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Journaling along the way....

I should have begun this long ago, but there never was time. Besides, I didn't know just how great an adventure this would be!  So here goes...

April 1, 2007
Well, I've been back in Murfreesboro for two months now. Recovering from a broken elbow and two surgeries really slowed me down. At last the therapy, and TN's glorious early spring have begun to heal me. 
Oh, it's SPRING everywhere! The trees suddenly burst out in full white bouquets and just as suddenly changed again. Now the beautiful pale green of spring is in the trees and on the lawns and the sky is the bluest of blues.  It's like heaven here.  This is truly a glorious place.
The saddest thing in Murfreesboro is seeing how few people least those in charge.  Money rules and land is money. Cut down the two hundred year old trees and cover the beautiful grass with asphalt. No wonder we have global warming... But if you look, there are still places of pristine beauty.  Then you know why people went to church and thanked God for their abundance.
Since I might have to leave soon, I've been on a whirl wind tour to find those finishing details.  I dug and dug last time I was looking for so little and now, suddenly the information is just pouring in.
Take Rollie Howland, Clemmie Baugh Gum(m) (Frank Gumm's mother) ' nephew. We thought Rollie Howland's 2nd wife was some funny country girl, but actually she was from a very fine family in Marshall County. She even wrote a book in 1945.  I'm trying to find someone who might know something or have some PICTURES!  Rollie does play an important part in this story. He and Clemmie grew up like brother and sister and boy did they have their run-ins!
And then there's David S. Thompson, the father of Joe Miller.  Who, you may ask was Joe Miller? Only the first wife of Frank Gumm's brother Robert Emmett. I never could figure out where Rev. Thompson preached or the family lived. He was a Methodist Minister. Then I was looking for Howlands, and lo and behold, there he was! Rev. Thompson was the first minister of the Beech Grove Church!
Poor Joe Miller was the most beautiful girl and died leaving a one year old baby. Her mother was a Crockett. Although the family told me she died in Shreveport, LA of tuberculosis, we never could prove it..
Saturday, when I was looking for the Gumms half-brothers and sisters, there she was!  After two years of wondering, I found Joe Miller and Robert Emmett living in Nashville! And that is where she died. She died the same year as the Emmett and Frank's father, Will Gum(m) - 1905.
April 7th, 2007
Shock of all shocks, today I got a call from a descendent of Judy's ancestors who I have been trying to find for three years! I won't reveal the name as it's part of the great discovery of the book and why people have not been able to connect all the Gumms!  Anyway, it was amazing and I felt shaken by at last accomplishing this goal.
Monday morning, I will leave early to solve the last big mystery about Frank Gumm's sister Mary and her children. This is going to be intense... I already feel so connected to Mary, a girl who had to mother her brothers from an early age, could never wear fine clothes or go to a fine school though she was born in one of the finest homes in town. She married at an age when most women would have been called 'old maids' and at last found happiness as a mother. Then she lost her greatest joy... her children... one way or another...and then her health. I will never forget standing near the spot where Mary died and the chills and sorrow that ran through me.  I want to be fair to Mary and be able to tell her true story and this moment has arrived at last... If I will ever know what happened it will most probably be in the next few days.

April  11, 2007
Today was the day, 46 years ago, that Judy Garland played Birmingham, AL and visited her Aunt Frances. Is it possible that so much time has gone by?
I just returned from a three-day trip to Alabama which included Birmingham, Anniston and Huntsville. It didn't take too long from Murfreesboro. I was searching for information on Judy's Aunt Mary and Uncle Will, both of whom lived in Birmingham at one time or another. There is still the mystery of Mary's lost children and I am still on a mission.
Birmingham is interesting, for it is a big city, but cut through by highway. The outward parts are somewhat country and some very poor. I saw a man living in a house that literally looked held together by toothpicks. I wondered how he could be allowed to live there, for it looked like it was about to fall down any minute.
Well, I did discover a few things in Birmingham, but every old address I looked for was gone, including Judy's Uncle Will and Frances Gumm. Frances lived there until 1973 when she died and it was a lovely old neighborhood. They were small homes, but charming.
I spent the night in Anniston. It's in the mountains but a lovely place. Found little. Again the homes were all gone. I found where Mary's husband worked and read newspapers about the WWI draft. We have forgotten what a huge thing that was. Men of all ages were called and nearly everyone applied. I wonder why we have never found Frank's draft card. We have all his brothers.
Wednesday I went to visit Frank's brother, Allie's, grandson. We've met before and I thought I had seen everything. As always we have a wonderful time and I ended up spending 7 and a half hours looking at pictures, talking and riding around in Huntsville. To everyone's shock, we found a new picture of Frank! He and Ethel and the two oldest girls are swimming! Maybe in Tennessee! What a treasure. This would be before Frances was born.
Some mysteries persist, but I am edging ever closer.
Sunday, April 15th
Today was the event at the Linebaugh Library here in Murfreesboro when local authors of history (about six of us) were to give talks and presentations. It was freezing too.  I had no idea, but after I had given my talk...and I was nervous too... it turned out that three different branches of the Gum(m) family were there! They all got to meet and have a great time talking.
I made a small display of photos at my table. The night before I received a new photo, Suzanne Gum Finlayson. What a gorgeous painted picture. So family was able to compare the Gum girls... they would all be Frank Gumm's aunts (you know they had two spellings on that name). One thing you can say for the Gum family... they were very attractive people... especially the children of John Alexander and Martha Wade!

May 21, 2007
Since I wrote last - I have been given a journey into the land owned by the Marables, then Baughs and Gums. This is where Frank Gumm's parents, Will and Clemmie met.
Development has made understanding the area difficult, but neverthe less, with all the ins and outs... old trails where bushwackers killed Union soldiers, and other odd places, it would be difficult anyway.  My guide allowed me to see his ancester's home, which was begun about 1804 and completed in 1812. Now I am there... imagining it all.
Another exciting thing to happen was the arrival of some work information on Mary's husband. Mary was Judy's aunt, though she died just a few years before Judy was born. Because Mary's husband worked for the government, I was able to get some details on his many transfers... If you were playing the show with Vanna White... where you buy letters and then guess the phrase... this is it... I am getting very close to being able to solve some issues in Mary's life... but not yet.
No, idea when I will leave TN yet, but I imagine it will be in a matter of weeks. I need to catch up on the California people too.

In 2008, look for...

From Tennessee to Oz * The Story of Judy Garland's Family History by Michelle Russell (c)2006