Theresa (Laratta) Baugh – No greater Love for Family

A Few Memories by her Eldest Granddaughter

My grandmother was born “Teresina” in St. Louis, Missouri to Italians who had emigrated from Papanice, a village in the region of Calabria. Grandma always referred to it as the heel of the boot since Italy is thus shaped.  I was disappointed as a young child to learn she didn’t speak Italian or talk about her childhood.  As I grew older and learned more about the difficult beginnings and her parents strong determination to be Americans, I better understood her silence.  It wasn’t easy being an Italian in America in the early half of the twentieth century.  

Her early years were made more difficult when her father died in 1937.  My grandma was barely thirteen and since her mother was in poor health, Grandma and her siblings (except the oldest) were separated and put into foster care.  The conditions in which they lived would come to affect each of them in their own way, but it’s safe to say that for most of their years the Laratta children were often under fed and under clothed.  Determined to free herself and her siblings, my grandma made a successful escape from the last foster home and thereafter lived with her mother.

A few years later she and her mother were living at a boarding house in the St. Louis neighborhood known as Dog Town.  The home belonged to Louisa, the widow of Sgt. Joseph A. Schneider who had been a city police officer.  The couple had had no children and after his death, Mrs. Schneider took in boarders to support herself.  Also living in the home with his single mother was the young, dark, and handsome Clarence Lane who soon captured my grandma’s heart.  I can still hear her saying, with her hand to her heart, “There is no love like first love”.  They were married at the end of 1941 and their first child, my mother “Jeanne” was born the following year; but the marriage was tumultuous and ended in divorce.

In 1952 my grandma married Virgil “Bud” Baugh, the son of Edward and Helen (Miller), also of St. Louis.  He had been previously married and had three children: Bob, Gene and Joy.  My mom had recalled to me how much their life had changed.  She told me that it was the first time she had ever had a “real” Christmas, but what my mom loved most was having two brothers.   A few years later Grandma and Bud had a son, Gary.  When he was a baby the family (except Joy who lived with her mother) moved to Phoenix, Arizona where Bud had taken a job with AiResearch.

Theresa and 1st great grandchild (1987)
This is where I was born and where my aunts were born.  My mother and my grandma were pregnant at the same time - twice.  Their eldest daughter Sally and my brother Victor were born seven weeks apart and their youngest child, Bonnie, was only eight months older than me.  So, suffice it to say, my relationship with my grandma was not the ordinary kind.  That is not to say I did not spend a lot of time with her, I did.  My earliest and probably favorite childhood memory of her was when she’d make a big plate of crackers topped with different cheese and meats and we’d watch Shirley Temple sitting at the living room coffee table.

When I was young it was always the five of us: her three children, my brother, and me.  Often we were at her house, but she’d also drop us off at the community swimming pool.  Many times she’d come to pick us up and we’d be full of mud and muck from the irrigation in the park, and when she saw us clambering into her station wagon she’d give us a good scolding.  When we got back to the house, she’d hose us off in the backyard.  On one of those occasions she had been bent over a galvanized tub rinsing Bonnie off when a bee stung her in the behind.  It was a story we told a dozen times and each time she’d laugh that beautiful laugh.

I might not have had the doting relationship so many grandchildren have with their grandmothers but despite her being a busy mom, she was a constant in my life.  I probably spent more time with my grandma than most.  Our two families were always together for nearly every holiday and birthday.  There were weekends of Slippin’ Slide, playing cards, board games, and listening to Gary play his forty-fives.   

As I grew older I realized Grandma was a sentimental Italian at heart.  Once, when I was twirling at halftime for our Homecoming game and she was seated in the bleachers watching, my mom said she touched her hand to her heart and with tear-filled eyes said, “The daughter of my daughter.”    

Marker at Walton's Chapel of the Valley
Carson City, Nevada
When I was due to have her first great-grandchild she was ecstatic and hopeful I’d have a daughter.  Over and over she’d say, “Four Generations,” and because I knew how much it meant to her, she was at my side when my daughter entered the world.  It was a first for my doctor who had never had four generations present in a delivery room, but that was the way our family was – always a part of each other’s lives.

After I no longer lived near her, I corresponded or we talked on the phone and I saw her often when I visited my mom.  Over the years I would ask her questions about her parents and her childhood in St. Louis.  Eventually she began to open up and tell me stories, but Grandma never thought too much of the past.  She always said we should live for today, but many of those we so loved have passed: my dear mother “Jeanne” in 1999, Bud in 2004, and Bonnie in 2009. 

Grandma outlived two husbands and two children and in the ninety-one years that she lived, she valued nothing greater than her family.  She was our matriarch, the tie that bound all of us from generation to generation.  Sadly, there seems no one to fill that role, but I will keep alive her memory and the joy she found in her family in my writings and the stories I pass down to my own daughter.

