Skip to content


Journey Began With A Penny Postcard

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week.
The responses  to our profiles of country people  have been so great that I’d like to continue them. As I’ve written before, my great grandfather, Elijah Badley, ran away from an English orphanage when he was 11 years-old. He came with an older cousin to this country to find a better life.  
He started working immediately at the Squire Badley jug factory and when he was only 13 years old he was traveling the country in an ox cart selling jugs and churns. He must have been very frugal because by the time he was grown he had married,  bought some land to clear for a farm and served in the Confederate army.  After the war he raised a family of four sons and four daughters.  
He continued to buy land and as each child married, he gave them a  farm as a wedding present. The oldest son, Charley, was something of an adventurer and once during a cold winter he and a friend got lost hunting in the wilderness that was Yocona bottom. They were faced with the prospect of freezing unless they could start a fire. When they searched their pockets, they had one match. They gathered sage grass and Charley had some letters that he set fire with the one match and started the sage grass to burning. Then they gathered brush and limbs to add to the fire and settled down for the night.  
Some time later they heard someone calling and Charley went to investigate and found a black man who had actually sat down to die under a tree. He got him to his feet and led him to the fire and the three men sat down and waited until daylight. When the sun came up they got their bearings and walked home.  
Some time later Charley was reading a Memphis newspaper and saw an ad for a farm hand job in Sulfur Springs, Texas. He sent the man a penny post card and got a reply back on a penny post card offering him the job. He took the train to Texas and met his new employer for the first time when he stepped off the train.
Several years later he met a young lady and got married and had one daughter.  He took his small savings and made a down payment on a farm near the small town of Campbell, Texas.
Charley’s sister, Molly, came to visit them and met a young man named Elbert Black, fell in love, married and raised a family. One son, Guy Black, was Chief Of Police for many years in Greenville, Texas. Just think, it all began with a penny post card.  
Our ancestors were rugged people who asked nothing from the government but to stay out of their way. In the early 1930s Mother’s cousin, Marvin Hunter, moved to a farm house adjoining Papa Badley. Marvin’s wife’s brother, Rupert Magee, lived with them and had a job in Arthur Walker’s barber shop. Since he didn’t have a car,  he walked the five miles to town unless someone on the road gave him a ride. He later became a cotton grower with a large farm near Oakland.    
My long time friend, Pat McNamee’s dad rode a mule to his job in town every day and those are just some of the examples of people doing whatever was necessary to survive and support their families.
I’m sure many of you have similar stories and I would appreciate you sharing them with us.  
My email address is or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, TN 38101 and have a great week.

Leave a Comment