Monday, February 28, 2011

Mystery Monday: John Bartrem, Died at Sea

My great great grandfather, John Bartrem (Bartram), is a bit of a mystery to me. I know where he was born, who he married and who his children were. Thanks to the UK/Wales census documents and other British vital records, I can follow him pretty regularly from 1841 to 1881. But I've lost him after that.

Here's what I know:
Seated: John Bartrem; his grandson, Arthur;
his wife, Esther
Standing: Daughter Louisa (Arthur's mother); Son
Joseph (my great grandfather); Daughter Sarah Ann
Photo taken circa 1881 in Herefordshire, England
  • He was born in 1815 in Kelsale, Suffolk County, England.
  • I've found him working on a farm near his family in Kelsale in the 1841 UK/Wales Census. At some point after that, he and several of his family members moved west to Herefordshire County, near the Welsh border.
  • In 1846, he married Esther Meredith at the Church of Welsh Newton, in Welsh Newton, Herefordshire, England.
  • Between 1846 and 1881, he and his family moved between Herefordshire, England, and Monmouthshire, Wales. Both counties share a border. By the 1881 UK/Wales Census, he was owner of Wern Farm in Llanrothal, Herefordshire County, England.
Here's the legend:
  • My Aunt Brenda has heard that John Bartrem and his son, Joseph (my great grandfather), were in the business of bringing Hereford cattle from England to the US in the early 1880s. Joseph ended up staying in Kansas and working for the Adams Ranch, which raised Hereford cattle. He eventually owned his own ranch in Wabaunsee County, Kansas, before moving to Clear Lake, California.
  • My cousin, Reva, thinks that John made a final trip in 1886, and brought his grandson, Arthur, with him at that time. The 1910 US Census notes that Arthur immigrated in 1886. Another of John's sons, Samuel, had already settled in Iowa, and it seems that Arthur first stayed with Samuel before moving to Kansas. 
  • The last we heard about my great great grandfather, John Bartrem, is that he sailed back home to England after Arthur (and, presumably, the shipment of cattle) were safely deposited in America, and that he died at sea. 
I've hunted high and low through the online records (at and beyond), and have found no records of the ship that John took back home, or any records of his death. I think I need to start calling around the various repositories in England and Wales to see if I can find someone who can point me in the right direction. The UK's National Archives website seems to have some information regarding deaths at sea, but I'll likely have to speak with someone there or make a trip to London (oh, darn... ) to actually access it. I just checked, though, and I see that they have a podcast on how to research births, marriages and deaths at sea. Hmmm... Perhaps, I'll find a clue there!

Meanwhile, if anyone else has any ideas, please feel free to pass them along in my Comments section!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Church Record Sunday: Hannah Bruhns' 1888 Baptismal Certificate

Hannah as a young girl
My cousin, Vikki, sent a few scans of our family documents to me awhile back. Below is the baptismal record for our great grandmother, Johanna Bruhns (Madsen). She was our moms' maternal grandmother, and was married to our great grandfather, Lars Hansen Madsen.

The certificate is a little hard to read -- partly because the writing is a bit faded with age, but also because it's written in German (the type is too small for me to make out, so Google Translate isn't helping me much with this one...).

The certificate does show that Johanna was born in Tracy, San Joaquin County, California, on November 9, 1886, to Johann Bruhns and Christina Margaretha Schlichtmann. She was baptized in Tracy on August 26, 1888.

Friday, February 25, 2011

1908 Ship Passenger list for Lars Hansen Madsen

Great Grandpa Louie is the sweet looking man
in the front of this picture
I'm always amazed and in awe of my pioneering ancestors, whether they forged their way West via horse and buggy to settle throughout the United States, or they came by ship to start a new life in a new land. My Great Grandpa Louie, otherwise known as Lars Hansen Madsen, was one such pioneer. Grandpa Louie was born on September 24, 1893, on a farm called Risemark on the tiny island of Ærø in Denmark. Our family there goes back to at least the early 1600s.

Grandpa Louie came to the United States with his older sister, Hansine, and her family in 1908. He was just 14 years and 6 months old. They arrived at Ellis Island, New York, on April 26, 1908, on the Arabic. Here's the ship's Passenger List that lists him and his family.

