Legend of the Rolling Pin

Legend – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Nearly every family has some sort of legend. There’s the Indian Princess legend. We’ve got that. Busted! There’s the legend of the three immigrant brothers who went north, south, and west. We’ve got that several times. Also busted! There’s the legend of grandpa getting his name changed at Ellis Island. Not so much for us, since my folks all came before that and all came into the southern Colonies.

The Rolling Pin – Carved before 1760 and passed down through the Council family

Some families have legends around food or recipes. Some have legends around things that get passed down. For us, we wrap both of those together. We have “the rolling pin”. This rolling pin has come down through the family for over two hundred fifty years.

My grandmother, Susan Louise Bailey Dickson, told me that it was made before 1760 out of a single piece of apple wood. It’s clearly hand carved, uneven and imperfect. It’s not the sort of rolling pin that has an axle. It’s solid and you roll the whole thing. But it’s also not like some rolling pins used for fancy bread that lack handles.

I thought that it had come down through Grandmother’s Bailey family, but she corrected me and said that it came down through the family of her grandmother Sarah Louise Council. (There’s another story about why Grandmother and her grandmother shared a middle name, but that’s for another day.)

Sarah Louise Council Brewer Bailey (b. 1837, Alabama, d. 1915, Arkansas)

So, could the legend of the rolling pin coming down through this family be true? If it were, where would it have come from? I don’t see any reason to believe it could not be that old. It’s clearly old. And if Grandmother’s grandmother said it came down through her family, then it certainly went at least back 150 years.

Sarah Louise Council was born in 1837 in Alabama, probably in Jackson County, between Huntsville and the Georgia border. She was the daughter of Uriah Allison Council and Louisa Anna Green. Louisa has remained a mystery to me, but I have recently been trying to find out more about Uriah and his family.

Uriah Allison Council was born in 1807 in Knox County, Tennessee. Tracing out the deeds, tax lists, and other court records, we find that he stayed in Knox County until about 1833 when he moved to the next county over, Roane County. By 1840, he is in Jackson County, Alabama and by 1842 is a Justice of the Peace there. By 1850, he had moved to the next county west, Madison, and is a school teacher. FindaGrave says that he died in 1851. I have not found a good record for either his death or Louisa’s death. But by 1860, the three surviving children are all in Sebastian County, Arkansas and there is no sign of Uriah or Louisa. This is another place to go research. My guess is Louisa had family in Arkansas and went to them after her husband died.

We believe, as have many Council researchers, that Uriah Allison Council was the son of Isaac Council and Susan Allison. To date, I have not found any solid documentary evidence. But, there is a lot of circumstantial evidence: Isaac and Uriah lived next door to each other for a lot time. When Uriah moved to Roane, Isaac bought his land. Susan Allison (Uriah’s supposed mother) had a brother named Uriah Allison. Plus a whole lot more. This is something that I need to write up.

Isaac was born in 1785 in North Carolina. That’s not quite 1760 yet, so we really need another generation for this legend to completely ring true. We are not sure where in North Carolina he came from or who his parents were. Digging through the tax lists and deeds of Knox and Roane Counties, my current hypothesis is that Jesse Council is the father of Isaac, John, Matthew, Hodges. I think his father was likely Hodges as well. If this is the case, this Jesse was likely born in Virginia and served in the Revolutionary War. I’m working hard right now to figure out and prove what I can about Jesse and the other Councils in East Tennessee.

But, it seems to me that the legend of the rolling pin has a lot of truth to it.

But that’s not really what I remember about the rolling pin. To me, the legend that I tell about the rolling pin is of having breakfast at my grandparents’ house. We would often have breakfast at the dining room table. There, she could pull the toaster oven right up to the table. As we ate biscuits, Grandmother would roll out a few more with the rolling pin and pop them into the toaster oven. We would eat fresh, hot biscuits with real butter and strawberry freezer preserves until we could hold no more or until she ran out. Grandmother believed that the rolling pin ought to be used. No reason to have a dead legend when it can continue to have a life and a story. (The only reason my wife and I don’t use it is that she’s vegan and it has 250 years of lard rolled into it.)

My big challenge is how to make sure that the legend does not end with me and that it has a story in my Bailey family after me. My cousin, who had it for several years, passed it to me because he had no biological children. But, neither do we. My task is to find the next steward of the rolling pin so its legend continues for another 250 years.

