Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Portrait of Judy Garland's Great Grandmother, Mary Ann Marable Baugh

What did Mary Ann Marable Baugh look like? That was a question Curry Wolfe, Mary Ann's great great granddaughter and I asked over and over. During the eight years I researched the Baugh family for my book, "From Tennessee to Oz," I collected a great deal of information on Mary Ann. Yet, through all this time, I wanted to see her face. Young or old, I wanted to know hat she looked like.

Mary Ann Marable Baugh’s life spanned nearly a century. Born in Virginia in 1812 - the same year the British invaded American, Mary Ann was the youngest of five children and the only girl. When she was twelve, she traveled across the wilderness to reach the center of the newly formed state of Tennessee, a land that was said to be a paradise. Society in this part of America was rough, but by other accounts, something like Jane Austin’s England. It was a very social world. 

Mary Ann's grandfather, the Rev. Henry Hartwell Marable, had become a Methodist minister late in life and was known for his powerful voice and passionate sermons--sermons he preached for over fifty years - longer than Judy Garland would live. 

Today, Rev. Marable’s Tennessee home can be seen at the Historic Sam Davis Home and Plantation in Lebannon, Tennessee. The old log house awaits the needed funds for it's restoration. Five years after Marable’s death, the home became the birthplace of Southern hero, Sam Davis.

For a picture of this house, please visit my site:

Certainly, Mary Ann visited this home many times as a young girl, until her very handsome distant cousin, John Aldridge Baugh came and took her to Alabama - at least for the early years of their marriage. In this this very simple home of her grandparents, Mary Ann learned about kindness and welcoming strangers from all walks of life. Her uncle John, brother of her father, married the daughter of Andrew Jackson’s business partner, Ann Watson, and eventually entered politics. 

During the thirty years of her marriage to John Baugh, Mary Ann gave birth to ten children. One little girl died in childhood, but most were healthy. Her youngest daughter, Clemmie, who was born with a disability of the spine, would one day marry Will Gum. 

Mary Ann lived through the Civil War, no small feat in Rutherford County. The African American slave, Miranda, whom she had known since childhood (and perhaps who was one of the closest and most trusted persons in her life) stayed in her household until her death. But despite whatever hardships she experienced,  none was worse than the fear of her son-in-law, Will Gum. Whether she had become senile or had reason to worry, this writer cannot say, but these facts taken form many records are presented in “From Tennessee to Oz, Parts 1 and 2.

During the eight years of the adventure writing this book, Curry Wolfe and I had many intense discussions about Mary Ann. There were so many ins and outs to her personality and to her life, yet one question we could not answer was, “What did she look like?”

Her family had money. Certainly, at one time there was a portrait of the lovely Mary Ann Marable. Yet,  when the Union soldiers came to town, many things were taken or destroyed. It seems that Benjamin Marable’s home was in the line of battle during the Battle of Stones River. Perhaps the house was burned to the ground. If not, many items were taken.

During the late 1860s and onward, there were photography studios in Murfreesboro. Mary Ann’s oldest daughter, Bettie, had her portrait taken around 1865. A great granddaughter kept this large picture carefully in her house; the house was very close to where Mary Ann  and family lived during the work. Surely, we thought, there must be a painting or portrait out there somewhere. If so, it may be unmarked. Another reason why it has yet to be discovered.

And so now, while hope has dwindled, we still wait with the question. What did Mary Ann Marable Baugh look like?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Baugh Family African Americans - Part of Judy Garland's Family History

Because February celebrates the history of black Americans and the life of Martin Luther King who so bravely and peacefully worked to procure equality and rights for his brothers and sisters of color, I thought it would only be right to finally speak about some of the persons of color who were part of Judy Garland's family, mainly in the form of slavery.

In researching Garland's paternal family in Tennessee, it was hoped by both myself and Judy's relative, Curry Wolfe, that we would not find that they had owned slaves. At the very least, - if that were the case - we hoped that they were not unkind slave owners. 

Early in my research, a descendant of a Knoxville fort owner, explained to me that in the late 1700s and early 1800s in Tennessee - or the Southwest Territory, as it was then called - slaves were often bought as help-mates to travel through the wilderness and settle the land. Usually, the "masters" worked side by side with these persons of color. Later, slavery became something quite different. In the beginning, however, there is no way the settlers could have survived the wilderness and built their towns and farms without additional help.

When researching the Gum(m) family, we could only verify one woman slave bought by the direct line of that family. She was given as a gift by Norton Gum to his wife, Sally. However, on Judy's father's maternal side--the Baughs and Marables--there were many slaves.

