Category Archives: New Brunswick Canada

Benjamin Brawn, My Ancestor – or Not???

My 4x great grandfather, Thomas Adams, son of Loyalist John Adams and Sarah Coley from Fairfield County, Connecticut married a young lady named Sarah Brawn on 28 August 1803 in Maugerville, New Brunswick, Canada.

Thomas was born, according to the 1851 Canadian census, about 1783 in New Brunswick. If that is true, then he was born late in that year because the American Revolution was ending. His parents and eight older siblings boarded the British ships sailing out of New York that fall and headed to Canada. Sarah Brawn, according to census records,  was born about 1786, also in New Brunswick, Canada. Sarah apparently predeceased Thomas as they were living in Canada for the 1851 census, but both gone in 1861. Thomas is found in the Calais, Maine 1860 mortality schedule, with death reported as July 1859 when he must have been living with son, Daniel’s family.

Sarah has not been found in the U.S. or Canadian records after 1851.

Although Sarah’s maiden name is known from their marriage record at the Maugerville Anglican Church, I have never seen any clues, suppositions or theories about her parents and possible siblings.

I think that is a bit odd, especially as Thomas’s older brother, Sturges, born in 1777 in Connecticut, married Lydia Brawn, about 1807, probably in New Brunswick. Lydia may well be the sister of Sarah Brawn. Lydia was also born in New Brunswick about 1787 and died on 1 January 1866, just across the border in Calais, Washington, Maine. Sturges Adams predeceased her by many years, dying in Calais on 12 January 1827. Lydia married (2) John Foster. He was born about 1769 and died on 20 September 1867. All are buried in Calais, Maine.

Family records record the maiden names of both Sarah and Lydia as “BRAWN,” not Brown. For many years, I thought the name, being so common, might be either spelling, but I have come around to the way of thinking that their name was, indeed, Brawn.

Sarah and Lydia lived in close proximity to each other all their lives. People traveled daily back and forth from Calais to the West Isles and they were close in age so could easily be sisters.

I have searched off and on for years for Brawn parents who might be the parents of Sarah and Lydia. Family lore said they thought the Brawns were from Lubec, but nothing has ever come of that and I don’t think it’s true anyway, since both ladies reported births in New Brunswick. I believe the answer is in New Brunswick records.

It is always worth taking another look at sources you’ve reviewed before. The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick is one of my favorite Canadian websites and more records are being added to it all the time. More transcribed records are also being added to Canadian genealogical websites, too.

I think I have found a candidate to be the father of Sarah and Lydia Brawn. He is in the right place at the right time and is a known associate of members of this family by marriage.

The 1761 lists of the first settlers of Maugerville, Sunbury County, New Brunswick includes the name “Benjamin Brawn.” A group of pre-Loyalists left Newburyport, Massachusetts in that year and headed to a new life in Canada. Although the settlers departed from Newburyport, not all of them were actually inhabitants of that town. Benjamin Brawn was not from Newburyport and I have found no clues yet as to where his home might have been.

Regardless, Benjamin Brawn (always BRAWN, not “Brown”, just as with the few records of Sarah’s and Lydia’s surname) settled there by 1761. The Maugerville Anglican Church was founded there very early on, but its earliest surviving records cover the time period from 1787-1803 and then jump to 1847. Thus, there are no birth or baptismal records for possible children of Benjamin.

There are a few crumbs of a trail indicating that Benjamin Brawn remained in Maugerville for the rest of his life. In 1785, he is mentioned in the land petition records of John Sayre when he applied to block his request for Lot 51.

More importantly, in 1790, he is named as one of the proprietors of Oromocto Island. The important point in this petition is that another of the proprietors is Nicholas Rideout, also a pre-Loyalist who settled early in the area. His daughter, Grace, married Jonathan Adams, the eldest brother of Thomas and Sturges Adams. With this tie, it is reasonable to assume that the Brawn family knew the Adams Loyalists.

