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2015-06-11 07:29 am

Musing on cycles...

As I write this, I am sitting in one of my favorite places - my east porch, which looks out on gardens I built.

I have lived in this spot for twenty years. As I age, I am very glad I built the bones of these gardens as a younger woman.

And as I admire the results of my efforts two decades ago, I feel very close to both of my grandmothers. They also built gardens, and spent considerable time in their gardens.

Addie Louise Herrington had an herbaceous perennial border six feet deep around the perimeter of her home on Crittenden Street in Arkadelphia. I remember especially her camellia, and all of those blue hydrangeas.

Grandma Burris didn't have a porch, apart from the screened entryway to the kitchen. But she and Granddaddy Burris did put lawn chairs in the shaded part of the backyard.

 photo AddieLouiseHerringtonBurris1928.jpg
Louise Herrington Burris, 1908-1980


Doris Geneva Balding had a fully landscaped garden - of her design and built with a lot of her sweat. She hired out the large jobs - like the brick wall she paid my dad to build around her back garden.

Grandma Dee had a terrace, and almost always had a comfortable cushion laid out on her favorite terrace chair. She and Papaw Joe used the terrace as an extension of their home, an outdoor room.

 photo 020.jpg
Doris Balding Williams, 1907-1998

I totally "get it."

I know why my grandmothers spent so much time and put so much effort in their gardens.

There are times when you have to earth yourself. Times when yanking out weeds, and feeling crumbly earth slipping through your fingers allows you to leave behind what seemed just a few moments ago to be so important.

Times when you lose track of time as you let your garden consume all your senses. When the garden tells you that we are all connected.

And it teaches you that no matter what your spiritual paradigm, we humans are totally unnecessary to the changing of the cycles of nature. We're just gravy on the finished product, and will leave this earthly experience behind one day.

And the cycles will go on. So we don't need to go messing up this wondrous creation with toxins and a laissez faire attitude that we can just use, and use, and use without ever giving back.
These days, I am trying to just maintain the gardens. There's enough work in that for me.

My building projects have now turned to gardening in miniature.
 photo 06 04 2015 gnome garden3.jpg
gnome garden, May 2015


My anchor plant in the gnome garden is a dwarf twisted Hinoki cypress.
 photo 06 11 2015 dwarf hinoki cypress.jpg
Dwarf Twisted Hinoki Cypress 'Tsatsumi'


This little tree is a slow grower. Eventually it will outgrow the space, getting a couple of feet tall and about as wide. I haven't researched how it would respond to root pruning to keep it smaller. I'm really looking forward to seeing curling bark.

As time goes by, I can enjoy the planning of its replacement, and relocate this little cypress to its own pot.
The journey is good. I can make it even better by taking time to appreciate my garden.

I love and miss you both.

I'll see you on the other side.
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2015-06-03 06:53 am

Where did that child get off to?

My sister and I went to Oakland & Fraternal Historic Cemetery Park yesterday to decorate family graves.

Together, we have a combined total of over two dozen ancestors, relatives and extended family members buried there, including several members of my brother-in-law's family.

And as we were placing flowers on the grave of our great great grandmother, Laura Isabelle Cunningham Balding, it finally hit me that the two people buried next to her were her son-in-law, Charles Edwin Seaman and her granddaughter, Ethel Ione Seaman Rich, Charles' daughter from his marriage to Laura's daughter, Nellie Ione Balding.

So natch, my genealogy ADD kicked in and as I was exploring this part of the family in greater depth, I ran into the birth certificate for Arthur Robert Sisson. He was Nellie's son from her second marriage to Arthur Wright Sisson.

 photo Arthur Robert Sisson birth cert.jpg


It says that with Arthur's birth, Nellie had borne 5 children, 4 of whom were living.

Who was the fifth kid, please? I can only account for Charles Ernest Seaman, Victor Claude Seaman, Ethel Ione Seaman Rich, and Arthur Robert Sisson. Was this fifth child a Seaman or Sisson?
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2014-06-17 06:04 am
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Now, I understand

The older I get, the more I understand some of the things my grandmother, Doris Balding Williams, did.

Now, I understand the only-damp-but-not-soiled paper towel lying on the kitchen counter, ready to be used again.

Now, I understand the clotheslines strung up in the garage, and the car parked in the driveway.

Now, I understand the empty boxes of Russell Stovers candies. With me, it's those paper bags with the sturdy handles.

Now, I understand the joy of moving slowly through the garden making new discoveries every day. And sharing them with others.

Now, I understand leaving the sewing machine up. All the time.

Grandma Dee, it took me a half century, but now I understand.
 photo DorisBWilliams1972.jpg
Doris Balding Williams, in her garden in 1972
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2014-04-20 08:47 am

Musing on death, and dying at home

I got death certificates in the mail Friday - four of them - for a great grandfather, great grandmother, and two great-great grandparents.

Fred and Eada Parrish Chapin, Victor Claude Balding, and Mary Mathilda, "Tildie" Wharton Burris.

They were related to each other not by blood but by marriage, so I can only use any similarities in causes of death as they apply to me, and other common descendants of the multiple blended families.

The years of death are 1938 (Fred Chapin and Tildie Burris), 1944 (Eada Chapin), and 1945 (Pop Balding).

And as I laid them out side by side, I noticed something else.

Three of the four of them died at home - or at the home of a child, where they had been living. (That's the multi-generational family living under one roof thing that was the rule instead of the exception until after World War II.) They were surrounded by people and things that were familiar, and even if in a small way, comforting.

And it struck me.

What a grand way to die...
The aftermath of World War II not only saw a change in the way American families lived, but also how - and where - they died.

Prior to World War II, only in exceptional circumstances did people die in hospital beds instead of in their own beds, in their own homes, or a home of relatives (frequently their children) that had become their home.

My paternal great grandmother, Tildie Burris, died on 26 May 1938 at the home of her daughter, Emma Burris Crites. Her death certificate notes that she died of chronic nephritis, or kidney disease as we would say now. It also says the doctor saw her for three days leading up to her death and she was in a partial coma. As has been noted by memories of her grandchildren, some of whom said she got "mean" in her later years, the certificate says she had senility.

The next death in the chronology was my great-great grandfather, Fred Chapin, on 29 Dec 1938. He died at Baptist Hospital of prostatic hypertrophy - a condition in which the prostate gland becomes enlarged. He also had kidney disease - a combination of which we recognize today as dangerous for older men. His doctor attended him (Fred was also diagnosed with senility) from 28 Nov 1938 to the date of his death. I'm going to guess that he was only hospitalized for part of the 32 days his doctor cared for him.

