AMHERSTBURG FREEEDOM MUSEUM
The Powell Family History Part 1 – The Carpenter
In last month’s Matthews’ family history, I shared a few details about Eldred Powell. I decided to do further research on the Powell family which will be highlighted in this month’s family history. I was able to find two branches of the Powell family. The first is for Willis Powell and the second is for Lewis Powell, who is the father of the previously mentioned Eldred Powell. I could not determine whether Willis and Lewis are connected, but both resided in Essex County and are both listed on the 1861 Census as living near each other.
Willis Powell married a woman named Prilia, also referred to as July Ellen. The 1861 Census for Willis Powell lists him as 84 years old and Prilia is 73 years old, although the Census lists her as Mrs. Powell, not Prilia. The Census also mentions that Willis was a farmer. Milo Johnson’s book New Canaan – Freedom Land shares a few more details about Willis. It says Willis was born in Virginia and Prilia escaped enslavement in Waterford, Kentucky. They relocated to Lexington, Stark County, Ohio, with their son Nathan. In roughly 1846, the Powells came to Colchester, Essex County. I was unable to find out whether Willis and Prilia had any other children, but was able to find information for their son, Nathan.
Nathan was born circa 1807 in Virginia. He married twice. His first marriage was to Eliza Crosby while they were living in Ohio. Eliza Crosby was the daughter of Caswell Crosby and Elizabeth Davis. I was able to find an obituary for Caswell Crosby in the Amherstburg Echo on March 30, 1894, which says “Caswell Crosby, whose death we announced last week, was born in Virginia and at the time of his death was 83 years of age. He came to Canada about 55 years ago and has resided in this township ever since. He was for years a local preacher in the B.M.E. church and his funeral took place to the church of the denomination in Harrow on Sunday of last week. His wife died about two years ago but several children are living, most of whom are in the United States. One son Elijah, and one daughter, Mrs. Washington Hurst, are living in this township.” Eliza is not mentioned in this obituary because she passed away before 1894 when her father’s obituary was published. Nathan and Eliza had at least ten children, but according to Milo Johnson, eight of Nathan and Eliza’s children passed away shortly after Eliza’s passing. The children that survived were named Pleasant and William, and they are listed on the 1861 Census. No further information was found for them.
Following Eliza’s passing, Nathan married Mary/Martha Jane Seymour, the daughter of Malachi and Francis Seymour. According to their marriage record, they were married on December 15, 1858. I was able to find a death record for Nathan Powell, but no obituary. His death record says that he passed on February 26, 1888, in Colchester at the age of 81. It also mentions that he was a farmer. I was able to find an obituary for Nathan’s wife Martha Jane in the Amherstburg Echo from March 13, 1914. It says “The funeral of Mrs. Martha Jane Powell, aged 83 years, 2 months and 9 days, was held at the A.M.E. church, Central Grove, on Sunday, March 8th, at 2 o’clock p.m. Services were conducted by Rev. D.M. Lewis, pastor of the B.M.E. church, Harrow, and burial was in Gilgal cemetery. Mrs. Powell was born in Woodford county, Kentucky, on the 23rd December, 1830, and died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Henry Harris, on the 4th con., Colchester South, Thursday. She was the daughter of Malachi and Francis Seymore, the youngest of a family of five children, namely, David, Spotswell, Nathaniel and Mary, the late Mrs. Joseph Thurman, of New Canaan. She came to Canada in 1856 and was married to the late Nathan Powell on November 30th, 1858. Her husband predeceased her 26 years ago on February 26th. There were five children born to them, all of whom are dead except Nathan S. Powell and Mary C. Harris, both of Colchester.”
Nathan and Martha Jane had at least four children named Nathan S., Martha, Mahalia and Mary. I could not find any information for Martha, but her sister Mahalia married Peter Jackson. According to the Census, their children include Julian, Eliza, William, Grace, Rebecca, Mary, Susan, Walter, and Melvine. I could not find any information for Julia, Eliza, or Walter, but found documents for the rest of their children. William’s death record states that he was born on April 1, 1857 in Canada, was single, and passed away on August 20, 1924 in Ypsilanti, Michigan at the age of 67. William’s sister Grace married Stephen Fleming, the son of Stephen and Harriet Fleming on August 9, 1881 in Gilgal, Essex County. Grace’s sister Rebecca passed away on April 25, 1900 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. At the time, she was single and a Housekeeper. Rebecca’s sister Mary married M. Harrison Banks, the son of C.P. and Adeline Banks, on November 25, 1890 in Windsor.
Mary’s sister Susan married George A. Perry, the son of John Perry and Amy Simpson, on November 19, 1887 in Detroit. Susan and George’s children include Willie, Ruth, Mina, and Genevieve. Sadly, Willie Perry passed away on June 15, 1905 in Ypsilanti, Michigan, shortly after his birth. Ruth Perry married John Williams, the son of William Williams and Mary Peycon, on February 2, 1918 in Jackson, Michigan. Ruth’s sister Mina Perry Crowder passed away on May 3, 1947 in Jackson Michigan. Her death record mentions that she was born on May 10, 1898 in Ypsilanti, and that she was 48 years old and a widow. Her husband’s first name is not mentioned, but his last name was Crowder. Mina’s sister Genevieve Perry Cuyler, passed away on July 29, 1923 in Jackson, Michigan. Her death record also mentions that she was born on July 1, 1898 in Michigan and that she was married, but her husband’s first name is not mentioned.
Susan’s sister Melvine is the next child of Mahalia Powell and Peter Jackson. She passed away on June 17, 1910 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. She is listed as single and a 26-year old domestic. I did find a marriage record for a Malvina Jackson, age 20, and George W. Johnson (son of William H. Johsnon and Carrie B. Jones) from September 9, 1902, but I could not find further evidence to determine whether this is the correct Malvina.
Now that I have discussed Mahalia, I will move on to share information about her siblings Mary and Nathan. According to the records, Mary married twice. Her first marriage was to Henry Harris, the son of George Harris and Margaret Dennis, on June 12, 1907 in Harrow. Their marriage record says that Henry was born in Chatham and he was a widower and farmer. Mary is listed as 40 years old and not previously married. The 1911 Census lists Harry and Mary, along with Henry’s son Wellington and Mary’s mother Martha Powell. Wellington is likely from Henry’s first marriage to Celista Matthews (see Matthews’ family history – https://amherstburgfreedom.org/matthews-family/ ). I found a death record for Henry Harris from September 1, 1915, but on the record his mother’s name is listed Margaret McConlin rather than Dennis which is on his marriage record. The record mentions that he was born in Chatham and was the son of George Harris. If this is the correct death record, I was able to find an obituary from the same date in the Amherstburg Echo which says “Henry Harris, Sr., an old resident of this township, died very suddenly Wednesday noon while sitting in his chair. He had been ailing for some time. Mr. Harris leaves a wife and family of six, his sons being settled in Detroit, Chicago and Colchester South. The funeral will take place Saturday afternoon.”
