Permilia, wife of Benjamin Church

52 Weeks, 52 Ancestors: Number One
QUERY for the wife of Benjamin F. Church, her name perhaps Elizabeth Permilia Clemens Church

I am seeking the parents, birth date and birth place for the wife of Benjamin F. Church, a pioneer builder who arrived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1835 from Ulster County, New York. He spent time in Chicago in 1834 before coming on to Milwaukee. I would also like to know when and where she married Benjamin. Here is what is known about her from various records:

Given names: She is Permelia Church in the 1850 Census, Permilia Church in her first daughter’s marriage record [1859] and Parmelia Church in her 2nd daughter’s marriage record [1875]. In deeds in 1840 with husband Benjamin she is recorded as Parmelia H., Pamelia or Purmelia. She is recorded as Elizabeth Church, a married woman, in the 1856 burial records at Forest Home Cemetery where she is buried in the Benjamin Church Lot with infant Benjamin F. Church Jr. who died 1850. She may have been Elizabeth Permilia or Permilia Elizabeth.

Surname: Her surname of Clemens is given in just one place, her first daughter’s death record [1891] where she is listed as P. Clemens. This is unconfirmed, and could be Clements or other name.

Birth: She was born in New Hampshire in 1815 or 1816, as per the 1850 Census where she is shown as 34 years old.

Marriage: An 1838 or 1839 marriage date is estimated based on the apparent 1840 birth of her oldest known child, Ann Maria Church, recorded as 10 in the 1850 Census. No marriage record has been found for Benjamin and Permilia, either in Milwaukee [Early Milwaukee Marriages booklet] or in Chicago [Fink Index].

Meeting: We can only wonder where they met, whether in Buffalo, New York, the port where ships sailed to Chicago and Milwaukee, or in Chicago where Benjamin first settled in 1834 or Milwaukee. She would have been with parents or other relatives. Ulster County, New York, is on the Hudson River, so it is likely Benjamin went west to Chicago via the river, the Erie Canal and then a Great Lakes ship. He came overland to Milwaukee in the fall of 1835, and returned to Chicago to settle his affairs before settling in Milwaukee, according to his obituary [1887].

Children: Benjamin and Permilia had 6 known children: Ann Maria Church [1840-1891], Ann Augusta Church [1843-1876],  Charles B. Church [1847-1885], Benjamin Church Jr [1850-1850],  John Benjamin Church [1851-1911] and Susan Church [1855-1870]

Death: Benjamin’s wife died 21 Feb 1856, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, according to Forest Home Cemetery records for the Benjamin Church plot. Recorded as Elizabeth Church. No Church in the death index, Milwaukee Register of Deeds, 1852-1875.

I have found Clemens families in New Hampshire in census records of the right period, even some with females of the right age in their household. But I have not found a published genealogy or other source that puts Elizabeth Permilia into a family. This is a tough brickwall and any help would be appreciated.

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Published in: on December 28, 2013 at 7:17 pm  Comments (4)  
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Honoring a World War II Veteran

Donald Custer Bradley continued a Bradley family tradition of serving his country, a tradition stretching back to his ancestor Aaron Bradley of Litchfield, Connecticut, who served in the Revolution War and to ancestors who served in local militia groups in Guilford, Connecticut, in the 1600s. Here is his story, shared on Veterans Day 2012.

Donald C. Bradley studied military science and was a Cadet Captain in ROTC at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he graduated on May 29, 1943. On July 1, 1943, he received orders to report to Camp McCoy, near LaCrosse, Wisconsin. He was then transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia, for six months of training. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant of Infantry at Fort Benning, Georgia, on Dec. 30, 1943.

His first assigments were training troops as follows:
— Feb. 27-June 4, 1944, IRTC, Camp Roberts, Templeton and Atascadero, California.
— June 6-July 18, 1944, Camp Adair, Corvallis and Albany, Oregon, 70th Infantry Division.
— July 22-August 11, 1944, Fort Leonard Wood, Lebanon, Missouri, 70th Infantry Division.

On September 5, 1944, his second wedding anniversary, he was in New York City waiting to be shipped overseas to Europe. This was three months after the D-Day Invasion. He went first to England and then to France for the end of the Allied Campaign in northern France. He was assigned to the 116th Infantry of the 29th Division that, in late September, took up defensive positions along the Teveren-Geilenkirchen line near Aachen inside Germany.