In the mid-1800s, as Garland's great grandfather, John Aldridge Baugh worked to increase his landholdings and he bought quite a few slaves to farm that land. It was a sad day when I first held property records in my hands showing the sale of human beings as so much property. In time, I learned that unlike some neighbors who bought and sold slaves, John Aldridge Baugh and his wife Mary Ann Marable Baugh, with maybe two or three exceptions, kept the slaves like family, and noted the birth of each child in the family Bible.
Some of these persons stayed with the family even after slavery was over. Some moved to town and were still connect to the family even when Judy Garland's father Frank Gumm, was a little boy. Realizing this, I began to study these person's genealogy with the hope I might find some descendants.

One important person in the life of the Baugh family was Miranda Marable Baugh. It appears that Miranday, as she was called, joined the Marable family in Virginia as a young girl. She was about 3-5 years younger than Mary Ann Marable and so the two girls grew up together. Miranday traveled from Virginia to Tennessee with Mary Ann and when she married John Aldridge Baugh, Miranday went with her. 

It seems Miranday married or had a child with one of the slaves on the Marable Farm. Their son, Willis Baugh referred to his father as Clem Marable during an interview in the 1900s regarding his history and his service as a Confederate soldier. 

During the time Mary Ann Baugh was giving birth to her 10 children, Mirandy was giving birth to about 10 children of her own. Some of Mirandy's children did not survive as noted by Willis in his interview. Others listed in the family Bible to note the names of their parents. We do know that among her surviving children were Willis, Gilbert and Jane. Willis went with two of the masters in the Civil War. As result, he saw some of the worst Battles anyone could imagine, most prominently, the Battle at Shiloh.

When the Baugh family moved to Murfreesboro after the war, Miranda joined them. Mary Ann gave her a house to live in. By now, Miranda's name was Miranday Miller (there were many Millers in Millersburg). When "Aunt Ran" or "Mammy Ran" as the family called her, moved to Murfreesboro, she was joined by her daughter, Jane Hoover. Jane had been working as a cook up in Nashville and had a couple of boys. Eventually, she remarried and moved to a small house not far from Frank Gumm's family. This was between 1900 and 1910.  Eventually the house where Aunt Ran lived in was inherited by Judy Garland''s grandmother, Clemmie Gum. After the Gum home burnt, the family moved into Ran's old home, and Ran Miller (sometimes listed as Hoover) moved in with her daughter.
My Meeting with Mary Fox, Granddaughter of Willis Baugh
From Tennessee to Oz, Part 2

In search of Miranda's  descendants via her daughter, Jane, I was unable to find any. Either they had no children or they left the area. Neither was I able to find a grave or date of death for Miranda, who died sometime between 1910 and 1920. This was very sad to me, but I had a surprise coming. One day a women lent me a book on a neighboring county and by chance I saw the name "Willis Baugh" listed in it. The information in the book allowed me to trace a granddaughter for Willis. Amazingly, she had a photo of her grandfather, which someone had found blowing along the railroad tracks. This photo is in Part One of From Tennessee to Oz. When I returned to Tennessee, Mary agreed to meet me for lunch one day, an event I found quite thrilling. I was truly connecting past and present. 

In researching the African American history in Tennessee, I learned that that many African American descendants do not want to know about the days of slavery. It is no doubt a painful chapter in their past. In some cases, they may find that they are related to the white masters who held their ancestors in slavery. I found that many black persons in Tennessee were hesitant to speak about their history to a white person, but a couple of ladies who were quite elderly and past fear or caring told me that women of color had no choice over what the white man wanted.

Looking back on this past, I found nothing but admiration for these persons - for what they endured and for how they came out. They lived difficult lives, often loosing a loved one, even a child, who was sold away. They often worked hard and lived in deplorable conditions (though a Union soldier visiting Murfreesboro during the war said that black folks in that town lived  better than poor white folks). Yet with all that these persons endured, it is also true that they were usually the ones who showed the young white children the most love and affection. A Tennessean lady informed me that historically, the relation of white children to their parents was one of formality. The relation to the black "mammy" (which I might add is also what white folks also call their white mothers) was one of affection, love and warmth. They also exposed the children to some of their culture. So, in relation to Judy Garland's paternal family, we might comment that these persons, referred to as servants" were also family and had an affect in the formation of the children, including young Frank Gumm who loved to sing. One of his favorite songs was "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen," an old Negro spiritual.

For more information, read "From Tennessee to Oz" Parts I and II or contact me regarding the genealogy. I will help if I can.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Search for Judy Garland's Aunt Mary

Of all the research work I did while working on Judy Garland's family history, perhaps the most fascinating was trying to find Judy's Aunt Mary. For some time, I had known of the existence of Garland's aunt - her father, Frank Gumm's, elder sister. In fact, I had heard whispers that she killed herself, but, none of the older generation had spoken much about her. Now, the real problem was how to fine her.

