Education, Maternal Kin, Photographs, Virginia

Dorothy Whirley, Class of ’48.


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.

Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, Virginia

Will my mother know me there?

On 4 September 1945, the “Colored News-Briefs” column of The Hopewell Times, included this brief passage:

GWhirley Obit

That Graham Whirley‘s death by gunshot was not reported salaciously says a lot about the regard in which he was held both inside and out of his community in Hopewell.

Three days later, the Colored News-Briefs column carried a detailed account of Graham’s funeral, held at New Vine Baptist Church in Charles City County the previous Tuesday:

GW funeral

“Will My Mother Know Me There?” — we’ll come back to that.

GWhirley Obit

This brief piece was published 14 September. I haven’t yet found follow-up articles that reveal details of Graham Whirley and Charles Williams’ fatal encounter or of the outcome of Williams’ trial. What I have found, however, are numerous examples of the esteem in which Hopewell’s working-class African-American community held this relatively young man.

The first mention, on 8 December 1936, was a sweet one — “Miss Susie Whirley of Richmond was in the city last week visiting her brother at his home in City Point.” Though Graham’s social life — party attendance and motor excursions — received remarks (especially when he was courting a woman called Miss Carrie B. Lightly,) his singing brought the most notice. Time after time, the colored news noted that he had “rendered” a beloved hymn at a Baptist church in or around Hopewell:

  • 17 September 1937, at the funeral of Sarah Washington at Harrison Grove Baptist Church, Prince George County, “I Know She Will Know Me”;
  • 24 November 1943, at the service for Leroy Claiborne at Harrison Grove, an unnamed solo;
  • 4 February 1944, at the homegoing of Mrs. Ada C. Jones at Mount Hope Baptist Church,  “When I Reach My Heavenly Home“;
  • 30 May 1944, at the funeral of Elijah Miller at First Baptist Church, Bermuda Hundred, “There’s a Bright Side Somewhere”;
  • 19 January 1945, at the service for Mrs. Maria Hutchinson at Harrison Grove, Graham’s favorite, “Will My Mother Know Me There?”;
  • 30 January 1945, at the service for Mrs. Lena Stith Jones at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, “I Shall Meet My Mother There”;
  • 13 April 1945, when Joe Myrick (stabbed to death by his wife) was funeralized at Union Baptist, again “There’s a Bright Side Somewhere”; and
  • just two weeks later, at Robert Cottrell’s homegoing, “He’ll Know Me There.”

In the middle of this, on 22 May 1944, the column announced that “Mr. and Mrs. Graham Whirley of City Point have returned after spending their honeymoon in Baltimore, Maryland.” That, of course, was where his half-brother John Whirley and sister Matilda Whirley Brinage lived. Just sixteen months after he remarried, Graham Whirley, taxi driver and sought-after soloist, was dead. Despite his move across the James River, he had never left his home church, and he is buried at New Vine.



Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Other Documents, Virginia

Allen vitals.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has thrilled and astonished me by making vital records available via Yesterday, cousin Barbie Jones notified me that the databases were up and open, and I thank her for part in the gargantuan task of indexing these documents.

Just as with North Carolina Marriages a couple of months ago, Virginia Birth, Marriage and Death Records are unveiling little mysteries and setting records straight.

I’ll start with the Allens.

In the 1900 census, Graham Allen is listed in Charles City County, Virginia, with wife Mary, sons Alexander and Edward, and grandsons Milton and Junius. My assumption has always been that Graham and Mary’s eldest daughter Emma was the mother of the younger boys.

Last night, I found this:


So, yes. Conjecture confirmed. Milton William Allen — the middle name is new to me– was 16 year-old Emma’s son. Who was Mrs. Laura Ray, “friend”? And Milton was alive as late as 1958??? Where was he living?

But then I found this:


Is this right? Was Junius really Graham and Mary’s youngest child? (For a fact, my grandmother told me Junius was John C. Allen‘s brother, but I figured this was a manner of speaking.) And who is James Dobson, “uncle” and “a neighbor at the time,” who attested to Junius’ birth for this delayed certificate? And when did Junius move to Paterson, New Jersey? And there was once a King James Bible recording family births and deaths?