Lt. Bradley was wounded at the Battle of Aachen, which began on October 13, 1944. Located near the border with Belgium, Aachen was the first major German city to face invasion by the Allies. The American 1st and 30th Divisions began the assault, but when the 30th had many losses, parts of the 29th Division entered the battle. Military historians state that winning Aachen was key critical step for American soldiers attempting to breach the fortified Siegfried Line in the fall of 1944.

More specifically for Lt. Bradley, his 116th Infantry was deployed in the Aachen battle as follows: “The main German escape route from Aachen was the road to Alsdorf, which ran northeast from the besieged city. With attached battalions from the 66th Armd. Regt., 120th Inf. Regt., and 99th Inf. Bn., the 116th moved against Wurselen, five miles north of Aachen, Oct. 13, repulsed a counter-attack, cut the Alsdorf Road to seal the Aachen Gap.”  [Source: “29 Let’s Go!” — a small booklet on the history of the 29th Infantry Division, published by the Stars & Stripes in Paris in 1944-1945.]  The Combat Chronicle of the 29th Division in World War II also reports of 1944 battles that “In mid-October the 116th Infantry took part in the fighting at the Aachen Gap.”

After hospitalization and healing, Don rejoined the 29th Division in action pushing east into Germany. He was with Allied Forces when they met the Russian Army at the Elbe River at the end of the war.  Some sources say the Division had reached the Elbe on April 19, 1945, and that first radio contact with the Soviet troops occurred by April 23. The official meetings of American and Russian forces occurred on April 26, 1945, near Torgau.

According to the “29 Let’s Go!” booklet, “Given a regular combat mission again, the 29th dispatched its 115th and 116th to clear all opposition in the division sector west of the Elbe. Resistance was slight; the river was reached April 26.”

A 1945 newspaper article from Wisconsin summarized it this way: “Lt. Bradley, a rifle platoon leader, fought with the 116th Infantry of the 29th Division from Aachen to the Elbe River, where his unit was one of the first to make contact with the Russians. He was wounded in the Battle for Aachen and was awarded the Purple Heart.”The article added that Don was then transferred to the Military Police Platoon, 95th Infantry Division, and returned to the United States with that platoon. There was every expectation that his next assignment would be in the Pacific, but the Japanese surrender in mid-August 1945 made that unnecessary.

Lt. Bradley completed his military duties with assignments as follows:
— August 10-October 13, 1945, stationed at Camp Shelby, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, awaiting redeployment.
— October 15, 1945-March 9, 1946, Camp Butner, Durham, North Carolina

Don, his wife and their young daughter then headed home via a visit to Washington, D.C., and its historic monuments, including a stop of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The U.S. 29th Infantry Division has as its motto, “29. Let’s Go!” Its nickname is Blue and Gray, and its patch is a yin and yang symbol of the two colors, recognizing that it was made up of units that fought for the Union and the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Donald C. Bradley was awarded a Purple Heart, recognizing that he had been wounded in action. The original Purple Heart, called the Badge of Military Merit, was created by George Washington in 1782.

File:Purpleheart.jpg

SOURCES:
=> Find the booklet “29 Let’s Go!” at this Web address: http://www.lonesentry.com/gi_stories_booklets/29thinfantry/
=> Read the story of the 116th Infantry during World War II: http://116thinfantry.org/2.html
=> See the history of the 29th Division at this Web address: http://www.29infantrydivision.org/ and also here: http://www.freewebs.com/29thbattlefieldclan/29thhistory.htm

Finding Mary Simmons & Her Ancestors, Part Three

In Parts One and Two, we found we found the wife of Leaming Hawkins Bradley and mother of Sherman Abernethy Bradley to be Mary Simmons of the Town of Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut. We estimated her birth year as 1811 or 1812 and then found that her father very likely was Job Simmons who lived in the Town of Litchfield.

Who Job’s Wife and Mary’s Mother?

If Job was Mary’s father, who was her mother? Unlike most of the Simmons families who moved west from northwest Connecticut into New York in the early 1800s, Job remained in the Town of Litchfield until his death in 1855. Thus, he was enumerated in the 1850 Census as Job Simmons, age 71, a farmer, with his wife Arsena Simmons, 67, both born in Connecticut. They lived in or near the village of Milton in the Town of Litchfield, west of the village of Litchfield and north of the village of Bantam or Bradleyville. [See map for all three villages.]

