My South African Cousins


Edward Howard Miller, 1883-1933

I have Miller cousins in South Africa, the descendants of my grandmother’s brother, Edward Howard Miller. Two or three years ago I received an email from his great grandson, Martin Kotze. He had found a photograph of Edward, whom he knew as “Grandad Ted,” on my webpage and he recognized it because he also owned a copy of the photograph. I emailed back but never got another reply. I would dearly love to make contact with the South African side of our family.

Edward Howard Miller was born in a log cabin in the small settlement of Birtle, Manitoba, in 1883, the second child and oldest son of Charles Edward Miller and Annie Maria Bayley. His parents had emigrated to Canada about 1882 from  Liverpool, England.

Charles Edward Miller

Charles Edward Miller

Annie Bayley Miller

Annie Bayley Miller


About 1889-1890 the family moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Annie’s two brothers, Neville and Howard lived. While in Pittsburgh, about 1895, his younger sister, Ethel, was playing with matches and caught her dress, and herself, on fire. After several months of treatment in Pittsburgh, her father took Ethel to England for more treatment and the rest of the family soon followed. The family spent over ten years in England before returning to the United States.



Edward, age 4 and age 12





Edward in his Boer War uniform, November 1902



Edward, though, did not follow his family back to the United States. Instead he signed up to fight in the Boer War in South Africa where he remained, living in Transvaal, after the war. He married a woman named Annie Mary and they had eight children between 1907 and 1930: Constance Beryl, Edward Howard, Reginald Ernest, Charles Frederick, Nina Annie, Gwendolyn Ethel, Robert Douglas, Richard Neville, and Joyce Helen.

Edward returned to England to fight in World War II, was a prisoner for a short time and later returned to South Africa. While in prison his hair turned white, according to family members.





Christmas card sent in 1908 from Edward and Annie to his sister Connie and her husband Roy Baker

Edward died in 1933 at the age of 50 from Miner’s Consumption, known now as silicosis, an occupational lung disease which he developed from working in the mines. In 1915, at the time of his son Charles Frederick’s christening, he was working in the Deep Level Mines, for Simmer and Jack Mining Company. His children and grandchildren resided at one time in or near Witbank, Transvaal, South Africa. Witbank is east of Pretoria and Johannesburg. In 2006 it was renamed eMalahleni, meaning “place of coal”


The Miller sisters: Nina, left, Esther, Connie, Lucy and Ethel, about 1943 in Tulsa, Oklahoma



Edward’s sisters and a couple of their children were in contact with the children of Edward and Annie up until the 1950s. I hope to reestablish that connection and find some of their descendants.







Connie, Esther, Fred – Edward’s only surviving brother – and Ethel, 1973.

Posted in Genealogy, Miller family | 13 Comments

The Mare Family of England and Missouri

Jack Mare 6

John Buckingham Mare, 1886-1967

John Buckingham Mare is not one of my ancestors. He was Uncle Jack to me and my family. He stands out in my memories because he and his wife, Mollie Brent Mare, my grandmother’s sister, were like another set of grandparents.

 Jack and Mollie had no children, so my mother and her sister were like their grandchildren. We stayed with them whenever we went to Pensacola. They came out to visit in California. They were always lots of fun. There were drinks before dinner – the main meal was always in the middle of the day – and drinks in the late afternoon, lots of visiting, lots of canasta, and lots of laughing. Aunt Mollie’s favorite color was purple and her favorite song was Elvis singing Love Me Tender. She died first, in 1964, and after he died in 1967 I inherited some of their household items – purple sheets, purple towels, purple blankets, and miscellaneous kitchen utensils – as I outfitted my first apartment during my college years.

I don’t usually spend a lot of time tracing the families of those who married into my ancestors’ families, but handed down with other items were several photos of Uncle Jack’s family. I decided to look up his family to see if I could find any living descendants, but, as yet, have found none. So I decided to share these photos in the hopes that some Mare descendant will come across my blog.

Jack Mare grandmother 2

Thomazin Buckingham Mare

Uncle Jack’s grandfather was Roger Mare, of Morchard Bishop, Devonshire, England. He was born there about 1801 and died in 1857 in Devonshire, most likely in Morchard Bishop. His wife was Thomazin Buckingham – so now I know where Uncle Jack’s middle name came from – and she was born about 1803 in the nearbly town of Chulmleigh, Devonshire. They married in Morchard Bishop on 20 April 1824, producing eight children, the youngest being William Henry Mare, born in 1844.

