Gordon Batelle Brake's grandfather, James Brake, has been of particular interest to me as he and my great-great-great grandmother, Elizabeth Brake seemed to have one thing in common: efforts to fit them into the larger picture of the Brake family tree have until recently proved utterly futile.
My ancestor, Elizabeth Brake, was roughly the same age as James Brake, she lived in the same general area for nearly all of her seventy some years, and she was the mother of a number of children. Yet there seems to have been some effort to cover up her roots, and even the best guesses we have made regarding her origins are far from solid. By now you may be wondering what all of this has to do with the family history of Gordon Batelle Brake.
James Brake, the grandfather of Gordon Batelle Brake, is in somewhat the same situation as my Elizabeth. Efforts of many researchers over the years have been frustrated in an effort to place him in the larger picture of the family as a whole. I do not think there was ever the effort to hide his connection to the family, like there was for my ancestor, but when Linnie Cunningham wrote her Brake family history back in the forties she dealt with the James Brake family in such a way that fell just short of disowning them. She said that they were unable to prove a connection to the rest of the Brakes in West Virginia. During my years of poking around in the Brake family closet, pushing aside all of the skeletons in search of my own connection to the family, I have managed to prove your connection, or at least prove that there was a connection.
The mountain of material I have gathered in the course of this research may be the reason I have been asked to speak here today. And while this pile of information of mine could fill several evenings of family reunions, I will concentrate primarily on material that can be told in story form, and I'll leave the names and dates to someone else to sort out.
The roots of the Brake family of West Virginia go back to Germany. You will hear a number of fantastic stories about the roots of this family at a place called "Brake Castle", and about the inhabitants there being of one of Germany's royal houses. While there is no reason to doubt the existence of a Brake castle in Germany, or to doubt that there are German Brake's whose roots connect with European Nobility, the fact is that there is absolutely no evidence to connect our West Virginia Brake family with that royal house. This is a statement that may get some folks a bit indignant, as it seems everyone in all American families want to connect their roots to some noble family or to some brave American patriot. It will be said by some that since we do not know exactly where our Brakes came from in Germany, we cannot prove that they do not hail from Brake Castle. Such a statement is as true as it is irrelevant, as the burden of proof does not rest with the party who denies a statement, but rather upon the person who makes the statement. So since the proponents of the "Brake Castle" background are not able to prove our family's connection to the Brakes of German nobility, we will begin our story with roots that are more realistic and indeed proven.
It has been said that the wealthy and powerful don't go into exile, and in fact they do not. Why leave home when you own all the land, control all the money, and eat all the fattest cattle? No, it is the poor and downtrodden who generally emigrate, and the story of the mass exodus out of southwestern Germany in the 1700's is one of the epic chapters in mass migration in human history. Thousands of persons poured out of the Rhine River valley into the port of Philadelphia before the American Revolution, and it is in this mass migration of Lutheran German peasant stock that we find the real roots of our Brake family.
The Germany of the 1700's had been repeatedly devastated by a series of wars. Southwestern Germany had the misfortune to lie between the contending armies in some conflicts, and the Rhine Valley itself had been laid waste by marauding troops who had burned everything in sight. Although by the mid 1700's the region had to some extent began to recover, still poverty and desolation were everywhere and many persons were forced to seek their fortunes in the new world. The majority of these immigrants came into the country at the port of Philadelphia, and many worked as servants for a period of years to pay for their passage.
As has been stated, we do not know specifically the German ancestry of the Brake family of West Virginia, at least not on the Brake side of the family. We do, however, have the German ancestry of the family on the maternal side back over 400 years. One of the earliest ancestors of the West Virginia Brakes was an individual named Anthony Kessobohrer, who may have been born in the late 1500's. This Brake ancestor lived at Ulm, Germany, the same village from whence came the distinguished physicist Albert Einstein. This Anthony had a daughter named Regina, who married one Hans Gall Keiffer in 1657. Hans and Regina in turn had a son named Friderick who married Maria Scheuffelin and in 1732 they, with their two married sons Leonard and Jacob, came to America. Jacob and Leonard changed their names to Cooper and migrated from Pennsylvania into Frederick County, Virginia. Jacob Cooper had a daughter Elizabeth, who married Jacob Brake, and this couple became the ancestors of all of the Brakes in West Virginia today. So the ancestry of the Brakes of West Virginia can be traced back to the late 1500's on the maternal line.
But what is known about the male line, or the Brake side of the family? The family goes back to another German immigrant, named Johann Jacob Brake. As I have said we have no information on the Brake ancestry on the other side of the Atlantic, so I will not be able to recite such a deep family line as I did with the Cooper side of the family. However records available in Germany as well as America enable us to make some assumptions, to piece together a hypothetical history of the Brake side of the family, a history that while it is hypothetical, and founded to some extent on conjecture, it in part is factual, and should afford us a glimpse of our Brake ancestry prior to their emigration to America.