Curry Wolfe in Murfreesboro, standing
by the graves of some of her ancestors
Early in my research, Judy's distant cousin, Curry Wolfe, had joined me. Curry is the great grand-daughter of John Mason Marable Baugh, Clemmie Baugh Gumm's brother. For those in the know, Clemmie was Judy's paternal grandmother, Frank Gumm's mother. Clemmie died when Frank was eight years old, which probably why not much has been known about her.

In all the histories written on Judy Garland, you will read about her father, Frank Avent Gumm, but very little is found on his siblings. Frank's family consisted of his sister, Mary, older brother Robert Emmet, and two younger brothers, William Wade and Allie Richardson.

So, the search for Mary began. The census, legal records and property records showed that Mary was around during the early years of Frank's youth. Then, suddenly, she disappeared! Curry and I searched high and low for her, but to no avail. We could not find a death record, marriage record; nothing at all for that matter.

Finally, one day, it hit me. In the early days, when a parent died, their property was left to the children, the records of this included the daughter's spouse. Back to the property records I went. Now I knew why Oscar and Mary McPeak were there! Oscar was Mary's husband. But once again we were stuck. We could not find Mary! The only difference was that I knew I was looking for Oscar and Mary McPeak.

During the spring of 2006, Curry was in Salt Lake City taking a genealogy course. While she was there, she agreed to do some special searches for me. Late one afternoon she called. "I've found Mary!" she said excitedly. "There was a front page story in the Rome, Georgia newspaper." It was a tragic story. A story of a woman so ill, she drowned herself in the river. Now we knew what had happened to Mary, but the story was not over. Where had Mary been for the last 8 years?

In the meantime, I returned to Murfreesboro and connected Joy Nelson, a 2nd cousin of the Frank Gumm. Searching through her grandmother, Nannie Gum Rion's belongings - things her father had kept, she found a post card from Mary. Mary had children! Two little babies, who had been sick. At the same time, another family member shared photos with me of a family reunion that had taken place in Huntsville, Alabama, toward the end of Mary's life.

Rare Unedited photo of Mary and
husband Oscar McPeak around 1918
(c) Gibb Family
As the mystery deepened, Curry discovered another news article about Oscar McPeak. He also had died tragically a few years after Mary's passing. Now, I was on a mission. What had happened to Mary's children and what was she like as a person? She had been as much a mother to Frank and his brothers their mother Clemmie had been. Mary was only fourteen when her mother died, leaving behind children 10, 8, 5 and 2. Was she pretty? Did she sing? Did Frank see a bit of sister Mary in his little daughter, Frances? So many questions, but the biggest one was what happened to those children.

Over the next several years I was able to trace Mary and Oscar's travels - as detailed in my book, "From Tennessee to Oz - The Amazing Saga of Judy Garland's Family History." Mary had traveled from Tullahoma to Michigan and back to Tennessee, to Alabama and finally to Rome, Georgia. Then, in the last hours before finishing my book new papers arrived detailing Mary's husband, Oscar's time in prison. More shock and tragedy.

Still searching for the children, I checked baptismal records, birth records, death records and cemetery records, but I could not find any record of them. It almost seemed as if they had never existed, but that post card was real. Are they buried in Murfreesboro in an unmarked grave? What happened to them? Perhaps someday the truth will come out.

Judy never met her aunt Mary. Mary died in 1919 - although from suicide, all the symptoms found mentioned in the local paper point to cancer. The medical records probably no longer exist Judy's sisters, Mary Jane and Virginia, were taken by their parents to meet Aunt Mary. In fact, they stayed in Alabama at her house for a month.

One of the most painful days of my research was the day I arrived in Rome. Trembling, I did what I knew I must -- I walked in Mary's footsteps; walked her final path to the bridge crossing the river where she had thrown herself in - an act meant to end her terrible pain and to spare others that pain as well. How do you describe such a walk? Now she is buried on a hilltop, just across the way from Mrs.Woodrow Wilson. Another sad day was the day a photo arrived from another family member. The photo had been taken of Mary's grave the day she was buried. One can only imagine how heart sick her brothers were as they stood before her grave that day. Frank Gumm boarded a train and the funeral was held until he arrived.

And so, this is Mary's story. Her death was tragic, but not shameful. She grew up in a difficult home, took care of her brothers and her father who was deeply troubled. She laughed and sang and, finally, when some might consider her an old maid, she married and had two little boys. Her husband went to prison, she lost her children, and then her health. I do have a special place in my heart for Mary. I wonder if Judy ever learned the story of her aunt. If her father had lived longer, she certainly would have.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Old Jefferson, Tennessee and The Gum Family

A home in Old Jefferson back in the 1890s.
Early in my journey to discover the truth about the Gumm family, to my surprise I learned that they had not always lived in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Prior to 1876, the Gums lived in a town known as “Jefferson,” (and later "Old Jefferson). Originally, the town had been named for President Thomas Jefferson.

