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).