52 Ancestors Week 31: Brother

+20 votes

52 Ancestors and 52 Photos sharing challenge badgesTime for the next 52 Ancestors challenge!

Please share with us a profile of an ancestor or relative who matches this week's theme:


From Amy Johnson Crow:

In one of my presentations, I talk about how we have to understand how a word is being used and I use "brother" as an example. Is it being used to indicate the male child of your parents? Or just one of your parents? Or of a step-parent? Or how about a brother in the church? How about in a fraternal organization, union, or military unit? Have fun with this week's theme—there are a lot of ways you can interpret it!

Share below!

Participants who share every week can earn badges. If this is your first time participating and you don't have the participation badge, or if you pass a milestone (13 in 13, 26 in 26, 52 in 52) let us know hereClick here for more about the challenge. 

in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)

Hi all, don't forget to link to your ancestor!


In your reply, tell us about your ancestor. What you write is entirely up to you, but please do include a link to their profile so that we can easily click over to see it.

And don't forget to up-vote the host who is steady with these posts like a clock!

1919 photo of my father, Robert Ralph Wissinger and his younger brother, John Kenneth Wissinger.


47 Answers

+14 votes
I'm challenged by two brothers who have the same forename/s. I understand why parents who lose a child might recycle that name when a later child is born, but struggle with a family with two living children with the same forename. Then there are a lot of questions I'd want answered before I decide what to do, starting with "Are they truly children of the same 2 parents?" and finally "Do I have adequate proof that they are who I think they are?"

For me the conundrum is that both the starting point and the solution is DOUBT
by Judith Chidlow G2G6 Mach 3 (30.2k points)
Do you have links for them?

The brothers that first came to mind are both named Charles Cassimir Stewart Howe, born 1816 and 1819. I do not manage them. The first died before the second was born. Other instances I found have turned out to contain errors or to have some easy differentiation that was not at first apparent. 

+15 votes
Brothers are so useful!  My father didn't have any.  Neither did his father.  I am reminded of the expression I've seen occasionally that a line "daughtered out."  That's about to happen with my Kelts line.  And it makes recruiting a candidate for a Y-DNA test, that might help identify our early Kelts ancestors, very difficult.
by Julie Kelts G2G6 Mach 5 (55.5k points)
+16 votes

For this week's challenge I selected an ancestor of my husband Gen. Lewis A. Armistead.  He was a notable Confederate General in the U.S. Civil War.

He was a member of the Freemason fraternity so he had many "brothers".  Freemasonry is an organization that was an important part of life of the ancestors in my husband's family as well as my own.  

Lewis's brotherhood is portrayed in this statue "Friend to Friend" that sits at the Gettysburg National Military Park.  Lewis was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg and the statue shows him handing his watch and personal items another Mason who was an assistant to his friend and Masonic brother Winfield Scott Hancock.  The quote at the sculpture includes "Their unique bonds of friendship enabled them to remain a brotherhood undivided, even as they fought in a divided nation..."  This is brotherhood to me.

by Caryl Ruckert G2G6 Pilot (139k points)
I remember reading about this incident. It is one of the most personal of stories. Thanks for sharing this and the photo, Caryl.
Thank you Caryl for sharing this photo, as I have never seen this beautiful statue.
Wow.  Talk about being a descendant of history.
+13 votes
I take the relationship of my mother and her youngest brother (who was 12 years her senior). The two were very close: she went with him the first time in the cinema, shortly after mum emigrated he followed (and was a huge help for me because I didn't speak Serbian well as child). He convinced mum to continue dating my father, decades later, when mum had a severe surgery he came for about 6 months to help us while she was recovering.
by Jelena Eckstädt G2G6 Pilot (239k points)
+14 votes

My great grandfather Thomas McCleery, https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/McCleery-115, was only five months old when his father died in 1860. His mother remarried a German immigrant, Henry Hillmann, and they had three boys. I have noticed on WiKiTree, even before I joined, and other sites like FamilySearch that Thomas is included as part of their family. I have felt this was very sweet, since I am his closest descendant. They must have never treated him as a step brother, and I am glad that I have been able to share a photo with the Hillmann Family of the four brothers together.

by Alexis Nelson G2G6 Mach 8 (81.3k points)
I ran into a similar family during the connect-a-thon - the descendants assumed that one lady was the 2x great but I was able to prove that she was the 2x step-great-grandmother.
+15 votes

I was always taken by the photos of my great-grandfather Elmer and his big brother Floyd.  He always seems to be in the shadow of his big brother and enamored with him.  I posted their pic in week 8 for the 52 photos:

We estimated that this tin-type was shot around 1880.

