Read an Excerpt
Round Ole Baugh Road,
Is a great place for kids to grow
Some grow up and move away
Most of us decide to stay
Round Ole Baugh Road.
The neighborhood still looks the same
just new kids with the same old names
My Baugh Road's in a Southern state
Yours may be anywhere, USA
Look around for your Baugh Road.
"Ole Baugh Road" by Randy Owen
My daddy's name is Gladstone Yeuell Owen. My middle name is Yeuell, and so is my son, Heath's. Why his parents gave him such an unusual name, I have no idea. His brothers had more familiar names like Johnny, Albert, Virgil, Riley, and Grady. Mama and some of Daddy's close relatives always called him Gladsten, but the rest of the world just shortened it to G.Y. It made life a whole lot simpler.
I really don't know much about my daddy's side of the family beyond two or three generations back. We've always assumed that the name Owen was Welsh, but I also remember my grandfather, Joseph Ernest Owen, throwing around terms like Scotch-Irish and Black Dutch when I used to pester him as a kid about our family roots. "Black Dutch" was a term used by Anglo-Saxons that referred to anyone with dark complexion of European ancestry. It was also used by American Indians to hide their Indian ethnicity during the time they were less than second-class citizens. I know I have some Indian blood in me, but as to how much and what tribe or strain, I'm clueless.
The Owen family saga I know best begins with my grandfather Owen. Sometime after the Civil War, my grandfather's mother, whose family name was Hester, was living around Armuchee, Georgia, about thirty miles east from where I'm writing this. She had apparently lost her husband, my great-grandfather, perhaps in the war or from pneumonia...I've heard both theories...and married a guy a good fourteen or fifteen years her junior. Because of four years of the bloodiest carnage ever on American soil, good men in the South were hard to find, so she did the best she could, no doubt.
There was just one catch. Husband number two didn't want her two very young children, including my grandpa, around. So my grandpa and his sister Josie, after some period of time, were shipped off to his own grandparents in DeKalb County. They came over in a horse-drawn wagon. There they were raised by my great-great-grandparents Hester and never returned to their home in Georgia.
I got the feeling, as a kid, that my grandfather never cared for his mother and the way she had abandoned her own children. He never said anything bad about her. He just never said anything, period. My cousin Jackie and I once rode our motorcycles over to the Armuchee/Little Sand Mountain area of Georgia to look for our great-grandfather's burial site, but we could never find it. Years later, I located my great-grandmother's grave at a cemetery in the area called Walker's Chapel. It listed her as Mattie Owen, even though her second husband, named Frank Lindsey, is buried right next to her. I think my family designed her tombstone and went out of their way to keep his name off it, though they were officially man and wife. There was not a lot of love between the two families, it's pretty clear, even when it came to grave markers.
My grandparents, Joseph and his wife, Sena SeBell Baugh Owen, lived here all their lives. They had a slew of children and grandchildren. The house my daddy grew up in still stands just a few miles away. It would probably take me all day to drive around this immediate area and say hello to all my cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews who came from this one branch of our family tree. Growing up in the 1950s and '60s, you could go to a community event like a sing-in and half the crowd would be immediate kinfolk or extended-family members. You were always among "your" people, and I loved them all. For me, every family get-together was like a trip to Disneyland.
My mother, born Martha Alice Teague, was the third of seven children of Henry Baughton Teague Sr....my beloved "Paw Paw"...and Velma Cloe Goodman Teague. All the kids were raised up on a farm in Cherokee County, situated on the eastern ridge of Lookout Mountain where the land was hard, gravelly, and unforgiving. "Over in the valley," my daddy referred to that area. My Paw Paw raised cotton and corn and worked as a logger when he could. The milk cows got the corn, and the cottonseed and the cotton itself were sold to make ends meet. With all those mouths to feed on subsistence farming, those ends seldom met.
My mother claims to this day, "I won't take nothing for it. It made good children out of all of them," she says. The lesson was early and clear: if you got anything, you had to work for it. They were the poorest of the poor, but they never went hungry, even during the worst years of the Depression. My mother often had to walk to school without a long coat in the winter, just a hand-me-down jacket or sweater, but I never heard her complain much about it. In fact, I've never heard her complain much about anything.
I'm sure my mother's growing-up years were far from the often sentimental image of the noble, salt-of-the-earth rural farm family, but despite the obvious hardships and limitations...my mama had an eleventh-grade education...she and all her siblings survived and thrived. Of the seven children in her family, all now in their seventies and eighties, only one has passed away, and that was only a few months back. A hard life created a hardy stock, that's for sure.Born Country. Copyright © by Randy Owen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.