BLANTON: The role of storyteller passed down

Published 4:21 pm Saturday, December 12, 2020

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Every family has a story to tell and every family has a storyteller. You know who that person is in your family — usually a grandparent, a great aunt or someone who knows the family history.

They know the good the bad and the ugly as well as things that no one should know or repeat.

That person in the Blanton family was Aunt Eva. Unfortunately, she died this spring and took those untold stories with her.

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Fortunately, though, she did speak of many events over the years, and I listened. However, I will admit I did not always pay close attention.

During this pandemic I have time to do some family research, and I have made some discoveries and realized that I need to share the lessons learned.

The first point I want to make here is don’t you make my same mistake. Listen closely.

To make that point, let me explain through her stories.

Eva always talked about her dad, Elbert, having a sister buried somewhere in the Winchester Cemetery without a headstone. She also talked about him having a brother who died of tuberculosis. If she ever said the names I do not remember.

But when Eva passed and I needed to get a headstone for her, I decided to get one for granddad’s sister. After some research, I found the sister’s name, date of birth and death (the death certificate reads like she may have had tuberculosis) and where she was buried (near her father).

To my surprise, I also discovered the brother who died of tuberculosis. I found his name and dates. He was buried next to his sister and he did not have a headstone. Both had died in 1927.

To make that story short, two additional headstones were purchased.

The second point I want to make is that no matter how far-fetched the story is, believe it.

Case in point: Aunt Eva often mentioned that her dad had a little brother who drowned in a lard can. She also told a story of her granddad, Robert, burying some money and someone stealing it. I found it difficult to believe, even though one day many years ago, she pointed out the farm on which the money was buried. Again, while doing some of what I call “pandemic research” I found the following.

No doubt Aunt Eva had her stories somewhat factual as well as interesting.

However, there is one thing that Aunt Eva most likely was guessing at.

I can remember back in about 1960 or so she took me to an auction in Frankfort. The auction was for the personal property of a Blanton. Of course, being 8 or 9 years old, I really did not care. But I remember the big stone entrance at the auction (still there on Main Street in Frankfort today). I am certain she knew where we were going but likely had no knowledge or idea that we were related to the Frankfort Blantons.

I have for many years had people ask if I was related to Col. A.B. Blanton of the Blanton’s Bourbon fame.

Aunt Eva also had many times asked that same question (the one story she did not know for certain) and had wanted me to research the answer. But I never did that research until now.

Thanks to the pandemic, research was done.

As it turns out, Col. Albert Bacon Blanton died in May 1959 so that auction no doubt had something to do with his estate.

Furthermore, I can now say Thomas Blanton (1646-1697) is my seventh great-grandfather and Col. Blanton’s fifth great grandfather. Yes, we are related, and I have in my possession memorabilia from the auction. Col. Blanton’s engraved (“Col. A. B. B.” 1952 &1953) whiskey glasses.

I can only guess Aunt Eva felt that family connection.

Oh my gosh. I just realized who is now the storyteller.

Robert Blanton is a magistrate on the Clark County Fiscal Court and former city manager for Winchester.