Letting The Genealogy Out Of The Bottle

FullSizeRender (31)“Mamoo, you have the same eyes and lips as this lady.”  I responded to my grandson with “Wow.”  Mamoo is the affectionate Gaelic word for grandmother, much like abuelita is the affectionate term in Spanish.  I have always identified myself with my father’s Scots/Irish side of the family, so my grandchildren call me Mamoo. As we all called my grandmother Mamoo.

I really looked at this picture, and I DO have the same eyes and lips as this lady.  This lady’s name was Sarah Richards Bradley. And she was my maternal great-great-great grandmother. I was struck that because I do not have fond memories of my maternal grandparents, I had no interest in any ancestors on that side of the tree.

Until now.

I’ve been working on my genealogy on and off for a while now, but in earnest, for the past year or so.  If I ever retire from my day job, I envision myself with cobwebs on my hair and barely eating as I sit in some library niche going through documents.

What makes researching my genealogy easier than many people’s, is that not only did my parents keep a lot of the old records, but I have a famous ancestor. There is a lot of material about him.  Most of the information that I will recount here is from the book Stephen R. Bradley: Letters of a Revolutionary War Patriot and Vermont Senator, Edited by Dorr Bradley Carpenter, published in 2009 by McFarland & Company, Inc.  Stephen R. Bradley, my great-great-great-great grandfather, was Sarah Richards Bradley’s father-in-law.

The thing about genealogy is that we have romanticized visions of what we may find out. Before beginning reading Dorr Bradley Carpenter’s book, I looked at all of the pictures, names and dates and started sorting out that ancestral line.  I have a tendency to project my 21st Century thinking onto past events and have to guard against that.  So when my grandson mentioned the eyes and lips, my first thought was that she looked kind, with humor about to burst out of her.  But wait….that’s what I want people to think about me. And similar lips and eyes do not the same person make.  People had to sit still for a looooong time for a portrait in those days.  So she may have just been bored.

Sarah Richards was born in March of 1783 in Westminster, Vermont and died in August of 1866 in Westminster.  She was the daughter of a politician and married William Czar Bradley, who represented Vermont in the Congress of 1812, was an ambassador of the United States and held other government positions. They were married for 66 years and had 3 children, one of whom followed in the family tradition and became a politician.

So where is my romanticism?  Now my romanticism is turning to anger.  This woman was the daughter and daughter-in-law, wife and mother of famous politicians, but where is the information about Sarah Richards Bradley?  What did these four important men have in common?  HER.

And there is nothing?  No diaries?  No love letters?  No mention at a social function? Well I’ll give you something. There is ME.  I am going to track this information down.  Your position in this family is pivotal and I’m going to prove it. photo (59)

 

Sarah Richards Bradley, your great-great-great granddaughter is going to see about that. I’ve let the genealogy out of the bottle, and there is no putting it back.

 

 

About Barb Knowles

The things that are important to me are family, friends, teaching, writing, languages and using my sense of humor to navigate this crazy world. Please join me on this blogging adventure...
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25 Responses to Letting The Genealogy Out Of The Bottle

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    Good luck with your genealogy studies. It’s fascinating to explore our roots and something I hope to do someday too. I know I have some interesting family history that would make great fodder for my novels. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. How cool is that?! You have a famous ancestor! Genealogy is a very interesting subject and it’s sounding like you may just uncover more interesting family history- it already sounds interesting. Would love to read all about your finds. Now I’m just imagining you with cobwebs…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      I’m waiting for someone to say that I look like that already lol. I have actually gone back to the 1600’s on both sides of my maternal line. Easy when stuff is already written about them. I obsessed with finding more info on my father’s side. They came from Ireland during the potato famine. I think that I’ll have to go to Ireland for that. I’m stuck at entering here. People anglicized their names, immigration officials made mistakes, etc. Thank you so much for reading this and for your awesome comments!

      Like

  3. annieg421 says:

    You go girl! Look forward to reading all about her. I can imagine you in that library. Make sure you have a good supply of coffee. Your probably going to need it. Thank you for sharing a piece of your family history.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bea dM says:

    I read this post with a lot of curiosity, mainly because I’ve been following you since last year, and we see eye-to-eye on lots of subjects. Now genealogy is something I’ve refused all my life, probably because family roots on both sides are seeped in history – on my father’s side, a whole page on my forbears starting in the 12th century in a condensed Portuguese encyclopedia – and stuffy relatives have always made such an obnoxious fuss about it…. But I like where you went with this. Indeed, not a peep on the women up the trees. Good luck with Sarah, and thanks for having given me ideas on possible areas to reconsider too 🙂 By the way, where was her husband Ambassador to? did she go along or stay home as was often the case in the past?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      I haven’t checked that out yet. I know it was under the Treaty of Ghent, but he came back to be a State representative in Vermont. But I also don’t know how politics worked in the late 1700s. But I have just scratched the surface there. Lots to do. Women got the short end then but I’ve lots to do. I’m much more interested in my father’s side of the family and just keeping getting stuck at the Irish potato famine. And even with possible name changes, they all had the most common names. John, Mary, Maggie, Margaret, Harry, William and with very common last names. I’m 62 and wish I had started this when I was 25.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bea dM says:

        Keep us up to date on your progress! Most families have recurrent names that make it difficult to figure out who’s who in what generation. Yours sound like the Royal Family names :). Anyway, nobody starts at 25: we were all too busy with our futures!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Barb Knowles says:

        hahaha The Irish side was definitely not the Royal Family. And my maternal grandfather was Francis, named for his father Francis. Who, of course, turns out was really Franz. Names are crazy. Thank you for your interest! And now I can’t back out of my challenge lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Bea dM says:

        That’s right! And who knows, we might end up being related haha: Francis, Franz…. Francisco – one of the main men’s names up my father’s side 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      I have uncovered the information you asked about in reference to the ambassador. I’m not sure that’s exactly the right term. Other sources have it as “agent.” William Czar Bradley was assigned by the U.S. government, along with others, to designate the exact coordinates of the Canadian/US border after the War of 1812. So a special thank you for the question. I would not have looked for that for a while, probably. And I’m interested to know if this has sparked any interest for you to take a glimpse at yours. Maybe you can find a boring detail with which to flaunt your fussy relatives 😃

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I look forward to reading about her. What a fascinating family you have.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Garfield Hug says:

    Ooh you have great ancestry. Keep us updated 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jenny says:

    I’ve am now following your blog – your posts are enjoyable to read. Two years ago I wanted to know about my four great-grandmothers. Fasten your seatbelt the journey teases you with promise of intriguing destinations once the genealogy is let out of the bottle. But it is never the end of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      Thank you for following me. I have gotten the dates of birth/ death, or at least who the people were in the Bradley family back to the 1600s. But almost nothing about them. I have to go to libraries now for the actual documents. A huge undertaking. Thank you for your support.

      Like

  8. Call me Cordelia says:

    I never cease to be amazed at how similar I am to my ancestors; so often I find out that we like the same foods, dye our hair the same outrageous colors for the same silly reasons, embrace the same philosophies, and embark on the same careers… A genetic link that I’d love to explore further!!

    Liked by 1 person

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