As mentioned, Mary Powell Harris married a second time to William Kersey, the son of Alexander Kersey and Amanda Denmon (some records say Amanda Watters), on January 5, 1921 in Harrow. According to their marriage record, William worked as a mechanic, and both were widowers. William was previously married to Annie Sawyer, the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Sawyer, and also to Armina Ann Johnson. William was born in 1852 in Terre Haute, Indiana, and came to Colchester with his parents at a young age.
There is substantial documentation on William Sr., particularly in the Amherstburg Echo, including a write up which states “There are 21 barns and as many or more houses in the Colchester district that were constructed under the skillful workmanship of William Kersey, Sr., who was at one time one of the best-known carpenters in the district. Maybe he was so adept at this work because he learned to manipulate saw and hammer almost as soon as he could walk. Whatever the reason he learned his trade well and now as one of the oldest residents in the township of Colchester South he can look back on a successful and unblemished career. Mr. Kersey was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, in 1852, but came to Colchester with his father and mother, Alexander and Amanda Kersey, when he was about a year old and has lived here since. His parents took up farming on the fifth concession near where the No. 14 school is now located. When he grew up he left the farm to ply his trade. He was married three times, first to Annie, daughter of Thomas Sawyer: next to Emma Daughter of James Johnson; and lastly to Mary, daughter of Nathaniel Powell. He has two sons, William, with whom he lives, and Robert of Colchester South, and one daughter, Mrs. Ada Naranjo of Lorain, Ohio. Two sisters, Mary and Rebekah, and one brother Isaiah, are dead. Mr. Kersey is a staunch member of Central Grove Methodist Church and still likes to attend the services. Although his eyesight has failed he is still able to get about by himself and is in good physical condition despite his ripe old age.”
William Sr. was also a devoted member and trustee of the Central Grove Church in Harrow and was very active in a gathering at the church called Decoration Day, which involved members of the congregation cleaning up the Central Grove cemetery. Participants were requested to bring spades, shovels, ferns and flower seeds to beautify the property. Following the clean up bee, participants enjoyed a social which included a concert. On the committee was Superintendent of the Sunday School, A. Mulder, Treasurer, Walter Banks and Assistant Superintendent, William Kersey Sr., who just a few years later became Superintendent and manager of the clean ups. The Amherstburg Echo reported on these clean up bees from 1926 to at least 1933, meaning that this was an annual event for several years. William Sr.’s son, William Jr. also participated on this committee and was the Secretary. The Amherstburg Echo also reported on December 28, 1894 that William Kersey Sr. was also involved in a “large gathering at the Gilgal school house on Wednesday evening of last week. Wm. Kersey was chairman; Fred H.A. Davis gave an interesting address on ‘Civil Rights and Social Privileges of the Colored People,” and Gordon Day gave several guitar solos. Others contributed to the entertainment which was also a financial success.”
Mary Powell Harris Kersey passed away on August 21, 1934 in Harrow. Her obituary from August 24, 1934 in the Amherstburg Echo which says “Mrs. William Kersey Dies – The death occurred at her home in Harrow on Tuesday morning of Mrs. William Kersey, aged colored resident. Deceased had been ill for a number of years, suffering from heart trouble. Her maiden name was Mary Powell, and she was born in Colchester South. She was twice married, the first time to Henry Harris, who died 25 years ago, and 15 years ago she was married to William Kersey, who survives her. Mrs. Kersey was a sister of the late ‘Doc’ Powell, well known for his herb remedies. Funeral services were held on Thursday afternoon at Central Grove Church. Rev. Bird, of Windsor, conducted the services.”
A few years later, Mary’s husband William Kersey passed away. His obituary appeared in the Amherstburg Echo on April 15, 1938 and says “A large number of mourning relatives and friends attended the funeral of the late William Kersey held at the Central Grove Church Wednesday afternoon. The service was conducted by Rev. Henderson of Amherstburg and interment followed in the church cemetery with the following as pallbearers: M. Coates and H. Hurst. Mr. Kersey who was one of the highly respected colored residents of the community, died Monday night at his home in Harrow, aged 86 years. He was a well known carpenter but had lived retired for the past few years when his eyesight began to fail him. He was a staunch member of the Central Grove Church and was a trustee at the time of his death. Deceased was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, in 1852, but came to Colchester with his father and mother, Alexander and Amanda Kersey, when he was about a year old and has lived here since. His parents took up farming on the fifth concession near where S.S. No. 14 schoolhouse is now located. He was married three times, first to Annie, daughter of Thomas Sawyer; next to Emma, daughter of James Johsnon; and lastly to Mary, daughter of Nathan Powell. Surviving him are two sons, William with whom he lived, and Robert of Colchester South, and one daughter, Mrs. Ada Naranjo of Lorain, O. Two sisters, Mary and Rebekah, and one brother, Isaiah, predeceased him.”
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 Powell Family History Part 2 – Doc Powell
Now that I have discussed Mahalia and Mary, I will share information about Nathan and Martha Jane (Seymour) Powell’s next child, Nathan. He was born in Colchester South on July 2, 1861. He married Annie Marie Hullum, the daughter of Jasper Hullum and Marie Stewart. According to the Amherstburg Echo, “At the residence of Rev. L. Pierce, Amherstburg, on Sunday, April 21st, by Rev. J.A. Holt, Mr. Nathan S. Powell to Annie, daughter of Mr. Jasper Hulm, both of Colchester South. I was able to find an obituary for Annie Marie’s father Jasper Hullum in the Amherstburg Echo which was printed on January 1, 1904. It says “One of the best known colored men in this county was killed in the Pare Marquette train wreck near Grand Rapids, last Friday night. We refer to Jasper Hullum. Mr. Hullum was best known as a canvasser for church enterprises, and as such had travelled not only in every part of this but adjoining counties. He was born in North Carolina in 1844, and came to this township when a boy. He was raised by an old gentleman named Anthony, and after reaching manhood married Mary Stewart. They had seven children, four sons and three daughters who reside as follows: Alzora, Mrs. James Banks, Windsor; Mrs. Nathan S. Powell, Colchester South; Mrs. M. Galloway, Detroit; William, Darius and Herman, Detroit and Gordon, Colchester South. The deceased and his wife moved to Windsor several years ago and there he identified himself with the work of the A.M.E. church. At the time of his death he was soliciting funds for the Victoria Red Cross Hospital, to be erected in Windsor. The remains were brought here Wednesday morning over the L.E. & D.R.R. and taken to Central Grove for interment. Rev. Mr. Davis, of Windsor, officiated. Quite a large crowd of former friends turned out and followed the remains to their last resting place. The pallbearers were Anthony Banks, Henry Harris, R.M. Dennis, John Brown, Marion Banks, and Elijah Pines.”
Nathan Powell appears to have been involved in several occupations. According to the Amherstburg Echo “The police forces in the county were made up of county constables … A number was designated for each district … A few were …. Colchester South, Anthony Banks, William Hughson, Charles Staddon, Nathan Powell and Roland Wright.” Milo Johnson adds that Nathan S. Powell was also known as the Town Crier in Harrow and would use his powerful voice to announce sporting events and debates. He was also involved in the actual debates as was reported in the Amherstburg Echo on February 26, 1897 which said “On Tuesday evening the 26th there was a debate in Central Grove under the management of the lyceum. The subject was ‘Resolved that the orator wields more influence than the writer.’ The affirmative was championed by ? D. Dennis and James Turner. The negative was upheld by Nathan S. Powell and Albert Mulder. The affirmative defeated the negative 21 in 15 points.”