Some things I learned about my Great Grandpa Louie from this wonderful document:
  1. He had blond hair and blue eyes.
  2. He was 4'9" tall at the time.
  3. He was listed as a "labourer."
  4. He was headed to meet his older brother, Hans Terkelsen Madsen, in Livermore, near San Francisco.
  5. He and his family first traveled to Liverpool, England. The ship, Arabic, left Liverpool on April 16, 1908, and took 10 days to arrive in New York.
  6. His father paid the fare for his journey.
  7. He did not have a ticket to his final destination (San Francisco).
  8. He did have at least $50 in his pocket.
  9. He and his sister's family were traveling with another Danish family from Ærø, the Groths, who would also settle in Livermore, California.
  10. He was neither a Polygamist or an Anarchist (!!!)
Grandpa Louie passed away on May 8, 1971. I'm fortunate that I got to know Grandpa Louie and that he was one of the many brave souls in my family to forge their own path in America.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Joseph Bartram and Alice Veale

Here's the wedding license for my maternal great grandparents, Joseph Bartram and Alice Veale. Joseph was born in 1860 in Wales, and immigrated to Kansas in the 1880s. There, he met Alice, who was born in Indiana in 1872, and moved to Kansas as a little girl with her family in 1879. They were married in Topeka, Kansas, on July 31, 1891.

I'm not sure why a judge signed the affidavit on the bottom of the document in 1948,
57 years after the marriage, and 18 years after Joseph died.
Joseph and Alice settled in Wabaunsee County, Kansas, and had a large family of 17 kids, most of whom survived to become adults. One of those kids was my Grandpa John, who was born in 1911. Between 1925 and 1930, Joseph and Alice moved with some of the younger kids, including Grandpa John, to California. They settled in Clear Lake, Lake County, and Joseph passed away there in 1930. Alice, known to my mom as Granny Barky, died there in 1954.

This is a picture of who I believe is Joseph, Alice and most of their kids. I think that Joseph and Alice are the older couple standing in the rear, to the right. If it's what I think it is, it's the only photo I have of them together. I love the hats, and how happy they look.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: Milton Price Brittain and Nancy Garriott Brittain

Yesterday, I wrote about finding my GGG grandfather, Milton Price Brittain, on an 1874 Iowa plat map. I also found an 1849 United States land record for part of that land just after I posted (isn't that the luck?). So, Milton and his family are on my mind this week. For Tombstone Tuesday, I thought you might enjoy seeing his and his wife, Nancy's, gravestones. They are not buried together because Nancy moved back to Missouri after Milton died, and she passed away there.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Milton Price Brittain and Nancy Garriott were my paternal GGG grandparents. Milton was born on June 20, 1822, in Rockcastle, Barren County, Kentucky, and died on February 19, 1898, in Payne County, Oklahoma. Nancy Garriott was born on November 10, 1828, in Clark County, Indiana, and died on July 2, 1912 in Kirbyville, Taney County, Missouri. They were married on January 25, 1843, in Henry County, Iowa. He was 20 years old, and she was just 14 years old.

Milton's tombstone is really hard to read. This is what I'm able to decipher:
Rev M.P.
Feb. 11 1898
75 yrs 8 mos
I'm unable to read the rest.

Nancy's tombstone reads:
No pains, no grief,
No anxious fears
Can reach our loved one
Resting here.

Nancy Brittain
Nov 10, 1828
July 2, 1912
Age 85 Yrs

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mappy Monday: Milton Price Brittain in 1874, Keokuk County, Iowa

One of these days I'm going to win the lottery, buy an Airstream trailer and a sweet ride with which to tow it, and then take off on a grand tour of all of the places where my ancestors settled and lived. That's my dream, anyway! Until then, I'm on the hunt for historical maps that show exactly where my ancestors resided during their lives. Since a lot of my ancestors were farmers and land owners, I've been able to dig up some amazing plat maps that detail exact location of my ancestors' land, by name, and even how much land they owned.

What are plat maps? Creating plat maps was an important step in the process incorporating towns and cities according to US law. Plat maps are drawn to scale, showing the divisions of land, road designations and other zoning concerns. Historical land maps can be gold for a genealogist because they often name the owners of the parcels of land that have been designated on the map. You can find these maps in many places on the Internet, but a great place to start is the Bureau of Land Management web site.

Here's an 1874 plat map from Steady Run Township in Keokuk County, Iowa, that shows the land that was owned by my GGG grandfather, Milton Price Brittain. This was before he and his family headed south to Indian Territory, most likely around the time of the Oklahoma land grabs of the 1890s.

Keokuk County Atlas, 1874. M. P. Brittain is about 2/3 down the map, along the left border.
You can click on the map to view a larger version and zoom in.
Here's a close up shot of Milton Price Brittain's land. You can see from the map that he owned 380 acres and was surrounded by much smaller farms. It looks like my GGG grandfather and his family were doing pretty well during that time of his life.

