Amherstburg Freedom Museum

Family Histories

AMHERSTBURG FREEEDOM MUSEUM

Buckner Family

                                                           The Buckner Family History Part 1 – Malden Folk

This month’s family history highlights the Buckner family. The Museum’s family history binder for the Buckner family lists three brothers: John, Burrell and Thomas. We’ll begin with John Buckner. There was not a lot of information about John, but I did find an interesting article in the Amherstburg Echo from February 23, 1940 that discusses a history of the Black community in Essex County. The section titled “Malden Folk” says “In Malden were the names of the Belis; Moses Brandford Senior; Bush, Buckner, Foster, Leonard, Irons, Scott and Smith. There were two Buckners, Burrell and John, half-brothers. John Buckner was a mulatto reputed to be the son of a Governor of a southern state. He was the possessor of considerable capital and he was the owner of superior stock which he exhibited in Toronto in the early days of the Canadian National Exhibition. In after years he returned to the south. The farm he owned in Malden is now occupied by the Robidoux on the corner of the Fourth concession and Townline. A few years ago Mr. Robidoux one morning found a large excavation had been made in the night near the corner of his farm and signs indicated a chest of some sort had been removed. Neighborhood conjecture connected this with Bruckner [sic] as some thought he might have hidden part of his money before going to the South, and that his heirs had retrieved it.”

This article may be connected to a note I found in the Museum’s collection which says “Buckner sold to Malotts about 1870 and removed to Kansas. He died near St. Louis en route. His sons, all adults, continued. John Buckner came back in 1925. It was likely he who retrieved the treasure. Many years before 1925 two men, strangers from ‘Port Huron’ they said, inquired for the Buckner farm and told that there was treasure buried there.”

Before moving on to discuss Burrell Buckner, a few comments about Thomas. I found a few documents for a Thomas J. Buckner. In the Museum’s family history binder it says that Thomas was at some point living in Topeka, Kansas and his children are listed as Susannah, Robert, Libby. The binder also says that Susannah was born on December 1, 1837 at Lucan and was married to Josiah G. Brown. Susannah and Josiah had a son named Fred Brown of Windsor. I found a marriage record for Frederick James Brown, listed as the son of Josiah Brown and Susana Bukner. Frederick married Martha Moody, the daughter of Joseph Thorton and Rathal Delay, on June 9, 1915 in Windsor.

The Museum’s family history binder also mentions that Susannah’s brother Robert was a school teacher in Argentina and thanks to one of our social media followers, who shared a death record for Robert’s son Robert, we have evidence of this. A death record for Robert Dean Bucker who died on December 20, 1921 also lists his father as Robert Jefferson Buckner. Robert Dean Buckner and Robert Jefferson Buckner are listed as having addresses in Cordoba, Argentina.

I couldn’t find any information for Susannah and Robert’s sibling Libby. I did find a listing for a Thomas J. Buckner in the 1851 Census, but could not find any documents to confirm his connection to John and Burrell Buckner. The 1851 Census record lists Thomas J. and his wife Elizabeth and their children Mary Jane, John, Susanna, Elizabeth, George and James. It also mentions that Thomas was born in Kentucky and was a farmer. Whether this Thomas J. is actually the brother of Burrell and John, I am not sure. The only link is that the Museum’s records mention that Thomas had a daughter named Susannah and there is a Susanna listed in the 1851 Census. Also, is Libby (from the Museum’s records) a shortform for the name Elizabeth in the 1851 Census. Again, I’m not sure. If this is the correct Thomas J., I was also able to find a marriage record for his daughter Mary who married Whitney Jackson, the son of William and Lucy Whiteny. They married on February 11, 1864 in Essex County.

What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps.  See you next week for part 2.

                                                         The Buckner Family History Part 2 – Museum Connection

Now that I have discussed John and (possibly) Thomas, I’ll move on to discuss George Burrell Buckner. He married Eliza Gibbs. According to Eliza’s death record, she was born in 1822 in Louisiana and died on May 8, 1876 at the age of 54 and is buried in Battle Creek, Michigan. She is also listed as widowed and a labourer. The 1861 Census lists George and Eliza with their children Maria (Mariah), James, George, Mary, William, Daniel, Elliot, and Jon. Our records also indicate that George and Eliza had two other children named ‘Babe’ and Anthony. I could not find any information for Babe but found information for Anthony which will be discussed at the end of this family history.