About twenty-five years later, William Henry emigrated to the United States where he met and married Jemima Scott on 29 May 1872 in St. Louis, Missouri. They had ten children, six of whom were still alive in 1900. John Buckingham, their sixth child, was born in 1886. I have not been able to find out where and when they died, nor where they were buried.


William Henry Mare, b.1844, Morchard Bishop, Devonshire, England – Uncle Jack’s father, born in England, later emigrating to the United States

Jack Mare mother 2



Jemima C. Scott, Uncle Jack’s mother, born November 1852 in Scotland. Her mother’s name was Margaret and Jemima’s daughter was named Margaret





Jack Mare father prob cropped




No name on the back of this photograph, but it is probably William H. Mare






William H. Mare and five of his sons. There were seven sons. One died young, Stewart Scott Mare. This photo was probably taken about the mid to late 1890s and the oldest son, William H. Mare, born 1873, was married with one son by 1895 and probably not living at home. So the oldest son in the photo, behind his father, would be James Scott Mare, born 1880; on his right, Robert Richmond Mare, born 1883, on the right, John Buckingham Mare, born 1886; front right, is Scott C. Mare, born 1889, and on the left, with the “bow tie,” is Stewart C. Mare, born 1893.

Jack Mare parentsUndated photo of William H. and Jemima Mare in their later years.

Left: John Buckingham Mare as a young boy. Right:John Buckingham,  left, and one of his younger brothers.

For more information on Jack B. Mare and Mollie Brent see

For more information on the descendants of Roger and Thomazin Mare see their descent report.

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More Gatewood Searching…

Awhile back, I posted my research efforts to find Elewisa Hubbard Gatewood Pierce, her death and place of burial. Since then, more information and wonderful tidbits have been uncovered. I finally received a transcription of Elewisa’s death record from the City of St. Louis Vital Records Office.

Even though Friedens Cemetery records show no burial for Elewisa, or Louisa, Gatewood, her death record notes the undertaker – A. Kron – and her burial place – Friedens. The undertaker, A. Kron was a livery and stable outfit and goes under various names until the 1950s. It was located on Broadway in St. Louis and run by August Kron. Online forums suggest that the records have been lost. Elewisa died on 21 December 1877 in St. Louis from “chronic dysentry.” She was 72 years old, born in the U.S., and she was widowed. She might have been a widow of her first husband, William Jefferson Gatewood, who died in 1842, but her 2d husband, Jarvis Pierce, did not die until 1880. He was still in Harrisburg, Illinois, married to Unity, his third wife. Elewisa and Jarvis were divorced, so taking back her Gatewood name, she probably considered herself a widow.

Jeff Gatewood

Jeff Gatewood

Jeff Gatewood, San Andreas and the duel

Meanwhile, her oldest son, William Jefferson “Jeff” Gatewood, had fought in the Mexican War and then gone to California at the time of the Gold Rush. He was in Sacramento in 1850 but moved to San Andreas some time after that. He was a lawyer – considered a good one by many – and he served at various times as the District Attorney for Calaveras County during the 1850s and 1860s. He was also the publisher for the San Andreas Register, a local weekly newspaper which ran from 1863-1868, when Jeff Gatewood and others moved to San Diego to publish a newspaper there – The San Diego Union.


Searching for Moonlight Flat

Jeff Gatewood might be best known in San Diego for establishing the San Diego Union, but in Calaveras County, up in the Sierra foothills, he is better known for the duel which he fought in 1859. Following up on my promise to find Gatewood Avenue in San Andreas next time I was up in Murphys, I did just that – and much more. A friend that I stayed with in Murphys, whose family has been in the area a long time, has a cousin with property south of San Andreas which borders Highway 49. On his property is the old  Fourth Crossing Bridge as well as the “old road” which led from the bridge to San Andreas. Fourth Crossing used to be an unincorporated community and you can find an historic marker for it nearby on Highway 49. The area was first known as Foreman’s Ranch. The bridge across San Antonio Creek is the fourth crossing that a traveler had to make between Stockton and Angels Camp.