When you look at black and white photos, if you zoom in on the eyes, you can usually tell if someone had brown or blue eyes.  If the eyes appear black in the photo, they are brown,  If they appear grey in black and white or light brown in monocrhome, then they are blue.

Elmer on the left had brown eyes (and so did my grandfather, my mother, and I) and Floyd on the right had blue eyes like his father, Civil War veteran Oliver.

by SJ Baty G2G6 Pilot (615k points)
edited by SJ Baty
+13 votes

My father had only brothers, no sisters. One of the brothers, James William Gilchrist, was killed in an accident at the age of 17. Of the brothers, he was the only one with blonde hair and blue eyes. He is second from the left in the photograph.

by Nelda Spires G2G6 Pilot (123k points)
+14 votes

Sometimes when researching members of a family some of them just seem to vanish into thin air. Sometimes unknown family members appear from nowhere who have never been listed in earlier records of the family (and subsequent checking does prove they are correct and you haven't just accidentally found a likely looking record from a different family).
I had this situation for one of my brick wall ancestors John Wilson who I have previously mentioned in this challenge. He is still a brick wall (I still cannot confirm anything about him prior to his marriage in 1872) but he had also vanished after the 1891 census, until I had a breakthrough due to a brother.
What I previously knew about John was he was probably born in Spalding, Lincolnshire, he married Elizabeth Poynter in 1872 in Kent, and they had about 8 children and were living in Edmonton, Middlesex, England in 1891 where he worked as a Brickmaker. I also believed his wife Elizabeth had died in 1897.
I decide to revist John's family after the "Brickwall" challenge. The first thing I tried was to look for any additional children in the GRO index. Although Wilson is a common surname I hoped there would not be many with mother's maiden name Poynter in Edmonton registration district. Suprisingly I found four and three of those, Emily, William and Daisy were after the 1891 census. That gave me some more leads to investigate.
William unfortunately died as an infant, Daisy was raised by her aunt Sarah in Kent so did not appear in any records with her father, but I was luckier with Emily because I found an Emily Wilson in the 1901 census in Edmonton with a father John Wilson who was born in Spalding, although he was about 3 years younger in the census than I would have expected. The census also listed his wife as Mary Wilson aged 27 with another daughter Winifred Wilson aged 11 and a son Thomas Wilson aged 1. I can understand why I did not think this was the right record for John before because none of the family matched what I knew.
I could find no birth registration for a Winifred Wilson around 1890 so I turned my attention to Emily's brother Thomas Wilson and bingo all the pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place. The GRO index birth registration for Thomas Wilson gave his mother's maiden name as Bailey and that led me to the marriage record for John Wilson and Mary Bailey in 1898. Winifred was actually Mary's daughter Winifred Bailey from before she married. Now I knew the new composition of the family and that John was lying about his age I was also able find them in the 1911 census.
So the moral of the story is don't give up when you hit a brick wall but look at what happened to everyone in the family because occasionally you might find a brother turn up unexpectedly who might just solve a family mystery. Brothers have to be useful for something. wink

by Ray Hawkes G2G6 Mach 2 (23.3k points)
+14 votes

I never met Bill Shaules, but from one of the family stories I've heard about him he must have been a very good brother.  

There was a time when Andrew Shaules, Bill's brother, was out of the home for an extended period of time due to illness. At this time Andrew's wife was left alone with seven small children.  Though Bill had three children of his own as well as his own business, he would often come on the weekend to take the five older children out for the day. He would take them roller-skating or to the beach, as well as other places. The children remember these outings which were in the 1950s, and their mother remembers them as a real break for her.

