About Me

My photo

Hi, My name is Vickie and to tell you a little bit about myself, I was born and raised in Kentucky and the majority of my ancestors have been in Kentucky since the 1790’s. I have always loved history, a good mystery and puzzles and that is what Family History Research is all about. As a child we would take day trips on Saturdays and head down some dirt road looking for old cemeteries. A lot of the time we weren't looking for anyone in particular, we just like to read the epitaphs. We would have a picnic lunch packed and have lunch at whatever cemetery we were at. If the weather was bad my Dad and I would go to a court house and dig through old records in musty old basements looking for our ancestors. So as you can see I have had an interest in Family History for quite some time.View my complete profile

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Train Trip to California from Kentucky in 1943

The following was written in 2014, by Aubrey David Beard’s granddaughter Vickie Beard Thompson, daughter of his son Duell Franklin Beard, better known to family as Tog, a nickname he picked up when just a baby.  As the story goes his mother Jessie was putting some clothes on him that had been given to them.  They were store bought which was usually not the case in the clothes this family wore.  The tag inside was a brand called Tog’s.  Jessie said, “Well don’t you look cute in these little togs”.  From then on they started calling him Tog and the name just stuck.   Daddy told me this story many times, so I figured it was about time to write this down, since I have had a few people just recently ask me a number of times how he came by the name of Tog.  One of my cousins, Billy Jay, son of Helen and J B just ask me a couple of months ago after I had posted something about Daddy and had him listed just as Frank, “Where in the world did Frank come from, I always thought his name was Tog”?  Anyway on with the story about the train trip to California.

In 1942 the Beard family, containing, Aubrey, Jessie, and their children Helen, George, Dale, Don, Jack, Sis, Tog and Bobby were living on Walker Street in Marion, Kentucky, this was an unusual place for the family to be living as they had mostly lived out in the country somewhere their entire life.  As a matter of fact on the 1940 census they had been living out by the Love Graveyard, so they hadn't lived in town for very long.  Jessie’s two oldest sons, William Teague and Harold Walls were both in the military and serving overseas or getting ready to go overseas in the war.  Aubrey was working as a general contractor at the time, as he had been for many years.  His specialty was paper hanging, and he was the best in the area according to many that knew him.  Aubrey and Jessie had been separated off and on for over 4 years and were finally divorced in 1942.  The divorce decree stated that seven of the children, Helen, George, Dale, Don, Jack, Sis and Tog were to live with their father, the baby, Bobby, to stay with his mother.   

The following two pictures would have been taken not to long before they left on this adventure. These are the seven kids that would be leaving everything they knew to begin over in a new state and a new town with people they had never meet before.

The following year, after the divorce, Aubrey decided to move himself and these seven children out to Woodlake, California where several of his family, including his mother Rose, had moved to in the winter of 1930, from Bowlegs, Oklahoma.  According to George, he states that his father’s cousin, Audrey Clark, brought his truck with wood sideboards to the house the morning they left Kentucky and loaded up all their belongings and the kids in the back and Aubrey set up front with Audrey and he was the one that took them to the train depot in Princeton.  Aubrey paid his cousin to do this, said George, but he was not sure how much was paid.  

I kind of image an old truck like this one pulling up in front of that old house on Walker Street. Seven poor little kids with just a little bag of belongings, climbing up in the back of this old truck, to begin a new adventure, in a new state, with people they had never meet before, but who were family and ready to help if they could.  Leaving behind what was familiar, leaving their mother and their baby brother wondering if they were ever going to see each other again. 

Aubrey and the children boarded the train in Princeton, Kentucky on July 12th, 1943.  It was a sorrowful time for these 7 children, whose ages ranged from 17 to 7 years of age, going to somewhere they had never been before and leaving their mother and baby brother, who they thought they might never see again.  George said he does not remember his mother coming out of the house when they left or even if she was home at the time.  The girls were crying and not wanting to leave, and Helen especially was not happy at all to be leaving her boyfriend J B Loftis behind.  J B, however, was soon to be leaving for the war, serving in the Navy during World II in the European Theater, seeing action in the Mediterranean, Sicily, Naples and Anzio in Italy.  After the war Helen went back to Kentucky to see her mother and her and J B picked up right where they left off and were married in August 1946 and soon after moved to California where all of their children were born in Tulare County.  The boys did not want to leave their mother either, but were excited to be going on a train too far off California.   What an adventure for these children who had never seen anything but that area of Kentucky they had been born and raised in.

