Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Noble Life: Clarence Edward Brinlee and Ethel Lena Bennett

The word prompt for the 12th Edition of Smile For The Camera is A Noble Life. Show us a photograph of an ancestor, relative, or friend that is the embodiment of A Noble Life. A life that is worthy of those who came before and those who follow after. A Life filled with small but courageous acts; filled with love and honor. A simple life, an ordinary life, A Noble Life. Bring them to the carnival and share with us how you’ve honored them. Admission is free with every photograph!

Clarence Edward Brinlee (b. 10 April 1892, d. 22 February 1980) lost his mother, Mary Ann Sims Brinlee, when he was eight years old and his father, James Edward Brinlee, when he was 15 years old. The 1910 census shows him living with his grandfather Hiram Brinlee Jr. and step-grandmother Lizzie Brinlee in Hunt County, Texas. Also living with this family was Hiram and Lizzie’s oldest son and my grandfather, Lawrence Carroll Brinlee, who would have been Clarence’s uncle but was almost a year younger than Clarence.

Clarence and Ethel were known among the Brinlees to have taken in and taken care of numerous relatives, both close and distant, who needed help. I do not know of anything dashing or exciting in their history, but I want to know them better, and one of my self-assigned research goals is to get in touch with some of their descendants and find out more about them. One of the things about family research that surprised and delighted me was how compelling the stories of ordinary but strong and decent people like Clarence and Ethel can be. I hope to have more of their story to share in the future!


  1. I agree. Ordinary strong and decent folks do have compelling stories. I am always delighted to be able to tie a few personal stories into the facts and figures from census reports and the like and a photo is the frosting on the cake. I look forward to reading more about Clarence and Ethel.

  2. Hi Greta. You are so right. I, too, have found such compelling stories in the most unlikely places and of the most unassuming folk. Tell us more of Clarence and Ethel soon!

  3. Thank you for your comments. I hope to eventually have more information on Clarence and Ethel. What I know I learned from a second cousin who descends from that side of the family (Hiram Brinlee-Disey Boone); I descend from Hiram Brinlee and Lizzie Smith. She described them as the glue that held the family together through hard times.

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  5. Hello Greta:

    Well, How are you?

    I have been writing my side of the Brinlees. I will eventually get it to you.

    I was pleasantly suprised at seeing the picture of my Uncle Clarence and Aunt Ethel.

    The first time I saw my aunt and uncle was in 1952. The last time was the summer of 1959. I was either 16 or 17 depending the time we were in Oklahoma. They lived in Holdenville out in the country. I believe some of their children are still living in Holdenville.

    Mom said that Uncle Clarence was nephew to Grandpa Louis Brinlee. Clarence married Aunt Ethel. She was sister to my grandmother, Mary Jane "Molly" Bennett.

    If Clarence was born in 1892, Grandpa Louis was have been afround 9 or 10.

    I hope this helps.