Thursday, September 10, 2015


Growing up in San Francisco, I was used to hearing about the exotic origins of my friends. Many were immigrants or children of immigrants. My parents were not native Californians and I naturally assumed that they and my grandparents were the first of our family to settle here, and that my generation was the first to be born in California.

One should never assume anything.

Over the years I have taken many road trips to southern California, traveling on scenic Hwy 101, through valleys and vineyards, over the mountains, and along the coastline. One of the places I look forward to seeing is a small beach community called Carpinteria, which is a Spanish word for a carpenter's workshop. I would stop there to fill up my gas tank and maybe get something to eat. The last exit for Carpinteria is “Bailard Avenue,” and it became a sort of marker. Once we passed the “Bailard Avenue” sign, we were only about two hours from our destination.

Bailard Avenue was named for the early settlers, Andrew and Martha Catherine Shoults Bailard. Andrew Bailard, a native of Germany, had come to the U.S. as a young man and settled in Missouri. In 1852, Andrew joined a wagon train going to California. In the party were Alexander and Margaret Burns Bailey, and their three orphaned nieces and a nephew. Apparently the people in this party got to know each other very well on the 6-month journey west. When they arrived in northern California, Andrew Bailard and Martha Catherine Shoults were married in the coastal town of Half Moon Bay in San Mateo County. 

In 1869, after years in northern California, Andrew Bailard relocated to Santa Barbara County, and a year later, Alexander Bailey also moved south and purchased property adjoining the Bailards.

Andrew Bailard found even greater success in Carpinteria. His farm produced lima beans, and his orchards produced walnuts almonds, oranges, lemons, quince, apples, apricots, plums, prunes, peaches, cherries and nectarines; in addition they raised turkeys, hogs, made butter, and raised bees for honey. 

In 1873, Andrew wrote to his youngest brother in Missouri. He told Lawrence he should come to California and make his fortune. By this time, the railroads had made traveling to the west much easier and safer. In 1874, Lawrence, his wife, Mary Theresa Michaels Doerr Baylard, and their younger children relocated to Carpinteria. The spelling of their surname has gone through many changes over the years. The immigrants used the spelling “Boehlert.” Later, the “o” was dropped, and it became “Behlert.” The family in Missouri used the spelling “Baylard,” while Andrew in California spelled his name “Bailard.” 

Which explains why I never made the connection between the California "Bailards" and the Missouri "Baylards," "Behlerts," and "Boehlerts."

Theresa Baylard, as she was known, was my ggg-grandmother. She was the mother of ten children by her first husband, Phillip Doerr, who died at the age of 39. Three years later, at the age of 38, she married Lawrence Baylard, 26. She and Lawrence had two daughters. Theresa was 42 when her youngest daughter was born. Perhaps because he knew he could not have a son of his own, in 1873, Lawrence Baylard agreed to raise an infant whose father was dying. His name was Joseph Jesse Swink.

By the time Andrew Bailard invited them to move to Santa Barbara County, most of Theresa’s older children were married with families of their own. Just the two youngest of Theresa’s sons, Phillip, 20, & John Ruben Doerr, 14, made the trip to California, along with the baby sister, Minetta, 5, and Joseph Swink.

How I discovered that the family went to California was completely accidental. In the course of perusing the old town newspapers, I came upon a short article.

17 Feb 1882, Weekly Perryville Union
“By last Monday evening’s mail we received a letter from our young friend, Philip Doerr, of Carpenteria, San[ta] Barbara county, California, ordering the Union sent to him. Also gives us the following new item: Married, on Sunday, January 29th, 1882, at the above city, by Rev. Pratt, Mr. John Doerr to Miss Emma Moncton. John is the youngest brother of Philip, and has been residing in California since 1874.”

Well, blow me down!

The family that had disappeared from the Missouri records had moved to a town that I visited frequently. On my next trip to the area, I paid a visit to the Carpinteria Valley Historical Society. As I was viewing the historical artifacts on display, I noticed a large photographic image on the wall behind them. It was a floor to ceiling mural created from a photograph. In the mural were some young boys in overalls posing atop a tractor. The curator informed me that these were my cousins, the Doerr children. 


No comments:

Post a Comment