Thankful – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

As I write this, tomorrow is Thanksgiving 2018 here in the United States and Amy Johnson Crow has suggested Thankful as our them for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

When I started thinking about this, I found so many different directions that I wanted to go.  At first, I thought about one of my very favorite Thanksgiving Dinners that I celebrated with my grandfather Robert H. Dickson, Jr.  I talked about that some time back and you can see it here.

Then, I thought about pointing out that My ancestors were actually here for the First Thanksgiving in the Colonies, while Kathleen’s Mayflower ancestors were Johnny-Come-Latelys for the second one, even though they get all the credit.  Folks forget that the first commemoration of Thanksgiving took place in the Virginia Colony took place at the Berkeley Plantation in 1619.  My ancestor, Cicely Reynolds, was living very near to the plantation at that time and may well have been at that celebration of thanksgiving.  Kathleen, on the other hand, has a number of Mayflower ancestors (John, Elinor, and Francis Billington, John Howland, Francis Eaton, Henry Samson, Degory Priest), so of course there is a Thanksgiving connection there, too.

But this last Sunday, I was preparing my Sunday School lesson and hit on what I really wanted to talk about.  I am not the sort of genealogist who believes that my identity is defined or my future determined specifically by the lives of my ancestors or by my DNA.  But, I do know that important values are passed down from generation to generation.  I know that the experiences for good or for bad of one generation affect several to come.  And for the lessons and experience of those before me, I am thankful.

One of my favorite things is to teach adult Sunday School.  I am a guest speaker in a number of different classes at our church.  This past Sunday and this coming Sunday, I am visiting with one of my favorite groups.  This is a class where there may be members still in their seventies, but the vast majority are members of the Greatest Generation and are firmly in their mid- to late-eighties and nineties.  What could I possibly have to teach them?  But they are always gracious and welcome me and invite me back.

When I thought about it, I realized that I have a number of ancestors who were pastors and preachers.  But I also have a lot of members of my family who have taken the more informal route of teaching and leading adult Sunday School.  Mom is currently the president of her class.  My brother and his wife lead classes at their church.  My step-mother teaches Sunday School at her church as well as leading worship from time to time at the local county jail with my Dad.  (He helps; he isn’t a resident.)

And back through the generations, many of my ancestors shared their faith and their understanding by teaching Sunday School.  My maternal grandfather, Hudson Wren, led his Sunday School at the Wilson United Methodist Church in Wilson, Arkansas class for nearly 40 years.  I remember every Saturday evening, when we were at his house, he would retreat into his den, close the door, and work on his lesson.  We all knew not to disturb Papaw while he was working on his lesson because it was important to him.  Even though he saved his notes for years, not long before his death, he cleaned out his files and destroyed years of lessons.  I am thrilled to have some of the the ones that escaped.  I still refer to them for my own lessons.  Of course, they are often tied to the Adult Bible Study quarterlies from years and years ago and I don’t have those.  But I can still guess at the direction from the notes.  It’s fun to see his way of taking notes and writing and to hear his voice in them.

Hudson Wren’s Sunday School Lesson on Christian Maturity, 13 July 1975

We recently met my great-grandfather, Charles Council Bailey.  He also was called on to lead Sunday School from time to time.  I’ve got a few of the talks that he gave at different times, including one done for Sunday School.  I suspect that this is from the 1890s, though I don’t find a date on it.  That means it was probably when they lived in Milton or Stigler in the Indian Territory.  I have to say that I can identify with his comments as I lead classes full of folks who have all had long and full lives.  This is part of a talk he gave to and about the Sunday School and why it is important.

Charles Council Bailey talk on Sunday School

In this he says “… if I should attempt to offer a word of advice or define for older and better [men] the interest we should take in this work, that they will deal lightly with me when passing upon my presumption, and with careful hands winnow the chaff from the grain, if any grain there be in what I may offer.”  Sounds about right when standing in front of a group of folks who have seen far more of life than I have.

My maternal grandmother, Susan Louise Bailey Dickson, often led the devotions for the Women’s society in her church.  I have a few of these and love them, too.  She’s quick and to the point in what she has to say.  That’s the point of these devotions that open the meetings.  Here’s one of hers.  I don’t know the date, but it was from late in her life.

Hey! Do You Know Who You Are?

Matthew 12:50 – Whoever does what my Father in Heaven wants him to do is my brother, my sister, and my mother.

Kirk Douglas: “Once, while I was driving to Palm Springs, CA, I picked up a hitchhiking sailor.  He got into the car, took a look at me and said “Hey! Do you know who you are?”  That’s a very good question.  A question we all have to ask our selves.” (From The Ragman’s Son: An Autobiography)

We live in a day when it is fashionable to lament that we need to find out who we are.  This was never a problem to me.  As the youngest of a large family and almost the only girl, I knew I was Somebody’s Little Sister or I was Charlie & Viola’s little girl.  I’ve known people who resented this identification with their family members.  I never did.  I do not resent one of my brothers introducing me as his “baby Sister”.  The knowledge that I was an integral, indeed an important, part of this closely knit family was a security that many people have not known.