As I look at the census documents from around that time, I can also see some of the same names there that I find on this plat map. You can often find other members of the same family nearby on plat maps, as well as names of family that show up in your ancestors' various documents, such as family histories, wills, marriage records, etc.

I'm still on the hunt for more plat maps as I continue my family history journey because the maps help to tell the grand stories of my ancestors. I'll be sure to share with you what I find!

I just found a United States Land Record from 1849 that shows Milton Price Brittain buying 40 acres of the parcel of land that is shown in the above map. Here's the record. What a great find!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Family Recipe Friday: Dad's Monterey Clam Chowder

William Lee Brittain (aka Dad)
It's been cold and rainy in San Francisco this week. OK, not as freezing as the east coast has been lately, but cold for SF! This weather has me craving soup. But, not just any soup. I really want some of my Dad's Monterey Clam Chowder. It's not only the perfect food to warm me up on a blustery day, but it also reminds of my Daddy, who I miss very much.

Dad found the original recipe in an old Milk Advisory brochure from the 1980s. The brochure cover had a picture of a very young Heather Locklear, before she made it big on "Dynasty" and "T.J. Hooker." Dad messed around with the ingredients to perfect the recipe, and it quickly became a family favorite.

Bill Brittain's Monterey Clam Chowder
1/4 lb. bacon
2 medium onions
1 clove garlic, mashed
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 cups potatoes, diced
2 cups boiling water
2 4-oz. cans canned clams, minced with liquid
1 can corn
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
2 tsp. salt
4 Tbls. butter
1 quart milk, extra rich
dash of dill weed

Cut bacon into small pieces, and cook in large kettle until crisp; remove and reserve. Add onions, celery and garlic to fat in kettle and cook until tender. Add potatoes, water, clams (with liquid), salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender. Return crisp bacon bits to soup. Add milk, butter, corn and dill.

Heat gently.

Tip: it tastes even better the next day!
Dad and me

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday's Tip: A Name Isn't Always Just a Name

Genealogists are a lot like detectives: we strive to overturn any brick, rock, pebble or piece of rubbish that might help us solve the many mysteries of our family history. We use a combination of online and offline search methods, and continually look for new tools to add to our bags of tricks. One of the most basic rules of genealogy that we all know, but often forget, is this: if you search your ancestors' names using only the spelling YOU know or believe to be correct, you will likely miss out on some crucial -- and really cool -- information!

What do I mean by this? Well, just because you know your ancestors' surname to be "Smith," it might have been spelled at certain times, or on certain documents, as "Smyth" or "Smythe" or "Smithington" or something completely different, like "Smičiklas." This goes for first names, middle names, initials, nicknames and/or a combination of all of these.

Variances in name spellings can be attributed to all sorts of reasons: language barriers, limited literacy, the person taking the information didn't hear correctly (or didn't care), the person transcribing names from written documents couldn't read the handwriting correctly (or didn't care). And, of course, sometimes spellings of names just changed through the course of the years. 