Notes and Links:

Theresa was the daughter of Armando Laratta and Eleanora (Rossomanno).  She was the sister of: Leo who passed in 2006, Anthony who passed in 1980, Elvera, Mary who passed in 1996 , Calandina, Joseph who passed in 1989, William who passed in 2010 and Alfred who died in his infancy in 1932.


Cothranville, Texas - A Town Now Known as Tigertown

This village which is situated in the  northwest section of Lamar County, Texas, was named after the Cothran family and its been known by at least three names:  Cothran's Store,  Cothran's Station, and as Cothranville as written on an envelope by my great-great grandfather,  T.A. Moore.

During the time that T.A.'s father James U. Moore lived in or near this town, it was a rather wild place on the edge of the country where hog and cattle stealing was common and many a saloon flourished.  So unruly was the area that T.A. expressed his concern about traveling to this area with his wife and family.

The town seems to have been first called  Cothran's Store and was named after John J. Cothran who was an early settler who had built  a store and died in 1884. Near Cothran's store was a gin and blacksmith, but a post office had yet to be established so when anyone from the area  went to nearby Paris they would pick up the mail for those living near this  area and deposit it in a box kept at the gin for this purpose.  Each  man would then go through the box and take out his mail.

Some say the name changed from Cothran's Store when Henry Miller's father set up a saloon a few miles south of the store.  About this same time the circus had begun showing in Paris, and Henry got himself a fancy poster of a handsome tiger and pasted it above the rear door inside his saloon. When the the Masonic lodge or some other organization was gathering and wanted to take a snifter, they'd suggest that they "Go over and take a shot at the tiger."  Others claim the name Tigertown simply got the name because of of the drunks who rode into town when the store buildings were plastered with the pictures of the circus tigers and had gone down Main Street yelling "Tigertown!" Still others claim the name began on account of a rivalry at a dance when local boys had a fight with the boys from Bonham and that the Bonham boys had returned and  painted a tiger on the wall suggesting the fierceness of the  fight.

However it is that Cothran's Store, Cothran's Station or Cothranville came to be known as Tigertown, it took me nearly three years beginning in pre-internet days, to track down this particular little town.  As a genealogist attempting to piece together information the envelope written  by my great-great grandfather to his father with this address had given me every reason to believe a town or village by this name had indeed existed in Lamar county.

On the envelope T.A. Moore had written: "They laid him in the village church yard, and I can write to  him no more." This was the tiny shred of information which ultimately led me to  Roberta Woods, one of those who had recorded the Lamar County cemeteries.
The Tigertown Cemetery was recorded in November 1991 and is located on Highway 38 in the northwest quadrant of the county.  The oldest inscribed  grave is that of Rodie Cothran who died in 1862, but it also contains 568  graves including unknowns - one which might very well be the resting place  of James U. Moore.

I hope one day to confirm his resting place.  He was born to Eli Moore and Deborah Updegraph/Updegraff in what was then known as Beaver Dam, Pennsylvania on the 13th of September, 1816.  He was married to Rebecca Cook, the daughter of Martin and Elizabeth (Firebaugh) Cook in Cadiz, Harrison County, Ohio on 07 Sep 1836.  They were the parents of my gg-grandfather Thomas Anderson Moore and his younger siblings: Isaac L. Moore, Cinthia "Amanda" Moore, and Joseph E. Moore.  Due to their opposing views of slavery, James and Rebecca parted ways and James went south to Texas where he married a woman we know only as "S.A.C." and had by her a son, John Ashley Moore in 1864.  They also adopted a daughter, Ada M. Cherry.

As noted on the envelope, James died in Cothranville in April of 1887.  His first wife Rebecca died in St. Louis on 18 Nov 1891 and rests in an unmarked grave in Bellefontaine Cemetery.

Note:  A marriage record for a James Moore married to a Sarah J. Creed on 05 Aug 1860 in Lamar Co., Texas was located in the Texas Marriages 1814-1909 database; but has not yet been proven to be the same J.U. Moore.

Also looking for the burial of his son Isaac L. Moore, born in Harrison Co., OH on 22 Jun 1842; married first to Abbie A. Malone in St. Louis on 22 Mar 1870; father of Lulu C., Ella C., Orville Clempson, and Chester I. Moore.  He married 2nd a woman named Emma and died in Oakland, Alameda Co., CA on 25 Jan 1933.


MARGARET PILCHER - Wife of Hiram Shaw, Lexington Hatter

Margaret "Peggy" Pilcher was born to Joshua and Nancy in Culpeper County, Virginia in about the year 1777.  In 1793 the family headed west, probably over Swift Run Gap in the Blue Ridge and down into the Shenandoah Valley making their way on foot or horseback along the Wilderness Road and then following Boone's old trail north into the town of Lexington, five hundred miles from Culpeper County.

