When I first began to research my ancestors, I knew I had much to learn. My grandpa Fair Baldridge had died in 1953 when I was only six years old. I remembered him, but very little. Growing up in Floyd County, Kentucky, I was aware that he had other brothers and I knew some of them. I didn’t know who his parents were or where they had lived.
I soon learned that Fair’s father, my great grandfather, was John Wesley “Wes” Baldridge, a name I had heard my whole life. John Wes, as he was known, married a distant cousin, Ellen Baldridge, and they had twelve children — nine sons and three daughters. I never imagined that Fair’s family was so big.
Pearl Baldridge was one of Fair’s brothers who I didn’t even know existed when I began my research. For some time after I discovered him, I didn’t even know if Pearl was a son or a daughter. Since then, what I have learned Pearl is quite interesting. I love the fact that Pearl Baldridge married a woman named Pearle Mae. And when a cousin gave me a picture of Pearl, I could see right away that he was different. For example, he seems to be the best dressed of all of the Baldridge children. I wanted to get to know Pearl Baldridge and his family a lot better.
Pearl was born in Lackey, Kentucky, on November 6, 1887, the first child of John Wes and Ellen Baldridge. In 1900, the census revealed that he was 12 years old and living in Knott County with his parents. He had four brothers (Charley, George, Solomon, and Fair), and a sister (Lonnie). (Curiously, there also seems to be a “boarder” named Mary Baldridge living there as well. She was 18 and I haven’t identified her yet, but she’s not one of John Wes and Ellen’s children.)
But by the 1910 census, Pearl has mysteriously left home and is boarding with a 41 year old widow named Julia Anderson in Greenville, Mississippi. It says Pearl is 22 and is employed as a bookkeeper with the “Telephone Co.” The census data identifies seven others living at the same residence: Julia Anderson’s son, Charles, her daughter, Hattie, and 5 other men who are about the same age as Pearl. And they all appear to be working for the telephone or telegraph company.
I have seen nothing to support it, but I’m thinking that Pearl and Charles Anderson could be friends. That might explain why Pearl happens to be boarding there after leaving Kentucky. Other later records will show that Pearl was soon be a student/minister at a Baptist seminary in Texas.
In June, 1917, Pearl was in Tarrant County, Texas, when he registered for the World War I draft, and he provided some very interesting clues indeed when filling out his card.
Address: “Babtist Semenary” (Baptist Seminary, probably. Hope they taught spelling there. LOL).
Current occupation: unclear, but it appears that Pearl said it was “minister of gospel.”
By whom employed: “ministry 28” (?? His age?)
Where employed: “Babtist Semenary”
Dependents: “wife and child”
Claim exemption: “that I have family to support” (Not a conscientious objector?)
Bald?: Bald (At age 28? LOL)
Signed: “PB Baldridge.”
When the 1920 census came around, Pearl was still living living in Texas with his wife and a son, Howard D. Baldridge. Interestingly, the words “Seminary Hill addition” have been written in the left margin. I also happened to notice that in this same 1920 census, appearing just above Pearl Baldridge’s family, is one Charley Anderson, his wife Ida, and daughter Charley. (Hey, that’s what it says…)
Could this possibly be the same Charles Anderson from 10 years earlier in Alabama? Again, no evidence, but this would just be too much of a coincidence. It must be that Pearl and his old friend Charles are still together, now married with families, and living next door to one another at the Baptist seminary in Texas.
Even more intriguing, the 1910 Alabama census had revealed that the widow Julia Anderson and her children were all born in Illinois. The 1920 Texas census is the first to include Pearl Baldridge’s wife Pearle Mae, and under “Birthplace” the census lists Illinois for Pearle Mae, her father, and her mother. Is there another connection to be made here? What are the odds?
I have not found Pearl in the 1930, census, but a Gadsden, Alabama City Directory from 1931 next lists Pearl B. Baldridge (wife Pearle) as a pastor with 12th St. Baptist Church and a home address of 208 S. 12th.
The 1940 census, shows Pearl Baldridge and his wife Pearle living in Maryville, Tennessee. It also says that his occupation is “preacher” for a Baptist church, that he works 60 hours per week with an income of $3000.
Pearl Baldridge died on April 21, 1960, in Maryville, Tennessee. Pearle Mae lived until July, 1974. Memorials created for them on the Find a Grave site show that they were buried together in Grandview Cemetery in Maryville.