Thursday, March 5, 2015

Horse Racing - A Family Tradition

I spent a lot of my youth going to the horse races with my family.  Both of my parents' families were involved in racing horses.  And, it seems as if this tradition of horse racing has a long history in our family.

When I was very young, my grandma Maymie was always telling me stories of her Wilson side of the family.  Some of the stories were handed down to her by her father, Charles B Wilson.   Charles told stories to Maymie of his dad, William Wilson, and his brother Bill Wilson, racing horses around Denton County, Texas with their friend named Sam Bass.  Story goes that after William Wilson returned home from the Civil War, he could never settle down to farming and he spent his time gambling, horse racing, and drinking.  And, Charles' brother Bill Wilson was supposedly an outlaw with some of the same habits of gambling, horse racing, and drinking.

And, on the Baldwin side of the family there is the following story written in 1881 about our early Whitley family. The Whitley family were early settlers in Moultrie County, Illinois.  John Whitley was our Grandpa Jess Baldwin's 3rd great-grandpa going back through the Sadler and Lindley family lines.  
"The Whitleys were followers of horse racing and hunting almost to the exclusion of all else. The story was told that the elder Whitley journeyed to Kentucky and purchased a racing filly from a breeder named Dodge and returned here to win almost all the races he entered he in. Thinking to make some easy money, he entered her in a claiming race in which all entrants have a price set before the race and may be claimed afterwards at the price. John set a low price on her thinking to win an easy race and none would claim her. To his dismay she was claimed and to avoid losing her at a give away price, he slipped her out and hid her in a grove of trees north of Mattoon until the search died down. (The grove then became know as the Dodge Grove because the Dodge filly had been hidden there. It is now the Dodge Grove Cemetery.)"
      Combined History of Shelby & Moultrie Counties, Illinois: and biographical sketches of  some
      of their prominent men and pioneers; Philadelphia : Brink, McDonough and Co., 1881. 333,209

So, you could say horse racing is in our blood.  Perhaps, there is a DNA marker for racing horses.😊

In 1990, when Grandma Baldwin turned 90 years old, the family had a big party for her in Chickasha.  Family came from all over the country to be there for her birthday. After the dinner and party, someone asked grandma what she wanted to do special for her birthday.  Her response was to go to the races.  So the next day, we all went to Remington Park race track in Oklahoma City with Grandma for her 90th birthday celebration.
Mabel (bottom left) at the horse races with family for her 90th birthday celebration.

Here's a photo of me at the horse races in Arizona when I was only three years old.  Satin Charley was my favorite -  how I loved that horse.  He would put his head down low so I could give him hugs.

Race day was always a family affair, with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.  There are four generations of  family in this next photo taken at San Juan Downs in Farmington, New Mexico.   Grandma Maymie is right in the middle next to Aunt Alma Barnes, who is in the red plaid shirt. Maymie loved to go to the horse races! There are aunts, uncles, and cousins from both sides of the family in this photo -- Joe, Arlene, Muffy & family, etc.

And, here I am in 1986 at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Arizona.  We were with some friends, with my Dad standing in the middle next to me.  My younger brother, who is holding the horse, was the trainer.   A family friend, Ted Cypert, was also in the photo standing next to my brother.


TERRI said...

Hi..I remember that day~ It was so much fun!!

clm said...

Yes, it was a fun day and weekend. Thanks for your hospitality!