Sunday, January 20, 2008

Mom's 80th Birthday Party

While Mom recuperates at the Mason Point (the former Illinois Masonic Home) after falling and breaking both of her ankles, Dad and Ruth hatched a plan for surprising her with a party on January 19th (she turned 80, and I was 50, on the 15th).

All of their children were able to attend except Jess (he suffered a serious heart attack last year, but is doing much better now) and Ron (who visited with Mom during the party by phone). Here are a few pictures I took from this event.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Did You Know #7

Like many other Virginian families, the opening of the west (in their day “the west” referred to the area occupied today by the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky) stirred dreams of a new beginning, portions of the Bragg family turned their eyes to the new territory west of Virginia and the new beginning the wilderness seemed to offer. The leader of this particular migration was Hugh Lewis Bragg, the eldest son of Richard and Elizabeth Venable Bragg. Hugh, a veteran of the War of 1812, was born in 1788 [1] and, as of the 1820 census lived in Fluvanna County, VA. By 1830 he had moved to Albermarly County, VA and ten years later Ross County, OH was their home.

While still in Virginia, Hugh married Francis Sutherland and began a family (five surviving children were born in Virginia). Anna Mariah Bragg, their seventh child, was born on July 21, 1831 in Ross County, OH, the first of five more children born into their family while living in Ohio. Meanwhile, some of their older children began their own families during this sojourn in the Buckeye State: Richard (in 1842), Sarah (in 1844), and Anna (in 1852) all selected their spouses during this time.

Ohio would not be the family’s final western destination, and the 1840 census would find the family even further west living in the new village of Sullivan, Illinois. The community was established as the county seat for Moultrie County (which had been organized in February 1843) in 1845 [2], incorporated in 1850 [3] and was incorporated as a city in 1872. During the discussions to locate the county government in Sullivan that the village’s name was officially adopted, being named after Revolutionary War General John Sullivan [4]. The land for the new city was purchased from Philo Hale for $100, and supplemented by "prominent citizens, who then donated the land to the county" [5].Walter Eden (1862-1932), once Mayor of Sullivan, wrote about life in Sullivan during the 1860's in his soon-to-be published memoirs,

"When I was a little boy and even after I had grown up, Sullivan was a pretty wild town. In the early days, the north side of the square was almost all saloons. We had "sod corn row" there. I remember it well .... The young men from the Lakey Bend and Jonathan Creek neighborhoods always had a grudge against each other, and on Saturdays would meet at Sullivan. When they got drunk enough, which always happened when they came to town, there would always be several fights on the public square."

Among those early city records were names for various citizens during those first formative years. Two names really struck me, one was that of Samuel P. and James Earp (no doubt a relative to the famous Wyatt Earp, whose family originally settled in northern Illinois) and Bob Braggs, a blacksmith. Here Hugh Bragg's family settled in the 1840's.

Two of Hugh and Francis Bragg's sons would fight during the Civil War, Corporal Robert Bragg with the 18TH Illinois Infantry and Henry L. Bragg, who would not return from the war, dying in Jackson, TN.

Two of their children married into the Hull family. Silas Hull and Anna Maria Bragg were married on January 1, 1852 in Ohio. William Bragg married Silas' sister, Rebecca L. Hull in Moultrie County, IL on April 11, 1852. Seven children would be born to William and Rebecca Bragg between 1858 and 1877, including my great-grandfather, Frank Martin Bragg (born on March 18, 1867).

Other Braggs were moving into the nation's midwest. While the Virginia Braggs came to Illinois through Ohio, a descendant of the North Carolina Bragg family passed through Kentucky and Indiana, settling Bragg families along the way. Richard Bragg, Hugh's father, was, like many in Virginia, a slave holder. The North Carolina Braggs also held slaves, and as the Civil War drew closer one of Doshur and Hannah Bragg's children, Thomas Jefferson Bragg, became disturbed by the practice and made the decision to separate from the South [6]. His biography traces his life and travels from Kentucky into Indiana and Wisconsin [7].


[1] Some sources list him as being born in 1795, making him the couple's second child.
[2] "Other candidates for county seat were Nelson and Glasgow (a town platted a few years earlier, one and one-half miles south of Sullivan)." In his Notes on the History of Moultrie County and Sullivan, Illinois (Sullivan, 1990), I.J. Martin observed that if the four Coles townships had not been eliminated, other locations more centrally located -- such as the town of Nelson -- would likely have been better candidates to become the new county seat, in which case the town of Sullivan would not have existed. Notes, Martin, I.J., p. 22."
[3] Glimpses of Life in Sullivan, Illinois During The Civil War and Until 1869.
[4] I.J. Martin, Notes on the History of Moultrie County and Sullivan, Illinois (Sullivan, 1990).
[5] Bragg Family Genealogy Forum; Bragg American Line; [6] WIBios - Green County - Bragg, Thomas Jefferson, ©2005 WIBiographies-Green County Home. Thomas J. Bragg was born on January 15, 1813 to Doshur and Hannah Bragg, a large clan that knew poverty well as their father struggled to make ends meet in providing for their needs. When Thomas was born, his father was off fighting the War of 1812. As the family finally prospered, Doshur worked, for fifteen years, as "a slave overseer." Before long both Doshur and Hannah resolved to escape by making a new home for his family in the North, "a latitude where the legal equality of all men was recognized."
[7] This page last updated March 26, 2005, ©2005 WIBiographies-Green County Home; WIBios - Green County - Bragg, Thomas Jefferson.