Mariah/Maria is the first child of George and Eliza Buckner. She married George Thomas. According to George and Mariah’s marriage record from the Wesleyan Methodist Church, George and Mariah were married on July 25, 1861. George’s father’s name is not mentioned in this record, but his mother’s name was Clarissa Thomas. George was born in Covington, Kentucky in 1843, while there are several possibilities for where Mariah was born. Her son George Alexander’s death certificate lists her as being born in Evansville, Indiana, and her marriage record states that she was born in Kentucky, while her obituary in the Amherstburg Echo states that she was born in Malden and lived there her whole life, except for the few years that she lived in Battle Creek, Michigan, following the passage of her husband, George in May 1922. Mariah’s complete obituary from April 27, 1927 says “Mrs. Maria Thomas, widow of the late George Thomas, whose illness was mentioned last week, passed away Friday morning. Funeral services took place Sunday afternoon to the A.M.E. Church, conducted by the Rev. Mr. Edwards, and burial was in Rose Hill cemetery. Mrs. Thomas’ maiden name was Maria Buckner, and she was born in Malden over 80 years ago. Her father and mother are long since dead, but she has three brothers living: William, Elliott and David Buckner, all of Battle Creek, Michigan. She was married to George Thomas some 65 years ago and he died on the 10th of May 1922, in Amherstburg. Their family comprised four sons and one daughter, all of whom are living: George, chef for twenty-one years at Overland [Oberlin] College, Ohio; Mrs. Mary A. Davis, widow of the late F.H.A. Davis, of Amherstburg; Philip and Robert, of Overland [Oberlin]; and Daniel W., of Cleveland. They were all home for the funeral. Mrs. Thomas spent practically her whole life in Amherstburg, with the exception of a couple of years after the death of her husband, when she lived in Battle Creek.” 

According to George’s obituary from May 12, 1922 “On Wednesday morning, George Thomas, an old resident of the town died at his residence, corner of Simcoe and King streets. The deceased had been a sufferer for some years with neuritis, but was up and around working in his garden on last Saturday afternoon. He was taken ill Sunday early in the morning and after three days illness died with peritonitis. He is survived by his widow.”

In a booklet describing the Fifteenth Annual Thomas Family Reunion, it states that “Members of our family have achieved prominence in many fields of endeavor and we are scattered through twelve states in the U.S.A. and the Province of Ontario, Canada … We are a family traditionally motivated to the highest ideas of Christian living and citizenship, and wherever we live, members of the family have played and continue to assume leading roles in the religious, civic, and political life of their communities.”  This booklet also says that “George and Mariah Thomas were among the early settlers of Amherstburg, Ontario and were the parents of four sons and one daughter – indeed, a lovely family.” These five children were George Alexander, Philip, Daniel, Robert W. and Mary Almede. 

George Alexander Thomas was born in Amherstburg on May 28, 1864 and is listed as a cook in his 1945 death certificate and an Affidavit for License to Marry. He retired in 1935.  George Alexander married Frances Jones on December 21, 1896 in Detroit, Michigan, although he is listed under his middle name, Alexander. His death certificate also lists a second marriage to Lydia Lott. George Alexander and Lydia had several children: Juanita Vivian, Robert S., George Leslie, Lydia Opal and Harry N. Juanita Vivian was born on January 6, 1899, and later married Charles W. Mason, a chauffeur and son of Charles E. Mason and Florence Smith, in 1938 in Cuyahoga, Ohio. Robert S. was born on September 30, 1901 and later married a woman named Dorothea. George Leslie was born on October 1, 1903, and in September 1925, married Helen M. Anderson, who was born in Jacksonville, Florida and was the daughter of Henry and Maude (Smith) Anderson. In their marriage record, George Leslie is also listed as a musician.  Lydia Opal who was born on March 27, 1906, sadly died on March 3, 1940. Her death certificate states that she was a “recreation teacher” and the wife of Harold Gaines. Finally, Harry N. was born on May 17, 1908 in Lorain, Ohio, and according to his death certificate he worked for the U.S. Postal Service. He also married a woman named Anne.

