Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: F.H. Brittian

Frederick Harmon Brittain
(not Brittian...)
Yes, I realize that I spelled my own last name incorrectly in the title of this post. There's a good reason for that. Let me explain...

A couple of years ago, I was busy working on my Daughters of the American Revolution application, and was running into a couple of brick walls in my attempt to prove my direct lineage back to my Revolutionary War patriot, Nathaniel Brittain.

One of the issues I had was in documenting the death of my great great grandfather, Frederick Harmon Brittain (1859-1921). I knew that he had died in 1921, in Rupert, Van Buren County, Arkansas, but I just couldn't find the proof. Finally, I sent a request to the Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness website, to ask if anyone had access to cemetery records in that area (the original RAOGK site is now defunct, but a wiki workaround was created last year). Thankfully, a fellow genealogist had a cemetery record book that listed "F.H. Brittian" as being buried in the Pleasant Grove Cemetery in Van Buren County, Arkansas, and she was kind enough to scan the page and send it to me.
As you can see, Grandpa Brittain's last name is spelled incorrectly. This is actually one of the more typical misspellings of our name that I see on a regular basis (and it never fails to annoy me just a little bit). Nevertheless, it was a big help in proving my relationship to Nathaniel Brittain, and I figured it was just an error in the record keeping until a couple of days ago.

So, back when I had originally posted my request at the RAOGK site, I also posted a request for a photo of the grave on the Find A Grave website. I had completely forgotten about that query until I received an email saying that someone had fulfilled my photo request for me! Thanks to Dan McGuire, I now have a photo of Frederick Harmon Brittain's grave stone and, sure enough, the name is misspelled as "Brittian." Sigh...
Photo by Dan McGuire
By the way, this is my ancestor who, according to family lore, was wrongly put in a US Jail in Muskogee, Oklahoma, in 1900 for horse thievery (the horse's previous owner finally showed up to vouch for him). The poor guy couldn't catch a break, even in death!

Thanks so much to Dan McGuire and all of the other kind family historians out there who are willing to share documents and trudge through old cemeteries to take photos.

And, this was another lesson for me to remember to check alternate spellings when searching through documentation. It wouldn't have occurred to me to switch that "a" and "i" around, even though people get my name wrong all the time!

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