Randolph Winburn Barrett (1905-?), a Child of God   1 comment

My family tree includes a mystery, one which has become only slightly less mysterious to me during the last few days.

First, however, I know the following from documented evidence:

  1. Randolph Winburn Barrett, the firstborn son of the Reverend George Washington Barrett and Nellie Seguin Fox Barrett, was born in 1905.
  2. Census Bureau records from 1910 indicate that the five-year-old Randolph lived with his family at Cornelia, Georgia.
  3. Census Bureau records from 1920 indicate that the fourteen-year-old Randolph lived with his family at Anderson, Wilkes County, Georgia.
  4. Census Bureau records from 1930 indicate that the twenty-five-year-old Randolph was one of four boarders at the home of the Wade C. Stevens family home in Atlanta, Georgia.
  5. Census records from 1940 have no listing for him.
  6. George Washington Barrett, in his 1949 volume about family history, lists all of his six children, starting with Randolph.
  7. Randolph’s name is absent from George Washington Barrett’s obituary in the 1956 Journal of the North Georgia Conference of The Methodist Church.

So what happened?  We know that Randolph and the circumstances under which he left the family then disappeared became a topic avoided in polite family conversations.  We also know that his absence and the manner thereof affected my grandmother deeply.  Sometimes, when someone asked, she refused to provided details.  At other times, she did speak of her long-lost brother, to whom she had been close.  And she did keep his notebook of poems dated 1930-1934.

My knowledge of family history via documents and anecdotes leads me to near certainty as to the broad outlines of what happened and who was (at least primarily) responsible.  These are conclusions based on the principle of Ockham’s Razor:  In the absence of evidence for a complicated explanation, assume that the simplest possible answer is true.  My overriding tendency to value objective reality highly (something for which I make no apologies) and therefore to write and speak accurately does cause offense sometimes, unfortunately.   Thus, for the sake of family diplomacy, lest I, without intending to do so, offend anyone, I leave much omitted or implied here.  My tone, which I intend as merely objective, without moral condemnation–even softened by the explicitly-stated benefit of the doubt–does not always come across to others as such.  And perception is at least as important as reality much of the time.

I propose that the main reason for the prolonged family silence was grief, and that George Washington Barrett carried it with him to his grave in 1956.  Perhaps the saddest part of the story is that it did not have to be this way.   It is obvious to me that Randolph had, during a sad and crucial period, a very bad relationship with his biological father.  (This is a recurring theme in the dynamics of many families; it seems to be an inherently human characteristic.)  I hope that he found rest in the loving embrace of his spiritual father and reconciliation with his biological father in the afterlife.

My purpose in sharing Randolph Winburn Barrett’s poems on this website is to honor him, to prevent him from falling into anonymity.  He disappeared once; I do not want him to disappear again.  Unfortunately, explaining who he was, even doing so as diplomatically as possible, stirs up some skeletons in the family closet.  I cannot help that fact, but I prefer to focus on the positive by emphasizing the kind and sensitive spirit of the author, a child of God.




I have posted one of his poems, a prayer to GATHERED PRAYERS already.



Posted August 8, 2013 by neatnik2009

One response to “Randolph Winburn Barrett (1905-?), a Child of God

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  1. Pingback: An Evening Prayer | GATHERED PRAYERS

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