And then I found Emma Allen Whirley and two of her children:


No surprises, but who was informant Joseph Ghee?


A bit of a sad surprise. As I wrote here, Graham’s brother Samuel is the one who’d had a brush with infamy, yet Graham ends up shot in the chest. Where was South “B” Village? Taxi driver and wood dealer? And where did his wife pull “Binford” from as Emma’s maiden name?


Samuel Whirley, at least, lived a longish life.

What I’ve found after just a bit of looking:

  • Laura Ray appears in the 1900 census of Harrison, Charles City County, with husband Graham Ray and three children. Laura Ann Wray’s death certificate shows that she was born 24 September 1873 to Lennie Glenn and “Annie” and died 12 June 1958 in Harrison district, Charles City. She was buried at New Vine church. Her husband Graham Wray’s death certificate reveals that he was born about 1871 to John Wray and Margaret Jones, that he was a farmer, that he died 3 March 1916, and that he was also buried at New Vine. New Vine, of course, was the Allen family’s church, too.
  • I have not found Milton in any Virginia censuses after 1900, but I’m even less sure now that the Milton Allen that lived in Kokomo, Indiana, in the 1920s is my Milton. However, he may be the Milton W. Allen listed in the 1960 Petersburg, Virginia, city directory:

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 9.29.12 PM

  •  I don’t have a death certificate, but the Social Security Death Index shows that Junius Allen, born 22 February 1896, died in January 1975 in Paterson, New Jersey. He had obtained his Social Security number prior to 1951 in New Jersey.
  • Junius’ handwriting had immeasurably improved since his scrawl on his World War I draft registration card.
  • A James Henry Dobson, self-employed barber and minister born 25 December 1884, registered for the World War II draft in Paterson, New Jersey. He reported being born in Richmond, Virginia, and named Mrs. Lavinia McKay as his contact person. Is this the same man? (The James Dobson above was born about 1875.) How could he have been Junius’ uncle?
  • Joseph Wiley Ghee’s death certificate reveals that he was born in 1897 in Charles City County to Robert S. and Lovey Williams Ghee, that he died in 1957, and that he was buried at New Vine. He was a member of the Allens’ church then, and there’s no evidence so far that he was related to Emma.
  • In the 1940 census of Hopewell, Virginia, Graham Whirley is listed as a 25 year-old lodger living in the Maplewood Avenue Extension household of Andrew Joyner, a fellow chemical plant worker. Graham is described as married, but no wife appears with him. This might be why:


  • Per Wikipedia’s Hopewell, Virginia, entry: “Due to its hasty construction as a mill town during the First World War, Hopewell had a large number of kit homes that were hauled in and erected in neighborhoods laid out by DuPont [Company, which operated a dynamite, and then a guncotton factory there] known as ‘A Village’ and ‘B Village.'”
  • As I’ll show elsewhere, Graham’s life contrasted sharply with his violent death. Newspaper accounts reveal that he was a church man, popular about town, and respected in and outside his community.
  • Samuel Whirley’s marriage to India Carter Lee was a late one. Their license correctly lists his mother’s name:


  • And here’s an earlier marriage:


  • And the sorry end of that one. (Los Angeles, California???):


I mused earlier that it was hard to believe that of Mary Brown Allen’s children, only John and Emma had children. Emma’s sole known grandchild died childless, leaving my great-grandfather’s relatively few descendants as the only extant Allens. (By my count, we number only 25 across three generations. Twenty-five.) These additional records do not change that scenario. Neither Samuel nor Graham Whirley had children, and I’ve seen no evidence that Junius or Milton did.

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, Civil War, Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, Virginia

The Allens.

My cousin is the fourth man in this family to bear his name, and those four generations of Johns are the exact measure of my Allen lineage. When Graham Allen married Mary Brown in Charles City County, Virginia, on 22 June 1876, she was six months pregnant with a white man’s child. We know nothing of the circumstances of conception, and nothing of the man’s identity beyond the Y-haplotype — R1b1b2a1a1 — that my uncles and cousins carry. [Update: I have identified John C. Allen‘s father.] Graham adopted Mary’s baby boy at birth, gave him his name, and reared him, as far as we know, with no distinction from their later children. So. We are Allens.

