Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Taking a short break: Be back soon!

Hi all. I'm going to be absent on the blog for a couple of weeks while I pack up my apartment and move to a new (and bigger!) place. I look forward to being back soon!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: 1949 School Sticker Card for William Lee Brittain

My adorable nephews started back to school this week, which reminds me that I have copies of several school-related documents from my parents and grandparents. This cute little sticker card belonged to my dad, William Lee Brittain (1942-2003). It shows that, in 1949, "Billy B." received motivational stickers for his accomplishments in good writing (three stickers!), reading and being a paper monitor. He also got a sticker for his "farm booklet" -- I would have loved to see that!

I'm guessing that he created the sweet artwork on this card, too. My dad always was very creative. And smart, too!!

I hope my sister, Cindy, shows this to the boys. I think they'll be tickled to see what their Papa Cow did when he was a little guy in grammar school.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: Jane Alen Reed Garriott (1805-1874)

Last week, I wrote about a photo of the gravestone of my 4th great grandfather, John Newton Garriott, that a generous volunteer, Frank Murphy, took and posted up at FindAGrave.com. Well, Mr. Murphy must have been a busy photographer at the Barnes Cemetery in Mercer County, Missouri, because he posted photos of several Garriott gravestones as well as the stones of some of my Brittain relatives. One of the Garriott graves that Frank documented was that of John Newton Garriott's wife, Jane Alen Reed Garriott. Here it is:
Wife of
July 10, 1805
 Aug. 31, 1874
67 Y's. 1M. 21D's
The stone clearly says she's 67 years old (and change), but the math says she died at the age of just over 69 years old. Oops!

I hadn't noticed Jane's photo on Find A Grave when I went to see the picture of John's grave. Fortunately, my cousin, Jennifer, who writes the Climbing My Family Tree blog, pointed out that Jane and several of our other relatives were now nicely documented on the site. 

Once again, thanks to Frank and all the FindAGrave.com volunteer photographers!

Here's how I'm related to John and Jane Garriott:
1. John Newton Garriott (1806-1882) married Jane Alen Reed (1805-1874) on Apr. 7, 1827 >
2. Nancy Garriott (1828-1912) married Milton Price Brittain (1822-1898) on Jan. 25, 1843 >
3. Frederick Harmon Brittain (1859-1921) married Mary Jane Rooks (1862-1904) on Sep. 4, 1879 >
4. Andrew Lee Brittain (1888-1954) married Jessie Luetta Halstead (1898-1974) on Sep. 24, 1919 >
5. Woodie Leroy Brittain (living) married Edith Vivian Hunt (1920-1993) on Aug. 18, 1938 >
6. William Lee Brittain (1942-2003) married Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram (living) on Sep. 12, 1964 >
7. Me!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sentimental Sunday: Grandma Donna Teaches Uncle Jimmy to Swim

Isn't this a sweet photo? It's of my Grandma Donna Madsen Bartram (1919-1966) and my Uncle Clinton James "Jim" Bartram (1938-2001), and seems to have been taken sometime in the summer of 1939. I don't know exactly where they were, but it must have been somewhere in or around the Livermore valley in Northern California.
I always love seeing pictures of my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents when they were children -- they were all so adorable!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Surname Saturday: The Family of Samuel Bartram (1795-1882)

It's Surname Saturday. Last time, I took us through my Brittain line, which hail from Wales. Today, I'll list my ancestors through my Mom's family, the Bartrams. My earliest documented Bartram ancestor was born in Suffolk, England, but they eventually moved to Wales, too. I still have cousins in Wales, as a matter of fact, and I'm hoping to get there for a visit next year (do you hear that, Steven?!).

Without further adieu, here is my Bartram line:

1. Samuel Bartram (3rd Great Grandfather) -- his father is thought to be named John Bartram
born  9 May 1795 in  Frostended, Suffulk, England
married Harriett Boste (1791-1859) on 15 Sep 1816 in Kelsale, Suffolk, England
died Jun 1882 in Kelsale, Suffolk, England

Confirmed Children with Harriett Boste:
1. John Bartram (1815-1882) - also spelled Bartrem
2. Sophia Bartram (1821- )
3. William Bartram (1823-1917)
4. Louisa Bartram (1825- )
5. James Bartram (1832- )
6. Mary Ann Bartram (1837- )
7. Caroline Bartram (1840- ) 

2. John Bartram/Bartrem (2nd Great Grandfather)
born 1815 in Kelsale, Suffolk, England
married Esther Meredith (1814-1888) on 12 Jul 1846 at Church of Welsh Newton, Welsh Newton, Herefordshire, England
died about 1882 at sea  

Confirmed children with Esther Meredith
1. Louisa Bartram (1847-1919)
2. James Christopher Bartram (1849-1877)
3. Samuel Bartram (1851-1924)
4. John Bartram (1854- )
5. Sarah Ann Bartram (1856- )
6. Joseph Bartram (1860-1930)
Front, L-R: John Bartram, Arthur Bartram (grandson via Louisa), Esther Meredith Bartram
Back, L-R: Louisa Bartram, Joseph Bartram, Sarah Ann Bartram

3. Joseph Bartram (Great Grandfather)
born 23 Jun 1860 in Dixton, Monmouthshire, Wales
immigrated to Kansas, USA, in 1881
married Alice A. Veale (1872-1954) on 31 Jul 1891 in Topeka, Shawnee,  Kansas
died 4 Feb 1930 in Clear Lake, Lake, California 

