Daughters’ Education In Litchfield

An English major and history minor at Lawrence University back in my college days, I today relish both genealogy and family history as well as writing about discoveries. The Fourth of July this year provided an intriguing new insight on my paternal Bradley family.

July 4th seemed to be an appropriate time to again Google my patriot ancestor Aaron Bradley of Litchfield, Connecticut, who enlisted twice as a teenager during the Revolutionary War. The Web continually gains new content so doing a web search on ancestors’ names and locations can provide new details for your family history. Remarkably, the discoveries I made were about his daughters and their educations.

Aaron Bradley was born 27 August 1762, the son of Leaming Bradley and Anna Parsons. His second great-grandfather was Stephen Bradley who arrived in New Haven, Connecticut, from Yorkshire, England, in the mid-1640s with his mother Elizabeth Bradley and siblings Ellen, Joshua, Daniel and Nathan Bradley. Stephen settled in Guilford and married Hannah Smith; they had seven children and this Bradley family lived in Guilford for several generations. Aaron, however, was born in Middletown on the Connecticut River, where his father had moved by the 1750s. At that time, Middletown was Connecticut’s largest and most prosperous town and a port city comparable to Boston and New York.

Apparently seeking new opportunities, Leaming and Anna moved in the late 1760s to Litchfield, the county seat of Litchfield County and the leading community of northwestern Connecticut. This was a prosperous period for Litchfield, followed abruptly by the Revolutionary War. Here during 1777-1778, Aaron enlisted twice for military service, first serving in the Artificers Shop where weapons were made and repaired. During his second enlistment, he was a guard for the munitions stored in Litchfield as well as for prisoners held there.

After the war, Aaron Bradley opened a blacksmith shop and other businesses, and married Lorrain Abernethy, daughter of Dr. William Abernethy of nearby Harwinton. They had two sons, Horace and Leaming, and two daughters, Mary Ann Bradley and Maria Tallmadge Bradley. Aaron was a local selectman for 9 years, 1803-1812, according to “Sketches & chronicles of the town of Litchfield, CT, historical, biographical & statistical,” published in 1859.  He represented Litchfield in the Connecticut Assemby in the October 1806, May 1808 and May 1810 sessions.

What turned up in the new Google search? Aaron and Lorrain Bradley sent their daughters to Sarah Pierce’s Litchfield Female Academy, one of the first and most important educational institutions for women in the early United States.  The Litchfield Historical Society provided these profiles about the two Bradley students:

>> Mary Ann Bradley, the oldest daughter, is believed to have attended the academy in 1806. She married Henry Wadsworth and they sent two of their children, Mary Ann Wadsworth and Charles Wadsworth, to the academy in the 1825-1828 period.
>> Maria Talmadge Bradley attended the academy in 1819. She later married William Coe.

The Litchfield Female Academy was not simply a finishing school for girls. It combined an academic curriculum including English, history, geography, writing and arithmetic with the ornamental arts such as embroidery.  Among the students were Catharine Beecher, who later founded other educational institutions for women, and her sister Harriet Beecher, after marriage known as Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

My family believed in the importance of education, my parents and sister attended the University of Wisconsin, and I was most fortunate to have an excellent liberal arts education at Lawrence. This discovery that my Bradley ancestors provided their daughters with the best possible education of their era pleases me greatly. A grateful thank you to the  Litchfield Historical Society for creating the online Litchfield Ledger with its wealth of information on the students of both the Litchfield Female Academy and the Litchfield Law School. It allowed me to make a remarkable discovery on the Fourth of July.

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Bradley Genealogy Puzzle Solved

On April 2, 2010, on Facebook, Ancestry.com posted this: “For centuries April 1st has been a day when pranksters rule, leading friends on a wild goose chase. Some of our ancestors do that year round. Have you found an elusive ancestor who took you on a path full of twists and turns? How did you finally solve the mystery?”

