Friday, April 17, 2009

20 Random Things About My Family Tree

Thanks to Jennifer Trahan of Jennifer’s Genealogy Blog for coming up with this idea – I think a lot of us genealogy bloggers prefer writing about our family tree to writing about ourselves!

1. One of my distant ancestors was the pastor of a Brooklyn church that my husband occasionally attended as a little boy with his grandfather (not the same building, I imagine, but still…).

2. Among all the Baptists, Presbyterians, and a handful of Methodists in my family tree, I was surprised to find some Quakers.

3. My great-grandfather Hiram Brinlee Jr.’s oldest child was born in 1864, and his youngest child was born in 1908 (from different wives).

4. My great-great-grandfather Joseph Madison Carroll Norman’s oldest child was born in 1856 and his youngest child was born in 1898 (he had three wives and 26 or 27 children).

5. My great-great-grandfather Hiram Brinlee Sr. and his brother George Brinlee were tried for murder during the days of the Republic of Texas.

6. My (I don’t know how-many-times-great) Uncle Micajah Clark surveyed Thomas Jefferson’s land.

7. My (?6g) grandfather Isaac Norman’s land was surveyed by George Washington.

8. My great-great-great-granduncle Collin McKinney was one of the framers of the Texas Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the Republic of Texas.

9. The above-mentioned George Brinlee, from my father’s side, served under General Edward H. Tarrant, a distant relation on my mother’s side of the family.

10. I am related to Samuel Clemens through the Moorman family (not through either of my Clemens lines as far as I know).

11. I am related to John C. Calhoun through my Hamilton/Calhoun line.

12. Three great-grandfathers, two great-great grandfathers, and a slew of 2g and 3g uncles served in the Civil War. There may have been additional relatives from the Smith line who also served, but since Lizzie Smith is my big brick wall, I do not know who they are.

13. My great-grandfather Hiram Brinlee’s first wife was Dicey Caroline Boone, a great-granddaughter of Daniel Boone.

14. There are an awful lot of clergymen among my ancestors. My family and I are quite surprised at this.

15. One of my mother’s sisters had the nickname “Wreck” because it was said that she make wrecks of all her boyfriends.

16. The parents of Clarence Brinlee (my subject for A Noble Life), James Edward Brinlee and Mary Ann Sims, were first cousins.

17. Two of my first cousins once removed, Guy Leon “Square” Brinlee and Vernon Argos “Bun” Brinlee, were locally famous eccentrics. They would not hunt or kill animals not would they allow them to be killed on their farm property. They never had their house wired for electricity. They led colorful lives with several different interesting professions that I hope to tell about in a future post. There was also a rumor that “Bun” actually got married at one point when his parents (“Hoss” and Myrtie Brinlee) were out of town, but was too afraid to tell his parents, so he just returned home and never mentioned it. I believe I may have found out who he married and hope to get more of the story.

18. Several members of previous generations in my husband’s family were apparently “connected.” (Points to anyone who knows what that means. Hint: His family is from New York and New Jersey.)

19. One of my husband’s grand-uncles was a well-known pianist who died young. There are still piano roll records of him playing the piano.

20. There were Tennessee moonshiners in my older half-brother’s Roberts and Phillips lines. One of them was a bigamist and served on both sides in the Civil War (his 300-page service record contains witnesses’ statements to that effect).


  1. I must admit, I do enjoy these little tidbits from your family tree. Makes for good reading.

  2. Greta, please feel free to contact me. As a child growing up in North Texas, I knew Bun and Square (a/k/a Squire) very well. I was one of VERY few kids who was allowed to fish behind their place or even go up to the house and visit with them. There are MANY things I can tell you about them...I even remember drinking from the well just off the back porch. Richard

  3. Richard - I would love to contact you, but I do not have an e-mail address for you. I hope you see my response here! You can contact me at gmkoehl plus "at" plus I am definitely interested in learning more about Bun and Square!

  4. Greta, knowing the security of gmail you will need to add my email addy to your address book...she took my 1 dog at spaces between...and check you spam folder to see if you have others from me there...Richard