Monday, November 12, 2012

The Bradberry surname origin

YDNA testing of project members has shown that there are at least six different and unrelated families with surnames Bradbury or Bradberry. Members are currently living in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand. Because our surname is an Anglo-Saxon place name, even though our families are not related genetically, our ancestors may have been neighbors. We are all probably descended from men who lived at or were associated with a place called Bradbury. John Bradbury of Kingswinford, Nr. Storrbridge, England has concluded from his research that our surname refers to either Bradbury in County Durham or to Bredbury in Cheshire (Greater Manchester). He favors Bradbury and I tend to agree with him, although I don’t exclude the possibility that both places might be the source of one or more of our family lines. This past August I fulfilled a long time wish and visited each place. Although they differ greatly in size and terrain, each site has been occupied since Roman times (and likely earlier) and each is situated on a former north-south Roman road. Bradbury in County Durham is a charming hamlet of about 20 houses; no pub and no church. The main London-Edinburgh rail line passes a few hundred yards east and the north-south A1M motorway is a similar distance west. The only apparent commercial activity is the Bradbury garage on the motorway. Most of the surrounding land is poorly drained (called “carrs”). This is likely a main reason why Bradbury has remained small and isolated. The chairman of the local parish council was kind enough to give me a hand-writtne copy of some historical notes dated 1894 pertaining to the area. I doubt that the population of Bradbury has ever exceeded about 200. On the other hand Bredbury in Cheshire is comparatively thriving as a suburb of Manchester; I estimate the population to exceed 20,000. In the local library I found more than fourteen variations in the spelling of our surname. Both Bradbury and Bredbury were probably known by that same Anglo-Saxon name since about the 6th or 7th centuries but written records have been found only since Norman times (11th century). In addition to the most common spellings (Bradbury and Bradberry) some of my favorites are: Bredburi (1190), Predbury (1358), Bradburu (1425) and Bredbiri (1608). In my opinion, the surname Bradbury (any spelling) was most likely given to a man (peasant, laborer or tradesman) who left his native village and settled elsewhere shortly before surnames were commonly fixed and passed down to the next generation. This means that our male ancestors may have left Bradbury or Bredbury before the 16th century. Relatives(?) of interest There are two men of our surname whom I am trying to place on the proper family tree. If you have any information about them, I would greatly appreciate hearing from you. Georges Bradberry. A well-known and successful French artist. He was born in 1878 in Maronne near Roeun, France. He died in France in 1959. His father was English and his mother was French. As far as I know, Georges was thoroughly French. I have no evidence that either he or his father ever returned to England. I would like to know his father’s name, and where he was from in England. Roger Bradbury. Roger and his family (wife Ellenor and five children) were servants of Randulf Blackwell, a wealthy Quaker who emigrated from Cheshire to North America in 1682. Both families were embarked in the ship “Submission” which was part of a fleet chartered by William Penn to bring Quakers to his land (Pennsylvania). The “Submission” landed at the mouth of the Choptank River in what is now the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Roger and his two older children (both teenage daughters) went with the Blackwells to Pennsylvania, and Ellenor with the three younger children (all boys) were sold to settle Blackwell’s debts. Roger and his daughters are lost to history (at least to me). By 1695 Ellenor has remarried (a man named Clift) and Roger Jr. is apprenticed to a glover named Dixon. Roger Jr. was born in 1680 and in 1733 Roger Bradberry (the name was spelled both ways) is still on the tax rolls in Talbot County, Maryland. I would like to know more about this family, particularly if there are any living male-line descendants.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mary Houston Berry (1840-1909)