Reddick Hotel Sign

Reddick Hotel Sign

Before meeting up with the cousin who generously agreed to walk up the old road with us, we went to San Andreas the day before to read all we could about the duel. The duel took place on 16 September 1859 at a spot along the old road called Moonlight Flat. No one seems to know exactly where Moonlight Flat is located, but, from what we read, it was supposed to be about a half mile from  Fourth Crossing – the old Fourth Crossing which sits by the spot where the old Reddick Hotel was located. According to reports of the duel, the carriages carrying the dueling parties left San Andreas and headed for Third Crossing where the duel was to take place. For some reason they decided to go further, following the road in a southeasterly direction over the ridge, down through a narrow valley and onto a flat area – Moonlight Flat.

Gatewood Avenue sign

Gatewood Avenue sign in San Andreas

If you are in San Andreas, Main Street is in the center of town – and the town was fairly small in the 1850s. If you cross Highway 49 to the west, where Main Street would continue, you are on Church Hill Road. The road, within a block or so, comes to the top of a hill on which sits St. Andrew’s Catholic Church and, across the road, St. Andrew’s Cemetery. The Church of San Andreas, established in 1852, gave the town it’s name. Another road, coming up from Highway 49, meets at this intersection with the church and cemetery – this is Gatewood Avenue. Gatewood Avenue is a short little street, more of a lane actually. Then Church Hill Road heads south, finally ending at Poole Station Road.

Old Fourth Crossing bridge

Old Fourth Crossing bridge


We think that the carriages headed out of town on that September morning on Church Hill Road – there was no Highway 49 then – and that this old carriage road then joined what is now Poole Station Road. Further south, near Third Crossing, where a cement works is now operating, a road headed across a ridge, and down to the old Fourth Crossing Bridge.

People at the Reddick Hotel said that they did not hear the shots ring out from the duel, so Moonlight Flat must have been far enough away that the sound of gunfire could not be heard. Our plan was to walk up from the old Fourth Crossing Bridge, where the cousin’s ranch operations were located, and then follow the old road to see if we could find some place that looked like a “flat.”

Gate leading to old road between Fourth Crossing and San Andreas

Gate leading to old road between Fourth Crossing and San Andreas

Knowing the person who owned the land was a definite plus. When he unlocked the gate so we could start up the old road, he surprised us by saying that we would walk up the old road – the one we had been trying to plot out the day before! He said he had even driven his truck up to San Andreas using the road. Road was not really an appropriate term – it was more like tire tracks.

We first passed through acres of grapevines, destined to become San Domingo Creek wine. Then we continued on, following the old road further up the hill.

Jeff Gatewood and Dr. Peterson Goodwyn supposedly each stood under an oak tree as they began to duel. Oak trees can live a long time, but whether either of those oak trees was still alive and standing was in doubt. Our guide told us that several years ago he watched a huge old oak tree fall during a wind storm – in the middle of what are now his grapevines.

Looking for the “Grassy Knoll”

Old road leading out of Fourth Crossing

Old road leading out of Fourth Crossing

 As we continued along, we looked for what we kept referring to as “the grassy knoll” – otherwise known as Moonlight Flat. We knew it had to be along the road. We just weren’t sure how far along. Since one version of the events placed it at about half a mile from Fourth Crossing, we most certainly would have gone right by the spot – and even further. There were many good spots that fit the bill.

The carriages supposedly came down from Third Crossing, went over a ridge and then down a narrow valley before reaching the spot where the duel took place. We thought we might have found the narrow valley, but really, we were mostly guessing.

Old road heading up into what we thought might be the

Old road heading up into what we thought might be the “narrow valley.”

Using Google Maps, and clicking on the Earth view, one can follow the old road from the old Fourth Crossing – not far from where San Antonio Creek crosses Highway 49 – up past the airport, Maury Rasmussen Field, on the east – to where it runs into Poole Station Road. Follow Poole Station Road up to the cement works and then veer off onto Church Hill Road and then into San Andreas. We believe that this is the route that the carriages might have followed to the duel, except in reverse.

Duels at that time were starting to go out of fashion. Various websites note that the last duel in California was between United States Senator David C. Broderick and Ex-Chief Justice David Terry of the State Supreme Court. The duel took place near Merced Lake in San Francisco on 13 September 1859. The duel between Gatewood and Goodwyn took place three days later – on September 16th – so maybe it was the last duel.