Unfortunately, Bill died in 1959.  But he is still remembered by his brother's family.

by Robin Shaules G2G6 Pilot (387k points)
Such a good brother. Nice story Robin.
Thank you, C.
+10 votes

Discussing some of my great-uncles that I never really met: https://allroadhaverhill.blogspot.com/2019/07/52-ancestors-week-31-brother.html

 Oh and try to guess when that pic of my brother and I was taken! The Transformer in the picture is a clue. Check out the brothers of my grandfather, Robert Hamel and my grandmother, Natalie Felker

But, yea. Guess when that pic was taken! =D

by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (250k points)
+12 votes

There are so many it is difficult to choose from them, but to offer a contrast two generations of the same family.  My paternal grandfather (Turner Paul) and his brothers, George Francis Paul and Arthur James Paul.  George enlisted for the Great War very early on, just nine days after the Mother Country (England) declared war on the 12th August 1914 (George's enlistment date was the 21st August 1914).  After being sent off to the Gallipoli Peninsula where he survived whatever it was he survived, only to be sent to Egypt by hospital ship, George died of smallpox on the 18th April 1916.  As a result of his service at Gallipoli both his brothers enlisted and served out the war.  (If Granddad had not, I wouldn't be here because he met my oh so very English Grandma as a result.)

Compare the next generation earlier.  Two brothers, the eldest two of a distinguished member of the legal community, a Pioneer of the legal system in what was the very new Colony of Queensland.  Both of them doctors.  Both of them fathering children outside the bonds of matrimony in the late 1890s—early 1900s, when such a thing was so frowned upon you were ostracised by "polite" society.  Dr Arthur Edmond Paul LRCPE MRCS was the eldest of the brood, born in New South Wales (his father's birthplace).  Moving to England (his mother's birthplace and the home of many of his ancestors) he firstly fathered a son pre-1900, then a daughter in 1902.  He finally married their mother in 1907, before upping and dying on the poor woman less than two years later, leaving her with the two small children to bring up alone.  (The children were "taken care of" in their paternal grandfather's Will.)

The next eldest brother, my direct Great-Grandfather Dr George William Frederic (Fred) Paul MRCS LRCP (who is always referred to in my immediate family as "the Doctor"), was born in Yorkshire—the family's ancestral stamping grounds.  He, too, fathered a child outside the matrimonial bed.  Only — he was married at the time.  His wife, my direct Great-Grandmother, was ill and, apparently, needed help in the house.  Enter a housekeeper / nurse.  Enter, also, a child, born in a different state (presumably to avoid the nasty, wagging tongues of the local area .. I mean, *gasp*  **shock** *horror!* an unwed mother .. an affair with the local doctor!  *oh, me, oh my*).  Five years later my Great-Grandmother died and seven months after that the Doctor married the mother of his youngest (at that time) son.  They later went on to have two more children .. a daughter, and another son who lived barely a day.

Two sets of brothers .. one lot I see as a pair of Black Sheep: the other lot I consider each one a hero, even if they didn't win any medals for anything stand-out (no VC, no MM, no MID), or do anything terrific and notable.  They answered a call, they served.



31st week, 31st week participating.  (edited to, hopefully, correct enlarged text size)

by Melanie Paul G2G6 Pilot (209k points)
edited by Melanie Paul
+11 votes

My grandfather, Robert Urquhart had seven brothers. Three full brothers and four half brothers  He thought that he had six brothers. I found another half brother, James. He also thought that he had six sisters. Three full sisters and three half sisters. I found another half sister, Margaret.

by David Urquhart G2G6 Mach 5 (50.8k points)
edited by David Urquhart
+11 votes
My grandfather, Trider-17, had three brothers, and my mom told me that he taught one of his younger brothers in his first year as a teacher!