Aside from a few mentions in the land records, Benjamin Brawn left little paper trail. There is a burial record for him at the Maugerville Anglican Church on 8 December 1798.

The New Brunswick Royal Gazette, published on 2 April 1799, gives notice that Elijah Miles was appointed executor of the estate of Benjamin Brawn.

All the pieces are beginning to fit together:

1. There is only one man with the Brawn surname early in New Brunswick and that is Benjamin, there by 1761. Thus, he could be the father of daughters born in New Brunswick in the 1780’s.|
2. Benjamin settled in Maugerville, where the Loyalist Adams clan lived for a time after they arrived in Canada. Thomas Adams married Sarah Brawn at the Maugerville Church in 1803, the same church where Benjamin Brawn was buried five years before.
3. Thomas and Sturges Adams’ sister, Hannah Segee, her husband and family appear in the early church records there and it is probable that the younger family members, still unmarried, attended this church.

Now, it is time to throw a monkey wrench into the mix, at least the part about Sarah Brawn. No marriage record has been found for Sturges and Lydia Brawn, but with their first child born in April 1808, it is reasonable to believe they married about 1806 or 1807, probably at the Maugerville Anglican Church, whose early records stop in 1803.

Now, back to that little notice in the New Brunswick Royal Gazette that I mentioned just a bit ago. An executor had been appointed, not an administrator. Remember, too, that I mentioned that it is always worth another review when working on brick walls.

It took some time before I found an abstract of the will of Benjamin, indexed as “Brown.” Benjamin’s will, dated 24 June 1793 was proved on 3 January 1799. Wife, un-named,(but called Mary in other records) was to receive half of his farm in Maugerville for life. Their daughter Phebe was to inherit the other half  and receive the widow’s half when she died. There are two unnamed grandchildren, a son and daughter of son Benjamin, who Benjamin Sr. directs  to be supported by his wife and daughter Phebe until they come of age “or removed by their father.” I am not sure why a grandson and granddaughter were living with and being raised by a grandmother and aunt when their father was still alive, but it may well be that Benjamin Jr.’s wife died and he had not remarried by the time of the will.

Further, Benjamin names another son William, son Benjamin, daughter Lydia, daughter Mary, and daughter Susannah and leaves each with a 5 shilling inheritance.

Two executors were named: Elijah Miles and Gerhardus Clows, although only Elijah was confirmed in 1799. Perhaps Gerhardus Clows either declined or had died by then.  Witnesses to the will were Israel Perley Sr., Israel Perley Jr. and  Solomon Perley. The Perleys were also early settlers in Maugerville and had likely known the Brawns for many years.

Notice that Benjamin did, indeed, have a daughter, Lydia and I feel certain that Lydia Brawn Adams Foster was the daughter of Benjamin Brawn. One name, though, is glaringly missing and that is Sarah Brawn. Sarah would have only been about seven when this will was written so she clearly would have been named by her father.

Absolutely no records have been found indicating a year of birth for Benjamin Sr., his wife or Benjamin Jr., Phebe, William, Mary or Susannah. Some online trees give a birth year of 1743 for Benjamin Sr., but I believe that to be too late. He would not have been on a list of grantees of land if he had not reached legal age so he was born no later than 1740, but who knows how much earlier than that? I also believe that Benjamin Jr. was one of the oldest children, as he had not only married, but had two children in 1793.

My theory about Lydia and Sarah being sisters has now evolved. I believe they were aunt and niece, even though only a couple of years separated them in age. I think Sarah Brawn was the unnamed granddaughter, daughter of Benjamin Jr., named in her grandfather’s will.

I will continue taking extra looks at this family to see if later records, – like land deeds (although none exist for just Mary Brawn or for a Phebe Brawn, who likely married) – shed more light on this family because I think I’m finally on the right track, but all I have is preponderance of evidence.

Thoughts, anyone? Please leave a comment.





