Document Day: Ambrose E. Cully (Death Certificate)

Ambrose E Cully

         When I began searching my mother’s maternal line, I began looking for information on her Grandfather, Ambrose E. Cully.  I knew little about him, as he died before my mother Betty Peters was born.  The only thing I had to go by was the writings my mother left behind that gave accounts to his life from her mother’s memory.
     Ambrose E. Cully was born in April of 1863 according to an 1870 U.S. Census that has him listed as (7) years old.  Ambrose parents were William Henry Cully, Jr. & Nancy Harkley (Hartley), both born in North Carolina.

     Ambrose was the only child of William & Nancy that migrated to Worcester, MA in 1889 or 1890.   This is the branch of the tree that I have done my most research.  Ambrose married Nora Ann Gilliam in 1890.  There were various stories as to how many children she gave birth to, but based on documentation 13 children could be accounted for, (of which two died in birth). 
     Ambrose was a mulatto, and passed for white. Ambrose was a Free Person of Color as was his father William H. Cully Jr., and  his Grandfather William H. Cully Sr., was a born as a Free Person of Color.  I have various stories as to his occupations.  What I have documented as of date: Farm Hand, Laborer, Car Washer, Chauffer, and according to his death certificate attached, messenger.  According to my mother’s writings, Ambrose worked for a very rich family (The Higgins) in Worcester, MA and was the Families Employee Supervisor.  (I am looking into the validity of this position).
     Ambrose died May 8, 1925.  An interesting fact is that he died on his daughter, my grandmother’s (Agnes Mae) birthday.  Also his son Wendell Phillip died on May 8, 1980.
According to the attached document Ambrose had Valvular heart disease and died of Pulmonary Tuberculosis at the Worcester City Hospital.  Ambrose lived at 126 Belmont, Worcester, MA.  He was widowed at the time of his death as his wife Nora died in November of 1911.
     The Death Certificate has Ambrose listed as 53 years and 1 day, but according to my calculations and documentation, Ambrose died at 63 years and 1 day.
Ambrose’s supervising medical doctor who signed his DC was Charles A Drew from Worcester, MA.
Ambrose Elander Cully was buried in Hope Cemetery in Worcester MA on May 11, 1925 next to his wife Nora A. Gilliam and Son William E Cully.
*According to original documents Nancy’s surname is most possibly Harkley. According to a transcribed marriage bond Nancy’s surname is Hartley.

*Hartley or Harkley? Post (Explanation)

The Colored Men, The Part They Took in the War of the Rebellion

     When I first started searching out for my Great Grandfather Ambrose E. Cully, I found this article in the Worcester Daily Spy at the Worcester Public Library.  I was interested in knowing if the Cully family were  community leaders in Worcester, or active participants in their community.  Also knowing that the Cully family was musically talented, I began searching.  I have found various articles mentioning various members of the Ambrose Cully Clan, and will share as I have the opportunity to do so.

     I am going to be interviewed in November of 2011 by Professor Falco of Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts.  Professor Falco is the Director of Jazz Studies at WPI and has a New England Jazz Database online.  He is interviewing me about the background of the Cully family, and wanting to know more about my Grand Uncle Wendell Culley who played with Count Basie and other greats.  Wendell had a solid musical upbringing in Worcester and Boston and he influenced many musicians in New England and beyond.
Worcester Daily Spy
Worcester, Massachusetts
August 14, 1896
The Colored Men. The Part They Took
in the War of the Rebellion
The Part They Took in the War
of the Rebellion.
Their Bravery Rehearsed by
Those Who Were There.
Colored Jubilee Singers and a Quartet of
Little Ones Add to the Pleasures
of the Evening
      It will be a long time before Post 10 will hold as unique and pleasing an entertainment as “the colored men’s night,” which was held Thursday evening.  Shortly after 8’oclock the doors were thrown open and friends of the post were admitted.  The entertainment was as delightful as it was novel.  A chorus from the Zion A.M.E. Church sang a number of choruses, a quartet of children gave several selections and the colored veterans of the late war recited experiences while fighting for freedom and the flag.  Those who knew nothing of their work in the rebellion except in a general way, went away impressed by the fact that the colored soldier played his part nobly and with as much devotion as many others who carried guns in the great battles.
     The Jubilee singers were under the direction of Ambrose Cully.  The singers were Mrs. Hanna Gilliam, Mrs. Jennie Cooke, Mrs. Nora Cully, Miss Lizzie Kennedy, Aaron Cooke, Samuel Latham.  The quartet of young people was made up of Master Arthur Wilson and Misses Etta Moore, Wilmina Wilson and L. Williams.
     Among the selections were “Rolling rocks,” “Happy people,” “Slave chains are broken,”  “Babylon has fallen.”
     Commander Roe spoke to a hall full of people when he called the gathering to order.  All the seats were filled, and it was necessary for the comrades to place many additional seats to accommodate the crowd.  Many prominent people were present.  The exercises opened with a song by the chorus, which was well received.