It is often hard to learn much about our female ancestors other than that they kept house and bore children (and, too often, died in childbirth). Fortunately, the life of my great grandmother Mary Houston Berry is pretty well documented. She died long before I was born, but I remember some stories about her. I also carry her mitochondrial DNA since she is my Mother's Mother's Mother.
Mary was born with the name Mary Elizabeth Berry, but as a young woman she dropped Elizabeth and began using Houston as a middle name. It seems that her grandmother had a good friend named Mary Houston, so I suspect the name change was to honor this woman. Mary Houston Berry (hereafter MHB) was born 15 Feb 1840 in Winchester, Clark Co, Kentucky, the first child of Thomas Joseph Berry and Caroline Elizabeth Cast. Her father Thomas Berry was probably also a native of Clark Co., but I haven't traced his background precisely. I think it is very likely that he was one of a large extended Scots-Irish Berry family who spread west from Virginia and the Carolinas after the Revolutionary War. The Cast family (also spelled CASS or CASSE) was from Yorkshire, and the family story is that the patriarch of the North American Casts jumped ship in Philadelphia about 1740 and eventually settled in North Carolina.
Almost all of my ancestors were farmers, but MHB grew up as a "town" girl. In 1850 the family lived in Winchester where her father Thomas was a carpenter. By this time MHB had three younger siblings - a sister Martha and brothers Amon and James (Jimmy). A young carpenter named John Bell was living with the family, possibly as an apprentice. Sometime before 1860 the family moved to Ashland, KY which was a small town on the Ohio River across from Ohio and near the West Virginia line. While in Ashland MHB attended the Ashland Academy, which opened in 1856. It is possible that she was in the first class. Here are some excerpts from the catalog:
"Greek, Latin and French are taught. Fine English scholarship can only be obtained through the medium and mutual connection of those languages...The Natural Sciences embrace Physiology and Hygiene, Botany, Chemistry, Astronomy, Geology and Philosophy. Mathematics embraces a full course of mathematical science...The school knows no sectarian or political distinctions. It is opened with Divine Worship every morning..."
The Ashland Academy was founded and overseen by the local Presbyterian minister, and Thomas Berry was a devout Methodist, but obviously was ecumenical enough to take advantage of the opportunity for his children to receive a good education.
In the 1860 census, MHB was 20 and living in Ashland with her parents and three younger siblings. Thomas was still listing his occupation as carpenter and, as was the case in Winchester a young carpenter (Augustus Richmond, age 17, from Germany) was living with them. Thomas was a trustee of the local Methodist Episcopal Church (later called First Methodist), and since a new church building was completed in 1866 I assume that Thomas probably was directly involved in the construction.
The Civil War must have been a very emotional time for MHB. In 1865 her younger sister Martha died (cause unknown), her two younger brothers fought on opposite sides (I will post separately on this), the headmaster of Ashland Academy resigned abruptly in the middle of the 1865 school year, and MHB and her friend and fellow alumna Luella Poague were "drafted" to run the school. Last but not least MHB met and fell in love with a "traveling salesman" (my greatgrandfather William Joseph Anderson - see the previous posting) who was working for the Confederacy. They were married in 1866 by the Methodist minister, Rev. Sully Brass. Here is a description of Rev. Brass, written by the Presbyterian minister:
"The M. E. Church South [later the First Methodist] was...served by an eccentric Englishman, who lived at Fulton Forge. His name was Sully Brass. He rode a horse, had a flaming red-head stall[ion] on his bridle and a large saddle blanket of the same vivid color".
MHB lost both her Mother Caroline and her first-born (Annie Ellington Anderson, b. 17 Jul 1867) in 1868, and Thomas, now a widower, moved with his daughter and son-in-law to Morganfield, Union Co., in western KY. The family had connections there, since Thomas's brother David was already established at Morganfield. William Anderson started a grocery store there and in 1870 the household included William and MHB, their two sons Joseph (1 1/2) and George (newborn), and Thomas J. Berry whose occupation was now listed as lawyer (!). In addition to the immediate family there were several other people in the household: Eliza Blue (70) and Rachel A. Blue (33 and perhaps Eliza's daughter), William Mann (16, and occupation listed as druggist; probably an assistant to William), Louisa Vontress (15, black, occupation domestic servant), Richmond and Betty Lyons and their son James (55, 48, and 5, black, servants). It must have been an interesting house! Rachel Blue is listed as owning $13,000 in real estate, while William Anderson owns none. Perhaps William was renting the store from Ms. Blue. As to Ms. Vontress and the Lyons family, I don't know whether my greatgrandparents were taking advantage of hiring recently freed slaves as cheap labor, or perhaps were providing shelter and employment as a kindness. This is worth further research.
Thomas Berry died not long after the census in 1870. The grocery store was evidently not a great success, and the Andersons moved to Texas in 1876, with their two sons and daughter Caroline Jane Anderson (my Grandmother, b. 18 Dec 1871). Tradition (undocumented) is that they were on the first train to Fort Worth (July 19, 1876). In any case, they lived at Lancaster, Dallas Co. for a few years and then moved to Tolar, Hood Co. where they spent the rest of their lives. William became a farmer in Texas, and by 1900 owned his farm (with a mortgage) outside of Tolar at "Anderson Heights".
Thanks to a few surviving letters from MHB (to her niece Fanny Bain Berry, and her daughter Caroline Jane Anderson) we have some idea how hard it was to make a living on a small farm in Texas. In a letter to Caroline (Aug 25th 1902) MHB she describes the oppressive hot wind, the good news that the bee-gums are full of honey (but she is afraid to rob the hives so is waiting for the men to do it) and that she has a dozen eggs to sell in Tolar the next day, and bad news that the heat and wind were damaging the cotton crop. William died two years later, in 1904 and I believe (but have not been able to document) that MHB then moved into Tolar. In any case she continued to correspond, and her last letter (that I have seen) was to her niece Fanny Bain Berry, on 4 April 1908. She was enjoying the pleasant spring weather and seemed to be active socially, visiting and receiving visits from family and friends. She also included some information for Fanny about the Civil War service of Jim Berry (MHB's brother and Fanny's father) and told Fanny that an old comrade of Jim's had suggested that MHB and Fanny both join the United Daughters of the Confederacy. I don't think that Mary Houston Berry ever joined the UDC; she died 24 Feb 1909 and is buried with her husband at the Stroud's Creek Cemetery, Tolar, Texas.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Civil War - On Both Sides

One of my great-greatgrandfathers and two greatgrandfathers fought in the Civil War. In an earlier post I told the story of my greatgrandfather Thomas Jefferson Martin, a Texan (originally from Illinois) who fought for the Union. Here are stories of another Union soldier (great-greatgrandfather John Cantrell Fite), and a Confederate (greatgrandfather William Joseph Anderson). These stories are really short sketches, based on information at hand. I would welcome anyone to do more research to add to (or even contradict) what I have found.