Graham Allen was born about 1852 in Prince George County, Virginia. His first marriage records lists his parents as Mansfield and Susan Allen. His second, as Edmund and Susan Allen. I have found no other trace of Edmund/Mansfield. However, in the 1870 census of Brandon, Prince George County, laundress Susan Allen, 50, and sons Alexander, 20, and Graham Allen, 17, appear in #14, the household of Anthony Shackleford, 26, farmer; wife Fannie, 24; and son Willie, 1. Also living in the house was Mary Hill, 23. I don’t know if the Allens, Shacklefords and Hill were related, or if they were related to two households of Allens listed nearby: #16, Harry Allen, 47, wife Abba, 43, Richard, 19, Augustin, 17, Assia, 13, Robert, 9, and Mary, 6; and #20, Joseph Allen, 42, wife Lucy, 37, and children Mildred, 8, Joseph, 6, and Willie, 1. However, an intriguing Freedmen’s Bureau document links those Allens and the Shacklefords:

record-image-22 copy

record-image-23 copy

“I have the honor to request transportation for the following named persons to their former homes, and to find employment,” wrote Samuel C. Armstrong, Superintendent of the Freedmen’s Bureau 1st District (and founder of Hampton Institute, which educated a dozen Allens between 1927 and the present.) Among those to be transported, Harry and Abbie Allen and their children and Anthony and Fanny Shackleford. City Point, in Prince George County, had been headquarters of the Union Army during the siege of Petersburg in the Civil War. The Allens and Shacklefords likely were refugees, so-called “contraband,” who fled their owners during the war to join a large camp near Fort Monroe. (For recent news of archaeological digs at the former Grand Contraband Camp in Hampton, see here.) Though none has surfaced to date, I will continue to look for links between these families and Edmund or Susan Allen.

Other than Graham and Mary’s marriage license, I have no other record of the family in the 1870s. (An Alexander Allen married Mary Wallace on 15 February 1872 in Charles City County. This Alexander was 30 years old and the son of James and Sophia Allen. Thus, he is not Graham’s brother.)

In the 1880 census of Harrison, Charles City County, 26 year-old farm laborer Gram Allen’s household includes wife Mary and children Nannie, 5, John, 3, and Emma, 1. I suspect that Nannie was Mary’s child by a previous relationship, but I don’t know. In the next few years, Mary gave birth to a son Willie, who died of burns in October 1885. (Graham Allen, who provided information, is listed on the boy’s death certificate as father, but the mother’s name is given as Sarah. A misunderstanding? A mistranscription? And “outside” child?) A month later, Mary gave birth to Alexander Allen.  Two years later, in December 1887, Graham Allen reported the death of Mary Allen, age 30. Graham’s relationship to the deceased was not stated, but this was not his wife. In 1892,  Mary Brown Allen gave birth to her last child, son Edward Noble Allen.  In 1896 and 1899, daughter Emma Allen gave birth to sons Milton and Junius Allen in Charles City County. I do not know their fathers.

On 18 Aug 1898, at Charles City County Courthouse, Graham Allen filed a deed for the purchase of two parcels on Hyde Road, one 12 acres and the other 2 3/4 acres, from A.H. Drewry et ux.  A plat filed with the deed shows a roughly trapezoidal lot 2 1/2 miles from Rolands Mill, surrounded by the land of Sarah Jones, Edward Jones, Frank Martin, and Peter Jefferson.

In the 1900 census of Harrison, Charles City County, Graham Allen is listed with wife Mary, sons Alexander and Edward, and grandsons Milton and Junius.  (I believe they were Emma Allen’s sons.) Mary was illiterate, but Graham could read and write.  Mary reported 4 of 8 children living. (John, Emma, Alex and Ed, living; Nannie, Willie and who, dead?) As detailed here, John had moved to the city by the late 1890s and married Mary Agnes Holmes in 1899.