Several of my ancestors took me on paths of twists and turns to find them.  Here is one of my favorites, with a successful solution to the mystery, as I replied on Facebook:

Definitely! My 2nd great-grandfather Sherman A BRADLEY came to Milwaukee , Wisconsin, from Connecticut about 1857. I was led on a merry chase by the 1900 Census that said his father was born in England, his mother in Scotland. No matches in any immigration records!

So I worked to link him to the right Bradley family in Connecticut – and there are a great many. In Wisconsin marriage records [he married twice], his parents were recorded as Leming H Bradley or L. H. Bradley and Mary Simons. I found a likely match for his father’s birth as Leaming Hawkins Bradley in Litchfield, Connecticut, and a marriage there of Seyming Bradley and Mary Simons, both via the Barbour Collection of Connecticut Vital Records. [Note: Capital L and S are often misread for the other one, and Leaming is often misspelled.] No birth record for Sherman was found there, however.

An 1850 census entry with Leaming’s father Horace Bradley and two brothers John and Clark in Dodge County, Wisconsin, suggested I was on the right track. A genealogy book on Ancestry.com had this Bradley family, but only said Leaming Bradley and Mary Simonds “had several sons.” But I knew then that Seyming [Leyming] WAS Leaming – and he had sons.

The final link? Milwaukee City Directories – on microfilm, borrowed  from the Family History Library -  had entries from 1862 to 1872 for L. H. Bradley or Leming H. Bradley and one spelled correctly as Leaming H Bradley. YES! He had the same occupation as son Sherman A. Bradley, and lived just a few blocks from Sherman, his wife Hannah and their son Jesse, born 1866.

With the link finally made – using many sources and records -  I have my Bradley ancestors all the way back to the arrival of Stephen Bradley in New Haven CT from Yorkshire, England, about 1645.  So yes, English ancestors. And Leaming Hawkins Bradley’s grandfather, Aaron Bradley, married Lorrain Abernethy, and her ancestors were Scottish, of which they were quite proud.

One last confirming clue. A family tree from my uncle showed that there was a Revolutionary War soldier in the Bradley line. In fact, Aaron Bradley, L. H. Bradley’s grandfather, served in the Revolutionary War when a teenager, working in the artificer’s shop and as a guard for prisoners held in Litchfield. And so the many genealogy puzzle pieces finally fit together!

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Genetic Genealogy

Have you swabbed your cheek and submitted the little brush to a genetic genealogy testing service, then waited in anticipation for the results? I have and I recommend it to everyone interesting in learning about their “deep ancestry.”

For women, this means testing your mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA, which is passed only from mothers to their children. Both daughters and sons receive it, but only daughters pass it on to their children. This provides a way to learn about your maternal ancestors - your mother’s mother’s mother and so on.

I used the Genographic Project from National Geographic, led by geneticist Spencer Wells. There are many other choices, but we have followed Spencer Wells’ research and wanted to be able to contribute our results to his global database.

The results showed that my maternal ancestry is U5b. This is a subset of U5, thought to be one of the oldest haplogroups in Europe, estimated at 45,000 years old and clearly predating the arrival of agriculture.

When I compared the specific pattern of genetic changes in my results to other examples online, I found an exact match in a woman whose female ancestors lived in Haderslev Amt, Denmark, on the Jutland Peninsula. That is an area near the border of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. I know my maternal ancestors come from a place that is not far south from this — Wewelsfleth near Itzhoe in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany — so this was not a surprise. It was good confirmation of my female lineage’s geographic origin.

At least its rather recent geographic orgin. The woman from southern Denmark with the exact match to my mtDNA was born 1 September 1870. That’s less than 150 years ago. Using church records, I have traced my maternal line back to the early 1700s when Metta nee Oldenburg was born in Borsfleth, a village 1.8 miles [2.9 km] from Wewelsfleth, across the Stör River near its merger with the Elbe River.  That’s almost 300 years ago.

Can we find evidence of some of the specific locations where our distant genetic cousins lived further back in time using the research on mtDNA? Yes, we can. We can’t discover who they were or prove they were in our direct line of descent, but we know they are our relatives in our genetic clan or subclan.