I felt less sorry for Dr. Goodwyn after reading that, despite many messages going back and forth, Dr. Goodwyn would not back down and call the duel off. Gatewood would have. On the day of the duel, Dr. Goodwyn, supposedly an alcoholic, was intoxicated to the point that Gatewood felt he should not aim to kill as Goodwyn could barely lift the rifle. Gatewood was advised to shoot to kill. Goodwyn was shot in the stomach, taken back to San Andreas in Gatewood’s larger carriage, and he died several hours later. Before he died he forgave Gatewood, telling him that he was an honorable man. Gatewood supposedly felt remorse over the affair the rest of his life, and some said that taking part in the duel pretty much ruled out a future in politics.

Dr. Goodwyn was buried in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery in San Andreas. We were told the records have probably been destroyed. We did drive up to the cemetery. It’s now a city cemetery and there is a section that is I.O.O.F. and Masonic. This is most likely where he was buried. But that’s another trip.

One unexpected finding

While reading the various versions and reports of the duel, we came across one J.N. Briseño – Joseph Narciso Briseño. Each party to the duel was allowed to bring two seconds. In addition there were one or more surgeons and also friends. Supposedly, one of the friends was Narciso, a boy who must have been about nine to eleven years old. He was known to be Gatewood’s “boy Friday.” After the duel, his family warned him to leave town, perhaps fearing repercussions. This was one story handed down to descendants, but whether that is true or not is unknown. Seems a bit young to bring to a duel or send off on his own afterwards. Narciso was the brother of my friend’s great grandmother, Isabelle Briseño Ponte. Narciso ended up in San Diego and worked for Gatewood and the San Diego Union. Philip Crosthwaite, the brother of Jeff Gatewood’s wife, Mary, had ended up in San Diego by mistake – a good one, though – and Narciso married one of his daughters. That’s also a story for another day.

Photo Sources:

The photo of William Jefferson Gatewood is from the San Diego Police Historical Association webpage:

All other photos were taken by the author, August 2015. The Reddick Hotel sign is now hanging upstairs in the Historical Society Museum in San Andreas. The Historical Society Museum used to be the I.O.O.F. building and Jeff Gatewood and his wife lived in one of the upstairs rooms after they were married in 1857. The two ladies at the museum and the one lady at the Archives next door were all of great help in this quest, answering our questions, making copies and looking things up.

Posted in Gatewood Family, Hubbard Family | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Finding Elewisa

Map of Gallatin County, Illinois

Map of Gallatin County, Illinois

Elewisa has long been one of my elusive forebears. She was born Elewisa Hubbard. When she married William Jefferson Gatewood in 1828 in Gallatin County, Illinois, her name on the certificate was Elewisa A. R. Hubbard. When William Jefferson died in 1842, she married Jarvis Pierce three years later, becoming Elewisa Pierce. When their daughter, Mary E. Pierce Phillips died in 1929 in St. Petersburg, Florida, her mother’s name was given on the death certificate as Adyline Rumsey, written over what appears to be another name which was smudged out. That name looks like Elewisa Gatewood.

Elewisa and her first husband, William Jefferson Gatewood, were first cousins. His mother and her father were brother and sister, Elizabeth Hubbard Gatewood and Adolphus Hubbard. Elewisa and William were both born in Kentucky, but moved while young to Illinois which had only just become a state in 1818. William taught school in Gallatin County while studying law. He was admitted to the bar in 1828, the year he married. He and Elewisa had several children, four of whom

Courthouse in Old Shawneetown, Gallatin County, Illinois

Courthouse in Old Shawneetown, Gallatin County, Illinois

survived: William Jefferson Jr., Ephraim, Nancy and Isaac. William was elected to public office, first to the state Assembly and later to the state Senate. The capital of Illinois was in Vandalia when he was first elected and later in Springfield. While in Springfield during the legislative session, he died suddenly of a heart attack on Saturday night, January 8, 1842, while at his lodgings. He was buried in the Old City Graveyard in Springfield and later reinterred at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, where Abraham Lincoln was buried. Lincoln and Gatewood, both lawyers at the time, knew each other. Supposedly, Lincoln announced Gatewood’s death at the Supreme Court in Springfield.

Harrisburg,_IL_West_Side_of_Square copy

West side of Square, Harrisburg, Illinois. The photograph was probably taken in the late 1800s

Elewisa married Jarvis Pierce, a widower, in 1845 in Gallatin County, about three years after her husband’s death. They had one daughter, Mary E. Pierce, from whom I descend. Jarvis was a plasterer and a contractor.