George and Mariah’s second son, Philip Thomas, married Beatrice Lillian Crawford on April 4, 1894.  Beatrice was born in Amherstburg on July 28, 1872 and was the daughter of George M. and Laura J. Crawford. George Crawford was a master carpenter and many of the houses he built in Amherstburg of timbers and lumber that had to be hewn and dressed in the bush are still standing as proof of their sturdy construction. The First Baptist Church is one of them. Beatrice’s mother Laura escaped enslavement in Covington, Kentucky at the age of 15 and journeyed via the Underground Railroad through Oberlin, Ohio and found freedom in Amherstburg. It was in Amherstburg that George and Laura met and married. In an article discussing Beatrice, it mentions that her mother Laura’s escape is documented in the book, “Reminiscences of Levi Coffin,” but she may have used a different name or was nameless because, upon review, there is no Laura mentioned in the book. Beatrice was an active member of Mount Zion Baptist Church since her arrival at Oberlin, Ohio in 1912. In a write-up discussing her life, it was said that “The main interest of Mrs. Thomas in life besides her family, was church work; her devoted husband and children are thankful for her unfailing trust in God and her sublime faith in the Christian way of life.” This quote is very accurate considering she was involved with most of the church’s organizations including the Senior Choir, Missionary Society, Sunday School and BYPU, which may have stood for Baptist Young Peoples Union. She also served as a deaconess for 25 years and after her failing health no longer allowed her to be active in this work; she was made an honorary deaconess. Outside of the church she was involved in several other organizations, including the Martha Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star, a member of the Women’s Progressive Club and a Girl Scout leader. Beatrice and Philip had seven children: Thelma, who married a labourer, Rollin Clyde Godette, the son of Henry Godette and Etta Fields, in February 1928; Annie married a teacher, William Frederick Hardgraves, the son of Hammond Arthur Hardgraves and Anna Dere Langford, in June 1930; Linny (Leach); Philip M. (m. Betty); Wilbur C. (m. Marie); Gladys (Wallace) and Mary who married Clinton Ward.  Philip and Beatrice also had a daughter named Beatrice Virginia, but she sadly died in infancy. 

Interestingly, Mary Ward was a celebrated resident of Lorain, Ohio, and was described as “one of the ‘richest women of the locality in friendship and respect.’”  She gave her time and talent to both civic and humanitarian causes, and on March 2, 1971 the community honoured and thanked her with a civic testimonial dinner that had 250 people in attendance. Sadly, Mary passed away the next day at the age of 68. She had two children: Clinton Jr. and Marion (m. John Marshall).

George and Mariah’s third son, Daniel Wallace Thomas was a mariner. On December 27, 1893, in Amherstburg, he married Anna Permelia Stevens, the daughter of M.J. and Mary Stevens. According to the 1910 Census they had three children: Viola (or Viva), Granville and Burrel/Burl. Graville was born on December 6, 1895, while Viola (or Viva) was born the year before on December 27, 1894, and later worked as a housewife and married Edwin Gray Cowan. Daniel and Anna’s third child, Burrel (Burl) Buckner Thomas, was born on January 18, 1898 and later married Helen L. Divelle, who was born in South Carolina and the daughter of George Divelle and a mother with the last name Cummings. They married on June 27, 1923 in Detroit, Michigan. By 1920, the census for Ashtabula, Ohio, states that Daniel was no longer a mariner, but now a machinist in a factory. It also lists Granville and Burl still living at home at this point (before their marriages) and the census lists Granville working as an “oiler” at a steel mill, while Burl worked as a chauffeur for a private family.

George and Mariah’s fourth son was Robert W. Thomas and he was a cook. On December 20, 1901, he married Lulu Adams in Amherstburg at the age of 22; Lulu was 23 and her parents are listed as William Adams and Laura Holton (see Adams Family History https://amherstburgfreedom.org/adams-family-2/ ). Lulu was also active in the community, joining several organizations in Amherstburg. As a young girl, she was a member of the Buisy [sic] Glenors which was an educational group for young people. She was also a member of the Frederic [sic] Douglass Self-Improvement Club, which focused on education and etiquette, in addition to joining the Oxford Club which hosted socials and other entertainment at the A.M.E. Church.

Robert and Lulu had three daughters and one son: Roberta, who married a musician, Harold W. Coleman (son of Stephen and Mamie Duger Coleman), in July 1926; Fern (Georges); Lola, who married Elmer Hamlin and on the 1940 census for Lorain, Ohio, is listed as a maid at Oberlin College.  Their last child, Orville was born on February 2, 1911 and is listed as an undertaker’s assistant in the 1940 Ohio census and he married a woman named Ethel.

George and Mariah’s only daughter was Mary Almede Thomas who was born in November 1863 in Anderdon Township and lived there for 75 years. She married twice: first to George Douglas McCurdy, son of Nasa McCurdy and Permelia Bailey, in 1884 and then to Fred H.A. Davis, son of Nancy Jane Mitchell and Delos Davis, in April 1913. Mary was a member of the B.M.E. Church in Amherstburg and the Ruth Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star.

