Monday, November 07, 2016

Did You Know #49

Way back in 2009 I posted an entry with this blog about our family's connection with Aaron Burr, a Vice President of the United States that fell into a feud with his former friend, Alexander Hamilton. That affair ultimately led to a duel that left Hamilton dead and Burr disgraced [1].

I have just finished listening to Ron Chernow's biography, Alexander Hamilton, on loan from the North Carolina Digital Library. As I listened to this audiobook I heard a name that caught my attention.

In 1791-2 Alexander Hamilton came under suspicion for possible misuse of his office of Secretary of the Treasury because of rumors circulated by a man named James Reynolds, who had been arrested for his part in a "scheme involving unpaid back wages intended for Revolutionary War veterans." [2] Hamilton was then confronted by a trio of politicians thinking they were on the trail of an embezzler only to encounter a very frank and shocking confession from Hamilton. Secretary Hamilton revealed that he had been engaged in an adulterous relationship with James Reynolds' wife Maria and that James Reynolds had been blackmailing him. Information gained from Hamilton's confession would later be used against him leading to Hamilton's public confession of the affair.

The three men who initially confronted Hamilton were James Monroe, Frederick Muhlenberg and Abraham B. Venable. It was the last name that caught my attention because I recalled that our 4th great-grandmother was Elizabeth Venable. Elizabeth was born on December 8, 1764 and on January 25, 1814 became the wife of Richard Bragg. Elizabeth Venable Bragg's grandfather was named Abraham Bedford Venable, However, this is not the same Abraham B. Venable who confronted Alexander Hamilton.

Abraham Bedford Venable, our 6th great-grandfather, was born on March 22, 1700 in Louisa County, Virginia and married Martha Hannah Davis in 1723. Two of their ten children were brothers Hugh Lewis Venable (born 1727) and Nathaniel Venable (born 1733). Nathaniel served as a Captain in the Revolutionary War and was eulogized at his funeral as "the best mathematician in Prince Edward County."[3] Hugh Lewis Venable would become the father of our Elizabeth while his brother Nathaniel Venable would become the father of Abraham Bedford Venable. It
would be that Abraham B. Venable who would become a friend of Thomas Jefferson and would confront Alexander Hamilton. This Abraham B. Venable, first cousin of our 4th great-grandmother Elizabeth Venable Bragg, would serve as United States Senator from Virginia in 1803-1804 (he had previously served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates and the U.S. House of Representatives).

After his brief time as a Senator (he was filling a vacancy left by John Taylor who had resigned his seat), Abraham B. Venable resigned his Senatorial office to become president of Bank of Virginia.

Just seven years later, on December 26, 1811, the 53-year-old Venable attended a benefit at The Richmond Theatre. It was a packed house that night with 598 in attendance (including 80 children). There were two shows. At the close of the first act of the second show the still lit chandelier was lifted toward the auditorium ceiling when it's cords became entangled and it touched part of the scenery above the stage setting it on fire. When he saw the flames the boy who had been raising the chandelier
ran from the theater in fear. The fire quickly spread through the extensive scenery pieces. Unfortunately, because the curtains had been lowered, the audience was at first unaware of the fire rapidly spreading above the stage on the other side of the curtain. When the gravity of the situation became apparent, panic ensued. Some were trampled in the rush to the exits while others were jumping from second floor windows to escape.

Described as "the worst urban disaster in American history at the time" [4], the fire claimed the lives of 72 people (54 women and 18 men). Among the victims of the fire were George William Smith, who was at that time the governor of Virginia, and Abraham B. Venable.

Once the area where the theater once stood had been cleared the Monumental Church was built on the site. As its name suggests, the church was to be a monument to those who died in the theater fire. Each of the victim's names are inscribed on a monument standing over the spot where their remains are buried. As a reminder of the era and culture of the age, below the listing of the 66 white victims of the fire are the names of the six African American's who died in the fire.

Abraham Bedford Venable (1700) and Martha Hannah Davis
Hugh Lewis Venable (1727) Nathaniel Venable (1733)
Elizabeth Venable (1764) Sen. Abraham Bedford Venable (1758)
Hugh Lewis Bragg (1795)
William Bragg (1834)
Franklin Martin Bragg (1867)
Orval Bishop Bragg (1895)
Don Cicero Bragg (1920)
David Bragg

Notes on Sources:
[1] Did You Know? #11
[2] The Hamilton–Reynolds Affair
[3] Nathaniel Venable,
[4] Richmond Theatre Fire

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Waggoner Family Connection (Part 2)