If a brother caught me misbehaving, he would draw me aside and tell me to stop it.  If I argued that the other kids were doing it, they would reply “Yes, but you now better.”

Our meals were an unhurried time of sharing.  We told our small triumphs or defeats, as the case may be.

It was in [Sunday School] that I learned “Jesus Loves Me”. Also God is the loving Father of us all.  This did not seem strange to me for I had not yet learned that not all fathers are loving.  Later in [Sunday School], Mrs Clark taught me that I was a part of the church family and that expanded to the Family of God.

As I grew up my family kept expanding.  There was school and later I went to college.  Then I married and we were another family unit within the larger family of mankind.  I was a wife. Then a mother.  many years later I became a grandmother.  Then I was a teacher.

I am many things.  I am still a wearer of many hats.  Most important, I am a child of God – a sister of Jesus and of all who are children of the Father.  This, I think is the foremost “who” that I am.

As some of you may know, I sang in one choir or another most of my life.  One of my favorite anthems is an old one that is an adaptation of the 23rd Psalm, My Shepherd Will Supply My Need and ends with “Not as a stranger or a guest but as a child at home.”

I do not always do all the things that the Father would have me to do and, like Paul, I sometimes do what He would not have me do.  With much prayer and effort, I strive to live so that I can say I am a true child of the Father.

Hey! Do you know who you are?

Susan Louise Bailey Dickson, “Hey! Do You Know Who You Are?”

So, back to Thankful.  I am so thankful that in my family, I can find examples of people that I have known and loved and that I can discover and admire who help me to see who I am. Not that they determine me, but that their influence and experience on and in each successive generation is undeniable – both for good and for bad.  I am thankful that by finding my family and reflecting on who they were and are, I am able to answer Grandmother’s question more each day.  Hey!  Do you know who you are?

Random Fact – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Charlie Bailey was a song collector

This week, Amy Johnson Crow, the organizer of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks has given us a Bingo Free Space with Random Fact.  To me, that means some random thing about someone in my tree.

Well, Charlie Bailey was a song collector.  That’s pretty random.  And it’s something you would not find in any kind of a record that you would find. 

Birth, death, marriage, property, tax records.  None of those sorts of record tell you much about the person.  And that’s why it’s so important to get to know the family stories and to look more at your ancestors to get to know them.

Charles Council Bailey was my great-grandfather.  His youngest daughter, Susan Louise Bailey, was my grandmother.  Charles was born 26 July 1868 in Hackett, Sebastian County, Arkansas.  He was the first child of Hume Field Bailey and Sarah Louise Council (each of them had children from a previous marriage).

Charles worked on his family farm, ultimately inheriting it.  He also worked as a clerk in a grocery in Hackett and as a carpenter, framing houses.  So, he was working to get by.  In 1895, across the Arkansas River, in Indian Territory, Charles and Viola Tennison married.  I wish I knew the story behind that.  I am not sure whether they had moved there and met or whether they went across the river to marry and settle down, or what.  It’s only about 30 miles from Hackett to Milton.  The first of their children, Carl Everett Bailey, was born in Milton.

Charles Council Bailey

From there, they moved another 30 miles west, to Stigler, Indian Territory.  There four more children were born.  But, by 1910, they had moved back to Hackett.  I suspect he moved home to run the family farm and help his mother.  (Once Oklahoma gained statehood, they came back to Arkansas.  Just the opposite from my ancestors in another line who moved to Oklahoma once it had gained statehood.  More about that another day.)

It was a tough life on that small farm, way out in the country.  It’s hard to put ourselves into that time and place and imagine what each day would be like.  Not just how hard people worked, but what else filled out their lives.

Charles Council Bailey

I was fortunate enough to get Charles Council Bailey’s trunk from my cousin Michael Bailey and to get a lot of his other papers that my grandmother had saved.  These folks were serious pack-rats.  I have tax receipts going way back.  I have other receipts going back to the 1840s for loans and for sale of property.  All of that along with lots of letters and pictures.

But in the midst of all of that paper were about 60 poems written out, or so I thought.  When I started Googling around for the verses, all of them ended up being old, old folk songs.  Charlie was a song collector!  These must have been some of his favorites.

Almost all of the songs have the date and the place that they were copied.  Seems like a lot of them came from November of 1895, just a couple of months after Charles and Viola got married.  Some where collected while the family lived in Milton in the Indian Territory.  Others were done while in Hackett.  There are a few that were copied by other people and say that they were done for Charles.  A few, Charles notes that he copied for Viola.