Carl Joins the Army

Military – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Carl Everett Bailey, b. 5 Jun 1896

Carl Everett Bailey was their oldest son and they were immensely proud of him. Charles and Viola Tennison Bailey had photos made of him in a time before snapping a thousand selfies was even a thing. As you might expect there were lots more pictures of Carl than of any of the later nine children. But, that’s how it goes for the eldest.

He was born in Milton, Indian Territory on the 5th of June, 1896. Charles and Viola had married just the previous September. By 1900, they had moved back across the Arkansas River into Sebastian County, Arkansas, to Hackett where Charles had grown up.

Left to Right: Charles C. Bailey (father), Donald L. Bailey, Lena Lucille Bailey, Roy Thomas Bailey, Carl Everett Bailey, Viola Tennison Bailey (mother)

By August of 1916, the world was at war. Or at least Europe was. The US was sort of, kind of trying to straddle the fence and stay out of things while still being in things in its own way. But, the US was not yet at war. Carl was twenty years old and wrote a letter to his parents that seems to have take them by surprise. I am not sure where they thought he would be, but from the letter, obviously, this was not the place!

Carl had gone up to Missouri and had joined the Army! This was something that he had wanted to do for some time. This was to be a career rather than a short term of service. He has long felt like the Army is a good profession and he’s really looking forward to it.

I get the impression that this is something that maybe his parents are not so keen on. In his letter, after he drops his bombshell, he sets out to convince then that the Army is a good life, that it’s not as hard as people make it out to be, and that he has lots of opportunity ahead of him.

Carl might have misrepresented things a bit to get into the Army. He says that the enlistment officer must have misheard him when he said his age was twenty and refused to correct his mistake for fear of losing his position. But, in 1916, a man under 21 had to have his parents’ written consent to enlist. This was changed to 18 in 1917, but in 1916, he still needed their permission. (By the way, Judy G. Russell, the Legal Genealogist, has a great article about this at https://www.legalgenealogist.com/2012/01/24/a-doughboys-age/)

Carl Everett Bailey, in uniform

But, in the Army, he was. And he was happy about it. He certainly looks proud and happy in his uniform.

From basic training at Jefferson Barracks, he went to Eagle Pass, Texas. His duty was as a mechanic. Eagle Pass is right along the Rio Grande River and the border between Mexico and the U.S. You might recall that there were a lot of border tensions at that time. Pancho Villa had attacked the town of Columbus, New Mexico in March 1916 and the mood was still tense. So, the Army patrolled the border.

One night in April 1917, Carl was returning from guard duty at the Blocker Ranch. While he was about 60 miles from Eagle Pass, the truck he was in was in an accident and he was thrown from it. His leg was run over by the heavy truck, resulting in its amputation above the knee. He also received a serious puncture wound to the groin in the accident. And so ended his military career that he had been so excited about.

Carl returned home to recuperate and rehabilitate. He spent time in Army hospitals and worked to receive a pension. It could not have hurt that his uncle, who just happened to be the presiding judge of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, wrote to advocate on his behalf. He received his pension, but still needed a way to supplement it for a living. He tried several things that would not require his having both legs. It looks like he tried sewing and watch repair and sales, both.

Just to add insult to injury, while recuperating and rehabilitating from his injuries, Carl came down with tuberculosis. He went to Ft. Bayard in New Mexico, a U.S. Army sanatorium for servicemen who contracted TB. Carl took a number of photos that captured what it was like at Ft. Bayard and the surrounding area. He even drew layouts of the interior of some of the buildings. He made friends, participated in debate, and taught Sunday School there.

Carl Bailey (right) with friends at a sanatorium.

In the end, though, Carl’s life was a short one. Based on all of the things of his that his parents saved, he continued to be a favorite of theirs. He always appears to be smiling in his photos. I am sure he had times of brooding and regret for running away to the Army. But, maybe not. He had taken the chance to do something that was important to him. And that in itself was important to him. Carl died in April 1923 at the age of twenty-six, just six years after he joined the Army.

Bachelor Uncle – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Where’s Hume?

Hume Field Bailey, Jr. – b. 1879

For years, Garrison Keillor told stories of Norwegian bachelor farmers and all of their idiosyncrasies on A Prairie Home Companion. At least the Norwegian bachelor farmers stayed put. My bachelor uncle was neither Norwegian nor a farmer and seemed to be forever on the move.