In 1834, Job Simmons had purchased a 1/8th share of the Simmons Forge located near Milton. Two previous Simmons individuals owning the iron works there were John and Solomon, mentioned in Part Two. Others who owned part of the Simmons Forge at one time or another were Eri Grannis, Guerdon Grannis and Thomas Grannis as well as Chauncey Dennison.

Arsena Simmons was recorded with other variations for her first name. She and Job are buried at the Headquarters Cemetery just south of Milton. There they are recorded on gravestones as Job Simmons, died 20 June 1855, age 76, and Arseneth, consort of Job Simmons, died Feb. 23, 1869, age 86. A consort is a wife.

They can be found in the book Litchfield and Morris Inscriptions and also on FindaGrave with a memorial for Job Simmons and another memorial for Arseneth Simmons. When Fanny B. Simmons died on 25 June 1818 at age 4 years 4 months, her parents were shown as Job and Arcena Simmons. Fanny too is buried in the Headquarters Cemetery. [Note: some sources say she was 7 years 4 months old at death.]

With is no indication that Job Simmons married more than once, it is likely that Arsena or Arseneth is the mother of Mary Simmons while Fanny B. Simmons is her sister. The book History of the Simmons family: from Moses Simmons, 1st, (Moyses Symonson) ship “Fortune” 1621 to and including the eleventh generation lists just one child, the daughter Fanny B. Simmons, likely because she is buried with her parents and official birth records were missing. Some family trees also list a daughter named Caroline, born in 1804.

Key Piece of Evidence

While I believed my theory about the parents of Mary Simmons was a sound one, I really wanted another source for confirmation. That came in the form of a mortuary notice at the time of her death.

On 14 Sep 1854, the Litchfield Republican newspaper carried this very brief notice: “In Chicago, Ill., July 18th, Mary, wife of Leaming H. Bradley, and daughter of Job Simmons of Milton.” Here, in less than 20 words, was confirmation that the Mary Simmons who married Leaming H. Bradley was indeed the daughter of Job Simmons who lived in Milton, Town of Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut. Arsena or Arsenth Simmons must have been her mother.

With these multiple sources, I had confimed the parents of one of my third-great-grandmothers on my father’s side. The next challenge would be to try to find more about Mary’s Simmons ancestors. We’ll take that up in Part Four.

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Published in: on October 29, 2011 at 11:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Finding Mary Simmons & Her Ancestors, Part Two

In Part One, we discovered the wife of Leaming Hawkins Bradley and mother of Sherman Abernethy Bradley to be Mary Simmons. She married Leaming on 19 September 1830 in the Town of Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut. The marriage is in the Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records. While that was satisfying, that discovery piqued our curiosity to learn more about her – and hopefully to find  her parents and ancestors.

No birth record for Mary is found in the Barbour Collection for the Town of Litchfield so we had to turn to other sources to find her birth place and estimate her birth date. With those details, we hoped to find her parents.

Birth Place and Estimated Birth Year
Mary’s marriage record in the Barbour Collection showed that both she and husband Leaming were “of Litchfield,” meaning the Town of Litchfield, Litchfield County. This seemed to mean that she was born in the Town of Litchfield as well as living there at the time of marriage. That was true for Leaming.

For an estimate of her date of birth, we turned to the 1840 Census, taken on June 1 of that year. The household of Leaming H. Bradley was located that year in the Town of Washington, Litchfield County, immediately southwest of the Town of Litchfield.

See here for a map of Litchfield towns or townships. Then see here for a map of Litchfield County with its towns, the area of Bantam (home of the Bradleys) on the west side of the Town of Litchfield, and, if you look closely, a line for the Litchfield & New Milford Turnpike that – believe it or not – started at Aaron Bradley’s barn on the Litchfield end. Aaron was Leaming’s grandfather.

The Leaming H. Bradley household was enumerated as follows: two males 5 & under 10 [likely the sons mentioned in the Cutter book, one of them likely Sherman A. Bradley], one male 15 & under 20, one male 30 & under 40 [Leaming, age 32], one female under 5 and one female 20 & under 30 [Leaming’s wife Mary].