There are several that appear to have come from a ledger.  I don’t know whether he just used pages from the ledger, or these are just a small part of a huge collection.  The pages are numbered in the 600s.  If there were 600 more pages of these songs, I think we would have heard of this.

I wish I could ask my grandmother and her sister, Lucille, as well as their brothers, more about this.  Did their dad play and sing at home, for fun?  Did they all participate?  Seems like I recall there being an old fiddle that belonged to him.  Did I imagine a banjo as well?  Or was that someone else? (It could have been Kathleen’s family.)  Was he someone who loved to listen to others?  Was it the lyrics or the tunes that really resonated with him?

Here’s the thing: don’t let this sort of thing get lost.  Don’t just record the “facts” about your family.  Make sure you get a good idea of the people.  Remember them.  When the last person who actually knows another person dies, a lot of the memories of that person are inevitably lost and they fade a bit more into the past.  But, our family is our family and they are complete people, not just lists of facts.

Who knows!  Maybe some of these random facts, like Charles’ love of music are passed down through the generations.  I’ll close with a second random fact.  C. Michael Bailey, Charles grandson, has clearly inherited that love of music.  He’s a senior contributor and music critic for All About Jazz, an online community of jazz aficionados.  So, I think this random bit is still shaking through the tree.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Frightening

What makes us frightened?  For some, it’s a good scary movie. (Personally, I have never liked them!)  I think a lot of times, we get frightened when we are placed into a situation that we don’t understand, without any context to understand what is going on and what’s going to happen next.  We see people in situations that we don’t understand, that might not look like us, and that don’t behave like we expect them to behave and we get frightened.

Little kids live in a world where lots of things frighten them, or at least make them uneasy.  There’s so much that is unknown and they are so much not in control of their life and their surroundings.  They have to learn that many of the things that initially are frightening are really not so bad, and might even be really good.  Were you scared the first time you went down a slide?  What about the first time you drove on the freeway?  You learn that these things are really not bad at all!

Sometimes, it’s meeting someone that is frightening.

I have only the vaguest of memories of my great-grandmother, Viola Tennison Bailey.  I know lots and lots of stories about her and have dozens of photos.  But memories that are actually my own are few.  Viola was born 19 July  1875 in Winona, Choctaw County (now Montgomery County), Mississippi.  She was the first child born to John William Biggers Tennyson and his wife Mary Susan Druscilla Deshazo.  By 1880, the family had moved to Pike County, Arkansas.  In 1885, when Viola was just nine years old, Bill Tennyson was killed in an accident at the sawmill he ran with his brother, Zenas.  Mary remarried to J. Frank Phillips in 1888.  By then, Mary and her family were living in Sebastian County.

Viola married Charles Council Bailey on 1 Sep 1895 in Milton, Indian Territory.  She and Charles had ten children, starting with Carl Everett in 1896 and ending with my grandmother, Susan Louise , in 1919.

Viola died 19 August 1970 in Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas.  The picture, above, was taken just a year before Viola’s death, along with her daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, and great-great-granddaughter.  What a wonderful picture to have!

I was just seven years old when she died  It was during the summer after first grade.  She was the first family member that I remember dying.  I think I only met Great-Grandmother a few times.  By the time I came around, she had health problems and was no longer able to live on her own.  She lived in a nursing home, which was a frightening place on its own.  To a five-year-old (or even younger) child, the smells and sights of a nursing home, especially in those days, were utterly foreign.  I can’t remember much about Great-Grandmother.  Just that she was very, very old and didn’t seem to interact that much.  It’s almost lost in the mist of memory.  But I remember that it was sort of frightening to be there and to be around the nursing home and all of the very old people.

Of course, that was hardly a fair picture of the character I have heard about the rest of my life.  I have heard nothing but stories of spunk and strength and good humor on the part of my great-grandmother.  I wish I had had more of an opportunity to get to know her either earlier in her life or later in my own.

Even though, when I knew her, she was very old and not able to do much for herself, that  certainly was not always the case.  She lived on the edge of the Indian Territory, sometimes the inside edge and sometimes the outside edge.  In any case, she lived in a frontier area and raised her family on a hardscrabble farm.  She was married for nearly forty years and then lived alone in her widowhood for another thirty-five years.

I have heard all sorts of stories about Viola.  I heard one where she was living alone, in the house (above) when an animal got into the hen house and she effectively and efficiently dispatched it with her shotgun.  She had her sons make sure they told folks about how handy she was with that shotgun so she wouldn’t have any trouble, being an elderly widow living alone.

I have Great-Grandmother’s butter paddle.  She used it to make butter in a big bowl rather than in a churn.  My grandmother assured me that her mother used the paddle to paddle more than just butter!

Once, after Viola was in the nursing home, my grandmother got a call that two men in suits where visiting Viola and the nursing home was concerned about who they were.  One man was very old, himself, and the other appeared to be an attorney.  Turns out it was an old man of the neighborhood who needed identification and Viola was the only one still alive who could attest to his actual birth.