On February 15, 1901, the Echo also shared a letter to the editor from Nathan Powell which was about Queen Victoria. It said “To the Editor of THE ECHO – I cannot at this time withhold the asking of a small space in your valuable paper to express our heartfelt sorrow on the removal, by the hand of Providence, from our midst of our Noble Sovereign Queen Victoria. The world has sustained a great loss in her death; but of all the races of earth, the race to which I belong, namely the colored race, owes to her memory the greatest tribute of respect. Sir you will remember that Great Britain in the reign of William the fourth, uncle of Her sainted Majesty, abolished slavery, and it had for its results the liberation of 800,000 slaves. The ransom paid by the Government was twenty million sterling. Immediately after King William’s death, which was about four years later, Queen Victoria ascended the British Throne. At that time our neighboring Republic to the south, amongst others, was holding colored slaves and she took a step further and proclaimed to the colored bondsmen throughout the world, if they could but only set their foot on British soil they should be free and we all know the result. Though we were ignorant, poor and despised she protected and educated us by her moral influence into the Royal path of life and into the eternal hope of happiness in the life beyond. There are thousands of other things she has done for us but space would not permit the telling. But I desire it to go down in history that the black men in this Great Colony are as sensitive of the loss we have sustained as any other race which helps to make up the British Empire, and be it remembered that we will always love and revere the memory of her sainted Majesty Queen Victoria. The pains of death are past, Labours and sorrow cease, And life’s long warfare closed at last, Her souls is found in peace. Soldier of Christ, well done, Praise by thy new employ, And, while eternal ages run, Rest in thy Saviour’s joy. -NATHAN POWELL. Colchester South, Feb. 8th, 1901.”
On May 27, 1904, Nathan Powell’s loyalty to the Crown was expressed at a Victoria Day Celebration. The details of the event were reported in the Amherstburg Echo which said “On Tuesday evening Victoria day was right loyally celebrated in Central Grove A.M.E. church, when the stewards held a box social which was well attended. After singing Martin Luther’s favorite hymn ‘Praise God from whom all blessings flow,’ by the congregation Rev. D.M. Lewis led in prayer. In his introductory speech he paid a touching tribute to Her Sainted Majesty, Queen Victoria. Hilliard Hughbanks was called to the stand and rendered a beautiful solo ‘The Easter Sunday morning.’ Nathan S. Powell was next called to the stand and delivered an address telling of the protection the late Queen and the British law gave the colored men in this country, in the dark days of slavery in United States; of the peace and quiet which this country enjoys at present; He said that Britain with the sword in one hand and the bible in the other had civilized and christianized more men and women than any other nation in the world. He closed with an earnest appeal to his people to take advantage of the times and while other churches were making efforts to unite it is our duty to consider the same question. A standing vote of thanks was rendered the last speaker and the boxes were put on sale. A. Mulder wielded the hammer and received high prices for them. Proceeds amounted to $11.35.”
The Census also lists him as a garden farmer and Milo Johnson adds that Nathan S. Powell “was an excellent gardener and was the first farmer in the Colchester area to begin growing fruit. He had impressive hotbeds and raised both fruits and vegetables which he peddled on the streets of the local communities. I was also able to find some interesting articles in the Amherstburg Echo which talk about his work in manufacturing and selling medical remedies. On May 8, 1891, the Amherstburg Echo printed “Nathan S. Powell begs leave to inform the public that he has bought the right and receipts for Sloan’s Indian Tonic; Burtch & Co.’s Eastern Liniment, or English Opadildoc, and a German Salve, which are warranted cures for the various complaints for which they are prescribed. He always keeps a full supply of the above patent medicines, fresh and good. With thanks to his many patrons for their patronage, he still desires to extend his trade. All orders promptly responded to. Address, Nathan S. Powell, Harrow P.O., Colchester South, Canada.”
A few years later, Nathan was still in this trade as was reported in The Windsor Evening Record on November 12, 1897, which said “Patent medicine peddlers, Nathan H. Haley and Nathan S. Powell are canvassing their respective medicines, and report trade fair. A grand improvement on trade this fall from that of last fall.” On February 27, 1920, the Amherstburg Echo printed an advertisement for Powell’s remedies and more, writing “FOR SALE – Tobacco seed of the White Burley variety saved from selected plants, $1.00 per oz. Sent any place in Canada postage paid on receipt of price. Also Powell’s Sloan’s Indian Tonic, Vegetable Cough Syrup and Powell’s Genuine Liniment, which are among the best proprietary medicines on the earth. NATHAN S. POWELL, … R.R. No. 1, Harrow, Ont.” His work in medical remedies earned him the name ‘Doc Powell.”
Nathan S. Powell passed away on May 20, 1928 in Colchester at the age of 66 years. The Amherstburg Echo printed his obituary a few days later, on May 25, 1928 which says “Our old friend, Nathan S. Powell, one of the best known colored men in South Essex, passed away at the family home, Snake Lane, Sunday evening following an illness of six months. It was noted from time to time lately in The Echo that his condition was serious and his physicians felt that there was no hope of his recovery. Mr. Powell was born on lot 5, 5th concession, near what is known as the ‘Flat Iron,’ July 2nd, 1861, son of Nathan and Martha Powell. His parents are long since dead but he leaves one sister, Mrs. William Kersey, of Harrow; a brother died in infancy. His father was quite a stump speaker, and Nathan S. no doubt inherited his ability as an orator from him and in his prime of life was often heard to good effect on political platforms speaking in the interests of the late Hon. W.D. Balfour, the late John A. Auld and H.W. Allan. He dabbled somewhat in pharmacy and registered some root remedies known as Powell’s General Liniment, Vegetable Cough Syrup and Indian Tonic, which he sold throughout the county, and this earned for himself the sobriquet of ‘Dr.’, by which he was best known. He was married on April 24th, 1895, to Miss Annie Maria Hullum, who survives him, but there was no family. He served as trustee of the Public school and was trustee and steward of the B.M.E. church for many years; was always known as a man of his word and was very highly respected throughout the community. Funeral services were held in the B.M.E. church Wednesday afternoon, with burial in Gilgal cemetery, Rev. Harris and Rev. Perry officiating.”
Interestingly, even after Nathan S. Powell died, his wife Annie Marie still kept selling their medical remedies for several decades. On August 8, 1941, the Amherstburg Echo printed “Good For Man and Beast” which says “There was an interesting visitor in the Harrow Echo office on Wednesday morning when Mrs. A.M. Powell came in to order some labels for Powell’s Eastern Liniment that has been sold by her late husband and herself for years. Although past 71 years of age Mrs. Powell is bright and alert and her eyes light up as she tells the story of tramping the country from door to door peddling her famous liniment for ten years following the death of her husband in 1928. ‘Many times,’ she said, ‘I have walked down from Harrow to Arner and gone into the store there and ordered some crackers and cheese for my lunch. I’m too old to get out on the road now,’ she continued, ‘but I always keep a stock at home for those who want it.’ Older residents of this district will remember ‘Doc’ Powell who went up and down the concession in the county with his liniment ‘good for man and beast.’ Mrs. Powell told us that the formula for the remedy was purchased by her husband from a man named Burch who came from the east. ‘I’ll canvass the east and you take the west, he told my husband,’ she said. The fine colored lady stated her liniment is registered and she wants to keep the formula and sell medicine as long as she is able.”
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 Powell Family History Part 3 – Building a New Life in Freedom
Now that I have discussed Willis Powell’s branch, I will move on to discuss Lewis Powell and his descendants. He was the son of Dred and Libbie Powell. Lewis Powell married twice. His first marriage was to Hettie/Hattie Tate (some records say Hurst) and then to Grazelia (sometimes spelt Drusilla) Hann. The 1871 Census lists Lewis and Hettie, along with their children Ann, Robert, Margaret, Henry, Mary, Gordon and Francis. Not listed are Lewis and Hettie’s other children including William, Lewis Jane, and Rosena. Find a Grave states that Hattie M. Powell was born in 1849 and died on May 10, 1876 at the age of 27. I could not find further documentation to confirm this, but Hettie does not appear on the 1881 Census. This would explain things. The 1881 Census lists Lewis with his second wife Grozilia, along with Robert, William, Mary, Gordon, Francis, Jane, Rosena, Minnie and George. Several of the children are from Lewis’ first marriage. Lewis and Grozilia’s children include Minnie, George, Esther, Eldred, Wilson, Mabel, Kydson, Sybil, and Nona. Before discussing their children, I’m going to share more about Lewis and Grozilia. Lewis passed away on March 26, 1907 in Colchester. His death records says that he was born circa 1838 and that he was a farmer. His obituary which appeared in the Amherstburg Echo on March 29, 1907 says “Another landmark has been removed from among the colored residents of this township, in the death of Lewis Powell, on Tuesday. The deceased had been ailing for several months, but it was only three weeks ago he took down seriously. The funeral took place yesterday (Thursday) at noon, services being conducted in the B.M.E. church, of which deceased was a member, and interment was in Gilgal cemetery. Mr. Powell was born in slavery, and came to this township as a lad. His first wife was a Miss Tate and they had a family of fifteen, three of whom are living, Robert, of Colchester South; Gordon, of Toledo, Ohio, and Frank, of Ypsilanti. His second wife was Drusilla Hanns, who survives him. Their family were eight, six of whom are living, Minnie, Mrs. Pettyford, Esther, Mrs. Carter, Eldred, of Colchester South and Mabel and Kydson, at home. Mr. Powell was one of the best known colored men in the township.”
Several years later, Grozilia passed away on January 11, 1916 in Colchester. Her death record says that she was the daughter of Samuel Hann and Esther Hayes. Her obituary from the Amherstburg Echo appeared on January 14, 1916 and shared that “Mrs. Grozella Powell, relict of the late Lewis Powell, died at her home here on Tuesday following a lingering illness with dropsy, in the 65th year of her age. Deceased was daughter of the late Samuel Hanns and his wife Esther. The latter is still living in her 87th year, and has the added distinction of being a native of Colchester South. Mrs. Powell was born in the township and for some years followed the profession of school teacher. She was married at the age of 26 to Mr. Powell and they had a family of eight children. He died 9 years ago. Besides the aged mother mentioned above, there survive the following family: Minnie (Mrs. Nelson Pettiford); of Buffalo; Esther (Mrs. Harry Carter), of Colchester South; Eldred, of Detroit; Mabel (Mrs. Alex Nicholson), of St. Catharines; Kydson, of Buffalo, and fifteen grandchildren. Deceased was a life long member of the B.M.E. church. She suffered her last illness with resignation and without complaint. The funeral took place yesterday (Thursday) afternoon to Gilgal cemetery.”
As mentioned, Lewis was first married to Hettie/Hattie. Their children include Sibbie Ann, Robert Eli, Margaret, Henry, Mary, Gordon, Frank, William, Lewis, Jane and Rosena. I was able to find information for Sibbie Ann, Robert Eli, Gordon, Frank, William, Lewis, Rosena and possibly Margaret. I found a death record for a Harriet Margaret Powell for May 29, 1879, but I could not find anything else to confirm this, but Margaret is listed on the 1871 Census, but not the 1881 Census, meaning the timeline matches up.
Sibbie Ann’s gravestone says that she was born on November 22, 1858 and that she died on March 22, 1875 in Harrow. She was 16 years old. Sibbie Ann’s brother, Robert Eli married Mary Annie Baylis, the daughter of Henry and Mary Jane Baylis, on July 10, 1884 in Amherstburg. Robert Eli’s death record states that he died on February 18, 1944 in Ypsilanti, Michigan and that he was born in Harrow on September 17, 1861. Robert Eli’s brother Gordon passed away on January 21, 1920 in Toledo. According to his death record, he was married to a woman named Nellie and he worked as a labourer.
The next child of Lewis and Hettie Powell is Frank. He married Hattie Johnson, the daughter of George Johnson and Frances Pines, on January 27, 1898 in Colchester. Frank and Hattie are listed on the 101 Census for Colchester South, but they moved to Ypsilanti which was reported in the Amherstburg Echo on November 8, 1907 after Hattie visited from Ypsilanti. According to Frank’s death record, he passed away on May 30, 1935 in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Frank’s brother William passed away on March 17, 1896 at the age of 28 years old. His obituary from the Amherstburg Echo which was printed on March 20, 1896 says “William Powell, son of Lewis Powell of the ? c[oncession?] died on Tuesday night of consumption. He was 28 years of age and lived for some years in Detroit?, Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, but returned home last fall. The funeral took place yesterday (Thursday) morning from his father’s residence to Gilgal cemetery. Rev. W.H. Snowden officiating. Mabel Powell, a sister of deceased is very ill with the same ? and Wilson Powell, a brother, was buried about three weeks ago.”
William’s brother Lewis married Ellen Poole, the daughter of Marion Poole, on August 3, 1894 in Washtenaw, Michigan. Lewis married a second time to Mary Stone Simmons, the daughter of John Simmons, on June 6, 1903 in Lenawee, Michigan. Lewis’ third marriage was to Eleanora Bannister, the daughter of Synix Bannister and Ellen Jones, on November 2, 1903 in Adrian, Michigan. Lewis’ sister Rosena passed away on March 20, 1883 in Colchester at the age of 10.