Discovering Mary’s Father
When America conducted its first census in 1790, five Simmons households were enumerated in the Town of Litchfield. The households were those of John, Peres, Rufus, Solomon and William Simmons, with William’s surname recorded Simons. I had encountered this fact while transcribing the business journal of Aaron Bradley, Leaming’s grandfather, and finding a few details about each customer. Aaron had a blacksmith shop, tavern and grocery in the Bantam area of the Town of Litchfield, called for a time Bradleyville. Rufus Simmons was a customer in 1795.

Due to this multiplicity of Simmons’ housesholds, I felt I would have a difficult time determining Mary’s parents and ancestors. But I had to try.

With Mary’s birth about 1811 or 1812, I decided to search the 1810 Census for Simmons families in the Town of Litchfield. Remarkably, there was just one: the Job Simmons family with a household as follows: one male 26-44 [Job, 31], two males under 10, one female 45 and over,  one female 26 to 44 [likely Job’s wife], and two females under 10. Households recorded adjacent to Job Simmons were those of Chauncey Dennison and Thomas Grannis.

Here certainly were parents of the right age to have a daughter born in 1811 or 1812. Next we turned to the 1820 Census to learn more about this family. In that year, the Job Simmons household was comprised of four men and three women, with two of the people engaged in agriculture. The oldest male and female were each in the 26-44 years old age range, with Job about 41 at the time, the female likely his wife.

And there among the young people in the Job Simmons household in 1820 was one female under 10 who could be Mary Simmons as she would have been about 8 or 9 years old. Job Simmons looked more and more as if he were Mary’s father.

The next challenge would be to try to find her mother, siblings and further ancestors. We’ll take that up in Part Three.

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Finding Mary Simmons & Her Ancestors, Part One

I thought it would be impossible to find the parents of the Mary Simmons who married Leaming Hawkins Bradley in 1830 in Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut. Right after the Revolutionary War, there were several Simmons families in that county. Fortunately, I was wrong. The saga of finding Mary and her ancestors offers several helpful genealogy research lessons.

First discoveries about Mary
When Leaming and Mary’s son Sherman Abernethy Bradley married Hannah M. Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on 6 January 1859, the person taking down Sherman’s parents failed to get Mary’s maiden name. They were recorded as Leman H. Bradley and Mary C. Bradley. So that was my first brickwall concerning Mary: no maiden name.

As an aside, Leaming is a surname turned into a given name, and it is misspelled in many different ways including Leman, Leming, Leyming and more. Leaming Hawkins Bradley apparently insisted that his middle initial H. be included whenever his name was recorded. This gave me a helpful clue that a record was for my third-great-grandfather, even if the spelling of his first name was mangled. He also went by L. H. Bradley.

Then one day, while reading about the importance of doing research on all members of a family, I remembered that Sherman A. Bradley married a second time. I wondered if his mother’s maiden name would be on that second marriage certificate. To my great delight, it was.

When Sherman married Mary Schneider on 11 January 1882 in Plymouth, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, his parents were recorded as L. H. Bradley and Mary Simmons. Now I could learn more about my third-great-grandmother and confirm that Sherman A. Bradley was from Litchfield County, Connecticut.

Her own marriage record
Once I had Mary’s maiden name, I recalled a curious entry in the Barbour Collection of the Vital Records for the Town of Litchfield, Litchfield County. It read: Seyming Bradley and Miss Mary Simons, both of Litchfield, married there on 18 September 1830. Knowing how often the old script letters L and S are confused for each other, I was pretty sure that this really was Leyming Bradley and Mary Simmons. [I now have a certified copy from the town clerk of the original document and can confirm the name is Leyming, a phonetic version of Leaming].

This marriage was the best match I had found for the parents of Sherman A. Bradley whose place of birth on his 1859 marriage certificate was “near New Haven, Connecticut.” But could I found any other source for this being the marriage of Leaming H. Bradley and Mary Simmons?

Leaming’s birth in Barbour Collection
Fortunately, the birth of Leaming Hawkins Bradley was recorded with the Litchfield Town Clerk and was transcribed correctly in the Barbour Collection. He was born 10 October 1808 in Litchfield to Horace Bradley and Hannah who was recorded there as Hannah Hawkins but actually was Hannah Twitchell. Her mother’s maiden name was Hawkins, the source of the middle name for Horace and Hannah’s first son Leaming.