Confirmed children with Alice A. Veale
1. Roy Bartram (1891-1896)
2. Reva Bartram (1893-1952)
3. Ruth E. Bartram (1895-1988)
4. Robert Adam Bartram (1897-1983)
5. Ralph Bartram (1899-1998)
6. Helen Bartram (1900-1994)
7. Joseph L. Bartram (1902-1998)
8. George Bartram (1904-1972)
9. Florence Irene Bartram (1905-1999)
10. Raymond "Dutch" Bartram (1907-1954)
11. Eunice Fay Bartram (1909-2009)
12. John Bartram (1911-1987)
13. Grace Bartram (1913-1975)
14. Mildred Lucille Bartram (1915-1990)
15. Lorna C. Bartram (1916-2003)
Joseph & Alice Bartram and part of their large family
4. John Bartram (Grandfather)
born 4 Apr 1911 in Allen, Wabaunsee, Kansas
married Donna M. Madsen (1919-1966) on 26 Mar 1938 in Reno, Washoe, Nevada
died 15 Aug 1987 in Tracy, San Joaquin, California 

Confirmed children with Donna M. Madsen
1. Clinton James Bartram (1938-2001)
2. Brenda Rae Bartram (living)
3. Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram (living)
4. Clay John Bartram (living)
Seated, L-R: Clay Bartram, Donna Madsen Bartram, John Bartram
Standing, L-R: Jim Bartram, Brenda Bartram, Becky Bartram (Mom)
5. Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram (Mom)
married William Lee Brittain (1942-2003) on 12 Sep 1964 in Reno, Washoe, Nevada 

Confirmed children with William Lee Brittain
1. Wendy Lee Brittain (me)
2. Cynthia Lynn Brittain (living)
Cindy & Wendy (Front, L-R)
Becky & Bill (Back, L-R)

Next time, I'll focus on my Grandma Edith's family: the Hunts.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

(Not so) Wordless Wednesday: William Calhoun Hunt Family in Oklahoma

Here are a couple of wonderful photos that Michelle, one of my Oklahoma Hunt cousins, shared with me recently. She received them from another relative at a recent Hunt family reunion in Oklahoma. I sure wish I could have attended!

The first is of our great great grandparents, William Calhoun Hunt (1870-1915) and Georgia Frances Ann Purser (1871-1956), and their children. The second is a close-up of William that was taken from the photo and colorized.
Front (L-R): William Calhoun Hunt, Georgia Frances Ann Purser, Iva Naomi Hunt (1904-1972)
Back (L-R): James William "Earl Hunt (1891-1961, my great grandpa),
Melvin Dean Hunt (1900-1969, Michelle's great grandpa), and Clarence Edwin Hunt (1896-1973)
Wasn't he a handsome man?
Thanks to Michelle for sharing these amazing photos!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: John Newton Garriott (1806-1882)

A lot of people ask me where I find my ancestral photos and documents. While it's true that most genealogical documentation isn't yet online, there's still a treasure trove of great information (and supporting documentation) that can be found on the World Wide Web via family trees and websites that are published by other family history enthusiasts, as well as websites such as Ancestry, Footnote, GenealogyBank, FamilySearch.org and many, many other online repositories.

One of my favorite go-to websites for burial information is FindAGrave.com. According to the website, Find A Grave now boasts more than 66 million grave records from all over the world. All of these records are volunteer supplied, and many have photos and biographical information attached to them. Of course, not every burial record is contained on Find A Grave, and many that are there don't have photos of the tombstones -- YET.

That's where the volunteers come in. You can log a request via the website to ask someone who lives near the cemetery where your ancestor is buried to go and take a picture of the tombstone and post it on the Find A Grave record of that ancestor. I've put in a few requests for volunteers to take photos of my ancestors' tombstones that I can't already find on the website, and I haven't been disappointed. In fact, just last week, I was surprised by Frank Murphy, a Find A Grave volunteer who went out to the Barnes Cemetery in Mercer County, Missouri, to snap a picture of the grave of my 4th great grandfather, John Newton Garriott, who was buried there in January 1882. Here's the photo that Frank uploaded onto John Garriott's Find A Grave record.
John Garriott
Jan 15 1882
75y 1m 26d

John's wife, Jane Alen Reed Garriott, is also buried in the Barnes Cemetery, and I'm kicking myself for not asking Mr. Murphy to get a photo of her gravestone, too. Perhaps, I'll ask him if he plans to be out at that cemetery again one of these days. Meanwhile, I appreciate the generosity of Frank and all of the other volunteer photographers who schlep out to the cemeteries (often out of their way, and in uncomfortable weather) to document our ancestors' burials and share this precious information with us. 

Thanks, Frank!

Ps. I live in San Francisco and, while I don't have a car to get to cemeteries outside of the city, I can take a bus to the National Cemetery in the Presidio. If anyone needs photos of graves in that cemetery, drop me a line. I'd be happy to pay it forward!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: Lars Hansen Madsen Naturalization Certificate

While virtually all of my dad's family history can be traced back to the 1600s and 1700s in America, most of my mom's family became Americans more recently. I'm finding it a bit difficult to locate some of the naturalization papers of my ancestors. For example, I know that my GGG grandfather, Claus Schlichtmann, was naturalized on September 13, 1877, in San Francisco. Well, I'm finding that the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fire seem to have destroyed a good lot of documents that were held in San Francisco, including naturalization papers. Le sigh...

Meanwhile, I've had the good fortune of finding a copy of the actual naturalization certificate of my great grandfather, Lars Hansen Madsen, in my mom's files.
This document is chock full o' interesting information about Grandpa Louie (1893-1971), who was born in Denmark and immigrated to California in 1908. For example:
  • I see that he was a 23 year old unmarried man when he was naturalized on March 9, 1917. In fact, he married my great grandmother, Johanna Bruhns, just a few weeks later on April 4, 1917.
  • He had already started to anglicize his name from Lars to Louis. 
  • He was all of 5 feet, 5 inches tall, and had a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.
  • He had no other distinguishing marks.
  • He was naturalized in Alameda County, California. For some reason, I had been under the impression that he was naturalized in San Francisco, but I see that I was wrong on that count. 
I look forward to finding the naturalization papers for my other immigrant ancestors to see what else I can learn about them!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Mom and Grandma Donna in Galt, CA

I love this photo of my mom, Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram, and her mom, Donna Marie Madsen! The back of the photo says (spelling error and all) "Uncle Masen at Galt." This appears to be in the very late 1940s. I'm not sure which Uncle Madsen they were visiting. Great Grandpa Louie's older brother, Hans Therkelsen Madsen, had several children and I recall that some of them ended up in Modesto and Galt, so I think it may have been one of his sons. Perhaps my Aunt Brenda can answer that question for us...
Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram & Donna Marie Madsen
Too cute!!

