St. Francis Episcopal Church in Rutherfordton, NC

The Life Journey of Ernestine Gold

Ernestine GoldErnest Jackson Bailey married Miss Bessie Lee Floyd on Dec. 24, 1911 in Kershaw, S.C. They moved to Lancaster S.C. and started their family. First was Reba, then came Esther, who died at 2 and a half years, and next Ernestine. They went on to have two more daughters, Roberta and Sylvia and two sons, Bill and Kent.

The family moved back to Kershaw in 1921 and Ernestine spent her growing up years there. They lived there for 10 years until the depression came. Ernest was in the banking business, and with all the banks closing, he decided to move the family back to Lancaster County to the family farm. "I thought it was the end of nowhere, and it was, " said Ernestine.

Music was a very important part of the Bailey family. "I can never remember a time when I wasn't a member of a church choir, glee club or choral group," she said. "My three sisters and I sang as a foursome. I sang solos in the church."

Ernestine was graduated from the Lancaster High School and went on to Erskine College. She took the regular courses as well as shorthand and typing. Because of the depression, she was only able to attend Erskine for two years. She got a job with as a secretary to Congressman James P. Richards and went to Washington D.C. with him. He was the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

While in Washington, Ernestine sang in the choir of Mt. Vernon Place Methodist Church for their evening services. She also took art classes at the Washington School of Art and the American University. Her favorite medium is watercolor. She had several entries in a Congressional Art Show. "My best

work disappeared," she said. "We had to come home at times and work in the Congressman's office in Lancaster. One of those times I left my art work in Washington and it disappeared. I always thought it was my best." If you visit Ernestine, you will see her art work hanging on the walls.

Ernestine met Charles Gold while in D. C. He had just been discharged from the service and was administrative assistant to Congressman Bullwinkle from Gastonia. Ernestine was dating a young man who asked her to get a date for his roommate. She did and the roommate was Charlie. They double dated for several months. The Second World War came and Ernestine was sent back to Lancaster to work for a time. She was called back to Washington in October. As she came out of her office that first day back, she saw Charlie and he asked her to dinner. "The rest is history," she said.

They were married in June of 1946 here at St. Francis. Charlie's father was dying of cancer and wanted to see his son get married. Ernestine's mother had been in an accident and had broken both her wrists and was house bound. Since Bessie could not help with the wedding, Ernestine decided to have it in Rutherfordton. As it turned out, Dr. Gold was too sick to go to the wedding and died two weeks later.

The Golds lived in Washington D.C. until 1949. Their oldest daughter, Patsy, was set to be born during that time, but Charlie wanted "his child to be born with tar on his heels" Ernestine came to Rutherfordton for the birth. The child turned out to be a daughter. Their second daughter, Elizabeth, was born in 1953.

Before Ernestine met Charlie, she was dating a young man from Florida who was an Episcopalian. She went to the Episcopal Church several times with him and always liked the service. When the Golds moved to Rutherfordton, Ernestine joined the choir and the Altar Guild at St. Francis.

Charlie got his law practice going and ran a successful campaign for the state senate. During his time, the Commissioner of Insurance position came open and Governor Ulmstead asked Charlie to fill the position. He did and

ran for three more terms. He died in 1962 of the same kind of cancer his father had.

Ernestine got a job as the part time secretary at the Rutherfordton Elementary School. "I was just going to work until Patsy and Elizabeth got out of school," she said. Her job went full time after several years and she worked there for 43 years.

Ernestine was asked to join the Lamar Stringfield Music Club in 1950 and was president May 1968 - May 1969. She has also been a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, the Rutherford County Historical Society, the Women's Democratic Club of Rutherford County and the North Carolina Symphony Society. She was the Grand Marshall of the Christmas parade in 1989. She has been a Girl Scout leader and a Sunday School teacher.

"I have had a good life - good experiences."

St. Francis is blessed to have Ernestine’s voice and her presence.

Interviewer and writer Nancy Bole

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