The Cutter genealogy book
While I believed my theory about Sherman A. Bradley’s parents was a sound one, I really wanted another source for confirmation. That came in the form of an item in the Bradley genealogy section in a major book, Genealogical and Family History of Central New York, Vol. III. The editor was William Richard Cutter.

On page 1224, listed first among the children of Horace Bradley and Hannah Twitchell, was “Leaming, married Mary Simonds and had several sons.” Here was Leaming’s first name spelled correctly, his marriage to Mary Simonds, another variation of Simons and Simmons – and the mention of sons.

With these multiple sources, I was convinced I had found the name and the birthplace of my third-great-grandmother on my father’s side of the family. The next challenge would be to try to find her parents and further ancestors. We’ll take that up in Part Two.

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Saluting Ancestors’ Labors

When we go back far enough in our genealogy and family history research, most of us will find ancestors — women and men — who labored as farmers. This Labor Day column explores a number of the diverse occupations followed by my ancestors, some quite surprising when I first learned of them. America is indeed the land of opportunity as seen in the changing careers down the generations.

My ancestor Caleb Church and his wife Hannah Baker lived in New Paltz, Ulster County, New York, where he was a farmer and cooper and she was a wife, mother of 10 and a Quaker preacher. Hannah, who lived from 1775 to 1843, is one of the first women in my family tree with a career that took her outside the home. Caleb also was his own lawyer, according to Descendants of Richard Church of Plymouth, Mass.

Their son Benjamin F. Church, my ancestor, went west to Chicago and then in 1835 to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he was a pioneer carpenter and builder. He was the “boss carpenter” for one of the first hotels in the nascent city and his Greek revival family home has been preserved as the Benjamin Church House or Kilbourntown House, a museum of pioneer life in southeast Wisconsin.

My Bruce ancestors, surname orginally Bruss, came to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1839 from the Baltic port city of Cammin, Kreis Cammin, Pomerania. The traditional male occupation was ship building and ship caulking, with the young men sailors until they married and settled down. Martin Friedrich Bruss and his sons Augustus, Martin and John all followed the family tradition, the first two in Milwaukee, son Martin near Pensacola, Florida, and John in San Francisco.

By the next generation, the sons of Augustus Bruce had careers in publishing (William George Bruce), tanning company executive (Albert J. Bruce), postal delivery (Augustus I. Bruce), and accounting and later Milwaukee Athletic Club secretary (Martin P. Bruce). The daughter of Martin P. Bruce and his wife Grace Booth Bruce was a teacher while their son was an attorney, both in Milwaukee.

An entrepreneurial tradition is found in my Bradley ancestors, starting with Aaron Bradley who enlisted twice during the Revolutionary War, then married Lorain Abernethy and two sons, two daughters and several different businesses. He was a blacksmith first, then added a tavern and grocery store at his location in Bradleyville or Bantam, Town of Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut. I imagine it was a very busy place with farmers bringing oxen and horses for shoeing or tea kettles needing new bails or handles; travellers on the post road stopping for a meal and a drink; and students from Sarah Pierce’s Litchfield Female Academy and from the Litchfield law school coming to Mr. Bradley’s for a bit of entertainment. He also had a nail factory, Aron Bradley & Co., as shown by a 1798 ad, and was a selectman and a representative to the Connecticut Assembly.

Aaron’s great-grandson Sherman Abernethy Bradley came to Milwaukee in the late 1850s, appearing in public records first in the 1857-1858 Milwaukee Directory, listed as a carpenter. He later launched the Badger Pump Company of which he was the proprietor, pumps in those days made of wood. Then for a time he was co-owner of the Brockhaus & Bradley planing mill, and continued in the timber and lumber business throughout his life. One of Sherman’s grandsons was a banker and while his two great-grandsons had fine careers, one as an attorney and the other as an executive of the Wisconsin Telephone Company. Two of his great-great-granddaughters have had careers in public relations.

My Hachez ancestors came to New Holstein, Wisconsin, in 1854 from Bremen, Germany, where men of the Hachez family had been merchants for several generations. Even today the Hachez chocolate factory is an important feature of the City of Bremen. Ferdinand Hermann Hachez at first pursued farming as that was the natural occupation in New Holstein, a rural area between Lake Winnebago and Lake Michigan. He served as president of the German Agricultural Society there in 1867.