According to Mary’s obituary from the Amherstburg Echo, printed on November 12, 1953, “Mrs. F.H. Davis passes – Mrs. Mary A. Thomas Davis, widow of Fred H.A. Davis, died at her home on Sandwich Street, Tuesday, in her 86th year. Mrs. Davis was a daughter of George and Maria Buckner Thomas. She was born in the old Haiti Settlement in Anderdon and had lived in Amherstburg for 75 years. Mrs. Davis was a member of A.M.E. Church of Amherstburg and of Ruth Chapter of the Eastern Star. Her husband a prominent Amherstburg barrister, died in 1926. Surviving are two sons George D. McCurdy of Amherstburg and Leroy N. McCurdy of White Plains, N.Y., and a daughter Mabel, Mrs. Rome Simpson of Amherstburg. She also leaves three brothers, Philip and Robert Thomas of Oberlin, Ohio and Daniel Thomas of Cleveland; 14 grandchildren and 31 great grandchildren. The funeral will be from her late residence to the B.M.E. Church Friday afternoon at two o’clock with Rev. I.H. Edwards officiating. Six grandsons will be pallbearers for the burial in Rose Hill Cemetery.”

As mentioned in her obituary, Mary had two sons named Leroy McCurdy of White Plains, New York (b. December 12, 1885 and m. Evelyn Foster) and George D. McCurdy (b. September 7, 1890) of Amherstburg who married Laura Adams, the daughter of William H. Adams and Laura Holten, in December 1910. Mary also had a daughter, Mabel Edith, who was born on March 24, 1888. Mabel married Jerome Simpson in June 1905 in Amherstburg and they were the parents of Melvin Mac Simpson, who founded the Amherstburg Freedom Museum, formerly the North American Black Historical Museum, with his wife Betty. Jerome and Mabel had several children in addition to Melvin, including Dorothy (b. August 19, 1905 and m. John Dwelle); Wilfred (b. November 27, 1906 and m. Odessa Campbell); Everett (b. January 26, 1910 and m. Dorothy Williams); Corinne (b. February 12, 1912 and m. Vincent Bryant); Sheldon, and Kathleen (b. May 10, 1914) who married Burton H. Clemens, an electrical engineer from California and the son of Isaiah Clemens, on June 10, 1948. At the ceremony, Kathleen’s brother, Melvin, sang the song “Because” and Kathleen wore a pastel pink silk jersey gown. Her veil had pink rosebuds on it and she also wore a corsage with pink tea roses. Kathleen and Burton married under a white canopy with ferns and roses in the background.

I could not find an obituary for Mabel but found her husband Jerome’s obituary which was printed in the Amherstburg Echo on September 9, 1954. It says “Jerome ‘Rome’ Simpson, 71, of 212 King, Amherstburg, a life long resident of Amherstburg died last Thursday at Grace Hospital following a lengthy illness. Mr. Simpson was employed by the Bob-Lo Excursion Company for 55 years and was well known around the island. He was the son of the late James and Matilda Simpson. Surviving are his widow, the former Mabel E. McCurdy; three sons, Wilfred J. and Everett G., of Detroit and Melvin T. (Mac) of Windsor; three daughters, Mrs. John Dwelle (Dorothy), Detroit, Mrs. Vincent Bryan (Corrinne), Hamilton, and Mrs. Burton Clemons (Kathleen), of China Lake, California.; one brother Oswald of Amherstburg; tow sisters, Mrs. Carrie Banks and Mrs. Henry M. Marbly (Mamie), both of Detroit; also 10 grandchildren. Rev. I.H. Edwards officiated at the funeral Sunday afternoon in the BME Church and burial was in Rose Hill Cemetery.

What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps.  See you next week for part 3.

                                                     The Buckner Family History Part 3 – Men’s Sunday Club

Now that I have discussed Mariah, it’s time to move on to the next child of Eliza and George Burrell Buckner, James who also went by Jim. He married Marion (also listed as Marium) Chavier on December 6, 1876 in Battle Creek, Michigan. The 1900 Census for Battle Creek, Michigan lists James as a carpenter. His death record states that he was born circa 1844 in Kentucky and died March 22, 1920 in Battle Creek, Calhoun, Michigan. His obituary says “James P. [T.] Buckner, widely known citizen, is dead – Universally liked, He was one of the Few Left who knew Battle Creek As Tiny Village. – James P. Buckner, known by all the older generation and most of the younger in Battle Creek, as ‘Jim,’ a man who was universally liked, who always had a good word for everybody, and who was in many ways a useful citizen during his long life, died last evening at 6:40 at his home, 185 Kalamazoo street, at the age of 76. Mr. Buckner had lived in Battle Creek since boyhood. For more than 50 years he had been a class leader in the A.M.E. church, which he joined in his young manhood, and in work of which he always took an earnest interest. For a number of years he was one of the trustees of the church. He was also one of the oldest members of the Strouther lodge No. 3. A.F. and A.M., and one of the charter members of the Eastern Star lodge, Adah chapter, No. 6. Mr. Buckner was known by everybody who went on the river, where he had the only boat livery, which he ran for more than 40 years: and many of the notables who visited the Sanitarium had established a real camaraderie with him. He was a frequent visitor to the city hall, and his smile and cheery word were familiar to police headquarters and at a number of the older stores around town. Among other things he was looked upon by the older men of the city as a good deal of an oracle on questions of the weather. He is survived by his wife, one sister and three brothers. And there will be many in Battle Creek who will share the sadness of the family in the thought that they will see ‘Jim’ no more. The funeral services will be held on Thursday at 2 o’clock at the A.M.E. church, the Rev. C.E. Allen officiating. Burial will be at Oak Hill.”

