Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wednesday's Child: Great Grandma Johanna Bruhns

Here's a photo I found in my mom's treasure chest of pictures and documents over the weekend. It's of her maternal grandma, Johanna Bruhns Madsen. Grandma Hannah was born on November 9, 1886, in Tracy, California, and it looks like she's maybe about two years old here.
She looks so sweet with her chubby legs dangling off the chair. And, don't you love those boots? I love that I can see similarities between Hannah's baby photos and my mom's own childhood pictures.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Military Monday: Remembering our Patriots on Memorial Day

While i know that Memorial Day is traditionally a time to honor our war dead, this Memorial Day, I'd like to take a moment to remember all of the brave patriots in my family. Some actually saw battle, and all served well. Some died while in service, and some were fortunate to live long, happy lives once their service was completed. I thank them all for their service and sacrifices.

Here are just a few of the men in my family who have served in the military:

Top (L-R): My dad, William Lee Brittain (1942-2003); my grandfather, Woodie Leroy Brittain (living), with Grandma Edith and Dad; the grave of my 4th great grandfather and Confederate soldier, James Monroe Purser (1843-1914).
Middle (L-R): My great uncle Edgar "Bud" Hunt (1922-2004); my great grandfather, Andrew Lee Brittain (1888-1954), in WWI France; the Revolutionary War record of my 5th great grandfather, Nathaniel Brittain (1734-1776).

Bottom (L-R): The grave of my 4th great grandfather and Confederate soldier, Benjamin Franklin Jaggers (1832-1862); the Revolutionary War grave of my 5th great grandfather, Ambrose Garriott (1760-1834); my cousin, Stanley Christensen (living).
And, a big THANK YOU to all of the men and women who have served in all branches of the US military, both past and present!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sentimental Sunday: Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today, I wish a very Happy Birthday to my mom, Becky! You may have already read about this special lady on Mother's Day. I think she deserves another shout out today. =)

Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sorting Saturday: I Hit The Motherload at Mom's House!

I'm at my mom's house this weekend. As you might notice from some of her comments on my posts here, she's been very encouraging when it comes to both my family history obsession and my blog. Last night, though, she outdid herself. She casually mentioned that she had "some old family pictures and documents" that she wanted me to go through. I thought I had already sifted through most of what she had, but I was wrong. She hauled out four or five drawers plus a small file box chock full o' my family's history! Both sides, too!!!

There are some really great, old photos as well as obituaries and newspaper articles, greeting cards and report cards. There are also letters and documents that tell a sad story of loss that is still deeply felt in our family. I've already started scanning the stuff from Mom's side of the family (yes, I do carry my Flip-Pal scanner with me on trips like this). There are a boatload of super old pictures from my dad's side, too, and I think I'm just going to take those home with me.

The picture, above, doesn't show the full spectrum of what Mom bestowed on me because I'd already spent a few hours sorting through and scanning before I thought to dig out my own camera to gloat share with you all. As you can see, though, I still have a lot of sorting to do with all this treasure. Stay tuned to this space for more pictures and stories from my genealogy Motherload!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Family Recipe Friday: Æbleskivers!

Mmm... æbleskivers!
I've been thinking about æbleskivers lately. In fact, I'm craving these yummy little Danish pancake balls right now. It's probably because that's what I always asked my mom to make for me for my birthday breakfast. I'm heading to her house tomorrow so we can celebrate our May birthdays together this weekend (mine was last week, hers is this weekend). I think we're going to have to make up a batch to celebrate!

Æbleskiver is the Danish word for apple slices. They are spherical in shape, and kind of a cross between a popover and a pancake. They are made in an æbleskiver pan, which has several half-spherical cups or indentations in the bottom of the pan. My mom uses a non-stick æbleskiver pan, but I like my heavy, cast iron pan. I'm told by a Danish friend of mine that you can actually find frozen æbleskivers at Trader Joe's. That just seems so very wrong to me, though...

Here are a couple of versions of the æbleskiver recipe that our family have used. The first one is more traditional, but the second one is my favorite (I love buttermilk...).

Standard Æbleskiver

4 eggs, separated
1 Tbls sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup melted shortening
scant 2 cups milk

Beat egg yolks; add sugar. Sift together dry ingredients and add alternately with shortening and milk. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. See below for baking instructions.

Buttermilk Æbleskiver

3 eggs, separated
2 Tbls sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Beat egg yolks until light and lemon colored. Add sugar, salt and buttermilk; mix well. Sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder; add to egg mixture. Beat egg whites until stiff; fold into batter.

Baking instructions for both recipes:

Place a small amount of shortening (or butter) in each cup of æbleskiver pan, and fill 2/3 full with batter. Cook over medium heat until bubbly; turn carefully with a fork (or a butter knife or a metal knitting needle) and finish baking on the other side. Turn each æbleskiver several times to ensure thorough baking. If desired, a very thin slice of raw apple can be pressed into batter in each cup before turning. In our family, we serve with butter, powdered sugar and strawberry jam.
By the way, æbleskivers seem to be gaining in popularity, even among non-Danish folks. I've seen æbleskiver pans and entire recipe books readily available in several cooking stores, including Williams-Sonoma and Sur la Table. I hope you'll try them out!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Those Places Thursday: Joseph Rooks in Grundy Co., Missouri

Joseph and Elizabeth Rooks
I have a lot of pioneer ancestors in my family tree, and I admire their spunk and adventurousness. Joseph Rooks, my 5th great grandfather, was one such hearty soul who forged his way through the American wilderness, likely in search of good land and a better life for himself and his family.

Joseph was born in Kentucky in 1772. By 1807, he was in Highland County, Ohio, where he married Elizabeth Jackson (1790-1880). While Joseph and Elizabeth were adding to their family of 14 kids, they migrated to Randolph, Indiana, where they can be found on the 1820 US census. According to the 1881 book, "The History of Grundy County, Missouri: An Encylopedia of Useful Information, And A Compendium of Actual Facts," Joseph and his brothers, Samuel and Uriah, had finally settled in Marion township by the Fall of 1838, and were some of the very first white settlers of Grundy County, Missouri. At around the same time, other names in my family tree, including two more of my 5th great grandfathers, Robert Ishmael and John Holloway, arrived in Marion township. The Brittain family started showing up in area by the 1850s, and my 3rd great grand uncle, Francis McGuire Brittain, is also featured in "The History of Grundy County, Missouri."

The Rooks, Ishmael and Holloway family ended up being somewhat intertwined as the generations progressed. Joseph and Elizabeth Rooks' grandson, Thomas J. Rooks, married Robert and Polly Ishmael's granddaughter, Serena Jane Ishmael -- they were my 3rd great grandparents.

