Monday, July 14, 2014

A Walk Down Memory Lane in BRISTOL (Genealogy Post)

Four of my Great Aunts who lived in Bristol,  VA (photo taken in the late 1940's or early 1950's);  From left to right:  Nannie Ballard, Eunice Ballard, Aileen Ballard,  Lura Ballard
On June 22, 2014,  on our way to West Virginia for our Anniversary Vacation,  we made a stop in BRISTOL (VA and TN) so that I could do some Genealogy Research on the family home of my Grandfather Ballard's family  (James Franklin Ballard) ---who was my Mom's father. Grandfather Ballard died in 1936.

When I was born,  none of my Grandparents on any side of the family were alive.  BUT--I do remember many in my Grandfather Ballard's  family,  all living in or near Bristol, Virginia.  Bristol was about 60 miles from my hometown ---and my parents and I would visit that family in Bristol quite often when I was a youngster.  The photo above is of 4 of my Great Aunts (my grandfather's sisters). 



The beautiful Ballard home in Bristol,  VA
These four sisters lived in a gorgeous old home in Bristol.  As a little girl,  I remember that home and thought of it as a mansion at the time.  Above is a photo of that old home taken many years ago.


The NOT SO BEAUTIFUL Bristol Home on June 22, 2014
WELL--to make a long story short(er),   we went back to Bristol on June 22, 2014 in order for me to see that beautiful home.... SHOCK!!!!!  The house has changed so much and looks horrible now (and obviously not well-taken-care-of)!  The 3rd floor is gone and so is the chimney.  The entire neighborhood is run down and I could have just cried...  Why did someone let this happen to such a beautiful old home???  I was terribly disappointed.



The old home of Bland Ballard and family
After getting a few pictures,  I walked down the street to what (in my memory) looked like the home of my Great Uncle Bland Ballard  (and wife Myrtle).  Bland was my Grandfather's brother.   Again,  I was disappointed since I do not remember this house looking at all like this... SO---in this case,  I'm not even sure I chose the right house...




Here are a few old photos (taken before I was born).
Some of the Ballard Family;  Bland and Myrtle Ballard were the 1st couple on the left. They are the ones who lived in the house in the photo above. My Grandfather Ballard is the 3rd person from the left. This photo was taken at Grandfather Ballard's home near Abingdon, VA. I think.


Here's a sweet picture of my mother and her Papa (as she called her father).  Mom was in her early 30's when this photo was taken.. (She was 42 when I was born.)



Here's another good picture of Mom and Dad (Simon and Edith Banks) and my brothers.  Raymond (who was 20 years older than I am) was in the middle and Jimmy (who was 12 years older than I am) was being held by Dad.  This photo was taken at the home of Mom's father (near Abingdon, VA) in about 1931.. (I was born in 1942, and am the only one left in that family.)

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A sign across State Street in Bristol,  showing drivers which side belongs to the state of Virginia and which side belongs to Tennessee
OKAY ---moving on!!!!  Here are three other things I remember about Bristol.  First is State Street... Bristol is an interesting little city since part of it is in Virginia and part in Tennessee.  The main street of town divides the two states.. Each state has its own government... Bet they struggle at times deciding which responsibility belongs to which state.... Interesting,  I'll bet!!! Above is a big sign across State Street showing which side of the street is in Virginia and which one is in Tennessee.


STATE STREET in Bristol,  VA
Secondly,  I have HUGE memories of being on State Street when I was young.  The small town we lived in didn't have many large stores... SO---my parents and I would go to Bristol (when visiting the Ballard Family) and we would always shop.. The stores I remember are King's Department Store,  Woolworths (a Five and Dime store),  and Cole's  Rexall Drug Store --where we ate at their lunch counter... I thought I was in the BIG CITY when we were there.... I loved going to the stores on State Street... I have TREMENDOUS memories of those visits.


The side of the Bristol Union Railway Station
Thirdly,  I also have lots of happy memories at the Railroad Station in Bristol.  My Dad worked for the railroad --so  our family did lots of traveling by TRAIN (since he got free passes at times).  And---we always started our trips from this railroad station in Bristol.  I even took the train to and from my college in Tennessee--since most kids back then didn't own cars while in college.   Even though there are no longer any passenger trains here now,  I loved revisiting this station. It still smells like I remember way back when.  Do you have certain smells you remember? 