On 3 Apr 1901, Emma Allen, 22, married widowed laborer Stephen Whorley [Whirley], 32, son of Stephen and Patsy Whorley.  W.E. Carter performed the ceremony at Graham Allen’s residence.

On 11 March 1902, at Charles City County Courthouse, Graham Allen filed a deed (book 17, page 437) for the purchase for $16 of 2 3/4 acres in the Grafton tract from Mary Harrison Drewry. The sale was made 27 Feb 1902, and the tract was located 4 miles northwest of Drewry’s Mill. Two years later, he filed a deed or the purchase of 4 1/2 acres in Turkey Trot from M.E. and W.E. Stagg and in 1909 filed another (book 20, page 165) for the purchase for $12 of 2 1/4 acres in the Bishops tract, west of Old Hyde Road in Turkey Trot, bordered on the east by Graham ‘s own land and True Reformers and on west by Peter, James B. and Elvina Jefferson and M.E. Stagg.

In the 1910 census of Harrison, Charles City County, on River Road, farmer Graham Allen is listed with wife Mary and son Edward. (Where were Milton and Junius?)  Mary reported 4 of 9 children living. (Eight children, or nine?) Also on River Road, farmer Steaven Whirley, wife Emma, and children Royal, John, Samuel, and Graham.  Royal and John were Stephen’s children by a previous wife, and the family lived next to Samuel and Mary E. Whirley, Stephen’s brother and sister-in-law. (River Road is now State Route 5, or John Tyler Memorial Highway.)

Mary Brown Allen died 1 Apr 1916, aged 67 in Harrison township, Charles City County.  Her death certificate reports that she was born in Amelia County, Virginia, to James Brown and Catherine Booker, both born in Virginia. She was buried 2 Apr 1916, and Junius Allen of Roxbury was informant for the certificate.

On 22 Nov 1917, in Roxbury, the widower Graham Allen, 58, widow, born Prince George County, resident of Charles City County, son of Edmund and Susan Allen, married Lenner Charles, 32, born Charles City County to William and Lucy Charles. The couple appear in the 1920 census of Harrison, Charles City County on Kemmiges Road with a five year-old daughter named Sallie. (Was she Graham’s child?)

John, Edward, Milton and Junius Allen registered for the World War I draft:

  • JOHN CHRISTFUL ALLEN.  Born 25 Dec 1876.  Resided 2107 Marshall Avenue, Newport News VA.  Laborer, Hampton Roads Stev. Co.  Nearest relative, Mary Holmes Allen (wife).  Medium height, stout build.  Brown eyes, grey hair.  (Signed “John Christful Allen” in the same hand as rest of the card.  A duplicate card shows the signature in a different hand, presumably John’s, as “John Christopher Allen.”)
  • EDWARD NOBLE ALLEN.  Born 17 May 1888, Charles City County VA.  Resided 6724 1/2 – 24th Street, Newport News VA.  Laborer, C&O Railway, Newport News.  Supports father.  Medium height and weight.  Brown eyes, black hair.  “Three fingers missing on right hand.”
  • MILTON ALLEN. Born 22 Nov 1895, Roxboro, Charles City County VA. Resides 318 N. 18th Street, Richmond VA. Laborer for Clarence Cosby, Richmond VA. Single. Signed Milton Allen. Registered 5 June 1917. Also,
  • MILTON ALLEN.  Born 20 Aug 1896, Richmond VA.  Resides 1011 N. Lafountaine, Kokomo, Ind.  Employed by Willis White, Kokomo, Ind., USA.  Nearest relative, Ed Allen, address “don’t know.”  Tall and stout.  Black eyes and hair.  Signed with an X.  Registered 5 June 1918. (Is this the same man who registered in Richmond the year before? If not, which is the right Milton?)
  • JUNIUS ALLEN.  Born 22 Feb 1899.  Resides 1752 Ivy Ave., Newport News, Warwick VA.  Carpenter, Boyle-Robertson Co., Newport News VA.  Nearest relative, wife Margaret Allen.  Medium height and weight.  Black eyes and hair.  (He was barely literate and signed his name something like ‘Juily Allen.’)