This Johann Jacob Brake is not the same one mentioned above who married Elizabeth Cooper. This Johann Jacob is the father of the Jacob who married ELizabeth Cooper. We do know for a fact that this older Jacob came from Germany, as he mentions a relative in Germany in his will. We also know that he must have been born between 1695 and 1705 or earlier, given the ages of his children. It is thought that the family name in Germany was "Brechtel", as this is how it appears on the earliset West Virginia deed for the family. So we can say with some confidence that our earliest Brake ancestor was a German named Johann Jacob Brechtel born in Germany about 1695 or 1700.
The records of Germany give some clues to the possible village of origin of the Brake family. In the small village of Eschelbach, southeast of Heidelberg, there lived a family named Brecht in the mid 1700's. This village is in the middle of an area from which many West Virginia German families came, and the name Brecht in the German custom could also be Brechtel. What makes this family especially interesting is that two members of it named Johann Jacob Brecht are shown by the church record there to have came to America. These two Jacobs are not our Jacob, as their emigration records show that they left Germany later than our Jacob. However, it seem interesting that we have a family with the same name as ours, in an area from which many West Virginia Germans were coming, with members named Johann Jacob Brecht coming to America. Only further work will tell us if this is our family, and such work will take some financial assistance as we will need to hire someone who can read the records.
The Germany of Johann Jacob Brake's day was not a unified body as it is today, but rather a loose confederation of well over a thousand little duchies, baronies, kingdoms, principalities, free cities, and dukedoms. These were rather loosely aligned as constituent states of the Holy Roman Empire, upon the throne of which sat the Kaiser, or Emporer. The power of the Kaiser over the average individual was almost non- existant, however, and the average German peasant was much more closely controlled by his local ruler. Johann Jacob Brake would have had to apply to the local ruler for permission to leave the area, which permission may have been granted for a price. Johannn Jacob Brake would have contracted with a boatman for the rtip down river on a raft to Holland, which process was expensive and time consuming, but none the less was the mode of travel of most of the emigrants.
At Rotterdam a group would have been assembled and another contract would have been signed with a ship captain for the trip to Philadelphia, often with a stop in England on the way. At Philadelphia the group may have been indebted to a merchant for the passage, and many had to make contracts for a given period of servitude to pay for the ticket. All of immigrants would be required to swear an oath of allegiance to the British Crown (America at the time was a British Colony). Not all German immigrants of the period would have came into the country at Philadelphia, but at that port by far the largest percentage of them disembarked. Regardless of where Johann Jacob Brake first set foot on American soil, he mad his way to Frederick County, Virginia where we find him in records by 1749.
Little is known of the day to day life of Johann Jacob Brake in Frederick County, Virginia, but it is known that the family had some serious problems. In his will, Johann Jacob Brake disinherited all of his children except his son Jacob, and his son Martin had been so upset by problems in the family that even Germany looked better than remaining with his father, and back to Germany he went, a fact which Johann Jacob mentioned in his will. Johann Jacob Brake had besides Martin and Jacob, a daughter Elizabeth who married a man named House, a daughter Catherine who married Martin Grider, and a daughter Margaret who married John Batchelor. Johann Jacob Brake died in 1762 and his will was witnessed by Moses Striker, George Ludwig Hockheimer, and Lawrence Stephens. The widow Mary Margaret gave bond with Leonard Cooper as administrator.
It was not long after the death of Johann Jacob Brake before his son Jacob left the family home in Frederick County and crossed the mountains into what is now West Virginia. Some historians have placed him on the South Fork River several years prior to the death of Johann Jacob, but I will present evidence shortly that this was not the case.
Moses Striker, who witnessed the will off Johann Jacob Brake also came to West Virginia about this time, as we find him as a party to the estate settlement of Peter Reed in Hampshire County records in 1762. This Peter Reed had been the original purchaser of South Fork Lot number 1 in the early 1750's and he had built and operated a sizable water powered mill thereon. The location of this property is at what later became Brake Post Office, about 15 miles south of Moorefield on the South Fork. It is interesting to note Moses Striker involved with Peter Reed as in 1763 Jacob Brake, son of Johann Jacob, bought the Peter Reed mill property from Peter Hass, and this would become the Brake home for the rest of Jacob's life, and beyond, he operating the mill at that location.
This mill later became known to historians as the "old Baron's castle", as some of the early historians believed that Jacob Brake was a member of the German nobility. This mill must have been a handful, as the Virginia Gazette for March 25, 1775 reported that the English servant of Jacob Brake in Hampshire County, John Young, had ran away from his master. So Jacob must have needed help in managing the affairs of the mill and farm.