The sidewalk at the Bristol Union Railway Station
Many years ago,  this was a BUSY passenger railroad station.  Trains would pass through here going as far south as New Orleans or as far north as New York City--stopping at places along the way.  The railroad first came to Bristol in 1856.   This particular station was opened in 1902--and in 1980 was listed on the Virginia Landmark Register and the National Register of Historic Places.  I was thrilled to see this Railroad Station in SUCH great condition.  Bristol is trying to get Amtrak service --which would bring passenger service back to that area.. The last passenger trains in Bristol were in the late 1960's.


The Bristol, Virginia Union Railway Station
Here is a photo showing the entire station.  (You can see our Prius there in the picture.)  I was so glad that we saw this station but grieve the fact that we no longer have passenger trains (other than Amtrak)..  I miss them ---but I'm one who loves trains with all my heart...

Thanks to my Honey for letting us take this little side trip --as we were on our way to West Virginia.  I was disappointed when I saw the condition and change of the Ballard Home --but was thrilled to visit State Street and the Railroad Station... As you can imagine,  I talked to George for hours about my experiences in Bristol...  Such great memories!!!!

Since we are SO SO SO SO busy these days, and for other reasons,  I am changing to 2 blog posts a week for awhile,  Mondays and Thursdays.  I love blogging and always have something to blog about.  BUT--I feel badly when I cannot visit YOUR blogs as much as I wish I could...

Hope you have a good day/week --and I'll see you on Thursday.  And thanks to those of you who have stuck with me through all of this. I still love comments and they mean the WORLD to me!!!

Hugs,

46 comments:

Fun60 said...

An interesting post Betsy. That Ballard house was like a mansion and how good is it that you have a photograph of it at its peak. Always hard going back. I never knew any of my grandparents as they had all died before I was born but I know there are some skeletons in the cupboard that I have decided to leave there. Hardly any photos either so you are fortunate to have those lovely photos of your Mum and Grandfather.

Ann said...

It's always interesting taking a look back at where we came from. It's amazing to me when I see now things I saw when I was little, and how different they look.
I was looking for my grandparents house one day and had a hard time finding it because it wasn't as I remembered.
I can see why you thought that house in the first picture was a mansion. It does look quite grand then.

diane b said...

I love your old photos and the stories of your past. It is sad to see where you lived is run down. The railway station is a beauty and it seems to be kept well. It is a shame that rail travel has declined.

Small Kucing said...

It's nice to see that the photos are kept so well. KInda hard to get those quality nowadays. Most new photos fade very fast

Out on the prairie said...

I went to a home from my childhood and it seemed smaller and of course not as grand being a rental now. It still kept me in awe at how we played around it, I expected to see a sibling come running around the corner. Woolworths was a good place to get five cents worth of candy from their counter, or do lots of Christmas shopping on a kids budget.

linda m said...

I love your trip down memory lane. It brings back so many memories of my childhood to me. My family was about the same age as your so the pictures are great to help me remember my great aunts and uncles etc. I can just see George as you are yacking your head off talking about all your memories. My hubby would be rolling his eyes and yawning.

George said...

I'm glad we were able to make a short visit to Bristol, even though the homes were in such sad shape. The train station, though, is fantastic.

Nellie said...

I've spent several years myself in the Bristol/Abingdon area, and even lived two years in Bristol, VA. Even rode the train through Bristol on my way to college a few times! Southern Railway engine switched to Norfolk Western there.

Have a good week, Betsy!

Hugs,
Nellie

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

I'm sorry that the houses weren't cared for well. That is disappointing. But at least you still have your memories!

Sandra said...

i like that old railway station a lot and i think the old home is still beautiful. i can' see anything awful in the pic you took.

NCmountainwoman said...

Loved the visit down memory lane. The old photographs are treasures.

David said...

Betsy, I was fortunate to have grandparents on my mother's side still around when I was young. My grandmother helped raise me after my Dad was killed in WWII. She was a tough one! You and I were born in the same year.

We've been back to several of the houses I'd lived in as I grew up and none of them look the same. Many of them are run down and are in poor neighborhoods. One had a big wrap-around porch which has since been removed... I've learned that you can't really go back...except with our memories.

The Bristol Railway Statiion is a beauty. I like to photograph railway stations and I sometimes blog about them and their history. We will have to visit this one! My hometown is Jackson MI...and they still have a beautiful depot...well over 100 years old...and still with passenger service! It is fortunate enough to sit on the main line between Detroit and Chicago...

Thanks for the interesting blog! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Betsy said...