In The Waggoner Family, A History of the Emigrant Hans Waggoner and His Descendants, cited in Part 1 (the previous post), the following comments are quoted in an item from The Shelbyville Democrat dated September 2, 1886 reporting on the Waggoner family reunion:

"There was probably the largest crowd ever present at one of these gatherings and it was an occasion of appropriate respect to the oldest family in the oldest settled township in the county. ... the Waggoners were the first permanent settlers of the township and they came before any settlements were made in other parts of the county. The first members of the family arrived in March 1828 ... It being the oldest family in the county and very few of its members having moved away, while it is related by marriage with all the other old families, make these reunions very large affairs. There is said to be about four hundred descendants of Isaac Waggoner now living, most of whom reside in the county." (pages 18-19)

Reading through the listed descendants of Isaac Waggoner reveals many familiar surnames to any who grew up in Sullivan, IL. One particular name caught my attention. On page 27 is the listing for Hugh Lane (he and his wife Gertrude raised their family on the farm next to where Dad grew up). I discovered from this entry that Hugh Lane was half-brothers with Earl and Dale Lane. This would make Hugh, Earl, Dale and Dad 4th cousins. I knew growing up that Dad and Earl Lane, of whom Dad spoke often and fondly in his last few years, were good friends from way back.

(Duane, Don and Earl Bragg in front of Earl Lane)

A little further research from leads drawn from this book, along with some fairly recent obituaries, soon turned to an interesting direction. Specifically it relates to Hugh Lane's great-grandfather, Archibald Lane (he is the patriarch of many of the Lane families reared in and around Sullivan, IL). [Note: to help you (and me) keep this straight I have added a number of tables in an effort to help clarify the various marriages between the Waggoner, Martin and Lane families]

The story begins with a couple named James Scott Martin (1779-1865) and his wife, Mary Jane Figley (1781-1845). Both were born in North Carolina (James S. was born not far from where I currently live) and both died in Coles County, IL. This couple raised a large family of ten children.

After all of their children had grown up, married and left the home, James and Mary Jane Martin decided to take a trip back to their old home in Kentucky. Along the way they would spend their nights in public houses, or inns. At one of these stops they noticed a "lively six-year-old boy" sitting on a stack of pallets. They learned that he was an orphan (his mother died when he was born around 1835 and nothing was known about his father) and that he was being raised by a family named Webster who, it seems, ran the inn.

The couple went on their way the next morning but Mary just couldn't get the boy out of her mind. So it was agreed that, upon their return trip, they would stop again at the same inn and if the boy was still there they would talk with the innkeeper about taking the boy with them back to central Illinois. They stopped. The boy was still there. The innkeeper's wife, who confessed that she didn't think the inn was a proper place for the child to grow up, was happy to turn him over to the Martins and Archibald Lane become the unofficially adopted son of James and Mary Martin.

Archibald was a loyal caregiver for James Martin (it appears that Mary died when Archibald was about ten years old). It was said that when James Martin died in 1865 at the age of 86, he gave his home and farm to Archibald.

The years passed as Archibald grew up with the Martin's own grandchildren. For one of these grandchildren the relationship grew far more significant that a childhood playmate. She became his wife. Some sources assert that Esther Jane Lewis granddaughter of James and Mary Jane Figley Martin. However, it seems the best evidence indicates that Archibald Lane actually married the granddaughter of James Martin's sister, Jane. She married Charles Neeley in Kentucky (1797). Their daughter, Margaret, married Abram Lewis in 1834 and their daughter, Esther Jane Lewis, married Archibald Lane in 1852.

John Martin (1755-1821) and Sarah Scott (1753)
James Scott Martin (1779-1865) Jane Martin (1781-1834) married Charles Neeley
Archibald Lane (1835-1905) married Margaret Neeley married Abram Lewis

Esther Jane Lewis (1835-1872)

The second of Archibald and Esther Lane's five children (oldest son, the oldest daughter was named Lucinda but went by Lucy), James Lewis Lane (1858-1919), married Mary Elvina Martin (1866-1934) who just happened to be the great-granddaughter of James Scott and Mary Jane Figley Martin. Mary Elvina Martin Lane's mother was Jane Waggoner, the great-granddaughter of Jacob (Hans) Waggoner.

