Sunday, July 24, 2011

One-Line Study - Isaac Brenton

On Saint Patrick's Day, I wrote about my great-great-great grandparents, Isaac and Jane (Johnston) Brenton. That post covered my Irish roots via Jane. Today, I'm going to continue with my one-line study with Isaac Brenton (father of Johnston P. Brenton).

Isaac was born about 1830 in East Pike Run, Washington County, Pennsylvania1-5. He worked on the family farm there when he was young, along with a few of his siblings3-4. I am not sure when he married Jane. I do have a general idea - their first child (that I know of) was born in 18596, so they were probably married before that. Jane would have been about 20 in 18597, so most likely only a few years before that at most. Knowing when Jane immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland would help to narrow the date further, but I am having trouble finding those immigration records due to Jane's common name.

So far, I know of nine children that Isaac and Jane had together. The 1910 Federal census indicates that Jane had 9 children, and that 7 of them were still living at that time8. As I indicated in the last post, two of their children (J.P. and William) opened a very successful butcher shop together in West Brownsville, Washington, PA5. Three of their children (J.P., Henry and Mary Louise) married, settled nearby, and had children. James, William, Emily and Elizabeth never married9-11. They lived together and helped support each other in West Brownsville area, not far from their brother J.P. and his wife Lena.5

Isaac, along with his brothers, were enumerated on a Civil War draft in 18634, but I have not found any service records for any one of them, so I cannot tell whether any of them served. There was a space of a few years (from 1861 to 1865) where Isaac and Jane did not have any children, as far as I know. This may mean that he did serve in the war. I will continue to search for evidence of what he did during those years.

The last census on which I've found Isaac is the 1870 Federal Census1. According to an undated, unsourced list of deaths in a 1904 directory of West Brownsville, Isaac died 11 Jul 187712. I haven't been able to find solid evidence to back this up, however.

I do know that Jane was enumerated on the 1880 Federal Census, living with her unmarried children in East Pike Run (perhaps on the family property there)9. She also lived with them in West Brownsville, according to the 190010 and 19108 Federal Censuses. In 1910, that household lived a few houses away from Isaac and Jane's daughter Mary Louise and her husband David Watkins8. Jane died on 24 Mar 1918 in West Brownsville, and was buried in Bridgeport Cemetery in Brownsville, Fayette County, PA7.

I hope to find some other death records soon to verify Isaac's death date, as well as some property or tax records to tell me a little more about Isaac. A search for his will came up empty. The best source I have for the details of Isaac's life is a few sentences from Joseph McFarland's 20th Century History of the City of Washington and Washington County, Pennsylvania and Representative Citizens5:
Isaac Brenton, also a native of East Pike Run Township, was born on the farm on which his father, Joseph Brenton, a native of Virginia, settled at an early period. He married Jane Johnston, who was born in Ireland, and came to this country during her girlhood days, with her parents, Thomas Johnston and wife...
This is a good start, but all of the statements need to be further verified. Also, the account is a little suspect (expected for secondary information like this), since part of it is not correct; that is that Joseph Brenton, Isaac's father, was a native of Virginia. I am confident that Joseph Brenton was not from Virginia. His wife was most likely from Virginia, and that is probably where the mix-up occurred. The Brenton family, generations before, did briefly live in Virginia, but they had always lived in the same area. There was a heated border dispute between Pennsylvania and Virginia, so that many people in what is now Western Pennsylvania were not sure exactly whether they lived in Pennsylvania or Virginia at a given time. This has made land record research for that time especially fun (i.e. complicated). I will detail this further with the information I have gathered about Isaac's parents (and grandparents) in the next few posts.

(Sources below the cut).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nearly Wordless Wednesday - Gertrude and Minnie Eller and Joe Davies

Gertrude "Gert" (Eller) Davies and her sister Mary Ann "Minnie" Eller, walking Gert's son Joe Davies into the ocean (or trying to). Very cute family moment. Gert and Minnie's sister Myrtle ("Mert") did her best to duck out of frame. Oops.

There is nothing about this picture I do not love.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

One-Line Study - Johnston Playford Brenton

Last week's post continued my one-line study of my Brenton ancestors with my great-grandfather, Everett Mansell Brenton. I'm going to write summaries of my progress so far in a "Brenton Study" page on the blog soon.