I did a Google search to see where and what trains would have left from Princeton, Kentucky and gone to Tulare, California.  The only one that seems a really good possibility would have been the Southern Pacific Railroad.  Aubrey and the children probably would have taken a small spur line from Princeton, Kentucky to St. Louis.  From St. Louis they would have probably been on the Southern Pacific on to Kansas City, crossing Kansas in a southwesterly direction, across the skinny part of Oklahoma into New Mexico and through the town of Tucumcari.  The train then went south through New Mexico to El Paso, Texas which is on the border of New Mexico, then continuing on into Arizona, through the main towns of Tucson, Phoenix and Yuma.  They would have then entered into California turning north towards Los Angeles, and according to George they saw the ocean and the city of Los Angeles before heading back to the east over the mountains and into Tulare County and the town of Tulare, which means they did not go through the Tehachapi Pass, which I had earlier assumed they may have done.  

This is the picture of a troop train from 1943 that I found online at: 

The trip started out to be fun and exciting for these poor little Kentucky kids, but it also was a very long, dirty, boring and exhausting ride for kids who were used to running wild all over Crittenden and Webster Counties.  Jack even got lost for a while and Helen and George and some of the soldiers on the train helped the family look through all the cars for him.  For a while there they thought the 8 year old boy may have somehow gotten off the train at their last stop, but thankfully he was sound asleep right under the seat were Papaw Beard was setting.  George said they were so excited when they saw the ocean and they wanted so much to jump right in, but of course that was not possible and they only caught that little glimpse of heaven, as he put it, before the train continued on down the rails towards the family in Woodlake.  Can you just image how hot it must have been in the middle of summer on a train with no air condition and no way to really get cool and no where at all to take a bath and clean up.

After a long tiring and slow trip on a troop train, they arrived in Tulare, California on July 19th, 1943. Aubrey’s brother, George Duell Beard and his niece, Peggy Brewer Tarrant met them at the train station in the town of Tulare and took them to the small town of Woodlake, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and just down river from the entrance to the Sequoia National Forest, famous for its majestic Giant Sequoia (Redwood) trees.

This is a picture of the old Tulare Train Depot that I found online. 

Aubrey and the children lived with Aunt Nina and Uncle Clyde Brewer on the outskirts of Woodlake for a few months until they were able to find their own place.  Aunt Nina was Papaw Beard’s oldest sibling and she and Uncle Clyde helped out our family as much as they could.  Aubrey soon found work after arriving in Woodlake as a guard at Sequoia Field, an Army Air Corps training base, till the war was over in 1945.  After an uncomfortable stay living at "McGee's Camp" on the outskirts of Woodlake, and working at Hunes Packing House, Aubrey moved the family into his brother, George Duell Beard's house in the town of Woodlake, which was located at 215 Walnut Street.  It was the house George Duell had built for his mother, Rose Daniel Beard who died there in that house on June 1, 1939.


Aubrey lived there for several years, and his son Tog, my Daddy, had many fond memories of the years spent there in that little house.  The house is still there but has been remodeled and added on too, so many times, that it no longer resembles the little house the family lived in.  Many members of the family say that the people that have lived there over the years, since our family moved out of the house, say the house is haunted and they hear people walking around all the time.  Spirits, ghosts, hants and rapping spirits have all been a way a life in our family and the stories I have heard over the years scared me to death or made me laugh out loud, but I wouldn't change that for a million fairy tales with princesses, castles and dragons.  I believe Papaw Beard believed in them and I know Mama Jessie sure did.  Maybe Mamaw Rose’s ghost still haunts those walls, because she believed in ghost and spirits too.