Germany and Genealogy | Audio Elgin Episode 3


Hello and welcome to another episode of
the Audio Elgin podcast. This is your host, Abigail Fritz, and today I’ll be
speaking with Timothy Baylor. Timothy is a current Elgin resident and he is going
to be telling us about his fascinating life and about his family’s tragic
connection to the history of Elgin and of its railroads. Could you start by telling
me your name and your date of birth? Timothy Carl Baylor and 1968. And where
were you born? Victoria, Texas. Is that where you grew up?
Yes, I went to Saint Joe High School. What did you do after high school?
Nine days after I graduated I went into the military. I went to boot camp and then
after boot camp in AITC– that’s advanced training– I landed in Germany. I could have
went into any of the four main branches– Army, Air Force, Navy or marines– but when I was interviewing
with the different recruiters, I said that theone thing I want to do is the not stay in
America. I wanted to go somewhere so the Army’s the one that promised me Germany,
so I went with them. So what did you do in Germany? In Germany, I was with the big red
one and I drove an HMET for the big red one and I delivered ammunition for m109ers. What are those? Those are howitzers, they’re pretty big howitzers and they can
shoot rounds up to eight miles far. How long were you in Germany? From 1987
to the end of 1989. I spent 16 more years in Germany as a civilian. Why did you decide to
stay? I married a German. That’s a pretty good reason. Yeah, I married a German and
then I stayed in a very small tiny town called Lauingen and I did
several odd and end jobs at first but I ended up going to the German post office
school and I worked at the German post office for a little bit over ten years.
Could you tell me more about your experiences in the post office? After I
went there I was able to get into a ??? , it’s a package center, and we
worked about 130,000 packages a day and I turned into a group leader and there was a lot of international people there. I worked with Turks, I
worked with Romanians, Italians, British, Africans; I mean there was a lot of
different nationalities and they were all speaking their own language and it
was something that I think that all Americans should do, is to spend some
time in a foreign country because it really opens up your eyes. What brought
you back to America? There’s a couple of reasons: the German post office was no longer a government institute. The package center
was bought out by DHL. The latter part… it turned into four different private
companies that handle the letters so, you know, me being a government worker, they
no longer wanted me around so when they started offering severance
packages and also, we had taken care of my wife’s parents, both of them, and they
both passed away during my time there and we hadn’t spent much time with my
parents. So was there an element of culture shock coming back to America
after so long living in Germany? Yes there was, extremely, because I learned how
to be an adult in Germany. I went over there right, you know, just shortly after high school so the only American culture that I
had was in the military and that’s extremely different than being a
civilian in America. When you came back to America, where were you living at that
time? When I came back well, at first, I was staying with my parents. My wife was
closing down everything over there and I stayed with my parents and we were
looking around and I was thinking, you know, it’s probably better for a
foreigner to find a job in a larger city so we looked around Austin and I ended up in Round Rock. And what brought you to Elgin?
We like the country and small, you know, small city life. We looked for several
years for a house in the country and land and it took us quite a while to find
what we were needing and wanting and it just so happened that the Elgin was the
place. Elgin is one of those towns that are like where I grew up and there’s those
historical events that they have; the parade and the community type events,
that they have like this small town with the antique stores and these mom-and-pop
shops. I just hope they keep that small-town vibe. We first met when you
visited the Elgin Depot Museum looking for information about a train crash that
killed your grandfather and your uncle in 1967. Could you tell me about that
train crash? I’ve known since childhood that my grandfather died in a train wreck. My grandfather and my uncle actually. But the family
really never did talk about it. So I knew that it happened somewhere in
Bastrop County, I didn’t really know exactly where, so when I moved to Elgin
my mother came to my house for the first time and she looked at me and she’s like
“You know that your grandfather passed away about two miles from your house?” and
so I was like “No.” I’ve done genealogy for around 25 years now, it was
mainly on my father’s side of the family, and a couple of years ago I started with
my mother’s side and he was one of the focuses, you know, especially since my
mother revealed this new information and so I
started gathering information and I found the death certificate and both of
the death certificates from my grandfather and my uncle, they both have
in the description part there’s diesel pneumonia and my grandfather had
severe hits to the head. It was very interesting to me to find out more
information. I did find a word-for-word transcript from the
court hearing that was conducted about the train wreck. What was very
nerve-racking is when I found out that the very first man listed, that was part of
being questioned for it, was my grandpa on my father’s side. He was actually on the train that left the 15 cars on the track. So the way that the wreck
happened, it was about 3:45 at night and they were coming north from Smithfield
and they were going up to the Waco area Bellmead and right about this over there on Old Sayers Road the train was taking that curve there and 15 cars that were parked
on a side rail slipped out onto the main rail and when the train turned the
corner it hit those 15 cars and when it hit the 15 cars the engine that my
grandfather and uncle were in went down about 30 feet. My parents… my mother she’s
opened up a little bit since I moved here and she had told me that the police
officers had said that my grandfather, when you know he saw the cars that were
on the track, he dove on top of my uncle and they found him covering my uncle. How
old was your mother when this happened? My grandfather was 44 and my uncle was
17 when they died and so my mother was… this happened on June 3rd, 1967 and
my mother was born in 1944, so let’s do the math… About 20 years. About 20 years, yeah.
Had she already started dating your father? Yes they were already together and I
really haven’t talked to my mother about that aspect you know that may be
something that there was conflict with because my other grandfather, he was a
conductor on the train and they had questioned him
because three days before the wreck he was on the train that was going also, you
know, also along this route, but he was going from Waco to Smithville and they dropped off the gravel cars that slipped onto the tracks, so he was part of that crew and in the
court hearing they questioned him about that. It seems to me like, from what I
understand in the court papers, that the brake men were directly involved with
that but he as a conductor may have been able to see, you know them, doing the
job, you know, of actually securing those cars properly but since there was
a curve at that point he didn’t see the actual action being taken. So you
clearly put a lot of time and energy into researching your family history,
could you tell me why you think it’s important that we do that? Everybody
should know at least some about their history. I just think and feel that, you know, if you
don’t research it and you don’t pass it on it’s going to be lost and, you know,
everybody has a desire to know how they fit in and who they are and where they
came from. With this DNA test it’s actually brought a lot of new people
into the hobby. Back when I started I did everything through the mail and, you
know, just asking around and sending letters, email, and going to
different courthouses and institute’s where I can find documents. Everything
with ancestry and this new DNA, but with genealogy, like I say, it’s something
that I feel that everybody should know, you
know, who they are and where they came from. As always I’d like to
thank Timothy for sharing his story with us. If you’d like to hear more stories
like this, like and subscribe because we release a new episode every week. You can
also visit us at the Elgin Depot Museum on Main Street, which includes exhibits
on everything from railroads and agriculture to our various ethnic
communities.

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