UPDATE: Mom comes to the rescue! Apparently there was an "Uncle Masen," but she's not sure how he fits into the family. Hopefully, we'll be able to figure out that little mystery soon. In any case, I think it's kind of fun to collaborate on our family's history via the Shaking Leaves blog! =)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sentimental Sunday: Great Grandma Ethel Hunt & Friends

I'm still having fun looking through all the photos that I found at my Mom's house earlier this summer. A lot of them are very simple: folks just standing and smiling for the camera. But some of them are quite entertaining and even a little puzzling.

For example, here's a picture from 1918 of my paternal great grandmother, Ethel Modena Martindale Hunt, and two other ladies (I don't know who they are). The photo was printed onto a postcard (which is apparent on the back). Written in pen on the back is "Ethel Hunt on the right" and "1918."
"Ethel Hunt on the right"
Ethel and James Hunt were married in 1918, the year the photo was taken. They were living in Oklahoma at the time (Coal County when they were married, but they had moved to Euchee, Creek County, by the 1920 US census). What's puzzling is the odd pose of these ladies. Why on earth are they laying on rugs in the dirt? It seems an odd place to sunbathe, even on what appears to be a farm. Oh, well -- it looks like they are having fun.

I just wish that I'd seen this photo while Great Grandma Ethel was still alive so I could have asked her about it!

Surname Saturday: The Family of James Brittain

I'm finally jumping on the Surname Saturday bandwagon, and I'm not sure what took me so long. Surname Saturday is a chance for genealogy bloggers to highlight one surname in their family and trace that line from the known beginning to the present day.

Fittingly, my first Surname Saturday post spans nine generations (including my sister and me) and covers my own surname: Brittain. I'm starting with my 6th great grandfather, James Brittain, who is believed to be the first known patriarch of my line of Brittains. I also often see his father listed as Asa Brittain, but I have no idea if there's any proof of that at all. If there are any others out there researching this surname, please feel free to get in touch with me so we can share our information!

1. James Brittain (6th Great Grandfather)
b. 1709 in Wales (unconfirmed)
m. Mary Whitty in 1726 in Virginia (unconfirmed)
d. 1776 in Guilford County, North Carolina (unconfirmed) 

Confirmed Children with Mary Whitty:
1. Nathaniel Brittain (1734-1776)
(James and Mary reportedly had many other children, but I don't have confirmation of them)  

2. Nathaniel Brittain (5th Great Grandfather)
b. 1734 in Chesterfield County, Virginia
m. Elizabeth Parks (1742-?) in 1760 in Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky
d. October 17, 1776 in Virginia while in service during the Revolutionary War 

Children with Elizabeth Parks:
1. Nathaniel Brittain (1761-)
2. Sarah Susan Brittain (1766-1829)
3. James Brittain (1766-1841)
4. Levi Brittain (1768-1838)
5. George Brittain (1770-1850)
6. Parks Brittain (1771-1846)
7. William Brittain (1772-1808)
8. Mary Brittain (1774-) 

3. Parks Brittain (4th Great Grandfather)
b. July 10, 1771, in Virginia
m. 1. Sally Leonard; 2. Elizabeth King (1780-1809) in about 1798 in Barren County, Kentucky; 3. Sarah Price (1775-1843) on November 10, 1810, in Barren County, Kentucky
d. September 6, 1846, in Shaky Run, Keokuk County, Iowa 

Children with Elizabeth King:
1. Harmon Brittain (1799-1875)
2. Mary Polly Brittain (1801-1842)
3. James Franklin Brittain (1803-1877)
4. Nathaniel Brittain (1804-1852)
5. Sarah Sallie Brittain (1807-1865) 

Children with Sarah Price:
6. William Brittain (1811-1884)
7. Elizabeth Brittain (1812-1868)
8. George N. Brittain (1814-1877)
9. Francis McGuire Brittain (1817-1885)
10. Eliza Jane Brittain (1820-1852)
11. Milton Price Brittain (1822-1898)
12. Matilda Brittain (1824-1897)
13. Mariana Brittain (1827-1913) 

4. Milton Price Brittain (3rd Great Grandfather)
b. June 20, 1822, in Rock Castle, Barren County, Kentucky
m. Nancy Garriott (1828-1912) on January 25, 1843, in Henry County, Iowa
d. February 19, 1898, in Payne County, Oklahoma 

Children with Nancy Garriott:
1. Matilda Jane Brittain (1844-1918)
2. William Parks Brittain (1845-1921)
3. Jonathan Francis Brittain (1848-1884)
4. John Marion Brittain (1850-1853)
5. Mary Margaret Brittain (1853-1930)
6. Sintha Ann Brittain (1857-1860)
7. Frederick Harmon Brittain (1859-1921)
8. Milton Harvey Brittain (1861-1923)
9. Nancy Etta Brittain (1864-1936)
10. Leander Brittain (1866-1939)
11. Eliza Brittain (1869-)

Milton Price Brittain & Nancy Garriott
5. Frederick Harmon Brittain (2nd Great Grandfather)
b. January 20, 1859, in Keokuk County, Iowa
m. 1. Mary Jane Rooks (1862-1904) on September 14, 1879, in Lowery City, Missouri; 2. Sarah Frances Young (1866-1960) in 1906 in Stroud Creek, Oklahoma
d. February 6, 1921, in Wheeler, Van Buren County, Arkansas 