Within a few years of settling in Missouri, Joseph Rooks was granted two land patents of just over 137 acres acres in Marion, Grundy County, Missouri. Below is one of two documents detailing the land granted to him on April 1, 1843. I found these with a very simple search on the Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office website. The document refers to Livingston County: Grundy County was organized from part of Livingston County in the 1840s.

Click on image for larger view

I was able to enter coordinates from the land patents onto a site called Earth Point which then helped me to translate the information into longitude/latitude. From there, and with just one click of a button, I was able to view the exact location of the Rooks land via the wonders of Google Earth.

Section 18, Township 60, Range 22. The Rooks land was in the
NW 1/4 section, where the arrow is pointing. Theirs were Lots 3 & 4, but I
haven't yet found a map that breaks down the lots. The town of Laredo is just to the west
of this land, and that's where Joseph passed away on May 25, 1868.
Here's a close-up of what may have been the land belonging to
Joseph and Elizabeth Rooks in 1843 Grundy County, MO. I wonder if
that's their farm house up near the top?
Isn't it just gorgeous? Being a farm girl, myself, I appreciate the beauty of this land where my ancestors settled. One day, I'm going to win the lottery and take a road trip to visit all of the homesteads that were settled by my folks.

Finally, here's a map that shows the general migration path of Joseph Rooks: from Kentucky to Ohio to Indiana and then to Marion township, Grundy County, Missouri.
That last stretch, from Randolph County, Indiana (C), to Marion, Missouri (D), is roughly 500 miles. According to Google Maps, that would take about nine hours to drive by today's standards. It makes me wonder how long the journey took for the intrepid Rooks family in their wagons, and it makes me admire them all the more for their adventurous spirit!

Here's how I'm descended from Joseph Rooks:
Joseph Rooks (1772-1868) m. Elizabeth Jackson (1790-1880) in 1807 >
Samuel E. Rooks (1816-1876) m. Elizabeth Holloway (1820-1846) in 1835 >
Thomas J. Rooks (1837-1919) m. Serena Jane Ishmael (1845-1914) in1860 >
Mary Jane Rooks (1862-1904) m. Frederick Harmon Brittain (1859-1921) in 1879 >
Andrew Lee Brittain (1888-1954) m. Jessie Luetta Halstead (1898-1974) in 1919 >
Woodie Leroy Brittain (living) m. Edith Vivian Hunt (1920-1993) in 1938 >
William Lee Brittain (1942-2003) m. Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram (living) >

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Andrew Jackson Veale and Elizabeth Miller in 1849

Here's the marriage record of my third great grandparents, Andrew Jackson Veale (1828-1904) and Elizabeth Miller (1828-1908). They were married on August 22, 1849, in Pike County, Indiana. Andrew grew up in Veale Township, Daviess County, Indiana, which was just a few miles from where they got married. In the 1850 US census, it appears that Andrew and Elizabeth were living with her family in Pike County.
It's kind of hard to read the faded copy of this document, so I've transcribed it here:
Andrew J. Veal}        Be it remembered, That on this 22nd day of
to                       ss     August 1849, the following marriage license
Elizabeth Miller}      was issued, to-wit:

Indiana, To Wit: Pike County

Know ye, that any person legally authorized to solemnize matrimony is hereby licensed
to join in marriage as husband and wife Andrew Jackson Veal and
Elizabeth Miller and for so doing this shall be his sufficient authority.

In testimony above I, John McIntire, Clerk of
the Pike County Circuit Court, hereunto subscribe my
name, and affix the seal of said court, this 22nd day
of August, 1849.

signed: John McIntire, Clerk

Be it further remembered, That on this 25th day of  September November
1849, the following certificate was filed in my office, to-wit:
INDIANA, TO-WIT: Pike County.

This certifies that I joined in marriage as husband and wife Andrew J.
Veal and Elizabeth Miller on the 22nd day of August 1849.
        signed: Wm. H. Connelly, JP
Andrew and Elizabeth had eleven children, including my great great grandfather, George Elmer Veale (1850-1928). Sadly, by the 1900 US census, only five of their children were still living. They moved with their family from Indiana to Wabaunsee County, Kansas, arriving on Thanksgiving Day 1879. They remained there for the rest of their days.

Earlier this year, I posted about Andrew and Elizabeth's obituaries. I loved learning that they were the first couple in Maple Hill, Kansas, to have enjoyed a golden wedding anniversary, a testament to their strong bond.

Here's how I'm descended from Andrew and Elizabeth Veale:

Andrew Jackson Veale (1828-1904) m. Elizabeth Miller (1828-1908) in 1849 >
George Elmer Veale (1850-1928) m. Margaret Harriman (1850-1932) in 1872 >
Alice A. Veale (1872-1954) m. Joseph Bartram (1860-1930) in 1891 >
John Bartram (1911-1987) m. Donna Madsen (1919-1966) in 1938 >
Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram (living) m. William Lee Brittain (1942-2003) in 1964 >

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday's Tip: Get Yourself Out There!

For the last decade or so, I've been quietly going about my own genealogy business. I took over what my Grandma Edith had started, and then what my dad had added in, and have been slowly putting the pieces together for both their side of the family (Brittain) and my mom's side (Bartram). Sure, I'm a regular user of Ancestry.com, and make use of other online repositories such as Footnote.com, GenealogyBank and, of course, the various Google properties and other sites. But, it wasn't until the last couple of years that I've really started to branch out -- and REACH out -- via the Web.

It all started last year when I was desperately trying to prove my lineage to my 5th great grandfather, Nathaniel Brittain, who was a patriot in the American Revolution. I'd hunted high and low for documentation to prove the link between his son, Parks Brittain, and grandson, Milton Price Brittain, but to no avail. One day, I happened on a Google search result that led me to an Ancestry.com message board post from a woman looking for information on the same ancestor. She listed her email address in her post, so I thought, "What the heck, I'm going to send her a note!" Since then, Jennifer (of Climbing My Family Tree) and I have put our heads together to solve a couple of mysteries on our Brittain line and her blog inspired me to start my own. We've also become Facebook friends, and I have fun following her family (both ancestors and current) via the social network.

I truly believe that reaching out to the networks available to us on the Web is a great way to unearth info we're searching for as well as to meet like-minded folks (both relatives and new friends!).

