Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Claudia Baldridge Branch and Her Only Son
Pictured here are my paternal great-grandmother, Claudia Baldridge Branch, born September 9, 1879, and her only son, Clark Commander Branch, who was born on August 9, 1899. In addition to Clark, Claudia and Edward Arthur Branch had four daughters, Ezma, Catherine, Laura, and Stella. I have previously written posts here about both the Branch family and the Baldridge families.
This photograph, taken around 1951 in front of our house in the Mississippi Delta, is the only one of just Clark and his mother that I know exists. At the time, Grandma Claudie, as she was known to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, was living in Goodman, Mississippi. and was likely visiting our family at the time.
Although I was too young to know the value of asking Grandma Claudie questions about her family and her life before she died in 1964, I have always thought she must have been pretty proud of her son. After she lost her husband when Clark was only 15 years old, as the only son, he became the primary breadwinner for the family, and a farmer like most of his own ancestors. And during his life, it was evident to me that Clark's sisters, too, admired and respected him, not only for his role as a father figure growing up, but for the honest, hardworking, and loyal man he became as an adult.
Clark Commander Branch died on January 19, 1979, in Jackson, Mississippi, of complications from heart disease, the same disease that had caused his mother's death. He is buried in Hillcrest Cemetery, Holmes County, Mississippi, next to his wife of 56 years, Lelia Porter Branch, and near Claudia, his beloved mother.