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Elections of years gone by

So it’s the Day After Election Day here in the United States. Some folks are celebrating because of candidates who won. Others are licking wounds because of candidates who lost.

And all of us — The Legal Genealogist included — are blissfully expecting a massive drop-off in the number of times the phone rings with somebody asking for money or support or both.

Well, at least that’s what I thought would happen until I got a robocall this morning asking for my vote for a candidate who was elected yesterday… sigh…

But contemplating winners and losers in yesterday’s election raises the question:

What are we doing to document elections of years gone by, and the winners and losers in our own families?

Have we looked to see what offices at the local, county, state or federal level our own folks may have stood as candidates for — and have we recorded what happened in those elections?

We need to, of course, every bit as much as we need to meet the challenge thrown out in this blog on Monday that we document the voters of our family.

So… here, the Day After Election Day here in the United States, this is today’s challenge: find and document somebody in your family tree who ran for public office — and what happened in that election.

I’ll go first.

The state elections of 1838 in North Carolina were in August, not November.1 The first Thursday in August, to be precise.

And a relatively young newcomer to state politics, one Thomas Baker, was a candidate in those elections. He was my third great granduncle — half-brother of my third great grandfather Martin Baker and oldest son of my fourth great grandfather David Baker by David’s first wife Mary Webb. (Martin was the oldest son by the second wife, Dorothy Wiseman.)

And, the North Carolina newspapers report, he was elected to the state Senate representing the far western district made up of Burke and Yancey Counties by a margin of 37 votes.2 This was, according to newspaper reports, an upset:

Baker elected

Fast forward just two years to August of 1840, and the results were very different: Thomas Baker lost that Senate seat by 414 votes to B.S. Gaither.3

Baker defeated

Your turn…

Who were the election winners and losers in your family? And what have you done to document those facts?


  1. See “Times of holding Elections in the several States,” in Edwin Williams, compiler, The Politician’s Manual: Containing Returns of Elections in the United States (New York : James Van Norden, 1834), 44; digital images, Google Books ( : accessed 7 Nov 2018).
  2. “Election Returns,” Weekly Raleigh (NC) Register, 27 Aug 1838, p. 3, col. 1; digital images, ( : accessed 7 Nov 2018).
  3. “Most Glorious Victory,” Fayetteville (NC) Weekly Observer, 26 Aug 1840, p. 3, col. 1; digital images, ( : accessed 7 Nov 2018).
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