And his father, Charles Trider (not added yet), had a brother, Albert, who died either in or shortly after WW1.
by Nathan Phillips G2G1 (1.9k points)
+12 votes
There are brothers who stand by each other, in war, in peace, forever, and there are those who can't, or don't.  This is a story of two brothers needed on the farm in Vermont in the 1850s, both of whom grew up when the call to 'go west young man' would be resonant and strong with them.  The older, William, would have been in his early 20s when the gold rush began, and his younger brother Lemuel would be about 16.  What young man faced with a rural life in their hometown back east wouldn't think about following their dreams in a new exciting country?  Three to four years later, William was still helping his father on the farm, but Lemuel went west.  He wrote back home about his adventures, getting to San Francisco, suggesting that William should come.  At some point, he wrote of driving sheep to Mexico.  But the letters diminished, and there was one that said to tell Will not to come.  The final letter was in another hand, informing the grieving parents of the illness that took their 21 year old son, and the cost of the medicine that couldn't save him.  William never got to California. Two months after his brother's death, he got married, and started a family of his own.  When the Civil War began, William was a father of two, with a young wife and a new farm.  When he was drafted into the Navy, he must have thought this was his chance to see the world.  Would he stay and do his family duty, as he did before, or would he join a cause he believed in, and have some excitement?  He chose to stand by his young family, and paid a substitute to go in his place.  There must have been some echo of his brother's words, "tell Will not to come".  When he had the choice to do what he wanted personally, or do what was best for his family, Will twice chose to live for others.  I have always believed the tragic loss of his younger brother was a big part of his decision.  Will is my great grandfather,  Morgan-10631, and I added Lem to tell this story.  Lem is Morgan-25472.  .
by Carolyn Adams G2G6 Mach 1 (15.8k points)
edited by Carolyn Adams
Carolyn, it is an interesting story but I am confused.  First, I was surprised to read that there had been a Navy draft during the Civil War, so I looked for your ancestors. I think that Will must have been Morgan-10631 and not Morgan-10653.

If you have those letter that Lemuel wrote, I would love to see you transcribe and post them.
Yes, it is 10631.  I've corrected it.  Thank you.  I am afraid I will have to be retired before I can transcribe the family letters, but that is part of the agenda.  I have always thought it odd that they would draft Vermonters for the Navy, as we have no shoreline.  But that is what his CW records state.  The guy whose bounty he paid to go in his place came back from the war.
Thank you.  I hope you will scan those letters and post them somewhere even though you don't have time to transcribe them.  You might even find that someone would volunteer to do it.  (I also have some work to do.  I have a couple of Civil War letters from an ancestor.  I did transcribe them, but lost my transcriptions in an unfortunate computer error and have not yet got back to them!)
+11 votes

Joseph Raymond and Patrick Francis James, the brothers of my great-grandfather Richard Edward James, refused to attend the wedding of Richard's son Allen (my grandfather) due to the fact that my grandfather's wife, my grandmother Venice, was Methodist. The James family were historically and strictly Catholic, and so they refused to even speak to their nephew for not marrying a Catholic wife. 

by Amy Utting G2G6 Pilot (149k points)
+10 votes

When there's a large family it can sometimes be hard to keep track of all the family members. I'm often researching cousins who were born in the late 1800s, have an Irish birth record and then seem to disappear – no death or immigration record and no appearance in any country's census after their birth date. Sometimes it's due to bad transcription and a little left field / cryptic crossword type thinking does the trick. Other times you have to wait until they suddenly turn up as a witness to a marriage or in old age as someone's aunt or uncle on a census.

I've just been researching one family groups of Adams. My group were thirteen siblings born between 1864 and 1886. I was working through them in order and 'lost' three of them, Matilda, Sarah And Robert (mark 2). It wasn't until I got to their younger brother James Whiteside Adams, who had a well documented life, that suddenly up they popped in the Ireland censuses for 1901. This particular 1901 Ireland census return was completed by a Head of Household whose literacy must be in question, as most of the form was left blank – I've rarely seen one like this. Also the ages were quite far adrift of their real ages so I had discounted them when searching previously. James was only 23 so had a lot less scope to shave five to ten years off his age! Once I knew they were together it helped find them in 1911 as well.

by Linda Hawkes G2G6 Mach 2 (20.8k points)
+9 votes

Simmons-4087.jpg (480×676)

Grandmother, Nellie Mae (Simmons) Fortenberry and her six sons.  There were no daughters.  As one may see, none of these brothers are the same age.  With that in mind... the first son was born in February.  The rest of the boys were born in December.  THREE of the sons, including my father, were all born on December 7th.  My dad is to the left with his youngest brother, Granny standing right behind them.  Dad was AT Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 (his 23rd birthday) aboard the USS Helena.  New Orleans, 1930.  www.wikitree.com/wiki/Simmons-4087

by Teresa Fortenberry G2G4 (4.8k points)
edited by Teresa Fortenberry
Teresa, The facts are very interesting. What are the chances that three sons would all have the same birthdays? That five of the sons would be born in December? According to a calculator, your grandmother got pregnant on March 16 to have her babies on Dec. 7th. Wonder what was so special about March?  Really love your story. And your dad being at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, only adds more intrigue to your store.