Children with Mary Jane Rooks:
1. Infant Brittain (1880-1880)
2. Nellie E. Brittain (1881-1882)
3. Mary Olive Brittain (1883-1917)
4. Melton Park Brittain (1885-1967)
5. Sarah Serina Brittain (1886-1981)
6. Andrew Lee Brittain (1888-1954)
7. Frederick Harmon Brittain (1889-1943)
8. Robert Ellis Brittain (1891-1965)
9. Ruben Franklin Brittain (1893-1967)
10. Allouise L. Brittain (1895-1974)
11. James M. Brittain (1896-1899)
12. Alice Blanch Brittain (1901-1977) 

Children with Sarah Frances Young:
13. Georgia L. Brittain (1905-)
14. Willie E. Brittain (1908-1910)
15. Jessie Brittain (1914-)
Frederick Harmon Brittain and his kids

6. Andrew Lee Brittain (Great Grandfather)
b. February 26, 1888, in Omaha, Boone County, Arkansas
m. Jessie Luetta Halstead (1898-1974) on September 24, 1919, in Cushing, Payne County, Oklahoma
d. January 22, 1954, in Hayward, Alameda County, California 

Children with Jessie Luetta Halstead:
1. Woodie Leroy Brittain (living)
2. Amos Lee Brittain (1922-1922)
3. Audrie Catherine Brittain (living)
4. Anna Pauline Brittain (1926-1999)
5. Evelyn Lea Brittain (living)

Andrew Lee Brittain & Jessie Luetta Halstead
7. Woodie Leroy Brittain (Grandfather)
b. living
m. Edith Vivian Hunt (1921-1993) on August 18, 1938, in Oklahoma
d. living 

Children with Edith Vivian Hunt:
1. William Lee Brittain (1942-2003)
Woodie Leroy Brittain & Edith Vivian Hunt
holding William Lee Brittain

8. William Lee Brittain  (Father)
b. October 28, 1942, in Hayward, Alameda County, California
m. Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram (living) on September 12, 1964, in Reno, Washoe County, Nevada
d. January 4, 2003, in Stanford, Santa Clara County California 

Children with Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram:
1. Wendy Lee Brittain (Me!)
2. Cynthia Lynn Brittain (living)
William Lee Brittain, Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram
with Cynthia Lynn Brittain, Wendy Lee Brittain and Pepper
Stay tuned for the next Surname Saturday, when I'll focus on the Bartram family!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: The 1807 Marriage of John T. Bentley & Polly Maxey

I love county courthouses! I know -- to most people, that seems like the talk of a crazy woman. But we family historians tend to be quite fond of the many county courthouses and clerk's offices that contain the historical documents that we covet so deeply. A couple of weeks ago, I got a wonderful present in the mail (well, I paid a small fee for it) from the probate office in Oglethorpe County, Georgia. It was the 1807 marriage record for my 5th great grandparents, John Townsend Bentley (1786-1863) and Polly Maxey (1791-1830).

It reads:
On the 22nd day of October 1807 John T Bentley & Polley Maxey was joined together in holy wedlock by me,                           Nat McClurg, J.P.
Recorded on the 21st day of Jan, 1808              
                                                             Matthew Rainey, C.C.O.
About a month ago, I posted about John's father, Revolutionary War patriot, Jesse Bentley. Here's the bible record from that post that also lists the marriage of John and Polly.

Here's how I'm descended from my 5th great grandparents, John and Polly:
  1. John Townsend Bentley (1786-1863) m. Polly Maxey (1891-1830) in 1807 >
  2. Elizabeth Scott Bentley (1810-1891) m. Richard William Purser (1802-around 1850) in 1837 >
  3. James Monroe Purser (1843-1914) m. Nancy Susan Hodge (1844-1883) in 1867 >
  4. Georgia Frances Ann Purser (1871-1956) m. William Calhoun Hunt (1870-1915) in 1891 >
  5. James William Hunt (1891-1961) m. Ethel Modena Martindale (1896-1977) in 1918 >
  6. Edith Vivian Hunt (1920-1993) m. Woodie Leroy Brittain (living) in 1938 >
  7. William Lee Brittain (1942-2003) m. Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram (living) in 1964 >
  8. Me!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Monday Madness: Weird Google Searches That Lead to my Blog

One of the fun things about keeping a blog is paying attention to the stats surrounding my visitors. Don't worry, I can't see who you actually are, but Blogger (the Google property that hosts this blog) shows me some interesting statistics surrounding my readers. For example, I can see by hour, day and month the following:
  • Page views
  • Which posts are viewed
  • Traffic sources (which websites have led you to my blog)
  • Countries where my visitors are at the time of their visit
Some of the most fascinating statistics, however, that Blogger shares with me are the actual Google Search strings that lead various visitors to my posts. Some of them make complete sense, such as the searches on specific names or locations that are mentioned in my posts. Some are so completely random, though, that I've started keeping track of them (spelling/grammar errors and all). Since they crack me up, I thought you all might get a kick out of them, too. Who knows, you may even recognize a search string that originally led you to one of my posts! Please do enjoy:
  • james genea cars trick 
  • christian lilienthal and gena 
  • mayo cake like grandma use to bake 
  • family tree hello my name is lables 
  • actual treasure chest 
  • what is heather locklear grandfathers name 
  • genealogy song about my grandpa was a horse theif 
  • what to give a grandfather for his 100th birthday 
  • old photograph baby image 
  • navy seals iv identification card 
  • thursday baby
  • updated discharge certificate 
  • fun adventures at night 
Ok, I did write a post about mayonnaise cake and, yes, I mentioned Heather Locklear in an old post (although, we are not related in any way). But I can't imagine that those strings would bring Shaking Leaves to within the top of any Google search results. The last search string is my favorite. I had no idea someone might think of my little family history blog as a source of "fun adventures at night"! 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sentimental Sunday: John Bruhns' 1903 Solo Card Club

This clipping is taken from a more recent issue of my hometown newspaper, the Tracy Press, in Tracy, California. I love that the Tracy Press does a regular "Remember When" series, when they re-tell stories that were local news ten, 25, 50, 75 and even 100 years ago. I don't have the date of this particular issue (drat whoever neglected to make note of that on the clipping), but I'm guessing it's from 2003 since it refers to a photo that was taken in 1903.