In searching for my family history, I've run across tons of examples of this lesson:
  • Bartram, Bartrem, Bastram. That last spelling was a transcription
    As written in the 1841
    UK Census
    error in the 1841 UK census. It was written as Bartram, but whomever transcribed the document for misread it as "Bastram." It took me awhile to figure it out, but once I did, I was able to find my GGGgrandparents, who were living just a few farms over from my GG grandfather (whose name was properly transcribed).
    As transcribed in the
    1841 UK Census
    For some reason, my GG grandfather and his children later ended up spelling the surname as "Bartrem." Everyone else in that line spells it as "Bartram," and I'm unsure how he ended up with that odd spelling. When his son, Joseph, came to the US, he changed it back to Bartram, and that's how our branch of the family spells it now. 
  • Veale, Veal, Vele, Viele, Vale and, um, Neale. "Veale" is the preferred spelling for our line, but it's spelled differently depending on where you look. My GGG grandfather, Andrew Jackson Veale, is listed as both "Veale" and "Veal" throughout his life. His name is also written as "Vele" in one census document. The spelling was interchanged at various points in time, with no real rhyme or reason. His grandfather, James Carr Veale, was listed as "James Carr Veale, alias Neale" on his Revolutionary War pension file. I'm guessing the Neale came from someone down the line thinking that his handwritten "V" looked like an "N" to them.
    James Carr Veale (alias Neale)
    Revolutionary War pension file
  • Harryman, Harriman, Harraman. This line started out as "Harryman," but I've heard from a cousin that it turned into "Harriman," and stayed that way in our line, after a misspelling in the census.
  • Noe, Noah. Not only do I find this surname spelled either way, but there are also several different pronunciations of the name. In my line, it's pronounced "KNOW-ee."
  • Beals, Beales, Bales. Spelling for this family name is all over the board in the Quaker documents I've found for this line. Makes researching them loads of fun!
  • Brittain, Britton, Brittian, Britain. In my line, it's consistently spelled "Brittain." However, I've run across documents with various spellings. I was having a devil of a time finding any death information in Van Buren County, Arkansas, for GG grandfather, Frederick Harmon Brittain, but it dawned on me one day that people OFTEN misspell my last name as "Brittian." When I tried searching using that incorrect spelling variation, guess what came to me: a cemetery record in Van Buren County, AR, for F.H. Brittian. Eureka!
Frederick Harmon Brittain, aka "F.H. Brittian,"
in the Van BurenCounty Cemetery Book
And don't forget about first and middle names. And initials. And nicknames, oh the nicknames!
  • I'm still trying to figure out if Melania Brittain and Melcinia Brittain are twins, or the same person with the first name spelled incorrectly somewhere. I have a hunch that they are the same person, but I need to find their/her family on the 1870 US census to be sure.
  • Mary Magdalena Brock is listed as Polly Brock on her wedding record. Polly is a very common nickname for Mary and for Margaret. I also have several "Harriets" who are also known as "Hattie." And, of course, "William" could be "Bill," "Billy," "Willie" or even "Bud."
  • My Andrew Jackson Veale (see above) is listed as Andrew Jackson, Andrew, Jackson, AJ and Jack in various records. Add to that the various spellings of his surname, and you can guess that I've had trouble tracking him down in a few instances.
A.J. Veal
Andrew Jackson Veal

Jackson Vele
Fortunately, we genealogists like a good challenge. Uncovering our family history wouldn't be much fun if all the information came to us in a pretty box with a big red ribbon on top. We just need to remember to make use of ALL of the information we have at our fingertips. Even though it might go against my every intuition to intentionally misspell names, I'd be a fool to not try anything that might help me dig up one more missing piece of information on my family lines!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Military Monday: Benjamin Franklin Jaggers in the Civil War

B F Jaggers grave at Nashville National Cemetery
Genealogists can be so nice and helpful! About a week ago, I was searching Find-A-Grave for information on where my 4th great grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Jaggers, was buried. I knew that he had died in Tennessee in Civil War and found that he was buried in the National Cemetery at Nashville. However, I was sad to see that nobody had posted a picture of his grave. I figured it wouldn't hurt to post a request for a Find-A-Grave volunteer to take a photo, but wasn't really expecting anything. Lo and behold, a very helpful volunteer named Florence Keels  trekked out into the snow and snapped a photo of the gravestone for me! It's now up on his Find-A-Grave memorial page, and I've included it here, too. Thanks, Florence!

Benjamin Franklin Jaggers was born on June 30, 1832, in Morgan County, Alabama, to Thomas Garrison Jaggers and Martha Vest. He was one of nine children, and grew up a farmer in Alabama. He married Nancy Catherine Sandlin on February 15, 1852, and they had three children, including my GGG grandfather, Jesse James Jaggers.

As many young Alabama men did, Benjamin joined the Confederate Army, enlisting on July 21, 1862, and mustering in at Huntsville, Alabama, on August 18, 1962. He was 30 years old and a Private in the 1st Alabama Cavalry. Benjamin would not get to see much, if any, action during the Civil War. Less than two months after he joined up, he died on October 16, 1862, of measles (also known as "Rubeola") in Hospital #14 at Nashville, Tennessee. He is buried at the Nashville National Cemetery in Section A, plot 4518.

Here are some of Benjamin Franklin Jaggers' Civil War records. My favorite is the one that tells us a little bit about him, including:
  • He was 5'10 1/2" 
  • He had a dark complexion (there's legend of Cherokee genes on that side of the family, but I've yet to prove it)
  • He had light hair and blue eyes
  • He was 30 years old at enlistment
  • He had enlisted for a term of  three years

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Black Sheep Sunday: A Horse Thief in the Family?

I've been delving into the history of my Quaker ancestors on my dad's side of the family, and it's really fascinating to me. It's a good thing the Quakers kept amazingly good records, and that a lot of them can be found online or in books, because it's helped me to fairly easily track my ancestors on this branch of my tree.

One interesting story I've seen is that of John Jackson, my 6th great grandfather and husband of Phebe Beals. Phebe's great grandfather (my 10th great grandfather), William Clayton (1632-1689), was a British Quaker who came to America on orders from William Penn, and ended up being quite a big mucky-muck in Pennsylvania: he was one of the first two judges for the City of Philadelphia. He was a member of William Penn's council in 1683 and 1684, and was acting Governor of Pennsylvania from 1684 to 1685.