I am sure that my Dad and all my Bailey cousins could fill the hours with stories of Great-Grandmother Bailey.  The moral is that things and people that are frightening are often filled with love and joy and have a whole world to share with us if we have the opportunity and take the time to embrace them and hear what they have to say.

tennison-0047-f-v01
Viola Tennison Bailey, 1875-1970

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Cause of Death

koeze-mortality-31Last week, we looked at conflicts that we find in our family tree.   These might be things that  we, ourselves, have experienced.  They might be stories with recent memory.  Or they might be far in the past.  But one thing that they all point out to us is that the people we are researching are real people.  They had real lives – real joys, real sorrows, real hardships, real experiences.  Sometimes in our haste to find our next ancestor, we treat the people in our tree as anonymous names and collections of facts to be discovered rather than the members of our family that they are.

Perhaps this becomes most clear as we look at causes of death, the theme for this week.  Every time we look at a tombstone or stand at a grave, it’s a reminder that someone’s life ended.  That person was born, lived, and then died.  Someone took the time to bury them.  Most of the time, there is a monument or tombstone to remember the person.  Were there a lot of people gathered there for the burial and funeral?  Or was it an anonymous burial in a potter’s field with no one in attendance?

How did the person live, we wonder?  What kind of person were they?  Were they joyful and fun to be around?  Or were they the one to freeze the joy out of a room and regard everyone with a stern and disapproving look?  Were they surrounded by people who loved them during their last days and hours, or did they die alone?  What caused their death?  Did they die at a young age from some disease we would regard as highly treatable today?  Or did they die from something that still kills many today?

cemetery-Arkansas-Vinita-0043-f-v01

The tombstone and the grave probably don’t tell us a lot about this.  I have seen a stone in Mississippi County, Arkansas that claims what a loving father a man was, when I know for a fact that that wasn’t quite true.  Maybe when he was sober, but not when he drank.  When he was sober, he looked after folks.  For fun, he would teach me big words.  But, when he drank, which was more and more frequently late in life, he was mean.  He even tried to shoot his wife one Christmas.  But that’s another story for another time.

Texas Death Certificate - Grace Clowdis HiggsSo, we look at death certificates.  They probably give us immediate and contributing causes of death.  This is good as we try to build a health history, to see if certain diseases run in our family.  But, there’s still a lot more to the story, and to the person and their experiences than we see in that little box on the form.

This week, we are going to meet two different people who had fairly similar paths near the end of their lives.  In the last months, we have seen several high profile celebrities who chose to end their own lives.  Notably, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, both committed suicide this year.  There have been others in the media, but these two particularly shook a lot of people.   When one person I know heard about Anthony Bourdain, they talked about what a shock it was since everything seemed to be going well for him – he had a great career on TV and writing, he had a family that he loved and that loved him, he was sober for a number of years from the drugs that he battled in the past.  But something was really wrong for him.  Depression made him believe that there was no way out.  So, he ended his life.

And I think that’s the thread that joins the lives of Bill Bailey and Cecil Dickson.  Both of these men, in desperate times, saw no way out for themselves.

Cecil Noyle Dickson was born 20 Aug 1876 in Mississippi, probably in Tate County.  He was the eldest child of John H. Dickson and Martha A. Taylor and the older brother to my great-grandfather, Robert Harrison Dickson, Sr.   The family was a family of farmers, as much of my family in those days was.  They moved from Mississippi to Prairie County, Arkansas by the time of the 1880 census.  Eventually, John H. Dickson died and Martha remarried to Jack A. Jones.  By then, the family was living in Crawford County, Arkansas, north of Fort Smith, in a small town called Rudy.  The family story was that Jack Jones was mean to his step-children so Cecil and his brother Robert left home while still young.

Apparently, Cecil didn’t go far because in August of 1895, Cecil married his step-sister (by Jack Jones first wife) Elzenia Mildred “Zenia” Jones.  They had at least ten children, though I think they lost at least one along the way.  The 1900 census shows him as a laborer.  In 1910, he is a farmer on rented land.  In 1920, he is a farmer, but he owns his own farm.  Likewise in 1930.  Of course, by then Great Depression had begun and I am sure that things began to get tough. And for some, it got very tough, indeed.