Sometime in the mid-1860s Elewisa left Jarvis and told him not to come looking for her. She had her reasons for leaving and they were good ones. Jarvis filed for divorce in 1866 on grounds of desertion. According to the divorce proceedings, Elewisa treated Jarvis poorly and gave him no peace. While he was ill, she left with several wagonloads of household goods. We don’t have Elewisa’s side of the story but it can be found in several records.

Living in the household with Jarvis and Elewisa in the 1860 census in Harrisburg, Saline County, Illinois, were Unity Barnes, a widow, 41, and her young daughter Louisa, 3.

Ten years later, in the 1870 census, there is Jarvis Pearce, 69, Unity Pearce, 52, Sarah E. Barnes, 13, and Nora Pearce, 10. Sarah and Louisa are probably the same person, but Nora is new. Nora turns out to be Madora Etta Pierce, Unity’s daughter, born 20 November 1860 in Harrisburg – according to her death certificate in Oakdale, Louisiana, in 1935. The certificate names her father as Jarvis Pierce. Madora Pierce, 19, married Fredrick C. Burgner, 21, in Harrisburg on 24 December 1879. Jarvis married Unity in September 1866, as soon as Jarvis and Elewisa’s divorce was final.

I looked for Elewisa for several years, wondering where she went, if she remarried and when she died. Because of the name “Adyline Rumsey” on her daughter’s death certificate, I tried looking for her under that name – with zero results. I could not find a record of another marriage, nor her death. Jarvis thought she went to St. Louis, Missouri, but I did not find her there. She was not living with her son, William Jefferson Gatewood Jr., in San Diego in 1870. I could not find her Gatewood daughters. So the search for Elewisa was put  aside for many years.

Recently, while visiting friends in Murphys, California, just a few miles down the road from San Andreas, I decided I needed to know more about Col. William Jefferson “Jeff” Gatewood, Elewisa’s oldest son. Jeff Gatewood went out West to California at the time of the Gold Rush. He was living in Sacramento in 1850 and in San Andreas in 1860. Jeff was a lawyer and the District Attorney there, but is well-known because he was involved in a duel.

The Mitchler Hotel, 1860, Murphys, California, now the Murphys Hotel. Photo taken the at the time Col. William Jefferson Gatewood was living in nearby San Andreas

The Mitchler Hotel, 1860, Murphys, California, now the Murphys Hotel. Photo taken the at the time Col. William Jefferson Gatewood was living in nearby San Andreas

On 16 September 1868 Col. Gatewood had an argument with Dr. Peterson Goodwyn in a saloon on Main Street in San Andreas. Goodwyn called Gatewood a “damned old abolitionist” and a duel ensued. Rifle shots were fired. Gatewood apologized to the wounded Goodwyn who later died. No charges were filed as Goodwyn felt Gatewood had acted honorably.

Gatewood later moved to San Diego at the urging of his brother-in-law, Phillip Crosthwaite, who wanted him to come down and publish a newspaper in San Diego – which he did. He had been publishing the San Andreas Register in Calaveras County, so in 1868 he took his equipment, moved to San Diego and became one of the co-founders of the San Diego Union.

St_Louis_Birdseye_Map_1896 copy2

Map of St. Louis, Missouri, in 1896

While searching for Jeff Gatewood I found a Gatewood descendant who had shared Gatewood information in a genealogy forum. It was there I found that Elewisa was living with her daughter Nancy Gatewood Addison and her family in White County, Illinois, in 1870. Her name in the census was given as Louisa Gatewood – so she had gone back to her first husband’s name. She died in 1877 in St. Louis and is buried there at Frieden Cemetery. The cemetery would be located in the top right corner of the map above where the Mississippi River curves around an island.

Next time I am up in San Andreas I will photograph the street sign at Gatewood Avenue and East St. Charles Street (Highway 49), a country lane near to the cemetery.


Map of Gallatin County: “Atlas of Henry Co. Illinois to Which is Added an Atlas of the United States,” Warner & Beers Publishers, Chicago, 1875. Submitted to ILGenWeb by Alice Gless.

Old Shawneetown Courthouse: “The Courthouse in [Old] Shawneetown, Illinois.” Lee, Russell, 1903-   , photographer. 1937. Wikimedia Commons

West Side of Square, Harrisburg, Illlinois:  Released by the Daily Register newspaper in 2003. Wikimedia Commons

St. Louis Birdseye Map, 1896:  By Fred Graf. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Mitchler Hotel, Murphys, Calaveras County, California: Historic American Buildings Survey V. Covert Martin Collection, Stockton, Calif. Original- 1860’s Re-photo- June, 1940 view from Southeast. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.  Wikimedia Commons

Posted in Family Research, Gatewood Family, Genealogy, Hubbard Family, Pierce Family | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Man in the Locket

Who was the man in the locket? This question had been puzzling me for at least ten yearswilliam louis shuttleworth when the answer hit me like a ton of bricks this past week.