Phebe Beals (1759-1830) and John Jackson (1753-1810) both grew up in the Quaker (aka Society of Friends) religion. They were married at the New Garden Monthly Meeting (MM) on November 10, 1779, in Guilford County, North Carolina. At some point after their marriage, they moved to Surry County, North Carolina, where they became members of the Westfield MM on March 3, 1792. Here's where the story gets interesting:

New Garden Monthly Meeting, North Carolina
Legend has it that the Westfield Monthly Meeting records show that John Jackson was disowned from the Quakers for basically selling a horse that did not belong to him, among other transgressions. Oopsy! According to the record, John was cast from the Quakers for "going to law with a member of our society, also for not complying with his contracts, and for a breach of trust in that of taking a travelers horse in order to take care of him and trading the horse away without the leave of the said traveler, and when he (the traveler) returned, have him no true information nor made him any satisfaction for said horse." I'd love to know why he thought that was such a good idea, or how he thought he'd get away with it! This seems to be a story that is accepted among folks researching this part of the family, but I'm still looking for the actual record so I can verify it. I'll update this post when I find it!

Meanwhile, Phebe and her children were kept in the fold of the Quakers, but no mention of John's name is found in any further church records, except to note him as the father of his children or as Phebe's spouse.

In 1799, John, Phebe and their large family moved from Westfield, North Carolina, to Green County, Tennessee, where Phebe and the children (but not John!) were received into the New Hope MM in August of that year. I've found records that show they finally moved in 1804 to Clinton County, Ohio, where they were some of the earliest pioneers and where they are buried.

Interestingly, Phebe and John's daughter (my 5th great grandmother), Elizabeth Jackson, was also disowned from the Quakers in Ohio for marrying my 5th great grandfather, Joseph Rooks. It seems that something as simple as marrying outside the faith could get one excommunicated.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: Great Grandpa Andrew's Lady-Leg Spurs

Andrew Lee Brittain 1888-1954
If you've been following my posts, you know I come from cowboy stock. You've already seen my maternal Grandpa John's rodeo pictures and read some of his story. My dad's side were cowboys, too. In fact, most of my ancestors were farmers, so it makes sense that a lot of my family treasures and photos would have something to do with horses!

Today, I'm sharing with you photos of the spurs that were well-used by my paternal great grandfather, Andrew Lee Brittain. Andrew was born in Arkansas in 1888, grew up in Oklahoma and finally moved with his family to California in 1940. He died in Hayward, California, in 1954.

I believe that this picture of Andrew was taken when he was a young man in Oklahoma. It was certainly still the Wild West there: look at the dirt streets, building facades and wagon wheel in the background.

I love that these are "gal leg" or "lady leg" spurs.  You can see that the shank is fashioned to resemble a lady's leg, and there's a silver (probably nickel) overlay where the lady's shoe is at the end of the shank, surrounded by the star-shaped rowell (or, in layman's terms, the spinny part that digs into the horse when you want to giddy-up!). The maker also fashioned decorative spades and a diamond shape on the part that goes around the boot. My dad inherited these spurs from his Grandpa Andrew, and later hand tooled the leather guards that go around the front of the boots. I believe that he also added the sterling silver concho strap pins. I haven't shined up the sterling because, if I've learned nothing else from watching "Antiques Roadshow" all these years, I know that too much polishing can rub away the detail. =)

See the lady's leg? Pretty classy!
After my dad passed away in 2003, my mom thought I'd appreciate these treasures. She was right! I keep them proudly displayed with my dad's silver belt buckle and cowboy hat band.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: John Bruhns & Christina Schlichtmann

Mr. and Mrs. John & Christina Bruhns
on their wedding day
Yesterday, I posted the gravestone and story of my great great grandfather, John Bruhns. For Wedding Wednesday, here's John and his wife, Christina, in happier times.

John Bruhns (b. July 20, 1848) was married on November 3, 1881, in San Francisco, California, to Christina Marguerita Schlichtmann (b. March 20, 1862). Both were born in Germany and immigrated to California. John arrived as a young man in 1870, while Christina and her mother followed her father, Claus, to America as a baby in 1863. Both the Bruhns and Schlichtmann families were early pioneers in my own hometown of Tracy, California.

John and Christina Bruhns were successful farmers and respected citizens in Tracy, California, and they raised a happy family, including four girls and a boy: Matilda, Christina, Johanna (my great grandma), Bertha and John Jr.