Hume Field Bailey, Jr. was the last of the six children born to Hume Field Bailey and Sarah Louise Council. With his birth in 1879, he became the 11th child in their Brady Bunch family. Hume Sr. and Sarah were both widowed when they married. Sarah had two children with her first husband, John Oliver Brewer, and Hume had three children with his first wife, Amanda Shafer.

Growing up on the family farm in Hackett, Sebastian County, Arkansas, it seems like Hume and his parents, brothers, and sisters lived pretty close to the margins. It was a small piece of ground, just across the river from, at that time, the Indian Territory. The house was a log house without a lot of comforts, but they got by. Since there are so many saved letters and photos and lists of the family record that have been saved throughout the years, it seems like family was really important to the Baileys.

But as important as family was, there was a sense of adventure. Two of Hume’s uncles headed to Texas before the establishment of the Republic of Texas. One uncle was a Forty-Niner in the California gold rush. Of his brothers and sisters, only his brother, Charlie, stayed put. Even his two sisters headed west, on their own, as single women!

Hume must have come back to Fort Smith around 1915. This is a photo of Hume (left) and his brother Charlie (right) standing by their father’s gravestone in the Vinita Cemetery in Hackett, Arkansas. The ground in front of them looks freshly turned, so I think this is a photo taken when their mother died. Sarah Louise Council Bailey died 23 Mar 1915, so this must have been taken around that time. The baby in Charles’ arms must be his son Clifton, born in August 1913.

Hume went to work for the railroad as a mechanic. He traveled from place to place, working in different stations. It seems like, as a young man, he would travel and then come at least close to home for a while, and then travel again. But, as times and circumstances changed, he started moving more and more. There has to be more to that story, but I’ve not yet found it. Maybe it’s time to get into the courthouse (like we talked about last week)!

King of the Road

It’s been hard to find a lot of traditional records for Hume. I don’t find a census record for him after 1880. But, I’ve got some letters he wrote home to his family. And I hit the mother lode on Ancestry in the personnel records of the Northern Pacific Railroad. I find him moving all over everywhere:

Travels of Hume Field Bailey, Jr.
  • 1902 – Hume is in Salida, Chaffee County, Colorado. The photo of him at the top of this story says it was made in Salida, Colorado in 1902.
  • 1907-1908 – He is working in Muskogee, Oklahoma, close to home. He’s working for the Midland Valley RR.
  • 1908-1909 – Hume is in Parsons, Labette County, Kansas working for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas RR (the Katy)
  • 1909-1910 – He’s in Springfield, Missouri working for the Frisco RR
  • 1910 – Hume is in Pasco, Franklin County, Washington working for the Northern Pacific RR
  • 1914-1916 – He’s in Heavener, Oklahoma working for the Northern Pacific
  • 1916 – He has moved on to Mason City, Iowa with the Northern Pacific
  • 1918 – He finds his way back to Fort Smith, Arkansas working for the Frisco RR. Here he registers for the WWI draft.
  • 1926-1927 – He is a paid member of the Heavener, Oklahoma Masonic Lodge

In mid-September, Hume was living in Tomah, Monroe Co., Wisconsin. He said in a letter that he is on his way to La Crosse, Wisconsin to try to find work and that he is trying to get his belongings from his last job in South Bend, Indiana.

On 11 June 1930, Hume sends a long letter home from Minden, Louisiana. He came back here trying to find work in a place he had been before, with no luck. Instead, he and another mechanic have set up a tent on Lake Burton and are trying to make a living fishing and running trot lines.

It seems like, as Hume gets older, his time in each place gets shorter. In his railroad employment records, he resigns after a few weeks and moves on frequently. Each time it is phrased as he is allowed to resign and his performance is satisfactory. Today, I would take that as a red flag that there is something else going on and that there was perhaps some sort of trouble. I wonder what was going on that caused him to move around so much. I wonder if that were true. The first thought that came to mind was that he had to move along because of troubles at work, maybe from a problem like drinking. But, his employment applications all say that he neither drank nor smoked. I wonder if there was something else going on, or whether he just liked to be on the move.

When he was in Livingston, Montana in 1916, he seemed to falsify his application for employment with a different birth date and birth place. After a few days, a letter of inquiry showed up from the home office and again he was “allowed to resign”.