According to some Dickson cousins,

Cecil was a kind man, who worried a lot. Apparently, Cecil had mortgaged the farm at Citizen Bank. Due to the depression at the time (1931) and possibly a crop failure, he could not make the payment on the mortgage. This upset Cecil very much. One morning, he went into Rudy and some men there were razzing him about the bank taking the farm. This upset him very much. Cecil went back home and ate dinner. Then he got his 22 rifle to go squirrel hunting. Along in the late afternoon when he had not returned, Zenia decided to send the boys to look for him. When they returned without finding him, she thought for a little while and told one of the boys “I know where he is. Go look in the old house.” This old house was to the left and up on the hill from the house they lived in. They went there and looked in the window. There sat Cecil against the wall, with the gun braced on a stick of wood. He had shot himself, the 10th of November 1931 and he died. He was buried in the Mt. McCurry Cemetery which was not very far from his home. The farm that Cecil mortgaged was known at the time as the old Jones place. It had apparently belonged to Zenia’s family. The next generation called it the old Dickson place. It is a pretty valley.  The banker who repossessed the farm allowed Zenia and the children to continue to live there.  Joe was still at home and he ran the farm. They still had their chickens, cows, pigs, and horses, as these were not mortgaged. Their family did pretty well and did not go hungry. They were as prosperous as the other families in that area at the time. I do not know Cecil’s parents names.  Cecil’s occupation was apparently farmer, but the family also picked cotton as did all the other families in the fall.  It was extra money for all.

This happened far too often during the Great Depression.  The perfect storm of a personal depression and financial failure and an inability to provide for his family was more than he could endure.

I think things might not have been so different for Bill Bailey.  James William “Bill” Bailey was born 23 Sep 1875 in Hackett, Sebastian County, Arkansas.  His parents were Hume Field Bailey and Sarah Louise Council Brewer BaileyWe’ve met some of that family and their farm previously.  It was a hardscrabble life on that farm along the Oklahoma border.

In 1908, Bill married Loda Scott.  Bill was working as a clerk in a grocery store in Sebastian County.  In 1920, he owned his own home and was the Top Boss at the coal mine.  In 1930, both Bill and Loda were working in the grocery store again, Bill as the manager and Loda as a sales clerk.   Now, they rent their house rather than own it.

My grandmother said that Bill was always a cut-up.  He loved novelty photos.  She had some where he was shaking his own hand, or was the both the bride and the groom in a wedding photo.  Seems like a happy person.

bailey-docs-0091-f3-v02Loda and Bill moved to California during the Great Depression.  With no children, it was just the two of them.  I guess that they went there in search of jobs and escape from the business and farm failures in Arkansas and search for a better life.

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He worked in a grocery and a service station with his brother-in-law, Loda’s brother.  But apparently, they were having no success in that business either.  Financial failures combined with failing health were more than he could take.  On Christmas evening in 1933, Bill took his own life.

So, what to take away from all of this?  I guess a couple of things.

First, remember that our ancestors were real people with real lives.  We honor them by looking beyond the dates and places and facts on a family group sheet.  We honor them by remembering their lives, their joys, and their struggles.

Second, and more importantly, as we look at the causes of death we find for our ancestors, we have to look at ourselves, our friends, and our families.  Suicide is real.  Too many people are overwhelmed by a sense of failure, a sense of uselessness, a sense of hopelessness.  Take the time to listen, to be aware of the people around you.  Listen to your loved ones when they talk to you.  If they are having a hard time, talk to them and then listen.  Be there for them.  It’s such a hard thing to get our minds around, wanting to end your own life.  I don’t understand it.  But, I can do my best to listen and empathize and ask those that are hurting how I can help.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Down on the Farm

Down On the Farm – Isn’t that a Little Feat song?

Anyway, that’s the theme for this week.  Down on the Farm.  And I decided to do something a little different.  I want to introduce you a little bit to the Bailey Farm in Sebastian County, Arkansas.  Francis Baker Bailey first came to Arkansas around the time of statehood.  In a profile of Otway L. Bailey, son of F.B. Bailey, it was recounted that

[t]he father was a farmer by occupation, served as Justice of the Peace many years, made a prospecting tour through Texas in 1845, afterward roamed through Arkansas and Missouri, and subsequently returned to Arkansas, where he died in January, 1855.

HISTORY OF TEXAS TOGETHER WITH A BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY OF TARRANT AND PARKER COUNTIES, profile of Otway Licepious Bailey, Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago, 1895

BLM GLO Records, Francis Baker Bailey, Arkansas, Sebastian, S3 T7N R31WI suspect that the Bailey family was in Arkansas or southwest Missouri prior to Arkansas statehood in 1836, since some of the children went to Texas as early as 1838.  But, the first stake in the ground I can find is a patent for 40 acres on 10 July 1844 by F.B. Bailey.  He purchased this land in Section 3, Township 7 North, Range 31W which puts it right on the edge of Fort Chaffee outside of Ft. Smith, Arkansas.

I don’t think they stayed here very long since I find the family living in Pope County, in the town of Galla Rock by 1850 and they appear to have stayed there until around the time of the Civil War.  By then, F.B. Bailey was deceased and his son Hume Field Bailey was not a Rebel sympathizer.  Perhaps he moved his family nearer to Ft. Smith, the site of a fairly large U.S. Army garrison, for a measure of safety and stability during a dangerous time.  Being a border state, raiders were very active in Arkansas.  Remember Josey Wales?

