Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Phillip D. Bragg

Born: August 15, 1956
Died: May 22, 2016

Phillip Dale Bragg, 59, of Fort Mohave, Arizona (formerly of Sullivan) died Sunday (May 22, 2016) in his home following an extended illness.

Memorial services will be conducted by the family at 1:00 p.m. Saturday June 18, 2016 at French Cemetery, Allenville. Memorials are suggested to the American Cancer Society at or to a charity of the donor’s choice. Reed Funeral Home, Sullivan is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be sent to the family at

Phil was born August 15, 1956 in Sullivan, the son of Don C. and Mary J. Ethington Bragg. He was a 1974 graduate of Sullivan High School and worked in construction with various companies in Florida, Tennessee, and Arizona. He also worked for a time with a taxi service in Bullhead City, Arizona.

Surviving are his wife of over twenty-seven years, Shirley Lemke Bragg, sons Christopher Bragg  and his wife Terry of Bullhead City, Arizona and Timothy Bragg and his wife Heather of Charleston, a daughter, Rachel Reed and her husband Roger of Charleston, ten grandchildren: Samantha Bragg, Emily Bragg, Taysia Bragg, Mia Bragg, Aaron Bragg, Logan Bragg, Tevyn Bragg, Abel Reed, Chase Reed, and Gavin Reed, brothers, Jess Bragg and his wife Sheryl of Mattoon, Charles Bragg and his wife Rebecca of Sullivan, James Bragg and his wife Glenna of Marshall, Larry Bragg and his wife Donna of Shelbyville, David Bragg and his wife Ann of Kernersville, North Carolina, Ronald Bragg and his wife Linda, of Havre, Montana, Mark Bragg and his wife Becky of Mahomet; sisters, Ruth Bauer and Reva Martin and her husband Ron both of Sullivan and Debra Green and her husband Michael of Masonville, Colorado.

Phil was preceded in death by his parents, a brother, Robert Bragg and a sister, Bonnie Bragg.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Did You Know #48

This is a followup of a post from November 4, 2011. That post examined the long search to overcome a dead-end in our Bragg family tree. In that post ( you can read how we were able to deepen our family tree by a number of generations (to Dad's fourth great-grandfather John Galbreath, who was born in Ireland and died on August 18, 1800).

Cicero Gilbreath was Dad's Grandfather (Grandma Bragg's father). Cicero's father died in Indiana when Cicero was a boy. After moving to central Illinois Cicero's mother (Grandma Bragg's grandmother, Eleanor or Ellen Hale Gilbreath) remarried. Things did not go well with Cicero and his step-father which led to Cicero striking out on his own at a fairly young age. The table below will trace the generations under consideration:

Ellen Hale (married William Gilbreath, married J H Humphrey)
Cicero Gilbreath
Gladys Gilbreath (married O. B. Bragg)
Don C. Bragg

Cicero Gilbreath with his daughters
(Grandma Bragg is in center of back row)

Dad never knew his maternal great-grandmother, Cicero's mother. She died on August 8, 1919 while Dad was born on the very same day the next year (August 8, 1920). I learned that she was buried at French Cemetery. After a couple of attempts I was finally successful in finding her grave. She is buried on the first row of graves not far from where the old church building stood, which makes me think she was among the first people to be buried there. The weather-beaten marker is inscribed
"Ellen Wife of
J H Humphrey
1838 - 1919"

Following Dad's death I was able to scan many family pictures, some of which came from Grandma and Grandpa Bragg. On the back of the picture below is written, "Grandma and Grandpa Humphrey."

It was exciting to uncover the name of Dad's great-grandmother, Ellen Hale Gilbreath. Now we can put a face to that name and visit her final resting place in the same yard of her great-grandson whom she never knew.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Did You Know? #47

    Many years ago Springfield was made the state capital city of Illinois. It was made famous by a lanky country lawyer named Lincoln. But do you know who made Springfield?

    The very first white settler of what would become Sangamon County, Illinois was a man by the name of Robert Pulliam. In the fall of 1817 he built a cabin and used the land around it as grazing ground for his cattle. Before long he set out for St. Louis, MO, and later on Cape Girardeau, MO (for 28 my place of residence). While Pulliam was away another settler arrived, Zachariah Peter, becoming the second to take up residence in the area. He found the now empty cabin and moved his own family into it. Mr. Peter was born in Amherst county, VA and two years later his family resettled in Washington County, Kentucky. Zachariah grew up here, married Nancy Spauldin here, and began raising his family (five children) here. The Peter family moved to what would become Sangamon County in 1818, the same year that Illinois would become a state.