James’ wife Marion/Marium’s death record states that she was born in October 1844 in Indiana and passed away on January 6, 1929 in Battle Creek, Michigan. She is also listed as widowed. It also states that she was the daughter of John Henry Ellis and Susan Bundy. This means that she married twice because she is listed as Marion Chavier, not Ellis, on her marriage record to James. A Pension Record for Stephen Chavis (or Chavier) confirms this. On his pension record it lists Marium Chavis Buckner as Stephen Chavis’ widow.

Next is James’ brother George Buckner. According to his death record, he died on July 10, 1901 in Battle Creek, Michigan at the age of 55. His death record also states that he was born circa 1846 in Kentucky, was single and a cook. Sadly, he died of consumption.

George’s sister Mary was, according to Find a Grave, born on April 7, 1850 in Indiana and died on March 26, 1897 in Grand Rapids, Michigan but I could not find any documents to support this. Mary married James C. Craig who was a barber. Sadly, he passed away on December 1, 1902 at the age of 56. I was able to find documents for several of their children including Linia/Linna, Myrtle, Elsie/Eliza, and Grace.

Linia was born on September 27, 1870 in Branch, Michigan. She married George M. Crisup, the son of John A. Crisup and Ellen Steele, on July 6, 1892 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. George M. Crisup was born on April 25, 1884 in Chicago, Illinois. I came across an article from March 25, 1891 in the Inter Ocean which wrote about George Crisup and his graduating class from dentistry school. It says “The Inter Ocean – Chicago – March 25, 1891 – “Newly Fledged Dentists – Ninety-four well-behaved but oddly-attired young dental graduates received their diplomas at the Columbia Theater yesterday afternoon. It was the ninth annual commencement of the Chicago College of Dental Surgery, a department of the Lake Forest University. The stage was a veritable hot-house, hundreds of bouquets, baskets and floral designs, tributes from friends of the graduates covering its front. The ceremony was opened by an invocation by W.C. Roberts, D.D., LL.D., after which Dr. A.W. Harlan read the annual report. Then came the conferring of degrees. The faculty of the college occupied seats on the stage, the graduating class being seated in the front rows of the auditorium. Both faculty and class were attired in long black robes and Oxford caps. Dean Truman W. Brophy presented the parchments to the class. George Elmer Hawkins delivered the class valedictory, which was a masterly effort, delivered in a firm, well modulated tone, and evidenced none of the shaky, nervous feelings so common to ‘first efforts.’ The doctorate address was delivered by Dr. Calvin S. Case, and the commencement address by Dr. W.C. Roberts. Orchestral selections by Freiberg’s Orchestra were rendered during the exercises. The full class of ’91 is appended: … Crisup, George M. … At the Leland Hotel last evening occurred the ninth annual banquet of the Chicago College of Dental Surgery to the graduating class. The immense dining-room was completely filled with the members of the faculty, the graduating class and some of their friends, one large table was stretched across the north end of the room, while the remainder of the room was given over to smaller tables each accommodating eight gentlemen. The dinner was an elaborate affair, with seven courses. It took two hours or so to clear the table of its bounties. After that came the speeches, many of which were exceedingly interesting and amusing, especially so to those who could appreciate to the full the many personalities in which every orator indulged. Dr. T. W. Brophy was the toast-master. The toasts of the evening were: ‘The Men of the House,’ Dr. D.M. Gallie, class of ’91; ‘Class History,’ Dr. C.H. Robinson, class of ’91; ‘Juniors Yesterday, Seniors Today,’ Mr. T.J. Boariand, class of ’92; ‘The Dental Profession and College Degrees,’ Professor James A. Swasey; ‘The Legal Professions,’ W.S. Elliot; ‘The University and the College,’ President W.C. Roberts; ‘The Press,’ Edward Freiberger, and ‘The Faculty,’ Professor C.B. Gibson.”

