Sunday, March 22, 2009

Madness Monday: My "Bad Boys" - The Brinlee Brothers

I have a lot of ancestors who drive me crazy. How do they drive me crazy? Let me count the ways … no, better not. It would drive me crazy.

I’ll start will The Brinlee Brothers. The originals – Hiram Brinlee Sr., my great-great grandfather, and his brother, George Brinlee. (The spelling of the family name is believed to have changed from Brindley to Brinlee starting with these two brothers.) My Brinlee research began with the family legends: we are related to Collin McKinney (true), there is a strain of German in the Brinlees (true, via the McKinneys), there is a strain of Native American in the Hiram Brinlee Jr.-Susan Elizabeth Smith line (don’t know), and Legend Number Four, obliquely related by my father and his brothers: “Grandma started family research but got disgusted and quit when she kept finding criminals.”

After my initial research revealed that the first two items were true, I began to think the criminal part might be as well, but as I turned up what I could on George and Hiram Sr., they appeared to be ordinary farmers who had led an adventurous youth. In 1824 (or possibly 1823) they came to Texas (George serving as scout) with Collin and Daniel McKinney, and later married Daniel’s daughters. A search for the Brinlee brothers on the Texas State Archives website turned up a number of documents dating to Republic of Texas times; some of these revealed that George had fought with General Edward Tarrant, while others were receipts for serving subpoenas to witnesses and performing other services in connection with murder trials. So, I thought, George and Hiram must have served as officers of the court. Only they didn’t. Their names appeared following “Republic of Texas vs.” They were the accused. Oops. Legend Number 4 – proven.

The Brinlee Brothers have led researchers on some crazy chases: now you see them, now you don’t. They disappear in various ways, often through inconsistent spelling of the last name. George is reported to have died of cholera in the early 1850s while on a trip to New Orleans to sell cotton. He and Hiram Sr. were apparently born in that nebulous area where the dividing line between Kentucky and Tennessee was not firmly established in the early part of the 19th century (their father may have been a squatter on the Indian Lands). They are just plain old hard to pin down.

(This is the first in a new series introduced by Amy Crooks at Untangled Family Roots. I'll have no problem coming up with ancestors who drive me crazy, so you can expect to see more. Since I also post Memory Monday, this feature may be posted slightly earlier - as it is today - or slightly later. But I'll still call it Monday Madness because I don't pay much attention to the calendar, anyway.)


  1. Great post. I really enjoyed reading, and had to be very careful not to laugh out loud as it is the middle of the night, I just got home from work and I don't want to wake the hubby and

    I'll look forward to more great posts. Sounds like and interesting family, and you're not the only one with criminals....well gee I guess I have another story for another day on my long list of stories too......

  2. Thanks for coming up with this idea, Amy. It has really caught on. I have been too busy lately to put more Madness Monday posts up, but I have a good long list of subjects for them, since I have plenty of crazy ancestors and ancestors who drive me crazy. I hope to put one up next Monday that will tie into my Featured Family Friday this week.

  3. Hello, I am Steve R. Hendricks, DOB 1948. My Grandfather, Roger Q. Mills Hendricks' mother was Sarah B. Brinlee. I know quite a bit about my Grandmother's side of our family, but little about GrandPa's! I found your story interesting. Who were the two Brothers that lived alone and passed maybe 35-40 years ago? I remember something about this being in the McKinney paper, and also my father talking about it, being our kin.

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  4. Oh, I see it was Bun & Square! Wondering if you know anything about My Grandfather's mother, Sarah B. Brinlee?
    Also, My Grandfather on my mothers side was a Moore! Richard T Moore, buried in Tahoka, Texas, Lynn County.