Friday, September 1, 2017

Names You Can't Read: The Badam Family

I can't say I found the Badam family. As far as the Church is concerned, that happened years ago in a corner of Putnam County Tennessee. But I will say I found a piece of their history.

One of my current projects is identifying each convert from the state of Tennessee. It isn't a greatly needed project, or even something valuable to anyone but perhaps me. But it is something that has led me to a number of historical puzzles which I find satisfying. It's a hobby and I know it. Part of me wants to fill in the gaps in the historical record cause there are gaps.

One means to that end is an index of early mission records. I'm sure that somewhere in the LDS records is a way of collecting what I want. Perhaps there is even an index already created for the record I am transcribing. Sadly no one has volunteered it when I asked so here I am making out names in a digital scan of a poorly preserved record.

I am on the third page of names beginning with "B" when the quality of the image deteriorates. I can't make out the last names, though I know they begin with B. The first names aren't as bad. I pick three to work on: Laura, Ernest, and Paul. All of them baptized on the same day.

I can see elsewhere in the record why they were baptized the same day. All three of them share the same parents. W G Badam and Aletha Neal. And their birthdays are pretty clear. A quick look on Family Search reveals their full names and for a couple of them, the right baptism date. Family search isn't a great source, but it isn't bad for what I'm doing, which is comparing it to early records.

Turns out that the father is back on page 2 of names beginning with "B". His name was pretty bad too. I had mistranscribed it as "Brandon" and so was able to fix it now: Wm G Badam.

But I couldn't find their mother. A theory started forming in my mind. Had William joined the LDS Church in 1907 followed by the kids in 1911, even though Aletha had decided against it? How did those family dynamics work them self out? The Family Search records says she was baptized in 1966. It was clearly a proxy baptism after her death in 1927. But was it really her first baptism or was her baptismal date lost because of poor record keeping? Don't get me started on that rant.

And this is why I carefully transcribe every name I come across, even if I cannot read the name, some other piece of information may come to light the reveals a name I cannot read. As my list of "B" names came together I find that one name I can't read lists the father's name as William Neal. And while I can't read her name I can just make out a birth date which happens to match the one for Aletha baptized in 1908

I searched for additional details about the Badam (or Baddam) family. But I found very little.

Civil record show they remained in Putnam County Tennessee, buried in the same county where the lived when the missionaries first met them. They owned their home and owned the land which they farmed for a living. They could read and write.

William's first marriage was at age 22 (abt 1883) and Aletha's first marriage was at age 15 (abt 1886). Their marriage to each other was in 1890, making it both of their second marriages. I have found no indication of their previous spouses' identities.

I have found only one written account of their baptism and it was for the children.

"Elder J. F. Hiatt and [President Callis] left Sheffield, Rhea county, May 25, for Monterey. In a few minutes after reaching that place [they] were preaching to a large and attentive audience. Then [they] went out in the country about three miles, held a cottage meeting, Sunday, May 28. Nine converts were baptized by Elders E. J. Curtis and J. C, Burrell."

I found no writing left by the Badam family. There were a few missionaries who were involved in the family's conversion. But I have not been able to locate any missionary journals or letters that might shed light on how the family became interested in the Church. If one of you know or are related to these missionaries I'd be interested in hearing if you have anything they wrote about their mission.

Meacham, Arnold Rose (1884-1959)   1907
Orton, Silas Taylor (1881-1972)   1907
Jensen, Jorgen George (1885-1919)   1908
Curtis, Erastus James (1873-1934)   1911
Hiatt, Jacob Franklin (1870-1941)   1911
Burrell, John Charles (1884-1966)   1911

While I didn't find much I'm glad I at least could put this family together in my records.


Ardis said...

Please don't discount the value of what you are doing. When I read about the dead being judged "out of the books" and about making "an acceptable offering," the kind of careful work you do to fill in the gaps seems very important.

Another version I have seen (not in connection with this family, whom I don't know) that might be a useful search spelling is "Badham." Maybe?

Bruce said...

You are right. I don't need convincing that this has value. But other than a few encouraging comments here (thank you, by the way), I see very little interest among institutions that collect and store this information. They are more geared to genealogy searches, which this is not.
For example, the state of Utah maintains a cemetery database with a simple search tool. However, there is no means of looking for people based on where they were born. You can get at all the information they have but you must start with a name. Well, if I had a name, I could get what I wanted elsewhere.

Amy T said...

Third record looks like "Alethy Sophia." I've seen the use of "y" where we use "a" elsewhere: the third wife of Henry Jolley is usually called Barbara by Jolley descendants, but she actually appears in records as Barberry and Barbery.

Bruce said...

Amy, I've seen many American-English words (and names) with an added "y" sound to make them informal. I bet a linguist could tell us why.