Focusing on mtDNA haplogroup U, we find research results placing people with this genetic pattern in Europe before the arrival of farmers from the Near East. U5 in particular has been identified in human remains from the Mesolithic in places such as England, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Russia.

In a chart with the recent article  “Genetic Discontinuity Between Local Hunter-Gatherers and Central Europe’s First Farmers” by B. Bramanti et al. [Science, Vol. 326, No. 5949. (2 October 2009), pp. 137-140], dates, locations and mtDNA clades for 22 ancient skeletons are given. [Note:  the chart is available only in a print copy or  online if you have subscription]. 

The skeletons were found in Germany, Lithuania, Poland and Russia, according to the chart. Dates range from ca. 13,400 calBC [calibrated date B.C.] to ca 2250 calBC. The mtDNA results fall into these clades: U, U4, U5, U5a, U5a1, U5b1, U5b2, K, J and T2e, the most frequent  being U5b2 found in 5 of the 22 skeletons.

A few specific examples from this chart provide a glimpse of what such ancient bones can tell us about geographic locations for our ancient ancestors. Given are the genetic clade, location and date:

U – Hohler Fels, Germany – ca. 13,400 calBC
U4 – Spiginas 4, Lithuania – ca. 6350 calBC
U5 – Ostorf, Germany – ca. 3200 calBC
U5a – Drestwo 2, Poland – ca. 2250 calBC
U5a1 – Lebyazhinka IV, Russia - 8000-7000 calBC
U5b1 – Dudka 2, Poland – ca. 3250 calBC
U5b2 – Hohlenstein-Stadel, Germany – ca 6700 calBC

Other mtDNA Charts

Another listing of ancient bones that have yielded dates can be found in an easy-to-read chart. Greece, Britain, Germany, and more are included. Here you will find Cheddar Man, an old skeleton from Britain, dated to 9,000 years ago and a U5a. Also shown is Otzi the Iceman, dated to 3,000 years ago and a K1.

On that chart, my U5b is found in two locations in northern Germany. These are:
> c. 2600 BC – corded ware culture site at Eulau, located just to the southwest of Leipzig, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany,  which is about 190 miles south of Bremen and Hamburg in northern Germany. This site revealed some genetic evidence of  families and one U5b individual.
> c. 1000 BC – Lichtenstein Cave, a Bronze Age archaeological site near Dorste, Lower Saxony, Germany, where nine ancient skeletons were U5b. This is in northwest Germany.

In that chart above, U5b is also found in skeletons from Medieval Anglo-Saxon England, not surprising as the Angles and Saxons came to England from Denmark and northwest Germany, the area of my maternal ancestors described above. 

Another detailed chart of ancient Eurasian DNA with dates  and many location can be found here.] Interesting, a U5b individual has been found in Leicester, England, dated to 300-400 A.D. in the Romano-British period.

Conclusion

Overall, the ancient bones in the B. Bramanti et al. study give evidence of Haplogroup U, U4 and U5 ancestors in Germany and nearby areas thousands of years ago, giving those in these genetic lineages a sense of our deeper family history and genealogy. The other charts provide similar insights for many other mtDNA haplogroups.

And I can see some of the specific locations and cultures of my ancient U5b maternal ancestors and cousins as much as 5,000 years ago. Genetic genealogy can indeed reveal deep ancestry!

[Note: A detailed background discussion of the archeaological samples used in the B. Bramanti et al. study and the locations were they were found is available online here.]

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Twitter on Genealogy

In celebration of the first National Day on Writing or #NDoW for its Twitter hashtag, I decided a blog post was in order before midnight arrived and the day was over. I discovered I wanted to be a writer by the time I was 15 or 16, and have been very happy to have university writing, editing and PR as a 40-year career, following a 3-year stint as an English teacher and a year as a newspaper reporter and feature writer.