See the distinguished looking man seated on the right? That's my great great grandfather, John Bruhns (1848-1934).
I'd never heard of Solo, the card game to which the story refers. However, a quick Google search, and knowing that most of these men hailed from Germany, lead me to believe that they played a game known as German Solo that looks like it might be fun.

This photo, and the story that goes along with it, also makes me wonder if this was strictly a men's game, or if women were ever invited to join in the fun. There's one woman in the photo (Mrs. Prusser, seen peeking over the shoulders of a couple of tall men), but since it was taken at her home, I'm guessing she was being a gracious hostess while the men played their game. I wonder what the other wives were doing while their men were out playing cards. I sure hope they had a fun club of their own that I can tell you about in a future post!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

(Not so) Wordless Wednesday: Dutch & Grace Bartram

Here's a great photo of my great aunt and uncle, Grace Bartram Zwissig and Raymond "Dutch" Bartram.

Dutch (1907-1954) and Grace (1913-1975) were two of the many (actually, 16) siblings of my maternal grandfather, John Bartram. They were both born in Harveyville, Kansas, and ended up in Northern California by the 1920s (along with their parents, Grandpa John, and their sisters, Eunice and Lorna).

Uncle Dutch, along with Grandpa John, was a successful and popular rodeo cowboy in the Livermore Valley. He and Grandpa worked for Harry Rowell, who was a well-known rodeo stock contractor and owned the Rowell Ranch in Eden Valley, along what is now Hwy. 580. Aunt Grace married another stock contractor, Carl Zwissig, and was also a major part of the Livermore Valley rodeo scene.

As you can see, Uncle Dutch and Aunt Grace both shared the same zest for life that my Grandpa John had.

Talented Tuesday: Grandpa John and the Sunken Patio

Here's another wonderful poem from my very talented Auntie Brenda. Her dad (who also happened to be my Grandpa John Bartram) was also talented in many ways -- including finding ways to get himself into trouble:


By Brenda Bartram Cairo

One Saturday morning bright and early
Dad set out to do Mom’s bidding
Not so happy at this task, he was feeling burly
Now “no drinking today” said she, not kidding

What was that in the bushes I spied...
A gallon of Red Daggo hidden with care
If Mom saw that bottle he would have died
Or maybe worse, Oh, Dad beware!

Now cement mixer's truly humming
Dumping loads of cement and smoothing it out
Every few minutes he’d do a little slumming...
Grab Red Daggo and pull the plug out
Somehow he knew when mom wasn’t looking
Right about noon he really was cooking

His eyes bright pink his words all slurred,
“Hey Mommy, come out, I’m stuck in the center”
There sat that drunken fool all interred
Trapped in cement that was starting to fetter

“What are you doing you drunken fool”
Out in the center oblivious of all, what a lark!
There was my Dad with his cement tool
Making mud pies like a kid in the park
“Mommy look at me! Oh can’t you see...
I didn’t know how much fun laying cement could be”

Into the house stomped Mom, to call Hans and Nina
When they arrived, she’s ready to kill...
Hans bellowed, he laughed “John’s heading for China!”
Then with a tug Dad came out, oh! What a thrill
Everyone laughed, thought, what a lark
Except our Mom, who had no sense of humor
She flew at him like some Great White Shark
She was out for murder, that is the rumor

Nina grabbed Mom’s hand just in the nick of time
Grabbed the hammer she swung at Dad’s drunken head...
Mom stomped to the house, while Dad said, so  sublime,
“Mommy I have not touched one little drink” he solemnly pled

So goes the story, that still lives to this day
When Mom forced Dad, a folly, to build
On that long ago, fateful, warm day in May
Our Great Sunken Patio, where, he almost was killed
Red Daggo most likely refers to the old Red Dagger wine. Grandpa liked cheap wines, so this would make sense. Hans and Nina were good friends of our family for many, many years. I'm sure they were quite amused at the site of Grandpa John drunkenly sinking into his wet cement patio...

Here's one of the only photos I've seen with Grandma Donna, Grandpa John and all their kids together. I love it for that reason, but also because Grandpa looks like he may have been hitting the old bottle a bit just before the photo was shot. 
Back Row, L-R: Clinton James, Brenda Rae, Rebecca Elizabeth (my Mom)
Front Row, L-R: Clayton John, Grandma Donna, Grandpa John

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Amanuensis Monday: The Story of Harmon Parks Brittain

Amanuensis Monday is a blogging prompt used by many of my fellow geneabloggers. An Amanuensis is a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

Today, I've copied down for your enjoyment the story of my first cousin, four times removed, Harmon Parks Brittain. I typically write about my direct ancestors, or at least collateral relatives that I actually knew, but when I read Harmon's story, I knew I had to share it. He was an interesting guy who lived through interesting times. I don't know who wrote this story. I found it, typewritten, in my Grandma Edith's genealogy records. She must have thought he was pretty interesting, too.
Harmon Parks Brittain was born in Clark County, Indiana, February 6th, 1832. He was a farmer at Halfrock (not on modern maps), MO (on the Iowa border), in the years immediately prior to and at the outbreak of the Civil War. During this period, pro-slavery forces and abolitionist forces were each feverishly loading the territories of Kansas and Missouri with their own adherents because Congress had decreed that when these territories became states, they would be slave or free depending on a majority vote of the citizens  at the time of statehood, and if they both went the same way, it would tip the balance of power in the Senate. The result was that the war was truly a Civil War in these territories because of many situations where radical partisans for one side lived next door to radical partisans for the other side.