    In the spring of 1819 Robert Pulliam returned with his own family only to find his cabin occupied by the Peter family. Zachariah moved his family out and built his own cabin, the second in this part of Illinois, about three miles north of the Pulliam place. During this same year the Peters welcomed the birth of their sixth child, James M. Peter. There were apparently no hard feelings regarding living spaces between the Peter family and the Pulliams since Zachariah and Nancy Peter's son, Samuel, married Robert Pulliam's daughter, Margaret.

    On April 10, 1821 Zachariah Peter and two other men, John Kelley [1] and William Drennan, were sworn in as County Commissioners and entered into the following contract:
"Article of agreement entered into the 10th day of April, 1821, between John Kelley of the county of Sangamon, and the undersigned County Commissioners of said county. The said Kelley agrees with said Commissioners to build for the use of said county, a court house of the following description, to-wit: 'The logs to be twenty feet long, the house one story high, plank floor, a good cabin roof, a door and window cut out, the work to be completed by the first day of may next, for which the said Commissioners promise, on the part of the county, to pay said Kelley forty-two dollars and fifty cents. Witness our hands the day and date above."
The men drove a stake in the ground at the site of the county's very first courthouse. The stake was marked "Z., P. & D."[2] Today you should be able to find a marker near the intersection of E. Jefferson and N 2nd Streets in Springfield. [3]

    In addition to his participation in the building of the first courthouse, Zachariah Peter also continued to serve in local government:
"William Drennan and Zachariah Peter were recommended to the governor as persons fit for the office of justice of the peace. Their duties included enforcing law and order and settling minor squabbles, but the justices were also responsible for performing marriages. Peter conducted seven of the 16 weddings known to have taken place in Sangamo Township between 1819 and 1821. Ministers James Sims, Rivers Cormack and Stephen England performed the others." [4]
You will note in the above excerpt that at this early date final "n" was yet to be added to the area ("Sangamo Township").
    Even before Lincoln arrived in central Illinois Zachariah Peter literally made his mark. But it was not until I began sorting through some of Mom's papers that I learned the story of Sangamon County's birth and the story of Zachariah Peter, Mom's 3rd great-grandfather. Here is the connection:

Zachariah and Nancy Peter
James M. Peter ( married Amelia Ann Peter, his 3rd cousin)
Margaret N. Peters (married William Standerfer)
Zacharious I. Standerfer (married Margaret Jane Clark)
Mercedes Ruth Standerfer (married Luther Ethington)
Mary Jean Ethington (married Don C. Bragg)

[1] After the death of Nancy, Zachariah Peter married Margaret Kelly, the widow of this John Kelly. "They had one child-- PETER CARTWRIGHT, born in Sangamon county. He was a soldier from Sangamon county in the war with Mexico, in 1846 and '7. He went to Washington Territory, where he was married; went from there to California, and was killed by Indians, leaving a widow and one child in California." {From EARLY SETTLERS OF SANGAMON COUNTY - 1876, by John Carroll Power

[2] History of Sangamon County, Illinois (p. 554)
[3] First Sangamon County Court House - Springfield, Illinois - Illinois Historical Marker

[4] SangamonLink History of Sangamon County, Illinois Sangamo Township

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ida May West Bragg (1925-2014)

     Ida May Bragg, 88, of Sullivan passed away 3:30 a.m. Sunday, February 16, 2014, at her daughter’s home in Pekin. Funeral services will be held 11:00 a.m. Saturday, February 22, 2014 at McMullin-Young Funeral Home, Sullivan. Visitation will be held one hour before the services. Burial will be in Greenhill Cemetery, Sullivan.
     Memorials may be made to the First United Methodist Church, Sullivan, or to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Peoria.
     Ida May West Bragg was born May 27, 1925, the third of four children born to Ivan and Ruby Irene (Enterline) West of rural Bruce. She married R. Earl Bragg on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1947. She was preceded in death by her husband on August 20, 2001.
    She is survived by her sisters, Arletta Marie Elzy of Mt. Vernon and Ruby Irene Elzy of Austin, Texas, formerly of Sullivan; and her brother, James William West, and his wife Katie Ellen of Cowden. She is also survived by three daughters, Sue Ann (Charles) Renner of Pekin, with whom she made her home in recent years, Nina Louise (Mike) McGuire of North Platte, Nebraska, and Teresa Carol (Steve) Esterholdt, of Ontario, Oregon. She delighted in her eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, as well as three generations of nieces and nephews.
     She lived most of her life on the centennial farm on which she was born. In addition to raising her girls and caring for children in her home, she served as bookkeeper for the Toggery in Pekin, IL, and as a secretary for the Welfare office and University of Illinois Farm Extension office in Sullivan. She was a capable and respected employee and made life-long friends in her workplaces. A member of the First United Methodist Church of Sullivan, she was a faithful volunteer for funeral dinners and special projects. She enjoyed membership in Civic Club, Home Extension, and Moultrie County RSVP.
     She loved entertaining and visiting with family and friends, as well as traveling with her daughters and her extended family. Her later years were brightened by the fond attentions of her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She leaves a legacy of devotion to family and a joyful interest in people and places.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Did You Know #46

I am reading a book entitled 10 People Every Christian Should Know by Warren W. Wiersbe. One of these individuals is Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758), perhaps best known for his famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." What I didn't know was that it was that very sermon that cost Edwards his job.