However, in 1870, Ferdinand Hachez Sr. and several other New Holstein men founded the Mutual Hail Insurance Company of Wisconsin and he became an insurance salesman. His son Ferdinand Hachez saw an opportunity when the railroad came to New Holstein in 1872. He left farming and for two decades operated the Farmer’s and Mechanics Saloon at the east end of the village of New Holstein, not far from the railroad station. Later, when grandchildren were born, he and wife Elise Boie Hachez returned to farming.

I found it fascinating to realize that some of my ancestors truly were “builders of Milwaukee,” my hometown. Many more stories of ancestors’ occupations await next year’s Labor Day for the telling. Until then:

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Bradley Ancestor’s Baptism in Yorkshire

Today, right before my eyes, thanks to the Internet, on a page headed “Children Baptized,” was my ninth great-grandfather’s baptism in the records of All Saints parish church, Bingley, West Yorkshire, England. The graceful script entry on a page for the year 1642 reads as follows: “Aug: 21 Steuen the sonne of Daniell Broadley de West Morton.” While the location for Daniel is a bit hard to decipher on this his youngest child’s baptism record, the phrase de West Morton is clear on his own burial record for November 27, 1641, also at All Saints parish church.

Viewing that page was a very satisfying part of my five-year quest to trace my Bradley ancestors from Wisconsin to Connecticut and then back to England. The first part of this genealogy journey was the discovery of the parents and place of origin of Sherman Abernethy Bradley who came from Connecticut to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the late 1850. That sleuthing used varied sources including:
> Census records from 1840 through 1905
> Genealogy books that include Leaming and Mary in a Bradley genealogy outline
> The marriage record for Leaming Bradley and Mary Simons in Litchfield, Connecticut
> Two Wisconsin marriage records for Sherman with one having his mother’s maiden name (thank goodness!)
> Milwaukee city directories from the 1850s and 1860s

Using those resources, I was able to conclude that Sherman’s parents were Leaming Hawkins Bradley and Mary Simons of Litchfield, Connecticut. Read that part of solving the Bradley genealogy puzzle.

Once I had made the connection between Wisconsin and Connecticut, I had many sources that outlined the genealogy for this branch of the Bradley family back to Stephen Bradley who immigrated from England. Among these sources are:
> The Descendants of Danyell Broadley de West Morton, a major Bradley genealogy online
> Profile of Stephen Bradley, son of Danyell, who came to America, in the above genealogy
> The Bradley Line including Stephen, in New England families, genealogical and memorial, Vol 4 edited by William Richard Cutter
> Profile of William Bradley of New Haven that mentions his mother and half-siblings including Stephen Bradley
And many others as the Bradley story was retold in the biographical sketches of the immigrants’ descendants.

While I had encountered many times my Bradley family’s origins in and around Bingley, West Yorkshire, England, I at last could see the baptism record that confirmed the story. I could look up All Saints parish church in Bingley to learn its story — the present structure is from the reign of Henry VIII — and see pictures of the church where the baptism occurred. And I could learn more about Bingley, a market town between Bradford and Keighley as seen on this map. And about the nearby rural locations of East Morton and West Morton, the latter the location for Stephen’s father Danyell or Daniel.

At last I had the evidence, in the baptismal record, to say this truly was the home in England of my Bradley ancestors. All the pieces of the puzzle came together.

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Published in: on July 11, 2011 at 2:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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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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Gold Rush & Genealogy

As is the case for many American families, we have relatives whose lives were changed by the Gold Rush to California in the mid-1800s. Brothers John and Martin Bruce were not miners, but instead were attracted to the Gold Rush boom town, San Francisco. Here is their story along with the genealogy resources that helped us find them.

Gold Rush: Prelude and Impact

On July 7, 1846, California was claimed for the United States during the Mexican-American War, and the town called Yerba Buena was similarly claimed two days later. On July 11, 1846, the American flag replaced the California Republic flag at Sutter’s Fort, a sign that California was joining the United States. The following year, on January 30, 1847, the town of Yerba Buena, founded in 1835, was renamed San Francisco.

Gold was discovered on January 24, 1848, at the lumber mill on the American River owned by Captain John A. Sutter. The gold discovery was published in the San Francisco newspaper The Californian in March, 1848, but gained little credence. Then, on May 12, 1848, gold fever was set off in San Francisco when merchant Sam Brannan from Sutter’s Fort waved a bottle of gold dust and yelled: “Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River.” > See Source.