Hume Bailey bought land in Sebastian County, around today’s City of Hackett, very near to the Oklahoma border.  Starting with most of a 1/16 of a section and growing his holdings to close to 100 acres by the time of his death, Hume had enough land to scratch out a living, but just barely.  He and his wife Sarah Louise Council Bailey raised ten children – three that Hume had with his first wife Amanda Shafer, one that Sarah had with her first husband John O. Brewer, and six together.

It’s somewhat difficult to trace Sebastian county land records from Atlanta.  FamilySearch.org has many indexes of the deeds online, but not many of the deed books themselves.  Combine that with the fact that there are two courthouses in Sebastian county where things are recorded.  So, I have not found as many deeds for the farm as I would like.

But my family is a bunch of pack rats.  Turns out I have property tax receipts from about 1850 until about 1940, almost every year.  Each one details the particular property that is owned and who paid the taxes.  So, you can see when land comes in and goes out, as well as when the head of household changed.

In April 1874, Hume paid tax on part of the SW 1/4 of the SW 1/4 of Section 16, Township 6N, Range 32W just on the outskirts of what is now Hackett.  This piece of land stayed in the family until the very end.  By 1890, the Bailey farm has taken its final form, containing most of the SW 1/4 SW 1/4 of S 16 T 6N R 32W and most of the NW 1/4 NW 1/4 of S 21 T6N R32W.  Also included are small slices immediately to the east of these pieces of land.  On the map, this is the green square.  Just for reference, the small red square was F.B. Bailey’s original patent.

Copy of mseba
North Sebastian County, Arkansas. Green square is Hume Bailey’s farm. Red square is F.B. Bailey’s original patent.

So long as Hume Bailey lived, taxes were for the most part paid on time each year until his death in 1891.  By then, the male children had for the most part moved away and the farm began to struggle.  Sarah Bailey is now the name on the tax receipts.  We see a lot of penalties for late payment on property taxes.  On some receipts, there is a notation that a payment is for multiple years of taxes.  And in fact, there are several instances through Sarah’s widowhood where the farm is sold for taxes and then redeemed.  I don’t know the details of this practice.  It seems like there must be a period where the farm is almost but not quite in foreclosure, when the original owner can redeem it for the back taxes and a penalty.

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After Hume died, Sarah applied for a widow’s pension from the U.S. Army, since her first husband, John O. Brewer, had died during the Civil War and Hume had never served.  This made her eligible for a small pension.  In the application, she and several people comment on the fact that the farm is not worth a lot and that she is nearly destitute with it as her sole income.

At Sarah’s death, Charles Council Bailey, the oldest son of Hume and Sarah, inherits the farm.  He is the father of my grandmother, Susan Louise Bailey Dickson.  Charles married Viola Tennison and goes on to have ten children, with Susan being the youngest.  Tax receipts hint that things were pretty tight for a family with so many children.  Once during the height of the Great Depression, the farm is again sold for taxes and then redeemed.  But, there are often penalties for late payment.

Everyone pitches in on the farm.  The boys work in the fields.  There is a great picture of “The Hay Crew” taking a break from working in the fields.  Some of the land was used to grow cotton, based on Cotton Allotment forms filed during the Depression.  Some appears to be rented.  But the farm was never a highly productive piece of land.  Charles worked as a merchant in addition to farming.  Some of his sons worked in local coal mines.  But, the family was close and many of the descendants remain in touch even today.  We are hoping to perhaps have a reunion of the descendants of Charles and Viola in 2019.

Of course, there were plenty of animals on the farm.  I love this photo of my grandmother Susan Louise Bailey and her calf, Blossom.  And this is a pretty good one of her dad, Charles Council Bailey and one of his working draft horses.

So, what can we take from all of this?  I think life on the farm was critical to the way this family grew together and how they turned out as adults.  I think that if you imagine a small farm on the edge of Oklahoma during the Great Depression, you might have a pretty good idea of what this farm was like.  But, it was home.  And it remained in the family for nearly 100 years.

Eventually, I will track down the rest of the deeds to see when each piece was purchased or sold.  I will continue to work to find out when Francis Baker Bailey arrived in Arkansas.  And I will continue to figure out what it was like down on the farm.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Non-Population

Week 34.  The theme this week is “Non-Population.”

For all of you who are not spending your life deep in the census, let’s start with a short bit of background.  The U.S. Constitution provides that an enumeration of all residents in the United States be taken every ten years.  That brief sentence on its own seems to cause a lot of consternation today.  I think that perhaps it has in the past, too.

So, every ten years, since 1790, people have gone out to count every resident of these United States.  Each census has collected somewhat different data.   The early censuses listed the head of each household and the number of people living there – male, female, free, slave, grouped by age category.  Starting in 1850, the census began to enumerate and list every member of the household, along with basic information about that person – name, age, gender, marital status, place of birth, etc.  Beyond that, other questions have been asked in each census.

