Doll's Genealogy Site

Granddaughter Shares Story of Midwifery

Elvira Barrow Martin

  As we celebrate and give honor to strong women and their contributions, I would like to share the story of a courageous woman named Elvira Barrow Martin, a.k.a. Ms. Dump, my mother's mother, my grandmother.

This is a historical account of my grandmother's midwifery. Elvira Barrow Martin, a Tuskegee midwife, raised her ten biological children, in addition to ten others.  She walked the backwoods of Macon County and delivered hundreds and hundreds of babies.  She lived during the depression years and through segregation; and worked in the fields beside her husband, my grandfather, picking cotton.

There are many people are still living in Tuskegee that my grandmother delivered.  One of those individuals is a white woman named Betty Story McClendon

McClendon was delivered in 1924 and is the oldest living child of a white family who owned the land my grandparents lived on when my grandmother was growing up.   My grandfather and one of my uncles worked for the StorysMcClendon was the oldest living child of Bell and Chester Story.

McClendon knew many things about my family history.  Talking with her confirmed many things that my mother had shared with me over the years.  Back then everyone was poor and anything our two families had they shared with each other.  The Story's considered my grandmother and her children members of their family.  My grandmother also delivered some of McClendon's sister an and bothers all of who are now deceased.

My talk with McClendon let me know that there were some white folks in the South, like her parents, that treated black folks with dignity and respect. It also confirmed that there are several people right here in the city of Cleveland that are in grandmother's birth books I have in my possession--the original documentation of my grandmother's birth book dating back to 1934-1955.  Some of the family names listed in these birth books are Martin, Barrow, Howard, Sparks, Menefee, Ligon, Harrison, Webb, Harris, Sullin, Johnson and there are many more.

I encourage anyone born between the years of the early 1920's to 1955, who could have been delivered by my grandmother to contact me, Brinase Merritt, at 216-921-7433 or write me at PO Box 94033, Cleveland, OH, 44101.

Elvira Story - Part II

Transcribed by Doll Harris-Hargrove webmistress for Doll's Genealogy Site & Rooted in Tuskegee


Elvira Barrow was the daughter of Calvin and Annie Sistrunk Barrow.  

Ms. Elvira was introduced to midwifery by my greatgrand aunt, Katie Harris-Martin

The Barrow, Martin and Harris families have remained friends for approximately 150 years.


1930 Macon County, AL Census - Tuskegee Precinct

Philip and Elvira Martin and family


Note: My grandfather, James Harris, was living 2 doors down from the Martin family when this census was taken.

Census:  15th Federal Census, April 17, 1930, ED 44-A, SD No. 8, Sheet No. 21A, Page 56

Source of Article:  Call and Post, Cleveland Edition, February 23, 2000

Photograph Source:  d. late 1960's, Trevose, Pa. (Linconia section in front of the home of Ms. Elviras' daughter, Queen Howard)
Personal photograph book of Jessie Mae Webb-Harris

Created:  07/18/06 || Online:  07/18/06