Here are a few ways that you can reach out and touch someone from your own family tree:
  • Check out the message boards on the various genealogy websites, such as Ancestry.com, Geni.com and GenealogyWise. You don't necessarily have to be a member to search the boards, and you may come across a cousin who has answers for you, or might like to work with you to solve a mystery. I found one of my favorite new cousins all because of a Google search that led me to her message board post requesting information on what turned out to be our shared 3rd great grandfather. Jennifer and I were both able to help each other discover new information and documents that we hadn't found before, and she was instrumental in my successful attempt to join DAR. 
  • While you're reading the message boards, why don't you jump on in and post something yourself? Go ahead and ask a question that has been nagging you. Or, you might be able to answer a question for someone else (pay it forward). 
  • Read the genealogy blogs that interest you, and comment! Reach out to the authors that might have information for you, and ask questions. You never know who might be reading your comments and can help you remove another brick from your wall. 
  • Look for family-related pages on Facebook and join in the discussions. I've recently found one of my distant Veale cousins and look forward to comparing notes with him as we try to figure out where our Veale line originated. 
  • Have you checked out Twitter? It's amazing what you can learn in just 140 characters. There are a lot of people out there tweeting about their own research as well as other genealogy news and information. A good way to find general family history content on Twitter is by searching for "#genealogy". Of course, you can search for anything else you like on Twitter, too!
I think that the biggest genealogy lesson I've learned, other than persistence, is to not be shy when it comes to reaching out and talking to folks in the family history community. If I hadn't taken the initiative to talk to my fellow genealogists, several of whom have turned out to be cousins, I'd be doing myself (and anyone else interested in my family history) a big disservice. I hope you'll all join in the fun and get to know your fellow genealogists out here on the innerwebs. We'd love to hear from you!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Military Monday: James Carr Veale's Revolutionary War Pension Application

I love American history, and am fascinated by both the Civil War and the American Revolutionary War. Having ancestors who fought in both wars, and helped shape our country, makes it all even more exciting. When I first discovered that I could find actual Revolutionary War pension applications and documents for my very own ancestors, I was beyond thrilled! This means that I get to read my own patriots' history and accounts of their activity and participation in the birth of our nation.

Here's part of the Revolutionary War pension application that my 5th great grandfather, James Carr Veale, submitted in 1832.  Several acts allowed veterans and widows of the Revolutionary War to apply for pensions. The act of 1832 stated that every officer or enlisted man who had served two years in the war was eligible for a pension. If the veteran died after being granted a pension, his widow or children could apply to collect any money due from the date of his last payment until his death. I've found several comprehensive records of Revolutionary War pension applications via my Ancestry.com and Footnote subscriptions, and I love it when they help me follow the footsteps of my patriots as they fought the war.

The actual file from James Carr Veale is pretty large (over 60 pages), so I will transcribe some of it in parts. These three pages are James' own sworn account of his service in the war. I've transcribed them exactly as they are written, including any spelling or grammatical errors.

Declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress passed June 7th 1832

State of Indiana} JS
County of Daviess}

On this 18th day of September 1832 personally appeared in open court before the Honbl Amory Kinney President Judge of the circuit court of said county James Carr Veale, aged Sixty nine years and an old inhabitant of said County and State, who being duly sworn according to law, doth, on his oath, make the following declaration: That [???] to a family register he was born in March Seventeen hundred and sixty three, in Loudon County, Virginia; That in his youth his Father removed to what was called Chester district, South Carolina, and in the year Seventeen hundred and eighty, he volunteered in a company of Militia, in said county, under Captain Hollingsworth, of Col Brandon's Regt which was attached to Col Picken's command, and he marched with said troops, to obstruct and harras the english and tories under Tarlton; then retreated, with Genl Morgan's troops, towards the Cow pens, the Regt then turned, and joined the Genl Sumpters command, at Granby, where the British surrendered; That he was detailed in a company sent to Buckhead, to aid Col Lee to reduce that fort, which after a smart engagement they affected; that he then marched under Sumpter to Orangeburgh which place after its defeat Genl Sumpter took possession of, and he with the Regt under Colonel Hampton were ordered to proceed to Dorchester where after some fighting the American's retreated; That he then joined the army at Ninety-Six, under Genl Green. After retreating from Ninety-Six he became afflicted with Small Pox, and was unfit for duty for six weeks, when he again joined his company at Orangeburg from whence the Regt was ordered by Col Pickens to march to wards Charleston to Bacons Bridge, and he then remained on duty some months; That he was afterwards kept in motion serving the Country against tories, when the said Regt in company with Col Picken's troop and joined by others from Georgia proceeded to break up the towns of the hostile Indians in the Cherokee Country. Which object they effectually accomplished and drove the tories from their refuge. That shortly after this exploit, peace was declared, and he received a written discharge from his Lt. Col William Farr. That he was in actual service from the time he volunteered in 1780 up to the proclamation of peace except during a short sickness, That he believes his name may be found in the proper office of South Carolina in the certificate issued for his pay, on receiving which he thinks he delivered up his discharge; That in the year Eighteen hundred & Seven he removed from the Union district of South Carolina to the Indiana territory, where he has ever since resided in what is now Daviess County. that he has no documentary testimony but he trusts the evidence hereunto answered will be deemed sufficient to secure the remuneration he now seeks. He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or [???] except the present, and declares that his name is not on the Pension roll of the agency of any state.
                                                                       James C. Veale

As you can see, I've linked to a few websites that detail some of the battles that James Carr Veale bravely fought. This man saw quite a bit of action, and even jumped back into the war after suffering a bout with smallpox, a disease which killed many of his fellow soldiers. James and his family moved to Daviess County, Indiana, in 1806. James died on January 14, 1839, in Veale Township, the town named after his family.

Here's how I'm descended from James Carr Veale:
James Carr Veale (1763-1839) m. Lavina Townsend (1764-1846) in 1873 >
Daniel Veale (1784-1864) m. Mary Polly Coleman (1792-?) in 1813 >
Andrew Jackson Veale (1828-1904) m. Elizabeth Miller (1928-1908) in 1849 >
George Elmer Veale (1850-1928) m. Margaret Harriman (1850-1932) in 1872 >
Alice A. Veale (1872-1954) m. Joseph Bartram (1860-1930) in 1891 >
John Bartram (1911-1987) m. Donna Madsen (1919-1966) in 1938 >
Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram (living) m. William Lee Brittain (1942-2003) in 1964 >

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sentimental Sunday: John & Dutch Bartram with Cousin Helen

Here's another photo from Cousin Vikki's collection. This is of my Grandpa John Bartram, his brother, Raymond ("Dutch"), and their Cousin, Helen. I believe that this particular cousin is Helen Veale, who was born in around 1909 in Kansas to William Elmer Veale and Artie Barlow. William Elmer Veale was the son of my great great grandparents, George Elmer Veale and Margaret Harriman, and the younger brother of my great grandmother, Alice A. Veale.
John Bartram, Helen Veale and Dutch Bartram in 1927
As you can see, the photo was taken in 1927. It must have been taken in California, as Helen and her family were settled in Richmond, California, by the 1920 United States census, and were in Oakland, California, by 1930. Dutch was also in Northern California by that time. I know that Grandpa John had permanently settled in the Bay Area when he hopped a west-bound freight train at the age of 16, which was in 1927, so that makes sense.

