From Whence Marion Came

I began the story about my father in my last post, just a week ago. Since this is my father’s birthday month, and 100 years have passed since his birth, I want to post multiple times this October, narrating some of his story.

You may want to go back and read the previous post, if you haven’t, and enjoy the pictures.

So, I left you wondering,  what happened to Marion and his family when he was ten years old? To make sense of it, we have to look back further in time. Before Marion was born.

Marion’s mother, Helen Geneva Baughman Thomas, was just 19 years old in this picture:


Helen Thomas sent this picture postcard to her husband, Jason, who was still away on military duty and had not yet seen his son, Marion.

I have a lovely picture of Helen when she was six years old. I’d like you to see it, but I’m currently writing this in a cozy spot in a public library in Brunswick, Ohio (always look for cozy spots), and I only have with me Dad’s one journal, a few of his essays, and my own memories of what I heard growing up for reference material. Without this picture, we’ll have to just think about this little girl and imagine her lovely looks.

She was born on June 10, 1899 in New Stark, Ohio. I think of her every June 10. Her parents had grand names: George Baughman and Francis Freelove Ballard Taylor Baughman. (George is a good, kingly name, but I wonder if he had a middle name.) They were “older” when Helen was born, having each been married previously with children by their first spouses. Their spouses died of influenza, as many did in that time. Such a different time. Few of us today feel vulnerable to death via the flu.

Helen was the only child of this second marriage. She was much younger than her half-siblings. So the story goes (not told by Dad) that Helen was a rather spoiled child in that she had lots of attention and toys and no lack or need. The darling picture I have of her at age 6 shows a round faced girl with very long, brown hair, flowing in coils down each side of her face, wearing a white, ruffly dress, white stockings, and little black shoes. Surrounded by her dolls and toys, she stands with an expression of quiet confidence.  Remember this picture.

She was the first in her family to drive a car, which she did at age 16. She was known as a tomboy. Dad writes, “As a young girl, she loved to climb trees, to swing on a long rope on a huge tree across the street from her home in New Stark and then let loose and jump way out from the tree.” How interesting to me! Elaine, my older sister and only sibling, was just like this, and I was not. I was afraid of climbing trees let alone swinging on ropes! This very active and outgoing Helen had many girlfriends and a happy childhood.

She graduated from high school, which was not so common for girls at this time, in this country area. Being doted upon by her family did not make her self-centered or obnoxious, for she was also immersed in the family’s biblical faith which taught love and respect for others, especially one’s elders, as well as a strong work ethic. Families adhered as teams, working together for the common good.

Helen set her eyes and heart upon one young man, but she felt pressured by her family to accept the courtship of a handsome young man, who was the son of a certain Thomas couple — close, Brethren friends with Helen’s family. (My oldest cousin gave this detail to me, saying that Grandma, with whom she was very close, personally told her this.) Born on March 16 (interestingly, my second grandson’s birthday) in 1895, Jason was four years Helen’s senior. Jason had his appeal and a gentleness about him. Helen accepted his proposal, and they were married. (I don’t have the date or details of the wedding.)

Jason was conscripted into the military but enlisted as a conscientious objector, following the Brethren position and his personal convictions. He trained and served as a medic at Camp Taylor in Kentucky. We don’t know what he experienced there.  World War I ended less than a year after his enlistment, and he never went oversees.

Marion’s father. Marion’s handwriting above the picture.

Yet, whatever he experienced during those months had a significant  impact upon him, for Helen would later say that he came back a changed man. What was different? We don’t know, but it added a mysterious strand of sadness to their lives that none of us can unravel.

They were faithful to each other. They had three children, Marion Ray, Miriam Vondale, and Lois Mae.  Rooted in a loyalty and kindness between them, they loved each other. And yes, at times, Grandma punctuated her love and loyalty with some sharpness of tongue and sternness of countenance.

Early in 1919, Jason came home from military duty, delighted to be reunited with his young wife and new son. It was time to focus on building their farm and family.

Farm life was very important to the Baughmans and the Thomases. Helen’s mother, Francis Freelove Ballard Taylor Baughman, lived with George on his farm in New Stark where Helen was born. However, Francis Freelove Ballard Taylor Baughman had another farm near Dola, Ohio, south of New Stark. This was the Taylor farm she inherited from her first husband who died of influenza during an epidemic of it. This farm, though we don’t know the size, held much value to the family, more than monetary value.

Francis wanted her young daughter, still a teen who had married this Jason Thomas, to have her farm and live on it with her husband, cultivate it, raise a family, and have a good, secure life there.  So, Helen and Jason inherited the farm. Jason eagerly planned. The young couple with baby Marion got down to business. Jason bought the equipment they needed.

The problem was the house. Now, the house becomes a main character in this real life story.  Since this post is long enough, we need to wait until the next post to consider what happens when Marion is ten years old. Hang on.

Remember, the wind is still blowing where it wills, and we will follow its providential path.


Categories: Biography, Christian Reader, Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil | Tags: | Leave a comment

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