I have not found a card for Alexander and assume he died before the war. Edward actually served; I don’t know about Milton and Junius.

In the 1920 census of Harrison, Charles City County, on Kemmiges Road, Stephen Whirley, farmer, is listed with wife Emma and children Samuel, Graham, Matilda and Susie. John and his family remained in Newport News, as did “Junnus” Allen and his wife Margaret, with brother-in-law Samuel Johnson, at 1752 Ivy Avenue. Junius worked as a transfer drayman; Samuel as a bricklayer at the shipyard. Edward may have been living and working in Washington County, New York. Milton was definitely gone. In the 1920 census of Kokomo, Howard County, Indiana, at 1011 North LaFontaine Street, there is a listing for Virginia-born Milton Allen, single, age 21, living as a roomer in a household headed by Myrtle Harston.  Milton worked as a laborer in a stove factory.

On 10 January 1928, Graham Allen died of cerebral hemorrhage at the age of about 74.  According to informant William Webb, Graham was born in Charles City County to unknown parents and left a widow, Lena Charles. He was buried at New Vine Church on 14 January 1928.

In the 1930 census of Harrison, Charles City County: Emma Whirley and daughter Susie were listed “cook-private family” in household of Eugene A. Dietrich, a German-American grocery merchant. I have not found Edward, though I believe he was living in Charles City County. Nor can I locate Milton and Junius. (There is a Junius Allen listed in Newport News city directories in the 1940s, but I am not certain they are the same man. There is also a Junius Allen listed in the 1902 directory, which definitely is not Emma’s son, so I am cautious.) At least one of Emma’s children had gone North by this time and is found with her daughter in the 1930 census of Baltimore, Maryland, living with her half-brother.  At 1314 Mulberry Street, rented for $40, are listed John W. Whirley, 31, wife Susie, 28, sister Matilda, 20, boarder Sam Bradley, 30, and niece Dorothy Whirley, 1.  John worked as a laborer in a car shop; Matilda as a laundress in a laundry; and Sam as a hospital waiter.  All were born in Virginia except Susie, who was born in South Carolina. On 24 Dec 1930, in Charles City County, Graham Whirley, 22, laborer, son of Stephen Whirley and Emma Allen, residing Roxbury, married Arnether A. Harris, 20, daughter of John A. Harris and Mary Jefferson, residing in Providence Forge. I have not found Samuel Whirley in 1930.

Edward N. Allen died 25 Jan 1933 at the Marine Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, of aortic aneurism and valvular heart disease.  Based on information he provided as a patient, Edward’s death certificate reported that he was born 17 May 1890 to Graham Allen and Mary Brown of Virginia and resided at RFD#2, Box 66, Roxbury, Virginia.  Edward was buried 30 Jan 1933 at Hampton National Cemetery, in section Fii, Site 6459-A.

In 1935, Samuel Whirley made a splash in Fredericksburg, Virginia, newspapers after being on the lam for a year on larceny and false pretense charges. It’s not clear whether this one-armed man was Emma Allen Whirley’s son, but an article noted that he had spent time in Baltimore while on the run.

In the 1940 census of Hopewell, Virginia, at 601 Maplewood Avenue, Graham Whirley, 25, a chemical plant laborer, is listed as a lodger with Andrew and Lena Joyner. There is no sign of his wife. On 21 January of that year, in Charles City County, his past behind him, Samuel Whirley, 37, born in Charles City County to Stephen Whirley and Emma Allen, residing Petersburg, married Alice Howard, 23, born Charles City County to Laura Howard. The rest of the Whirleys — Emma, Susan, Matilda — are nowhere to be found, though I know they were living. Similarly, of the Allens, I can only place John and his children.

I lose the thread of my great-grandfather’s extended family after 1940. I’ve written of my brief and unsatisfactory telephone conversation with Dorothy Whirley in 1996. She had no children, nor did Edward Allen, but it’s hard to believe that none of Graham’s sons, save John, or his grandchildren by his daughter Emma, have contemporary descendants.

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.