Surname Saturday: Brinson

BrinsonCrest  I don’t usually write about surnames from my own family tree, but I’ve been researching this line a bit and there are some pretty interesting characters – so why not?  One of my ancestors appears to be perhaps the first Brinson to immigrate to America in 1677.  But, first a bit about the origins of the surname.  This one has several theories and they are as follows:

House of Names - The Brinsons lived in the village of Brinton in County Norfolk.  The name was first found in Herefordshire where a family seat had been held from ancient times, and well before the Norman Conquest.  Interesting, because another source believes the name actually had French (Normandy) origins and came to England as a result of the Norman Conquest.

Internet Surname Database – Brinson is of Old French origin, originally a locational name from “Briencun” in Normandy.  Presumably following the Norman Conquest, a family assigned a place name as “Brimstone Hill” in County Essex.  This source also adds that the name may derive from a form of the Middle English word “brem(e)” or “brim(me)” (vigorous or fierce), which was originally derived from an Olde English word “breme” – add “-son” to it and you get “Brimson” (close).  For more information click the link above.

4Crests – This was a locational name ‘of Branston’, a parish in a Lincoln diocese.  If so, the name might have originally derived from an Old English word “Branstun” which mean someone who lived where broom grew.

Like the Internet Surname Database, both and New Dictionary of American Family Names believe the surname origin is French, which of course, was likely introduced in England following the Norman Conquest.  Interestingly, none of these sources mentions County Devon in England, which is where my ancestors hailed from.

Daniel Brinson (1653-1696)

Daniel Brinson was born on September 8, 1653 in County Devon, England to William and Margaret Brinson.  Records show that Daniel arrived on these shores in 1677, according to The Philadelphia and Bucks County Register of Arrivals:

Daniel Brinson of membury parish in ye County of Devon – arived in this River the 28 day of the 7th month 1677 in the Willing mind of London of m[ast]er Lucome.  maryed to ffrances green land of East Jersey the 8th day of the 8th month 1681.

In early records, the family name was sometimes referred to as “Brunson”, “Brynson”, “Brymson” or “Brimson”.  One reference, the Somerset County Historical Quarterly (Volume III, 1914), has quite a bit of information on the Brinson and Greenland families, although I believe some of it to be incorrect based on more recently located historical records (more on that below).

As mentioned in the register of arrivals record above, Daniel married Frances Greenland on October 8, 1681.  Frances’ father Dr. Henry Greenland was a prominent citizen, said to have been the first to settle in Princeton, New Jersey.  According to Princeton history, Dr. Greenland built a “house of accommodation” (tavern) there in 1683 and part of it still survives as part of the Gulick House, an historic landmark.

GulickHouseDaniel settled along the same highway around 1685 on land that is the site of another historical site known as “the Barracks”.  That house was built by Richard Stockton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and may have been used during the French and Indian War to house soldiers.

Daniel may have had a violent temper and abused Frances, according to Riots and Revelry in Early America:

While court records for seventeenth-century New Jersey are relatively sparse, we do know, for example, that in 1694 Doctor Henry Greenland appeared in the Middlesex Court of quarter sessions on behalf of his daughter Frances to complain that she had been abused by her husband, Daniel Brynson.

In 1693, Dr. Greenland patented four hundred acres of land about a mile from what is today Princeton University, on the Millstone River, and on this plantation Daniel Brinson lived until his death in 1696.  The children that Daniel and Frances had were: Barefoot, Margaret, Mary and Anne.  According to Patents & Deeds & Other Early Records of New Jersey 1664-1703, an nuncupative (oral) will was recorded on June 9, 1696:

Nuncupative Will of Daniel Brymson of Milston R. declarede before Mary Davis, Sarah Gannett, Jonathan Davis and Samuel Davis. Wife Francis dau. of Dr. Greenland, son Barefoot, eldest daughter Ruth and apparently other children, Real and personal property. Proved Sept. 15, 1696.

After Daniel died, Frances married a Quaker, John Horner.

Barefoot Brinson

Barefoot Brinson was born in 1686 and said to have been named after his grandfather Henry Greenland’s friend, Dr. Walter Barefoote (who is also mentioned in Henry’s will).  The Somerset County Historical Quarterly described Dr. Barefoote in this manner:

. . . Dr. Walter Barefoot (or Barford, as the name is given in England) who came to Kittery, Maine, in 1656 or 1657, and for thirty years till his death, 1688, was said to be the most litigating and scandal-raising personage connected with the Piscataqua region, whether as doctor, captain, prisoner, prison-keeper, Deputy Governor, land speculator or Chief Justice.  He was well-educated and wrote a good hand.  He was a churchman, but a sturdy and quarrelsome supporter of the Stuart policy, while most of his neighbors were Puritans. . .