The list of individuals is known as the Population Schedule of the census.  In addition to the Population Schedule, census takers have collected other Non-Population data primary about agriculture, manufacturing and industry, and mortality.  The National Archives has a nice article about what to expect in each of these Non-Population Schedules here.

This week, let me introduce you to Otway Licepious Bailey.  Is that a great name, or what?  Most of what I find about Otway starts in a short biography in “History of Texas together with a Biographical History of Tarrant and Parker Counties”, published in 1895, and from his obituary, published in the Edmond Sun in Edmond, Oklahoma, 15 Oct 1814.

 

 

Uncle Otway was born 25 March 1831 in Mecklenburg County, Virginia.  While he was still a child, Otway and his parents, Francis Baker Bailey and Evalina Belmont Hill Bailey, moved to Arkansas.  They were in Pope County, Arkansas by 1837.  (I hope I can one day prove that they were in Arkansas in 1836 before statehood.  But that’s a task for a different day.)

Francis B. Bailey, Otway (and Hume, my great-great-grandfather)’s father, was a farmer in Pope County.  If we look in the 1850 Agricultural Schedule of the Census at Ancestry, we find …. that Ancestry shows no Agricultural Schedule for Arkansas survives.

It seems like the Non-Population Schedules were not preserved with as much care as the more critical Population Schedule.  However!  Family Search provides the actual films of the census books.  Digging in the Family History Library catalog, I was able to find partial sections of the Non-Population Schedules for Arkansas mixed in on a film with partial Mortality Schedules.  Don’t give up if you don’t find your person in the index.  In this case, I was able to find Francis listed as Francis P Bailey (as he was in the Population Schedule, with the correct family).

 

 

It looks like Francis was not what you would call the giant plantation owner.  The Agricultural Schedule says that he owned 160 acres, of which only 12 were improved (cleared for cultivation), worth just $280.  He had 3 cows, 2 oxen, and 25 swine.  And in the year preceding the census, he produced 300 bushels of Indian corn, 20 bushels of sweet potatoes, and 300 lbs. of butter.

Two of Otway’s older brothers headed to Texas during the days of the Republic of Texas, receiving their headright of land there by 1840.  Otway was too young to go with them, but he followed close behind.  Otway and Amanda Colvin married 8 Dec 1853 in Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas and they headed to Texas.  By 1856, they were living in Austin, but moved north to Dallas by the next year.

In the 1860 Census, in the Population Schedule, we find them in Farmers Branch, Texas.  Otway lists his occupation as blacksmith with $800 worth of real estate and $1000 worth of personal estate.  My hunch was that he also worked as a farmer on a relatively small piece of land.  In that area, it seemed like everyone had a farm.

So, I tried to find them in the 1850 Manufacturing and 1850 Agricultural Schedules of the Census.  No luck.  When I read the finding aid (see the link above) from the National Archives, it noted that neither farms nor manufacturing businesses that made less than $500 were typically enumerated.  Well, if he’s doing both, there’s no surprise that neither his farm nor his shop is listed.

During the Civil War, Otway’s gunsmithing abilities were put to use in the Confederate Armory in Lancaster, Texas.  His biography places him in a pretty prominent position there.  If that were true, it would be really pretty cool.  Lancaster pistols from the Confederacy are very, very sought-after by collectors.  But researching the Armory, it appears that while he may well have worked there, he was not in charge of the Armory.  However, based on his wealth after the war, he may have had some sort of prominent role there, just not one that shows up as the head of the Armory.  It does appear that he was very much involved in making the famous pistols.

After the Civil War, we find Otway and his family back in the Dallas area by the time of the 1870 census.  This time, he is listed with an occupation of Gunsmith with real estate valued at $21000 and personal property valued at $800.  That value of $21000 in real estate suggests owning land to me.  But, when we search both the Agricultural and Manufacturing schedules, Otway isn’t there.  And the 1870 Industry Schedule for Texas does not appear to be available.

In 1880, Otway and his family have moved a bit west, to Tarrant County, Texas.  This time, Otway is listed as a farmer and machinist.  And we find him in both the Manufacturing and the Agricultural Schedules.  In the Manufacturing Schedule, he owns a machine shop that employs 12 people, all of whom work 10 hours per day all year round.  The Agricultural Schedule shows that he owns 80 acres of tillable land and 180 of unimproved land, worth $3500.  He has 4 horses, 9 milch cows, and 10 other cows.  Five calves were born this year.  They made 700 lbs of butter on the farm.  He has 25 acres under tillage for Indian corn, yielding 300 bushels, 7 acres of oats yielding 100 bushels, 25 acres of wheat, yielding 260 bushels.  He has  an orchard with 30 bearing apple trees and 240 peach trees.

 

 

So, what’s the net?  Well, we do find out a bit more about Otway and his family’s life through the Non-Population Schedules.  We did not uncover a lot by way of lineage details, but we can tell more about his and his family’s life.

