This past weekend (Aug 5-7) the DeLavallade Family Reunion was held at San Francisco CA... Our theme was the "DeLavallade Migration 1920-1950." Migrating to California were four siblings of which my Mother was one of them.  The following is the introduction to their stories along with the story I have chosen to share with you that of my Mother as written by one of my brothers and as published in our 2011 Reunion Souvenir Book minus actual month and date of births... Please view the video collection of my Mother's life as created by my niece and is located in my videos here at AfriGeneas Talking.

 

DELAVALLADE MIGRATION

1920 -1950

 

One Way Ticket


I pick up my life
And take it with me
And I put it down in
Chicago, Detroit,
Buffalo, Scranton
Any place that is
North and East?
And not Dixie.
I pick up my life
And take it on the train
To Los Angeles, Bakersfield,
Seattle, Oakland, Salt Lake
Any place that is
North and West?
But not South
I am fed up
With Jim Crow laws,
People who are cruel
And afraid,
Who lynch and run,
Who are scared of me
And me of them.
I pick up my life
And take it away
On a one-way ticket?
Gone up North,
Gone out West,
Gone!

Langston Hughes - 1949

 

DeLavallade Migration

1920-1950

 

 

The Great Migration:

“The Great Migration A recent newspaper article in New York’s The Register Star stated “Starting about 1910, in what is now known as the Great Migration, several million African-Americans left behind the warm climate, the stagnant economy and the widespread racism of the southern states and moved to the Northeast, the Midwest and the West.

Some historians and social scientistsdivide the Great Migration as two separate occasions. The First Great Migration happened between 1910 and 1940, when approximate 1.6 million people left the south. The Second Great Migration took place between 1940 and 1970, in which more than 5 million people moved to a variety of destinations, north, east and west.

   

1910 to 1930

 Taking part in the First Great Migration were descendants of Jean Michel Delavallade and Fanny Blanchard, the children of their son Great Grandfather Samuel Laurence DeLavallade and his wife Josephine Thompson DeLavallade; their children Fanny, Dorothy, and Herman migrated from New Orleans to Chicago, IL, with Grandma Phine (Josephine).  All are found in the1920 United States Federal Population Census. While their son Great Uncle Arthur’s marriage to Beatrice Rose place him in Chicago in 1918 whereas, Great Uncle Bonford was in Chicago and Detroit by January 1919 the year he married Florence Reddick and Uncle Charles the son of Grandpa Charles is found in the 1930 census in both New Orleans and Chicago.

 

We find Walter V. Hebard Jr., in Los Angeles by 1930; he is the son of Ida L. Delavallade Hebard the daughter of Jean Michel and Hortense Tiffin Delavallade. Migrating to New Jersey and later to New York was another of Ida’s sons, Earl Arthur Hebard. Earl would die there in 1932.  Earl would leave a wife and four children.

 

Descendants of Pierre Benjamin DeLavallade and Marian Wilson also took part in the First Great Migration. Louis de Lavallade and family left Alexander and New Orleans, Louisiana for the Los Angeles area of California in the early 1920s. A newspaper article documents them in L.A. in 1922. Alida Frank de Lavallade, the wife of Pierre Andre (another of B.P. and Marian’s sons, also migrated to Los Angeles by 1930 (according to the 1930 census). Alida migrated with four of their eleven children.  Andre would not migrate until much later. The California death index lists him as having passed away on November 20, 1943.  Some of B.P. and Marian’s children married into the Greenhouse family. They would eventually migrate to Washington D.C. and California.

 

No records have been found that indicate if descendants of Emile Pierre Delavallade took part in either of the Great Migrations, 1910-1950.

 

1940 to 1950 

 The DeLavallade Migration

Louisiana – Northern California

 

Mildred, Samuel, Florence, and Floyd DeLavallade, four siblings, the children of Charles Henry and Mary M. Jackson DeLavallade (shown in the picture below) were a part of the second Great Migration.

 

 

The following section is dedicated to these four siblings who made the trek to California.  They packed their bags, leaving behind parents Charles and Mary; they left siblings Myrtle, Bonford, Josephine, Irving, Marion, Sterling and Dorothy Mae, brother Charles had migrated earlier to Chicago.  The siblings left extended family and friends. They packed up and left all back home in New Orleans to go out West to begin a new life.

