Was born April 6th, 1864, in Saline County, Illinois; was reared on a farm, obtained a common school education of his day; was taught true principles of honesty and industry, having held some minor positions of trust; lived in Illinois 50 years, farming, clerking and teaching, having experience as husband, father and teacher, which give life some cheer as well as gloom. Religiously Baptist; holding to right principles of Christianity; yet make mistakes in life to be repented of; but still trusting in a higher power than man, as man may fall, but not be utterly cast down; prohibition in principle and in practice,
Praying God's blessings on reader and writer, to be submissive to the Divine Will, and that each may have a higher ideal of life than to merely exist.
Present address and home is Eldorado, Illinois.
THE WRITER'S DESIRE AND PURPOSE of this Genealogy and Historical Sketch of this Pioneer Bramlet Family name as has been gathered pro and con for the past fifteen years, the writer has had the impression to gather some facts concerning our family. Going back as far as information could be obtained, wishing to relate sketches of the past, unknown to many who now live, and to impress on the mind of all readers, our relation to one of the noted families of America. For 180 years we have been growing. The writer is trusting this work may be of great interest to all readers, and in presenting the natural as will be penned in this book, wishing all readers will not forget the Divine hand of Providence, which rules and instructs to a betterment of all who will be governed thereby, connecting Mortality to Immortality., comparing Natural to Spiritual, with one great purpose in life, in the good that may be done in the sketches and facts which this book contains; praying Divine blessings from Him Who created us and gave Himself for us, I am respectfully dedicating this work.
To-Great-Grandfathers and Great-Grandmothers.
To-Grandfathers and Grandmothers.
To-Fathers and Mothers.
To-Husbands and Wives.
To-Bachelors and Maids.
To-Young Men and Young Women.
To-Boys and Girls.
To-Babes that be and are to be-
This work was compiled in 1923.
Printed in 1924.
DEAR READER:-1 wish to talk to you today about our family, as one of the noted pioneer families of Southern Illinois. Perhaps you are acquainted with some of us, and whether or not, I prefer to make mention of the family, some in particular and others in general. But, listen, a fact or not a fact, our people have been in America for about nine generations, first coming from England about 180 years ago. The first man was named William, and he was some man, to leave his parental home in the old country and come to America, among strangers, but he did. And he met a woman over in Old Virginia, and he courted her, and she courted him so they say and they married each other. Did you ever hear of the like in your time? Well, another fact that happened in this Virginia home of young people, was that a son was born into the home, and another, and on and on until nine sons were to be seen in and out of this Bramlet home. Peculiar, was it, or not? But the fact remains clear, that we who live and those who have lived in America, are descendants of one William Bramlet. His sons, after becoming grown up into manhood, emigrated westward into other states, and in territorial days, one man of this name settled in what later became Illinois, and now Saline county, where the largest of the family now reside, which will be seen and noted in the reading of this book. (See Note 1.)
The Pioneers, who first settled in the community, known as the Bramlet settlement, have passed on to their reward, leaving seed to hold up the name and honor, and carry on the industry of improvement, as time goes by. Certainly another fact is made plain to the observer, that progress has been the family trait, both in numbers and in wealth, by building homes and farms. Then, why not rejoice in prosperity, which is the bountiful growth in all lines adapted to a successful increase, not only as a fanner, but in many other lines of industry. Other good people look at us as a prosperous people, and have a share in our growth and industry, taking our daughters to wife, and in giving their daughters to our sons for wives, and they all share in this great family history, as herein given. Blessed are they who read and understand the Divine word of Gospel Truth as revealed in Holy-writ, a Savior to all who believe. May the blessings of God be ours to enjoy in reading and giving thought to the pages of this book.
In giving these historical sketches, I call to mind in my day, and it being almost fifty years after our settlement was started in Saline County, Illinois, I mention the form of work and the inconveniences then to compare with now, the weaver's loom, for making cloth for clothing, and all done by hand; no sewing machines. The writer's first suit of pants and coat at four years old was cut and made from home-spun, home-woven by the women, but my father cut and made the suit, and some of the older ones than I have some of the home-spun goods yet, or did a few years ago. And the horses and cows, sheep and hogs of that day did not have the good pastures of today, but were turned out on the range. One horse had a bell on, and one cow, and one sheep, but the hogs were marked, and every farmer had his ear mark-under bit, swallow fork, crop off the right, crop off the left, smooth crop off the right, and left so the stock was known by their mark of the ear. And the kind of stock then was so much different from those of today. Even in my boyhood days father and other farmers had the kind called hazel-splitter hogs, and they could outrun some dogs and could climb almost any common rail fence, as rail fences were the only fences then. Fifty years has made a big change, and the changes will continue.
SOME FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, the writer purposed in his mind to write some brief sketches of our Bramlet family history, and in beginning this work I shall mention the one man, the forefather of us all, William Bramlet. Of English birth, he emigrated to America about the year 1743, and landing in Virginia, supposed to be about 24 years old, and according to nature, soon took unto himself a wife and began the home industry of farming and rearing a family. And in due time a son was born, a tie of nature, making home more pleasant and more to work for, and having real life in a new country, naturally speaking, future prospects looked good. Son after son was born to this family until nine boys blessed the home. Year after year came and went, until these boys were grown up to be men and began to think of doing for themselves. Being industrious, and some new States being added to the then 13 Colonies, these elder sons decided to emigrate westward, crossing into Carolina, thence to Tennessee and into Kentucky, and into Illinois in 1814, in territorial days, when parts of the country was wilderness. (See Note 2.) When one man, Rector, a Government surveyor, accompanied by one man, Bramlet, as a helper, were surveying north of the city of Eldorado, Illinois, as it now stands, not even a village or hardly a hamlet at that time, 1814; while these men were surveying near what is now known as Rector Creek, there were Indians in that country, and, as it is believed, Mr. Rector was killed by Indians. His body was buried near this little stream, which afterwards was called Rector Creek. Many people now living know of Rector Creek. Bramlet escaped death, getting away from the Indians and returning to his home in Kentucky, relating to his father and brothers of Rector's death, and of his own escape. He also gave a description of the lay of the land, mentioning the kinds of timber. His father and brothers became interested. His father planned the return for the purpose of filing a Government land claim, and soon started over the old surveyor's trail, after crossing the Ohio river. When Bramlet reached the kind of timber and soil, he drove his stake, then proceeded to file his claim.