Population then surged in San Francisco, climbing from 1,000 in 1848 to 25,000 by December 1949. The Gold Rush boom town was off and running. And the United States moved quickly to bring California into the Union, making it the 31st state on September 9, 1850. > See Source No 1 and Source No 2.

The wealth being created was the major lure for miners and others. The value of gold exported from California in 1854 was $51,429,101, while in 1855, gold exports were valued at $44,640,090. Also in 1854, the United States opened the San Francisco Mint and in its first year turned $4 million in gold bullion into coins. > See Source No 1 and Source No 2.

Many opportunities for work and wealth developed. In 1855, a bill to develop a line of steamships running between San Francisco and Shanghai, China, was under consideration in the state’s House of Representatives. And Gov. John Bigler pushed for legislation to gain for San Francisco the benefits of the whale trade in the Pacific. San Francisco would become, for a time, the largest seaport and international trade center on the West Coast. Building and repairing ships would be essential to the city’s economy. > See Source.

Off to San Francisco

With its glitter of gold and opportunities for work in the ship building industries, San Francisco drew the two Bruce brothers, Martin and John, from their home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

They were born in Cammin, Kreis Cammin, Pomerania, on 27 March 1833 and 10 March 1835, respectively. They were two of the four sons of Martin Friedrich Bruss and Maria Sophia Stiemke Bruss. Oldest son Wilhelm or William was born 25 September 1829 in Cammin, but died as a youth. Next oldest was Augustus F. Bruss, born there 27 December 1830. Martin and Maria Bruss and their three sons left Cammin, just inland from the Baltic Sea in Pomerania, with the Old Lutheran migration and came first to Buffalo, New York, and then on to Milwaukee in the fall of 1839. > See Source with Bruss entry at bottom of page.

The traditional occupations for Bruss men were sailing, ship building and ship caulking, and they pursued this work in sailing on the Great Lakes and working in Milwaukee’s shipbuilding industry, according to books written by descendant William George Bruce.

About 1849, Maria Sophia Bruss died in a cholera epidemic in Milwaukee. Martin Friedrich Bruss remarried and was recorded in the 1850 Census with his new wife and sons Martin and John. He then died about 1854 as only his widow was listed in the 1854-1855 Milwaukee Directory. In 1855, older son Augustus married Apollonia Becker, a young woman of 18 years newly arrived from Zemmer near Treves or Trier in southwest Germany.  He settled down in Milwaukee to establish a career as a ship’s carpenter and to have ten children with Apollonia.

In 1855, brothers Martin and John were thus on their own, young single men who needed to make their way in the world. They chose to go west. About this same time, the three brothers chose to Anglicize their surname to Bruce, and that is how they appear in records after that.

In his memoirs — I Was Born in AmericaWilliam George Bruce wrote this brief synopsis of the three brothers: “While still a young man, Martin F. Bruce went south and located at Pensacola, Florida. This was before the Civil War. John went to California. Augustus F., who later became the father of William George Bruce, remained in Milwaukee.” That Martin also went to California, if only for a short time, was a new discovery in our family history.

Working as Ship Caulkers

Two brief entries in Colville’s 1856 San Francisco Directory reveal the presence of both of the brothers in the growing city. The listings on page 25 are as follows:
> John Bruce, caulker, brds Isthmus House
> Martin Bruce, caulker, brds Isthmus House

They were pursuing one of the traditional occupations of the Bruss men, calking or caulking ships, a process of making them watertight. And they both were living at Isthmus House, a residential hotel on First Street between Market and Mission streets, the address given on page 108 of the directory. Isthmus House, established about 1851 by Nathan Hellings, was about six blocks in from the Embarcadero, the site of the city’s wharves on San Francisco Bay.

These brief scraps of information are all we have to tell us  that the brothers journeyed together to San Francisco in the Gold Rush boom era. But it is enough to evoke a glimpse of their lives as young men in the sprawling landscape of mid-18th century America.

Their Lives Diverged

By 1857, Martin Bruce had moved to northern Florida to work at the Pensacola Navy Yard. He met William Ollinger and they founded Ollinger & Bruce drydock and ship repair business. Martin married William’s sister Margaret Ollinger, they had two sons and three daughters, and lived out their lives in Santa Rosa County, Florida. Martin died February 20, 1894, and is buried in the Bagdad Cemetery, Santa Rosa County.