I couldn’t locate an exact marriage record, but most family researchers believe Barefoot married Mary Lawrence (or Marritje Laurence Popinga) around 1721.  At least two children, John and Ruth, were mentioned in his will.  I believe, however that the Somerset County Historical Quarterly record was incorrect in saying that John married a woman by the surname of Arrowsmith, although I suppose she could have been a first wife.

Our research indicate that Barefoot’s son John married Hannah Anne Stout.  Barefoot’s will was written in 1742 or 1743 and one of the witnesses was Joseph Stout, probably Hannah’s uncle, so John marrying into the Stout family seems more likely.  It is presumed that Barefoot died sometime in 1748 because his will was proved on May 13 of that year.

On November 21, 1748 Mary Brunson (an alternate spelling) advertised about three hundred acres of land for sale in the New York Gazette.  Executors for Barefoot’s will were Mary Brunson and Thomas Lawrence (her brother I presume).

Barefoot was also sheriff of Somerset County, New Jersey and according to History of Princeton and Its Institutions, Volume 1, serving until his death in 1748.

The Brinson family eventually made their way to Pulaski County, Kentucky and intermarried with the Earps, the family of my grandmother Okle Emma Erp (family changed spelling of name, as the legend goes, to distance themselves from their infamous relative Wyatt Earp).  Just as I was concluding research for this article, I found a record that indicates that Daniel Brinson bought land from Thomas Budd on February 10, 1685, who it looks like may have been the grandfather of Mary Budd.  Mary Budd married Joshua Earp, who is the common ancestor I share with Wyatt Earp, my third cousin three times removed.

Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history!

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© Sharon Hall (History Depot), 2014.
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Re-Re-Writing History: The “Myth” of Helen Keller (just sayin’)

HelenKeller_AnneSullivanLast week I wrote about Laura Bridgman, who it turns out was the first deaf and blind person to be successfully educated, not Helen Keller.  What prompted that story actually had to do with a piece of Helen Keller history that came to my attention recently, and I wondered “why have I never heard about this?”

I would like to begin by saying I am not attempting to denigrate Helen Keller’s life and legacy or diminish her many accomplishments, but I was a bit shocked to learn these new facts about her.  You can take it for what its worth and make your own conclusions.  Read on.

Helen Keller, Socialist

By November 1912 her name and “socialism” had been in the news for awhile (and would continue to be for years to come).  She was told by friends that she had “shared the front pages with baseball, Mr. Roosevelt and the New York police scandal.”  She was happy that people were interested in her and teacher Anne Sullivan, who had married John Macy.  “Even notoriety may be turned to beneficent uses, and I rejoice if the disposition of the newspapers to record my activities results in bringing more often into their columns the word Socialism.”

At the time Keller wrote the piece for the New York Call, she had recently been offered a position on the Welfare Board of Schenectady, New York (a position she ultimately did not take, having never met the mayor who proposed it in the first place).  In September she was quoted: “I am a Socialist because only under socialism can every one obtain the right to work and be happy.” (The Evening World, 10 Sep 1912)

The_Evening_World_Tue__Sep_10__1912_In the Call she explained that she had become a socialist by reading.  The first book she read, New World for Old by H.G. Wells, was recommended by her teacher.  Keller was quick to point out that Mrs. Macy was not nor had ever been a socialist – she simply thought her student would find it of interest and stimulating.  Apparently Mr. Macy was an “enthusiastic Marxist propagandist”, as Keller referred to him, but his wife was not.

In the Call  (a Socialist newspaper, by the way), she further stated: “I am no worshiper of cloth of any color, but I love the red flag and what it symbolized to me and other Socialists.  I have a red flag hanging in my study.”  She referred to her fellow Socialists as “comrades”.

Keller was appreciative of newspapers and their efforts to help her promote her work with the blind, but when it came to their criticisms, her answer was “the money power behind the newspapers is against socialism, and the editors, obedient to the hand that feeds them, will to any length to put down socialist and undermine the influence of socialists.”  She was especially critical of the Brooklyn Eagle – “what an ungallant bird it is!”

She called the Eagle “socially blind and deaf” – part of a system that was happy to help publicize her social work, but wary of her disdain for capitalism.  Further, she declared that “The Eagle and I are at war.  I hate the system which it represents, apologizes for and upholds.”  If she ever decided to write a book in support of socialism, she would call it “Industrial Blindness and Social Deafness.”