While this fact surprised me, the real shock was that Jefferson was gone. I would never be able to follow the trail of her history by walking down her streets or looking into her buildings. No, like Camelot, she was only a legend no. Her physical being had was covered by the waters of the Stones River and had been covered sing 1968 when the Tennessee Valley Authority created Percy Priest Lake in hopes of preventing the future flooding of Nashville.

Knowing the Jefferson was only a legend now led me on another journey -- to discover the story of Jefferson. There was little written about the town founded in 1805 by Thomas Bedford with the hope of creating a great inland port. It would be a port that connected with the mighty Mississippi River.

My journey to learn more about Jefferson was interesting, but barely informative until one day while  visiting the home of a woman whose family came from Old Jefferson, While studying the photos on her wall and asking about them, she told me,
“Call Toby Francis, he knows all about it.”

Old Jefferson is a passion for Mr. Frances. His family owned a farm there, and having to leave that land broke their hearts. When I explained to Toby why I wanted to go Jefferson – that the Gum family had lived from 1804 to 1876-- he asked me a question that struck me like lightening.

The path to Old Jefferson
“Would you like to go there?”

“What? I thought it was under water.”

“We all thought that, but mound of the hill where the town was is not under water.  It’s still there. If you go at
a certain time of year, right about now, actually, you can walk across the river to where the town was.”

So we agreed to meet. Toby advised me to wear heavy shoes and casual clothes as it was going to be a hike. We drove up the Murfreesboro Pike, and turn off just past the cemetery. Then we drove along a winding road, back to a public park area. From here, it was a hike. We walked through woods, and past the high piles of dirt the Park Service had built to prevent drivers from going down the old town road.

Because of the lake, the water is now still, but
at this spot a prosperous mill once ran.
Along the way, we passed hunters, the spot where the old mill was, and then walked down to the river where indeed the river had gone down, leaving a muddy path to walk across. Slowly ascending up the muddy narrow road, I thought the place must have looked something like this when the settlers came, or when the Indians roamed these hills. I was out of shape, and the hike took my breath away.

Finally, Toby said, “This is it. This is the crest of hill where the main square of the town sat in 1804.”

I had to stop and sit on the ground for a moment to absorb it. This was where Norton Gum walked… but not just him, there were men like Andrew Jackson and other important persons of the time. This had once been a bustling town. Now, it's goning back to nature.

Toby and I climbed through the woods, and along the way, he pointed out, here and there, a cistern and other things that proved another civilization had once stood here. The Park Service had removed the homes before the waters of Percy Priest Lake were let loose to flood the land. Yet as the Park Service removed buildings they made a few discoveries. While removing the boards off one of the old houses they learned that beneath those boards (the siding) was a much older building, a building thought to be the original courthouse.

Here I stand, on the edge of the Stones River fork,
Holding the stop of a carriage.
While we were there on my first visit, Toby and I went down to the water, to the very point where the East and West branches of the Stones River divide. The river is much calmer now. Walking along the waterfront I discovered a piece of metal which Toby said it was a step for an old carriage. Frequently, Toby told me, there are historic items washed up along the shore here.

This point of the Stones River once had wharves with river boats coming and going, delivering and taking goods off to distant ports. It was once thought that this town, Jefferson, would become a great port in the middle of the United States. Oh, but to walk on this last of history.

The Crosthwaits, Ridleys and The Civil War

For those who have read my book, you'll know that
in the early years of Jefferson's existence, a man named
Shelton Crosthwait moved to Jefferson from Virginia. A very cultured, well-educated young man, some say that Shelton is the son of William Crosthwait, the man who helped Benjamin Franklin set up the first library in Philadelphia. In any case, Shelton Crosthwait was extremely ambitious and soon had built a grand plantation on both sides of the Stones River and a lovely mansion called "Fairmont" on the hill overlooking Jefferson and surrounding area.

You may wonder what this Mr. Crosthwait has to do with the Gum family. As it turns out, besides the fact that they both lived in this historic area, quite a bit. During my research - research that took me over a year - I learned that after the death of Sheldon Crosthwait's brother, he raised his brother's son, William. This same William would one day marry Alexander Gum's mother, Melinda (her second marriage). Alexander Gum was Judy Garland's great grandfather and the grandson of one of Jefferson's earliest residents, Norton Gum.