Until I started going through census documents, I had not realized that any of our family had settled in California prior to Uncle Dutch and Grandpa John. I'm sure my great grandmother was comforted to know that there were relatives already here to help look after her boys until she got there herself!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Follow Friday: My Favorite Blog Posts of the Week

Happy Friday!! It was another great week in the genealogy blogosphere. Here are some posts by some of my fellow family historians that I think you might enjoy. Please click on over and show them some love!
You may not have noticed, but those of us who have our blogs hosted on Google's Blogger site were a bit flummoxed when Blogger went down for over a day late last week. Wonder what some of my fellow bloggers did during the downtime? Read on here, here and here to see what Amy Coffin from The Wee Tree Genealogy Blog, Elizabeth at Little Bytes of Life and Randy Seaver from Genea-Musings did during "The Great Blogger Fail of 2011." Also, Lorine at Olive Tree Genealogy Blog brought us a little reality (and some tips) about backing up our blogs in case of catastrophic technical failure! Guess what I'll be doing in the next couple of weeks...

Lorine from Olive Tree Genealogy also shared with us a Civil War-era family photo album that has come into her possession. Color me jealous!!!

Heather at Leaves For Trees is helping a friend find her Mexican family roots - no easy feat! I've been thinking about doing the same for my brother-in-law's family (so my nephews will have a more well-rounded family history), and I'll be following Heather's quest to get some good tips and tricks.

One of my recently-discovered Beals cousins, Travis at TJLGenes: Preserving Our Family History, shared the 1867 tombstone of his 5th great grandfather, Nathan C. Beals, that he found thanks to the efforts of one of the many volunteers at FindAGrave.com.

Greg A. Hoots was the guest blogger at the Flint Hills of Kansas blog this week, and he wrote a great story about the cowboy history in the Flint Hills. Since I have my own cowboys who hail from the Flint Hills of Kansas and worked cattle there, this was a great read for me. Greg has also written a new book about the Flint Hills. It will be available next week, and I look forward to snapping up a copy!

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings offers a great tip about using the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) website to find your own Revolutionary War patriots. Trust me, he's right. The DAR website, and its GRS research system, were instrumental in helping me locate some great information, including a "Record Copy" of another DAR member's accepted application that helped me to prove my own patriot and join this wonderful organization.

I loved this post from Marian at Climbing My Family Tree. When she writes about her mother-in-law, Marian Jane McClure, who was born in 1909 Cleveland, Ohio, she gives us a rich history of that time and place, including demographics of the city, transportation and exploration during that age. I hope she doesn't mind, but I plan to use her idea for some of my upcoming blog posts. Genealogy is so much more than just names/dates/places, so I appreciate that Marian has gone a step further to truly flesh out her relatives' histories.

Finally, my cousin, Jennifer, over at the "other" Climbing My Family Tree blog, had a great time last week at the National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference in Charleston, SC, with her daughter, Ellie. She kept us up-to-date with all the great stuff she learned and the people she met at the conference (and her AWESOME photography!). My favorite post, however, included this wonderful video "news report" that Ellie produced and starred in! Ellie took us on a tour of the conference and introduced us to some of the big influencers in the genealogy community. She's a great interviewer, and I think Ellie may have a broadcast career in her future!
I hope you'll click over to these great blogs that influence and inspire me each week. You might learn something, and you'll certainly be entertained!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Those Places Thursday: Ærø, Denmark

Ærø, Denmark
I'm proud of my Danish heritage, and I've been having fun writing about the Madsen side of my family. I especially enjoy sharing information about my great grandfather, Lars Hansen (Louis) Madsen, who immigrated to California from Ærø, Denmark, as a young boy in 1908.

A couple of years ago, when I was searching for information on my Madsen family (beyond what I already knew), I came across the most wonderful website, Genealogy Ærø. Ib Christensen, who happens to be a distant cousin of mine, has spent years researching his genealogy, as well as others, on the small island of Ærø, which is in the Baltic sea off the southern edge of Denmark. Fortunately for me, he's gone all the way back to my 10th great grandfather, Erich, and has very graciously sent me some amazing information about our Danish ancestory (including smuggers, witch trials, arranged marriages gone awry and other fun stuff that I'll surely write about later!).
Rise (REE-suh) is the little village, noted in
the center, near the farm where my
Great Grandpa Louie grew up.

For anyone interested in Ærø genealogy, or Danish history, Ib's website is a goldmine. He's written it in Danish, but he's already translated many pages into English (and you can always use Google Translate for the pages that aren't yet translated). It includes information on many Ærø families, including Ærø residents (like Great Grandpa Louie) who eventually emigrated away from Denmark. He has detailed the overall history of Ærø, from the Middle Ages (starting in the 13th century) until now. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading about Ærø's smugging past, including my own 9th great grandfather's part in that: Apparently, Bertel Erichsen was a skipper and smuggler who had a history with the law due to his bad temper.

Ib also wrote histories of some of the villages and other historical places. What thrilled me is that he included a photo of the oldest house in Ærøskøbing, one of Ærø's largest villages, which was built in 1645 by my 9th great grandfather, Bertel Erichsen (1617-1701), the ill-tempered smuggler referenced above. The house is called "Kjøbinghus" and appears to have been very well kept all these years.
Kjøbinghus. Photo by Ib Christensen, Genealogy Ærø
Ærø is now a tourist destination for travelers looking for a quiet vacation amongst old villages, thatched-roof buildings and well-tended farms. The island is only about 5-by-19 miles in size, and many visitors rent bicycles to get around and explore. My ancestors' farm, Bakkegaard ("hill farm"), near the town of Rise, is still there. Sadly, I'm told by Ib and another distant Madsen cousin who visited there last year, that it's a bit in disrepair.

I'm hoping to get to Ærø in the next few years so I can set foot on the land where my ancestors farmed, lived and raised their families for so many generations. Meanwhile, I enjoy going back to Genealogy Ærø to see what's new and continue learning about my Danish heritage. I hope you'll also visit Ib's website, especially if your family hails from Ærø. And, if you do have Ærø ancestry, please leave a message for me here so we can compare notes!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

(Not so) Wordless Wednesday: The Madsens in Ærø, Denmark

Here's another wonderful, old family picture that my cousin, Vikki, has shared with me. It's a photo of our great great grandparents, Laurits Hans Madsen (1839-1934) and Kirsten Terkelsen Madsen (1850-1925), and nine of their 11 children, in Ærø, Denmark.

