Combing through newspaper articles, census records, wills and various publications, Pickard assembled a narrative. It led her, ultimately, to Tom Jackson’s father.
It was Tom Jackson and his sister, Joan Coleman, both of Lynchburg, the great-great-great-grandchildren of Early, who donated the cradle to the museum this summer. Jackson, 62, said the cradle has been with him for the last 55 years, almost a lifetime.
After the incidents of the story, whatever version you believe, Pickard’s research shows the cradle was given back to the Early family who stored it in the attic of their home at 700 Court St. The house passed to his daughter, and then his great-grandson. Eventually, the house was disassembled and reconstructed on Peakland Place. During the move, the cradle was discovered in the attic, rockers removed, and moved with the house.
A 1937 Virginia Works Progress Administration report is the last known mention of the cradle in the public record.
Eventually, the cradle passed through the family to Jackson’s father and then to Tom, himself. It was kept in a back bedroom of the house for most of his life, he said.
“It was kind of like my little secret,” said Jackson. He said there isn’t much extra to tell, “no R-rated movie” twist. But, he continued in the same tone, earnestly: “If you ask me, I think it’s still possessed.”