The fact that there are a lot of gaps in the Non-Population Schedules, and many are outright missing or partial or misfiled, means that you will have to search harder for this information.  And in the end it may not be there.  When you do find them, you find a lot of color to your ancestors’ lives. But isn’t that they way it always is in genealogy?

Swinehood vs. Socrates

I know that I don’t have the writer’s gift that my aunt Linda Ridener Dickson has, nor that of my grandmother Susan Louise Bailey Dickson.  The two of them set a high bar that I can only aspire to.

bailey-0200-f-v01
Susan Louise Bailey, age 6, and her cow, Blossom

Susan Louise Bailey was born in October of 1919 in Hackett, Sebastian County, Arkansas.  She was the youngest of Charles Council Bailey and Viola Tennison’s ten children.  The farm where she was born and grew up had been in the family since 1840, purchased by Charles’ grandfather Francis Baker Bailey.

(I am convinced, though I have not yet proved, that the family was in Arkansas just prior to statehood.  It appears that some of Francis’ sons claim to have been born in Arkansas with dates of birth that predate statehood, but the census is never a great source.  Another post for another day.)

bailey-docs-0929-p1-v00I think things were often tough on the farm.  Through the Depression, I find lots of cases, especially after Charles died, where the farm was always under a lien for back taxes.  Money appeared to be really tight.  It wasn’t a big place and could never do more than scratch out a living on it.  No one was going to get rich there.

With a rural and difficult childhood, you might be surprised to see Susan not only go to college, but also to get a Masters degree, so that she could grow in her career as a teacher and help take care of her family.

dickson-1493-f-v00-SusanDickson-CommencementGrandmother was a teacher for a number of years in Southside High School in Fort Smith, Arkansas, teaching Math the whole time.   She was a special teacher to many students, taking time with them and helping them to understand the concepts that often seemed beyond their grasp.  So appreciated was she that she was recognized as Teacher of the Year.

I think she could be a tough teacher, expecting a lot of her students in terms of academics and in terms of behavior.  But she could also be a lot of fun.  She was always willing to go out of her way to support her students, attending football and basketball games and helping out with various activities.

And she could be an enforcer in class.  She would growl at her students.  It was a low, rumbly growl like an aggravated bear.  They knew to behave when they heard her growl!  But if that didn’t work, she kept a bullwhip on her desk!  I don’t think she ever had to use it.  Somehow, I think both of these are pedagogical techniques not commonly used in the classroom today.

But back to the gift for writing.  Dad shared a brief essay that Grandmother wrote for a class at her funeral.  This must have been in a freshman English class, based on the date – January 1938.  The class was English 103a.

In an assignment on Appearance, Mechanics, Style, and Content, the students were asked to address the question of whether you would rather be a live pig or a dead Socrates.  Here is Susan Louise Bailey’s classic answer to that question:

Sue Bailey
English 103a
January 13, 1938
Appearance, Mechanics, Style, Content

Swinehood vs. Socrates

I must confess that to be either a live pig or a dead Socrates would not be very desirable to me; however, being a swine might have some merits.  In a discussion of the subject a short while ago, a person said “at least Socrates is dead.”  This statement cannot be disputed; but, dead though he is, I am sure that Socrates is unable to sleep peacefully because of the beratings of harassed students struggling with his philosophy and teachings.  After an unhappy existence on earth, troubled with a scolding, brawling wife and stupid children, as well as many scornful enemies, to be troubled even in death by the chiding of one’s victims would be absolutely unbearable.

The swine, on the other hand, has few troubles in life and none in death if he has been a well-behaved swine.  He has nothing to do but doze in the warm sunshine.  If the sunshine becomes too warm, he has only to go to the shade to doze.  He does not have to go to school because there is nothing which he needs to learn.  It is unnecessary for him to work because he is provided with food and shelter.  This lucky swine has no diet to be observed religiously because obesity holds no terrors for him; in fact, the more obese he is, the more admiration he receives.  Most people, in considering the choice of a pig’s life, raise their hands in holy horror at the thought of the food given to swine.  Of course, such food is very repulsive to human beings; but we must remember that the swine does not know anything about our mode of living and is, therefore, content with his lot.  Some might object to the fact that the pig will soon be killed for food.  Since this is true, the choice is not between being a live pig or a dead Socrates, but a choice between being a dead pig or a dead Socrates.  After the pig is dead he is appreciated more than while he is alive, because people enjoy eating the pork roast and ham sandwiches into which he is transformed.  Instead of cursing him for having ever lived, people think kindly of him and his spirit rests peacefully.

As I said before, neither idea appeals to me; but if I were forced to make such a choice, I would rather be a live pig who lives in indolent contentment and by his death brings pleasure to human beings.  I hope that, after my death, I will be as kindly remembered as the swine is.