Edwards is known as one of America's greatest intellectuals. He was distinguished as a preacher, theologian, missionary, and educator. His son-in-law, Aaron Burr, Sr., was serving as president of Princeton University (then known as the College of New Jersey) at the time of his death. Edwards was persuaded to fill Burr 's position. Edwards took office on February 16, 1758, shortly before an outbreak of small pox. He volunteered for the small pox inoculation hoping his example would encourage others to follow suit. Instead, he fell ill and died from the inoculation on March 22, 1758.

Jonathan Edwards' descendants have included many influential roles in American history, according to his biographer George Marsden who "notes that "the Edwards family produced scores of clergymen, thirteen presidents of higher learning, sixty-five professors, and many other persons of notable achievements."" [*] His grandson, Aaron Burr Jr. served as United States Vice President under Thomas Jefferson and the victor in his infamous duel with Alexander Hamilton.

So how is our family connected with Jonathan Edwards? His daughter, Esther Edwards, married our 7th Great-Grand Uncle Aaron Burr Sr. (making her our 7th Great-Grand Aunt). Aaron Burr's sister, Elizabeth, is our 7th great-grandmother, as the chart below shows:

Jonathan Edwards and Sarah Pierpont
Daniel Burr and Elizabeth Pinkney

Esther Edwards marriedAaron Burr, Sr. (b. 1715)
Elizabeth Burr (b.1696)
Nathaniel Hull (b.1726)

Ezekiel Hull (b.1765)

Platt Hull (b.1787)

Ezekiel Hull (b.1813)

Rebecca L. Hull (b.1841)

Frank Martin Bragg (b.1867)

Orval Bishop Bragg (b.1895)

Don Cicero Bragg (b.1920)

[*] Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Jonathan Edwards (theologian) <>

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Tribute to Dad

Don C. Bragg (August 8, 1920 - October 6, 2013)

Each of us treasure our own memories of Dad. Especially vivid in my mind is my last visit with him just a a few weeks ago. He spoke freely of memories of a long and storied life. We listened as he talked of family and friends, and days long passed.

His was a life filled with many obstacles. Even from the beginning of his life, it became clear that living would be an uphill battle. Late in life Dad discovered his own birth certificate inscribed simply with the name "Baby Boy Bragg." Dad told me that he was so small when he was born that his parents didn't think he would live so they didn't bother to name him. His first cradle was a shoe box. They kept him on the door of the stove to keep him warm and in a drawer to keep him safe at night. Within a number of weeks it became obvious that this little child was a fighter and, confident he would live, they gave him the name Don Cicero Bragg. And live he would, for 93 years.

As we sat together in his living room on what would be our last evening together Dad asked me if I had ever heard how he got started fixing car engines. During the Great Depression Grandpa Bragg helped support his family by dealing in used cars. He ended up with an old clunker parked beneath a tree. Grandpa promised Dad that if he could get that car running he could have it. So Dad went to work tearing it down piece by piece. Once he found the problems he reassembled what would become his very first car. It was the first in a long line of engines of various kinds that his hands would restore to usefulness.

He also spoke of his time of service in the military during World War II. Dad told of all the trouble he had to go through just to get military issue shoes that would fit his feet. He had to stuff socks into his shoes so they would stay on his feet while he marched. He spoke of that adventure which took him to Hawaii, the Philippines, and after the atomic bombs fell, to Japan. One thing he would never speak about were the horrific sights he saw especially in Japan. But he would tell of sitting on top of his truck and watching the bursting shells not to far off in the distance. He told of taking his truck down the hill to get water for the troops, and counting the bullet holes in his truck once safely back on top of that hill. Captured on film was the happy reunion with his siblings, Jane and Earl in the Philippines. There had to be some strings pulled just to get Jane to that reunion. It was a brief moment of joy even though they were so far away from home and without any assurance that any of them would see home or each other ever again.