On 2 Dec 1944, my great great grandmother, Eada Chapin, died at the home of her daughter, Hattie Chapin Balding, of a heart attack. There is no note on the certificate of senility, but it does say she had arteriosclerosis.

Only a little more than a month later, my great grandmother, Hattie Chapin Balding, was present at the death of her husband, Victor Claude "Pop" Balding, when he died at home - in the same house - of a cerebral hemorrhage.
Some of those deaths were sudden, some weren't.

But I am sure now - whether I leave suddenly, or because of a lingering illness - if at all possible, I'd like to die at home.
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2014-03-23 10:08 am

The Ne-Hi baseball league - here's the historic proof

About geneablogging, I have long said...

If we build it, they will come.

An email from a complete stranger in my inbox this week turned me onto historic documentation for Pop Balding's Ne-Hi League, which my Grandma Dee had often told me about, but for which she had no documentation, only her memories.

Memories of her father creating the world's first "little league" baseball league, long before the officially recognized Little League created by Carl Stotz in 1939.

Grandma Dee remembered her mother sewing uniforms. She remembered the names of some of the teams, like the Midgets and the Microbes, although I do not recall her talking about the Cannibals.

My correspondent shared some pages from the 1914-1915 and 1916-1917 volumes of Reach's official American League base ball guide (publ. A. J. Reach, 1883-1927).

And said there were photos of the team members also.

I found the Reach guides online.
I don't recall Grandma Dee saying anything about the impetus for Pop's decision to create a baseball league for little boys.

According to the Reach guide:
Mr. Balding, whose home is at 229 Rice Street, organized the league in 1913 on account of the ill health of his son. To-day his son is as healthy as any other member of the league. Mr. Balding first organized a base ball team of boys in his neighborhood. Finally a second team was organized and games played between the two teams. The boys grew tired of playing each other, and the idea of a league appealed to Mr. Balding, which resulted in the forming of the worlds
only organized "short pants" base ball league.
(THE REACH OFFICIAL AMERICAN LEAGUE GUIDE, 1916-1917, at page 393.)

That son had to be Eugene - Gene as I always knew him, and Genie-boy, as I understand his mother called him. Gene was born in 1905, so he would have been 8 at the time Pop Balding created the league. Marvin and Linky weren't born until 1915 and 1917, respectively.
For the cousins, here are scans of the pages from the 1914-1915 and 1916-1917 volumes of Reach's official American League base ball guide that discuss Pop and the Ne-Hi League. (Cousins, right click and save.)

THE REACH OFFICIAL AMERICAN LEAGUE GUIDE, 1914-1915, at page 375.
 photo R15Ne-HiLeagueInfo.jpg


THE REACH OFFICIAL AMERICAN LEAGUE GUIDE, 1916-1917, at pp 391, 393 and 394.
 photo R16Ne-HiLeagueInfo.jpg

 photo R16Ne-HiLeagueInfo2.jpg

 photo R16Ne-HiLeagueInfo3.jpg

There were photos on page 376-377 in the 1914 volume, and page 392 in 1916 volume.

My correspondent extracted them from the pdf documents and has hosted the results here. Naturally, they are a bit grainy - after all, they are images of old photos published on paper.

But what a wonderful find...
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2013-11-10 08:31 am
Entry tags:

Ruth playing in the surf at Santa Monica, July 1926

Several commenters from Sepia Saturday commented on this photo of my grand aunt, Ruth Balding. Ruth was 23 years old at the time this photo was taken of her in July 1926, at the beach in Santa Monica CA.

 photo RuthJul1926SantaMonica.jpg


One of the commenters mused that it would be neat to know what Ruth was thinking as she dabbled in the surf.

Indeed.
Of course, Ruth did not record her thoughts on the back of this photo, or any of the others in the album she kept. An album I had no idea existed until one of my cousins clued me in. She made scans of the photos and sent me a CD. We marveled over them on the phone as my cousin read me the labels from the photos in Ruth's album.

The album seemed to be a record of the travels of the Victor Balding family, primarily during the mid to late 1920s and then at the end, some travel in the 1930s, after Ruth had married and left home.

One question I had was - how did the family afford to travel? My remembrances of discussions with my grandmother focused on how tight finances were for the Baldings. Ruth and her father supported the family with their jobs. Ruth lived at her parents's home until she married in 1932 at the age of 29 - contributing her income as the bookkeeper at the Brandon Co. to the good of her family.

My theory about how they were able to travel is connected to Pop Balding's job. In 1904, Victor Balding began working for the railroad as a telegrapher. He advanced to chief telegrapher, and worked for the railroad for 38 years, until his retirement in 1942, just three years before his death.

I think it was likely that, as a perk of Victor's job, he and his family were able to travel by train either at greatly reduced fares, or perhaps, free.
Aunt Ruth has always intrigued me.

I never knew her. She committed suicide on 30 Dec 1959, when I was thirteen months old and living with my parents in Clearwater FL.

How she got to that tragic end from the woman we see above...carefree? thoughtful? pensive?...is a matter of perspective, one I searched for in a four part series of blog entries I did about Ruth in January 2012.

I don't know if I got it right.
During my childhood, the only perspective I was presented about Ruth came from abrupt endings of adult conversation coinciding with my entrance into the room, and whispers from some of those same adults when they thought we kids weren't listening, as our extended family gathered for food, televised football games and fun.

So even up to the time I started seriously researching Ruth's history to write that blog post series last year, the mental image I had of this aunt I had never met was a picture of a stern, no-nonsense woman in sensible shoes - one with a good head for business, but not much heart for people.

My mental image of Ruth fit neatly with this photo of her - undated, but surely within the period of time she was diagnosed with lymphatic leukemia (now called lymphocytic leukemia) and the time of her death.

 photo RuthBaldingBrandon.jpg


Of course, as family historians know, it is often helpful to look at the big picture, too.

 photo Late1950sbef1959.jpg
Ruth with her mother, brother, sister-in-law and nephew, photo taken in Ruth's mother's home.


When I saw that photo, it hit me.

There was the visual image of Ruth's difficult relationship with her family of origin, difficulties that would span decades.
I wish I knew what Ruth was thinking as she played in the surf on Santa Monica beach.

Was she glad for the break from work? From looking after her younger siblings? Did she have more spacious sleeping and living quarters on the train that carried her from home in Little Rock AR to Santa Monica? Did she look forward to adventure on this trip?

I don't know. But I hope that as Aunt Ruth got older, and things got more difficult for her, she was able to reach for her photo album and look back on her youth.

And smile.
See you on other other side, Aunt Ruth.

I have so many things to ask you.
dee_burris: (Default)
2013-11-07 03:15 pm

Sepia Saturday: My Baldings at the beach...