I've already written quite a bit about my great grandpa, Lars Hansen (Louis) Madsen, and shared several photos of him as an adult. I just love seeing this photo of him as a little boy (he's the cutie in front on the right) with his mom, dad and siblings! I especially love that it was taken in his homeland of Denmark. One of these days, I'm going to get over there to see the old family farm where Grandpa Louie, and several generations before him, grew up (and which still exists -- I've seen pictures!).
I'm guessing that this photo was taken sometime around 1900. His oldest brother, Hans Terkelsen Madsen, had already blazed the path to California in 1891, and was not included in the photo. Grandpa Louie was born on September 24, 1893, and immigrated from Denmark to California in 1908 when he was just 14 years old. I'm sure his parents and siblings who stayed behind must have missed him greatly. I'm lucky that he moved here and stuck around long enough for me to get to know him!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Amanuensis Monday: John Purser's 1826 Last Will & Testament

Amanuensis. I'll bet this is a new term for some of you. It certainly was for me when I first started this blog, and I think it's really cool. According to Thomas over at Geneabloggers:
An Amanuensis is a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another. Amanuensis Monday is a daily blogging theme which encourages the family historian to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin – some we never met – others we see a time in their life before we knew them.
Today, I'm sharing with you a fairly recent find that I'm hoping is the missing link to proving my second American Revolution patriot for Daughters of the American Revolution. It's the 1826 will of my 5th great grandfather, John Purser, who fought in the Revolutionary War, and who was the grandfather of my 3rd great grandfather, James Monroe Purser, who was a Confederate soldier in the Civil War with his brothers, Richard and Moses. 

John Purser was born in January 1750 in Mecklenburg, NC, and died there on March 28, 1826. He married Susannah Cuthbertson, whose father is believed to be David Cuthbertson (who is mentioned in John's will). John and Susannah raised seven children: Richard, David, Moses, Sarah, Elizabeth, Lydia and Dorcas -- all named in John's 1826 will. 

A couple of weeks ago, I managed to find someone online who had a microfilm scan of John Purser's will. Until then, I'd only heard that it existed, and figured I'd have to write to Mecklenburg County or the North Carolina State Archives to ask for a copy (which could take weeks). I received a copy of the scan within two days. It came from a microfilm scan that was taken from the North Carolina, Mecklenburg County Will Book F, p. 102. What's exciting for me is that the document seems to show the relationship between John and his son (my 4th great grandfather), Richard William Purser. 

It's really difficult to read online, so the transcription is below. Please note that I've attempted to transcribe the document exactly as it was written. This includes any grammar or spelling errors. Some of the document was so faded or blurred that I just couldn't make out what was written, and I've noted that where applicable.
Click on the images for a larger view. It will still be blurry -- sorry!

State of North Carolina }
Mecklenburg County    } In the Name of God Amen
I John Purser of the County and State aforesaid being of sound mind & perfect recollection blessed be God - Do make and publish this my last will and testament this 28th day of March in the year of our Lord 1826 being well assured of the certainty of Death and the uncertainty of the time I resign my Body unto the dust to be buried in the most plain & decent Christian like manner to be raised in the Resurrection day through Jesus Christ our Lord. I will and bequeath unto my beloved Wife all the land and premises I hold belonging to the Seventy three acre tract of land purchased from John Cuthbertson that is all that I hold of the tract of land that I hold on the south side of Goose Creek I give & bequeath unto her during her lifetime & at her decease the Said land & premises to belong to my son Richard Purser or if the Land now in Law between Arthur Smith & George Smiths heirs is gained in behalf of Smith the above mentioned Land at the decease of my beloved wife to belong to my son David Purser. I give & bequeath unto my son Richard Purser all the right and title I hold on the Land & premises now in Law Between Arthur Smith & George Smiths Heirs ~ All the Loose or moveable property I hold to be sold publickly & the profits arising from the Same to be divided in the following manner Viz ~ All the Just demands against my Estate to be first Satisfied and [faded and unreadable] my son Moses Purser & Rob [may be missing a line] Purser & my daughters Sarah & Elizabeth & Lydia & Dorcus five pounds each [faded] with all the monies either due or in hand to be equally divided between my beloved wife & my son David Purser & Richard Purser ~ And I hereby make and appoint William Byron Junr of this my Last Will & Testament.
Published and Signed Declared in the presence of us the date before mentioned
Attest: James Simpson                              John Purser {Seal}
Brazil Morse

Now, I need to get the rest of my documents together to send to the DAR for review. If they are accepted, then I'll be able to claim John Purser as an official Revolutionary War patriot!

Here's how I'm related to John Purser:

John Purser (1750-1826) m. Susannah Cuthbertson (1750-?) >
Richard William Purser (1802 to after 1850) m. Elizabeth Scott Bentley (1810-1891) >
James Monroe Purser (1843-1914) m. Nancy Susan Hodge (1844-1883) .
Francis Georgia Ann Purser (1871-1956) m. William Calhoun Hunt (1860-1915) >
James William "Earl Hunt (1891-1961) m. Ethel Modena Martindale (1896-1977) >
Edith Vivian Hunt (1920-1993) m. Woodie Leroy Brittain (living) >
William Lee Brittain (1942-2003) m. Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram (living) >

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Great Grandma Alice A. Veale Bartram

My cousin, Vikki, is on a scanning rampage! Last night, she posted a bunch of old family pictures on Facebook, including this one of our maternal great grandmother, Alice A. Veale Bartram.
Alice A. Veale Bartram (1872-1954)
You can read more about this amazing woman (and mother of 17!) by clicking here and here

I look forward to seeing what other family treasures Vikki posts on her Facebook page, and to sharing them with you all!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: George Elmer and Margaret Harriman Veale

One of the great things about writing this blog is that I've come in contact with cousins I never knew I had! One such cousin, Leah, found me a few months ago and wrote to tell me that she thought we were related. Not only are we cousins, but she'd already met some of my known (and loved) cousins in Kansas and was looking to reunite with them. I was happy to help her make that connection, and have reaped many rewards in return!

Leah and I both hail from the Veale and Harriman/Harryman side of my family. My maternal GG grandfather, George Elmer Veale, married Margaret Harriman. George's sister, Clara Veale, married one of Margaret's cousins, William Bowles Harriman. Both George and Clara Veale were children of my 3rd great grandparents, Andrew Jackson Veale and Elizabeth Miller Veale, who migrated from Daviess County, Indiana, to Wabaunsee County, Kansas, in the late 1800s.