Johann Jacob Waggoner  (1717)

Isaac Waggoner (1761)
James Scott Martin (1779-1865) and Mary Jane Figley (1781-1845)

John Garland Waggoner (1790)
Archibald Lane (1835-1905) and Esther Jane Lewis (1835-1872)

John Martin (1803) and Ann Neeley

William Waggoner (1826)
James Lewis Lane (1858-1919)
William Thomas Martin (1835)  married Jane Waggoner (1835)

married Mary Elvina Martin (1866-1934)

James and Mary Elvina Lane's second child (oldest son), Claude F. Lane (1887-1955) was 17 years old when his grandfather, the orphaned Archibald Lane, passed away on July 24, 1905. Claude would have been 24 years old when his oldest son, Hugh Francis Lane, was born in 1912.

James Lewis Lane (1858-1919) and Mary Elvina Martin (1866-1934)
Claude F. Lane (1887-1955) married Georgia Hunter
Hugh Francis Lane (1912)

And to illustrate why family history research is so much fun, James and Mary Elvina Lane had eleven children. Their eighth child (and fourth son) was Walter Martin Lane (1906). He married Oleta Marie Waggoner, the third great-granddaugther of Hans Waggoner. She was also Dad's 3rd cousin. Walter M. and Marie Lane was the father of James Andrew and Gerald Leon Lane, very familiar names in Sullivan, Illinois' history.

Johann Jacob Waggoner  (1717)

Isaac Waggoner (1761)

Johann Jacob Waggoner  (1717)
James Scott Martin (1779-1865) and Mary Jane Figley (1781-1845)
John Garland Waggoner (1790)

Isaac Waggoner (1761)
John Martin (1803) and Ann Neeley
William Waggoner (1826)
James Scott Martin (1779-1865) and Mary Jane Figley (1781-1845)

Gilbert Waggoner
William Thomas Martin (1835) married Jane Waggoner (1835)
Archibald Lane (1835-1905) and Esther Jane Lewis (1835-1872)          
Andrew J. Waggoner (1842)
John Dawson Martin (1861) [brother of Mary Elvina Martin]

James Lewis Lane (1858-1919) and Mary Elvina Martin (1866-1934)
Winfield "Scott" Waggoner married Rose Alice Martin (1887)

Walter Martin Lane (1906)
married Oleta Marie Waggoner

James Andrew Lane
Gerald Leon Lane

And to add to the confusion, the third child of Archibald Lane (1835-1905) and Esther Jane Lewis (1835-1872), Louisa J. Lane (1861), married Charles Pinkerton Martin (1851) who was the grandson of James Scott Martin (1779-1865) and Mary Jane Figley (1781-1845).

James Scott Martin (1779-1865) and Mary Jane Figley (1781-1845)
Archibald Lane (1835-1905) and Esther Jane Lewis (1835-1872)
James Frost Martin (1815)
Louisa J. Lane (1861)
married Charles Pinkerton Martin (1851)

The Waggoner Family Connection (Part 1)

Recently I found, downloaded, and read a very interesting book, interesting to anyone curious of genealogy, the history of Moultrie County and Sullivan, Illinois, or just history of life reaching back to the Revolutionary War era. Entitled The Waggoner Family, A History of the  Emigrant Hans Waggoner and His Descendants, the book was written by John Garland Waggoner (the nephew of my 3rd great-grandmother Matilda Waggoner, making him our first cousin a few times removed) and Clem Morton Boling in 1922. The revised version of which I am speaking was published in 1929 with updated information of descendants not included in the previous version. (If you would interested, the book is a free download at this web address:

I was so excited when I read a very familiar name on page 33 ... Don Cicero Bragg! I already knew that Johann Jacob Waggoner/Wagner, known to his family as Hans, was my 6th great-grandfather, it was just really neat to see Dad's name in print like that. Here is the line of descent from ...

Johann Jacob Waggoner/Wagner (1717-1799) [born in Germany]
Isaac Waggoner (1761-1838) [migrated to Shelby Co., IL (now Moultrie Co., IL) in 1827]
John Garland Waggoner (1790-1844)
Matilda Waggoner Phillips (1829-1876)
Louisa Jane Phillips Munson (1848-1913)
Elvira Belle Munson Gilbreath (1871-1939)
Gladys Gilbreath Bragg (1898-1977)
Don Cicero Bragg (1920-2013)
Then I discovered through the Find-A-Grave website that the original immigrant Jacob Waggoner/Wagner's grave is not only in North Carolina, but only a short 20 minute drive from where I live. So on September 15, 2016 Ann and I made a quick trip to Midway, NC where we visited the Bethany United Church of Christ Cemetery and my 6th great-grandfather's grave.

Through reading this book you will get a clearer idea of the hardships endured as the Waggoner family migrated from South Carolina to (then) Shelby County, IL. They played a key role in the formation and naming of both Moultrie County and the city of Sullivan (both named in honor of their homeland near Charleston, SC).

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.