Thanks to the fastidious nature of my grandaunt, Ruth Balding, I have some photos with identification, and ~gasp~ even dates.
Ruth playing in the Pacific ocean, July 1926
 photo RuthJul1926SantaMonica.jpg


My grandmother's handmade bathing suit
 photo DorisGenevainhomemadebathingsuit.jpg


Granduncle Linky Balding and an unnamed gal friend
 photo Linkyandgirlfriendcrop.jpg


Ruth and her husband, Walter Nathan Brandon
 photo WlaterandRuthcrop.jpg


Grand uncles Marvin and Linky Balding at Santa Monica pier, 1926
 photo MarvinandEllingtonatSantaMonicaPier1926.jpg

This is a Sepia Saturday post.

Head over there for more wonderful old photos and postcards.
ETA: I've received several comments from people about the first photo of my grand aunt, Ruth Balding.

I've written a follow-up about that photo alone, here.
dee_burris: (Default)
2013-04-09 09:13 pm

It's raining cousins again...

Baldings, Harrises, and Whartons.

Three emails today. From the blog, and the online family tree and Facebook.

Woo-hoo!

I love it when that happens.
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2013-01-08 12:21 pm

Sepia Saturday: Grandma in her bathing suit

This one has got to be one of my favorites...

I understand my grandmother made her suit herself.

She was always good with a needle.

Look at her monogram...

Photobucket
Doris Geneva Balding, early 1920s



This is a Sepia Saturday post. Head over there for other wonderful images.
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2012-10-28 11:58 am

Black Sheep Sunday: Thurman W Balding

I was messing around earlier this morning with some of my Baldings. A whole slew of them lived in Morgan Co., OH, and I was making good progress in finding their graves.

And then, I ran across Thurman W Balding, one of the sons of William Balding and Elizabeth Hummel.

Thurman was born on New Year's Day in 1867 in Morgan County. He's my third cousin, three times removed. (Kind of like the familial relationship I have with another family misfit, Charles E Chapin.)

Apparently, Thurman was an honest-to-goodness outlaw.
He was a member of the Bill Cook gang, and it seems he spent a lot of time robbing stagecoaches and banks.

Thurman had aliases, including "Skeeter" (because he was tall and lanky) and "Tull." He also went by the surname Baldwin, which may have relieved his family to no end. No telling what his 7 brothers and sisters thought of him...

He was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his unlawfulness, and had his sentence commuted by President Roosevelt in 1903.

Thurman died on 2 Mar 1936 in Sun City, Barber Co., KS, and was buried in Sunnyside Cemetery in Sun City, where two brothers and a sister were also laid to rest.
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2012-07-28 12:08 pm
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Sepia Saturday: Marion "Murnie" Chapin Balding, 1929

I'm not even close to on point with this week's theme.

But I am fascinated by this photo of my grand-aunt Murnie on 12 Aug 1929. She was 17.

Photobucket


I wish I knew who the other folks are. Aunt Murnie is sitting in the back seat, closest to the front of the photo.

I guess the altitude made it cool enough for everyone to be wearing a hat.


This is a Sepia Saturday post. Head over there for more really cool photos.
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2012-06-02 09:19 am

Surname Saturday: Williams

Williams is a surname on my mother's side of the family.

I'm starting with Jesse, because he's the first in the line for whom I have documented and reliable information.

And I'm kind of impressed with Jesse - he served in the Revolutionary War, and lived to the ripe old age of 84, when he died after being kicked in the head by a horse he was shoeing...

My direct lines are in blue.


First Generation

1. Jesse Williams was born on 19 Jun 1750 in Newcastle Co.,, DE. He died on 29 Sep 1834 in Rockcastle Co., KY. The cause of death was femoral hemorrhage while putting shoes on a horse. He was buried in Phillips Fam Cemetery, Wildie, Rockcastle Co., KY.

Jesse married Elizabeth Rachel Gott daughter of Richard Gott IV and Elizabeth Unknown on 24 Nov 1774 in Baltimore Co., MD. Elizabeth was born on 3 May 1754 in St Thomas, Baltimore, MD. She died on 11 Oct 1794 in Culpepper Co., VA.

They had the following children:

2 M i. Joseph Williams was born on 6 Oct 1775 in Anne Arundel Co., MD.

3 M ii. Richard Gott Williams was born on 26 May 1776 in Fredericksburg, Culpepper Co., VA. He died on 3 Jan 1876 in Mt Vernon, Rockcastle Co., KY.
Richard married Catherine Holder on 23 Jun 1812 in Richmond, Madison Co., KY. Catherine was born on 4 Apr 1797 in Boonesboro, Clark Co., KY. She died on 2 Apr 1884 in Mt Vernon, Rockcastle Co., KY.

4 F iii. Elizabeth Williams was born on 16 Mar 1778 in Baltimore, Baltimore Co., MD. She died in 1878.

5 F iv. Susan Williams was born on 16 Sep 1781 in Culpepper Co., VA.

6 F v. Sarah Williams was born on 16 Jan 1784 in Orange Co., VA. She died in 1794.

7 M vi. John "Jehu" Williams was born on 11 Oct 1788 in Orange Co., VA. He died in 1859.

8 M vii. Jacob Williams was born on 29 Nov 1790 in Orange Co., VA. He died in 1841.

+ 9 M viii. David Williams was born on 1 Mar 1793. He died on 24 Jan 1858.


Second Generation

9. David Williams (Jesse) was born on 1 Mar 1793 in Orange Co., VA. He died on 24 Jan 1858 in Franklin Co, KY. The cause of death was gastritis, per death record.

David married Elizabeth Rowe, daughter of Thomas Rowe and Rachel Keeling on 15 Sep 1817 in Orange Co., VA. Elizabeth was born on 15 Feb 1789. She died on 10 Jul 1855 in Franklin Co., KY.

They had the following children:

+ 10 M i. Jacob Williams was born in 1822. He died on 29 Oct 1900.

+ 11 F ii. Hettie Rowe Williams was born in Apr 1825. She died on 18 Feb 1906.

+ 12 F iii. Elizabeth (Bettie) G Williams was born on 22 Jan 1827. She died on 12 Dec 1895.

13 F iv. Millie R Williams was born on 12 Apr 1829 in KY. She died on 11 Aug 1900 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. She was buried in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.

+ 14 F v. Susan G Williams was born in 1830. She died on 8 Nov 1861.

+ 15 M vi. Urban Valentine Williams was born on 9 Nov 1833. He died on 1 Sep 1920.