Harmon Brittain was a fighter, a man who had strong pro-Union convictions. Leaving his wife (Zilpha Theresa Hill Brittain) and three-year-old daughter, Emma, to live with Zilpha's parents, he joined the 13th Missouri Cavalry. (His brother James also joined up, was taken prisoner at the Battle of Shiloh and died in the infamous southern prison camp at Andersonville.) Emma Brittain Chastain said that one of her very earliest memories as a child, was hiding behind her mother's skirt when someone knocked at the door, and watching big-eyed as her mother opened the door with one hand while the other held a pistol concealed under her apron.

Harmon Brittain survived the formal hostilities without injury. However, after Lee surrendered and the army began to disband, he was faced with another problem. The extreme bitterness in Missouri made returning soldiers from both armies targets for vengeance. Many of them who had survived years of war were murdered as they returned home. Warned by his wife that he would be safer in the army than in his own community, he enlisted for another two years in the cavalry.

His wife and later his daughter Emma saved the letters he wrote home during that time, but unfortunately they have since been lost or destroyed. Included in his letters were a number of poems. They were not literary masterpieces by present-day standards, but were impressive when you realize they were written by a man who did not learn to read and write until after he was married (to a school teacher). One of these letters gave a graphic account of how he was sent out one day on a scouting mission and spied a huge cloud of dust moving toward him,which he was sure could only be generated by the largest army of Indians ever assembled on the Western plains. After nearly killing his horse getting back to camp to warn the small company, he was very embarrassed, but greatly relieved when his Indian army turned out to be a herd of buffalo. He titled the account, "The Cowardly Sergeant".

He returned home in 1866, moved his family to Kansas, then back to Missouri and finally, in 1875 joined a wagon train headed for Oregon. A significant commentary about the kind of man he was is made by an incident that happened on that trail. Being a careful man who was well acquainted with the harsh, unforgiving country he was to pass through, he had his animals and equipment in top shape. (He used oxen because of their superior survivability). Only a short way out on the trail, they came upon a family that had started poorly prepared. Their wagon was broken down and beyond repair. Unloading some of his not-so-essential items, he loaded up the family's essential items in of of his wagons and hauled them clear to Oregon. In the process, his daughter, Emma, who was sixteen and healthy, was obliged to walk the whole way -- all but the first two weeks without shoes.

He first settled in the Willamette Valley. But after losing most of his livestock to a mysterious ailment, and the family suffering from "ague" (malaria?), both of which they associated with dampness, they packed up and went looking for a drier place. They headed back over the Cascade Mountains to Wamic, where Emma met her husband-to-be, William Chastain. In 1882, his wife Theresa traveled to southern Oregon to visit family members who were living there, contracted Typhoid fever and died.

Harmon Brittain never remarried. He built himself a house near Wamic and spent the rest of his days there, with his children settling in the near vicinity. Being a man of small stature, he saw no reason for 6' 8" doors in his house. He made them tall enough for him, and if a tall man came to visit, he had to stoop to get through the door.

At some time in his life, Harmon's feet were so severely frostbitten that some of the flesh dropped off and bared some of the bone in the first joint. This gave him no end of pain. One day, while plowing, he decided he had had enough. He took his pocket knife and separated the first joints and removed the offending bone. Why didn't he pass out during the operation or die from infection? Too tough, maybe?

For many years he lived frugally in his house in Wamic, drawing his Civil War veteran's pension. He died January 18, 1916, at the age of 84 in Tygh Valley, Oregon. Some time after the funeral, his family began to try to find his money, knowing that he had been very saving and did not trust it to banks. The money was never found. Too late, it was remembered that he had a habit of putting money in the lining of his coat and that nobody had thought to check that when they buried him. The presumption is that he took it with him.

Children born to Harmon Parks Brittain and Zilpha Theresa Hill Brittain were: Emma Nancy, Aug 23, 1959 at Halfrock, Mercer Co., Missouri; Orange Colman, Mar 4, 1864 at Halfrock, Mercer Co., Missouri; Flora E. at Halfrock July 6, 1865; Myrtle Pleasant, Feb 4, 1871 at New Albany, Wilson Co., Kansas; Hattie E., Nov 21, 1873 in Taney Co., Missouri.
Harmon's story tells us a lot about the man, but also about the times he lived in. For example, when we think about the Civil War, we don't often consider the severe partisan differences between citizens who may have lived just next door to each other. We tend to assume that, once the war was over, everyone just went home to carry on with their lives. I can't imagine what it must have been like for Harmon to be afraid to to back into his own home, for fear of being murdered by neighbors who might not agree with what he fought for.

I'm also in awe of the story of his family traveling to Oregon via wagon train. Can you imagine what it must have been like to walk from Missouri to Oregon, over mountains and rivers and who knows what else, with NO SHOES? I keep imagining something out of "Little House on the Prairie" and thinking about how amazingly tough these folks were.

I'd love to thank the person who wrote this account of Harmon Parks Brittain's life, but I have no idea who that was. If there are any other Brittain cousins out there who can tell me, please drop me a line!

OH! Here's how I'm related to Harmon: his paternal grandfather, Parks Brittain, was my 4th great grandfather. Therefore we are first cousins, four times removed!

Sentimental Sunday: The Women in My Family

A few months back, I posted a photo of some of the important men in my family, including my Dad (William Lee Brittain), Grandpa John Bartram and three of my uncles. Here's a photo of some of the amazing and beautiful women who all helped raise my sister, cousins and me:
L-R: Aunt Bobbie Bartram (Uncle Jim Bartram's wife), Rebecca Bartram Brittain (Mom),
Great Aunt Rae Madsen Christensen and Aunt Brenda Bartram Cairo
Our family spent a LOT of time together when I was growing up. From the outfits the ladies are wearing in this photo, it looks like they must have been together for a special event. I think that they are at Aunt Rae and Uncle Rob's house in Livermore, California, and I'm guessing it was in the late 1960s. All of our time together, however, was fun and full of laughter, good food and lots of love!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: My 16 Great Great Grandparents

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings offers this mission for some Saturday Night Genealogy Fun:

1)  List your 16 great-great-grandparents with their birth, death and marriage data (dates and places).  [Hint - you might use an Ancestral Name List from your software for this.]