I found a document you can help me with. It looks like it is a list of dates, places, and railroad lines. The names on the scrap of paper look like names found in Hume’s employment record. I can’t quite make out all the railroads and places. But, what I can see often matches with Hume’s record with the Northern Pacific. I wonder if this is a list he made of places he lived and worked. Or a list that his brother Charlie made after he died. What do you think?

Hume was also up against the Great Depression. By 1929, work was hard to come by. He says in his letters that a man his age has to compete against the 25 and 30 year old men looking for jobs. I guess age discrimination is nothing new. It’s always been there when jobs are scarce. From his letters, it sounds like he spent time living out-of-doors and riding the rails to get places – the prototypical Depression hobo, maybe.

After his letter home in September 1929, I haven’t got any records for Hume. I have a note in my files that he died 1 Jul 1930, but for the life of me, I don’t know where that came from. With his moving around so much, he’s really hard to track in newspapers or court records. I mean, he could be absolutely anywhere! I would love to see what happened. I’ve never found a death record, or a grave, or an obituary. If he was on the road, he may well have ended up in a Potter’s Field somewhere.

I hope that in his rambling, it was driven by a sense of adventure rather than desperation or mental anguish. I hope that he loved seeing the country as he rode from railway station to railway station. And I hope that he was ultimately happy being our bachelor uncle.

First – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

This is the first post for a new year – 2019. I have been on the road and super busy this week, so I was all set to punt and republish a story about the first time I ever went to the library to research and my first ancestor discovery. But, starting the new year with a retread is lame, so maybe a short post about my first immigrant ancestor to this country would be in order.

While my wife, Kathleen, may have descended from a number of famous and infamous Mayflower immigrants (notably, the Billingtons), my ancestors were here to greet them when the Mayflower arrived.

Cicely Reynolds (b. 1600, England, d. about 1660, Virginia) is my first immigrant ancestor to the New World. She arrived in Jamestown in August 1611 aboard the Swan with Sir Thomas Gates. According to “The Second Boat”:

“Cecily Reynolds was born about 1600 at Waymouth, Dorsetshire, England, daughter of Thomas Reynolds and Cecily Fitzpen. Cecily arrived on August 1610 at Jamestown, VA on the ship “Swan” under the auspices of several near-relatives of Dorsetshire. She made her home with Capt. William Pierce and his wife, Joan. In 1615, in the Pierce home in Jamestown, VA, she married her first husband, Thomas Bailey. Thomas was a young Governor’s Guard and had come to Jamestown, VA in 1612. Thomas died of malaria in 1619, leaving their only child, Temperance, born 1617, which married Richard Cocke about 1632. Cecily Reynolds Bailey married (2) Samuel Jordan (of Jordan’s Journey) on 20 Sept 1620. The Jordons’ famous neighbors were, to the south, John Rolfe, who had married the young Indian Pocahontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan. After her death, Rolfe wed in 1619, Jane Pierce, daughter of Capt. William Pierce. John was killed by Indians in the 1622 “Great Massacre.” A neighbor to the north was Capt. John Woodlief who in 1619 hosted the first Thanksgiving in America at his Berkeley Plantation. Authentication to this as the first Thanksgiving – and not the one in 1621 in Plymouth Plantation – is contained in a mandate from the London Company to Capt. Woodlief, saying “We ordain the day of our ships’ arrival at the place for plantation on the land of Virginia (Berkeley Plantation) shall be yearly kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.” Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson officially recognized this event.”

“The Second Boat”, vol. 12, number 4, Sept-Oct 1991

If you have ever studied the history of Jamestown, you might recognize that Cicely arrived at a particularly bad time. The harvest of 1611 was poor and that winter was known as The Dying Time. By the next spring, the settlement was reduced to just a handful of people. Those that were still alive were considering their options for abandoning the settlement.

Connie Lapallo has written a trilogy of historical novels, or maybe you would call them fictionalized histories, of Cicely and the women and children of Jamestown. These are fascinating and really provide a view into what things might have been like during those difficult first days. She also has some well thought out and well reasoned new ideas for Cicely’s ancestry in England and how she came to Jamestown. The first book in the series, “Dark Enough to See the Stars in a Jamestown Sky” traces Cicely and her arrival and first years in Jamestown. Take a look at this and Connie’s other books in the series

Cicely is also remembered for being the source of one of the first scandalous lawsuits in Jamestown. After Cicely’s second husband, Samuel Jordan, died, Cicely had a number of suitors. Apparently, Rev. Greville Pooley felt like she had engaged herself to marry him. So, when she married William Farrar instead, he brought suit for breach of promise. The suit is well documented in the colonial records.