Here are some recent tweets at my BBPetura  Twitter account that touch on genealogy, archaeology and family:

Oct. 20, 2009

Just connected with a distant Sharp cousin – we both descend from Isaac Sharp & Mary Wolverton, early PA: http://tiny.cc/IMSharp

Oct. 18, 2009

This George Smith #genealogy lists 6 sons, 5 daughters, among them my ancestor Hannah Smith who m. Stephen Bradley: http://tiny.cc/GSmith11

Making some progress on the George Smith & Nehemiah Smith #genealogy muddle – same daughters attributed to both in early day New Haven!

Oct. 16, 2009

Looking forward to “open library” event at Whitman County Genealogical Society 10/17: http://bit.ly/3lnqUv

Oct. 14, 2009

FamilySearch invites those doing #genealogy to add to new Family Search Research Wiki: http://tiny.cc/FSWiki9 | Via @Genealogysstar

Oct. 10, 2009

#SurnameSaturday – SMITH – Reviewing old attempts to determine which kids belonged to George Smith, which to Nehemiah Smith, in New Haven.

Heading to Family History Center to order fiche for Shropshire & microfilm for Celle, Germany. Need birth records! FHC closed last Saturday!

Oct. 1, 2009

RT @archaeology Ardipithecus ramidus: a photo essay http://bit.ly/20ylBe | 4.4 million year old hominid… ancestral to humans.

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-o0o

SNGF – Ahnentafel Roulette No. 2

Note: After reviewing my Ahnentafel with greater care, I found that Jane Ebrey is No. 23 on my ancestor table while Marianna Stocker is No. 19. See Saturday, September 19,  for Ancestor 19.

This week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is Ahnentafel Roulette, a game played using your father’s age and a quick formula to find a number in your Ahnentafel or ancestry table.

My father was born in 1919 so would have been 90 this year. The figure 90 divided by 4 is 22.5, rounded up to 23. Ancestor 23 is a second-great grandmother on your paternal side.

My Ancestor 23 is Jane Ebrey, born about October 1839 in Prees, Shropshire, England. I say “about” because the many records I have for her show her birth year ranging from 1837 to 1855!  I suspect the 1837-1839 period is right, as census records give her age as 14 in 1851 and 22 in 1861.

To date I have not found a birth record for her, either through IGI or FreeBMD. I’ve even searched the latter for the name Jane in Shropshire, September 1837 through December 1840, hoping for a unique surname spelling, but no luck.

Research by a cousin showed Jane’s parents were Thomas Ebrey and Anne, and her uncle was Robert Ebrey, a widower for whom she kept house as we know from the 1861 Census in England.  While many records are available about Robert and another uncle, John Gilchrist Ebrey, Jane’s father Thomas Ebrey is illusive in the records. There is enough evidence to know these people are her family, but more research is needed!

The happy and romantic story for Jane Ebrey is her marriage to Benjamin Booth in the second quarter of 1866, perhaps in May or June,  the same time that her cousin Henry [Robert's son] married Sarah Booth, sister to Benjamin.

Then Benjamin and Jane sailed for America on their honeymoon, according to family lore, coming to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where they established  family and career. They had two sons and four daughters including the oldest daughter, Grace, who is my great-grandmother.

Relative Musings:  Jane and Benjamin arrived in 1866, just 31 years after the building of Milwaukee had begun in the woods and swamps at a harbor on Lake Michigan and just 20 years after incorporation as a city. Benjamin’s carpentry skills played a role in the building of what has become a great city on a Great Lake!

NOTE: What is an Ahnentafel? The word is German for Ancestor table. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahnentafel

Thanks for the SNGF, Randy! http://www.geneamusings.com/

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-o0o-

Published in: on September 20, 2009 at 5:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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SNGF – Ahnentafel Roulette

Note: After reviewing my Ahnentafel with greater care, I found that Marianna Stocker is No. 19 on my ancestor table. See the posting for Sunday, September 20, for Ancestor 23.

This week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is Ahnentafel Roulette, a game played as follows:
> Determine how old your father is or would be this year
> Divide that number by 4 and round up
> Find the ancestor in your own Ahnentafel chart who fills the slot with that number
> And then tell us three things about that ancestor.