A large locket was handed down in our family on my mother’s side. The locket had belonged to my grandmother’s brother, Francis Celestino Brent Jr. – known to us as Uncle Tino. The inscription inside the locket has his name and the city where he lived, Pensacola, Florida.

mary-ella-shuttleworth-brentIn the back part of the locket there is a photograph of my great grandmother, Mary Ella Shuttleworth Brent, of Pensacola, Florida. In the front of the locket, across from the inscription, is a picture – a copy of a painting – of a young man in a military uniform. There was much discussion when we first came across this locket about who this man was. At first we thought it might be Mary Ella’s father-in-law, Thomas William Brent.

Thomas William Brent was born in 1808 in Washington Dthomas-william-brent.C., the son of Col. William Brent. Thomas was in the United States Navy – a career officer – until resigning his position when the Civil War began and he joined the Confederacy. Thomas had settled in Pensacola, Florida, where he married Merced Gonzalez, a daughter of Celestino Gonzalez, a Pensacola native of Spanish descent.

colonel-william-brentThomas William Brent’s father, Colonel William Brent, was also in the military as a young man in the District of Columbia militia in the early 1800s. Born in Virginia in 1775, he served as Captain of the Cavalry in 1807 in the nation’s capitol. He also served as a secretary to President Thomas Jefferson for a short time before holding the position of Clerk of the Courts in Washington D.C. for many years.

During the past many years I had looked on the internet to find U.S. Navy uniforms that matched the uniform in the painting, with no luck. I shared the picture with another william-louis-shuttleworth locketrelative who had done extensive research on Thomas William Brent and he said it was definitely not him and it was not his father either. Finding the uniform of the D.C. militia led to more dead ends. The locket went back in a safe deposit box. Out of sight, out of mind. I did devote a page on my website to the locket and the mystery man.

Then this past week, I looked again at the man and this time I really looked at him. He had a dimple in his chin. He had curly hair. He had a nose which pointed down and a handlebar mustache. Both Thomas William Brent, and his father, William Brent, have straight hair. Thomas William has no dimple on his chin. His father might have – difficult to tell. But there was someone else who did. And he had a mustache as well. This was Colonel William Louis Shuttleworth, Mary Ella Shuttleworth’s father and my great great grandfather. And, he had curly hair!

William Louis was born in 1812 in New Jersey. His mother’s name was Mary, his father isWilliam Louis Shuttleworth unknown. In 1831 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving as a ship’s carpenter for several years. In 1839 he resigned his position in the Navy and joined the U.S. Marine Corps as a 2d Lieutenant. One of his assignments took him to Pensacola, Florida, where he met and married Clotilda Brosnaham in 1843, the daughter of a local physician, Dr. John Brosnaham, and his wife, Maria Josefa Martinez. They had three children before Clotilda died in 1850. He then married Clotilda’s half sister, Amanda Brosnaham, in 1851. They had three children also, before Amanda died in 1858. His oldest child was Mary Ella Shuttleworth, my great grandmother.

colonel-william-louis-shuttleworthWilliam Louis was often at sea. He served in the Mexican War and in the Civil War and was often stationed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He died in Brooklyn in 1871, not long after he retired. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. His first wife was buried in Catskill, New York, next to her paternal grandparents. His second wife, my great great grandmother, Amanda, was buried in Pensacola in the Brosnaham plot in St. Michael’s Cemetery.

I am in the process of finding out whether the uniform in the picture would be a Marine uniform from that time period. If my guess turns out to be right, then the mystery man would be Colonel William Louis Shuttleworth. This would be the only picture we have of him as a young man.

For more on William Louis Shuttleworth and his family:

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The Bay of Horta, the Privateer General Armstrong and Dr. John Brosnaham

More ancestral thoughts surfaced on the trip my daughter and I took to Madeira and the Azores. We spent eleven days on the island of Faial, in Praia do Almoxarife, staying with friends who treated us with magnificent hospitality and who made sure we saw and experienced all we could during those eleven days.