Petition of Catharine, widow of Loyalist Robert Carlisle

Technology just keeps getting better and better. For many years, all I knew about Robert and Catharine Carlisle was that he was served with the British during the American Revolution, although I am not sure he was an official “Loyalist” since that implies he lived within the thirteen colonies during the war. I don’t think he moved into the territorial borders of the United States until the 1820’s.

However, Robert Carlisle disappears after the 1830 census of Charlotte, Washington County, Maine. I assumed that he and wife Catharine had both died. Their children were grown and scattered with their own young families.

Not all that long ago, I was browsing through the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, one of my favorite Canadian websites. I found a database called Records of Old Revolutionary Soldiers and Their Widows and decided to browse through it. In the “C” list, I found Robert and Catharine “Carlile” of Charlotte County, New Brunswick, which is where the application was filed.

There are two documents pertaining to Robert and Catharine that have been digitized. The first is an 1840 list of those eligible to petition:

1840 Pension Petition List

The sixth name is that of Catharine Carlile, who filed her petition in St. Andrews, Charlotte County, New Brunswick, Canada.

The second document is priceless, as it gives her age and the death year and place for husband, Robert Carlisle, who left no will or probate.

Here is the transcription of the page, minus a few illegible words:

I Catherine Carlile of the Parish of
Sussex in the County of Kings widow aged eighty
years do swear that in the year one thou
sand eight hundred and thirty-four or
thereabouts I was lawfully married to Robert
Carlile who served as a soldier in the revo-
lutionary war in America That he was at
tached to the Royal Fencibles that
he died at the Town of Charlotte in the
United States of America in the year 1834
That I now reside in Kings County – that
I did actually reside in the Province
at the time of passing an act ( ) in
the second year of the Reign of her
Majesty Queen Victoria ( ) an
Act for the relief of old soldiers of the
Revolutionary War and ( ) Widows D(o)
Atest? I was married to the said Robert Carlile
before the passing of the said act and that
I am ( ) have been for the last
twelve months a widow and in indigent
circumstances having no sufficient
property ( ) from which I can support
or maintain myself and that I have not
(that of my hands?) possess or disposal
Any property in ( ) to receive or provide
( ) by support or maintenance.
Catharine X Carlile
Signed at ( )
The 18th day of August
1840 Before me William Ker J.P.

I knew that Robert served with the Royal Fencible Americans, but further research showed that they were located almost exclusively in Nova Scotia. This fact led me to the premise that while Robert was a loyal subject of the king, he wasn’t technically an American Loyalist.

I now have an 1834 death date for Robert and I know that Catharine didn’t die between 1830 and 1840. She returned to Sussex, the village from which they left to settle in Charlotte, sometime between Robert’s death and 18 August 1840.

I wish her statement about her marriage date was the actual date of her wedding instead of saying that she was married to Robert by the time he died. I also wish she provided a list of her children because I can prove six of her children, but there are seven other Carlisles of the right age to possibly be her children.

Nevertheless, this was a fabulous discovery which wouldn’t have happened if the file hadn’t been digitized.

Thomas Joseph Tracey, Brick Wall From Tipperary

Thomas Joseph Tracey’s life is a mystery before he arrived in New Brunswick, Canada. Although nine of his eleven children lived to adulthood, any questions about home back in Ireland were answered with a variation of the reply that life was too hard there and it wasn’t to be discussed, with the one exception that Thomas was from County Tipperary and that he was the last of his family. They were all “gone,” which presumably meant they had died, perhaps in the famine years.

Thomas Tracey, circa 1880’s

Much has been found about Thomas Tracey’s life in Canada and the United States after he emigrated from Ireland sometime before 10 January 1881, when “Mr. Thos. Treacy of Ireland” married Miss Annie (Anastasia) S. McAllister of Moncton.

Marriage Announcement

Thomas also appears in the 1881 census of Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada:

Moncton, New Brunswick Enumeration 1881

This is the first document indicating Thomas’s age, but either he was unsure of how old he was or else he or whoever else reported his age didn’t really know. Newlyweds Thomas, aged 30 so born about 1851 in Ireland, and wife Annie, 19 and born in New Brunswick, were living in her parents’ household.