Earlier this year, Leah got together with our cousins Wanda and Debbie, and drove out to the Old Stone Church in Maple Hill, Kansas, where several of our relatives are buried. Leah sent me pictures from their escapade, including this photo of George and Margaret's grave, as well as some of the church and grounds. 

Old Stone Church, Maple Hill, Kansas
Leah also sent me some more old photos of the Veales and Harrimans, including this wonderful photo of my GG grandmother, Margaret Harriman Veale. She looks feisty, doesn't she!
Margaret Harriman Veale - 1850-1932
You know, I initially started writing this blog as a way to get my thoughts and family stories out of my head and into print so that I could better share them with the relatives I already know. I had no idea how many new cousins would start popping into my life to say hello and help me flesh out our larger family history. I'm having so much fun getting to know Leah! We're putting our heads together to prove a relationship in our Veale line that will help Leah join Daughters of the American Revolution (and give me a supplemental patriot on my mom's side of the family). She's a tenacious researcher, and I think we're learning from each other as we tear down some bricks in our wall. I'm so tickled that she found me, and I look forward to meeting her in person and continuing our new friendship!

Leah (2nd from left) with her brother, George, and our cousins, Debbie and Wanda
 Here's how I'm related to George Elmer Veale and Margaret A. Harriman:

George Elmer Veale (1850-1928) m. Margaret A. Harriman (1850-1932) in 1872 >
Alice A. Veale (1872-1954) m. Joseph Bartram (1860-1930) in 1891 >
John Bartram (1911-1987) m. Donna Marie Madsen (1919-1966) in 1938 >
Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram (living) m. William Lee Brittain (1942-2003) in 1964 >

CORRECTION: I had mistakenly included the wrong picture of Leah, George, Debbie and Wanda. The photo, above, is the correct photo (sorry, Leah!). 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sentimental Sunday: Happy Mother's Day!

Little Becky Bartram
What a cutie!
Happy Mother's Day, everyone! Today, I dedicate my blog post to my Mom: Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram (Brittain Santos). Mom was born in 1946, in Livermore, California, to John Bartram and Donna Madsen Bartram. She's the third of four children, including her older brother and sister, Jimmy and Brenda, and her younger brother, Clay.

Mom grew up around the Livermore valley, where my Grandpa John worked as a cowboy (for the Harry Rowell Ranch as well as riding rodeo). She met my dad, William Lee Brittain, when she was a teenager, and they married on September 12, 1964. They soon started their family with my younger sister, Cindy, and me. We moved around the Livermore area (with short stints in San Luis Obispo and the Reno, Nevada, area) until we settled outside of Tracy, California, in 1974.

Mom, Dad and me
Mom was always very involved in Cindy's and my activities. She worked at our elementary school and was an active leader of our 4-H group. In fact, Mom and Dad took it upon themselves to learn all they could about raising sheep so they could lead our 4-H sheep group. She schlepped us to our other various activities: Cindy's gymnastics practice and my marching band competitions, for example. She also fostered our love of crafts and Halloween: to this day, I refuse to purchase a Halloween costume when my Mom instilled in me the creativity and ingenuity to conjure up my own! I appreciated Dad and Mom helping me through college -- I was the first one in my family to get a university degree, and I can't tell you how much their support meant to me. Whatever we were into, Mom was a staunch supporter and we could always count on her encouragement.
Cindy, Mom and me at Mom and Rodney's wedding
I have to say, Cindy and I are very lucky daughters. My mom has always been a great parent, and she has a real knack for knowing when it's appropriate to be the "mom" and when it's ok to be our friend. As we've both grown, our relationship as women has truly blossomed. I've had fun going on vacations with Mom (alone and with Dad) and just hanging out with her. We still reminisce about our mother/daughter trip to New Orleans and pilgrimage to Graceland.
Grandma I-U and her boys, Liam and Evan
Mom has also developed a special relationship with Cindy: they are both mothers now and share that wonderful bond. She's the best grandma (or I-U, as they call her) to her boys, Liam and Evan. When Dad passed away in 2003, we all went through a rough patch together (and still do sometimes), but we knew we could count on each other to be strong for each other, or just to cry on each others' shoulders. I honestly don't know what I would have done without Mom and Cindy during that time.
Mr. and Mrs. Rodney Santos
Mom has now embarked on a new adventure in her life. She met a wonderful man, Rodney, and they got married last year. Cindy and I are so happy that she found love and companionship again, and that we're able to share in their new life together. I'm not able to spend today with Mom (we're celebrating our birthdays together in a couple of weeks, though), but I look forward to calling her first thing to thank her for everything she's done for me, and to tell her I love her.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Isn't she beautiful??

Friday, May 6, 2011

Family Recipe Friday: Mom's Mexican-Style Chicken Kiev

My beautiful Mom!
In honor of Mother's Day, I'd like to share with you all one of my favorite recipes from my mom, Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram Brittain Santos. I can't remember when she started making this delicacy, but I think it might have been when I was a teenager. It's super easy to make and it tastes amazing.

Mexican-Style Chicken Kiev

·      8 chicken breast halves, skinned and boned
·      1 7-oz. can diced green chiles
·      4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese (I like to use Pepper Jack for a little extra kick), cut into 8 strips
·      1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
·      ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
·      2 Tbls. chili powder
·      1 tsp. salt
·      ½ tsp. ground cumin
·      ½ tsp. black pepper
·      Butter, melted

Pound chicken pieces to about ¼-inch thickness. Put about 2 tablespoons chiles and one Jack cheese strip in center of each chicken piece. Roll up and tuck ends under. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, chili powder, salt, cumin and pepper. Dip each stuffed chicken in shallow bowl containing 6 to 8 tablespoons melted butter and roll in crumb mixture. Place rolls, seam side down, in oblong baking dish and drizzle with a little melted butter. Cover and chill for four (4) hours or overnight. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until done.

Makes 8 servings.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Those Places Thursday: Dania Hall, Livermore, California

Dania Hall, Livermore, California
As I've written previously, my great grandfather, Lars Hansen Madsen, immigrated from Denmark to Livermore, California, in 1908. Looking at his ship passenger list, census documents and other historical references (as well as a stroll through the cemetery where Grandpa Louie and Grandma Hannah are buried) it's clear that Livermore has been a destination for a lot of Danes for generations.

One of the gathering places for the close network of Danish immigrants was Dania Hall in Livermore. It was built by volunteers in 1911 and still stands on 2nd Street, between N and O Streets.

