“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.
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.
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.