2)  Determine the countries (or states) that these ancestors lived in at their birth and at their death.

3)  For extra credit, go make a "Heritage Pie" chart for the country of origin (birth place) for these 16 ancestors. [Hint: you could use the  chart generator from Kid Zone for this.] [Note: Thank you to Sheri Fenley for the "Heritage Pie" chart idea.]
Since my sweetie is away for the weekend, and I'm on my own this Saturday night, I thought it would be fun to play along! I went one step further and, where available, added photos for each set of great-greats.

My 16 great-great grandparents are:

1. Frederick Harmon Brittain, son of Milton Price Brittain and Nancy Garriott, was born on 20 January 1859 in Keokuk County, Iowa, USA. He died on 6 February 1921 in Van Buren County, Arkansas, USA. He married Mary Jane Rooks on 14 September 1879 in Lowery City, St. Clair County, Missouri, USA.

2. Mary Jane Rooks, daughter of Thomas J. Rooks and Serena Jane Ishmael, was born on 3 March 1862, in Grundy County Missouri, USA. She died on 28 March 1904 in Lincoln County, Oklahoma, USA.
Frederick and Mary Jane Brittain
3. William Leroy Halstead, Jr., son of William Leroy Halstead and Ann Dobson, was born on 6 March 1859 in Pocahontas, Pocahontas County, Iowa, USA. He died on 27 November 1944 in Avery, Lincoln County, Oklahoma, USA. He married Nancy Catherine Campbell in 1880 in Missouri, USA.

4. Nancy Catherine Campbell, daughter of George Thomas Campbell and Mary Jane Carter, was born on 13 November 1856 in Palo Alto County, Iowa, USA. She died on 14 March 1940 in Avery, Lincoln County, Oklahoma, USA.

William and Nancy Halstead
5. William Calhoun Hunt, son of James Sanders Hunt and, possibly, Arnetta Sellers, was born on 9 September 1870 in Prentiss County, Mississippi, USA. He died on 26 March 1915 in Jackson, Coal County, Oklahoma, USA. He married Georgia Frances Ann Purser on 4 March 1891 in Lee County, Texas, USA.

6. Georgia Frances Ann Purser, daughter of James Monroe Purser and Nancy Susan Hodge, was born on 7 October 1871 in Searcy, White County, Arkansas, USA. She died on 14 July 1956 in Henderson, Rusk County, Texas, USA. 
William and Georgia Hunt and their family
7. Riley Harrison Martindale, believed to be son of James Jancey Martindale and Sarah ____, was born in 1876 in Sebastian County, Arkansas, USA. He died on 17 April 1899 in Canadian, Pittsburg County, Oklahoma, USA. He married Nancy Dezina Jaggers on 19 February 1896 in Pittsburg County, Oklahoma, USA.

8. Nancy Dezina Jaggers, daughter of Jessie James Jaggers and Louiza Jane Turman, was born on 1 September 1877 in Sulligent, Lamar County, Alabama, USA. She died on 14 September 1944 in Vinita, Craig County, Oklahoma, USA.  
Nancy Dezina Jaggers Martindale with her daughter, Ethel
9. John Bartrem, son of Samuel Bartram and Harriet Boste, was born in 1815 in Kelsale, Suffolk County, England. He died about 1882 at sea (en route from England to USA). He married Esther Meredith on 12 July 1846 in Welsh Newton, Herefordshire, England.  

10. Esther Meredith, daughter of Joseph Meredith and Sarah ___, was born in 1814 in Welsh Newton, Herefordshire County, England. She died in March 1888 in Monmouthshire County, Wales.
James and Esther Meridith and their family
11. George Elmer Veale, son of Andrew Jackson Veale and Elizabeth Miller, was born on 5 August 1850 in Pike County, Indiana, USA. He died on 20 September 1928 in Emporia, Lyon County, Kansas, USA. He married Margaret Harriman on 7 February 1872 in Daviess County, Indiana, USA.

12. Margaret Harriman, daughter of Jacob Harryman and Catherine LeFevre, was born on 12 November 1850 in Indiana, USA. She died on 23 January 1932 in Richmond, Contra Costa County, California, USA (while visiting family). 
Margaret Harriman Veale in 1931
13. Laurits Hansen Madsen, sone of Hans Madsen and Sidsel Marie Christensen, was born on 21 May 1839 in Risemark, Ærø, Denmark. He died on 1 October 1934 in Risemark, Ærø, Denmark. He married Kristen Kristen Terkelsen on 1 April 1869 in Risemark, Ærø, Denmark. 

14. Kristen Terkelsen, daughter of Hans Terkelsen and Kirsten Christensen, was born in 1850 in Graasten, Denmark. She died in 1925 in Risemark, Ærø, Denmark.
Laurits and Kristen Madsen and their family in Denmark
15. Johann Bruhns, son of Frederich Bruhns and Marguerite ____, was born on 20 July 1848 in Holstein, Germany. He died on 24 July 1934 in Tracy, San Joaquin County, California, USA. He married Christina Marguerita Schlichtmann, on 3 November 1881 in San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, USA.

16. Christina Marguerita Schlichtmann, daughter of Claus Schlichtmann and Anna Sophie Vanderleith, was born on 20 March 1862 in Hannover, Stadt Hannover, Niedersachsen, Germany.  1 December 1952 in Tracy, San Joaquin County, California, USA.
Wedding photo of John and Christina Bruhns
The birthplaces of my 16 great-great-grandparents are:

*  USA - 10 (3 in IA, 2 in AR, 2 in IN, 1 in AL, 1 in MO, 1 in MS)
*  England - 2
*  Denmark - 2
*  Germany - 2

Here is my "Heritage Pie" chart:
 Well, that WAS fun! Thanks, Randy, for the inspiration!!