Thomas and Annie’s first four children were born in New Brunswick:

1. Daniel James, born 4 September 1881, Moncton; died after the 1925 Rhode Island state census
2. Mary (Mame), baptized 15 April 1883, Moncton; died 10 August 1884, Moncton.
3. William J., born 4 February 1885, Moncton; died after the 1915 Rhode Island state census when he lived at home.
4. Thomas J., born 24 January 1887/88, Moncton; died after his 1942 World War II draft registration card was completed. He lived with his married sister’s family at that time.

Thomas, Annie and surviving children Daniel, William and Thomas left Moncton in the 1880’s for a new life in Providence, Rhode Island. On 15 October 1897, Thomas Tracey petitioned the U.S. court for American citizenship:

Tracey Naturalization Papers1 Tracey Naturalization Papers2
Thomas Tracey, Citizenship Petition on 15 October 1897

Being a petition from the 1800’s, less information was requested from the applicant. In this case, the few details requested don’t help clarify matters because they don’t match dates in earlier documents.

First, Thomas Tracey declares under oath that he was born in Ireland on 15 March 1855. That statement is at odds with his age of 30, as stated on the 1881 New Brunswick census. His birth year would then be 1851.

Second, Thomas swears under oath that he arrived in Providence, Rhode Island on or about 12 October 1886. Unless he made an earlier trip to perhaps seek out a place to live and evaluate job prospects, this date is at odds with the 24 January 1888 birth date of his son, Thomas, in Moncton.

Shortly after that, the 1900 U.S. census of Providence, Rhode Island provides the next record documenting this family.

Thomas Tracey Family, Providence, Rhode Island

First, we have yet another date of birth for Thomas. In 1900, it was reported that he was born in March 1857 in Ireland. Annie’s birth date was reported as January 1864, which by the way doesn’t correspond with her age of 19 when she was enumerated in 1881. That would put her birth year about 1862. Census data indicates that both Thomas and Annie were literate.

The family has also grown since they left Canada with five new children added to the brood:

5. Annie Cecilia, born 22 August 1889, Providence. The census, though, reports she was born in July 1889, close, but not a match.
6. Dennis Aloysius, born 25 July 1891, Providence.
7. Kathryn A., born 23 July 1893, Providence.
8. James Joseph, born 11 September 1895, Providence
9. Joseph M., born 9 April 1898, Providence

As reported in the 1881 census, Thomas is still listed as an engineer, although this time he is called a stationary engineer. He worked for the railroad.

We find the family again in Providence in 1910:

1910 United States Federal Census-1
Thomas Tracey Family, 1910

By this time, the last two Tracey children have been born, although one died in infancy:

10. John Francis, born 19 September 1900, Providence
11. Patrick Francis, born 20 February 1903, Providence; died 9 March 1903, Providence, RI.

FamilySearch shows a listing for this family in 1905.  On this record, Thomas’s date of birth is recorded as 11 March 1853.

1905 Rhode Island State Census

The 1910 census shows all children still at home except for eldest son, Daniel. Thomas’s age is reported to be 54, giving a birth year of 1856; Annie’s age is reported as 42, giving her a birth year of 1868. Census data also includes an immigration year of 1888 with son Thomas, aged 23 (birth year about 1887), born in Canada.

Providence, Rhode Island 1910

The last census in which Thomas appears is the 1915 Rhode Island state census:

1915 Providence, Rhode Island State Census

The “Tracy” family appears right at the top of the page, with Thomas, aged 59, as head of household. Wife Annie is 48, giving birth years of 1856 and 1867, respectively.

Thomas Tracey died in Providence, Rhode Island on 3 September 1919. He was buried at St. Francis Cemetery in Pawtucket, Rhode Island next to his infant son, Patrick Francis, who died in 1903. Eventually, wife Annie was also buried there.

