Sunday, 24 August 2014
Out of Their Trees : My Friend Dorothy
Believe it or not the iconic film “The Wizard of Oz” went on general release 75 years ago this week. It had been previewed 2 weeks earlier on 12th August. This week I’m celebrating the anniversary with Oz themed articles. In a couple of days I’ll look at one of the most recognisable and iconic items from the film and later at Oz-inspired music. But first I can’t resist concentrating on the ancestry of Dorothy herself – Judy Garland.
There’s a lot of research that has already been done on Judy’s family tree so I can’t claim to have done any original research myself today.
Judy Garland’s real name, as many people may know, was Frances Ethel Gumm. The Gumm family had been settled in Tennessee since before it became a state in 1796. The first of the family settlers was called Norton Gum (with one “m”). He married Sally Clampet shortly before this in 1793. They were among the first inhabitants of Jefferson township. From humble origins Norton became Constable of Rutherford County and overseer of the county highways within a year.
Several of Judy’s ancestral families bring out the darker side of history which most people with ancestry in the southern states will have. In 1861 the Civil War began in the United States. The divisive issue was slavery. Most of Judy’s Tennessee ancestors – the Gums, the Baughs and the Marables – all owned slaves, many of them. This seems strange to me as these families were devout Methodists, members of a church founded by an anti-slavery campaigner. How ironic it is, then, that one of their descendants, Judy Garland, should become an icon of another much abused section of society of more modern times.
Shortly after the outbreak of war Judy’s great-grandfather, John Aldridge Baugh, became a sergeant in the Millersburg Militia, a brigade of the 2nd Tennessee Confederate Infantry Regiment. On 30th December 1862 a Union army approached Murfreesboro, home town of Judy’s Gum, Baugh and Marable ancestors at the time. That night the Union soldiers camped near the town and sang to keep up their spirits.
The Confederate soldiers, including John Aldridge Baugh, camped out in the outskirts of the town ready to defend Murfreesboro. In an event reminiscent of the Christmas truce in the trenches of 1914 the Confederates joined in the singing. It was a popular song they all knew and it helped to remind them all of what each side was trying to defend. The name of the song they sang on that cold winter night? “There’s No Place Like Home”.
New Year 1862/3 was spent in battle outside Murfreesboro. It was one of the most bloody of all in Tennessee with over 23,000 killed.
We’ll move now to Judy Garland’s royal ancestry because it reveals her family’s involvement in another civil war. After several decades of misidentification, both accidental and deliberate, Judy’s royal line was only officially confirmed by genealogists in 2004. This was when it was proven that Judy’s grandmother Clementina (1857-1895) was the daughter of John Aldridge Baugh. Clementina married William Tecumseh Gumm (1859-1906) in 1877. William’s unusual middle is a reference to a chieftain of the Shawnee Native American tribe of the same name who was held in high regard for his courage.
John Aldridge Baugh’s own grandmother was Agnes Batte. Her ancestry has been well documented for over a century having come from a well-known family of early settlers in Virginia. John Batte (1606-1654), Agnes’s great-great-grandfather settled in the colony in 1646. The Battes came from Yorkshire in northern England (lots of the family still live there though they now often spell their name Battie or Batty). John Batte’s wife was Martha Mallory, whose ancestry is full of influential and titled Northern families and is descended from King John.
John Batte’s father Henry was a Cavalier officer, one of the Royalists who supported King Charles I in the English Civil War. The Mallorys were also prominent Cavaliers and when the English Civil War ended with victory for the opposing Roundheads (the Parliamentary army) it was prudent for the defeated Royalist and Cavaliers to head abroad for safety. Anyone with Royalist sympathies would have been targeted for violence or even imprisonment.
There are some online genealogies which give Judy Garland royal descents from King James IV of Scotland (1473-1513) and King Edward III of England (1312-1377). Having checked these lines I find there are several misidentifications and don’t support them.
And finally, it is well-known that millions of people have royal ancestors, including myself. So I don’t find it particularly strange that Judy is distantly related to another of King John’s descendants by the name of Lyman Frank Baum (1856-1919). If you’re not familiar with that name I’ll tell you that he was an American author who wrote a children’s book published in 1900 called “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”.