By Charles Cooper
Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week. I had mentioned that I haven’t heard from Gloria Gardner for some time and I wondered why. This week I received a letter from her explaining that she has had a stroke and is in a nursing home. She apologized for her writing, but Gloria, it looked fine to me and please let me her from you any time you feel like it.
An email I received introduced me to cousins I didn’t know I had. John Thomas Badley who lives in Laurel, Mississippi wanted to know if I knew of or was related to William Thomas Badley who is his great grandfather. I emailed him back and told him that if he was the grandson of Everett Badley we were on the same track. He emailed me back and told me that his father was John Thomas Badley, Sr. and indeed his grandfather was Everett Badley.
He wanted what information I had about my great grandfather, Elijah Badley, Jr., who ran away from an orphanage in Fenton, Staffordshire, England. This led to several long telephone conversations in which both of us brought each other up to date about our mutual ancestors.
Briefly, since I’ve told this story in previous columns, this will be another profile. Elijah Badley, Jr. after arriving in Mississippi went to work for Squire Badley’s jug factory which was located off of what we now know as Blackmur Drive. He married Mary Page and raised a family of four sons and four daughters.
My grandfather was Elijah Badley, III and John’s great grandfather was William T. Badley, Papa’s younger brother. Great Grandfather served in the Confederate Army with the Water Valley Rifles of the 15th Infantry and after the war settled on land on Yocona River near what was known as the Prophet’s bridge which was practically a wilderness at that time.
In 1898 Will Badley enlisted in the Army at the onset of the Spanish-American War. After the war he married Florence Lever and raised a family of three girls and two boys. He was something of an adventurer and after running a cotton gin and grist mill with my grandfather in the Pine Flat community they went their separate ways, my grandfather on land he bought from Joe Goodwin which ran from the Yalobusha county line to near the Springdale community. Will moved to Texas near Longview and farmed for a few years and moved back to work on the road which is now #32 East toward Paris.
He moved back to Texas for a time and then moved to Oklahoma near the coal mining town of Coalgate. Hi oldest son, Lever, and youngest son, Everett married sisters and went to work for Shell Oil Company. Everett’s son, John Thomas is the father of John Thomas, Jr. who contacted me. John, Sr. was a Navy pilot during the Korean War and after leaving the Navy settled at Pensacola and is still living and in good health.
When we lived in Oklahoma City in the seventies, we visited Will Badley’s youngest daughter, Myrtle, and her husband, Casper Defer who had a ranch near Rolfe, Oklahoma. He had been a teacher at the Community College at Ada, Oklahoma and was then retired. John, Jr. told me that Myrtle had died a few years ago. She was in her nineties making her the last of Will Badley’s children.
He had corresponded with Jimmy Baddley, son of Henry Baddley and I gave him the address of Beverly and William (Billy) Baddley. John and I agreed that we would try to get together perhaps at the Watermelon Carnival this summer. He travels for the Merck company and said that he might be in my area as his territory goes as far as Tupelo.
Something of this nature is a real exciting thing to happen in my life and I’m looking forward to meeting him in person. This past week I had my pre-op physical and gave another pint of blood in preparation for my surgery which is scheduled for Monday, March 3rd. at Baptist East in Memphis.
I talked to my old singing friend, Robert Haynes who lives near Benton, AR and explained why I have been absent for so many singings last year. If this operation is the success that everyone thinks, I hope to make up for lost time.
My old friend, Tommy Fairchild has a great quartet which he calls Spoken 4 and if they have a concert anywhere in your vicinity, I urge you to attend. They sing in the tradition of Southern Gospel and have some CDs out and they are really an inspiration to hear.
My old friend, Jim Allen sent me such a heart warming story that with his permission I want to include it in its entirety in next week’s column. Let me hear from you either at my email, firstname.lastname@example.org or write me at P. O. Box 613189 Memphis, Tn, 38101 and have a great week.