Peace had reigned supreme on the Virginia frontiers since the close of the French and Indian war in the 1750's. However in the early 1760's that peace was shattered by the onset of Pontiac's war, a disastrous war with the Indians that bathed the frontiers in blood in all America from New York to Florida.
The English rapidly moved west to take possession of the territory won from the French, after the close of the French and Indian war, but the Indians had rebelled against the English. In November, 1760, Rogers, an English officer, sailed over Lake Erie to take possession of former French posts further West. He was waited on by Pontiac, a Delaware Indian by birth but an Ottawa Captive and Ottawa chief. He hailed Rogers, and told him that the country belonged to neither the French or the English but to the Indian, and told him to go back. This Rogers refused to do, and Pontiac set about forming a confederacy of all the Indians in the Eastern United States with the purpose of driving the whites from the country west of the Alleghenies.
Pontiac struck in 1763. The sudden and disastrous war was widespread. Settlers fled for protection from the frontiers to the forts and towns. The settlements on the Greenbrier were deserted. The colonists hurried east of the Alleghanies. Indians prowled through all settled portions of West Virginia and extended their raids to the South Branch of the Potomac, where the Brake family lived. Among the casualties of this war was Mrs. Jacob Brake, the maternal ancestor of our Brake family. This event has been well expounded by historians but at the same time misunderstood and mis represented. It is hoped that the notes here presented will lend a better understanding of this important event in the Brake history.
It seems to have been almost a decade from the time Jacob Brake's first wife and children were killed or captured by the Indians until the time that he remarried his second wife, Catherine Stump, or at least until the birth of their only known child, Michael Brake in 1779. It is known that he was married to Catherine by 1775.
In 1771 Jacob Brake purchased from James Jones 200 acres on a fork of the South Branch called the Little Springs. He sold this property to John Wolf in 1775, and in that deed the name of his second wife Catherine appears. In 1778 Jacob Brake, and a neighbor Anthony Reger were purchasers at the estate of Mark Swadley farther up the South Fork in what is now Pendleton County. Swadley was another German, and lived in a concentration of German settlers on the head of the South Fork.
The Revolutionary War was nearly over in 1781 when the home of Jacob Brake became the center of an uprising of persons of Tory sympathies, or sympathies with the English instead of the Americans in the Revolution. The "Claypole Rebellion" as it has been called by historians is one of the best known of several uprisings by tories in Western Virginia, and the following notes will include not only a good deal of information on it, but an overview of tory activities in the state as a whole.
One aspect of the history of Western Virginia during the American Revolution that has been reported somewhat less zealously by historians is a significant presence of persons who remained loyal to the British cause during the conflict, a presence of persons known as tories. While tory agitation may not have amounted to a major blow to the war effort in West Virginia, the state did see a number of minor incidents and a couple of major uprisings, and our Brake family was among those who affiliated themselves with loyalist sympathies, regardless of what some descendants with membership in patriotic organizations may have been led to believe.
By 1778 the war was in full swing. In February France recognized the cause of American Independance, and in April a French naval contingent sailed for the colonies, to lend assistance to the American cause. This prompted British generals to evacuate Philadelphia, they being pursued by Washington, the whole incident culminating in the Battle of Monmouth in June. Meanwhile in Western Virginia, Andrew Skidmore brought charges in court in Rockingham County against one Felix Gilbert for "uttering words inimical to the state at his house, which sewed sedition among settlers on western waters" (1).
In 1779 General George Rogers Clark, commanding an army composed partly of men from Western Virginia, captured the British Fort at Vincennes, Indiana, and General "Mad Anthony" Wayne captured the British post at Stony Point, New York. The tide of the war had began to turn in favor of the Americans. In that year Henry Peninger was indicted by the Rockingham court for "speaking disrespectful and disgraceful words of the congress and words leading to the depreciation of the continental currency". (2)
The North Fork of the South Branch as well as the Cheat River also saw the appearance of tory sympathies. Morton's History of Pendleton reports that one John Davis of the North Fork was judged guilty of treason, and that William Gregg among others had been his security in court. Gregg lived at Mouth of Seneca, and apparently had been previously affiliated with Timothy Dorman, another apparent tory, who joined the British led Indians at the fall of Buckhannon in 1782 and led them through Randolph County and into Pendleton where they burned William Gregg's house.
Tory Camp Run and Little Tory Camp Run on the Dry Fork in Randolph County bear names reminiscent of the presence of persons of loyalist sympathies on their waters. History tells us that Uriah Gandy was the leader of the tory element there, and that Gandy was influenced by one William Ward (3), whose treasonous activities are recalled in the records of Rockingham County.