And he most often spoke of his meeting Mom. It must have been love at first sight. Within weeks he was picking flowers for his bride, and thus would begin an adventure that would last 65 years. Their union would be blessed with 13 children. You can almost imagine him cradling a newborn Bob in his arms as he looked to Mom and said, "He's a keeper."

He would never conclude his trips down memory lane without talking about his love for Mom. It was just over two years ago we witnessed the end of their marriage as, held in the arms of Dad, Mom passed from this life. The end of their marriage, but not the end of their love. It was as if he was adrift without purpose or direction as he grieved in his own quiet way. But slowly, with the passing of time, he found his way back. What a joy to hear his laugh once more, to see that little sparkle in his eyes and the playfulness of his stories of mischievous antics. And there were always the stories about Mom, whom he truly loved to the end.

Dad spoke of his friends, one by one they were parted from him. He would say, "If I want to visit any of my friends, I have to go to the cemetery." That is one of the hardships of living a life so long. Over the years he stood beside many graves to bid farewell. The hardest, by far, must have been the graves of his own children, Bob and Bonnie.

Dad didn't have to tell me about his huge compassionate heart. He was always in need of helping others. For years Bonnie, with her special needs, gave Mom and Dad an outlet for their deep compassion. I remember sitting with Dad and Bonnie at the tailgate of the family station wagon parked outside the Bruce church. With church windows opened we could hear the praise wafting towards on its heavenward journey. With her passing Mom's failing health provided yet another opportunity to serve. Dad seemed so lost leaving the funeral home as the pall bearers prepared to carry Mom to her final resting place. Before long Dad was searching once again for others he could help. He ran errands, mowed lawns, and took food to those who were in need.

The next day came the inevitable time of parting as my final visit with Dad would draw to an end. This I will never forget. As I shook  Dad's hand I said, "I wish I could have stayed longer." As we drove away I felt confident that the future held many more opportunities to sit with Dad and hear his stories of the life he lived. But now I am convinced that Dad knew we would never share a night like that again. It was as if he was saying to me ...

"I wish I could have stayed longer but my heart can't bear another year without your Mom."
"I wish I could have stayed longer but I can not bear standing ever again at the grave of another of my children."
"I wish I could have stayed longer but each of your have your own families to love and support."
"I wish I could have stayed longer but my body yearns for rest from the pains that 93 years of living bring."
"I wish I could have stayed longer but I am ready to go, and I truly believe we will all meet again."

Dad, today our hearts are breaking as we struggle to accept that you are gone. Never again can we sit listening to your stories. Never again will hear your familiar laughter. Never again will we be able to call you up and hear your voice on the other end of the line.

Dad, I wish I had stayed another hour that last day. If I had known it would be our last you would have had a hard time getting rid of me. But most of all, I am so happy, especially today, that we had that last day together.

"I wish I could have stayed longer, Dad."
"I wish you could have stayed longer, Dad."

Don C. Bragg

(Died October 6, 2013) 

Don C. Bragg
Don C. Bragg, 93, of Sullivan, died 2:55 p.m. Sunday (October 6, 2013) in St. Mary’s Hospital, Decatur surrounded by his loving family.

Celebration of Life services will be 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Reed Funeral Home, Sullivan with Pastor Al Rennert officiating. Visitation will be 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday. The family requests casual attire. Burial with military rites conducted by the Sullivan American Legion Post #68 will be in the French Cemetery, Allenville. Memorials are suggested to Easter Seals or to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. Condolences may be sent to the family at

Don was born August 8, 1920 in Bruce, the son of O.B. and Gladys Gilbreath Bragg. He was a WW II Army veteran. Don retired from Wagners Casting in Decatur and had worked at Coffee International Harvester Dealership in Sullivan. Don also loved to farm. He was a member of the Allenville Christian Church. He married Mary J. Ethington on June 9, 1946 in Allenville and she preceded him in death on September 30, 2011.

Surviving are his children; Jess (Cheryl) Bragg of Mattoon, Charles (Rebecca) Bragg of Sullivan, James (Glenna) Bragg of Marshall, Larry (Donna) Bragg of Shelbyville, Phillip (Shirley) Bragg of Bullhead City, AZ, David (Ann) Bragg of Kernersville, NC, Ronald (Linda) Bragg of Havre, Montana, Mark (Becky) Bragg of Mahomet, Ruth Bauer of Sullivan, Reva (Ron) Martin of Sullivan and Debra (Michael) Green of Ribera, New Mexico; sister, Ruth (Lloyd) Stone of Sullivan; sister-in-law, Ida May Bragg of Pekin; thirty grandchildren; twenty eight great grandchildren and four great great grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents, son Robert, daughter Bonnie, a grandson, one sister, and two brothers.