Another really interesting article about George Crisup appeared in The Chicago Chronicle on January 10, 1897 and discusses George’s involvement in a club. It says “ORGANIZE A SUNDAY CLUB – Colored Men of Chicago Unite to Study Social Problems. Many Leaders of the Race Meet Weekly to Improve Themselves. Lectures Delivered on Interesting Topics by Prominent Educators and Ministers. Objects of the Association and Its Programme for the Month. – The ‘Men’s Sunday club’ is the latest addition to the varying aspects of life among Chicago’s colored population. It meets every Sunday afternoon in the lecture-room of the African Methodist Episcopal Bethel church, at the corner of Thirtieth and Dearborn streets, and has a membership of nearly 450. It was organized about six weeks ago and met with immediate favor. Alderman John Maynard Harlan has addressed the club on the subject of better municipal government, and last Sunday afternoon Professor Norman Taylor of the university settlement spoke on the art of living and working together. The programme for this month includes the names of Judge Hanecy, who will speak next Sunday afternoon on ‘The Dignity of the Law,’ and Dr. P.S. Henson, who will speak the following Sunday on ‘The Future of the Republic.’ Dr. Elmer E. Barr, a member of the county medical board, is the president, Louis B. Anderson is the secretary and Samuel J. Evans is the treasurer of the club. Many of the best-known colored men in the city are among the members, among whom might be mentioned Rev. R.C. Ransome, the pastor of the Bethel church; W.H.A. Moore, S. Laing Williams, Dr. A.M. Curtis, Rev. John E. Ford of the Bethesda church, George W. Lytle, Dr. A. R. Abbott, M.L. Benson, Dr. George M. Crisup, Dr. A. Wilberforce Williams, William H. Ward, Ferdinand L. Barnett, Rev. A.H. Lealtad, rector of the St. Thomas’ Protestant Episcopal church; Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Adelbert Roberts, Dr. George C. Hall and others.”

This article continues with “OBJECTS OF THE CLUB – The club is the beginning of the idea to establish like organizations in every city throughout the union. Rev. R.C. Ransome is the father of the plan. The chief aim is to take up the study of sociological questions as they may relate to life among the colored people in the United States. The idea is not a new one among the advanced thinkers of the colored men, but this is the first time it has been put into practical operation. The appointment of Professor W.E.B. DuBois, a colored man, as assistant in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania has given a fresh impetus, however, to the movement among these people and they are now putting forth practical efforts to become well informed on the question of their sociological relation to the rest of the American population. To all appearances the putting into practical operation of the determination has worked wonders among them and has already brought results which are more than gratifying to the projectors of the club. A striking instance of the interest which has been awakened among all classes of colored men was afforded by the meeting on last Sunday. Professor Norman Taylor at the beginning of his address invited the club to ask him questions on the subject discussed. The learned speaker was almost taken off his feet by the rapid fire of the inquirers, and while he held his own the incident showed that his auditors had come to the meeting loaded with the topic he had chosen for the subject of his address.”

The article also shares that “Statistics of all sorts are being gathered for the purpose of study. The committee in charge of this branch of the work has begun with the army and will follow their investigations in that direction with a study of the labor question and the part the colored laborer is playing in that field. The influence of city life on the colored people is to be investigated, together with the opportunities it offers for varied employment. Crime and its immediate relation to the life of these people is to be another topic for discussion and investigation and to this end a close study is to be made of life in the ‘levee’ district. In fact, if the plan of the club is only partially carried out the chief spirits of the organization feel they will go a long way toward solving the vexed race question.”

The article concludes by writing “IS GREATLY ENCOURAGED – Rev. Mr. Ransome, the father of the movement, expressed himself a few days ago as being very much encouraged with the success which has come to his efforts to create a general interest in the plan and scope of the Sunday club. ‘I see great things in the Sunday club,’ he said. ‘The interest which it has awakened in its short life is the most remarkable that has come under my observation of the life among my people. We have a similar organization in the city of Cleveland, where I came from to take charge of this church. We met with some success there, and I thought it would be a good idea to start the work in Chicago. From what has been accomplished here I am quite sure it will spread throughout the country. For my own part I have been very much interested in the questions which affect the social and moral condition of my people and stand ever ready to take a part in any movement which seeks to improve it. We have an advisory committee that has charge of the several branches of the work and it has interested many of the best men in our community in the club. I might mention that Dr. Henson spread a deal of general information among the people that will presumably do much good. I have great faith in the future of my race.’ A large number of prominent colored men were seen and they all expressed their satisfaction with the club and voted it a great success. A few expressed the hope that a workingmen’s club would grow out of the present movement.”

According to George’s obituary which appeared in the newspaper The Black Dispatch on October 27, 1961 “One of the Nation’s Oldest Shriners Dies in Chicago – CHICAGO – (ANP) – One of the oldest known active Shriners in the nation died last week in the Harmon Nursing Home here in Chicago. He was George M. Crisup, deputy imperial auditor of the Shriners. A native of Chicago, he was born April 23, 1861. Funeral rites and fraternal services were held jointly in the Grace Memorial Chapel. Interment was in Restvale cemetery. King David Lodge No. 100 was in charge of the services. There are no known living relatives.”