My father Donald Custer Bradley was born in 1919 so would be 90 this year. The figure 90 divided by 4 is 22.5, rounded up to 23. Ancestor 23 is a second-great grandmother on your paternal side.

My ancestor 23 is Marianna Stocker, b. 18 Jun 1826 near Zweisimmen in Canton Bern, Switzerland, one of 11 children of Jacob Stocker and Magdalena Werren.

A family tree notes that Jacob and many of his children came to America, with other evidence showing their arrival about 1852-1854. Marianna settled in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.

On 31 March 1857, Marianna married Joachim Speich, who had come in 1847  to Wisconsin from Luchsingen, Glarus, Switzerland, and they had 2 sons and 3 daughters, the youngest being Caroline Belle Speich, my great-grandmother.

Relative Musings:  Both Marianna and Joachim came from German-speaking regions of Switzerland so would have felt at home among the many German immigrants in mid-19th century Milwaukee. On the other hand, they surely missed the beautiful high mountains of Switzerland, their native home, as they lived in a pioneer city on Lake Michigan in the flat Midwest of the USA.

I am grateful for the research done by cousins on these Stocker and Speich ancestors and graciously shared!

NOTE: What is an Ahnentafel? The word is German for Ancestor table. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahnentafel

Thanks for the SNGF, Randy! http://www.geneamusings.com/

Please follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBPetura

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Genealogy: Giving Back

Almost everyone doing family history research is helped by genealogists who have contributed their family trees or transcribed and posted family information online. Or volunteered to do look ups or answer questions on discussion groups. 

One of the first helpful transcriptions that I found was the obituary of my third great-grandfather Nicholas Boie who came to Wisconsin in 1854 from Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, with wife Cecilia and young daughter Elise. With one obituary, a wealth of family detail was discovered.

In turn, it is important to give back and contribute resources in ways that work  for you. Here are some materials I have donated to the Calumet County, Wisconsin, genealogy site, the same site that has the Boie obituary:

Obituaries - New Holstein, Wisconsin

Ferdinand Hachez, son of Ferdinand and Louise Hachez, husband of Elise Boie, father of many children including Clara

Clara Hachez Luehr, daughter of Ferdinand Hachez and Elise Boie Hachez, wife of William Henry Luehr, mother of Lucille Marguerite and Robert William Luehr

Mathilde Agnes “Tillie” Boie Sebelein, younger sister of Elise Boie Hachez and wife of Charles Sebelein

John August Hansen, husband of Lena Boie, sister to Elise Boie Hachez and Tillie Boie Sebelein

Anna Margretha Groth Luehr, wife of John Nicholas Luehr, mother of four sons: John, William Henry, Edward and Arthur

John Claudius Luehr, son of John Nicholas Luehr and Anna Groth Luehr, husband of Wilhelmina Kroehnke, father of three

William Henry Luehr, son of John Nicholas Luehr and Anna Groth Luehr, husband of Clara Hachez Luehr, father of Lucille Marguerite and Robert William Luehr.

Dr. Edward Luehr, son of John Nicholas Luehr and Anna Groth Luehr, husband of Louisa Holdenreid, father of two

Lydia Luehr, daugher of John Claudius and Wilhelmina Kroehnke Luehr

These are posted in the Obituaries section of the Calumet County, Wisconsin, Genealogy and History site.

Biographies - New Holstein, Wisconsin

William Henry Luehr, Wisconsin journalist, publisher, educator, principal and state government official.

This biography is posted on the Calumet County, Wisconsin, Genealogy and History site.

I also created a New Holstein genealogy and history guide on the Web that is filled with names of early pioneers and links to family and history resources.

Obituaries - Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin

Here are three obituaries I have donated to the genealogy site for Sheboygan County, which is east of Calumet County:

Lucille Marguerite Luehr Conger, daughter of William Henry Luehr and Clara Hachez Luehr, wife of Howard Dale Conger, mother of a son and a daughter

Howard Dale Conger, son of Robert Owen Conger and Eda Dell Morey Conger, husband of Lucille Marguerite Luehr Conger, father of a son and a daughter

Mary Schneider Bradley, daughter of Fred and Elisabeth Schneider of Plymouth, and second wife of Sherman A. Bradley of Milwaukee

Become a genealogy volunteer and help others find their families!

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research articles with ideas to help you find your family and ancestors. Please follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBPetura

My Genealogical Threes

Randy Seaver at GeneaMusing posed a My Genealogical Threes topic for SNGF or weekend genealogical fun. So here we go:

Three genealogical libraries I frequent:
Since I live in Pullman and work full time, my library visits are virtual… but very successful nonetheless:
> Family History Library with resources via my local Family History Center
> America’s libraries via Interlibrary loan at WSU Libraries,  a helpful, low-cost service for which I am grateful
> GoogleBooks, an extraordinary genealogy “library” [also books at Heritage Quest and Ancestry.com]

Three places I’ve visited on genealogy trips:
> Benjamin Church House, now in Shorewood, built by my third great-grandfather and Milwaukee pioneer in the 1840s.
> Milwaukee, Wisconsin, my hometown but unappreciated from a genealogy standpoint until recently
> New Holstein, Wisconsin, where my ancestors from Bremen and Schleswig-Holstein settled in the 1850s.

Three ancestral places I want to visit:
> Litchfield & Guilford, Connecticut – Bradley
> Hodnet & Prees, Shropshire, England – Booth, Ebrey
> Wewelsfleth, Holstein, Germany – Tonner, von Thun, Suhr, Witt, Rossman, Stindt, Sommer, other ancestors

Three genealogy societies I belong to (or want to):
I list one historical society because they often offer invaluable assistance to genealogists as well:
> New Holstein Historical Society - Wisconsin
> Ulster County Genealogical Society - New York
> New England Historic Genealogical Society

Three websites that help my research:
> Ancestry.com
> Links to the Past - for Milwaukee County
> Calumet County Genealogy & History - for New Holstein

Three ancestral graves that I’ve visited (or want to)
> Boie Monument
- New Holstein, Wisconsin
> Hachez Monument - New Holstein, Wisconsin
> Church Monument , Forest Home – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Three brickwall ancestors I want to research more
> Jane Ebrey - my gg-grandmother, b. abt 1839 in Shropshire, need to confirm her parents, said to be Thomas and Anne Ebrey
> Hannah Baker Church, b. 4 March 1773, Ulster County, NY, my fourth great-grandmother who became a Quaker minister, wife of Caleb and mother of 10. Parents unknown.
> Caleb Church, b. abt. 1772, possibly in Dutchess County, NY, my fourth great-grandfather, said to be descended from Richard Church of Plymouth, Mass., but unproven.

Other answers to this fun challenge have been posted by:
> Thomas MacEntee
> Randy Seaver
> and many more here!

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research articles to help you find your family and ancestors, often for modest or no cost. Please follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBPetura

Brickwall Overcome

Every one doing genealogy research eventually comes to a brickwall, that spot in the family tree when you can go no further.  This is the story of overcoming a family history brickwall using many and varied resources to succeed, including the help of two generous genealogists. The result was, for me, a remarkable new insight into my heritage.

My paternal uncle had gathered considerable family information and sketches of family trees for various lines of our family.  It was in these notes that I first encountered the name Frederick Bruce, an ancestor who came to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from New York with his family in 1842. Those key facts came from the book I Was Born in America: The Memoirs of William George Bruce.

Frederick was the father of Augustus F. Bruce, who in turn was the father of Martin P. Bruce, my great-grandfather. William George Bruce  (1856-1949) — Martin’s oldest brother — wrote and published many books on Milwaukee history and other topics.

Thus I set off with high hopes of finding more about Frederick Bruce in census and other records in Wisconsin and New York. Instead, I immediately hit a brickwall. There was no Frederick Bruce in census records in Wisconsin or New York, nor in the 1848-1849 Milwaukee City Directory. In contrast, I could find many records starting about 1857 for Frederick’s three sons: Augustus Bruce in Milwaukee, Martin F. Bruce near Pensacola, Florida, and John Bruce in San Francisco, California.

So I began collecting all the information I could about the three sons, and garnered additional insights from W. G. Bruce’s Memoirs.  I was delighted to be able to purchase a copy of the book that included portraits of Augustus F. Bruce, his wife Apollonia Becker Bruce and their son William George Bruce.

Pieces of the puzzle emerged. Frederick Bruce, his wife and son August came to America from Prussia in the 1830s. Sons Martin and John appeared to have been born in New York. The traditional male occupations for the family were sailor, ship’s carpenter and ship’s caulker.  And they were Protestants.  Clearly the family came from a port city with shipyards along the northern coast of Prussia, in other words near the Baltic Sea coast. But where?

A vital clue was provided on a copy of the abstract of the will of August Bruce, also called August F. Bruce, alias Bruss. Here was the original spelling of the family name, used until the late 1850s when all three sons began using the anglicized Bruce.

So when I found Frederick Bruss, a ship’s carpenter, in the 1847-1848 Milwaukee City Directory, I was elated — until I realized that he lived in the Second Ward on the west side of Milwaukee River, while our family had lived in the First Ward on the east side of the river, according to W. G. Bruce’s Memoirs.

I continued doing research. I discovered a Bruss family than had arrived from Pomerania in 1839, came to Milwaukee and then moved just north of the city to a new village called Freidstadt or “free city.” They were among the Old Lutherans who emigrated from Prussia to continue practicing their Lutheran faith, when the Prussian Emperor Wilhelm III forced a merger of Lutheran and Calvinist churches into one union church.

That Bruss family came from Cammin, north of Stettin and very near the Baltic Sea. When I read that Cammin was an historic Hanseatic shipbuilding city, I had a “eureka” moment. Could this be where my Bruss family was from? I decided to post a query summarizing all the salient details that I had collected about the family. I noted that the Prussia/Germany Genealogy Forum had an expert shown as Robert T. who helped many family seekers.

In a very short time, he replied and asked if this family from Cammin, Pomerania, Prussia was the one I was seeking: Martin Friedrich Bruss, age 40, journeyman ship’s carpenter; Sophie Bruss, née Stiemke, age 37, w; August Bruss, age 9, s; Martin Bruss, age 6, s; Johann Bruss, age 4, s. [W is wife, S is son]. 

The family sailed,  he wrote, on the ship Echo from Liverpool to New York City, arriving 19 September 1839. The Echo was one of five or six ships that brought about 1,000 Old Lutherans to America, where they settled in and around Buffalo, New York, or Milwaukee, Wisconsin. [Note: the Echo's passenger list has the surname misspelled as Buss, and both ages and occupation wrong, but Martin, Sophia, August, Martin and Johan are clearly shown.]

This certainly looked like my ancestors, except that sons Martin and Johann or John were also born in Cammin, not in New York.

How could I confirm this apparent match? I knew that John Bartelt, the genealogist with the Bruss ancestors in Freistadt, had obtained birth records for his own Bruss ancestors via microfilm. I wrote to him on the chance that he had the Martin Friedrich Bruss family details, and he did. He kindly sent the birth and baptism dates for sons August, Martin and Johann and they matched dates I had collected from other sources.  He also sent the birth and baptism dates for the oldest son, Wilhelm, who died young according to family history. This certainly was my family! And how wonderful to have Sophie’s name!

Now I could find them recorded in the 1943 book about the Old Lutherans, written in German by Wilhelm Iwan and translated into English. Martin Friedrich Bruss, journeyman ship carpenter, and his family from Kammin at shown at the very bottom of this listing of emigrants.

I wrote thank you messages to Robert and John, for their kindness was essential to helping me overcome this brickwall.

And then I remembered that there was a Martin Bruss in the First Ward on the east side of the Milwaukee River listed in the 1847-1848 Milwaukee City Directory – right where William George Bruce said his grandfather settled when he came to Milwaukee.

I was now able to find him in the 1850 Census in Milwaukee’s First Ward, age 51, a ship’s carpenter with $1,500 in real estate, surname recorded as Brass. He had remarried since Sophie had died — apparently in the cholera epidemic, W. G. Bruce had written. Recorded with Martin in the 1850 Census were his sons Martin, a sail maker, and John. All three were recorded as born in Germany. August, the oldest son, likely was away sailing on the Great Lakes.

Overcoming this brickwall took three years of researching on and off, looking again at what I had discovered, trying new approaches, and then taking a chance on a possible solution based on the clues I had accumulated. I am grateful to everyone who helped me find this part of my family who were among the first Germans to settle in Milwaukee when it was still three villages — Juneautown on the eastside, Kilbourntown on the westside and Walker’s Point on the southside — not to be incorporated until 1846.

Antiques: Pastime to Business, Part II

In Part II of this interview with Elizabeth Bradley, we will learn more about the different types of antiques she collects for her Elizabeth Bradley Antiques.

Q:  Victorian Staffordshire figures are varied and popular. What types of figures do you specialize in?

A:  I especially love the Staffordshire dogs… all breeds… and the animals… sheep, cows, rabbits.  Royal figures as children, from the Victorian era, are popular, too. These are my favorites and seem to appeal to my customers, too.

Q:  What is Imari, and how do Chines and Japanese Imari differ?

A:  At the end of the 17th century, Japanese ceramics became fashionable and were heavily influenced by Korea. They were shipped from a port in Japan called Imari and became known as Imariware. Early Japanese Imari was underglaze blue ceramic with overglaze enamels of cobalt blue, iron red and gilt. Most early Japanese Imari is in museums or private collections.

Rarely did the Chinese copy from the Japanese, but they did copy early Japanese Imari, in the 18th century, turning out a finer porcelain with a much more delicate color palette.  Then, in the mid-19th century, the Japanese began to produce Imari for a larger market, with vibrant blues and reds. This is the Japanese Imari we see and collect today. Later Japanese Imari is far more reasonably priced than Chinese Imari as it is later, more primitive and there is more of it available.

Q:  What is Canton pottery?

A:  Canton pottery was made in China in the 19th century and was often used as ballast for the ships that brought tea to America. It is generally crudely made and can be found in many different forms.  Often it was purchased by early Americans to be used as every-day china as it was very cheap.  There is a “kitchen set” at Mount Vernon.  Over the years, it became more prized and more rare.  Today Canton is a collector’s item.

Q:  What do you look for when selecting pieces, whether Staffordshire or Imari or Canton pottery?

A: First of all, the piece has to be aesthetically pleasing.  Then I look for the best condition and color and general appeal, and of course, reasonableness of price.

Q:  What advice do you give someone who is interested in collecting antique Staffordshire, Imari, or Canton and Oriental pottery?

A:  Buy what you love, first of all. Although antiques generally appreciate in value over the years, if you worry about resale value, then buy stocks and bonds. Most importantly, buy antiques that become part of your life and home. Condition is important but, sometimes, with a really rare piece, condition becomes less important. For example, I have a wonderful Japanese wooden temple guardian figure, missing most of its paint and gilt. It doesn’t matter to me because I will never find another one.

Q:  What is your greatest pleasure in working with these antiques?

A:  I love to look at them… some days, I have one favorite, some days, another. I often say, “I am so pleased that we bought that lovely Chinese Imari urn or a charming Staffordshire dog.”

People often ask how I can bear to sell the things we buy. I have developed a philosophy: some things I buy to keep, some things I specifically buy to sell, and some things pass through our collection. When we are ready, we sell them. It is a fluid collection for us and we never tire of it.

> Visit the Elizabeth Bradley Antiques to learn about about the Bradleys and their beautiful antiques.

 

> Read Part I of this interview, for a look at how Elizabeth Bradley was introduced to the world and the business of antiques.

Published in: on March 2, 2007 at 2:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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