As mentioned, Lewis Powell Sr. married a second time to Grozilia Hann. They married on April 12, 1877 in Colchester. Their children include Minnie, Esther, Eldred, Wilson, Mabel, Kydson, Sybil, and Nona. Minnie married Charles Nelson Pettiford, the son of Charles and Sarah Pettiford, on December 6, 1889. A death record for Charles’ sister Matilda Clingman shares that their mother’s full name was Sarah Halburt. Minnie and Charles had at least two children named Cecilia/Cecil who was born on May 12, 1897 and Charles Louie who was born on September 10, 1909. The only reference for Charles Louie is found on the 1940 Census where he is listed as living with his aunt and uncle Esther (Powell) and Harry Carter. Cecilia Estella Pettiford married Archie Bell, the son of George Bell and Nellie Fletcher, on March 15, 1916 in St. Catharines. They had a son named Ralph and I was able to find an article about Ralph which appeared in the St. Cloud Times on April 25, 1999 and was titled “Evangelist Bell brings spiritual message to local ears.” The article says “Ralph Bell learned early on that sometimes you need more than one chance, and a little guidance, to get on the right path. Dropped off by his mother at school for his first day of kindergarten, young Bell quickly decided school wasn’t for him. He walked out of the classroom and kept right on going, walking each step of the two miles back to his home. Unfazed by Bell’s quick return home, his mother simply gathered him up and drove him back to school. This time he decided to stay. Bell’s preaching during Celebration ’99 in St. Cloud may remind attendees of that young boy. It will reach out to those searching for answers, those searching for the right path. It will be filled with quiet determination and strength. ‘We want to share the good news of the Gospel, to move upon those who do not know the Lord,’ Bell said from his home in Bellevue, Colo. ‘We want to prick the ears of the community and get people to reflect on their spiritual relationship.’”
The article continues by saying “Bell has been preaching the Gospel since 1960, since 1965 as a member of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Graham handpicked Bell to join his ministry when the two met during the Watts riots. Bell was a young pastor at his first church in Los Angeles at the time. Almost 35 years later, Bell continues to preach the good news of Jesus Christ around the world. ‘My greatest reward is seeing people come to know the Lord as their savior, whether in this country or abroad,’ Bell said. The Ralph Bell Evangelistic Ministry has a simple but profound mission: to help people find God and enjoy his presence forever. Bell said the No. 1 problem facing people today is the lack of knowing God. Once that problem is solved, the others will take care of themselves. ‘Man’s greatest need is to know him, love him,’ Bell said. ‘When we get to know our creator, we’re able to love our neighbor as ourselves. … You have to have the power to love other people and also the desire. Just accept people as people and be colorblind. ‘Sin, not skin, is the problem.’ The process of Celebration ’99, like all BGEA crusades, is threefold: First, to preach the Gospel in hope that people will be reconciled to God and to each other in Jesus Christ. Second, to help Christians of all denominations come together to display a united witness for Christ. Third, to strengthen church congregations through evangelism training, with an emphasis on Bible study and personal and corporate prayer.”
“It will be out of character if Bell gives any fire and brimstone sermons at the crusade. His messages likely will be quiet in manner, but loud in significance. Bell, 64, was born in Canada, appropriately enough on a Sunday in 1934. He was the last of Archibald and Cecilia Bell’s eight children. He attended a small African Methodist church as a youth and was a pretty good baseball and football player. When he was 16, he received Jesus Christ as his personal savior. Bell became active in his church youth group and at 17, he and the group attended one of Graham’s crusades. ‘I’d never dreamed that God would have this in store for me,’ Bell said. ‘I just saw God using this man and wanted to be a person God would use, too.’ Many people are searching for the answers to life. Bell figures he has a good answer for them and will be happy to pass it along for free at the crusade. ‘A person should attend, especially if he is experiencing an emptiness,’ Bell said. ‘He may have a searching heart, wondering what purpose is there of his existing. It might be an individual who just feels empty in his life, that there’s something missing.’ ‘It is possible a crusade like this can help him. … ‘A lot of people feel themselves in times of crises,’ Bell continued. ‘It could be a financial loss, the loss of a loved one. Some are just searching, but can’t put their finger on it. It’s a hunger God put in the human heart. It comes to different people in different ways. I think we all have it at some time or another.’”
“Bell has done extensive prison ministry. But he’ll leave those duties to others in the Billy Graham team in St. Cloud. ‘That way we free me up to be on target for the evening service,’ Bell said. In at least one way, prison ministry isn’t a tough sell. ‘You don’t have to prove very much that man is a sinner,’ Bell said. ‘You just get on with the solution, not the problem. There are so many young people in prison, and it’s nice to see them turn it around. You also see older guys help younger ones. They themselves have helped the Lord.’ While some of Bell’s messages are fairly standard, many are not. Bell consults with local ministers and the BGEA team before each night’s meeting, then prays, studies and prepares his lessons. Bell will deliver those messages each night to highlight Celebration ’99. He will speak about families Thursday. He will address youth Saturday. ‘The subject matter the other nights will be more general,’ Bell said. ‘We could talk about man’s needs, the problem of guilt and forgiveness, that aspect of God’s love. Or why do good people suffer in an evil world?’ Bell also hopes to speak on diversity and racial harmony, a problem the St. Cloud area, alongwith many others, is wrestling with. Fear is often the culprit. ‘One of the big difficulties with individuals is the problem of fear,’ Bell said. ‘ … When you get to know each other, you really see they’re not much difficult than yourself. People are pretty much the same. If we can break down the barriers of fear, and establish trust, you’re a long way to making racial harmony work.’”
“Bell hopes Celebration ’99 will attract an audience, churched or unchurched, of different races and creeds that will join together to hear God’s words. The starting point to break down the barriers lies in the young, Bell said. ‘If we can do it with the children, we stand a far better chance,’ Bell said. ‘They’re the ones who can make inroads with their parents.’ Another lesson Bell hopes will resonate with Central Minnesotans is how the Christian denominations are more alike than they are different. ‘Focusing on our differences is not the way we need to proceed,’ Bell said. ‘I think we need to realign our focus on God. We don’t have time for arguing and fighting with ourselves when there’s work to be done.’ A key factor in the BGEA accepting the invitation to come to St. Cloud was the ecumenical spirit Bell felt exists among area churches. ‘Everywhere we go, we spend some time in prayer, and we want to see what kind of cooperation they have there,’ Bell said. The BGEA accepts 60 percent to 70 percent of community invitations. ‘If the lines of division (between area churches) are too great, if we don’t think there is cooperation, then we don’t go,’ he said. While he acknowledges that sometimes some denominations and local churches are more supportive of the crusades than others, Bell wanted to extend an invitation for all church members and ministers to attend the crusade. ‘We leave it up to them whether they feel they can cooperate,’ Bell said. ‘Whatever they decided, that’s OK. We just go on with the work we do.’”
Now that I have discussed Minnie, I will move on to discuss her brother George. He passed away on July 4, 1881 at the age of 9 months. George’s sister Esther married Harry Carter, the son of John Carter and Sarah Wilson, on April 26, 1903 in Windsor. They had at least four children including Edward, Gretta, Fraser, and John. Edward married Laura V. Gantt, the daughter of Samuel Hopkins and Ada Doxy Hopkins, on March 19, 1946 in Erie, Pennsylvania. Edward’s sister Gretta was born on January 10, 1907 in Colchester, while Fraser was born on November 10, 1909 in Colchester. Their brother John was born on September 20, 1911 in Colchester.