According to the 1900 Census for Chicago, Illinois, Linna and George Crisup had a daughter named Corene. Also listed on this census are their nephew Alfred McGarry, George’s brother Herbert Crisup and grandmother Maria Steele. Corene’s birth record states that she was born on December 26, 1893 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I also found her marriage record which states that she married Wendell C. Phillips, the son of John Phillips and Bertha Goodwin, on October 19, 1918 in Muskegon, Michigan.

What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps.  See you next week for part 4.

                                                   The Buckner Family History Part 4 – Grand Rapids Connection

Linna’s sister Myrtle Craig is next. She married Jas. T. Lasha, the son of Lewis T. and Jane Lasha, on January 25, 1903 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. According to the 1920 Census for Kent, Michigan, James and Myrtle Lasha’s children include Shirley, Craig and Lothaire. Also listed are a lodger named William Robinson and Lucy Buckner who, as was mentioned previously, was Daniel Buckner’s wife.

James Abner Lasha passed away in 1949 and according to his obituary from August 10, 1949 “LASHA – James Abner Lasha, aged 70 years, of 649 Jackson -st., NW, passed away Wednesday morning at the residence following a long illness. Surviving are the wife, Mrs. Myrtle Lasha; one daughter, Mrs. Shirley Loving of Detroit; two sons, Craig J. Lasha of Los Angeles, Calif., Lothair Lasha of Grand Rapids; seven grandchildren, several nieces, nephews and cousins. Funeral services will be held Saturday 2 p.m. at St. Phillip’s Episcopal church. Interment Oak Hill cemetery. The body will repose at the residence from Friday noon until service time. Arrangements by the Brown Funeral Home.” The site Find A Grave also records that James Lasha was born on December 26, 1879 in Detroit. It also mentions his mother’s full name – Jane Ann Hinton. Find A Grave also mentions that Myrtle Maude Craig Lasha was born circa 1872 and died on September 10, 1964 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

As was mentioned, Myrtle and James Lasha had at least three children, Shirley, Craig and Lothaire. I was able to find a marriage record for Shirley and Craig. Shirley E. Lasha married William Charles Loving, the son of William C. Loving and Eunice A. Reid, on August 7, 1931 in Elkhard, Indiana. Their marriage record also states that Shirley was born on September 4, 1906 in Grand Rapids, Michigan and William was born on May 7, 1906 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Shirley’s brother Craig Lasha married Dorothy Hubbard, the daughter of James Hubbard and Lulu Sharp, on September 4, 1934 in Howard, Indiana.

Next is Elsie/Eliza Craig. She married Alphonse Corbin, the son of Thos. F. and Eliza Corbin, on June 28, 1906 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Alphonso Corbin’s birth record says that he was born on February 27, 1887 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is also listed on the 1900 Census along with his parents Thomas and E. Lisia and siblings James, Gertrude and Mabell.

I think there is a possibility that Elsie and the previously discussed Linna may be the same person because the 1910 Michigan Census for Alfonse and Elsie Corbin lists Elsie’s daughter Corinne who was 14 years old at the time. As you may recall, I mentioned that Linna had a daughter named Corinne. At the time of this census, Alfonse and Elsie had only been married for 4 years, so Corinne is from another marriage – possibly Linna’s marriage to George Crisup. Several decades later the 1940 Census lists Alphonse and Lina C. and their daughter Nora J. who is listed as 18 years old. This means that either Elsie and Linna are the same person or Alphonse married both sisters.

According to The Kansas City Times, Alphonse Corbin passed away in 1967. His obituary from September 8, 1967 says “Alphonse Corbin, 85, of 725 Everett, Kansas City, Kansas, died Wednesday at St. Joseph hospital. He was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., and made his home with a sister, Mrs. Mabel Booker, the last year. He was a member of the Episcopal church. Services will be held at 10 o’clock Saturday at the English-Franklin chapel; burial in the Quindaro cemetery. Friends may call from 6 to 10 o’clock tonight at the chapel.”

What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps.  See you next week for part 5.

                                                    The Buckner Family History Part 5 – Kalsomine Masons

Now that I have discussed Mary Buckner and James Craig’s daughters Linna, Elsie and Myrtle, I’ll share information about their daughter Grace. She married Clarence J. Sims, the son of And. Sims and …Freda Bailey (part of Clarence’s mother’s name is illegible on the document). They married on June 28, 1911 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Find A Grave states that Grace passed away on August 12, 1857 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It doesn’t appear that Grace and Clarence had any children because the 1920, 1930 and 1940 Michigan Census don’t list any children except for their niece Thelma Minor in 1920.