The claim filed on, with other land purchased from the Government, is still in the Bramlet family. A sister of the writer is the present owner. Yet other farms are owned by Bramlets, making a settlement well known by many people. When this land was first settled, it was timber land and no buildings, not even a hut. All improvements were to be begun. The ax, the maul, and the wedge were the necessary tools to be used in clearing land and in erecting buildings. Only log huts were the first, with stick and clay chimneys, with the old fireplace to burn wood, as the timber was heavy and much of it was burned in heaps in the clearing. Coal, gas and oil were not heard of, as grease in a spoon with a twisted rag soaked in the grease and gave light to work by nights. Soon the carding rolls and spinning wheels were put into action by the women folks. The tallow candle soon came into use for light by night. Year by year has brought many changes and improvements. The old pioneers are gone. In the beginning of this book is mentioned a noted pioneer family. I wish to make mention of some facts as to a noted pioneer. One thing noted is the conditions of entering into America, and the pursuits followed, and the hardships endured in building up homes, farms, schools and churches. The family name fills many avocations of life, as farmers, teachers, business men, doctors, lawyers, judge and governor. Our first Pilgrim Father, William Bramlet, as far as is known, was a farmer, having been raised on a farm in England. The writer has met a man, Wilson, from England, who knew the Bramlet people there. He stated some things which happened in that country, which I speak of, somewhere about the year 1890. A mine explosion occurred in England, and twenty-four men were killed, and seven were Bramlets. He also told of an old man Bramlet, a farmer, who was very wealthy in land, stock and money, who had died leaving his wealth to others. So we see and learn of industry in the family of England, as well as in America. (See Note 3.) The writer has been in touch directly and indirectly with our people in sixteen states. Therefore, I give these and other facts.
John Daniel Bramlet, father of the writer, was raised on this first farm and owned and lived on it until his death, February 9,1915. Molly, the youngest daughter, owns said land and lives at the old home. She also holds the Government deed, which was made nearly 100 years ago. When Illinois was admitted to the Union as a state in 1818, Reuben Bramlet's sons from Kentucky began to arrive, and settled near, buying Government land. In those days land was very cheap, selling at one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre. Some purchased land in large quantities, making quite a settlement for five brothers, all sons of Kentucky Reuben Bramlet, who lived and died in Kentucky, after leaving Illinois in 1833. These pioneer settlers, namely: Benjamin, Harry, John, Nathan and Coleman, were all industrious working men. They soon built homes, cleared land and were busy farmers, raising stock, children and chickens. This land grows in value more and more as the years go by and generations come and go. Four of these pioneer settlers raised large families and some yet living knew these families. John lived a bachelor and died at his brother, Coleman's home. Generation after generation have come, until a host in number now reside in Saline County, Illinois. Many reside in other states and many have passed into the great beyond, yet not forgotten. For the benefit of those who are living, and for the coming generation, I shall give names of each respective family, as far as is possible to know by the writer, only giving names of male sex, as they hold up the family name. Yet not forgotten are the good women; God bless our women. They are a royal pioneer family of many good traits, proven by long lives of usefulness, a family of persevered, honesty, industrious and business-like, not boisterous, not quarrelsome; rather slow to anger, but quick to act, standing firm on principles of right and righteousness.
1. Meeks adds a bit of dramatic flair here but the the problems are his mention of Bramlets being in America for 180 years (this book was written in 1923 -- 180 years prior is 1743, when Meeks says William arrived), and that William had nine sons.
2. This is probably the most famous quote from this book -- that William came from England in 1743 at the age of 24. There is no proof that any Bramlet came to America after the original William, who is proven to have been in Virginia by 1716. And there is no known record of when or how he arrived, or where he came from. But, if you do the math again, 1743 - 24 = 1719, that is the year most often used as the year of birth for William who married Ann Ballard and died in 1779. This William (Jr. or II) did have nine children but five of them were daughters. But there is NO evidence that he was born in 1719. And none of his sons are the ones mentioned as "Pioneer sons of Pilgrim William".
3. Again, no one is sure where the original William came from, though England is the prime suspect because William could read and write English and he tended to live around families known to have come from England. So far as the story about the mine explosion -- I suspect that either Meeks or the gentleman mentioned were confused about what surname they were speaking of; maybe they were talking of Brambleys, or Bamletts. I guess another remote possibility is that the seven Bramlets who supposedly died, were the last male Bramlets in Britian (or outside of the U.S. period -- for that matter). However, lots of searching has turned up no Brambletts/Bramletts in England in the past few centuries. I have found five Bram(b)lett families living outside the U.S. today. One is a missionary in Australia; he is an American. There is a woman living in the Netherlands and three people in Germany. I have sent letters to each of them but as of this date (06/11/98), I have yet to hear from any of them. I suspect they are children or ex-spouses of American servicemen. I will update this once I have received responses.