Shut Up, and Keep Digging

October 13, 2009

Anybody else old enough to remember “Mommy, Mommy!” jokes? Backhoe

Q: Mommy, Mommy! I don’t want to go to China!

A: Shut up, and keep digging.

That’s how I feel researching my family history sometimes. I keep digging and digging, and the hole gets bigger and bigger, but I never seem to arrive.

Case in point: my great-great grandfather, William Thomas. I’ve been searching for his death certificate for twenty years. It doesn’t help that both of his names are very common, but even so … twenty years? It’s in the 20th century, for heaven’s sake!

But I am a bulldog, and once I get a hold of a bone, I keep digging at it.

Read the rest of this entry »


More Pictures of Vernard

October 9, 2009

Just wanted to post a couple more photos of Vernard Bailey, especially for members of the family who may not have them. I wrote about Vernard, and how he disappeared after World War II (click on the photo to see it larger).


This was probably taken when he enlisted. He still has a boyish enthusiasm that is gone by the time the photo I posted last time was taken. According to family legend, Vernard was captured during WWII on an island, and got malaria. When he came home, he was not the same and was put on disability. This is a photo Vernard’s daughter sent me.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.