Third Generation

10. Jacob Williams (David, Jesse) was born in 1822 in Virginia. He died on 29 Oct 1900 in Russellville, Pope Co., AR.

Jacob married Catharine C Mueller, daughter of Jacob Mueller and Elisabeth MNU about 1848. Catharine was born on 28 May 1825 in Baden Germany. She died on 14 Jan 1876 in Kentucky. She was buried in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.

They had the following children:

16 M i. Lucien Eugene Williams was born in 1849 in KY. He died on 27 Dec 1900.

17 M ii. A Virgil Williams was born in 1852 in KY.

18 M iii. Urban Orville Williams was born on 21 Oct 1853 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.

+ 19 F iv. Mildred Carlton "Minnie" Williams was born on 30 Jul 1856. She died on 16 Feb 1932.

+ 20 F v. Margaret Letcher Williams was born on 8 Mar 1861. She died on 19 Jul 1922.

21 F vi. Martha "Mattie" Williams was born in 1865 in Bridgeport, Franklin Co., KY. She died on 14 Apr 1930 in Chicago, Cook Co., IL. She was buried in Elmwood Cemetery, River Grove, Cook Co., IL.

Martha married Albert T Fisher son of Lewis Fisher and Elizabeth Richardson. Albert was born on 8 May 1855 in Massachusetts. He died on 28 Apr 1918 in Chicago, Cook Co., IL. He was buried in Elmwood Cemetery, River Grove, Cook Co., IL.

+ 22 M vii. Jo Desha Williams was born on 12 May 1866. He died on 23 Dec 1950.

23 M viii. Julian Otis Williams was born in Nov 1869 in KY. He died in Denver, Co.

11. Hettie Rowe Williams (David, Jesse) was born in Apr 1825. She died on 18 Feb 1906 in New Albany, Floyd Co., IN.

Hettie married Andrew Neat . Andrew was born in 1821 in Kentucky. He died before 1900.

They had the following children:

24 M i. Thomas C Neat was born in Apr 1842 in Franklin Co., KY. He died on 1 Feb 1908 in New Albany, Floyd Co., IN.
Thomas married Evaline S McDonald on 4 Jun 1868 in Floyd Co., IN. The marriage ended in divorce.Evaline was born in 1847 in Indiana.

+ 25 F ii. Ella J Neat was born in 1846.

+ 26 M iii. Addis Emmet Neat was born in May 1851. He died on 5 Sep 1904.

+ 27 M iv. Benjamin Crittenden Neat was born on 29 Aug 1856. He died on 12 Feb 1919.

+ 28 F v. Estelle A Neat was born on 31 Jul 1859. She died after 1910.

12. Elizabeth (Bettie) G Williams (David, Jesse) was born on 22 Jan 1827 in Anderson Co., KY. She died on 12 Dec 1895 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. She was buried in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.

Elizabeth married Jeptha David Robinson, son of Owen Robinson and Sarah Gibson on 30 Sep 1847 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. Jeptha was born on 10 Dec 1811 in Franklin Co., KY. He died on 21 Jul 1892 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. He was buried in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.

They had the following children:

+ 29 M i. David Owen Robinson was born on 25 Jul 1848. He died on 16 Nov 1926.

+ 30 M ii. Joseph Austin Robinson was born on 26 Oct 1850. He died on 14 Jun 1914.

31 M iii. Jabez Robinson was born on 19 Aug 1853 in Franklin Co., KY. He died in 1928.

32 F iv. Mary Robinson was born in 1857 in Franklin Co., KY.

33 F v. Hettie Elizabeth Robinson was born in 1858 in Franklin Co., KY. She died in 1927.

34 F vi. Ruth Robinson was born in 1861 in Franklin Co., KY. She died in 1908.

35 F vii. Susan Clementine Robinson was born in 1862 in Franklin Co., KY. She died in 1887.

+ 36 M viii. Jacob Urban Robinson was born in Jun 1864.

37 F ix. Sarah Gibson "Sallie" Robinson was born on 14 May 1867 in Franklin Co., KY. She died on 21 Oct 1950 in Jefferson Co., KY. The cause of death was coronary thrombosis, per death certificate.
Sarah married (1) Joseph Thomas on 4 Jan 1893 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.
Sarah married (2) Hewitt . Hewitt died before 1950.

38 M x. Frank Williams "Pretty" Robinson was born in 1869 in Franklin Co., KY. He died in 1908.

14. Susan G Williams (David, Jesse) was born in 1830 in Franklin Co., KY. She died on 8 Nov 1861 in Nelson Co., KY. The cause of death was typhoid fever, per death certificate.

Susan married George A Poor son of Erastus P Poor and Dorothy Grant. George was born in 1824 in Maine.

They had the following children:

39 M i. George W Poor was born in 1854 in Kentucky.

40 F ii. Elizabeth Poor was born in 1856 in Kentucky.

41 F iii. Carrie Belle Poor was born in Nov 1857 in Franklin Co., KY.

42 F iv. Millie Poor was born in 1860 in Kentucky.

15. Urban Valentine Williams (David, Jesse) was born on 9 Nov 1833 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. He died on 1 Sep 1920 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. The cause of death was uremia secondary to chronic prostatitis. He was buried on 3 Sep 1920 in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.

Urban married Clementine (Clemency) Wilcox daughter of Jesse B Wilcox and Elizabeth Russell on 15 May 1862 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. Clementine was born on 21 Dec 1830 in Franklin Co., KY. She died on 11 Jul 1894 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. She was buried in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.

They had the following children:

43 F i. Pattie Russell Williams was born on 7 Jun 1865 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. She died on 18 Mar 1910 in Jefferson Co., KY. The cause of death was myocardiac degeneration, acc to death record. She was buried in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.

+ 44 F ii. Minnie Imogene Williams was born on 7 Jun 1867. She died on 26 Aug 1888.

+ 45 M iii. John W R Williams was born on 11 Aug 1869. He died on 5 Jan 1948.


Fourth Generation

19. Mildred Carlton "Minnie" Williams (Jacob, David, Jesse) was born on 30 Jul 1856 in Bridgeport, Franklin Co., KY. She died on 16 Feb 1932 in Washington, DC. She was buried in Roselawn Memorial Park, Little Rock, AR.

Mildred married Josiah Hazen Shinn, son of Josiah Carlock Shinn and Elizabeth Frances Gilpin on 17 Jan 1875 in Bridgeport, Franklin Co, Kentucky. Josiah was born on 29 Mar 1849 in Russellville, Pope County, Arkansas. He died on 2 Sep 1917 in Washington DC. He was re-buried in Roselawn Memorial Park, Little Rock, AR.

They had the following children:

46 F i. Grace Electra Shinn was born on 9 Oct 1875 in Bridgeport, Franklin Co, Kentucky. She died on 23 Oct 1885 in Russellville, Pope County, Arkansas. The cause of death was typhoid fever. She was buried in Oakland Cemetery, Russellville, Pope Co., AR.