The next ancestor in my study is Johnston Playford Brenton, Everett's father and my great-great grandfather.

 J.P.'s headstone in Taylor Cemetery, Brownsville, Fayette, PA. Courtesy of Joseph Howard Matthews.

Johnston (J.P.) was born in Pennsylvania on 28 Feb 1859 to Isaac Brenton and Jane K. Johnston (Brenton)1-3. He was their oldest child (as far as I know) and it seems that his parents gave him his mother's maiden name as his given name4 - a bit unusual, as it was more traditional to give a child his/her mother's maiden name as a middle name.

He resided in Washington County for his most of his lifetime. His father owned a farm in East Pike Run township, and he worked as a farmhand there in his youth5. On 1 Oct 1896, he married Lena Wright, also of Washington County (West Brownsville)6. This marriage was the focus of the post "Did J.P. and Lena Elope?" as I (still) don't know why they married in Marion County, West Virginia when they had no known connections there (and they were both over 21 at the time of their marriage). They had 7 children together, as mentioned in the last post: Everett, Bessie, Mary Virginia, Sara, one child still living, and two children who died very young (Emery and Robert).

For a few years in the early 1900s, J.P. and his brothers owned Brenton Brothers Meat Market in West Brownsville7-11, where he and Lena moved after they married. Unfortunately, it seems from "street view" on Google Maps that the market is no longer there.

Around 1919, Lena became ill with tuberculosis, and she and J.P. (along with 3 of their daughters) moved to Los Angeles to seek treatment12-14. While in Los Angeles, J.P. (around 60 years old then) worked as a laborer in a tire plant. Lena succumbed to her illness in 1924, at age 5515.

J.P. himself became ill around 192616, and moved back to Washington County around the same time. He  moved in with his daughter Bessie and her husband Addison Wise in North Bethlehem17. On 7 Apr 1931, J.P. died at age 7218 and was buried in the family plot in Taylor Cemetery (pictured above).

Next week, J.P.'s father Isaac...

(Sources below).

Saturday, July 9, 2011

One-Line Study - Everett Mansell Brenton

First, a little background: in a previous post, I discussed studying the Brenton line of my family in preparation for my BCG portfolio (a study focusing on my direct ancestry). The beginning of that that study was my grandmother, Helen (Brenton) Fritzley, who was born 28 Mar 1924 to Everett Brenton and Gertrude (Swift) Brenton in Brownsville, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. She was the focus of the post linked above.

This post goes forward in the study with the next ancestor in the Brenton line: Everett Mansell Brenton, my great-grandfather.

Everett's headstone in Taylor Cemetery, Brownsville, Fayette, PA. Courtesy of Joseph Howard Matthews.

Everett Brenton was born 18 Apr 1898 in West Brownsville, Washington County, PA.1-5 His parents were Johnston Brenton and Lena (Wright) Brenton.1-5 He went to school with some of his siblings in Bentleyville, a nearby town.6 His World War I draft card describes him as being tall with a medium build, brown hair and blue eyes.4 For most of his life, he was a brakeman on the railroad, like many men in the West Brownsville area.4,5,7 In fact, the town of West Brownsville has train tracks running down Main Street.8

Everett had four sisters: Bessie Irene2,3,5, Mary Virginia3, Sarah Jane3,5, and a sister who is still living. He had two brothers who died very young: Emery and Robert Clayton, who are also buried in Taylor Cemetery.

When Everett was 22, he eloped on 11 Sep 1920 with 17-year-old Gertrude Ada Swift to Cumberland, Maryland9, where (it so happens) minors did not need parental consent to marry. Gertrude's parents were well-regarded in the Brownsville community (connected by bridge to West Brownsville). It seems Gertrude was unable to get their consent to marry Everett.9

Remember kids, listen to your parents.

Everett and Gertrude's marriage did not end well - I will spare the details, as some of Everett's close family is still living. They separated in 1932, and their divorce was finalized in 1934. They had 5 children, who Gertrude supported after the divorce with the help of her mother, Delilah Swift.9

As far as I know, Everett never remarried. He continued to work on the railroad, as a brakeman and later a conductor9-12. He remained in the Brownsville area until his death in 1965, at the age of 66.12 He was buried in the same cemetery as his father and siblings.

(Sources below).