 

 The DeLavallade Migration

Louisiana – Northern California

 

The following is a brief account (as told by descendants of the four DeLavallade siblings) of their parent’s migration to the San Francisco Bay Area in California.

 

During March of 1945, Mildred (Mama), with her sister-in-law, Audrey Mae Armstrong, and children Barbara, Louis Jr. and five-month-old Pat, boarded a train from New Orleans to San Francisco to join her husband Louis, Sr.

 

Uncle Sam or Samuel migrated sometime before 1948 but after 1945.  He was in the U.S. Navy, and it is believed that he was aboard the U.S.S. King (242) while it was docked at Mare Island in 1949.  After leaving the service, he returned to New Orleans but would soon find his way back to California to live in the East Bay.

 

Aunt Florence, a recent bride, migrated with her husband Nehemiah Brown in 1948 to San Francisco where together they began a new life and raised a family.

 

Uncle Floyd came for a visit while still in the service. Once discharged, he went back New Orleans but by 1951, he too found his way back to San Francisco. 

 

Each started life anew as part of the Second Great Migration between the years 1940 and 1950.

Movin’ On Up …

I could come back down to New Orleans

For wonderful visits with my people

But I couldn’t stay.

San Francisco, Oakland and the West, where

I was used to Negroes being more free,

Was where I belonged.

(Revised)

P.A.Watkins

Movin’ On Up …

(Original)

“I could come back down to New Orleans

For wonderful visits with my people

But I couldn’t stay.

Chicago and the North, where

I was used to Negroes being more free,

Was where I belonged.”

Mahalia Jackson

 

 

MILDRED E. DELAVALLADE ARMSTRONG

 

 Fifty-four years after the end of the Civil war and almost a year to the day of the end of World War I, Mildred Elizabeth DeLavallade was born on November 6, 1919 in New Orleans Louisiana, the eighth child of Charles and Mary DeLavallade.  Woodrow Wilson was in his second term in office, it was the dawn of the Jazz Age, the Roaring 20’s, and “Laisse le bon temps rouler” would soon be trumpeted from the streets of New Orleans.

 

Mildred was the fourth daughter born into the DeLavallade family, proceeded by Myrtle, Josephine, and Mary followed by Florence and Dorothy Mae.  Mildred would grow to womanhood under the watchful eye of father Charles and older bothers Charles, Bonford, Samuel, Marion and younger brothers Irving, Sterling, and Floyd. 

 

Brother Marion, the nearest in age to Mildred of the older brothers played a significant role in Mildred’s maturation.  Marion contributed to tuition cost for Mildred’s education at Xavier University Preparatory School.  Mildred was a good student showing interest in math and science. However, Mildred did not graduate high school, leaving Xavier after the completion of the 11th grade.

 

While at Xavier Mildred had given some thought to becoming a nun but that would change one day while playing softball in Shakespeare Park. That day, a fourteen year old paperboy, the namesake of one of New Orleans’ favorite sons, Louis Armstrong, watched Mildred as she pitched strikes and balls. Louis did not approach Mildred that day but shortly thereafter he did. It was the beginning of a union that would span sixty-three years.

 

Mildred and Louis attended Xavier together until Louis dropped out after completing the ninth grade to find work to help raise his younger siblings along with his single mother. Mildred and Louis were married on June 28, 1939. 

 

Louis and Mildred took up residence in a shotgun rental on 7th Street in N.O.  Louis provided for his new bride on $1 per hour wage at a local battery manufacture. The newlyweds started their family with the birth of their first of ten children, Barbara Louise in 1941.  Louis Jr. would come shortly after in 1942. The needs of his growing family had Louis seeking and obtaining higher wages loading freight for Louisville and Nashville (L&N) Railroad.  December 1941 there was declaration of war on Japan by the United States and declaration of war on the United States by Hitler

 

Louis learned of a government training program from a high school friend Ernestine Vincent Reed.  He enrolled in the program, going to school at night and working at the railroad during the day. The machinist training program would lead to greater employment opportunity for Louis and greater security for his young family but it meant leaving New Orleans.  This didn’t bring great pleasure to Mildred.  Boston, Seattle, and San Francisco were the location choices presented to Louis by the U.S. Navy for employment as a Machinist Helper. 