My cousin, Vikki, shared with me these wonderful wedding pictures of our great great grandparents. They were taken in San Francisco on November 3, 1881.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: John Bruhns (1848-1934)

Here is the tombstone for my maternal GG grandfather, John Bruhns. He was born on July 20, 1848, in Holstein, Germany, and died in Tracy, California, on July 24, 1934. He is buried at the Tracy Public Cemetery.
John was one of the early pioneers of my hometown: Tracy, California. He was a successful farmer and respected citizen of the area. His biography was published in a 1905 book called "History of New California: Its Resources and People," which includes information on several other of my Bruhns and Schlichtmann ancestors. A barn from his farm near the Jefferson School District (where my great grandma, Johanna Bruhns, attended elementary school) still stands. I believe the property is now owned by a church.
John Bruhns in 1881
From a History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II, 1905

John Bruhns, living near Tracy, has made his home in California since 1872, and two years prior to that time he came to America from Germany. He was born in the fatherland July 20, 1848, a son of Frederick and Maguerite Bruhns, both of whom were natives of Holstein, Germany. The son spent the days of his minority in that country and acquired a good education in his native language, but his knowledge of English has been obtained in the new world. He determined to seek a home and fortune in the new world, and in 1870 made his way from Hamburg to Liverpool, where he took passage on a steamer bound for New York. He spent about two years in that city and then came to California, where he has since made his home. He worked for others for some time, and in 1881 began farming on his own account on rented land in what is known as the Lammersville district, near Bethany, San Joaquin county. In 1884 he removed to his present farm, near Tracy, and has here resided continuously since. He now owns a ranch of three hundred and twenty acres, well cultivated and improved with good buildings. The fields are well tilled, and indeed he has practically made the ranch what it is to-day--a valuable farm property. All this indicates that his life has been a busy and useful one, and that his labor has been rewarded in the success which ever crowns honorable and earnest toil.

On the 3d of November, 1881, Mr. Bruhns was united in marriage to Miss Christena M. Schlichtmann, who was born in Hanover, Germany, March 20, 1862, and is a daughter of Claus and Anna S. Schlichtmann. Her father was born in Hanover, Germany, and came to America early in the '60s. Not long afterward he sent for his family, who joined him in the new world, and finally they came to California, living for a short time in San Francisco before they took up their residence in San Joaquin county. Casting in his lot with the pioneer settlers of this part of the state Claus Schlichtmann pre-empted a quarter section of land several miles from Bethany and took up his abode there. He afterward left that place, however, and established the family homestead which is now occupied by his son August. This place was near Bethany, and with characteristic energy he began its development and in course of time transformed it into a fine farm with modern improvements. His life was always devoted to agricultural pursuits, and he was one of the honored pioneer farmers of San Joaquin county. In his business relations with his fellow men he was always found trustworthy, and in matters of citizenship he was loyal and progressive, favoring all measures which he believed would contribute to the general good. He died July 5, 1899, respected by all who knew him, and his name is now enrolled among the honored dead of the county. He was a member of the Order of Druids, at San Francisco, and he gave his political allegiance to the Republican party. His widow still survives him and is one of the venerable pioneer women of her section of the state. She now makes her home in Alameda, California, but is well remembered by many residents of San Joaquin county.

To the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Bruhns five children have been born: Matilda M., who is now the wife of John H. Von Sosten; Anna C., Johanna, Bertha and John, all at home. The parents, having long lived in San Joaquin county, have a wide acquaintance, which is also a favorable one, for they possess many excellent traits of character. Mr. Bruhns votes with the Republican party, and fraternally is connected with the Knights of Pythias lodge at Tracy.

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sentimental Sunday: Aunt Rae's "Five Little Squirrels" Story

Liam and Aunt Rae (& Elmo!)
My sister, Cindy, recently reminded me of a story that our Great Aunt Rae (Grandma Donna's sister) told us when we were little kids. Cindy has a picture of Aunt Rae telling the story to my nephew, Liam, when he was a little guy. I'm glad that she thought to write it all down! Aunt Rae said that that her mom, Great Grandma Madsen, used to tell this story to her children and grandchildren:

Five Little Squirrels

Five little squirrels up in the tree,

This little squirrel says, "What do I see?"

This little squirrel says, "I smell a gun!"

This little squirrel says, "Let us run!"

This little squirrel says, "I'll hide in the shade."

This little squirrel says, "I'm not afraid!"

BANG!!! goes the gun and they run, everyone.