47 M ii. Joseph Roy Longworth Shinn was born on 18 Mar 1880 in Bridgeport, Franklin Co, Kentucky. He died on 13 Feb 1930 in Washington, DC.
Joseph married Maud A MNU in 1910/1920 in Washington DC. Maud was born in 1885 in Kentucky.

20. Margaret Letcher Williams (Jacob, David, Jesse) was born on 8 Mar 1861 in KY. She died on 19 Jul 1922 in Benton Co., AR. She was buried in Bentonville Cemetery, Bentonville, Benton Co., AR.

Margaret married James Webster Wells, son of Hugh S Wells and Paulina Shinn on 2 Jan 1885 in House of J H Shinn, Russellville, Pope Co., AR. James was born on 10 Feb 1854 in Bentonville, AR. He died on 28 Jun 1931 in Benton Co., AR. He was buried in Bentonville Cemetery, Bentonville, Benton Co., AR.

They had the following children:

48 M i. Hugh Desha Wells was born on 3 Jul 1886 in Arkansas. He died in 1920 in Benton Co., AR. He was buried in Bentonville Cemetery, Bentonville, Benton Co., AR.
Hugh married Minnie Garden . Minnie was born in 1889 in Arkansas.

49 M ii. Homer Franklin Wells was born on 18 Jun 1888 in Arkansas. He died on 1 May 1953 in Kansas. He was buried on 6 May 1953 in Ft Leavenworth National Cem, Ft Leavenworth, KS.
Homer married Eula D MNU . Eula was born in 1897 in Arkansas.

50 M iii. Meta Carlton Wells was born in Jul 1890 in Arkansas.

51 F iv. Grace Pauline Wells was born in May 1892 in Arkansas. She died in 1912 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. She was buried in Bentonville Cemetery, Bentonville, Benton Co., AR.

52 M v. Raymond Wyatt "Jack" Wells was born on 25 Nov 1895 in Arkansas. He died on 17 Sep 1972 in Benton Co., AR. He was buried in Bentonville Cemetery, Bentonville, Benton Co., AR.
Raymond married Olivia Adele MNU in 1925. Olivia was born on 4 Dec 1890 in Illinois. She died on 17 Jun 1967 in Benton Co., AR. She was buried in Bentonville Cemetery, Bentonville, Benton Co., AR.

22. Jo Desha Williams (Jacob, David, Jesse) was born on 12 May 1866 in Bridgeport, Franklin Co, Kentucky. He died on 23 Dec 1950 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. He was buried on 26 Dec 1950 in Roselawn Memorial Park, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR.

Jo married Maxie Leah Meek, daughter of James Alexander Meek and Mary Emily Conner on 11 Feb 1886 in Russellville, Pope Co., AR. Maxie was born on 10 Feb 1869 in Grenada, Grenada Co., MS. She died on 29 Apr 1955 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. She was buried in Roselawn Cemetery, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR.

They had the following children:

53 F i. Mildred Imogene Williams was born on 27 Jan 1890 in Russellville, Pope Co., AR. She died on 28 Jan 1890 in Russellville, Pope Co., AR. She was buried in Oakland Cemetery, Russellville, Pope Co., AR.

54 M ii. Cedric Hazen Williams was born on 29 Jun 1892 in Pope Co., AR. He died on 23 Aug 1951 in Crosbyton, Crosby Co., TX. The cause of death was suicide. He was buried in Roselawn Cemetery, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR.
Cedric married (1) Kathleen Kilgore daughter of Jefferson Davis Kilgore and Cassie L MNU on 14 Jul 1915 in Butler Co., MO. Kathleen was born in 1892 in Missouri.
Cedric married (2) Clara Crowe .

55 M iii. Paul Meek Williams was born on 24 Dec 1894 in Pope Co., AR. He died in Feb 1979 in Saline Co., AR. He was buried in Pinecrest Memorial Park, Alexander, Saline Co., AR.
Paul married Ruth I MNU . Ruth was born on 19 Oct 1894 in Pope Co., AR. She died in Aug 1982 in Saline Co., AR. She was buried in Pinecrest Memorial Park, Alexander, Saline Co., AR.

56 F iv. Katherine Leah Williams was born on 18 Jul 1899 in Arkansas. She died on

8 Dec 1904 in Russellville, Pope County, AR. She was buried in Oakland Cemetery Russellville, Pope County, AR.

57 M v. Jo Duffie Williams was born on 11 Jun 1903 in Arkansas. He died on 3 Jul 1970 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. He was buried in Roselawn Memorial Park, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR.
Jo married Doris Geneva Balding, daughter of Victor Claude Balding and Hattie Belle Chapin on 31 Oct 1926 in Saline Co., AR. Doris was born on 9 Jul 1907 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. She died on 18 Jan 1998 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. She was buried on 21 Jan 1998 in Roselawn Memorial Park, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR.

25. Ella J Neat (Hettie Rowe Williams, David, Jesse) was born in 1846 in Franklin Co., KY.

Ella married Emory L Ford son of John B Ford and Mary MNU on 4 Sep 1866 in Floyd Co., IN. Emory was born in 1847 in Indiana.

They had the following children:

58 F i. Hettie Ford was born in 1867 in Indiana.

59 F ii. Nettie Ford was born in 1872 in Indiana.

60 M iii. Leydon Ford was born in 1876 in Indiana.

61 F iv. Stella Ford was born in 1879 in Indiana.

26. Addis Emmet Neat (Hettie Rowe Williams, David, Jesse) was born in May 1851 in Franklin Co., KY. He died on 5 Sep 1904 in New Albany, Floyd Co., IN.

Addis married Sophia B Ashton on 28 May 1874 in Floyd Co., IN. Sophia was born in May 1854 in Indiana.

They had the following children:

62 F i. Nancy Neat was born in Jan 1877 in Floyd Co., IN.

63 F ii. Hollie Neat was born in May 1883 in Floyd Co., IN.

64 M iii. Addis Neat Jr was born in Apr 1895 in Floyd Co., IN.

27. Benjamin Crittenden Neat (Hettie Rowe Williams, David, Jesse) was born on 29 Aug 1856 in Franklin Co., KY. He died on 12 Feb 1919 in Louisville, Jefferson Co., KY. The cause of death was fatty degeneration of the heart, per death certificate. He was buried on 14 Feb 1919 in New Albany, Floyd Co., IN.

Benjamin married (1) Ellen MNU in 1884. Ellen was born in Apr 1858 in Ohio.