In my search to find more about Jefferson, I also learned that Shelton Crosthwait's granddaughter, Bettie Ridley Blackmore, who lived at Fairmont during the Civil War, kept a diary which was published in part by the Tennessee Historical Society in the late 1950s. One year after discovering this fact, I finally obtained a copy of this historical work.

Meanwhile, I became fascinated by Fairmont and the Crosthwaits. Despite the fact that the home was burnt by the "Yankees" during the war, I thought something of the place must be left. Some people told me they had ideas about it and one day Ernie Johns and I climbed through brush and rought terrain. It's a wonder we didn't meet a rattle snake!

On the road to Fairmont.
Finally, Toby Frances took me back to Jefferson, and led me up a hill which he believed was the old road to "Fairmont." Once again, Toby and I set off to find it. The photo to the left reveals the road we traveled on, and in my book there is a photo of Toby standing against an ancient tree. 

The day we traveled to Fairmont was sunny and quite warm. I was in better shape than on my first trip to Old Jefferson and walking up the slope toward the crest of the hill I thought saw evidence of ancient paving and side stones along the edge of the road. As we traveled along, I could almost hear the sound of the horse’s hooves pulling a carriage of guests along and the clip of the reins as they sped on to the mansion.. Strange how time can change things…

So that is my story for now.  Maybe one day more will be learned.

For more information on Old Jefferson, the Crosthwaits and Ridleys may be found in my book, From Tennessee to Oz, Part 1.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

January 1863 Part 2 Judy Garland's Family in the Civil War

This photo of John A. Gum, Jr.
may give us some idea of his
father's appearance.

Up in Jefferson, John Alexander Gum (grandfather of Frank Gumm and great grandfather of Judy Garland) had finally joined the war as a Confederate scout. Left at home was his wife, Martha Wade Gum, and their four children: Will, 8 (Frank’s father), John, 5, Laura, 2, and baby Lucy, four months old.

While Martha had quite a few members of her family living nearly, Jefferson was a frightening place to live during the period 1862-1864. While the Battle of Stones River raged, there were numerous skirmishes in town and just across the river. The sound of shots, galloping horses, cries, curses and yells were deafening at times.

Those in Jefferson would soon learn that no one was safe in this war. Their relative, via John Alexander Gumm’s step-father and half-siblings, was Rebecca Crosthwait, who was married to Judge Bromfield Ridley. The Ridleys lived in a beautiful old house on the hill overlooking Jefferson, known as Fairmont. The plantation, founded by Rebecca’s father, Sheldon, consisted of over 3,000 acres, and was run by 100 slaves. The estate was legendary to those in the area, within a month of the battle, Union soldiers, bent on revenge, set out to destroy it.

The family felt blessed that Rebecca’s old mother, Elizabeth Thompson Crosthwait, died two weeks after the Battle of Stones River, before she could experience the worst. Rebecca’s husband, Bromfield Ridley came home, and fearing for the safety of their thirteen year-old daughter in the midst of rampaging soldiers, took her away. But Rebecca, nursing her seriously ill daughter, Bettie, refused to leave.

Murfreesboro, TN sunset   (c) Michelle Russell
One night, as the family slept, the Union soldiers set their home ablaze. Everything was lost, but with the help of the remaining servants, all persons in the home survived.  

We can imagine the shock and horror of the residents of Jefferson, especially the Gums, waking to see the house on the hill ablaze, while the “Yankee” soldiers fired guns and laughed gleefully. Later, these same soldiers would come to town and threaten to burn the rented cottage where the Ridleys were staying. Certainly, Rebecca Ridley was not perfect. Throughout her life, she continued feel she had a right to own the persons who worked on her plantation. Nevertheless, one can sympathize with the pain she suffered. Her daughter Bettie died in 1864 due to illness and the trauma of the war. Rebecca herself died five years later, followed by her husband a year after that. Though not killed in battle, many persons died young as a result of the war.


The Gresham mansion, of which parts were begun in 1812,
still stood when I first arrived in Mufreesboro.
Although the Battle of Stones River was fought in
every direction around this hill, the hill itself became
an oasis of peace. Many wounded man came here to
seek help and without a doubt, some are buried here.
Around 2007, the owner decided the land was worth more
without the mansion and despite all protest, one night
he had it razed.
All of Judy Garland’s immediate family member survived the Battle of Stones River, but the loss of lives during those few days was terrible: 12,800 Union soldiers, and 10,306 Confederate soldiers. The amount of wounded men was far greater. It is said that the wounded and dead lay side by side, in the streets, in churches, schools, people’s homes and front yards. There were so many wounded men, they could not be treated. As a result, they were put on trains and sent to other towns like Tullahoma. Murfreesboro simply could not hold them.

