The Life of Violet Simpson
These photos are a fraction of those representing her life in New York during the Harlem Renaissance.
Submitter: Nina Young-Bennett, great-niece

Aunt Vi on the road

Aunt Vi & Albert Victor "Vic" Thorne

Aunt Vi & Friends

Aunt Vi & Albert Victor "Vic" Thorne

Violet Simpson was my maternal great-aunt, and was quite the character. Born in Athens, Ohio on July 04, 1893, she fudged about her age for many years, even claiming on her driver's license to have been born in 1900. She was the older sister of my grandfather, who I never knew. To the contrary, I knew Aunt Vi quite well. She was key to my upbringing. When my parents separated when I was about six years old, my mother moved my sister and I from Indianapolis to New York, and we moved in for a time with Aunt Vi.  She never had children of her own, so we were her surrogates. She became like a third grandmother to us. Aunt Vi loved us and treated us little adults, teaching us to play "Penny Poker," and regaling us with stories of her past. I suppose that since many of her contemporaries had passed away, we were great company to her. Married a number of times, two men particularly left a mark on her heart. An early husband, Montruvilla Elzy, used the stage name of  "Chick Fisher." He was, like her, a stage performer, and most notably danced with "The Chocolate Dandies." Her final husband and love of her life was Albert Victor Thorne. "Vic" emigrated to the US--via Ellis Island--from Trinidad on 2/4/1911. His death left her a relatively young widow, and she never married again. These photos are a fraction of those representing her life in New York during the Harlem Renaissance. Aunt Vi's life ended in her beloved New York on September 25, 1978, after suffering a series of strokes--the first of which occurred at the racetrack!

Aunt Vi, third from left

Montruvilla Elzy "Chick Fisher" & his dog

Albert Victor "Vic" Thorne

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