John Bruce worked as a ship calker in San Francisco for many years. City directories on three occasions listed the firms John worked for, including, in 1873, Middlemas and Boole, Shipwrights, a firm founded in 1869, and then in 1878 and 1885, the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, founded in 1848. John never married. He lived at several different multi-unit dwellings in the same area of downtown San Francisco his whole life.

The last known records for him are the 1904 California registered voter listings, showing him as aged 66, living in San Francisco at 560 Howard, 2nd floor, room 45, and the Crocker-Langley 1905 San Francisco Directory, page 357, listing him as John Bruce, calker, r. 560 Howard. We have not yet found the date of his death or where he is buried. But we now know much more about his life, thanks to the Gleanings entry in the recent Whitman County Genealogical Society newsletter that alerted me to the San Francisco directories on Archives.org. My thanks to the editor!

KEY SOURCE

Dozens of San Francisco directories in the span of years from 1850 to 1982 can be found online free at the Internet Archive at this URL: http://www.archive.org/ Use the search term San Francisco directory and Media Type as Texts to find all of them. The 1856 Directory published by Samuel Colville can be found here. Choose the Read Online format for a digital book allowing you to flip through the pages. Note that the Bruce entries are not in alphabetical order by first name, John appearing after Martin.

Published in: on November 21, 2010 at 5:52 am  Comments (1)  
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Litchfield Genealogy Resources

To help solve genealogy brickwall problems, focus your research around places where your ancestors lived, says Donna Potter Phillips, a genealogist from Spokane, Washington. Create master lists or bibliographies of resources for each place where you are hunting for ancestors or important evidence or documents. Here is my master list for Litchfield township in Litchfield County, Connecticut, once home for some of my Bradley ancestors.

LISTS OF LINKS & RESOURCES
> Cyndi’s List for Connecticut
> Cyndi’s List for Litchfield
> CousinConnect Queries for Litchfield County
> FindaGrave Cemetery Listings for Litchfield County
> Genealogy Links for Litchfield County
> Genealogy Trails for Litchfield County
> Guide to Historical & Genealogical Resources in NW CT
> Kindred Trails for Litchfield County
> Linkpendium for Litchfield County
> Litchfield, Connecticut – AHGP
> Litchfield GenWeb
> Litchfield County Genealogy Links
> Litchfield Listings from Connecticut Society of Genealogists
> Litchfield Resources from Rootsweb

LOOK-UPS FOR GENEALOGY
> Look-ups for Litchfield from GeneaSearch
> Look-ups for Connecticut
> Look-ups for Connecticut from RAOGK

MESSAGE BOARDS, LISTS & FORUMS
> Connecticut Genealogy Forum
> Litchfield County Genealogy Forum
> Email Lists covering Litchfield County
> Litchfield, Connecticut, Message Board at Rootsweb
> Litchfield, Connecticut, Message Board at Ancestry

ORGANIZATIONS & GOVERNMENT BODIES
> Litchfield Historical Society
> Litchfield History Museum & Ingraham Memorial Research Library
> Address for  Litchfield Town Clerk
> Note  Under Burough of Bantam – area once Bradleyville – is this:
=> Bantam Historical Society, Fletcher Cooper, Chairman
=> Bantam Historical Society, Inc. PO Box 436, Bantam, CT 06750-0436
> Towns of Litchfield County with addresses

BOOKS
> Books We Own Look-ups for Connecticut
> Bradley families in Litchfield, transcribed from “A Genealogical Register of the Inhabitants of the Town of Litchfield, Conn.” by George C. Woodruff. [full volume is on Google Books]
> Genealogical Notes on Families of Litchfield, Connecticut, Connecticut State Library
> Search Google Books for terms Bradley and Litchfield for references in historic books

CENSUS RECORDS
> 1790 Census for Litchfield County, transcribed
> 1840 Census of Pensioners, Litchfield County, Connecticut

OTHER
> Litchfield, Connecticut today
> Litchfield County Profile at ePodunk
> Litchfield Ancestry Guide at ePodunk
> Activities in Litchfield, Connecticut
> History of Litchfield, Connecticut
> Lodging in Litchfield
> Visiting Litchfield, Connecticut

Published in: on November 15, 2010 at 4:38 am  Comments (3)  
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