Benjamin and Ellen had the following children:

65 M i. Benjamin Crittenden Neat Jr was born on 1 Nov 1888 in New Albany, Floyd Co., IN.


Benjamin married (2) Anna H Jackson on 15 Jul 1903 in Floyd Co., IN. Anna was born in 1874 in Indiana.

They had the following children:

66 F ii. Dorothy Neat was born in 1904 in Floyd Co., IN.

67 M iii. Frank W Neat was born in 1907 in Floyd Co., IN.

68 M iv. Leyden R Neat was born in 1909 in Floyd Co., IN.

69 F v. Laura Neat was born in 1909 in Floyd Co., IN.

28. Estelle A Neat (Hettie Rowe Williams, David, Jesse) was born on 31 Jul 1859 in Kentucky. She died after 1910 in New Albany, Floyd Co., IN.

Estelle married (1) Miles Frank Brinkley on 30 Nov 1881 in Floyd Co., IN. Miles was born in Jan 1848 in Kentucky. He died in 1909.

They had the following children:

70 M i. Benjamin H Brinkley was born in May 1882 in Floyd Co., IN. He died on 18 Dec 1906 in Denver, Denver Co., CO.


Estelle married (2) Harry C Doughty on 10 Feb 1910 in Floyd Co., IN. Harry was born in 1858 in Indiana.

29. David Owen Robinson (Elizabeth (Bettie) G Williams, David, Jesse) was born on 25 Jul 1848 in Franklin Co., KY. He died on 16 Nov 1926 in Franklin Co., KY. The cause of death was chronic valvular heart disease per death certificate. He was buried in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.

David married Edmonia Hopper . Edmonia was born on 8 Feb 1857 in Franklin Co., KY. She died on 21 Nov 1938 in Franklin Co., KY. She was buried in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.

They had the following children:

71 F i. Jessie Robinson was born on 31 Dec 1880 in Franklin Co., KY. She died on 4 Mar 1896 in Franklin Co., KY. She was buried in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.

72 M ii. George Barnes Robinson was born on 18 Jun 1882 in Franklin Co., KY. He died on 13 Feb 1903 in Franklin Co., KY. He was buried in Frankfort

Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.

73 M iii. John D Robinson was born in 1890 in Franklin Co., KY.

30. Joseph Austin Robinson (Elizabeth (Bettie) G Williams, David, Jesse) was born on 26 Oct 1850 in Franklin Co., KY. He died on 14 Jun 1914 in Franklin Co., KY. He was buried in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.

Joseph married Caroline Steele Hawkins on 15 Jan 1879 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. Caroline was born on 16 Aug 1848 in Woodford Co., KY. She died on 22 Apr 1931 in Franklin Co., KY. She was buried in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.

They had the following children:

74 M i. Jeptha Thomas Robinson was born on 5 Sep 1880 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. He died on 5 Oct 1932 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. He was buried in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.
Jeptha married Mary Alice Snow on 27 Nov 1926 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. Mary was born on 31 Oct 1895 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. She died on 28 May 1963 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. She was buried in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.

36. Jacob Urban Robinson (Elizabeth (Bettie) G Williams, David, Jesse) was born in Jun 1864 in Franklin Co., KY.

Jacob married Jennie (Annie) MNU in 1895 in Illinois. Jennie was born in Jan 1866 in Illinois.

They had the following children:

75 M i. George V Robinson was born in Apr 1896 in Illinois.
George married Barbara N MNU in 1924 in Illinois. Barbara was born in 1895 in Illinois.

44. Minnie Imogene Williams (Urban Valentine, David, Jesse) was born on 7 Jun 1867 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. She died on 26 Aug 1888 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. She was buried in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.

She had the following children:

76 M i. Unnamed Infant Williams was born on 26 Aug 1888 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. He died on 26 Aug 1888 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. He was buried in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.

45. John W R Williams (Urban Valentine, David, Jesse) was born on 11 Aug 1869 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. He died on 5 Jan 1948 in Franklin Co, KY. The cause of death was
uremia due to hyperplasic prostate, per death certificate. He was buried in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.

John married Susan Morris in 1894 in Franklin Co, KY. Susan was born on 25 Apr 1871 in Kentucky. She died on 22 Feb 1954 in Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY. She was buried in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Franklin Co., KY.

They had the following children:

77 F i. Alice T Williams was born in Nov 1897 in Franklin Co, KY.
As always, I'm interested in closing any gaps.

So cousins, feel free to contact me.
dee_burris: (Default)
2012-05-20 07:41 am

The week in review: my cousins help me out...

Geneabloggers who have been blogging for any length of time know this to be true.

If you blog it, they will come.

Cousins you never knew you had will find your blog entries in searches on Google and other search engines.

In the case of several of mine, they will keep coming back.

They cheer me on.

They share photos and other interesting tidbits they discover in their own searches, and keep an eye out for surnames in my tree that aren't even in theirs.

My cup ran over this week.
First was Dixie, a new Balding cousin.

She found my Wedding Wednesday entry on Anson Balding and Ruth Woodrow.

She's a direct descendant. She gave me the names and other data on 5 of the 8 children born to them.

And thoughts about where some of those folks are buried - right here in Little Rock, in two of my favorite cemeteries.
My Callaway cousin, Joe, shared a photo I'd never seen before of Thomas Nathaniel Callaway and Laura Isibelle Holder. (They are his great grandparents.)

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Thomas Callaway was the son of Nathaniel C Callaway, whose grave we'd never been able to find until a chance remark made to me at the annual Callaway/Holder family reunion in 2010 made me come home and give Google a real workout.

Joe and I went to Elmwood Cemetery in February last year, and finally placed proper markers on Nathaniel's grave and that of one of his cousins.
And bless her soul...

My Freeman cousin, Jennie, always keeps me in mind in her searches. She and I have deep ancestral roots in Pope Co., AR, and before that, in Tennessee.

My morning email had a note from her wondering if she had located the grave of Anne Parker, wife of William Stout. I had no dates of birth or death for either of them, and did not know where they were buried. Their son, John Wesley Stout, married Martha Jane Ashmore, my first cousin, 3 times removed.

The grave she found at Arkansas Gravestones wasn't the right one, but I did a little searching around and found both William Stout and Anne Parker's graves memorialized in Old Lake Cemetery, just outside Dover.

They were buried on their farm. A memorial plaque for William said he was assassinated at his farm on 4 December 1865.

There were a lot of bushwhackers from both the Union and Confederate sides back then.

So now, I'll wonder...

Did one or more of them surprise 56 year old William Stout as he fed his livestock or mended harness, or any one of many other winter chores?