Over the years, the Dania Hall has been the Danish cultural center of Livermore and, as a child, I remember spending time there. It was a great place to hold wedding receptions as well as different events from concerts to haunted houses during Halloween. It continues to serve as a rich part of Livermore's history.

Below is a story my Aunt Rae gave me about Dania Hall and it's colorful history. I don't know the name of the publication, but I figure that it was printed in around 1971 because it mentions that my great grand aunt, Maren Christensen Madsen, was 99 years old at time of printing, and she died in 1972. I've transcribed the text below so you can enjoy the history of this great hall and the Danish society that built it!

Centennial Corner

Dania Part of Early Livermore Society

Dania Society was born December 11, 1879, when a group of friends met at a home in Oakland. It was then called “The Danish Social Club of Oakland and Alameda.” After many highly successful social ventures, it was decided that the club was not to be merely a social club, but a beneficiary and benevolent society. Lodge No. Two opened in San Francisco in 1882, and by 1902, the year of the first convention in Livermore, there were 18 lodges in existence.

Livermore’s Dannevang No. 7 was organized July 23, 1892, with 34 members who elected Andrew Simonsen as the first president. Numbered among the charter members were Louis Nielsen, Jes H. Ludvig, Jorgen Peter Olsen, Hans T. Madsen, Chris R. Madsen, William Larsen, Erick Henriksen, Chris H. Groth, M. G. Clausen, P. A. Christensen, Hans Grodt, Hans Mathiesen, Mads J. Moller, and Christian Lilienthal. The Dania banner was made by the Livermore Danish ladies and presented to the men‘s lodge on February 17, 1894, by Mrs. Maren Madsen, now 99 years and still a resident of Livermore. Mrs. Madsen recalls the occasion as “the proudest time of my life – a night I will always remember.”

Livemore’s first Dania Convention, held in 1902, was a gala event, with red and white bunting in the colors of the order decorating the lawn. First Grand President from the Dannevang Lodge was the late Carl Holm who was elected in 1903. Also serving as Grand Presidents were two other Livermore members, Iver Frydendal in 1934 and Conrad Moldt in 1961. Conventions were held in Livermore in 1921 and 1961.

Current 50-year or longer members are John Block, Erik Eriksen, Sam Hauberg, Mads Madsen, Peter Rasmussen, Chris Reuss, Peter Reuss, Chris Svanberg, Louis Thomsen, Louis Banke, Louis H. Madsen and Alfred Petersen. Current membership is 90.

The Dania Hall, as it stands now, was constructed by volunteer labor in 1911. Prior to the construction of the hall, the members met in a building located where the present City Hall now stands.

Danebod No. 16, the Livemore ladies’ organization, was formed October 19, 1905, with Laura Hansen as the first president. There were 73 members then and the group received its charter on July 17, 1920. It will be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary next summer. The lodge was named Danebod by the late Mrs. Peter Rasmussen of Dublin. Among the charter members were Mrs. Maren Madsen, Julius Jensen, Mrs. Mika Madsen, Iver and Johanne Frydendal, Mrs. Marie Groth, Soren Hauber, Mrs. Mabel Rees, Mrs. Marguerite Andersen and Mrs. Mary Jensen.

Danebod has two Past Grand Presidents numbered among its members, the late Mrs. Johanne Frydendal who served in 1931 and Mrs. Maren Moldt who served in 1961. Mrs. Victor Hansen, nee Elva Banke, will be the Grand Marshal at the conclusion of the current convention. President of Danebod is Mrs. Rita Post. Delegates attending the convention are Mrs. Kristine Clausen, Mrs. Ada Borch, Mrs. Mette Andersen and Mrs. Ruth Nielsen with Mrs. Lee Austin and Mrs. Sigurd Thomsen as alternates. Attending as representatives of the Dannevang Lodge are Mel Nielsen, Jorgen Clausen, Peter Knudsen and alternates Chris Simonsen, Norman Larsen and Iver Rasmussen. Mr. and Mrs. Conrad Moldt are representatives to the Old Age Fund Meeting.
I love seeing my Great Grandpa Louie mentioned in this article, as well as so many of the other names that peppered our family's conversations while I was growing up: Madsen, Christensen, Rasmussen, Thomsen and Groth, to name a few. I grew up with the grandkids of Mr. and Mrs. Sigurd Thomsen and remember the fun we had at Dania Hall!

Mostly, I admire these Danish immigrants to who came to America to find a new life, but never forgot their roots.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

(Not so) Wordless Wednesday: Francis Georgia Ann Purser and Joe Louis Underwood

Here's a picture I found a long time ago in some of my Grandma Edith Hunt Brittain's old files. It's an original photograph, and is written, in Grandma's handwriting, on the back: "Grandma and Grandpa Underwood". It took me awhile to figure out who these people were because, as far as I knew, there are no Underwoods in my ancestry. As I started to unravel Grandma's side of the family, it finally dawned on me that it's her Grandma Georgia Francis Ann Purser and her second husband, Joe Louis Underwood.
Georgia and Joe Underwood (my Grandma Edith's grandparents)
Georgia was the daughter of James Monroe Purser, one of my Civil War ancestors. She was born on October 7, 1871, in Searcy, Arkansas, to James and his first wife, Nancy Susan Hodge. She married my great great grandfather, William Calhoun Hunt (1860-1915) on March 4, 1891, in Lee County, Texas. William passed away in 1915, and Georgia was remarried to Joe Louis Underwood by the 1920 US census. At that time, they were living in Jefferson, Coal County, Oklahoma, and Joe was a share cropper.

With William Calhoun Hunt, Georgia had five children:

  • James William "Earl" Hunt 1891 – 1961 (my great grandfather) 
  • Velma S Hunt 1893 – ? 
  • Clarence Edwin Hunt 1896 – 1973 
  • Melvin Dean Hunt 1900 – 1969
  • Iva Naomi Hunt 1904 – 1972

  • Grandma Edith was born in 1920, which means that she didn't get to know her biological grandfather, William Hunt. She grew up with Joe Underwood as her Grandpa, so it makes sense that she referred to him in that manner on the back of the photo.

    Georgia passed away on July 14, 1956, in Henderson County, Texas. Joe is said to have died in 1952, presumably in Texas.