So far, I have discussed the following children of George Burrell Buckner and Eliza Gibbs’ – Maria (Mariah), James, George, and Mary. Now I’ll move on to share information about William, Daniel, Elliot, Jon, and Anthony. There was not a lot of information for William. He is listed on the 1861 Census which reveals that he was born circa 1852. William’s brother Daniel is next. He married Lucy Daly on September 28, 1877 in Cass, Missouri. I came across a note about their wedding day – “A note from October 3, 1877 written by a Presbyterian Pastor named Mr. Colver which says “ Dear Sir: On the 28th day of September, 1877 I performed at my residence, Pleasant Hill, Mis, the marriage ceremony between Daniel Buckner and Lucy Daley. Colored.”

Daniel and Lucy Buckner are also listed on the 1880 Michigan Census along with their son George, an adopted daughter named Ettie Goodyear, a Boarder named William Fields and Daniel’s brother Elliot Buckner. The Census also shows that both Daniel and Elliott worked as Kalsomine Masons. George’s birth record states that he was born on May 20, 1879 in Battle Creek, Michigan. In addition to their son George, Daniel and Lucy they had other children including Violet, Burl and Nona. Violet married John B.F. O’Leary, the son of Albert O’Leary and Annie Thomas. They were married on January 1, 1907 in Elkhart, Indiana. Their marriage record also states that John was born on April 19, 1879 in Jackson, Illinois and Violet was born on February 20, 1888 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. John is also listed as a Porter. Violet’s brother Burl married Grace Hatt, the daughter of W.H. Hatt and Minnie Smith, on March 3, 1903 in British Columbia. Burl’s sister Nona M. Buckner married William E. Shackelford, the son of Henry Shackelford and Martha Ruvella, on February 25, 1903 in Battle Creek, Michigan. Next is Nona, which I think is short for Winona/Winone. In the 1930 and 1940 Census for St. Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota William E. Shackelford is listed with his wife Winone M. and their child Bernice. Their immigration records list the closest relative as William’s father Henry who lived in Windsor which helps to confirm that Nona is short for Winona and that this is the correct person.

It is possible that Daniel passed away between the 1910 and 1920 Census because in 1920, his wife Lucy is listed as living with her niece Myrtle and Myrtle’s husband James Lasha. Find A Grave records that Daniel Buckner passed away on December 18, 1918 in Battle Creek, Michigan which confirms my theory.

The next child of George Burrell Buckner and Eliza Gibbs is Elliot, also known as ‘Al’. He married Rickie Russell, the daughter of Fritz Russell, on June 13, 1894 in Calhoun, Michigan. Elliot and Rickie had at least one child named Glenn F. Buckner. His marriage record states that he married Lois M. Lemon, the daughter of Joseph L. Lemon and Catherine Squires, on October 12, 1935 in Steuben, Indiana. This record states that both Lois and Glenn were previously married, but there are no names listed. Lois is listed as being born on December 26, 1899 in Huntertown, Indiana, while Glenn is listed as being born on March 1, 1899 in Battle Creek, Michigan.

Glenn’s father Elliott passed away on November 4, 1932 in Battle Creek, Michigan at the age of 72. This record also states that Elliott was born on April 25, 1860. I could not find a death record for Rickie Russell Buckner.

Elliott’s brother John is the next child of George Burrell Buckner and Eliza Gibbs. According to Find A Grave, John was born on August 8, 1857 and died on January 15, 1939. His wife is listed as Mary Ida Rescoe Buckner who was born on June 15, 1866 and died on September 19, 1945 in Tawas City, Michigan.

The last child of George Burrell Buckner and Eliza Gibbs to be discussed is Anthony. Find A Grave mentions that he was born on June 7, 1863 in Amherstburg and died on February 14, 1936 in Battle Creek, Michigan at the age of 72. He married Elmina Cramer on December 10, 1888 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This record also shares that he was born circa 1864, while Elmira was born circa 1868. At the time, Anthony worked as a Butcher. I found records for two of their children, Josie and Elizabeth Frances. Josie was born on April 20, 1896 in Battle Creek, Michigan. Josie’s sister Elizabeth F. Buckner was born a few years earlier on December 14, 1893. Elizabeth married a few times. The first was to Leslie H. Long, the son of Harry Long and Addie Van Nocker, on January 28, 1912. The second was to Harold G. Taylor, the son of Herbert S. Taylor and Hattie Week, on November 15, 1916 in Battle Creek, Michigan. She was also married to Reppard R. Stearnes, the son of Wm. R. Stearnes and Viola Reppard, on August 14, 1920 in Detroit.

What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps.  See you next week where we will celebrate another amazing family.