Excerpts from the letters of Adin Baber to Lenore Babers O’Donnell


"On my travel abroad, I learned about a BABER who became a famous explorer of the hinderlands of China - this account was in a rare book - name; E. Colborne Baber, his report was printed for the House of Parliament in 1878. I think it pleases me most that it is now established that William, James and John Baber were brothers. There is a tradition here, as written in an old pamphlet that there was another brother, but I cannot make out the name - Josiah, Isiah or Isaac. Keep it in mind, in the same old writing is stated that William Baber went to North Carolina, which indicated that all those three brothers, went south from Virginia. It says they came from Wales, and I was told at Chew Magna, the old Baber homestead, that some Babers went there to escape from Cromwell. It seems fit."

"One Edward Baber was a Crusader (this Edward was brother of our Robert, our American ancestor); there is much church history regarding him - upon his return, he built a cathedral at Chew magna. (The name is the Latin for "Big Creek"); Edward and his wife are buried in the crypt, with Latin inscription on the tomb. In the churchyard, there were many John’s, William’s, Robert’s, George’s and Elizabeth’s. While at Chew Magna in 1918, I met Miss Nancy Baber, whose father was named Edward and for six generations before him, the eldest son had been Edward. The Baber family is listed in "Doomsday Book", in which book only those are listed who already had property to be assessed before the advent of William, the Conqueror."

"I was sent to England in 1918 to hunt some lost auto parts, and besides looking in freight houses, I looked in cathedral – Sherwood Forest and other noted spots. One day while wandering around in London, I saw a sign "Baber and Squire" over a bakeshop. I went in and asked for Mr. Baber, but was told "he had been dead these many years". However, I was directed to go to Mansion House Chambers on Threadneedle Street directed across from the Bank. There I found A. C. Baber & Son. The name of the son is Arthur. They directed me to go to Bristol and Pensford by train and then by foot to Chew Magna. I did so, and upon entering the little hamlet from the southeast along a winding road I saw a manor house on the east and beyond it the spire of a church. (My note: The post card picture I sent you is of this manor house.) I went into the churchyard and found it full of buried Babers – John’s, James, George’s, Edward’s, William’s, Elizabeth’s. Thinking that there must be some living Baber’s, I went to the Post Office and the postmistress sent me to see Miss Nancy Baber on Chew Court farm, which was a short way east of the church.

Miss Nancy Baber was a very intelligent young lady and besides tea with Somersetshire cream, which I had never tasted, she gave me much information then and has since written in letters much more, so I will put down as I remember without trying to be systematic, and you can sort it out.

She said that they had knowledge of members of the Baber family being in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and all traced back to Somersetshire, and that there was no other Baber family in England, although they are now scattered about. The first record of them is in the days of William the Conqueror – two brothers being listed. I do not know if they came there with William, but the name is probably of Celtic origin. A few hundred years later another Baber who was thought to be important was buried within the church in a big tomb. It has his coat of arms and also those of his kinfolk. There was much Latin."

"The Baber family were Royalists; One (John) had been physician to Charles First, and much of their land had been confiscated by Cromwell - some Baber’s had been deported "To the Colonies". Chew Manor had above the doorway the crest of the coat of arms of the Crusader. I think none had a title, except Sir John Baber, physician to the King; they were esquires, which means belonging to the gentry’ class and marrying into nobility. I am glad that you connect with the Gainesville, Florida Baber’s; he had developed a special cucumber for Florida, called the Baber’s cucumber. One day in Little River, Florida, a man and his wife from Miami Beach came to purchase some special bougainvillea vine fertilizer that we sold, and as my man went for it, I overheard the name "Baber" – thinking, of course, that they had spoken to me, I answered, only to have the lady say in an apologetic manner that they had not spoken to me, but were only saying to each other how much I resembled a man they knew in Arkansas, whose name was Baber. Of course, they were rather bowled over to learn that my name was Baber.

A few years ago I had my father with me in Winchester, Kentucky, when a man came up and called him Mr. Baber. Dad of course, answered, wondering who in the world knew him there. In a few minutes, another man came up and started to carry on a conversation that my father knew nothing about. It seemed that my father resembled one of their good citizens – a Mr. Baber, so they had mistaken my father for this Mr. Baber.

I do not know the resemblance to other Baber’s, except the noses. It does not seem that these here have such big noses, but there is a distinct Roman curve in the Baber noses. Most Baber’s are blue-eyed and brown or sandy hair; all fair skinned; very peaceable and not given to violence, but of strong opinions, even eccentric – rather high-strung – nervous, and with long memories never forgiving. I write very frankly because I am convinced that you are the elected one to write the history of our Baber family." Lenore’s note: This letter from Mr. Adin Baber of Kansas, Illinois, is addressed to me. He sure hit the nail on the head regarding the description of the features and disposition of our side of the Baber’s family. My father decidedly had a "Roman nose". The description of the Baber’s characteristics hits my branch of the family precisely, but we are known to be people of "Our Word" – good ones to "ride the river with".

I was told at Chew Magna that during the War between the Cavaliers and the Roundheads, the Baber family had been Royalists, which would explain one of them, being physician to the King. It has been a tradition in our family that the old set would refer to "Charles over the Ocean" when something was of a family secret only. We did not know exactly what it meant until a few years ago; my daughter, Alice, got to reading Peppy’s Diary, and learned that the Royalists would meet and drink secretly to their "King Charles II" who had been banished to France."

"I have jotted down this one paragraph from page 147 of the Baber Family Chart taken from Frederick A. Wood’s Collection - History of Chew Magna, since you are doing so much research on our Baber Family History; this paragraph, I think, is most important: ‘The grandson of William Cavindirk, who in 1628 was crested Earl of Neworth, loyally supported Charles I, and about 1644 was compelled to go into exile when his estates were confiscated and sold. Among them was the Estate of Knighton Sutton, held on lease by Edward Baber.’"

"On page 237 of Barton’s "Lineage of Lincoln" is a jury list in which the name of JOHN BABER appears – the letter "e" is written the old fashioned way, so as to appear "ee". I cannot determine the date of the document – it appears to be the fourth day of February, 1666."

 


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