Frank Gumm’s two uncles, (Clemmie’s elder brothers) John and Joe Baugh took part in the final battle along the Stones River in which thousands of troops entered an area without seeing the fifty-eight canons lined up on the hill above them. In one hour, 1,800 Confederate men lay dead and the waters of the Stones River ran red with blood. It was here that the Battle of Stones River concluded.


Entrance to the Gresham Mansion.
Through these doors, (as with many nearby homes,
the wounded\were taken and operated on.
In later years, the home was used
for weddings.
Prior to my time in Murfreesboro, I did not have knowledge of this battle nor the fact that Judy Garland’s family had fought in the Civil War. In times past, being a westerner and then a “northern girl” as some in the south called me; I did not understand how people could speak about the Civil War with such immediacy.

After living in Murfreesboro, I understand it better. When you live on land where a battle took place, when you dig and find bones and buttons and bullets, when the homes you enter have bloodstains on the floor because a surgeon stood there and severed limbs, when the portraits on the wall have been slashed by sabers, then it is real. When your ancestor shed blood on the land, right or wrong, it is real, it’s not a story in a history book. In part, I think this is why northern children can read about the Civil War and see it in the past. But in the south, you can touch the past.

There are many more photos and stories I’d like to share on the Civil War some day. I would also like to state that it has not been my purpose to defend the war one way or the other. My purpose has been to bring more understanding to Judy Garland’s family-- who represent a lot of other families -- and to show what they experienced during the Civil War.

For further information, please visit

Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 1862 Judy's Family in the Civil War Part 1

      THINKING OF JUDY GARLAND and her sisters at this time of year, one pictures three little girls standing in the wings of a theater, giggling and getting ready to perform. This was a part of young Frances (Judy) Gumm’s life. Yet, only 70 years earlier, Judy Garland’s paternal grandparents—children at the time—found themselves in the midst of one of the most devastating and historically important battles of the Civil War, The Battle of Murfreesboro, or as it is known today, The Battle of Stones River.


The Christmas of 1862 was a wonderful time for Murfreesboro. The Union soldiers, who had occupied the area on and off between February and autumn, were gone and the Confederate troops, which included many local men, had come in large numbers to winter there. This brought a great deal of comfort and cheer to the residents. It was thought the men would not fight again until spring.

In the town of Murfreesboro, General John Hunt Morgan was celebrating his marriage to a local girl, Mattie Ready. Even Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, was in town for the event. Meanwhile, most people were unaware of the fact that Davis was also there to discuss war strategies with General Braxton Bragg. Shortly after his arrival, Davis was apprised of the fact that Union troops were moving south from Nashville in large numbers. Some were coming down Wilkerson Pike, near the home of Benjamin Marable (Frank Gumm’s great grandfather); others were coming down the Nashville Pike, near Jefferson, where the Gum family lived.

A lady of the period.  Photo taken
at a living history presentation,
Fort Rosecranz in Murfreesboro
Mary Ann Marable Baugh, Judy Garland’s great grandmother, lived in Old Millersburg on a farm at the time. This property was southwest of Mufreesboro and at least ten miles directly south of her father, Benjamin Marable’s property. Mary Ann’s husband, John Baugh, and three of her sons were away at war. Unbeknownst to her, all would take part in the Battle of Stones River.

At home with Mary Ann were five of her ten children: Fredonia, 17, Mary, 15, Eliza, 13, Charlie, 11, and Clemmie, 7. Clemmie would one day be the mother of Frank Gumm. In addition, there were still a few servants living with the family, and three year old Rollie Howland, Mary Ann’s grandson, whose mother, Mattie Baugh Howland, had died two months earlier. Although Mary Ann and the children were not in the line of battle at this point, they were certain to have heard the booming of the cannon and gunshot. During this battle, these sounds were said to have been heard over 100 miles away.


Christmas of 1862 had been warmer than usual, but on December 30th, the night before the battle, the weather turned bitterly cold. That night, in preparation for the coming battle, the men, including John Baugh and son, Benjamin, tried to sleep while they shivered on the frozen ground. Late in the evening, suddenly, there was music in the air. The Union soldiers were singing:

    Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
    Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home!

     Home, home, sweet home.
     There’s no place like home.

As Union men continued with the son, one by one, the Confederate boys and men joined in. It is said that when the song ended and for a long while afterwards there was a lingering vibration of music in the air.


Stones River Battlefield, Murfreesboro, TN
(c) Michelle Russell
The battle began on the last day of 1862, early in the morning. Fought in cornfields and against hedges, many were slaughtered when they could not escape either the canons or the volley of the iron rifle balls with metal spikes. Those could tear a man apart.