Apparently she progressed to more radical causes, for in 1916 she wrote about why she joined the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), or the “Wobblies” as they were known.  The IWW, although categorically denying they were a Communist front, had always been opposed to capitalism.

Keller said that she “became an IWW because I found that the Socialist party was too slow.”  During the 1916 interview she was asked: “What are you committed to – education or revolution?”  Her answer: “Revolution . . . we can’t have education without revolution.  We have tried peace education for 1,900 years and it has failed.  Let us try revolution and see what it will do now.”

The_Oregon_Daily_Journal_Mon__Nov_25__1912_Helen Keller was willing to defend her beliefs no matter what.  Concluding the interview, she declared, “I feel like Joan of Arc at times.  My whole becomes uplifted.  I, too, hear the voices that say ‘Come,’ and I will follow, no matter what the cost, no matter what the trials I am placed under.  Jail, poverty, calumny – they matter not.”  Newspapers believed her socialist beliefs perhaps stemmed from the “manifest limitations of her development”.

Later she would protest the entrance of the United States into World War I.  Her protestations were rooted in her socialist (or communist) beliefs that workers would suffer and capitalism would triumph.  Some of her fellow protesters were arrested and imprisoned, yet Helen was never targeted.  She continued to write in support of her causes, however.

Oakland_Tribune_Sun__Sep_22__1912_Criticism of Keller and her beliefs escalated in the press, accusing those who surrounded her like Anne and John Macy of exploiting her.  As Helen Keller learned about these criticisms she staunchly defended her right to believe as she wished – and, as an American, right she was to defend them.  She had, in some ways, been exploited all her life and upheld as a virtuous, little blind and deaf girl who could do no wrong.  Her early accomplishments were exploited, and somewhat exaggerated, the “press” about her used to tout the school’s teaching methods.

Later her support of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) caused another stir, especially in her home state of Alabama.  But, again, because she was Helen Keller, the little deaf and blind girl in everyone’s mind, she sort of got away with a lot, including her most radical beliefs.

One paradox of her support for radical causes was that for a long time she had been a benefactor of one of the world’s most power capitalists, Andrew Mellon.  Still she believed that charity wasn’t necessarily the answer for those suffering from disabilities.  From that belief she worked tirelessly for the rights of the disabled.  She was keenly aware of her “celebrity” it seems, knowing that she could put forth her ideas, radical though they might have been, and “get away with it” in large part.

After Anne’s marriage broke up, she and Helen were offered the opportunity by Hollywood to make a movie about Helen’s life.  Helen thought it would give her an even wider audience to trumpet her socialist and radical beliefs.  It turned out to be a mistake, however, since the film was quite heavy-handed on sentimentality (think “maudlin”).  Helen Keller was portrayed at one point in the film on a white horse leading the charge to freedom.  As Hollywood tends to do, even in those days, they “spiced” her story up, adding a lover.  Helen later said that it was “too ludicrous for words.”

Her efforts for the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) were greatly appreciated, but they were always uneasy about her politics.  The government sent her to Japan following World War II in hopes she would help heal the emotional damage inflicted by the war.  At the beginning of the Cold War and McCarthyism, the AFB was worried they too would be investigated.  The FBI had extensive files on Keller, several years-worth, and portions of those files are still redacted.

The_Ottawa_Journal_Sat__Oct_12__1912_I ran across an independent film while researching this story which does a good job of covering the “radical Helen Keller” – it even includes commentary from some of her great-great nieces and nephews in Alabama.  The reasons perhaps why I never heard about this side of Helen Keller were summed up in the introduction to the film:

Helen Keller (1880-1968) was world famous as the little deaf blind girl, the ‘miracle’ child who triumphed over adversity, an image later enshrined by Hollywood in the film The Miracle Worker.

But behind the image was a flesh-and-blood woman, writer and radical activist, suffragette and Socialist, under surveillance by the FBI and in constant struggle against the contradictions of her public image. She was a woman who lived to old age, yet is fixed in the public imagination as an eternal child.

You can watch that film (about fifty minutes in length) here.   The film provides more details and “enlightenment” regarding the life of this iconic American.  In a way, it’s a sad story because she couldn’t live up to the public’s perception of her life.  Even in death her wishes regarding her funeral (she wanted simple and intimate) were ignored – instead a large and elaborate service was held at Washington’s National Cathedral.

Again, my purpose in writing this article was not to diminish the life, legacy or accomplishments of Helen Keller.  However, sometimes when we know more about our so-called “heroes” our perceptions may require a little adjustment – just sayin’.

Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history!

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© Sharon Hall (History Depot), 2014.
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Book Review Thursday: Isaac’s Storm: A Man, A Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History

IsaacsStormI personally enjoy books such as this one by Erik Larson because I not only learn about a significant historical event, but the background leading up to it and what else was going on in the world at the time.  Bill Bryson (e.g., One Summer) is another author whose books are like that.  I had recently written an article about the historic 1900 Galveston hurricane, but this book made it come alive even more for me.

The “Isaac” in the title refers to Isaac Cline, a sometimes arrogant scientist who thought he “knew it all” – but then again, the Weather Bureau seemed to be full of those kind of folks.  In 1891 he had made a statement regarding hurricanes and their potential to reach the Texas coast: “West Indies hurricanes are not a problem for Texas because they always recurve to the north before reaching the Western Gulf of Mexico.”  He was the meteorologist on duty in Galveston on September 8, 1900.

Near the turn of the century, Galveston had grown to a population of over forty thousand and was well on its way to becoming a major United States port.  Indeed, Galveston had benefited from the so-called “Gilded Age” – a period of rapid economic growth and burgeoning industrialization.  Larson not only narrates the story of the frightening and monstrous storm, but the events leading up to the event.

Most people seemed to be rather passè about the weather, and that day the beach was crowded with both residents and tourists – all unaware of the storm that would indelibly change their lives.  The book also relates the stories of other Galveston residents and the impact of the storm on their lives.

It seemed to me that Larson told a well-crafted and even-handed story (although some reviewers and critics disagree) – some have demonized Isaac Cline and some (including Isaac himself) have characterized him as being “saint-like”, trying to warn the people after he discovered that a storm was upon the city.

If you’re interested in historical disasters, and especially epic weather events, then I believe you will find this an interesting read.

Rating:  ★★★★

Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history!

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© Sharon Hall (History Depot), 2014.
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Ghost Town Wednesday: Swastika, New Mexico

GhostTownWednesdayToday, this would be considered an unfortunate name for a town, ghostly or otherwise.  Believe it or not, years ago the swastika symbol was widely used.  It was also used by Native American tribes like the Navajos, Hopis, Apaches and others (although later abandoned).  The 45th Infantry Division of the United States military used the symbol until the 1930’s.  Apparently, it was in wide use in the state of New Mexico, and not just by the Native Americans.

Across the United States, government buildings (post offices, etc.) included the symbol in floor tiles.  The Albuquerque federal building constructed in 1930, and now on the National Register of Historic Places, featured radiator grates in the foyer which consist of several swastika blocks.

Interestingly, the New Mexico State yearbook was named the Swastika,  beginning in 1907.  In May of 1983 the Board of Regents officially voted against the symbol’s use and the name, saying, “It is the responsibility of the board when an issue becomes of this magnitude . . . not because of logic but because of the impact on the university.”

This area around Colfax County, New Mexico had long been known for its coal mining operations.  On October 22, 1913 a massive explosion occurred at the Dawson mine, killing two hundred and fifty – you can read my article on this tragic event here.

Following the end of World War I, the St. Louis, Rocky Mountain & Pacific Company purchased land and coal rights from the Maxwell Land Grant Company.  Its products, coal and coke, were marketed through a subsidiary called the Swastika Fuel Company — proudly displaying a swastika as its trademark.

swastika_fuelCoThe company’s offices were located in Raton and its products were distributed throughout Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.  The coal was also used by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railway company, and gradually other uses were found, expanding the market to include a large portion of the Southwest.

Swastika first started out as a camp and grew into a company town.  In 1919 a post office was established and as workers arrived, plots were laid out and homes began to be built for the miners and their families.  Many of them, like those working mines throughout that area, were immigrants – Italians were prominently represented.

According to Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of New Mexico by James E. and Barbara H. Sherman, the Italians brought their love of soccer and challenged neighboring camps to play against them.   With increased oil exploration in Texas came the need for more coal to provide steam power for the drilling operations.  By 1929, Swastika had reached a population of around five hundred – oh, and Raton had built the Hotel Swastika (later renamed the Yucca), “at the foot of beautiful Raton Pass”.

HotelSwastikaThere was another mining town in the area named Brilliant (more on this ghost town in another article).  When Brilliant closed in the mid-1930’s, and with Hitler and his Nazi regime beginning to make itself a menace throughout Europe, the name Swastika no longer seemed appropriate.  Instead the town was renamed Brilliant (or Brilliant II or New Brilliant).  By 1940, however, the post office had closed and by the early 1950’s the town of Swastika/Brilliant was completely abandoned.



Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history!

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© Sharon Hall (History Depot), 2014.
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Tombstone Tuesday: David Coubrough (Montreal, Canada)

CoubroughGraveDavid Coubrough was born in approximately 1856, according to mid-to-late nineteenth century Scottish census records.  His parents, Robert and Mary (Sandilands) Coubrough, lived in Thornliebank, Renfrewshire, Scotland (near Glasgow) where his father was employed in the textile industry as a cotton cloth lapper – someone who either cleaned cotton fibers before fed into carding machines or moved the yarn from the carding machine to the next process in weaving.  David would later follow his father and work in the same industry as a printfields labourer, or one who dyed and printed calico cloth.

David was the youngest child of Robert and Mary’s, for Robert died on May 24, 1857, leaving Mary with six children to raise on a textile worker’s salary.  It is unclear, however, whether she actually continued to work in the mill since in 1861 her occupation was listed as “formerly coiler bleacher” (which might have instead been “color bleacher”).

Whether or not their work was especially skilled or not, it is fairly certain that it did not pay well.  Speaking about the major industries which provided employment in the late 1800’s, the Electric Scotland web site had this to say:

The major employers were the ‘heavy’ industries – coal mining, iron and steel-founding, shipbuilding and engineering. More than 200,000 families derived their livelihood from these industries, and a further 150,000 were sustained by employment in textile production. Thus more than half the population was dependent upon labour-intensive manufacturing industry.

In the late 1800s and into the twentieth century, these industries were earning large profits, and great wealth came to the owners, who enjoyed, in late Victorian and Edwardian times, life-styles enviable for leisure and luxury.  Unfortunately, though individual acts of charity were frequent, there was no official social conscience; and, in the presence of great riches, industrial workers lived lives governed by low wages, long hours and frequently unhealthy and dangerous working conditions. Away from the workplace, living conditions were, as came to be realised, a national disgrace.  Housing, whether provided by employers or by builders planning to draw rents, was generally cheap in construction, poor in quality and grudging in space.  If employers had provided high-quality housing, then their profits would have suffered.  If builders had offered high quality rented homes, a low-paid workforce could never have paid the rents required. So, buildings were crammed into confined sites, often cheek-by-jowl with colliery and yard, factory and foundry; rooms were small, and around 53 per cent of families, no matter how numerous, lived in houses with one or two rooms. Indoor sanitation was absent or shared, and the effect of these conditions upon the health and life-expectancy of the people was bound to be damaging.   Typhoid fever and even cholera survived into the twentieth century; epidemics of diphtheria and scarlet fever were virtually annual, and tuberculosis killed thousands.  Poverty led to malnutrition, and diseases caused by diet deficiency, like rickets, were common. To make matters worse, the houses were themselves aging, and new building was quite inadequate to provide homes for the rising population between 1850 and 1900.

To make matters worse, though few could have realised it, Scotland’s days of industrial success were already numbered. The appearance of economic success endured and examples of technological excellence (such as the building of the first turbine-powered steamer, King Edward in 1901) occurred, but the basis of Scotland’s role as one of the world’s workshops was weakening.

It’s possible this is what life was like for the Coubrough family of Thornliebank, Scotland.  David perhaps made the acquaintance of his bride-to-be, Mary Smith, at the textile mill, she also a printfields worker.  Their marriage record was recorded in the Parish of Eastwood in County Renfrew on April 29, 1881 (as transcribed by a family researcher):

1881 on the Twenty ninth day of April at Thornliebank after Banns according to the Forms of the Established Church of Scotland. David Coubrough, Printfields Labourer, Bachelor, 25, Thornliebank, [son of] Robert Coubrough, Cotton Cloth Lapper, dec. [and] Mary Coubrough, Formerly Gunn, M.S. Sandalands [married] Mary Smith, Printfields Worker, 20, Thornliebank, [daughter of] James Smith, House Painter, [and] Isabella Gunn. [The ceremony was performed by] George Campbell, Minister of Eastwood, [and witnessed by] Samuel Jack and Annie Carrey.

Together David and Mary had at least eight children.  According to the 1901 Scottish census records: Hugh (18); David (16); Isabella (12); Andrew (8); Mary (6); Charles (3) and John (1).  That year David was employed as a “grain worker”.  Sons Hugh and David worked in the textile mill, Hugh as a thread spool turner and David as a calico machine worker.  It appears that David and Mary had one more child, Susan, who was born later that year.