Or could it have been one of his neighbors? Loyalties were deeply divided in Arkansas about the Civil War...
Keep up with your cousins, folks.
dee_burris: (Default)
2012-03-24 11:08 am

Sepia Saturday: Ruth's first car...

The theme this week is "going out."

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My grandaunt Ruth Balding with her 1928 Essex sedan.

She was 25.




This is a Sepia Saturday post. Head over there for other really cool old photos.
dee_burris: (Default)
2012-01-31 06:13 pm
Entry tags:

Grandma in her bathing suit...

This one has got to be one of my favorites...

I understand my grandmother made her suit herself.

She was always good with a needle.

Look at her monogram...

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Doris Geneva Balding, early 1920s
dee_burris: (Default)
2012-01-31 06:03 pm

Balding sibling photos...

More treasures from Aunt Ruth's scrapbook...


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Russell Ellington (also known all his life as Linky) and Marvin Balding. Photo circa 1922.

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Vera Virginia, Doris Geneva (my grandmother) and Marion Chapin Balding (also known as Murnie). Photo circa 1922.

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Marvin and Vera. Photo circa 1926/27.

I am having a blast looking through these photos.

Much thanks to my California cousin for getting them scanned so the whole family can enjoy them...
dee_burris: (Default)
2012-01-28 09:05 am

In search of Ruth's story... Part 1

I think of them as my orphan relatives.

The ones who left no descendants - no one to tell their stories. The aunts and uncles who may or may not be remembered fondly - or at all.

As generations pass, those who knew the stories of the orphan relatives pass on also.

The stories are lost.

I'm going to try and piece together the story of my grand aunt, Ruth Lucille Balding. I'm getting some help from first cousins in California and New York, an aunt in Texas, my sister, and all the old familiar resources available to family historians.

I recognize that perspective is subjective. Ruth's siblings no doubt had their own perspectives on their family of origin, and passed those down to their descendants.

I hope I do Ruth justice in the telling of her story.
Ruth Lucille Balding was born in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR on 9 May 1903 to her 15 year old mother Hattie Belle Chapin, and her 29 year old father, Victor Claude Balding.

Ruth lived in Little Rock all her life.

I believe she was named for another Ruth, her mother's sister, who died when Hattie Chapin was about 5 years old. Three years after Ruth Chapin's death in 1892, Fred Chapin brought his wife Eada, and 8 year old daughter, Hattie, from Fort Scott to Little Rock.

I think her sister must have been on Hattie's mind when her first daughter was born.

Hattie and Victor had six other children after Ruth - Eugene Victor in 1905; Doris Geneva in 1907; Vera Virginia in 1910; Marion Chapin "Murnie" in 1912; Marvin Parrish in 1915; and Russell Ellington in 1917.

As was often the case in large families, Ruth became a surrogate mother to her younger siblings. She may have felt she lost her childhood, as evidenced by a conversation one of my cousins remembers being related to her by one of our relatives. Teen-aged Ruth stumbled upon her parents getting frisky, and told them to cut it out, because she wasn't going to raise any more of their children.

By 1920, Ruth was employed at the Brandon Stove Company (later The Brandon Company) as a stenographer. She was 17 years old, and with her father, provided the financial support for the family of nine in their home at 217 Dennison Street.

Until she married the owner of the Brandon Stove Company, Walter Nathan Brandon, Sr., in 1932, Ruth lived at home with her parents, contributing her income to the common good, including that of some of her teenaged and adult siblings.

But she did find some time for fun with her family...as we'll see in Part 2.

Part 3
Part 4
dee_burris: (Default)
2012-01-28 09:03 am

Ruth's Story...Part 2

With much thanks to my cousin, we have some photos from a scrapbook Ruth kept of travels of the Balding clan to several states in the United States, beginning in the roaring 20s.

Before my cousin and I spoke by phone about my plan to write this series of blogposts about Ruth, I never knew the album existed or that the Balding family had taken these vacations.

Neither had my cousins, or my sister. None of us can recollect our grandmother, who went on many of these trips, saying a word about them.

The photos provide a rare glimpse of our Balding family taking pleasure in travel, and in each other's company.
One question I had was - how did the family afford to travel? My remembrances of discussions with my grandmother focused on how tight finances were for the Baldings. Ruth and her father supported the family with their jobs.

My theory about how they were able to travel is connected to Pop Balding's job. In 1904, Victor Balding began working for the railroad as a telegrapher. He advanced to chief telegrapher, and worked for the railroad for 38 years, until his retirement in 1942, just three years before his death.

I think it was likely that, as a perk of Victor's job, he and his family were able to travel by train either at greatly reduced fares, or perhaps, free.

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Ruth, 1922. Photo was captioned, "Sweet 19."

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Ruth (r) and her friend, Anita (l). Photo, 1922

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Doris Geneva Balding. Photo circa 1923-1924.

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Russell Ellington (Linky) and Marvin Parrish Balding. Photo circa 1923.

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Hattie Chapin Balding.

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Hattie playing in the ocean,. Photo circa 1925.

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Harassing the wildlife. Photo circa early 1920s

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Sombreros on Russell (Linky), Murnie and Vera.

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Ruth, Santa Monica CA, July 1926




Part 1
Part 3
Part 4
dee_burris: (Default)
2012-01-28 09:01 am

Ruth's story... Part 3

On 21 May 1932, when she was 29 years old, Ruth married her boss, Walter Nathan Brandon, Sr. He was just a few months younger than Ruth's father. Ruth was Walter's third wife.

From a business standpoint, the match was an excellent one. Ruth was already the company bookkeeper, and the 1937 Polk's Directory for Little Rock/North Little Rock listed principals of the business as Benton D Brandon, President; Walter N Brandon, Vice President, and Ruth Brandon, Secretary/Treasurer.

According to the company's current website, ...the Brandon Co was founded in 1903, as a supplier of sundries, heaters, stoves, linoleum, and rugs to hardware and general stores throughout Arkansas. The company distributed products from several flooring manufacturers including Sandura, Rubberoid, Pabco, Armstrong, Mannigton Mills, and G.A.F. Brandon quickly gained a reputation for being the leading distributor in Arkansas for flooring, as well as stoves and hardware.

The Company was originally located at 610 East Markham Street in Little Rock, Arkansas. In the 1930's, Brandon Co. suffered a fire at its original location and moved next door to 608 East Markham Street. This is where Brandon Company called home for the next 60 years, until 1994 when Brandon Company expanded to its current location at 401 North Vine Street in North Little Rock, Arkansas.


By 1942, the principals in the Brandon Company were Walter and Ruth.
After their marriage, the Brandons lived in Walter's home at 1922 South Battery Street in Little Rock. For a period of time, Walter's son from his second marriage to Alma Mabel Spinner (who died in 1930), Walter Nathan Brandon, Jr., lived with them.