The town, which was the trade, social, and intellectual nucleus of Kentucky, contained about three or four hundred homes which were clustered around the court-house.  Although not a major market place, it consisted of smiths, shoemakers, hatters, and a local brewer.  Land could be bought for seven shillings or $1.20 per acre, but in 1795 her father Joshua arranged to share crop a tract south of town below the road linking Lexington to Frankfort on the west  and to Clark Courthouse in Winchester on the east.

It was here that Margaret grew up and on 25 Dec 1800 and was united in marriage to Hiram Shaw in Lexington.  Hiram had been born in North Adams, Massachusetts and had come to Lexington sometime between 1785 and 1798 when he announced “the making of all kinds of furr and wool hats, at his factory on northeast corner of Main and Cross Streets."

Of the seven children known to have been born, their first, Sarah E. Shaw was born on 29 Mar 1802.  Their second and first son, Nathaniel, was born 31 Jan 1804 and would later work in the county clerk's office as a writer who was preparing to study law; but upon the death of his father, he became an apprentice under Thomas B. Megowan in the cabinet making trade where he worked for several years.  He then secured work as clerk on the Mississippi River on steamboats operated by the Hull and Marsh families at Madison, Indiana, and was Captain of the Brandywine at the time he married Emma, the daughter of Richard and Catherine (Milward) Marsh.  In about 1833 he engaged in hat making with James C. White of Woodford County.

In 1805 Hiram’s partner, John Lowry, turned over the hat making business to him and it was under Hiram's apprenticeship that Margaret’s youngest brother, Joshua Pilcher, the fur trader and Indian Agent (who later succeeded William Clark as Superintendent of Indian Affairs) learned the hatter trade.

The next children born to Margaret and Hiram were Ann T. Shaw, born 18 Apr 1806 and son Ammi Shaw born 18 Dec 1807.  Their fifth child, Hiram Shaw, was born on 13 Aug 1809.  At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to Joseph Putman who manufactured wool carding machines and remained with him for about ten years.  Several years after his brother Nathaniel and James White had gone into business, Hiram purchased White's interest and the firm became known as N & H Shaw. He was married to Ann E. "Nancy" Marsh, daughter of Richard Marsh and Catherine (Milward) in 1838 and they were the parents of five children.  He was listed as a hatter in the 1850 census, and in the 1859 and 1860 Lexington Directories he was listed as a clerk boarding at south side of Short between Spring and Jefferson.

The following year, in the mid-summer of 1810 Margaret’s father died at the age of sixty-one.  The family's crops, stock, furniture, and utensils were sold off and her mother Nancy moved in with one of her married children.

Margaret named her sixth child and youngest daughter who was born 31 Jan 1812, after her mother.  This Nancy married her cousin Fielding “Lewis” Pilcher, son of Fielding Pilcher and Sarah (Collins) in 1830.  They were the parents of only three children as her husband died a month after the birth of their last child Nathaniel who had been born in September of 1839.  The last child to be born to Margaret and Hiram was John Pilcher Shaw who was born 29 Oct 1814.

In October of 1822 Margaret was widowed.  Sadly, Hiram’s firm had not prospered and Margaret and the children were said to have been left in near destitute circumstances.   By 1850 she was listed in the census records residing with their son Hiram and remained with him.  Fortunately, he had become a very successful hat manufacturer.

Margaret died on 24 Mar 1861 in Lexington and was laid to rest in the Lexington Cemetery in Section C, Lot 25, Part S½.  Son Hiram and daughter Nancy Pilcher were also laid to rest at this cemetery.

Note:  See also my Early St. Louis blog, "The Liggett and Myer Tobacco Company" successors to Hiram Shaw and Co.


  1. Kentucky Obituaries 1787-1854 compiled by G. Glenn Clift, index by Anita Comtois, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Frankfort, KY, 1977
  2. The Lexington Cemetery - Established in 1849
  3. Perrinn, William Henry, History of Fayette County, Kentucky, Southern Historical Press, 1882
  4. Peter, Robert, History of Fayette County, Kentucky, O.L. Baskin & Co., Chicago, 1882
  5. Pilcher, Margaret Campbell, Historical Sketches of the Campbell, Pilcher and Kindred Families, Press of Marshall & Bruce Co., Nashville, TN, 1911.
  6. Shaw, Ralph M., Typescript of The Shaw Pilcher Families, Missouri History Museum
  7. Sunder, John E. Joshua Pilcher Fur Trader and Indian Agent, University of Oklahoma Press, 1968
  8. United States Census, 1850 index and images, FamilySearch: Margaret Shaw in household of Hiram Shaw, Fayette county, Fayette, Kentucky, United States; citing family 585, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  9. United States Census, 1860 index, FamilySearch: Margaret Shaw in household of Hiram Shaw, Ward No 1 City Of Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky, United States, household ID 686, NARA microfilm publication M653, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.; FHL microfilm 803,365