By 1912, it is likely that economic conditions and employment opportunities had deteriorated enough to compel the Coubrough family to immigrate to Canada.  One source also indicates that the Canadian government had undertaken an aggressive policy which encouraged immigration between the late 1890’s and 1914.

I found two passenger lists which do appear to list David and his family, although some of the ages don’t seem to coincide with birth or census records (I wonder if perhaps some were his grandchildren since I think maybe some of his children and their spouses were also immigrating at the same time).  Interestingly, one of the passenger lists, recorded the passenger’s religious denomination.  Most of the passengers listed on the page where David and his family appeared were Presbyterian.



However, David and his family were listed as “Or Sec” (this might have meant “Original Secession”) which I believe refers to a branch of the Presbyterian church.  The church, originally called the United Secession Church was formed in 1820 when separation from the Church of Scotland occurred, and merged with the Presbyterian Relief Church in 1847 to become the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

The other passenger list had more details about the steamship line (Donaldson), the ship’s name (Letitia), date of departure (October 19, 1912), where it was bound (Quebec, Montreal) and where passengers embarked (Glasgow).  Most of the passengers were Scottish and most headed to Canada – 119 passengers were traveling in second class and 158 in third class.  David and his family were traveling third class, which likely meant all passengers of that class were housed in one large room (also referred to as “steerage”).

LetitiaShipAlthough there is a younger David listed, it’s possible that David, Jr. had already immigrated the year before.  I found another passenger list which indicated a David Coubrough had arrived on April 27, 1911, and his age listed as twenty-five matches his approximate birth date.  David, Jr. was planning to live with family (brother-in-law) when he arrived.  So, it’s likely other family members had already immigrated to Canada.

The picture below would have presumably been taken after the family immigrated to Canada, perhaps sometime between 1912 and 1914 or 1915 since David, Jr. appears to have joined the Royal Montreal Regiment (also known as the 14th Battalion) which landed in France in early 1915.

DavidCoubroughFamilyTragically, Private David Coubrough died in Arras, France on March 10, 1917 from a grenade wound he sustained.  He was buried in Lapugnoy Military Cemetery, five miles west of Berthune, France:

DavidCoubroughJr_DeathRecThe news was devastating was, of course, to his family, as would be expected, and perhaps his father took it especially hard.  Although his cause of death is unknown.  David Coubrough, Sr. died two months after his son on May 10.  He was buried on May 12 and his funeral attended by Reverend S.S. Burns.

DavidCoubrough_DeathRecMary, a widow, was enumerated as living with five of her children in Montreal for the 1921 Canadian census.  She lived to be almost ninety years old, dying on July 2, 1951.  It appears that she and David are buried in the same cemetery (Mount Royal) and share a grave stone.

STORY NOTE:  Today’s article stems from the Scottish and Canadian ancestry research I conducted last week, mostly for “practice” (I sure did learn a lot!).  David Coubrough is the great grandfather of my cousin, Terrie Coubrough Henderson.

Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history!

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© Sharon Hall (History Depot), 2014.
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Monday Meanderings: Research Adventures (and a little massacre story)

MondayMeanderingsResearch, research, research!  Although feeling under the weather this last week with a nasty upper respiratory viral thing-y, I’ve managed to do quite a bit of research.

I’ve taken the plunge into some Canadian and Scottish ancestry that I found quite interesting, and surprisingly, have been able to locate some great records (church records are some of the best!).  I was looking in both Scottish and Newfoundland church records and found a wealth of information.  For weddings, a lot of information can be gathered.  For instance (transcribed as posted online):

From the Scottish Civil Records, 1881 Marriages in the Parish of Eastwood in the County of Renfrew:

1881 on the Twenty ninth day of April at Thornliebank after Banns according to the Forms of the Established Church of Scotland. David Coubrough, Printfields Labourer, Bachelor, 25, Thornliebank, [son of] Robert Coubrough, Cotton Cloth Lapper, dec. [and] Mary Coubrough, Formerly Gunn, M.S. Sandalands [married] Mary Smith, Printfields Worker, 20, Thornliebank, [daughter of] James Smith, House Painter, [and] Isabella Gunn. [The ceremony was performed by] George Campbell, Minister of Eastwood, [and witnessed by] Samuel Jack and Annie Carrey.