                                                               

Louis chose San Francisco and departed New Orleans in the Spring of 1944 knowing that Mildred was pregnant with their third child Patricia.  It would be the following Spring when Mildred would arrive at the Third & Townsend Southern Pacific station with her three children and Louis’ sister Audrey Mae.

 

Like many other blacks migrating from the South to San Francisco in pursuit of the jobs being provided by the World War II war economy, Louis had settled into the working class neighborhood of Bay View Hunter’s Point.  It took awhile for Mildred to warm up to the idea of leaving her parents and family back in New Orleans for a new life in California. Having older brother Samuel in the Bay Area lessened Mildred’s unhappiness with moving so far away from her family. 

 

Mildred and Louis settled with life in San Francisco, establishing lifelong friendships with other blacks who had migrated from the South.  Mildred soon was joined in San Francisco by younger sister Florence and younger brother Floyd. The Boudreaux’s, Estella and Nolan lived across the hall. Marguerite, her mother Mrs. Brent and children lived downstairs and underneath the Boudreaux’s’. Bobbie and S.J. Curry lived below Louis and Mildred before moving and Mike and Flossie Michaels moved in to live below Mildred and Louis.  Sonny and Maria Burns lived in the next building down the hill.  Navy Road was now a comfortable home for Mildred; San Francisco had grown to her liking.

 

Mildred gave birth to her first San Francisco born Armstrong, Brenda Shirley in 1945.  World War II came to an end in 1945, returning home many young soldiers.  Two of these soldiers were Nehemiah Brown (Army) and Floyd DeLavallade (Army).  These two servicemen would make love connections with women in Mildred’s life, her sister Florence and her neighbor and best friend Marguerite whom she introduced to her brother Floyd. Floyd and Marguerite married and begin to raise their family not far just over the hill in the West Point section of Hunter’s Point.

 

Nehemiah returned home to New Orleans and married Florence.  Nehemiah and Florence chose San Francisco over Chicago as their migratory destination and soon settled nearby on Navy Road.  Nehemiah’s brother Tim and his wife Ruth also left New Orleans as part of the great Negro Western Migration and settle close by. The promise of a better life brought Mildred and three of her siblings to plant new DeLavallade roots to rise along side of the California redwood trees.

 

Five years would past before Mildred and Louis would add to their family of four children. In 1951 Lawrence Joseph (aka Chuckie), was nicknamed by Louis because of his chunky appearance.  During the intervening years Mildred devoted herself to raising the four young children whose ages now ranged from ten to four.  Mildred volunteered with the PTA, tended to her garden of snapdragons, carnations, roses, and other flowers, and earned an income doing light housework outside the home for Miss Clark. The Armstrong household was often the central gathering for neighborhood kids to visit and play games.

 

With the end of the war the shipyards reduced shifts and Louis found himself without work and a growing family to provide for.  Hard work was easy to find in the southeast section of San Francisco. Many industrial and manufacture jobs could be found within the city limits during the 50’s.  Louis found employment at a local iron foundry.  That first day of work was so back breaking. Louis went home to the comforting arms of his wife Mildred. He was soon called back to work for the US Navy and would retire from the US Navy in 1975 after 30 years of employment.

 

The Armstrong family grew by three more children, and by 1958 Mildred became a grandmother for the first time with the birth of Rosalind Elaine, daughter of their eldest daughter Barbara.  Mildred’s next children were Mary Margaret born in 1954; Lionel James born in 1955; and Carolyn Jean born in 1958.

 

In 1958 Louis and Mildred moved from Navy Road   to just on the other side of the hill on Northridge Road. The children were various school ages; the oldest two are in high school, the middle two in junior high, one was in elementary school, and two were pre-school age along with an infant. 