The battle went on for three days, with a short break in-between. There are many accounts of it, and you may read more details in Part 1 of From Tennessee to Oz or in the books carried by The Stones River Battlefield National Park museum shop.

Re-enactment of Rebel Soldiers
After the first full day and night of battle, the “Federals” fell back two miles and the wounded were gathered. Two more days of battle followed, until the Confederates conceded defeat and retreated. 

Whatever your view, you can imagine how heartsick the men from the area were as they marched south, leaving behind their parents, siblings, wives and children. By the same token, the people who lived in the area were just as sick to see them march away. It is said that at least one woman ran out and yelled at them for deserting those at home.

Re-enactment of a Union Camp and Hospital on
the Battlefield at Stones River, Murfreesboro
(c) Michelle Russell
Meanwhile, somehow Mary Ann Baugh learned the facts of the battle and was desperate to reach her eighty-three year-old father. She arrived at the Shelbyville Pike in a buggy, but was not allowed by the “Yankee” soldier to pass, likely on pain of death. The Federal soldiers had been ordered to close down the roads. After this brutal battle, all activity by the Southerners was considered suspect; hearts had hardened in the face of such carnage.

Why her father left his home in the dead of winter during battle is unknown. Possibly there was a skirmish on his property, or his home was set ablaze by soldiers, which happened to many. I tried in vain to find the facts. Perhaps someday, someone will. What is known is that he was taken in by a Mr. Hunt and died there.

Bettie Baugh White,
Clemmie's eldest sister.
This photo has been cut down
for this blog, but I am including it
to show the great pain which she
obviously suffered in the war.
Taken shortly after the end
of the Civil War.
(courtesy Sherry White)
During the next months of war, Mary Ann Baugh and her family suffered the deprivation of food and other necessities. Children in the area no longer went to school and people did not attend church. It was dangerous to leave their homes; they might find themselves in the midst of a battle. They might also return to find their home gone, burnt to the ground. In many cases, soldiers from both sides came into homes and took food, goods, livestock and horses. Women also had to fear for their safety. It was not an easy time.

In the months that followed, the Baugh family would find that war came literally to their doorstep, with battles being fought in the yard, in front of their home. The children must have been terribly frightened. In Judy Garland's family, with the exception of one brother, Benjamin Baugh who eventually went mad from what he witnessed as a soldier in the war while still in his teens, the women and children at home were the ones who suffered the most.

Tomorrow, Part 2.


For information on From Tennessee to Oz, visit:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Visit to Lancaster, California

In December of 2004, while living in Murfreesboro and working on From Tennessee to Oz, I decided to take a quick trip to visit my family in California. During the time I was there, I made my first real trip to Lancaster, home of the Gumm family from 1926 – 1932.

For those of us who are fans of Judy Garland and have read some of the books the books about her, we recall descriptions of the family moving to a small, hot, dusty town, 80 miles or so from Los Angeles. They moved there because this was the only place Judy’s father, Frank Gumm, could find a theater, and because, it was not far from the Mecca of entertainment, Hollywood. Meanwhile, the town was really the opposite of the very green, well irrigated and wooded town of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
For my trip, I rented a small ‘rent a wreck’ can and, unaccustomed to freeways, decided to take the back route up to Lancaster. It was a route that was likely the one Ethel frequented in the old days with the three Gumm sisters. Traveling through Pasadena, I then got on a mountainous path through a flat wilderness, looking not much different than it did 100 years ago.

So what is this land that we’ve all read about really like? In 2004, the two lane highway traveled through a nearly flat desert of tumbleweeds and dry vegetation. Still considered Los Angeles County, it rests on the edge of the Mojave Desert (pronounced Mo-hah-ve) and is surrounded by the Tehachapi and San Gabriel Mountains If you’ve ever watched an old Hollywood western about settlers, cowboys and outlaws, this is it.

Mountains, barely visible here, appear as part of the clouds.
Sometimes if it difficult to tell thedifference between the two.
In 2004, the land had not changed much in the last eighty years. In recent years, I believe it has changed as the population rises and more people move to less desirable locations where it is cheaper to live. In 2004, one met a gas station, an old shack or a road winding into the hills only once in a while.

Joshua Tree
All photos here (c) Michelle Russell
As I neared Lancaster, I realized what Joshua trees are. They were something I had seen before, and read about, but didn’t connect. As ugly as the desert might seem to some, it does have a grandeur and beauty of its own.

In 2004, the town of Lancaster still had a dusty highway, with old buildings and a two-lane street. All this has also been changed recently as the mayor attempted to tear down most of the town (including one the last Gumm home there, a real artisan home).