From this I was able to garner the following:

David Coubrough (25 years old and from Thornliebank, employed as a Printfields Labourer), son of Robert (deceased and formerly employed as a Cotton Cloth Lapper) and Mary Sandalands (whose original surname was Gunn) MARRIED Mary Smith (20 years old and also a Printfields Worker from Thornliebank), daughter of James Smith (a house painter) and Isabella Gunn.  David and Mary probably worked together at the same textile mill (a Printfields Labourer was a factory  worker who dyed and printed calico cloth).  Robert Coubrough apparently also worked in a textile mill as a “Cotton Cloth Lapper” – one who moved the yarn from the carding machine to the next process in weaving.  That is A LOT of information from one church marriage record!

I found even more great records when I moved to the Canadian (Newfoundland side of the family) — again being able to find church records paid off and yielded quite a bit of information.

In searching for a Monday article, I came across a story I originally meant to put under a “Massacre, Murder and Mayhem Monday” theme (hard to resist that alliteration!).  But, there is so much negativity going on in the world at the moment, I just couldn’t bring myself to make that big of a “splash” with the story.

The massacre story is one I ran across some time ago while researching a friend and her husband’s ancestry (I wrote about her family history and being related to Benjamin Franklin here).

Lively Springs Massacre

In 1810 two brothers-in-law, John Lively and David Huggins, were living in the northeast part of Randolph County, Illinois (Illinois had just been carved out as a territory in 1809), and near the southeast part of St. Clair County.  By all accounts they seemed to be prospering as farmers and cattlemen, so much so they needed to find bigger pastures at a place called Crooked Creek.

Everything seemed to go very well until the spring of 1813 when Indian raids became more frequent, perhaps as a result of America’s “second war for independence”, also known as the War of 1812.  Again, America was fighting the British, plus the Indians, which the British deliberately encouraged to carry out raids against Americans.

For a time the two families were protected by a military unit in the area, but when the depredations became more frequent, Lively and Huggins began to discuss whether they should leave and move back to Randolph County (at this time they were likely the only settlers in the area).  David Huggins decided it best to leave, but John Lively decided to stay.

Lively and his family lived peacefully for awhile, but in July of 1813 he began to notice his cattle growing restless at night, a sure sign of Indians in the area.  This time Lively decided to take no chances with his family’s safety and hastily prepared to leave – but not hastily enough it seems.

While his wife and daughters milked the cows, John sent his son and nephew to round up the horses.  As his son and nephew started in the direction of the horses, they heard gunfire.  Running back they found their home overrun with Indians who were massacring (and scalping) their family members.  The two young men were powerless to help and managed to escape – at least that’s the family legend since some of the information may never have been fully authenticated.

Nevertheless, it was a gruesome incident and a cautionary tale of settlers attempting to stand alone against renegade Indians (with perhaps prodding from the British).  David Huggins, however, eventually returned to the tragic place in 1816, living there the rest of his life.  I believe that David Huggins may be an ancestor of my friend’s husband.

I know that his second great grandmother was Hannah Huggins Charles.  It’s likely her father’s name was Patrick and I’m supposing he was David’s son, although I haven’t found the proof yet.  If not an ancestor, I’m quite sure there is some sort of relation.  It’s always fascinating to relate such an historic event to a family I am researching.

More “Back-Door” Research

I wrote a few weeks ago about some “back-door” research I did in trying to locate the family of a friend who had been adopted (read the article here).  I had another “back-door” incident this summer with my own family research.

I had long thought I knew who my third great grandfather on the Hall side was, but had begun to doubt whether it was absolutely correct.  Even after locating a census record which I thought was my great-great grandfather William Marion Rupe, I wasn’t thoroughly convinced because of another record (a photograph) I found which cast a bit of doubt on that assumption.

In July I went to New Mexico and visited with my Aunt Joy who is in possession of many family artifacts, including old family Bibles.  Interestingly, I received the confirmation of the identity of my great-great-great grandfather from a story ABOUT the Bible.  Every family researcher knows that Bible records can be a treasure trove of information.

The Bible she showed me had been given to my great-great grandmother Mary Ellen (Cochrell) Rupe (William Marion’s wife) by her sister-in-law.  From the story my aunt told me about the Bible, and an obituary tucked inside it, I was able to confirm who William Marion Rupe’s father was by tracing the married name of his sister with records back to their father George Washington Rupe.

To my fellow researchers – be relentless, keep digging and don’t discount trivial or seemingly useless information – you just never know what it might lead to.  Oh, and, by the way, have an awesome week!

Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history!

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© Sharon Hall (History Depot), 2014.
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Hymnspiration: Rock of Ages

HymnspirationLogoThe words of today’s hymn were written in 1763 by Reverend Augustus Montague Toplady and first published in The Gospel Magazine in 1775 or 1776.  Some believe the hymn was inspired after Toplady, while traveling and caught in a storm, sought refuge in a gorge in Burrington Combe, England – but no real proof exists and many historians doubt the validity of this “legend”.