 

At the dawn of the space age in the late 50’s early 60’s Mildred’s life was entering a new phase, as a grandmother.  Her oldest daughter Barbara married and her oldest son Louis Jr. away from home in the military, and eight children at home. In 1960 Mildred was forty-one years old and gave birth to twins, Charles and Charlene. In 1961 desperately in need for more living space Mildred and Louis purchased their home in Bay View Hunter’s Point at 93 Lucy Street.

 

Over the next ten years, Louis refurbished the sixty year old house into a contemporary home of the era using all the labor a father of ten could muster up. Louis was never formally trained in carpentry, electrical, or masonry work, but he applied his natural talents to do all of these things. Louis’ natural talent and the labor provided by the kids created a comfortable working class home for the Armstrong’s. Mildred was particularly pleased with her kitchen and backyard.

 

The Lucy Street house, although larger than the Northridge and Navy Rd. apartments, was still modest in size for a family of nine children and two adults and  1 ½ baths. There was always activity in all parts of the house. Barbara and husband Norman Deams and their infant daughter Wanda lived in the small one bedroom apartment 93A Lucy while Rosalind lived upstairs with Mildred.

 

 Mildred enrolled her three elementary school age children, Chuckie, Mary, and Lionel at Bay View Elementary located one block from the house. Mildred soon joined the Bay View School PTA and remained active for the next twelve years.  Mildred was a member of a group of parents that were instrumental in getting the school site rebuilt and renamed to Dr. Charles Drew Elementary School.

 

The mid-sixties Mildred saw daughters Pat and Brenda’s graduation and marriage ceremonies in the span of 6 years. Mildred, being a great cook and a gracious hostess, organized and hosted the wedding receptions for both daughters; one at her home and the other at a rental hall. Mildred now had four adult children move away from the family home. There were seven children in the house ranging in age from Chuckie at 14, Mary at 11, Lionel, at 10, Carolyn and Roz at 7 and the twins Charles and Charlene at 5.  The Lucy Street house was no different than the Navy Road house. There were always sizeable comings and goings of neighborhood kids. Mildred was saint of a woman, having raised ten children wasn’t enough, and she would volunteer. She volunteered with the Boys Scouts of America as a Den Mother and was honored with their highest volunteer award, the Silver Beaver, in 1974.

 

Mildred was a concerned citizen and active with the community group, the Bay View Hunter Point Parent Action Group. The group was formed after the turmoil of the Bay View Hunter Point riots in 1966. The group focused on civil, criminal, and economic justice for blacks whose population growing to its peak of 100,000 and 18% of San Francisco population in the 1970’s. Mildred and Louis would purchase shares in and shop at the community cooperative grocery, CO-OP Market, located at Third Street and Paul Avenue.

 

Mildred helped raise her grandchildren, babysitting many during the work week. She would do so until declaring no more babysitting.  This coincided with her youngest Charles and Charlene having completed high school. This was a time for Mildred to enjoy a new found freedom.  Louis had retired after 30 years being employed with the US Navy, no more work cloths to wash and iron, no more lunches to make, Mildred now had time for Mildred.  Time for her meant spending time helping others.

 

Mildred became a member of the Young Lady Society and volunteered at All Hallows Catholic Church. One day she discovered the Bay View Hunters Point Multi Purpose Senior Center. The Senior Center became an important part of Mildred’s life. New and dear friendships with Irene Carter and Mildred Anderson were formed at the Center. Mildred was elected the inaugural President of the Center’s Senior Group. Mildred enjoyed the Cache Creek Casino junkets the group would frequently take.  Mildred loved to travel, taking several cruise trips, visits to Hawaii, Canada, and trips home to her beloved New Orleans.

 

Mildred died April 17, 1995 three weeks after being rushed by ambulance to San Francisco General Hospital. Paramedics had revived Mildred after treating her for one hour before transporting her to SFGH. Over the next three weeks Mildred went  from showing signs of recovery to near comatose and back and forth. During her life Mildred was married for 64 years;  spent 81 months pregnant; gave birth to 10 children over 20 years; spent 40 years raising children; today there are 30 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren, and 6 great-great-grandchildren.

 

 

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Comment by Patricia 'Pat' Armstrong Watkins on August 17, 2011 at 1:04pm

Thanks Shirley...

Comment by Shirley Black on August 16, 2011 at 12:12am

What a great written family history.

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