John Cantrell Fite was born in DeKalb Co., Tennessee in 1828. His greatgrandfather was Johannes Vogt who arrived in Philadelphia from Hesse-Kassell in the 1740s. The surname Vogt was quickly anglicized to Fite, and Johannes' son John Fite settled in east Tennessee as a Baptist minister and one of the founders of the Salem Baptist Church of Liberty, Tennessee. He was a colleague of the well-known Baptist minister Cantrell Bethel, which no doubt explains the middle name of his grandson. The Rev. John Fite had several children, in particular two sons Henry and Moses, who were close in age and who both lived in or near Liberty. Henry also became pastor of Salem Baptist, while I have found no record of Moses' connection to that church. However, it appears that the Fites were a close-knit family. Some family trees have Henry as the father of John Cantrell but I have found no documentation of this; in fact census records suggest to me that John Cantrell was more likely the son of Moses.

In any case, John Cantrell Fite married Elizabeth Bratten at Liberty, 16 September 1847, and began farming. By the start of the war, his family had moved to southern Illinois. On 31 August 1861, John enlisted in Co. B, 6th Illinois Cavalry, at the age of about 33. He served until the end of the war as a 1st Lieutenant, being discharged 5 November 1865 at Selma, Alabama. The 6th Illinois Cavalry operated throughout Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana and faired comparatively well. The Regimental history reports that during the entire war 13 officers and 388 enlisted men died. By today's standards this seems like a high mortality rate, but it was modest at the time. And as was quite common, many more men died of disease and accidents than were killed in combat.

LT Fite was wounded three times. In 1862 he received a severe stab wound to his left arm while breaking up a fight between two enlisted Union soldiers. In December 1864 at the Battle of Moscow (Tennessee!) he was nearly crushed to death when his horse was shot and fell on him, and later that same month he was shot in the left thigh in combat at Nashville. After each injury he stayed with his unit. I have no documentary evidence, but I strongly suspect that he never fully recovered the use of his left arm and left leg.

After the war the Fites moved to northeast Arkansas, where by 1870 he had a farm on Crowley's Ridge (Greene Co., Arkansas) next to the farm of John Bradberry. Fite's daughter (Healon Alice Fite, known as Allie) married John Bradberry's son George McClure Bradberry. Later the Fites moved a few miles west into Dunklin Co., Missouri where he died in 1881 (of spinal meningitis). He is buried in the Oak Grove cemetery near Clarkton, Dunklin Co.

My greatgrandfather William Joseph Anderson was born 12 July 1837 in Cumberland County, Virginia, to Chesley Anderson and Jane Wyatt Jenkins. On 9 May 1861 he enlisted at Manchester, Virginia as a corporal in Co. I, Virginia 6th Infantry (also known as the Elliott Grays). He was just shy of 24, tall for the times (5'11"), with blue eyes. His occupation was listed as "merchant". He was discharged on 16 November 1862, having contracted pneumonia the previous April. During his active service he was stationed at Norfolk, defending the Norfolk Navy Yard against Union forces. His older brother George Cumberland Anderson followed him into the Elliott Grays, enlisting in March 1862. He served through the war as a sergeant (19 battles). The Anderson brothers were big men; George Cumberland was 6'1".

After recovering from pneumonia, William continued to serve the Confederacy as a civilian. He met my greatgrandmother Mary Houston Berry while he was in Ashland, Kentucky selling salt and other supplies to the Confederate forces there. Mary was a teacher at the Ashland Academy, a "finishing" school for young ladies. In the spring of 1866 she served as headmistress.

William and Mary were married on 5 July 1866 and moved to Morganfield, Union Co., Kentucky where William started a grocery store. After about ten years, they moved to Texas. Family legend has it that they were on the first train to reach Fort Worth, on 19 July 1876. In any case, they lived in Lancaster near Dallas until sometime after 1880 when they settled in Tolar, Hood Co., Texas for the rest of their lives. William Joseph Anderson died 6 April 1904 at Tolar and Mary Houston Berry Anderson died there 24 February 1909. Their daughter (my grandmother) Caroline Jane Anderson married Stephen Albert Martin (the son of the Union soldier Thomas Jefferson Martin) there, and my mother, the youngest of five daughters, was born in Tolar in 1914.