I was curious about this little poem, so I went in search of its history. I haven't yet figured out the origin, but did find several versions of it in old teaching manuals, including one that dates back to 1888! Nearly a hundred and twenty five years ago, teachers used this as a counting poem as well as to teach language.

Since Aunt Rae passed away last year, this has brought back very sweet memories of her for Cindy and me. Now, it's up to us to make sure that Liam and his brother, Evan, remember this poem to share with future generations!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Family Recipe Friday: Grandma Madsen's Tamale Pie

Johanna Bruhns Madsen (1886-1965)
Welcome to another Family Recipe Friday! Today's recipe is from my maternal great grandmother, Johanna Bruhns Madsen (my mom's mom's mom). Grandma Madsen's Tamale Pie recipe has been passed down through the generations (I found this in my Great Aunt Rae's collection), and this yummy dish is still enjoyed at our family functions. I hope you'll enjoy it, too!
Grandma Madsen's Tamale Pie

1 lb. ground chuck
2 Tbls. olive oil
2 onions, diced
5 cloves garlic, smashed
4 slices bacon, diced
1 17-oz can cream-styled corn
1 16-oz can tomatoes, cut
1 cup ripe olives, chopped
1 Tbls. salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. chili powder
2 Tbls. La Victoria Salsa, medium heat (or your choice of salsa)
3 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup cornmeal

Saute in olive oil, ground chuck, bacon, garlic and onions. Mix and cook for 10 minutes, watching carefully.

Add corn, tomatoes, salsa, olives, salt, garlic powder and chili powder.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs, and add milk and cornmeal. Add to above ingredients and cook for another 15 minutes.

Combine in a casserole dish and bake for 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Things I've Learned From the Census

1790 US Census for my 5th great grandfather,
Timothy Halstead, in Montgomery, Ulster Co., NY
It shows that he did not own slaves, but several
of his neighbors did.
I'll bet that when you were filling out your 2010 US Census document last year you didn't think about how that mundane information just might help one of your descendants in their family history research. Genealogists spend a LOT of time digging through census data and, frankly, I don't think we'd know what to do without it. It helps us link the generations of our family, understand where our people came from, learn about occupations of our ancestors, confirm (or dispel) data found elsewhere and much, much more.

First, it helps to have a little back story about the census, itself.  As mandated by the United States Constitution, the population is enumerated every 10 years and the results are used to allocate Congressional seats, electoral votes and government funding. Some states and local jurisdictions also conduct their own censuses.

While some state and local censuses were taken before the American Revolution, the first US census was taken in 1790. The US census has been taken every ten years since then. The first two censuses were basically a head count and obtained the name of the head of household and number of other males and females who resided there. The 1790 census asked for the following:
  • Number of white males over/under age of 16
  • Number of white females
  • Number of other free persons
  • Number of slaves
Censuses from subsequent years began expanding on the information sought from residents and help us to better flesh out the story of our ancestors and our nation. Starting in 1850, the census started counting each member of a residence individually, including women, children and slaves, and how they related to the head of the household. That year, people were asked questions about the value of their property, marriage status and if they were "deaf, dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict?"

1850 US Census for my 5th great
grandparents, Joseph and Elizabeth Rooks,
in Grundy County, MO
In 1870, residents were asked about where their parents were born and could the resident read or write.

In 1890, even more questions were added, including "How many children was the person a mother of? How many of those children were living?" Unfortunately, most of the 1890 census was destroyed in 1921 during a fire in the basement of the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C.

In 1900, the government thought to ask how long each couple had been married (giving us genealogists a clue regarding marriage dates -- yay!).

In 1930, the most recent census that has been made available to the general public, each household was asked if it owned a radio. People were also asked if they lived on a farm NOW, and if they lived on a farm A YEAR AGO -- likely to help determine migration patterns from the country to the cities.

The 1940 census results are scheduled for release to the public in 2012.  We family historians are waiting on pins and needles so we can continue to learn more about our great grandparents, grandparents and, for some folks, even our own parents, including whether or not they had a Social Security number (Social Security began in 1935, and applications can offer us invaluable information). 