Good Morning Betsy,
To say I enjoyed your post today would be an understatement. I love seeing families together though old pictures. The past fascinates me and I was always good at history, especially pioneer "stuff" about the U.S.
I'm sorry about your old Ballard family home. I understand the feeling exactly. Just last month I visited the home where I grew up. It looks awful now, (and much smaller). I will never understand why people don't take better care of the homes they've been blessed with.
Thank you for sharing and I DO understand the business of these days. I'll look forward to your posts when I see them, but meanwhile, live the life you have!!!
Blessings,
Betsy

Big Dude said...

I've always enjoyed touring around my old stomping grounds and reminiscing about my childhood and sounds like you had a good day of it. It's a shame you missed out on your grandparents as they usually consider the grand kids as special people. My paternal grandparents lived in a garage apartment on the same lot as our house and it was only about 40' door to door.

SweetMarie said...

That is a disappointment in that beautiful home. Such great info and pics you have. :)
Hope it's not too hot our there for you.
hugs,
Marie

Susannah said...

Hi Betsy....what a wonderful trip back to the town you remember so much. I am sorry about the house that your aunts lived in and the condition of it now. Our farm is right here in our town and It used to be a wonderful, scenic place with pasture, white board fences, horses and cows. Our farm house was really nice. But time goes on and we had to sell when I was 19 because my 41 yr. old father had a massive heart attack and died. My mother had to sell the farm, (Too many employees , too much land, too many animals....something she did not want to be in charge of. Betsy, you should see the place now! Of course, it is many years later, but no paint around the windows, house needs painting, white board fence falling down or gone, junk and machinery all over. I just can not even drive by the place. It just breaks my heart to know what my father and grandfather did and it is a mess now. I understand exactly how you feel. It is upsetting.

I loved the pic of the train depot. That is a beauty!

MTWaggin said...

What a fun post and I so love the old photos and reading about your memories.

Ginny said...

I love trains too, Betsy. I will never forget the one train ride I took with my grandmother. And my favorite uncle worked on trains and we waved when they passed our house.Sadly, he died and left many children when he was only in his 40's. From our house we can hear the train and now what time they will come. Your station looks very good, but what a shame about the house. So were all for ladies unmarried and they lived in the house? It is beautiful and really almost IS a mansion!

Arkansas Patti said...

Interesting post Betsy. Odd that none of the Ballard sisters married. At least they had each other.
It is sometimes hard to see things from our youth and realize that time can be cruel to structures as well as bodies.
I remember those lunch counters and always thought the food was decent. Kind of remember a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches and hamburgers with a sundae for dessert.
When I was a kid I so much wanted to sleep on a train in a sleeper but never got to. I thought the clickety-clack would be so soothing.

Shug said...

Such a fun post Betsy....I enjoyed getting to see a part of your past. It is so very sad to see homes that are not taken care of. Those old beautiful homes were really something back in the day. Homes are big now, but now comparison to the old ones with so much character.

Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

Thank you for sharing the photos and the family history. You have great memories there. Sorry the house isn't the same. Love that railway station!

Elizabeth said...

WOW, what a fantastic post! Thanks, George, for taking Betsy on a side trip back to Bristol. I'm sorry the Ballard home has changed so much, but how wonderful that you have the picture of it in it's Glory Days and that your memories are so clear and fine! My grandpa worked for the railroad in Chicago, and so he and grandma and their son (my dad) got to tour, for almost free, all over the western U.S. and visited many National Parks. It sounds like a wonderful way to travel, especially to beautiful railway stations. My mom, bless her heart, worked in downtown Chicago and took the elevated train every single day. She always told me that she loved it because it gave her quiet time :-)

Good to see you, Betsy and I'll look back on Thursday. Just, please don't ever STOP posting, OK?!

P.S. What a grand name for a daylilly: Wild Horses!

Rose said...

As always, enjoy your family historyl

But got to say, that train station is just gorgeous...one of the prettiest I have ever seen...but then never seen one I didn't like!

carolina nana said...

I have been to Bristol Va and Tenn several times and it is an interesting town.
Blessings
Marilyn

ladyfi said...

WHat a fascinating piece of history.

Jeevan said...

Glad you able to travel back to those places holds memories... yes, the beauty of Ballard house lose its old charm. At least it survives for you check back! This is one of the interesting posts from you, taking us along with you. I love the railway station and the perspective you brought through images was great. Initially I learnt something though this post. Thank you :)

LV said...

What a wonderful journey back in time. You have done really well on you genealogy search.

Sweet Posy Dreams said...

Great old photos. Always fun to see. The Ballard home sure was gorgeous. It's still a pretty house, but a shame that some of the windows were removed. As an old house owner, I can vouch for how much work they are to maintain.

DeniseinVA said...

I loved this trip down memory lane with you Betsy. Sad about the old homes. I felt the same when we recently visited my parents old home. Still, you have those wonderful memories.

