When you first begin to search for ancestors and your family roots, you must expect that there will be a great many surprises uncovered, multiple mysteries to be solved, and any number of odd circumstances that can be downright disconcerting. You will find yourself learning things that you didn’t really want to know.
Great Grandfather John Wesley Baldridge and his wife, Ellen Baldridge
I had hardly begun my initial digging and exploring when I tripped over a real family head-scratcher.
Census and other records all reveal that in 1887 my great grandfather John Wesley Baldridge had married Ellen Baldridge. So, I began poking around to find out her maiden name, only to discover that it was, umm… Baldridge. Ellen Baldridge appeared to be a distant cousin, coming from a different Baldridge family in North Carolina, but somehow I found little comfort in that.
Whenever a cousin is married to a cousin in the old family tree, I would feel much better if they are on completely different branches, at least, and as distant and many times removed as possible. And then I found another unusual family connection between great grandpa John Wes and his wife Ellen that made their relationship even more complicated and difficult to sort out. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.
Pearl B. Baldridge, 1887-1974
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.
I read an article in the Sunday Courier-Journal newspaper today that was hard to read; but I made myself read it, all the way to the end. It took more time than it should have, partly because of frequent stops to go back and reread sections that were especially compelling. I have a feeling that I will return to read it again.
(And, yes, I do, in fact, receive and actually read an honest-to-goodness-printed-on-paper newspaper every day. For you youngsters who don’t know what that is, I’ll have to explain another time.)
“Knowing Eastern Kentucky Statistics Can’t Tell the Story of a People, a Culture, a History” is the title.
This was home for my brothers and I when we lived in Rock Fork on Howard Branch. L to R: Kenny, Bobby, Eddie.
It was reprinted from a blog called “A Country Boy Can Surmise” by author Silas House who is from Rockhouse Creek in Leslie County, Kentucky. He is also the NEH Chair in Appalachian Studies at Berea College. (I’ll share a link to the complete article in his blog for those who wish to read it. It’s rather long, but well worth the reading. I recommend it.)
I like to think of myself a writer, of sorts, and I derive a great deal of pleasure from writing, mostly about my people and my family history. That’s the rationale for the contributions I make to this blog, though much too infrequently, I must admit.