Alexander and Emma Jane Mackey
By Lorraine Edwards Taylor
Alexander Mackey was a runaway slave who migrated to Riverside in the 1880s. His wife, Emma Jane was the daughter of runaway slaves who had reached Toronto, Canada via the Underground Railroad.
Alexander Mackey was born in Tennessee in 1842. He was taught to read by his master’s son. He was a runaway slave and in the 1880s migrated to Riverside. Alexander Mackey was a runaway slave who migrated to Riverside in the 1880s. His wife, Emma Jane was the daughter of runaway slaves who had reached Toronto, Canada via the Underground Railroad.
Alexander and Emma Jane Gray met and were married in 1893. Emma Jane was born in 1851 in Canada, the daughter of runaway slaves who had reached Toronto, Canada, via the Underground Railroad. Alexander and Emma moved to Lake Elsinore shortly after their marriage. During this marriage there were two children – Annie Louisa, born August 19, 1894 and Harvey, December 5, 1896.
Alexander was a farmer and stone cutter and was one of many craftsman who laid sidewalks and chiseled headstones at the Olivewood Cemetery. It was while working on a stone that a chip “flew” into his eye blinding him permanently. Later, he worked as a farmer raising all kinds of fruits and vegetables. His specialty was berries, he was known as the “Berry Man”. His grandchildren were all taught to pick berries and care for them. These children also learned the value of working and saving their earnings from this experience.
Emma Mackey died at the early age of 47 years, leaving a 10 year old daughter and a 8 year old son. Alexander raised these children with the help of relatives and friends while he worked. At age 92, Alexander moved to Chicago living with his son and daughter-in-law until his death at age 95.
Alexander who was a great admirer of Booker T. Washington sent his daughter to Tuskegee Institute after finishing high school at 16. While at the school she came to know Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver. Annie did not complete her studies due to illness and returned home.
Before Annie left Tuskegee she was joined by her brother Harvey who was not sent but had decided to send himself. He withdrew $150 from his and his father’s account and went to Tuskegee. While at Tuskegee, Harvey enlisted into the service. He spent 8 months overseas in the 325th Signal Corps of the 92nd Division also known as the “Buffalo” Division. After the war, Harvey returned to Tuskegee and in 1920 completed his studies. Harvey was a machinist but could not work in his chosen profession. He was hired to work at a dangerous job throwing belts onto a dynamo and to mend them when they broke. He knew as a Black man he was fortunate to be hired at all.
At the time of the depression he had saved $1000. With uncertainty of being able to get work in his chosen field, Harvey, with the encouragement of Mr. Claude Barnett, a family friend, transferred to the Postal Service. In 1927 Harvey attended night school and received a Certificate in Real Estate.
Annie married Charles Edwards on January 30, 1915 and to this union 12 children were born: Prince Alexander, Charles Thomas, Harvey Stephen, David Starr, Wilma Louisa, Mabel Rowena, William Bruce, Lorraine Emily, Carrie Marguerite, and Harry Albert. Two daughters died in infancy.
Harvey married Anita Francesca Johnson, daughter of Anna Ewing and Rev. Frank Johnson.