The next child of Lewis Powell and Grozilia Hann is Eldred who was born on July 10, 1884 in Colchester. He married at least two times. His first marriage was to Jennie Matthews and his second was to a woman named Winnifred. Jennie Matthews was born on February 20, 1889 and was the daughter of Edmond Matthews and Mary Mason. Jennie and Eldred married on February 1, 1905 in Colchester. Jennie and Eldred’s children include Effie Georgetta, Lawrence, Edmund Louis (Ted), Jennie, and Barbara. Effie Georgetta was born on January 31, 1907 in Colchester. She married Atkins Porter, the son of Henry Porter and Mattie Atkins, on March 7, 1928 in Lucas, Ohio. Effie may have also married a second time because an article that discusses her father, Louis E. Powell, also mentions Effie as Mrs. John Davis of Detroit. I found evidence for at least one of Effie and Atkins’s children who was named Wilbur Eugene Porter. His marriage record says that he married Lou Katheryine Russell, the daughter of Thomas A. Russell and Mildred L. Hudson, on August 12, 1956 in Los Angeles, California.
Effie’s brother Lawrence was born on August 8, 1905 in Harrow, while Jennie was born on June 30, 1910 in Colchester South. Sadly, she passed away a few years later on July 27, 1918. Her passing was shared in the Amherstburg Echo on August 2, 1918 which says “Jennie, 8-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Eldred Powell, passed away at their home, 3rd concession, Thursday of last week. She had been a sufferer for a long time with tuberculosis. The funeral took place on Saturday to the B.M.E. church, Harrow, where services were conducted by Rev. Peter Brooks, and interment was in Gilgal cemetery.”
Jennie’s brother Edmund Louis (Ted) Powell may be the most well-known member of the Powell family because of his connection to the Emancipation Celebrations in Windsor. Following the passing of Mr. Emancipation, Walter Perry, on August 17, 1967, Edmund ‘Ted’ Powell became the Director of Emancipation Celebrations from 1968 to 1984. Emancipation Celebrations meant a lot to Ted as he was quoted as saying “I can personally remember as a small boy at the age of 4 or 5 years, when my aunt and father would drive to Amherstburg by horse and buggy from the Third concession in Colchester South with lunches packed to spend this first day of August celebration, our freedom.”
Edmund Louis (Ted) Powell was born on November 5, 1908 in Colchester. I was also able to locate his obituary in the Windsor Star which appeared on January 9, 1996 and says “POWELL, Edmund Louis (Ted) Born Colchester South Township (Harrow, Ont.), died at Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital Hotel Dieu Site of January 7, 1996, at the age of 87 after a courageous battle with cancer. Late of Windsor. Loving companion and best friend of Doris (Fryer). Dear dad and best friend to Lynn. Dear grandpa and best friend to Michelle. Predeceased by son Mike (1966) and step-daughter Sandy Merritt (1963). Predeceased by parents: mother Jenny (Matthews) Powell, father Louis Eldred Powell, sister Jenny Venor Powell, and Brother Lawrence Eldwood Powell. Dear brother of Effie Davis, Detroit and Barbara (Wilson) Fraser. Survived by niece Barbara, nephews Buster, John, Lawrence and Louie, Detroit, Mich. Step-father to Barbara (Merritt) Gyles of Tilbury …Ted was retired from the City of Windsor after 25 ½ years. He was Past President of C.U.P.E. Local 82 Outside Workers, 1964-1972. He was Director of Emancipation Day Celebrations from 1968-1984. He was ‘Uncle Ted’ to many nieces and nephews. Ted will be greatly missed by many relatives, friends, neighbours and the in-laws. He was an active member of the British Methodist Episcopal Church.”
Following Ted’s passing the Windsor Star printed a tribute to him titled “Saluting a life of struggle” which says “When I’ve gone that last mile of the way, I will rest at the close of day.” Edmund Louis (Ted) Powell is resting now. His last mile, a courageous struggle with cancer, the one foe he couldn’t subdue, ended with a ‘homegoing service’ Thursday in the British Methodist Episcopal Church on University Avenue. There have been bigger send-offs in Windsor. And far more elaborate ones. But even a king’s funeral, with all its pomp and pageantry, couldn’t match this simple ceremony for warmth and hopefulness. It was honest. Straightforward. And direct. Just like the pugnacious Harrow-born union leader and Emancipation Day promoter whose 87 years of struggle to overcome barriers, visible and otherwise, we were commemorating. They labelled it a celebration of the straight-talking, take-no-guff Powell’s long and eventful life. And God was it ever. I’ve been to a lot of funerals over the years. Loathed each and every one of those grim occasions and the sorrowful memories they left behind. This was different. Sure. There were tears shed. Buckets of them. But this time the message of hope and optimism and seize-the-day urgency was so powerful and so insistent that I left the church feeling, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone, something close to joy at being alive. There was a poignant moment near the end of the service when one of Powell’s lifelong buddies, a fragile J.J. (Jack) Evans, stepped forward and saluted his friend as the undertakers rolled the casket down the aisle. As schoolboys, these two had shared a very special day. They played hookey and sold racing forms during the historic Oct. 12, 1920 showdown at Windsor’s Kenilworth Park racetrack between Man O’ War and Sir Barton, one of the great sporting events of the century.”
The article continues, “In a feature story to mark the event’s 75th anniversary, I described Powell and Evans as “old men watching the last grains of sand slipping down life’s hourglass.” Little did I know how few grains were left. Powell, who had a special way with words, summed up the race this way: “Big Red (Man O’ War) went by that English horse (Sir Barton) like a freight train going by a tram. Talk about a racehorse and a jackass running against each other. That’s how it looked.” But Powell had a lot more to say about Windsor in the 1920s, about growing up in an era of vicious racism in which the N-word was a daily fact of life and some city streets and neighborhoods were virtually off-limits to black youngsters.” This article also mentions that Ted Powell enlisted in the Canadian Army and was sent to the Sarnia area for training. It also mentions how he was refused service in a bar because of the colour of his skin. Also included is the racism that he experienced in Essex County, stating “Powell, as a small child, lived within a stone’s throw of a school in Harrow but was forced to walk miles to a county school, even in the dead of winter. Why? Because the nearby classrooms were off-limits to black kids. Powell remembered how the friendly white folks would smile and wave while driving past him and his little siblings as they trudged home from the county school. And to his dying days he wondered why not one of those nice smiling people ever stopped to give them a ride. ‘Y’all didn’t go through what we went through,’ Powell confided. So true.”
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 Powell Family History Part 4 – The Redcap
Now that I’ve shared information for Jennie and Eldred’s children, I’ll share a few more details about them. Sadly, just a few years after Jennie and Eldred were married the Amherstburg Echo printed Jennie’s obituary on March 24, 1911 which says “Mrs. Eldred Powell did not long survive her return home from Detroit, where she was receiving treatment for tuberculosis, passing away Saturday. The funeral took place Monday forenoon, services being conducted in the B.M.E. church by Rev. Peter Brooks, and interment was at Gilgal, the pallbearers being Jesse Currans, Albert Lewis, A. Coates, A. Brookes, Charles Marshall and Ezra Banks. Mrs. Powell’s maiden name was Jennie Matthews, daughter of the late Edwin Matthews. She was married six years ago, and besides her husband and four little children, leaves her mother, 3rd concession and two brothers, Joseph and Martin. Hers is the third death from consumption in the Matthews family.”