One of my most important goals on this trip was to meet Glen Settle. Settle was a few years older than Mary Jane Gumm, remembered a great deal about the history of the town and the Gumm family. He had known Mr. and Mrs. Gumm, and gone to school with the older girls. In fact, his brother, Irving, had dated Jimmy for a while. At the time I created my “Made in America – Vaudeville Songs” CD, Glen had been able to describe to what the Gumm family, including young Frances, did on the state of The Valley Theater. When we spoke on the phone, as I prepared for this trip, Glen told me he had some pictures to show me as well.

In 2004, Glen Settle was in his 90s and still fit. Recently, he’d moved in with a nephew because he was completely blind due to macular degeneration. Other than that, his mind was very keen. I parked outside a nice condo and Glen welcomed me in. We went into a large library where he had everything laid out for me. What a lovely man, with so many stories to tell.

With all the good one might say about Glen Settle, to be honest, many might find some resentment of him. It was he who broke the story about Frank Gumm getting into trouble with some of the boys visiting the theater. If it hadn’t been him, someone else might have broke it. Glen knew the story because he went to school with some of those boys and he played on the basket ball team with them. His opinion in the 1930s about what he heard against Frank Gumm was that he considered who the stories he came. To learn more about this, you will have to read my book.

Dorothy Walsh and Glen Settle in the 1920s
(Courtesy Glen Settle)
Meanwhile, Glen was a lovely man to know and I greatly appreciated his friendship. He and Dorothy Walsh, the Gumm’s friend and neighbor, had a very deep friendship throughout their school years. After I found Dorothy living in Hawaii I was able to reconnect them. What a happy day that was for both of them. In turn, when Dorothy passed away a few years ago, her family asked me to let Glen know and I had that sad task. Glen did not live more than a year after Dorothy passed on. He told me one of the last times I spoke to him, “I’m failing. I don’t think I’ll be around much longer.” He had a good life though, able to do most of what he wanted until the very end. People called him from all over to find out historic facts about Antelope Valley and Lancaster.

The day I met him, we got in my car and he said he’d direct me over to see the last Gumm home, which had originally been Dorothy Walsh’s home. Now, remember Glen was totally blind, but gave me directions as I was driving. ‘Now, you’ll come up to a big 4-way light. Turn left there. Now, two blocks, do you see this…. Turn left again’ and so on. Amazing!

One of Glen's nephews (Dick White?) who was
also a classmate of young Frances Gumm
The home was used as a sort of group home for a while and in 2004 it had caught fire and sustained terrible damage. While we were there, the men were working on the house, so I couldn’t get very close to look into the windows or anything. It appeared that the home had been burnt mostly at the back.

A couple later bought the home and intended to turn it into a museum. They were fighting the mayor not to have the entire block razed. The home two doors down, not next door, was the Gumm’s second home in Lancaster.

Museum where the cement block
with Babe and Muggs' footprints
My trip to Lancaster was wonderful and I was so sorry that, due to finances, that I could not get back again. Glen was going to take me out to the family’s old gold or silver mine and give me some of the original chairs from the Valley Theater. In addition, there were others still in the town who remembered the Gumms. Some had good memories and some not as nice. Some had pictures as well. Unfortunately, I lost track as people passed away. And I missed meeting Judy’s best friend, Muggs. By the time I found her brother, she had passed on just a few months earlier.

So the story goes. I was able to connect just at the very end and come just to entrance of that door into the past.

Side view of the building
on the Sierra Highway where
Ethel Gumm taught dancing
For front view, see From
Tennessee to Oz, Part 2
While I was in Lancaster, I attempted to see Muggs and Babe's footprints in the cement block that had been moved to this museum, but unfortunately, it was closed.

I also went out to the highway and found the Quansit hut looking building where Ethel Gumm once taught dance. I was in a strange mood though, not wanting to talk to anyone, so I didn't go inside. I wish I had.

The years in Lancaster were formative years for young Frances Gumm and important years in the Gumm family's live. The girls were here for their formative years and at the same time, they were often taken away to study dance and perform. During these years, young Frances crossed the line from little girl with a big voice to a young girl with great power and artistry growing within her. The time of Lancaster was also one of sorrow and difficulty for Mr. and Mrs. Gumm. The things which took place nearly ripped their marriage apart and caused Ethel to push harder for Hollywood. This tale is told with a great deal of detail of  the book "Young Judy," co-authored by David Dahl and Barry Kehoe.

For more information on the Gumm’s life in Lancaster and the people they knew, please see From Tennessee to Oz, Part 2:

I hope you have enjoyed some of the color views here which could only be shown in black and white in the book.

Coming Next: Remembering one of the most important battles of the Civil War – The Battle of Murfreesboro, otherwise known as The Battle of Stones River. This was a battle which Judy Garland's paternal side all took part in.