Cicely Reynolds is the ancestor of a large number of famous families that can claim Jamestown lineage. She is my 10th great-grandmother:

  1. Susan Louise Bailey (1919-2006) m. Robert Harrison Dickson, Jr. (1919-2007) – my grandparents
  2. Charles Council Bailey (1868-1935) m. Viola Tennison (1875-1970)
  3. Hume Field Bailey (1829-1891) m. Sarah Louise Council (1837-1915)
  4. Francis Baker Bailey (1796-1855) m. Evalina Belmont Hill (1802-1854)
  5. Peter Cock Bailey (1765-1844) m. Sarah Baker (d. 1822)
  6. Roger Cocke Bailey (1727-1790) m. Mary Rennard (1732-1777)
  7. Temperance Cocke (1698-1770) m. Abraham Bailey, Jr. (1694-1774)
  8. William Cocke (1674-1717) m. Sarah Perrin
  9. Thomas Cocke (1638-1696) m. Agnes Powell
  10. Temperance Bailey (1617-1652) m. Richard Cocke (1597-1665)
  11. Cicely Reynolds (b. abt 1600, d. abt 1660) married Thomas Baley (b. abt 1580, d. 1619, Virginia)

So, there you have it. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would have been like to come to Jamestown and to live through all that, not only she and the Jamestown settlers, did, but the succeeding generations. That small group of settlers, the vast majority of whom died in their first years in the New World, laid the groundwork and foundation for us today. Hopefully, we can continue to live up to their ideal.

Winter – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

I was surprised that a blog post on winter was as hard to come by as it ended up being.  I am certain that I remember a set of photos from the late 1940s when my father and his family traveled to Niagara Falls.  The pictures show the falls frozen and lots of snow.  But, I can’t find them anywhere.  Maybe Dad will know where they are.

But I found some pictures that were just as interesting and tell a story of a “big snow”, at least for Fort Smith, Arkansas.  I have talked about my granddad, Robert H. Dickson, Jr., previously.  Granddad took a lot of photos with his old camera (I think Dad still has that camera).  And Granddad did his own developing back in the day.  I guess he didn’t have an enlarger, or maybe only had a small one, because so many of his photos are 2″ x 2″ and maybe a bit grainy.  But, they are great fun to see, since so many of them are really candid and completely unstaged.

So, I found a few pictures that Grandmother (Susan Louise Bailey Dickson) had captioned “Robert H. Dickson Jr. in that big snow of 1940”  Digging around in climatology history web sites, it looks like there was a snowstorm that dropped 9.4 inches of snow on Fort Smith, Arkansas in January of 1940.  Looks like Granddad and, I guess, Grandmother took the opportunity to go out in the snow.  I am betting that Grandmother took these photos.

Robert H. Dickson Jr. in the snow of January 1940

It doesn’t look like 9.4 inches in this picture, but it does look like Granddad needs a jacket!  I am only guessing that Grandmother took these photos.  Robert and Susan met in June 1938 and been dating for a year and a half by this point.  They got married just a month later on 23 Feb 1940.  It’s fun to see Granddad so young.  He looks so skinny.  And the paralysis on his face sort of gives him a scowl.  Kathleen thought that he looked mean in these pictures.

But, how could you think of him as mean when you see him out in the snow in his bare feet!  His pants are up around his knees and he’s barefoot in the snow here.

Robert H. Dickson, barefoot in the 1940 snow

The last of the pictures that I found was a fun one of the house that Granddad grew up in.  I find my great-grandparents, Robert H. Dickson, Sr., and Ethel Garner Dickson, in their house at 2230 N. 14th St., Fort Smith, Arkansas by 1925.  They lived there until Robert Sr’s death.  After that Grandmother Dickson lived there for at least a couple of years before moving.  I have never heard the reason that Fort Smith decided to renumber their streets.  North 14th St. became North 29th St., but the family didn’t move.  Grandmother notes that that’s her future father-in-law, Robert Sr., on the front porch.

Robert H. Dickson, Sr. on his porch at 2230 N. 14th St., 1940

So, even back in the day, wintertime could be a good time for our ancestors.  They could be excited by unusual snows.  They could go out to play in the snow.  And they could do goofy things in the cold, just because.  That’s the kind of thing that makes sure we remember that our ancestors were all real people just like we are.