AugustusTopladyAugustus Montague Toplady was born in Surrey, England on November 4, 1740 to parents Richard and Catherine Toplady.  It is thought that perhaps his father Richard was from Ireland and had entered the Royal Marines as a commissioned officer in 1739.  Richard, however, likely died of yellow fever during the Battle of Carthegena in 1741, leaving Catherine to raise her son alone.

Little is known about his early years, except that around 1755 Augustus and his mother moved to Ireland where he enrolled at Trinity College in Dublin.   In August of that year he was said to have heard Reverend James Morris, possibly a follower of Methodist John Wesley, preach a sermon.  At this time Augustus experienced his own personal conversion to Christ, marveling years later he wrote the following:

Strange that I, who had long sat under the means of grace in England, should be brought right with God in an obscure part of Ireland, midst a handful of people met together in a barn, and by the ministry of one who could hardly spell his own name.  Surely it was the Lord’s doing and is marvellous.

There is some controversy over the theology that Toplady embraced.  Many believe that he initially followed the teachings of the Wesleys, but later renounced, even mocked, the Wesleys in favor of Calvinism, which it appears he embraced in the late 1750’s and held to the rest of his life.  In the book 101 Hymn Stories, author Kenneth W. Osbeck relates that Toplady and the Wesleys carried on “theological warfare” via public debates, sermons and pamphlets.

Referring to John Wesley, Toplady once had this to say:

I believe him to be the most rancorous hater of the gospel system that ever appeared in this Island . . . Wesley is guilty of Satanic shamelessness . . . of uniting the sophistry of a Jesuit with the authority of a pope. (101 Hymn Stories)

Ouch!  John Wesley countered with the following: “I dare not speak of the deep things of God in the spirit of a prize fighter or a stage player, and I not fight with chimney sweeps.”

Several years after the hymn was written by Toplady, it was published in The Gospel Magazine.  He linked it to the subject of England’s national debt, concluding his article with the hymn to “prove his argument that even as England could never pay her national debt, so man through his own efforts could never satisfy the eternal justice of a holy God.”  The hymn at that time was entitled “A Living and Dying Prayer for the Holiest Believer in the World” (101 Hymn Stories).

Osbeck believed that even the words Toplady penned constituted more mocking – “satirical swipes” he called them – of the Wesleys’ teachings.  As he explained:

Some of the expressions in Toplady’s hymn text are quite obviously satirical swipes at such Wesleyan teachings as the need for contrite and remorseful repentance and the Arminian concept of sanctification – the belief that it is possible for any believer to live without consciously sinning and thereby to find the promised “rest,” the state of moral perfection as described in Hebrews 4:9.  Note Toplady’s rebuttal in the second stanza:

Could my tears forever flow,
Could my zeal no languor know,
These for sin could not atone
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

I noticed that there seems to be more than one version of the hymn, so through the years some of the words have likely been modified to a certain extent (some versions have four stanzas).  Here is one three-stanza version:

Rock of ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Could my tears forever flow,
Could my zeal no languor know,
These for sin could not atone
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
In my hand no price I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyes shall close in death,
When I rise to worlds unknown
And behold Thee on Thy throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

Augustus Toplady never married and by all accounts was a forceful and zealous preacher of the Gospel, firm in his Calvinist beliefs until the end.  He contracted tuberculosis at age thirty-eight and died on August 11, 1778.  The hymn is most often sung today to the tune of “Toplady”, so named in honor of the lyricist, composed by Thomas Hastings in 1830.

ThomasHastingsThomas Hastings was born on October 15, 1784 in Washington, Connecticut.  Born an albino, Hastings suffered eye problems most of his life, yet managed to become a prolific composer and hymn writer.  Although he had little formal musical training, perhaps just naturally gifted, Hastings received an honorary Doctor of Music in 1858 from the University of the City of New York.

Thomas Hastings is credited with being one of the most influential people who helped develop church music in the United States.  He also compiled and published several hymnals and edited the Musical Magazine.  Thomas Hastings died on May 15, 1872.

Rock of Ages has long been regarded as one of the most popular hymns ever written.  As Osbeck concludes in the hymn’s chapter:

It is encouraging to realize that, despite the original belligerent intent behind this text, God in His providence has chosen to preserve this hymn for the past two hundred years so that congregations of both Calvinistic and Arminian theological persuasion can sing this hymn with spiritual profit and blessing.

Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history!

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© Sharon Hall (History Depot), 2014.
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