Kinsearching February 26, 2006




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Would you like to read a "rip-roaring" novel based on the real adventures of an enigmatic individual? If your answer is "yes," then you will enjoy THE RUNAWAY by Billie West Paine. Drawing upon the many interesting stories told by her seafaring father, Paine envisions his life before marriage and intertwines it with major historical events of the times.

     Orphaned at age three, William George West grew up in the Highlands of Scotland where he lived several years with an abusive uncle, a sheep raiser. In 1900 when he was twelve years old, West ran away to the sea. Although he was small for his age, he was accepted as a cabin boy on a schooner. Thus began his exciting life on the ocean where he worked in various capacities on all types of sailing vessels ranging from fishing boats to cargo ships to banana boats.

     Despite being a "rough and tumble" seaman, West was ambitious and wanted to improve himself. A book lover, he became self-educated by avidly reading the classics and the Bible from which he could quote whole chapters by memory. Since he tried to communicate with the local people while he was in port, he learned to speak eight languages. To obtain better employment on ships, he saved money so he could attend school in Liverpool, England, and get his machinist papers.

     Sailing all over the world, West had many "close calls" while on board. Harrowing experiences included being shipwrecked, serving on ships threatened by German submarines in World War I, surviving the blast of a mine, and swimming with crocodiles in Africa.

     Being on land was no safer. West had a fight with a man trying to kill him in Glasgow. For a short time he and some shipmates were inadvertently drawn into a group involved in a revolutionary uprising in Portugal. After being stranded in Turkey, they spent four months walking across Europe until they reached the North Sea. In 1915 they had to take cover in Galveston when the devastating hurricane, second only in intensity to the 1900 storm, hit the city. Bouts with malaria occurred both on land and sea. Due to some of the threatening incidents, West suffered life-long recurring nightmares.

     Interested in history, West recalled the circumstances under which he heard news of such major events as the death of Queen Victoria and the outbreak of World War I. His hotel room in London gave him a good view of the funeral procession of King Edward VII in 1910. On the lighter side, he remembered his brief encounter with his favorite author Rudyard Kipling.

     After leading an adventurous life on the ocean, West married in 1923 and, for the first time, had a "real" home. He settled down in Galveston where he and wife Bessie raised two daughters. Despite his love of the water and living on the Gulf Coast for forty-four years, West and Bessie decided to move to dry West Texas (first to Monahans, where he refurbished a sailboat, and then Lubbock) in order to be close to their daughter and grandchildren. Needless to say, West continued to be a great storyteller throughout his life.

     Despite years of research into her father's background, Paine admits many lingering questions may never be answered. Since West's experiences and stories are so engaging, she felt they are worth preserving in book form so a wider audience can enjoy them. THE RUNAWAY is a fascinating, hard-to-put-down novel.

     The beautiful covers of the book complement the title by setting the atmosphere of the story. Paine's preface and foreword provide insight into West's family background and its mysteries. Photographs and drawings scattered throughout the work furnish visual support to parts of the narrative as do miscellaneous comments and one grandson's anecdotes about West, which are offset from the text.

     Two additional interesting pieces appear near the end of the book. The first is the imaginative story West wrote about his seaman's box. Told from a first person point of view, the box recounts briefly its history and eventful episodes of its life with West as its owner. The second item is a reproduction of West's interview printed in the Monahans newspaper in 1967.

    An epilogue relates several serendipitous events that happened to the author while visiting the places where her father spent his youth in Scotland. Her sources for additional historical data are found in end notes.

      Written in a straightforward manner, the 144-page paperback is a rarity: it can easily be read in a short amount of time. Copies of THE RUNAWAY may be purchased for $15 postpaid from Billie West Paine, 3408 42nd St., Lubbock, TX 79413 (call toll free 877-792-6408; local calls 792-6408; e-mail

     All ANSLEY descendants still have time to plan to go to the twenty-ninth annual ANSLEY family reunion scheduled for March 24 - 26, 2006 in Thomson, GA. For more details, write to James (Jim) Ansley, Jr., RR 1, Box 229, Brevard, North Carolina 28712-9770.

     A family reunion of descendants and relatives of William W. "Billy" BATES, born in GA and died in Shelby Co., TX, will be held on June 3 in Joaquin, TX. Planned activities include a talk about the DNA project in which some kinfolks are taking part and a question and answer session. Persons attending will have time to swap family stories and genealogical data (a way to copy material will be provided). Participants should also bring a covered dish or beverages to share for lunch.

     William W. "Billy" BATES was the son of David BATES and Rebecca C. SMITH. He had one full brother, John Hardy BATES. After David's death, Rebecca married John WELCH and had children by him. The combined BATES and WELCH families moved to Shelby Co., TX.

     Married five times, Billy BATES had sons John David BATES and Larkin BATES, who were half-brothers, and a daughter known only by the initials M. J. Does anyone know what her name was?

     For more details about the reunion or the Bates family, write or e-mail Alice Bates Prudhomme, 171 Sloan Rd., Mansfield, LA 71052 (e-mail