Last week, I wrote a post about how my mother told me that allegedly I was related in one way or another to Braxton Bragg, former Civil War general of the Confederacy.
The thing is, when it comes to my mother, I am a person who follows the rule of “Trust … but verify.” And my mother had a very bad habit of telling me things that were later revealed to be half-truths, falsehoods, or pants-on-fire statements. If my mother told me that the sky was blue, I would look up to confirm – and then get a second opinion.
Now here’s the thing. A few years ago, I would have just taken my mother’s claim as gospel. But this time around, I did some research … including visiting a geneaology site called bragg.org, a portal that attempts to tie all the Bragg family descendants together in one ginormous family tree.
I perused the site, looking for a Charles Lewis Bragg or a Charles Bragg or a Lewis Bragg that would have fit in the timeline of my grandfather’s existence on this planet. No dice.
Okay, let’s try something more direct. A quick e-mail to the site’s organizer, Brian Bragg – perhaps I’m just not looking in the right area of the website. Just say the word, and I’ll order my Sons of the Confederacy alumni gear …
Brian wrote back yesterday.
I have often been asked by e-mail correspondents if they might be descendants of Gen. Braxton Bragg.
I always have to tell them no.
In all of my research, which includes a day-long study of Braxton Bragg’s personal letters and other papers at The University of Tennessee at Knoxville, I have not seen any evidence that Braxton and his wife, the former Elizabeth Brooks Ellis of Mississippi, ever had any children.
They married in 1849, bought a plantation on Bayou Lafourche in Louisiana not far from the plantation of Eliza’s parents. Braxton named their plantation “Bivouac.” They grew sugar cane. That was their residence until it was overrun by the Union Army in 1865, and then taken from them during Reconstruction. Eliza went to New Orleans, and that’s where she stayed until her death in 1908. Braxton died in 1876 in Galveston, where he was working for a railroad company as a civil engineer.
Braxton’s life has been well-documented, and if he had any offspring they surely would have been mentioned somewhere.
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There are numerous Bragg family lines, but the earliest Braggs in North America seem to have originated from three brothers who crossed from England in the early 1600s. Thomas Bragg is the progenitor of my line of Braggs. He settled in the area of what is now Norfolk-Newport News-Hampton, Virginia. His wife (my 9G grandmother) was reportedly the daughter of noted sailor and explorer Capt. Christopher Newport.
Thomas reportedly had two brothers who also came to the New World on subsequent expeditions. One landed in Massachusetts and the other in Nova Scotia or Maine, according to the common tales.
I have no real information on the Bragg family lines that descended from them, but there are genealogists who have studied them.
I have concentrated on my Bragg line from Virginia, which eventually spread to the Carolinas, Tennessee and westward.
To get information on your grandfather, Charles Lewis Bragg, I would suggest you search the Census records of 1920, which should list him in Massachusetts unless his parents moved away soon after he was born. If they lived in the area for a while, they might show up in the 1910 or 1900 Census records. Charles might appear in Massachusetts in 1930 and afterward, too.
If you know your grandmother’s maiden name, that also can be a key starting point.
Census records can give important clues, such as birthplaces and parents’ names etc. to trace family histories. Other records such as marriage licenses and wills and property deeds can often be found at county courthouses. These days, a ton of that kind of data and information has been put online. I’d suggest you start there.
It’s possible your family line came from Virginia, same as mine, but it’s just as possible that your grandfather descended from one of the Bragg brothers who landed further north.
Be well, and good luck with your research.
And that ends it. I am about as related to a Civil War general as you are. The story of me being related to Braxton Bragg was, for all intents and purposes, just a story. Remember, kids – trust, but verify.
Now maybe at some point in my life, I’ll do some more genealogical research – perhaps I’ll find out if Charles Lewis Bragg was, in fact, descended from one of the three Braggs who came from England. I don’t know how much that will benefit me … but it might be a nice study diversion some day.
But yeah … trust, but verify.