Eldred Powell appeared several times in the Amherstburg Echo because of his work on the railway. According to an article from June 7, 1912, Eldred was employed as chief cook on the M.C.R. dining cars. Several years later, on October 16, 1931, another article titled “The Boy Who Made Good” featured the work of C.E. Powell which I believe is actually L.E. Powell (Lewis Eldred). The article says “Among Harrow’s native sons, who have made good in the business world, is one who comes in contact with everyone who has occasion to take the C.N.R. at Windsor. We refer to C.E. Powell, the efficient, genial and obliging railway porter at that station. Mr. Powell is a son of the late Louis Powell and has held his present position for six years. Harrow has reason to point with pride to splendid way in which Mr. Powell is handling his job.”
When Louis Eldred Powell passed away in 1957, The Windsor Daily Star printed his obituary which says “POWELL, Louis E., 75 years, Nov. 30, 1957, at Hotel Dieu Hospital. Husband of Winnifred, 341 Howard Ave. Dear father of Louis E. (Ted), Windsor; Mrs. Effie Davis, Detroit, and Barbara at home. Dear brother of Mrs. Alex (Mabel) Nicholson, St. Catharines; Kydson F. Powell, Buffalo, N.Y.; eight grandchildren. Resting at James H. Sutton Funeral Home, 937 Ouellette Ave, till Tuesday, 11 a.m., thence to B.M.E. Church, McDougall St. until 2 p.m., time of service. Rev. I.H. Edwards officiating. Interment Windsor Grove Cemetery. Masonic service under auspices of North Star Lodge No. 7 A.F. and A.M., Monday evening at 8:30 at funeral home.”
Following his passing, The Windsor Daily Star printed a detailed tribute to Eldred who was well known as a C.N.R. Redcap. The article says, “Louie Takes Hist Last, Longest Trip – in Death – Famous C.N.R. Redcap, L.E. Powell Collapses on Job at City Station – Windsor lost a nation-wide trademark Saturday with the death of Louis E. Powell, known to thousands of Canadian and American travellers as ‘Louie the Redcap.’ Mr. Powell, who for the past 30 years was news agent, porter and general handyman at the Canadian National Railways station, suffered a heart attack while waiting for the 2:20 p.m. train to arrive at the station. He was 74. Mr. Powell was probably the best known ‘redcap’ in Canada, but because he was the sort of person who never talked about himself, few people knew his real name. During his service with the C.N.R., ‘Louie’ met dozens of important visitors. He carried the baggage of prime ministers, Members of Parliament, outstanding business heads and thousands of servicemen. He waited on King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, watched the coming and going of eight city mayors and noticed the passing of prominent citizens whom he numbered among his ‘regular customers.’
After coming to Windsor even with this everyday reminder to travel, Mr. Powell never travelled further than the Walkerville station, a mile from the Windsor depot, on a train. He made his trip to provide last minute travellers with the latest edition papers.”
The article continues with “Before working in the city he was a helper in the dining cars on the Michigan Central Railway trains between Chicago, Buffalo and Detroit. One of Mr. Powell’s biggest thrills came in June 1939, when he delivered a telegraph message to King George and Queen Elizabeth in their private car. A valet in the coach took the telegram before Mr. Powell got a chance to see the King and Queen, but he had the satisfaction of being closer to the outstanding visitors than thousands of others who packed their railway siding to greet them. Mr. Powell will be best remembered for his perpetual smile, kind word of advice and happy philosophy. He worked tirelessly as a porter, gardener, janitor and a walking information booth for puzzled travellers. Greatness never impressed Louie but he found most people in high position were very gracious. But all his ‘customers’ from the army privates to high ranking diplomats received the same considerate treatment from the little porter. Born in Colchester South Twp., Mr. Powell came to Windsor in 1917. He was a member of the B.M.E. Church and of North Star Lodge No. 7. A.F. and A.M. He is survived by his widow, Winnifred, of 841 Howard Ave., a son, Louis E. of Windsor; two daughters, Mrs. John Davis (Effie,) of Detroit and Barbara at home; a brother, Kydson F. of Buffalo, N.Y.; a sister, Mrs. Alex Nicholson (Mabel), of St. Catharines, and eight grandchildren. Funeral service will be conducted at 2p.m. Tuesday at the B.M.E. Church with Rev. I.H. Edwards officiating. Masonic services will be held at Sutton Funeral Home … The body will be at the funeral home until 11 a.m. Tuesday when he will be taken to B.M.E. Church. Burial will be in Windsor Grove Cemetery.”
A separate article from the same edition of The Windsor Daily Star (December 2, 1957) titled “So Many Will Miss Louie” with more glowing words. It writes, “The Canadian National depot won’t seem the same without Louis E. Powell. He was there to speed passengers on their way and to welcome them on return. So many knew Louie and he knew them. He could call people by name and it was always a pleasure to have him take the bags and see they were put in the right place. Only last Monday evening Louie welcomed us back to Windsor, taking the bags in the snowstorm and his warm smile made us forget the chill and damp. Louie always had such a merry laugh. People had learned to look for him and exchange greetings and the time of day. Louie wished so many of us in Windsor well as we departed on some journey. As Louie goes on his last trip, our prayers go with him. He had become an institution in Windsor.”
Now that I have shared everything I could find about Eldred, I will now discuss his remaining siblings Wilson, Mabel, Kydson, Sybil and Nona. The only information I could find for Wilson is his death record and an obituary. He passed away on March 6, 1896 at the age of 10. His obituary from the Amherstburg Echo says “Wilson, son of Lewis Powell, who has been ill with an abscess in his back, died on Tuesday in his 10th year, and was buried in the cemetery at Gilgal yesterday (Thursday), Elder W. Crosby officiating. Mabel, sister, and William, brother, of the deceased, are both very low with small hopes of recovery.”
Wilson’s sister Mabel is the next child of Lewis and Grozilia Powell. She married Alexander Nickolson, the son of Adam Nickolson and Mary Amos, on April 15, 1908 in St. Catharines. Their children include Mallagy, Ronald and Earl. Mallagy Alexander Kydston (Kydson) Nicholson was born on March 6, 1909 in St. Catharines. He married Louise Johnson, the daughter of Lonnie Johnson and Lulu Lattermore, on January 13, 1932. Mallagy’s brother Reginald Ronald was born on April 2, 1911 in St. Catharines. His brother Earl was born on August 19, 1912 in St. Catharines and passed away on May 26, 1918 at the age of 5.