The island of Faial is one of the islands in the central group of the Azores, Portugal, and it sits on the westernmost edge of the Eurasian Plate. The island is actually sitting at the edges of three tectonic plates: The North American Plate, The African Plate and the Eurasian Plate. At the far western side of Faial is the most recent volcanic activity of the island, Capelinhos, created during the 1957 volcanic eruption which lasted for more than a year.

As you fly into the airport in Faial you can see the entire island, a beautiful gem in the Atlantic Ocean west of Portugal. Standing at various viewpoints around the island you can look off into the distance and know that you are really out there, hundreds of miles from everywhere. The air was clean, the breeze gentle (most of the time), and the temperature was in the low 70s. We felt removed from the rest of the world.


Among the many sights to see is the harbor in Horta, the main town on the island. We went down there several times and once spent over an hour looking at the many paintings along the wharf area commemorating the visits of the hundreds of yachts and sailing vessels that have dropped anchor here. It’s traditional for the sailing crew to leave a record of their ship’s visit with a painting depicting their voyage. When one of the paintings begins to disappear due to the elements, one can repaint over the spot with a new record of a voyage.


ImageThe harbor and the Bay of Horta had another meaning for me. In 1814 my ancestor, John Brosnaham (or Brosnahan), was aboard the United States privateer General Armstrong  as it’s surgeon when it arrived in Horta for water and supplies. Being Portuguese, Horta was a neutral port during the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain. Samuel C. Reid was the captain of the privateer.

On the 26th of September at ten in the morning the General Armstrong sailed into Horta and at eight that night their ship was attacked by the British. Under the command of Captain Robert Lloyd several small boats were sent out from the squadron of three warships: the HMS Rota, the HMS Carnation and the HMS Plantagenet to check out the American vessel. Claiming that the Americans fired first, the British attacked and destroyed the General Armstrong. Only two Americans were killed in the battle, but thirty-six British lost their lives. The Americans burned their ship and left within a few days aboard a Portuguese brig for Amelia Island on the northeast coast of Florida.

ImageThe British, meanwhile, had to transport their wounded home and were delayed getting to Jamaica where they were to rendezvous with a larger force which was heading to New Orleans. Some accounts maintain that this delay gave Andrew Jackson more time to prepare and thus defeat the British in New Orleans. The Treaty of Ghent, ending the war, had already been signed, two weeks earlier, so the outcome of the battle changed nothing. It did make Andrew Jackson a national military hero though.

In a letter written by Captain Reid, 4 October 1814, explaining the circumstances of the destruction of the General Armstrong, he mentions that though they had several injured crew members, “It gives me much pleasure to announce to you that our wounded are all in a fair way of recovery, through the unremitted care and attention of our worthy surgeon.”

The “worthy surgeon” was my great, great great grandfather, Dr. John Brosnaham, son of Andrew Brosnahan and Margaret Rim of Catskill, New York. After the war he lived in Cuba for awhile before ending up in Pensacola where he married Maria Josefa Martinez. After her death in 1823, he married Isabella Eugenia Sierra, daughter of Dr. Eugenio Antonio Sierra and his wife Francesca Dauphin of Pensacola.

On one of the last days of our stay in Faial, we went to the new aquarium which had just opened a day or so before. Just up the path from the aquarium was the newly opened Dabney House museum. John Bass Dabney was the American consul to the Azores, appointed by President Thomas Jefferson in 1807 to see to American interests in the whaling industry. Dabney was the consul to whom the Americans turned when they were left in Horta without a ship. He was most likely the one who provided the ship which took the survivors to Amelia Island in Florida.

Interesting note:

When Thomas Jefferson took office in 1801 he chose as his private secretary Meriwether Lewis. After Lewis set of on his expedition, Col. William Brent worked temporarily as Jefferson’s secretary. Offered the position permanently, he declined for personal reasons. Col. William Brent’s grandson, Francis Celestino Brent, of Pensacola, married the granddaughter of Dr. John Brosnaham, Mary Ella Shuttleworth.

For more on Dr. John Brosnaham: http://www.brosnahanjohn.htm

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Finding my ancestor’s grave in Madeira

Several years ago my aunt told me that one of our cousins had gone to Madeira, maybe fifty or more years ago, and found the grave of my great great great grandfather, Joseph Dundas Miller. For years my bucket list included a trip to the island of Madeira to find his grave for myself and photograph it. That dream came true this month when my daughter and I traveled to the Azores to visit friends. We flew from San Francisco to Boston, Boston to Ponta Delgado in the Azores and then on to Funchal, Madeira, off the coast of Africa, west of Casablanca and north of the Canary Islands.

