Behind the Story, “The Women Who Sparked His Career – Dr. Michael D. Casey

MichaelCaseyPhotoDr. Michael D. Casey grew up in the Seminary Community in the 1950s. Throughout his life, he had the support of several women. One particular woman, who enlightened Michael was the former Mayor of Alexandria, Allison Silberberg.

Allison and Michael worked together on the Alexandria Economic Opportunities Commission. This was a city and state advisory platform from which they advocated for low income families on myriad issues, including employment, health care and affordable housing.

Dr. Casey expressed his work experience with Ms. Silberberg by saying, “it was a rewarding experience, and it was a pivotal life experience, as her indefatigable can-do spirit inspired me to become even more involved in community service, including with the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria (SFA). I continue to serve on the SFA Board of Trustees, alongside strong women movers and shakers who make a huge difference in Alexandria each day.

Ms. Silberberg’s persevering sprit, community caring and activism made an indelible impression on me, and compelled me to continue to advocate for our Alexandria residents and student communities to this day.

I credit Ms. Silberberg — directly and indirectly — with innumerable critical improvements in Alexandria, Virginia.”

Dr. Casey had other women who made a profound positive impact on his career.

You can read the rest of the story about Dr. Casey titled, “The Women Who Sparked His Career – Dr. Michael D. Casey in the Alexandria Gazette at

http://www.alexandriagazette.com/news/2021/apr/06/other-alexandria-women-who-sparked-his-career-dr-m/

Grandfather and Us: Wilmer Benjamin Henry

Backstory of the article that was in the Alexandria Gazette Newspaper on September 2, 2020, gives insight into Wilmer Benjamin Henry and his grandchildren.

Wilmer Benjamin Henry at Virginia Episcopal High School

Wilmer Benjamin Henry was born on February 22, 1898 in Accotink, which is located in Fairfax, Virginia near Fort Belvoir. His father was from Bedford, Virginia and his mother was from Fairfax, Virginia.

Wilmer had several careers including janitor, barber, waiter, and a mail carrier for his community. He loved his family and especially his grandchildren. Two of his grandchildren shared their memories of their grandfather with me.

Rita Murphy Harris was one of his grandchildren. She is the

Left to right: Rita Harris and Toniette Duncan

daughter of Elrich Murphy and Marie Elizabeth Henry Murphy. She grew up in her grandfather’s house. Toniette Henry Duncan is the daughter or Corrine Idella Henry and John Sydney Holland, Jr. She also grew up in her grandfather’s house. Both women talked about the adventures they experienced in their grandfather’s house

Also in their grandfather’s house on Johnson Lane prior to urban renewal, they experienced life in the rural area of Seminary. The women enjoyed the closeness of family members and friends in their community.

“Our friends were like family,” stated Toniette. “We all were very close like family.”

Life in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s in the Seminary area include extended families and friends who looked out for each other and enjoyed the simply life.

Rita is the only child of Elrich Murphy. Her mother Marie Elizabeth Murphy-Spinner remarried and had two sons, Blair Spinner and Albert Spinner, Jr. Toniette is her mother’s youngest child, but she has an older sister, Sylvia Delores Henry. In addition, Toniette and Sylvia have other siblings through their father and they are Ceyonne, Deborah, Leslie, Lisa and Lynne.

Grandparents are special human beings. For Rita and Toniette, their grandfather found his youth again through his grandchildren raising them and providing for them.

Wilmer Benjamin Henry died at the age of 83 on December 16, 1981. Up until he died, he was employed at the Virginia Episcopal High School as a janitor and he was the neighborhood barber.

You can read more about “Grandfather and Us: Wilmer Benjamin Henry,” in the Alexandria Gazette newspaper dated, September 2, 2020 on page 6 at
http://connectionarchives.com/PDF/2020/090220/Alexandria.pdf.

In Search for Descendants of Seminary (West End) in Alexandria, VA

Oakland Baptist Church

I am working on a project that is in the West End of Alexandria, Virginia which includes Seminary area, Wood Place, Wood Lane, parts of King Street, parts of Braddock Road, Quaker Lane, Donaldson Corner and etc. I am looking for descendants who worked for the Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) who historically lived in that area up to the 1950s.

If you had a relative that worked at VTS, I would like to hear from you. Please contact me at findingthingsforu@gmail.com. Thanks – Char!

The surnames of these families are:

Adams
Ashby
Allen
Ball
Blackburn
Bradby
Campbell
Carpenter
Casey
Chambers
Colbert
Craven
Croane (Crone)
Douglas
Freeman
Grant
Hall
Harris
Henry
Jarvin
Jackson
Johnson
Jones
Lee
Lewis
McKnight
Mackey
Mallory
Miller
Nelson
Nickens
Penn
Peters
Peterson
Pollard
Randall
Reynolds
Russ
Rust
Rollins
Roy
Rust
Scales
Simms (Sims)
Smith
Shorts
Taylor
Terrell
Wanzer (Wanser)
Williams
Whiting
Wood
Quander
Quivis

West End of Alexandria, VA

Clara Shorts Adams

Prior to the 1950s, the West End of Alexandria, Virginia was at one time or another considered to be in Fairfax, VA or in Arlington, VA. By the 1920s, West End was considered Falls Church, VA. In celebrating Alexandria’s history, this blog is on the West End of Alexandria.

A tribute to Clara Shorts Adams and her husband, Robert Adams for contributing quarter-acre land to the Falls Church School District in Fairfax County for an African American School in 1898. The one room school building was built on the land that the Adams gave to the Fairfax School system.

Clara Shorts and Robert Adams married January 2, 1886 in Fairfax County, VA. Clara was the daughter of Harriet Stewart McKnight Shorts and Burr Shorts. Her husband’s parents were George and Ann (Annie) Adams. It is believed that Clara’s parents were enslaved prior to 1865, but Clara’s husband, Robert’s parents, were freed people of color prior to 1865 living in the City of Alexandria.

This small act of kindness by Clara and Robert is still remembered a hundred and seventeen years later by their descendants in the West End of Alexandria.

Fort Ward (part of the West End) area of Alexandria, Virginia has a rich history of early African Americans owning their land and building their community as part of Alexandria today. Although the one room school is no longer there, the contribution made by Clara and Robert is still remembered in the Fort Ward and Seminary communities. In celebration of the end of the Civil War, I salute the Adams’ family for their commitment to education!

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