Thank you so much for sharing.
+9 votes

Brothers in East Tennessee during the Civil War - some Confederate and some Union. My 2x Great Grandfather John Fletcher Sharp grew up in Blount County, Tennessee the youngest child of thirteen with five older brothers. By the time the Civil War started, his next oldest brother, Addison, had moved to Texas. Both of these brothers enlisted in the Confederate Army. The next oldest brother, Boyd Alexander enlisted in the Union Army. I have not checked for military records of the oldest three brothers, Thomas, Robert, and James but most likely if they enlisted it was in the Union Army.

The family story is that when John heard his mother was very sick he went home to see her, however, one of his brothers found out he was home. John had to escape being killed by his own brother by running out of the house and through the cornfield. His mother died in 1864 and he never went home again. 

I have also found that both John and Boyd were captured by the enemy and spent time in prison camps. John in Camp Chase in Ohio and Boyd in Andersonville. 

After the war, John settled in the Bluff City area of Sullivan County, married and raised his family. 

The postscript to the story is a happy one - in the 1950's one of John Fletcher's great-grandsons, my Uncle Jim, went to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville to study engineering. One weekend he went home with a friend he had met at college and discovered one of Don's relatives looked so much like his own grandfather, James Addison Sharp, he was convinced he and Don were cousins. I am not positive which brother was Don's grandfather, but the kinship was confirmed when one of John's daughters brought out a picture of Don's grandparents. 

by Emily Holmberg G2G6 Mach 5 (57.1k points)
edited by Emily Holmberg
Emily, I was interested to see the name of your ancestor.  I have an ancestor named John Fletcher Watson (1854-1928), and I am pretty sure it wasn't a family name.  When I Googled John Fletcher, I found that he was an Elizabethan playwright who lived from 1579 to 1625.  While I wouldn't have been surprised to find an ancestor named William Shakespeare Watson, I was surprised by John Fletcher.  Maybe my education is lacking.  Do you have any idea where the middle name came from in your case?
Very interesting Julie! I have no idea where the middle name of Fletcher originates in our family. According to my records, his father was Alexander Sharp, son of Robert Sharp and Letitia Sharp. I don't have Robert's parents, but according to my Grandmother's records Letitia Sharp's parents were John Sharp and Ann Boyd both born in Ireland.
+9 votes
I'm not going to give a link on this one, but I do find it relevant and interesting of the culture back in the early 1900s.  On my wife's family she had a great uncle that is said to have been born out of wedlock with the father being a teacher.  Because he would have lost his job, his older brother ended up marrying the woman.  I still haven't found any marriage record of the couple.. which should be easily found since they lived in PA and the new marriage records are pretty thorough.. which just adds to the mystery.  I do find it very interesting how that family handled that situation and how today's culture is very different than back then.
by Eric McDaniel G2G6 Mach 3 (31.3k points)
+9 votes

I have two brothers in my colonial ancestry. Both are sons of William Ives the immigrant. Their father was an early settler in New Haven Colony.  Joseph Ives and John Ives were founding settlers of Wallingford.

by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)

Related questions

+10 votes
16 answers
205 views asked Jul 31, 2018 in The Tree House by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (621k points)
+8 votes
21 answers
180 views asked 1 day ago in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
+13 votes
40 answers
958 views asked Sep 16 in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
+13 votes
49 answers
1.2k views asked Sep 9 in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
+12 votes
47 answers
716 views asked Sep 2 in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
+14 votes
43 answers
721 views asked Aug 26 in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
+15 votes
67 answers
1.2k views asked Aug 19 in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
+12 votes
40 answers
783 views asked Aug 12 in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
+11 votes
47 answers
894 views asked Aug 5 in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
+13 votes
50 answers
471 views asked Jul 23 in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright