT -- Barbershop 1

On 11 Jan 1917, H.G. Tomlin sold a parcel of land to L.W. Colvert and wife Carrie Colvert for $10.  In a deed filed at Iredell County Courthouse, the land was described as “Beginning at a stake at a post oak, Ramsour’s old corner, running North 88 W. 16 1/2 poles to a stake on road East of the track of the A.T. & O. R.R.; thence S. 8 W. 9 1/2 poles to a stake Pearson’s corner; thence S. 88 E. 16 1/2 poles to a stake; thence N. 8 E. 9 1/2 poles to the beginning, containing one acre more or less and being the identical lands conveyed by William Pearson and wife to Abb. Tomlin by deed, dated 19th day of June, 1891 and recorded in deed Book No. 17 at page 101 of the Records of Deeds of Iredell County.”  Doc apparently had inherited the property from his deceased father, though I’ve found no estate file.

Doc was possibly liquidating his assets as he pulled up stakes in Iredell County. Five months later, he registered for the World War I draft in Middlesboro, Bell County, Kentucky. (Middlesboro, Kentucky? What was the pull? The push?) Though he was prime age and had no infirmities, I have no evidence that he ever served in the military.

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In any case, Doc seems not to have stayed gone for long. On 7 September 1918, Harvey Golar Tomlin applied for a marriage license for himself, of Iredell County, age 24, colored, son of Ab Tomlin (dead) and Hattie Hart (living), and Flossie M. Stockton of Iredell County, age 24, colored, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Stockton, both dead.  L.W. Colvert witnessed the application, and W.O. Carrington, minister of the A.M.E. Zion Church, married the parties on 8 September 1918 before L.W. Colvert, N.S. Allison, and Eugene Stockton.  (Flossie was the sister of Dillard and Eugene Stockton, both of whom married Lon Colvert’s half-sister Ida Mae Colvert.)

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The couple’s only child, Annie Lavaughn Tomlin, was born 9 August 1919 in Statesville. At least part of that year, however, Doc was in Louisville, Kentucky, as shown in the city’s 1919 directory:

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The 1920 census shows the family in the north Statesville suburbs: Jessie Stockton, age 28; his sister Flossie Tomlin, age 25, a public school teacher; niece Anna L. Tomlin, 4 month; and brother-in-law Havey Tomlin, age 26, barber. Doc’s last-place listing in the household is telling. Was he really there? Or tacked on as an afterthought because, after all, he was Flossie’s husband?

There are clues. Both Flossie and Doc were enumerated twice in the 1920 census. On Garfield Street in Statesville, public schoolteacher Flossie Tomlin and her daughter Annie L. appear in the household of Flossie’s brother Eugene Stockton, his sister-in-law (technically, but in reality his common law wife) Ida M., and their four children. The enumerator recorded this household in January 6, 1920. Seven or eight days later, however, 200 miles away in Lynch, Harlan County, Kentucky, another censustaker recorded 26 year-old North Carolina-born barber Harvie Tomlin as a roomer in the household of barbershop manager Alex R. Simpson and his wife, Lina. Then on March 3, Flossie and Annie were recorded in Jesse’s house, above. I’d bet money that Doc was actually in Kentucky.

I don’t know where Doc spent the 1920s, but it was more likely that he drifted around the Appalachian Plateau than returned to Statesville. There are glimpses.

For example, in the 1925 Dayton, Ohio, city directory:

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And then the 1926 Portsmouth, Ohio, city directory:

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Doc did not stay long at the Play House. On 19 May 1927, the barbershop ran an ad in an announcement of the grand re-opening of the Play House building and its businesses. Harvey G. Tomlin is not among the barbers listed:

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The 1930 census found barber Harvey Tomlin in Carnegie, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, living at 205 Broadway in the household of Sabry Goldsmith, a 35 year-old Florida-born barbershop proprietor. He was described as single.

Perhaps he was.

The 1932 city directory of Cincinnati, Ohio, shows Doc living in a boarding house on Wade Street:

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However, on 6 July 1933, in Newport, Campbell County, Kentucky, Harvy G. Tomlin, 40, colored, divorced, born in North Carolina to Ab and Harriett Tomlin and a resident of “Cin. O.” married Lena R. Simpson, 49, colored, widowed, born in Kentucky to John and Elizabeth [no last name reported]. Thomas Hanly, J.P., performed the ceremony before Helen Peddiford and Helen Byers. The couple had applied for the license in neighboring Kenyon County, Kentucky. Lena Simpson, you may recall, was married to Doc’s employer and landlord at the time of the 1920 census.

The 1936 Cincinnati city directory shows Doc living in a house, presumably having found SROs unsuitable to married life:

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In the 1940 census of Cincinnati, Hamilton township, in a rented two-family house at 943 Monastery Road, the census taker encountered Harvey G. Tomlin, 48, and Lena R. Tomlin, 58. Harvey apparently had put down his barbering tools and worked as a butler for a private family. The couple are erroneously described as white, and their birthplaces are reversed. (Harvey’s is listed as Kentucky; Lena’s, as North Carolina.)

Two years later, despite a negligible chance of being called up, Harvey Golar Tomlin registered for the World War II draft in Cincinnati.

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The back of the card noted that he was 5’4″ tall and weighed 198 pounds and that he had brown eyes, black hair and dark skin.

The following year, Doc returned to Statesville to obtain a so-called delayed birth certificate. It was filed on 31 July 1943, showing that Harvey Golar Tomlin was born 12 May 1894 in Statesville, that his birth was attended by Dr. Long, and that his parents were Abb Tomlin, colored, born 1852 in Iredell County, and Harriet Nicholson, colored, born 1862 in Iredell County NC.

I lose sight of Doc for more than a decade until the Statesville Record & Landmark posted a brief article on 8 June 1955 mentioning that Bertha Hart Murdock had left half-interests in a lot to her brother “Harry” G. Tomlin and niece LaVaughn Schuyler.

Lena Tomlin died 17 July 1959 in Cincinnati. Doc did not grieve long for he was back in Statesville getting married six months later. In another small-world, keep-it-in-the-family moment, Doc’s third wife, Mary Bell Frink, was the widow of William Luther McNeely, whose sister Caroline married Doc’s brother Lon Colvert.

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It was a short-lived union. On 8 May 1961, Harvey G. Tomlin, son of Abbe Tomlin and Harriet last-name-unknown, died in Statesville of coronary thrombosis. He had been living at 229 Garfield Street (Ida Colvert Stockton lived at 214 Garfield) and working as a butler.

I’ve been able to find very little about Doc’s only child. Social Security records indicate that Lavaughn Tomlin married a Scruggs in about 1943 and a Schuyler about 1953. She lived in Jamestown, New York, in the 1940s and died 30 May 1997 in Salisbury, North Carolina. An abstract of her death certificate reveals that she had worked as a registered nurse. She was my grandmother’s first cousin. Did she know her at all?

[Follow-up, 5 August 2015: I just found this snippet in which my grandmother mentions Doc being in the Midwest:

My grandmother: And he [her brother Walker Colvert] got a girl pregnant, and Papa sent him to Kentucky rather – so that he wouldn’t have to marry that girl.

Me: Really?

Grandma: Yes, he did.

Me: What did he do in Kentucky?

Grandma: He was a barber out there.

Me: Oh, okay.

Grandma: And I had, I had an uncle. Uncle – I don’t know if you’ve seen Doc or not. … Doc was out there. In Louisville. And he sent for Walker. And Papa sent him out there ….]

Interview of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.

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