Happy Birthday to my Grandma Donna M. Madsen Bartram (1919-1916)

Today would have been the 92nd birthday of my maternal grandmother, Donna M. Madsen Bartram. Grandma was born July 16, 1919, in Livermore, Alameda County, California, to Louis Hansen Madsen and Johanna Bruhns Madsen. She grew up as a cowgirl in and around the Livermore area with her sister, Rae, and brother, Lloyd.

As a young girl, Donna met a dashing cowboy named John Bartram, and they were married in Reno, Washoe County, Nevada, on March 26, 1918. Grandma and Grandpa raised four children: Clinton James (1938-2001), Brenda Rae (living), Rebecca Elizabeth (my mom, living) and Clay John (living).

Sadly, Grandma and Grandpa were in a tragic car accident in 1959, in which they were hit by a drunk driver. They both survived the accident, but Grandma was left with severe brain damage. Complications from the accident, along with diabetes, led to Grandma Donna's passing at too young an age. She died on February 12, 1966, at the Napa State Hospital in Napa, California.

I was still a baby when Grandma Donna passed away, so I didn't get to know her in person. However, her memory lives strongly in our family and I still love hearing stories about this strong woman who raised four kids -- and her handful of a husband --  with an iron will (and sometimes iron pan...). Her presence is still greatly missed in the family, by her family who knew and loved her as well as by her grandkids who wish we could have got to know our Grandma Donna.

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Family Recipe Friday: Mom's Vanilla Chip Fruit Tart

One of the things I love about Summer is the abundance of fresh fruit that is available. In San Francisco, we have farmers markets around the city just about every day. How lucky can a girl get?

Here's a recipe from my mom, Becky, that showcases the best of Summer's fruit. And, you can customize this recipe to include the fruits that you like most. We've made this delicious tart in the past for special occasions, and it was always a hit!

Vanilla Chip Fruit Tart

From the kitchen of Rebecca Bartram Brittain Santos

¾ cup butter, softened
1 ½ cup flour
½ cup confectioner’s sugar

10 oz. bag vanilla chips (found in the baking aisle of your favorite grocer)
¼ cup whipping cream
8 oz. cream cheese

Fruit Topping:
½ cup granulated sugar
2 Tbls. corn starch
1 cup orange juice
1 tsp. lemon juice

Crust: Heat oven to 300 degrees. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, blend in flour. Press mixture onto bottom and side of 12” pizza pan (or tart pan). Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

Filling: In microwave-safe bowl, microwave vanilla chips and whipping cream at high for 1 ½ minutes or until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Beat in cream cheese. Spread on cooled crust.

Fruit Layer: Select from Summer’s great fruits, such as blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, peaches, nectarines, etc. Slice and arrange over filling. This is where you can get really creative with layering and colors. Make it your own!

Fruit Topping: In small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir in juices. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Cool completely. Pour over fruit layer. Serves 8-10.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Those Places Thursday: Mapping my Family in Marion County, Alabama

I love maps!! Just about as much as I love military pension files. It's so much fun to see where my family lived as well as their migration paths. With Google Maps, you can even see beautiful satellite views of where your folks once resided.

The other day, I was messing around in Ancestry.com, and found that they've recently made available some amazing plat maps in 12 states, including Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and Oregon. Plat maps are like candy to a genealogist -- these are the maps that show the exact parcels of land that our ancestors may have owned at a given point in time. I delved into the collection and almost immediately came up with the 1859 plat maps for Townships 12 and 13 in Marion County, Alabama -- right in and around the little town of Sulligent, where a good portion of my Sandlin, Turman and Noe ancestors lived during that time. (Note: as county lines were shifted over time, this part of Marion County eventually became Lamar County).

I've known for a long time that these families resided near each other for years because I consistently see them on the same pages as each other in the US Census documents. They also intermarried quite a bit, and stuck very close to each other. I didn't realize just how close, though, until I was able to view them on the land ownership -- or, plat -- maps for Marion County, Alabama. Here are the two maps, for Range 15, Townships 12 & 13. The Sandlin, Turman and Noe families straddled both maps -- they are at the very bottom of Township 12, and throughout the top half of Township 13 -- above the Buttahatchee River (no fart jokes, please!!).
Marion County, Range 15, Township 12
Marion County, Range 15, Township 13
Here, I've stitched the two maps together, zoomed in a bit, and color coded the land that each of the families owned: Noe is coded as Green, Sandlin is Blue and Turman is Red. By the way, you can click on each map to view it larger (and zoom in to see details).
Three of my 5th great grandfathers, Jesse Littleton Sandlin (1801-1863), Milton Anderson Turman (1802-1890) and Thomas R. Noe (1806-1867), are represented on this map. One of the great things about these maps is that they also included the land patent numbers that were granted when each of these families purchased their land. For example, here's the land patent document (#30112) for my 4th great grand uncle, H. Littleton Sandlin. Can you find his parcel of land on the map, above?

OK, one more map for you to check out. This one is a satellite map I found on Google Maps, and it shows what the area looks like today. Beautiful, isn't it? One of the coolest parts of this map is that it points out two important cemeteries in my family: the Sandlin Cemetery, where Jesse Littleton and Mary Nabors Sandlin are buried, and Pine Springs Cemetery, where my 5th great grandparents, Thomas R. and Mary Fitzgerald Noe, were buried after they were murdered together in their home in 1867.
Can you see the Buttahatchee River winding its way below
Lost Creek Road/County Road 35?
Plat maps and land patent documents are getting easier to find online. I've found a ton of land patent documents at the Bureau of Land Management's website. I have to dig a little harder to unearth plat maps (Google is my friend), and I'm thrilled that Ancestry is making it easier for us to find these gems that help us to tell our families' stories.

I hope you enjoyed this little "tour" of my ancestors' homeland in Marion County, Alabama!