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Photo taken 2 Jan 2012


It was from Walter Jr.'s young daughter that Ruth purchased cartons of Girl Scout cookies to ship to one of her nephews stationed overseas - an act of thoughtfulness that got her nephew teased by the men in his unit about which troop he belonged to.

That same nephew sought Ruth's career advice when he returned from his military service, and he was employed by the Brandon Company for several years.

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Ruth and Walter Brandon, undated photo.

Although Ruth and Walter Brandon were married for sixteen years, they did not have any children together.

Several members of my family think it was possible Ruth had enough of raising children while she was growing up.

On her 45th birthday, 9 May 1948, Ruth's husband died. He was buried in Oakland Cemetery in Little Rock, in the Brandon family plot.

And the dynamics of Ruth's family began to change.


Part 1
Part 2
Part 4
dee_burris: (Default)
2012-01-28 09:00 am

Ruth's story...Part 4

The end of Ruth's life is, unfortunately, the part for which the greatest amount of information survives, both in terms of family anecdotes and written documentation.

For years, all I knew of Aunt Ruth was what I as a young child had taken from snippets of adult conversation I overheard. In my mind's eye, I pictured a stern, no-nonsense woman in sensible shoes - one with a good head for business, but not much heart for people.

This photo, taken not long before her death in 1959, seemed to support that vision.

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However, that's not what the evidence - sketchy as it may be - shows.
After her husband's death in 1948, Ruth's role in the Brandon Company changed, but she remained a vital part of the business until her death.

The 1949 Polk's Directory for Little Rock.North Little Rock shows the principals of the business as as Walter N Brandon (this was Walter Jr., Ruth's step-son) President, Mary P Brandon, Vice President (Walter Jr.'s wife) and Ruth B Brandon, Sec/Treasurer.
Two letters found among my grandmother's personal effects after her death in 1998 painted vastly different pictures of Ruth Balding.

The first was a letter from one of Ruth's sisters to another in 1957, relating the first sister's disgust with Ruth's behavior on a recent visit to her sister's home. In it, the sister said (among other things), "You've let her get by with everything just because of that disease she has and she's making herself obnoxious to everybody." She closed the letter with, "If you repeat any of this, I'll deny it."

The disease Ruth had was called lymphatic leukemia in the 1950s. Today, it is called lymphocytic leukemia, and given the amount of time between the 1957 letter and her death on 30 Dec 1959, I think it's possible she had chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Ruth executed a will on 12 March 1956, almost 18 months before the letter referenced above. Whether she decided to make a will because she found out she had incurable cancer (as it was considered then), or simply because she felt it was time, I don't know. Today, median survival of patients with this form of leukemia is 8–10 years, compared with 5–6 years in series reported in the 1970s.

In her will, Ruth directed that the stock she owned in the Brandon Company be sold, with her step-son, Walter N Brandon, Jr., having the first option to buy it. She also directed that her home, automobile and personal effects be sold, and with the proceeds from the sale of the stock, all net proceeds were to be divided - with one third going to her mother, and the remaining two-thirds divided equally among her siblings.

At her death, Ruth would continue to provide for the welfare of her family.
The second letter was from Ruth to the sister who authored the 1957 letter, and was written five months before her death, in July 1959.

I had the distinct impression as I read the letter that somehow Ruth found out that at least two of her sisters were talking about her behind her back, and one of them had a major axe to grind.

In the letter, Ruth related a story to her sister about one of their brothers who, in 1948 (the year Walter Brandon died and Ruth became a fairly wealthy widow), had borrowed several thousand dollars from Ruth - interest free - to start his own business. As of the date of Ruth's letter, her brother had yet to repay a penny to her, although his business was thriving, and he had purchased two new cars and a boat. He also borrowed money from their mother for his business, and Ruth had insisted that her brother pay their mother interest on that loan, due to Hattie Balding being on a fixed income.

I wondered why this letter was in my grandmother's personal effects at the time of her death. It was not addressed to her. It had been forwarded by the sister who received it to one of their brothers almost one month after Ruth's funeral in 1960.

My aunt was able to provide the explanation for that. Apparently my grandmother had advocated unsuccessfully for her brother (the subject of Ruth's letter to her sister in 1959), the executor of Ruth's estate, to forego taking the 6% of Ruth's estate as her executor, since he still owed the estate the entire debt described in the 1959 letter. Their mother's share of the estate would be reduced by his administrator's fee.

According to my aunt, my grandmother was the lone voice crying in the wilderness. Her brother was unmoved, and the rest of her siblings refused to back her up.

The family photo from which I cropped the picture of Ruth above now seemed to make more sense.

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I had often looked at that photo and felt that Ruth was quite separated from her family. In fact, she seemed to me to be poised for flight in her very sensible shoes.
Not long before her death, Ruth fired her housekeeper.

But she couldn't get rid of her. The woman wouldn't leave Ruth's home. Not only that, but the former housekeeper threatened Ruth.

Ruth called one of her nephews to see if he would come over and make the woman leave. He did, by telling her she had two choices - to leave under her own steam or with police escort.

Afterward, Ruth was still fearful of the threat. She retrieved a revolver owned by her late husband, and asked her nephew to load it for her.

On 18 December 1959, Ruth went to see her personal physician. What they discussed is unknown, but I think it is reasonable to believe her illness would have been part of that discussion. That was the last time her doctor saw her alive. From my sister's recollection of conversations with our grandmother (Ruth's younger sister), Ruth was in extreme pain due to her illness for quite some time before her death.

Shortly before 5 p.m. on Wednesday, 30 December 1959, Ruth Balding Brandon climbed the stairs to her bedroom in her home on South Battery Street, tied herself into her rocking chair, and shot herself in the left chest. Her nephew felt incredible guilt.

Ruth was the first born of her siblings, and the first to die. She was 56 years, 7 months, and 22 days old.

She was buried in the Balding family plot in Roselawn Memorial Park in Little Rock on 1 January 1960.

From the sermon preached at her funeral, I note the following:

...We thank Thee for her strong sense of duty, her strength of will
and the fidelity with which she performed the tasks of life.
We thank Thee that in the world of business she lost nothing
of her high ideals and made no compromise of her womanly character...
We thank Thee for the heart of compassion that was within her
and which overflowed with countless deeds of generous love and
thoughtfulness. We thank Thee that these qualities of character
were not intermittent or transitory but the expression of a
steadfast purpose, followed through a lifetime.


I wish I had known her.
I'll meet you on the other side, Aunt Ruth.

Feel free to leave virtual flowers at Ruth's Find a Grave memorial, by clicking here.


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3