I was also able to find an interesting article reprinted in the Amherstburg Echo on April 18, 1919 which says “The following is a clipping from the Globe: ‘Faith, Hope and Charity Baptized. Unique event on St. Kitts Collection for Special Perambulator. St. Catharines, April 6th – The British Methodist Episcopal church had an unusual event this afternoon in a baptism service for triplets – two boys and one girl – children of A.C. Nicholson, of Vine street. Faith, Hope and Charity are the names of the trio. All are experiencing teeth cutting. The service had been announced, the church was filled and a special collection was taken to provide a special perambulator.’ It will be remembered that Mrs. Nicholson (nee Mabel Powell) was a daughter of the late Lewis Powell, of this township.”
The only other reference I could find to these children was a death record for Walter Lawrence Nicholson who was the son of Charity Nicholson and Edward Smith who passed on December 21, 1937. The informant was Faith Nicholson.
Mabel’s brother Kydson is the next child of Lewis and Grozilia Powell. There are several references to Kydson’s education and occupations in the Amherstburg Echo. On February 4, 1910, the newspaper reported that Kydson was attending automobile school in Buffalo. On November 24, 1911, the Amherstburg Echo printed that he left Detroit to start his work as a barber in Buffalo. In February 1913, he changed course and attended college in Wilberforce, Ohio and by 1915 was back in Buffalo. Kydson and his wife appear on the 1930 Census for Buffalo, New York, along with their children Kydson F., Marion, Howard and Margaret. Kydson’s nephew Louis Pettiford was also living with them. The 1940 Census for Buffalo lists Kydson and his wife Edna and their children Kydson, Marian, Howard and Margaret, along with their daughter-in-law Friday Queen. Kydson Jr. is listed as married on this census so he is likely the person married to Friday Queen. This Census lists Kydson as a Train Porter, while Edna worked as a Maid. Kydson Jr. was a mechanic, Marian was a Maid and Howard worked as a Clerk. Kydson Jr. and his wife Esther, who I believe is Friday Queen, are listed on another 1940 Census. This time Kydson’s occupation says “Car Wash” at a public garage. According to Kydson’s headstone, he was born in 1890 and passed away in 1964, while Edna’s headstone says 1898-1976.
A newspaper called the McClatchy Tribune Business News printed an article about Kydson and Edna’s son Howard on March 28, 2011 titled “A crucial role without firing a bullet.” This article discusses Howard’s military service and writes “Howard G. Powell was drafted into the Army in 1942, but instead of being assigned a rifle, he was put to work taking notes and typing. That’s because he had a skill the Army valued. At Fosdick-Masten Park High School, he had taken shorthand, and the military needed soldiers who could rapidly take accurate notes at disciplinary proceedings. ‘I covered court-martial proceedings in the Pacific Theater for soldiers who were brought up on charges of dereliction of duty,’ Powell says. ‘I covered the hearings in shorthand and did a lot of transcribing.’
“Unlike other African-American soldiers who were placed in all-black units, he served in a mostly white battalion. Race was not a factor, he said. ‘I was proud to be doing my job and proud to be serving my country,” Powell recalls. When he wasn’t working at disciplinary hearings, he drove a truck, delivering supplies on Pacific islands from Hawaii to the Philippines. And while Powell had a front-row seat to history in World War II, he says, he is also proud of being part of a historic group of African-Americans who hold claim to being members of the first generation of native Buffalonians of black ancestry. Born in 1921, he and many other African-Americans made up that local generation, and they shared a special bond in being able to call this Northern city their hometown. His father, Kydson F. Powell Sr., came to Buffalo from Canada. He had lived near Windsor, Ont. As the family story goes, Buffalo’s economic opportunities back in the early 20th century beckoned Kydson Powell. He found work as a porter, or redcap, with the New York Central Railroad.”
“While working the rails, he met his future wife, Edna, from Scranton, Pa., and they married. She was a homemaker, music instructor and organist at St. Luke AME Zion Church. Howard Powell, the third-youngest of their four children, followed in his father’s footsteps, working as a redcap at the old Central Terminal until Uncle Sam interrupted his career with a draft notice. That is when Powell got the chance to put his shorthand skills to work with the military. He knew he was in a sensitive position, with the careers of soldiers on the line at courts-martial. Instead of combat, he explains, he witnessed another side of the war–soldiers in precarious positions for allegedly violating orders. Upon returning home from the war, he resumed working as a redcap but soon began employment at the Westinghouse plant in Cheektowaga and became one of the company’s first black supervisors. For 41 years, he worked at Westinghouse. Mainly on his income, he and his wife of 64 years, Ethel, now deceased, raised four children, Veronica, Natalie, Myron and Derrick. In retirement, he did some work as a private investigator. But his life was not all work. He served as an organizer of a party that had been held every other year in the Buffalo Convention Center and had been open to African-Americans who were part of that first generation of blacks born in the city. That fit right into his passion for history. The party was dubbed ‘The Buffalonians,’ and as word spread, the gathering grew from about 100 people to more than a thousand, with folks returning home to Buffalo from all over the country and the world. But as age creeped up on the organizers such as Powell, it was no longer feasible to put on the extravaganza. Yet even as he approaches the ripe old age of 90, Powell still gets around and is an active member at Our Savior Lutheran Church on Brunswick Boulevard, where he served as treasurer for more than 25 years. ‘I have been blessed. I was able to live and to love and to see so much,’ he says. ‘I’ve always believed in God, family and racial pride.’”
The last two children of Lewis and Grozilia Powell are Sybil and Nona. The only reference I could find for Sybil was in the Amherstburg Echo which mentions “Misses Sybil and Cecelia Powell are visiting their uncle Gordon Powell, and Mr. and Mrs. Roberts of Toledo, Ohio.”
Nona is the last member of the Powell family to be discussed. She married James Hahn. According to her death record, she passed away on September 15, 1931 in Windsor at the age of 55. She is also listed as a widow, so James had passed away by that point. Nona’s obituary appeared in the Border Cities’ Star on September 16, 1931. The obituary says “– Mrs. Hahn Dies After Long Illness – Mrs. Nona Hahn, 55 years old, died yesterday at her home, 731 Howard avenue, following a lengthy illness. Mrs. Hahn had been sick for 15 years. Born at Harrow, she lived there until she came to the Border Cities 12 years ago at Harrow. Her husband, James, died 27 years ago. Mrs. Hahn was a member of the B.M.E. Church in Windsor. She is survived by one daughter, Mrs. Beryl Vidal, of Detroit; two brothers, Louis Powell, of Windsor, and Kyston Powell of Buffalo; and two sisters, Mrs. Esther Carter, of Buffalo; and Mrs. Mabel Nicholson, of St. Catharines. Funeral services will be held Thursday at 2 o’clock from the B.M.E. Church. Burial will take place at the Windsor Grove Cemetery. Rev. F.L. Stewart will officiate.”
Nona’s obituary mentions her daughter Beryl Hahn. She married James Vidal, the son of Albitina Beechum and Joseph Vidal, on November 24, 1920 in Detroit. According to his WWI Draft Registration, James Augustus Vidal was born on February 5, 1893 in Trinidad, West Indies. I also found a Declaration of Intention for Beryl Hahn Vidal which records her occupation as ‘Presser’, that she was born on December 5, 1898 in Harrow, and that she had a son named Robert who was born on April 2, 1921 in Windsor and was also serving in the US Army.
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.