Whatever Happened To … ?

September 24, 2009

Twenty years ago, I started researching my family history by interviewing my older relatives, and one of the first things I learned was a mystery.

My father’s uncle, Vernard Bailey (the one in the WWII uniform) came home from the war with PTSD (though they didn’t call it that, of course). He was on disability, and though he didn’t live there, he had his checks sent to his mother’s house. One month, probably in the early 1950s, he picked up his check and … disappeared.


No one heard from him again, and most people assumed he had been killed, perhaps in some brawl. For twenty years, I’ve looked for information about him without any luck (it didn’t help that I didn’t even know his birthday).

Then earlier this month, I got an email from his daughter. She knew no more than I did about his death because her parents split up before he disappeared, and no one on her side of the family kept in touch with his family.

Yesterday she sent me an email. Vernard Bailey was born 17 April 1921 in Floyd County, Kentucky, and died 7 December 1980 in Alachua County, Florida. He is buried at Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola, Florida. He left a widow and four children.

Sad that he felt the need to break off all contact with his siblings and mother, but it was comforting to hear that he had a long and completely life after all.


19 Responses to “Whatever Happened To … ?”

  1. Mom said

    So, your “Digging up Stones” is even more appropriate, even though HE was not a “Stone-off” himself…..

  2. ghostofaredrose said

    Wow, that’s exciting! This blog is a great idea.

    Did you ever find out anything more about the man who died in the institution who may have been Pete Stonoff?

    I have been looking into genealogical DNA testing. From the people we have available, the regular (read affordable) version can’t determine whether or not we have Cherokee or African-American ancestry. (Unless Nola Perkins had it from her maternal side as well as, or instead of, the paternal.) For that we would need to test Perk’s son (or grandsons descended from his son.) Think you could talk him into it? All you have to do is brush the inside of your cheek. Heck, I’d even be willing to pay for it – that info is pertinent and important to all of us!

    • I have learned nothing more about the man in the institution (I’ll be blogging about that!), but I’m convinced it’s our grandfather.

      I also have looked into genealogical testing, and drew the same conclusion. Perk’s son probably would be willing to do it. I’ll email him.

      But DNA testing might just muddy the waters! Our ancestor (Watt Perkins) who was supposed to have been Cherokee was neither full blood nor on the tribal rolls. I highly suspect his father (Jacob Perkins) was Cherokee, passing for white, but by the time Watt was born, Jacobb and his wife were long estranged. So Watt could be anybody’s baby.

    • Woops. I meant to finish the thought about the Pete Stonoff in the institution. West Virginia has a quaint law that locks all court records in perpetuity (it’s the only state in the U.S. that does), so I have to get a court order to open the records. I’m trying a couple of routes, but I can’t even get an attorney to return my call!

      I haven’t given up though.

  3. Tracy said

    What a fascinating story! Welcome to the genea-blogger world.

  4. This is uncannily similar to my own family mystery which was finally solved this July. I’m not at liberty to discuss the details, but someone in my extended family had disappeared in the later sixties. The person has been relocated and though it’s not such a happy story as yours, it has given a real sense of closure to many family members.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Evelyn in Montreal
    P.S. Welcome to Geneabloggers

  5. John said

    An interesting story, and one that I’m sure a number of genealogist can appreciate. I’m looking for my sister, and it’s a race against time to find her before our time’s up. All the best, and keep blogging!


    • Wow. And gosh, good luck with your search!

      Though you do have one big thing on your side: the internet. This searching for people is a whole lot easier than it was 10 or 20 years ago.

  6. ghostofaredrose said

    Here’s a website you’ve got to see: http://www.cherrytreewv.com/

    • Yes, I know the Cherry Tree website. I’ve emailed the author of it several times, and I think I gave him some of the information for it.

      Isn’t it great? A real walk down memory lane, at least for Dad and his contemporaries.

  7. Beulah Sansom McLemore said

    One more comment. The picture.
    I knew all but one of the people. Agnes, Perk, Helen Bobby Gene and Nola. Front row middle I don’t know.


    • The one in the middle of the front row was Vernard, their brother. As I said (I think) in the entry, he disappeared in the 1950s. That’s why you never knew him. None of us really did!


  8. Beulah Sansom McLemore said

    Please contact me. I sent two comments but see only one on your diggin up stones. I was neighbor of the Stoneoff/Baisden Family in Whites addition.
    I also have Baileys in my Genealogy.


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