Pat Tillett said...

Maybe it's because we have so few of them, but I love old family photos like these. That house was gorgeous.

Daisy said...

It's sad to see the house that wasn't maintained. I can understand why that would be a disappointment to you.

I loved the old family photos, though, Betsy! They are real treasures.

Happyone said...

Love the old house and the train station.

Cheryl @ TFD said...

Oh, I'm so sorry to see that beautiful home not being kept up now! I would have loved to have seen the inside back in it's heyday. We have a couple of very large old homes in our area that are just sitting vacant and are not kept up, either. It's such a shame.

I love blogging, but am going to do more reading and less commenting. It just takes so much of my time and those that blog everyday...I can't keep up with them! There is so much to do right now and with my aunt needing me (her son is in FL right now and frankly just doesn't want to be bothered) I am away from home more than usual. Real life always comes before blogging, so I understand your taking more time off. Just don't go away completely though, okay?

I enjoyed reading about your family and your photos. Take care and have a nice week!

Janie said...

You have some wonderful memories of Bristol. Love the old photos. Too bad the old family home doesn't look the same any more. My grandfather's house in New Orleans held a lot of memories for me, but since I've been back for a look, the old screened in porch (where so many happy family gatherings took place) is completely gone.

Susie Swanson said...

Some nice memories. I hate to see the old houses, barns, etc. torn down. This is a very nice post and i enjoyed it so much. hugs, xo

Beth of "E." Lizard Breath Speaks said...

oh i love looking back over time ... so fun to see how things have changed & where we all have come from. fun pics. ( :

Optimistic Existentialist said...

What a beautiful trip down memory lane!! I love this. It's always sad though to see our old home when it doesn't look the same anymore...

Megs said...

I love big old houses- how beautiful the Ballard house was. I feel bad when I see houses that were once loved neglected, and also gardens I used to work in Baltimore, and in driving around for meeting's would come upon strangled perennials and old rose bushes growing in alleys.

wildlifewatcher said...

Hi Betsy, Wonderful post! I so enjoy genealogy. It is heartbreaking to see old family residences that have fallen into disrepair or have been badly remodeled. I have had the same experience in Los Angeles with my grandparent's home. Have a pleasant day today and enjoy your gorgeous yard!

Pam Greer said...

I'll have to share this post with my husband, his family is from that area too!

Betsy Adams said...

Hi Megs, Thanks for coming to my blog. I 'tried' to leave a comment on your blog but noticed that you are not blogging regularly now... SO--decided to leave the comment here in case you return.... Please come back anytime...
Hugs,
Betsy

Terri @ Backward B Ranch said...

Neat post Betsy- you know how I love genealogy! Super photo of your mom, dad and brothers- you were the baby for sure! Your mom is very pretty.
Thanks for sharing your memories- I have so few photos of my grandparents..I wish I had more.

SquirrelQueen said...

I love all the old photos Betsy. Doing genealogy is a passion of mine too. So sorry about the changes in the house, it does hurt to see places like that not taken care of and preserved.

Marie said...

Betsy, thank you so much for keeping track of me though we left for two weeks. I appreciated you commenting on my late night "We're Back" post! :-) I have sooo much to share from the trip and will be posting a lot of great stuff over the next few weeks. It will take a couple of weeks at least to also catch up with everyone who have commented, and look at their blogs. I enjoyed reading this post very much. Mom & I are very much into genealogy, and I need to get back on Ancestry soon. Mom started it for our family back when you had to do all the legwork yourself. I still need to go back and make contact with some family in N AL, especially for my hubby's line. Remarkably, his mother was from N AL and my family is from AL even though he and I met and married in Va. We went to N AL many years ago and made some contacts which are now lost, and saw the little valley where his Mom was born. We really need to go back! I'm glad you went back to Bristol, but understand your disappointment about the houses. It seems that always happens. We have Banks in our family too by the way.

I will have a surprise for you and George some time before the next two weeks are over....so keep watching. :-)

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

That was definitely a trip that can push emotional buttons. It is fascinating how stuff is stored in our memories a certain way and years later some stuff has totally changed. So glad that you had a side trip and I totally understand cutting back ob blogs. I have cut way back but often think of you and George.

Twilight Man said...

I must confess that your photos and well written notes made my eyes moistened. I love such sentimental and old photos that show how the legends lived. The Ballard house was so magnificent when built and I flipped them up & down many times to see how it has changed! Seems like nothing is permanent in life and nothing lasts forever. Only sweet and happiest memories live on, just like the photos you kept.