Thomas Tracey’s death certificate was filed with the state of Rhode Island. His son, Dennis, was the informant. Thomas died of stomach cancer, aged 64, giving a birth year of 1855. However, his exact date of birth is left blank; there is no way to know if Dennis was asked and didn’t know or if he was only asked his father’s age. The certificate also says that Thomas’s father was Thomas Tracey and his mother was Margaret, no maiden name given.

Thomas Tracey Death Certificate
Death Certificate for Thomas Tracey, 1919

Other than family lore that Thomas hailed from County Tipperary, there is one document that supports that contention. Thomas’s daughter, Annie, became a nun, known as Sister Mary Ernestine. Although I don’t have a copy of it, a query made years ago to Sr. Mary Ernestine’s convent for her family information included a copy of her religious record that stated her parents were born in County Tipperary, Ireland and New Brunswick, Canada.

Thomas Tracey is actually not in my family line at all. He is the grandfather of a friend of mine, who would dearly love proof of Thomas’s Irish origins and his family. Years ago, he had some research done in Ireland which led to the parish of Doon, County Limerick, sitting on the border with County Tipperary.

Assuming that son Dennis correctly reported on Thomas’s death certificate that Thomas’s parents were Thomas and Margaret Tracey, it may be that an 1843 marriage in the Doon parish register is that of Thomas’s parents.

One Thomas Treacy of Cappawhite, County Tipperary married Margaret Stokes of Cloonlusk, County Limerick on 26 February 1843.

Cappawhite and Cloonlusk are east of the city of Limerick. the jagged county line crosses almost in the middle of the 9.5 km. distance between the two places.

This is the only couple found who could possibly be the parents of Thomas Tracey later of Providence, Rhode Island. The difficulty is in fitting our Thomas into this family. He was born in 1851, 1853, 1855, 1856 or 1857, according to the records. It is probably safe to safe only that he was born in the 1850’s and possibly in March.

The next issue is that further Doon parish records record multiple children for TIMOTHY Treacy and Margaret Stokes. That isn’t so difficult to handle, though, as there is no assurance that Thomas’s father was also named Thomas. His family seemed to know very little about his origins.

Timothy and Margaret Stokes Treacy/Trassy had a large family:

1. James, baptized 29 December 1843; reportedly died January 1888 in Minnesota
2. Catherine, baptized 30 September 1845
3. Bridget, baptized 9 June 1847; died young
4. Bridget, baptized 27 April 1850; she married Maurice Tierney in Doon on 21 February 1867, had nine children, the last born in 1880 and lived her life in Ireland
5. William, baptized 17 August 1852; died 1935, DeSmet, South Dakota
6. “Tom,” baptized 7 February 1855
7. Stephen, baptized 7 May 1857
8. Mary, baptized 15 May 1859; died young
9. Patrick, baptized 14 May 1863
10. Mary, baptized 4 October 1865
11. James, baptized 17 May 1868 (Is this an error by the priest entering his name since the eldest child named James didn’t die until 1888 in Minnesota?)

Stephen and William Tracey have descendants living in the United States today. They do not believe that Tom Treacy, baptized on 7 February 1855 is Thomas Tracey of Providence, as they have correspondence from family members keeping in touch with each other from years ago. No one ever mentioned a brother, Thomas, in Providence. They also believe that there was a son, Timothy, although no baptismal record has been found for a Timothy unless the last child, James, born i n1868, should have been written in the record as Timothy.

So here stands the brick wall. Did Thomas have a falling out with his siblings, went on his own way to Canada and then Rhode Island, permanently estranged from his family?

Months and months of research over a 20 year span of time has been done, trying to prove the origins of Thomas Tracey. A more than reasonably exhaustive search has covered extant records of County Limerick and County Tipperary. The family of Timothy and Margaret Treacy of Doon parish are the most likely suspects to be his parents.

Or is all this information just a trip down the completely wrong path?

This is a case where I believe that a DNA test might be very worthwhile. Any other suggestions would be welcome at this point. Please leave a comment.