ImageJoseph Dundas Miller, 1792-1847, was born in Bootle, a suburb of Liverpool. His father, William Miller, was a mercer and draper in Liverpool, and his mother, Mary Spurstow, daughter of George Spurstow and Elizabeth Hayes, was from Chester in Cheshire.

Joseph was a Brazilian shipping merchant, trading between Brazil and England and possibly other ports of call, including Madeira. He and his wife, Elizabeth Tomlinson, lived in Bahia, Brazil, for the first several years of their marriage – the first five of their eight children were born there. In the early 1830s the family moved back to Liverpool and Joseph must have continued traveling to manage his business interests. He was in Madeira when he died on 30 October 1847 and he was buried there in the English Cemetery. He was fifty-five years old.

Until a couple years ago I didn’t know much more than that. Then, making contact with one of the Church Wardens at the English Church in Funchal and she confirmed that Joseph Miller was in the burial record, that he was buried in the English Cemetery nearby but had no tombstone. The cemetery caretaker would help me find the grave.

In digging around, trying to find out all about the cemetery, when it was begun, whether there was a burial register, etc., I found a very interesting bit of history. To the north and east of Funchal lies Ponta do Garajau, a headland with spectacular views and a sheer drop. Tourists can walk a long path to the top, past the huge statue of Christ the Redeemer gazing over the Atlantic Ocean, and continue on to the farthest point. Long ago it was known to the British who lived there as the Brazen Head and, for some of them, it was their last stop on earth. Before the 1770s, local law forbade non-Catholics to be buried on the island. The country was Catholic and the ground was sacred. The British, being mostly non-Catholic, were taken up to the top of this point, after they died, and cast into the sea. If they were rich, they could hire a boat and take the body out to sea for burial. The corpses and coffins were weighted as they went to their final rest.

IMG_7189 copyAbout 1770 the British were finally granted a spot of land where they could bury their dead. Located at 235 Rua de Carreira, in the historic section of Funchal, it is known as the English Cemetery, or the British Cemetery. According to one researcher, not that long ago the cemetery was in disrepair, overgrown and not a place one might want for their last resting spot. But several years ago the cemetery was cleaned up and now it is like a garden that tourists can wander through, a more peaceful, lovely place.

My daughter and I arrived in Funchal on a Wednesday afternoon, dead tired from a long flight, and took a nap. We only had Thursday to visit the administrator for the English Church as the office was closed on Friday and Saturday. So, first thing (after breakfast, of course) on Thursday morning, we took the local bus from our hotel west of the old part of town into Funchal proper. After getting lost and asking directions at a fire department (Bombeiros Municipais do Funchal), we finally found the English Church where we were allowed to look through the parish registers. And there he was! Joseph Miller, abode: Funchal, Late of Bootle near Liverpool, buried 31st October 1847, 55 years. Rev. R.T. Lowe presided at the burial. Many photos were taken!

rua_da_carreira_b We were then directed to the English (or British) Cemetery, a short distance away, where we were told how to find Carlos, the caretaker. Using his extensive records, Carlos was able to find that Joseph Miller was one of the many burials that were unearthed when a road was built along the cemetery on one side – Rua da Carreira. The bones of these individuals were dug up and reinterred within the walls of the cemetery. The tombstones were then placed on the wall.

Rua da Carreira, at left, where Joseph Miller was originally buried.joseph_dundas_miller_gravestone_b

The cemetery was in sections, each surrounded by walls, and we were led to the section where Joseph Dundas was reburied. And there, on the wall, was his tombstone!  He actually had a tombstone and not a grave and the tombstone was in excellent condition.

The inside wall running along the Rua da Carreira showing the many tombstones that had once been on what is now the bricked street. The many walls inside the cemetery are covered with tombstones like this.

IMG_7201 copyNeedless to say, I was thrilled to find his burial site AND his tombstone. The civil records of death, which might have told me how he died, were not available for 1847 and several other years. Joseph’s wife, Elizabeth, died in 1852 and I have not found out yet where she is buried. Their son, William Charles Miller, 1826-1899, was my great great grandfather.

For more on Joseph Dundas Miller and the Miller family of Liverpool, England:

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