I still find bits of curious -- and crucial -- data on my people each time I take another look at a census document. Here are a few interesting items I've dug up in these deceptively fascinating records.
GG Grandfather Frederick Harmon Brittain was in two different places during the 1900 US Census, and one of those places was the US Jail in Muskogee, OK.  I'm still not sure how he ended up in jail, and I don't know if he had been released prior to being enumerated at home on June 16, or if his wife or one of the children erroneously listed him as living at home at that time.
Frederick Harmon Brittain in jail on June 1, 1900
Township 1, Creek Nation, Indian Territory, US Jail Muscogee. Enumerated on June 1, 1900
Frederick H. Brittain is listed, among many other men, as a "boarder."
His birth date and place are correct, as well as other identifying information.
 Frederick Harmon Brittain at home on June 16, 1900
Township 16, Creek Nation, Indian Territory. Enumerated on June 16, 1900
Fred Brittain is listed with his family, including his wife, Mary J., and
his children (including my great grandfather Andrew Lee (Leander) Brittain.
Great Grandpa Louie (Lars Hansen Madsen) and his family were listed as owning a radio on the 1930 US census. Why was this important? There were reasons relating to broadcast law, but it's possible that it also helped to give an idea as to the family's, and the nation's, standard of living. 
1930 US Census for my great grandparents, Louis and Johanna
Madsen, in Murray Township, Alameda Co., CA. My
Grandma Donna, aged 10, and her brother and sister are also listed.
My GGG Grandparents, Andrew and Elizabeth Veale, had 11 children, but only five were living as of the 1900 census. Their 42 year old daughter, Lydia, was living with them, and the document shows that she could read, but not write. It also states that Andrew was a farm laborer, and both Elizabeth and Lydia were laundresses. All three were unemployed at the time of the census. It appears that these ancestors may have fallen on hard times. Both Andrew and Elizabeth died before the 1910 census, and Lydia passed away in 1913. 
1900 Census for my GGG grandparents, Andrew and Elizabeth Veale,
and their daughter, Lydia, in Maple Hill Township, Wabausee County, KS
And this is just the beginning! In addition to the US census data, there's also a lot of information out there from various state and local censuses. Even though the 1890 US census isn't available to me, I've been able to find information on my Bartram and Veale family from the 1885 and 1895 Kansas census.

While, on the surface, the census data can seem a bit mundane, I love how it's helped me to piece together the stories of my ancestors. I can tell when they've had good decades (shown, for example, by increased land ownership and births of children) and when they've fallen on hard times (shown by unemployment or, perhaps, by young children gone missing from censuses). When I use the census alongside the myriad other ancestral documentation that I'm lucky to unearth, I realize that I could fill a book -- or at least a blog! -- with some really cool stories about the people who came before me.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Milton Price Brittain & Nancy Garriott

Nancy and Milton Brittain
Milton Price Brittain and Nancy Garriott were my paternal GGG grandparents. Milton (b.  6/20/1822 in Rockcastle, Barren Co., KY; d. 2/19/1898 in Payne Co., OK) and Nancy Garriott (b. 11/10/1828 in Clark Co., IN; d. 7/2/1912 in Kirbyville, Taney Co., MO) were married on January 25, 1843, in Henry County, Iowa. He was 20 years old, and she was just 14 years old.

Below is a copy of their marriage record in the Henry County Iowa Recorder - Marriage Book A (pages 73 & 74). As you can see, Milton's sister, Marina, was married on the same day to her husband, John Hooker. Thank goodness for that, because both records together were instrumental in helping me to prove Milton's connection to his father, Parks Brittain, in my D.A.R. application.

Milton and Nancy had 11 children, and at least two of them died as toddlers. Milton was a farmer and a baptist minister before they moved their large family to Indian Territory, likely around the time of the Oklahoma Land Rushes of the 1890s. 
I know, it's really hard to decipher, even at the original size. Took me awhile to transcribe, but here's what is written in the document for both marriages:

1843, January 25/182

Milton Brittain & Nancy Garrett

Consent of father of Brittain given in writing, proved by oath of John Garrett. Consent of father of Lady given in person.

Territory of Iowa, Henry County Set -- I hereby certify that on the 25th day of January 1843 at the house of John Garrett of said county I solemnized the rites of matrimony between Mr. Milton Britton, aged 20 years, and Miss Nancy Garrett, aged 14 years, both of said county of Henry. Given under my hand date above.

Wm. Thrash, JP

Recorded 2nd February 1843

E. Killpatrick, clerk

1843, January 25/183

John Hooker & Marina Brittain

Consent of John Garrett given in person for John Hooker. Consent of Parks Brittain, father of Lady, given by certificate, proved by oath of Milton Brittain.

Territory of Iowa, Henry County Set -- I hereby certify that on the 25th day of January 1843 at the house of Parks Brittain of said county I solemnized the rites of matrimony between Mr. John Hooker, aged 19 years, and Miss Marina Britton, aged 17 years, both of said county of Henry. Given under my hand date above.

Wm. Thrash, JP

Recorded 2nd February 1843

E. Killpatrick, clerk