A'Lelia (McWilliams) Walker
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Lelia (McWilliams) Walker (1885 - 1931)

Lelia (A'Lelia) Walker formerly McWilliams aka Robinson, Wilson, Kennedy
Born in Vicksburg, Warren, Mississippi, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
Wife of — married 18 Oct 1909 (to about 1914) in Washington, Pennsylvania, United Statesmap
Wife of — married 1919 (to 1925) [location unknown]
Wife of — married 1926 (to 1931) [location unknown]
Died at age 46 in Long Branch, Monmouth, New Jersey, United Statesmap
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Profile last modified | Created 30 Aug 2017
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Notables Project
A'Lelia (McWilliams) Walker is Notable.

Lelia Walker was born in 1885 to Sarah Breedlove aka. Madam C.J. Walker and Moses McWilliams. After the tragic death of her father, when she was only two years old, she and her mother moved to St. Louis, Missouri to escape the racial tensions of the south.

Lelia grew up in St. Louis and later attended Knoxville College in Tennessee. Her mother worked tirelessly as a washerwoman to earn the money to further her daughter's education. In 1905 her mother moved to Denver, Colorado where she was getting her hair products company started. This is where she met Lelia's step-father, Charles Joseph Walker whom Lelia adopted last name from.

The Lelia College for Beauty Culture was opened in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where the family moved in order to sell their products to a larger market. Lelia was instrumental in getting her mother's company started.

After her mother's passing in 1919, she became president of the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Once coined as "The Joy Goddess of Harlem's 1920's" by poet, Langston Hughes, A'Lelia (her new name) threw lavish parties at her late mother's estate in Irvington, New York as well as at her New York City homes. Villa Lewaro was host to many great writers, artists, activists, and social thinkers such as, W.E.B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, James Weldon Johnson, and Hughes. These parties were also a safe haven for members of the gay community, who were among these influential party-goers.

A'Lelia had three marriages: John Robinson from 1909-1914, Wiley M. Wilson from 1919-1925, and Dr. James Arthur Kennedy 1926-1931. She adopted 13-year-old Fairy Mae Bryant (Mae Walker), who was an assistant and model for their company, in October 1912.

She died at the age of 46, at the home of a friend, in Long Branch, New Jersey. Thousands turned out to pay her tribute.


  • "United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QKDF-KH8P : 16 March 2018), Lelia Walker Wilson, 1921; citing Passport Application, New York, United States, source certificate #94666, Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925, 1768, NARA microfilm publications M1490 and M1372 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  • "United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MV34-M4W : accessed 5 March 2019), Lelia Walker Wilson in household of Wiley M Wilson, Irvington, Westchester, New York, United States; citing ED 49, sheet 7A, line 37, family 135, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1276; FHL microfilm 1,821,276.
  • Madam C.J. Walker: A Brief Biographical Essay by A’Lelia Bundles, 2020. Biography
  • "United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M3DM-P6Q : accessed 23 February 2019), Lellia Mcwilliams in household of John Davis, Precinct 4 St. Louis city Ward 14, St. Louis, Missouri, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 215, sheet 7A, family 109, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,895.

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Comments: 2

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Requested to have this profile merged into Lelia (McWilliams) Walker (1885 - 1931).
posted by Tiffany Thompson
Walker-65 and McWilliams-1111 appear to represent the same person because: Sarah Breedlove (Madam CJ Walker) had only one daughter from her union with Moses McWilliams shortly before his untimely death.
posted by Tiffany Thompson

Rejected matches › Lelia (Walker) Clark (1894-1920)