     Commander Roe then made a few remarks.  He said that at the time of the formation of the 54th Massachusetts regiment of colored troops, the matter was looked upon with much disfavor by many, and Gov. Andrews was one of the first to recognize them.  As a result the 54th was formed and the colonel chosen was Robert G. Shaw, then a colonel in the army.  In due time, the regiment was reviewed before the state house previous to its departure for the south.  No such crowd ever saw a regiment go off.  The result proved that the fighting qualities of the colored man was not an experiment.  He acquitted himself with credit and no one can deny the great work he did.  Everybody grants it now.  From first to last there were 100,000 colored soldiers.  About 1500 were killed upon the battlefield.  About the same number were wounded and 3300 died of diseases.  Their bodies are found in the national cemeteries and other parts of the country.  They are a part of our history, members of our posts and veterans of the war.  In closing he referred to the large number of veterans in the 54th Massachusetts who were members of Post 10.  He should not call upon them in order, but first age should come before beauty and he was glad to call upon

Alexander Hemenway, one of the bravest. 
     Mr. Hemenway said that his regiment was in service 19 months before it was recognized by the government and received pay.
     Amos Webber of the 5th Cavalry gave a talk which amused his hearers very much.  He related something of the surprise of the southerners to see a Negro on horseback and other incidents of the campaign.
     Commander Roe told how before the war only American soldiers were in the militia and a company of Irishmen had disbanded in consequences.  It was something of a surprise for the average Massachusetts citizen to see a negro in a uniform.  He said that there were three colored regiments.  One of the crack companies of the militia today was colored, and he believed it deserved all the praise they got at the last camp.
     After a song, Sergeant John Walters of the 8th United States was called upon.  He told how the regiment happened to be named and gave an interesting account of his experiences.  Emory Phelps of the 54th read a war poem.
     The children then sang, “There’s one more river,” and were encored.
     Entertaining remarks followed by Charles J. Clark of the 26th New York, J. B. Scott, Samuel Wiggins and Thomas Moler of the 20th New York.
     Comrade Childs of the 5th Cavalry said that he wanted to express the thanks of his people for the warm reception tendered. He knew that it was appreciated.
     Rev. J. Sulla Cooper was next called upon.  He said that he was a son of a veteran, and related experiences in the South after the war.  In closing, he hoped that every colored man in the city would take an interest in the coming campaign, and would vote not as a republican, not as a democrat, but as an American citizen.  He was roundly applauded.

     Comrade Cobb of Leicester command, who was in the audience as a visitor, was called upon and spoke of the bravery of the colored soldiers in the war.  The singers then gave a chorus, “O freedom,” and after remarks by Capt. Smith of this city, who commanded a colored company during the war, in which he spoke of the bravery in the highest terms, the party broke up after singing “Climbing Zion’s hill” by the chorus
A vote of thanks was extended by the audience for the splendid entertainment.
Next month’s open meeting will be upon “The navy.”

Hannah Gilliam was my Great Great Grandmother, Nora Cully my Great Grandmother and Ambrose Cully, my Great Grandfather.

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