    Here's how I'm related to Francis Georgia Ann Purser:

    Georgia Francis Ann Purser (1871-1956) m. William Calhoun Hunt (1860-1915) >
    James William "Earl Hunt (1891-1961) m. Ethel Modena Martindale (1896-1977) >
    Edith Vivian Hunt (1920-1993) m. Woodie Leroy Brittain (living) >
    William Lee Brittain (1942-2003) m. Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram (living) >

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    Talented Tuesday: Grandpa John and his Trick Goat

    By now, you've all read about my maternal Grandpa John Bartram's rodeo exploits and tall tales. Grandpa was a truly talented man. I think one of my favorite of his talents, though, was that of goat trainer.
    Grandpa John and Billy, out at the Frager Ranch in Pleasanton, CA
    In the summer of 1959, after Grandpa John and Grandma Donna's tragic car accident which left Grandma permanently disabled, my Great Uncle Rob Christensen (Aunt Rae's husband) gave my mom's younger brother, Clay, a goat. His name was Billy. Grandpa John took it upon himself to train Billy in order to entertain the kids (and likely, himself). Billy was quite the performer (see picture, above).

    When Billy and Grandpa weren't practicing their tricks, Mom and Uncle Clay used to play "King of the Hill" with him on the chaise lounges outside. Mom says he even liked to visit inside the house on occasion.

    But, Billy had one trick that was completely self-taught and unique:

    For some reason, Billy liked to find the just-laundered clothes which had just been hung out to dry by the woman who was helping around the house at the time. He would single out Grandpa’s underwear and eat the crotches out of as many of them as he got it in his mind to munch. Each time the wash came out, Billy waited until no one was watching, singled out Grandpa’s drawers and had a snack. The woman who was helping out was too embarrassed to tell Grandpa that the crotches of his underwear was missing, so she hid all the damaged laundry. For the longest time, Grandpa couldn’t understand why all of his underwear kept disappearing!

    Mom, Uncle Clay and Grandpa had Billy for a few years. At first, he lived with them out on Foothill Road in Pleasanton, then he was pastured for a time on Vineyard Avenue (on the south side of Pleasanton). When Uncle Clay and Grandpa moved to live with Grandpa's sister and brother-in-law, Millie and Manuel Frager, Billy moved there with them. At some point, they gave him to someone who worked at the Rowell Ranch (where Grandpa John had also worked), and those people butchered old Billy. Poor Uncle Clay, who was just a kid, still remembers seeing Billy's hide drying on the fence at the Rowell Ranch.

    I never got to meet Billy, but Grandpa John used to delight in telling my sister, Cindy, and me about his extraordinary tricks. Needless to say, I was thrilled to find this wonderful photo of Grandpa and Billy in action.

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    Mystery Monday: Why was Frederick Harmon Brittain in Jail in 1900?

    I have a few mysteries in my family, and this one has me really vexed. My paternal great great grandfather, Frederick Harmon Brittain, is listed twice in the 1900 United States census:
    • On June 1, 1900, in Township 1, Creek Nation, Indian Territory, at the US Jail in Muscogee, Oklahoma (yes, in jail)
    • Between June 16 and June 21, 1900, in Township 16, Creek Nation, Indian Territory, at home with his wife and children  

    Here's Frederick listed in the US Census on June 1, 1900. He is enumerated as a "boarder" with many other men (and one woman "boarder"!) in the facility. Ages ranged from a 14-year-old boy to the 60-year-old Indian woman.

      Listed on June 1, 1900, in Twp 1, Creek Nation, U.S. Jail Muscogee, Indian Territory

      Here he is listed on or after June 16, 1900 (the enumerator neglected to include the date on several pages, but the page before notes June 16, and several pages after start at June 21).
      Listed on or after June 16, 1900, in Twp 16, Creek Nation, with his wife, Mary J. and kids
      (You can click on the images to see a larger view)

      There are two main questions (and some follow-ups!) that pop into my head regarding Frederick:
      1. How, why and when did Frederick (aka Frank or Fred) ended up in jail? Was it for a violent crime? Or, perhaps, was he a debtor? He was a farmer, so it couldn't have been for a "white collar" crime.
      2. Why was he listed twice in the census? Was he released from prison after June 1, and therefore counted at home a couple of weeks later because he was now settled back in with his family? Or, did Mary Jane or one of the kids mistakenly tell the enumerator he was home because they thought he wouldn't be counted in jail? OR, could someone have told the enumerator that he was at home because they were ashamed that their husband/father was in jail?
      Frederick Harmon Brittain (front, center) with his and Mary Jane's children
      In addition to using my crack Google search skills, I've also contacted folks at several historical societies in Oklahoma (including the Oklahoma Outlaws Lawmen Association), as well as the Muskogee County Court House and the Muskogee County Jail and Sheriff's Department. I've also searched through the Oklahoma newspaper archives I've been able to find online via Archives.com, Genealogybank and other websites. I've also spent plenty of time searching on Ancestry.com.

      You might have noticed that Frederick is listed, in both instances, as residing in "Indian Territory." This is because Oklahoma still was not a state in the Union until 1907. The Curtis Act, adopted by the U.S. Congress in 1898, abolished the Native American tribal court system and set up a federal judicial system in Indian Territory with three separate districts. A U.S. jail was built in Muskogee and served the Cherokee, Creek and Seminole nations, including anyone who lived within this district. I don't know exactly when Frederick and his family moved to Creek Nation in Indian Territory, but I'm guessing it was sometime during the Oklahoma Land Grabs that happened between 1889 and 1895. 

      I'm told that a major issue with finding out how Frederick landed in the pokey is because his incarceration was in 1900 (although, I have no idea when it started), but Oklahoma wasn't a state until 1907. Finding documented information in Oklahoma before it became a state can be problematic. I've been told by people from various agencies that many official records from before statehood either didn't exist or were destroyed.

      I'm not giving up on solving this mystery, but I am having to rethink it. I'm hoping that someone at the Oklahoma Genealogical Society might be able to offer some help. Perhaps, I might take a vacation day soon and visit the Family Search Library here in San Francisco to see if they can help point me in some good directions. Who knows, at some point I may need to make a visit to Oklahoma!

      Here's some more vital information about Frederick Brittain and his family. Anyone else have some good ideas for helping me solve this puzzle? 

      Frederick Harmon Brittain
      b. Jan 20, 1859, in Keokuk County, Iowa
      d. Feb 6, 1921, in Van Buren County, Arkansas

      Milton Price Brittain (1822-1898) and Nancy Garriott (1828-1912)

      m. Mary Jane Rooks (1st wife) on Sep 14, 1879, in Lowery City, Missouri
      b. Mar 3, 1862, in Grundy County, Missouri
      d. Mar 28, 1904, in Lincoln County, Oklahoma

      m. Sarah Frances Young (2nd wife) in 1906 in Stroud, Creek Nation, Indian Territory
      b. Jun 8, 1866, in Benton County, Arkansas
      d. 1960 in Yakima, Washington 

      Children with Mary Jane Rooks:
      Children with Sarah Frances Young: