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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Births Deaths Marriages, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

The Hawaiian princess.

Toward the end of his college days at Howard University, Aldridge descendant Charles Cromwell Coley married Harriet Purdy, a native Hawaiian athlete and performer and a descendant of King Kamehameha I.

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Their only child, daughter, Laulupe Kaleilani Coley, was born in 1932 in Washington, D.C.

A post in the D.C. neighborhood blog Popville notes: “In March 1934, the Hi-Hat, a ‘smart new continental Cocktail Lounge and Cafe, styled in the modern manner,’ opened on the top floor of the Ambassador. The Post raved about its decorations: ‘The silvery iridescence of kapiz shell gives the mellow effect of moonlight on the water, and the imported blue and white mirrors trimmed in stainless steel surrounding the columns introduces a new note in modern interior decoration.’ The Hi-Hat Lounge quickly became a popular nightspot, offering top names in the nightclub circuit. Its opening act was Princess Harriet Purdy, a Hawaiian who strummed a ukulele while crooning languorous songs in her native tongue.”

Harriet and C.C. Coley divorced in the late 1930s. Their daughter was educated on the mainland, but married and settled in Hawai’i.

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Yearbook of Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, New York, 1950.

Harriet also returned to Hawai’i where she continued to preserve the island’s traditional arts and culture. In this video posted to Youtube, Harriet Purdy dances hula as Sonny Chillingworth, Myrna English and Billy Hew Len perform “Kaula Ili”:

Harriet Keonaonalaulani Purdy Kauaihilo, 96, of Kapolei, a professional hula dancer, died Aug. 26 in Kapolei. She was born in Waimea. She is survived by son Bill, daughters Laulupe K. Dempster and Harriet Clark, hanai sister Olive S. Purdy, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grand-children. Private graveside services. — Honolulu Bulletin, 11 September 2002.

HARRIET KEONAONALAULANI PURDY KAUAIHILO, 96, of Kapolei, died Aug. 26, 2002. Born in Waimea, Hawai’i. A high diver and swimmer, known as the Hawaiian Human Cannonball at Atlantic City’s Steel Pier in the early 1930s; and professional Island hula dancer. Survived by daughters, Laulupe Dempster and Harriet Clark; son, Bill; grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren; hanai sister, Olive Purdy. Private graveside services. Arrangements by Ultimate Cremation Services of Hawai’i.— Honolulu Advertiser, 11 September 2002.

www.popville.com, “Streets of Washington Presents — The Ambassador Hotel, catering to ‘experienced travelers’ (Formerly at 14th and K St, NW)”

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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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Births Deaths Marriages, Newspaper Articles, Paternal Kin, Photographs

In memoriam: Louise Daniel Hutchinson.

Louise Daniel Hutchinson, scholar of black history, dies at 86

By Emily Langer, The Washington Post, 26 October 2014.

WASHINGTON — Louise Daniel Hutchinson, who gathered, documented and preserved African-American history during 13 years as director of research at the Smithsonian Institution’s Anacostia Community Museum in Southeast Washington, died Oct. 12 at her home in Washington. She was 86.

The cause was vascular dementia, said a daughter, Donna Marshall.

Mrs. Hutchinson spent much of her adult life working to collect and share with others the richness of African-American history in Washington and beyond. In 1974, after years of community activism, she joined the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum, as it was then known. She retired in 1987.

Under the leadership of founding director John Kinard, she oversaw exhibits covering years of history in the Anacostia community, the movement of blacks from Africa to overseas colonies, and the life and accomplishments of Frederick Douglass, the former slave, abolitionist and distinguished writer.

She took particular interest in documenting the lives of African-American women such as Anna Cooper, who was born into slavery and became a noted educator and equal rights advocate. “Even black history hasn’t given black women their proper place,” Hutchinson once told the New York Times.

Gail Lowe, the Anacostia Community Museum’s senior historian, credited Mrs. Hutchinson with elevating the work of the research department and using individual life stories to illuminate broader history. “In telling the local stories,” Lowe said in an interview, “she validated community experiences.” Mrs. Hutchinson was “a stickler for accuracy and authenticity,” Lowe said, and insisted researchers keep magnifying glasses on hand for the close inspection of old photographs. Hutchinson, Lowe recalled, spotted Harriet Tubman and W.E.B. Du Bois in previously unidentified images.

“Because of the level and depth of her work,” Lowe said, “she was able to … provide accurate, documented information that other researchers and scholars relied on.”

Louise Hazel Daniel, one of nine children, was born June 3, 1928, in Ridge, Maryland, and raised in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington. Her parents, Victor Hugo Daniel and Constance E.H. Daniel, were teachers and friends of the African-American intellectuals and educators George Washington Carver and Mary McLeod Bethune.

After graduating in 1946 from the old Armstrong Technical High School in Washington, Mrs. Hutchinson attended colleges including Howard University and did secretarial work before beginning her career in historical preservation. In the 1970s, she assisted curators at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery with the selection of paintings featuring prominent African-Americans, her daughter said.

Mrs. Hutchinson’s writings included the books “The Anacostia Story, 1608-1930″ in 1977, “Out of Africa: From West African Kingdoms to Colonization” in 1979 and “Anna J. Cooper: A Voice from the South” in 1981.

Mrs. Hutchinson’s daughter Laura Hutchinson died in infancy, and her son Mark Hutchinson died in 1974, at age 8, of a brain tumor.

Survivors include her husband of 64 years, Ellsworth Hutchinson Jr. of Washington; five children, Ronald Hutchinson of Fort Washington, Maryland, David Hutchinson of Clifton Park, New York, Donna Marshall of Laurel, Maryland, Dana McCoy of Washington and Victoria Boston of Clinton, Maryland; two brothers, John Daniel of Washington and Robert Daniel of Atlanta; a sister, C. Dorothea Lawson of Bay City, Texas; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

In addition to her museum work, Mrs. Hutchinson participated in such initiatives as the development of D.C. public school curriculum in the 1980s, which incorporated the roles of black leaders in local events.

“I have real concerns about accuracy of history,” she told The Washington Post. “I believe it must reflect [the] participation of all.”

——

I met my Dudley cousins in the fall of 1985, just in time to be invited to the first (and last, as it were) Henderson-Aldridge Reunion in July 1986. That weekend turned out to have been a fortuitous window of time, in which I was privileged to meet so many elders not long for this world. Had I been more conscientious and intentional, I could have learned so much more than I did, but that’s a genealogist’s perennial regret. So many kin I saw only that one time — Johnnie “Dink” Henderson, Freeman Aldridge Sr., H.B. Wynn, Evelyn Williams McKissick, Virginia Aldridge Oldham. With others, however, I built relationships that lasted years.
Last night, I found Louise Daniel Hutchinson’s obituary. Her husband Ellsworth Hutchinson Jr., my cousin, sent me a copy of her work on Anna Julia Cooper shortly after the 1986 reunion. It was my introduction to the incredible Cooper, though she is from my home state. It was also an introduction to the wonderful work that Cousin Louise did as a researcher and historian. As we traded information about our Aldridge links — Cousin Ellsworth’s grandfather Zebedee Aldridge was my great-grandfather Thomas Aldridge‘s brother — she challenged me to take seriously and document diligently the stories of everyday families. In 2001, I spent a few days with her and Ellsworth at their home in Anacostia, poring over and copying family photos and lapping up her wisdom and knowledge of D.C.’s African-American history. We had lost contact as her health declined, but I have always treasured her warmth and encouragement and hope that in some small way, Scuffalong:Genealogy honors her memory.
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Louise Daniel Hutchinson holding a photo of her parents. Courtesy of The Washington Post.
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Land, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Cousins and covenants.

“In November of 1945, Ada Reeves bought a charming little bungalow at 1303 Kearny St. NE in Brookland. She expected to move in without any problems, but instead was sued by her neighbors. The cause? The color of her skin. Ada Reeves was African American, and her new home’s deed contained a covenant that said the house was not to be sold to a black person.”

While running a Google search for Fred R. Randall, I happened upon a blog dedicated to the history of Brookland, a neighborhood in northeast Washington DC. A December post on racially restrictive covenants opened with the sentences above. Further down: “As for the case of Ada Reeves: her father, Fred Randall, contacted Charles Hamilton Houston in 1945 to look into the case,” and copies of a letter from Randal to Houston. Charles Hamilton Houston, called “The Man Who Killed Jim Crow” was an early African-American civil rights lawyer and mentor to Thurgood Marshall. And Fred Randall is Cousin Fred.

Many thanks to Bygone Brookland, and for the full post, see here.

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Other Documents, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Basketball victors.

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Many thanks to Dena Banks for pointing out this post in Vieilles Annonces’ Flickr feed. It’s from the March 1912 issue of the NAACP’s The Crisis. (The first 25 years of which I have on CD; I need to study this thing more carefully.) Fred Randall was the 17 year-old son of George and Fannie Aldridge Randall, who migrated from Wayne County to Washington DC in the late 1890s. (Fannie Aldridge Randall, formerly known as Frances Aldridge Locust, was the sister of my great-great-grandfather John W. Aldridge.) Randall’s interest in athletics did not end in high school. As just posted here, he went on to become director of the city’s Cardozo Playground.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Free People of Color, Migration, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin, Photographs

The Randalls of Washington DC.

fannie-a-randall  George Randall

On 18 Dec 1890, Fannie Aldridge married Robert Locust in the presence of her sister Lizzie Aldridge, brother M.W. Aldridge, and Robert’s neighbor George W. Reid. Robert’s first wife, Emma Artis, had died the previous year, and it is likely that he met Fannie, who lived at the other end of Wayne County, through her family. Fannie’s sister Amanda was married to Emma’s father Adam T. Artis, and her brother John was married to Emma’s sister Louvicey Artis.

Fannie and Robert’s first two children, William Hardy and Fred Robert, were born in Wayne County. Circa 1895, the family left North Carolina for Washington DC after– it is said —  Robert and a couple of Fannie’s relatives were involved in the murder of a white man. By time Robert, Fannie, his older daughters, and their boys arrived in DC, they were no longer Locusts. Robert, in fact, assumed a whole new name, and was George R. Randall ever after. According to their grandson, in order to collect Fannie’s inheritance when her father’s estate settled in 1902, the couple had to cross over into Alexandria, Virginia, where they were not known and could safely sign documents as Robert and Fannie Locust.

The 1900 and 1910 censuses recorded the family at 1238 Madison, then 138 B Street (no quadrant designated.) On 20 March 1917, Fannie “Randell” of 412 South Capitol Street was dead of heart disease. She was 44.

Wash Post 3 24 1917Washington Post, 24 March 1917.

In their 20 years in DC, she and Robert/George had been able to usher their children along the path to the middle class. Hardy Randall (1891-1967) went to work for the United States Postal Service. Fred R. Randall (1894-1996), a high school football standout, was a parks director. We met decorated officer Oscar Randall (1896-1985) here. Fannie Randall Dorsey (1900-1994) taught school, as did her sister Arnetta Randall (1904-1993). Edna Randall Breedlove (1909-1990) did not work after her marriage to Jesse Breedlove. George Randall died in infancy, as did two unnamed brothers.

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