On August 29, 1780, William Ward was charged by the court of Rockingham with uttering for the people to take up arms against the United States. He was charged with having made four statements: "The Americans would just as soon face the Devil as the British", "The United States has never done anything in the war but take Burgoyne, and that was by accident", "England had a right to send forces to the United States because the US still owed England a debt", and "The US are cowards because they hired foreigners to fight their battles". About the same time as these proceedings, problems on the South Branch between tories and the general population resulted in the murder of Sebastian Hoover by John Wilfong.
Morton's History of Pendleton County relates that by 1780 the burden of taxation on Americans to finance the war effort had become nearly unbearable. Among many others an act had been passed laying a tax of eighty pounds money for every hundred pounds of property for the recruitment of the Continental Army. In addition to being liable to such a high tax to support the army, the citizenry was also liable for the draft into the army, and to further responsibility for clothing the soldiers. This state of affairs some on the South Fork found to be unbearable.
On the South Branch lived one John Claypole, a Scotchman of tory sympathy who had followers as far up river as the head of the South Fork in Pendleton County. Claypole assembled a band of some sixty or seventy men and proceeded to the mill of Jacob Brake on the South Fork where they raised a British flag, drank to the health of the King, and prepared to dig in and resist the above mentioned tax act by force of arms. A small force of local militia was sent to assist local officers in enforcing order, but finding the tories at Brake's too strong they withdrew. This inflamed the tories even further. (4). Troops were sent for from Winchester, and the following excerpt of a letter written at the time will lend a glimpse of the state of affairs in May of 1781: "We are under the disagreeable necessity of troubling you for assistance immediately. I received an express from the commanding officer of this county for three hundred men from Frederick County. Yesterday the militia of this county marched to Captain Stump's, there made a halt, and sent a party of light horse to see what discoveries they could make about Jacob Brake's mill on the South Fork. They were repulsed by fire and got off without any loss and brought with them two prisoners. They can't make any discovery as to the number of the enemy. I understood from Powell who came from Claypoles's (the commander of the tories) that he expected by last night to command one thousand men. I think the only sure remedy to apply would be to prevail upon General Morgan to take...amongst them, they are dailey daring him. Let the men be officered and well armed." (5)
A contingent of about 400 riflemen under general Morgan marched from Winchester in June and proceeded to the South Fork, to Brake's mill. After a short skirmish the tories were brought under control. Revolutionary pension applications made in the 1830's by some of the persons who participated in this action offer a first hand account of the battle:
Pension file of Thomas Brown:
"Served three years, remained in Hampshire County, several skirmishes took place with the tories. The company was in the battle of Brake's Mill on the South Branch with the tories on which occasion several tories were killed. (Brown) was the individual who carried the express to Old Town to Col. Mitchel for reinforcements to join their company to go against the tories. No reinforcement came but they took a great meny tories and put them in the Romney jail and Winchester jail." (6)
Pension file of Jacob Fisher:
"Volunteered in a light horse company. In 1781 marched against the tories in the Western part of Hampshire County, engaged in skirmish with the tories near Brake's in Hampshire County, now Hardy County" (7)The seditionists were tried in Hampshire County and found guilty, but filed a petition for pardon with authorities which was accepted by the Governor and all parties were pardoned. The petitioners claimed that they had no intention to resist or to destroy the American Government, but merely were assembled to resist an act of taxation that they felt was unfair. Jacob Brake was the lead signer of the petition. He appears to have left the South Fork for a time and went to Buckhannon Fort, where Timothy Dorman lived, and in fact the Claypole petition contains the names of several persons who would later settle at Buckhannon.
In the 1830's John and Abraham Brake, sons of Jacob Brake, filed for pensions claiming to have served in the Revolution on the American side. Abraham mentioned visiting his father at Buckhannon Fort, and John mentioned a tour of duty there under George Jackson. A number of persons came forward to contest the pension of John Brake, on the grounds that he was known and reputed in the neighborhood to have been a tory. The pension requests of both Abraham and John Brake were rejected on the grounds of no proof of service.
After the Claypole Rebellion Jacob Brake lived out the rest of his life on the South Fork at Brake's Mill. He appears to have gone to Buckhannon Fort for a time after his acquittal, as is evidenced by his son's Revolutionary pension file. His son Jacob the captive made a settlement on land at Buckhannon, and he would later move there.
Jacob Brake Sr seems to have maintained some ties with the old neigborhood in Frederick County, as we find him in an estate settlement there in 1784. There also seems to have been some contention in the family after his second marriage, as his second wife Catherine Stump Brake disinherited all of the children except her son Michael, the only known child of her marriage to Brake, when she made her will. Jacob Brake Sr died in 1809. His sons Abraham, John, and Jacob the captive all crossed the mountains farther West into what is now West Virginia.
As has been said his son Jacob lived at what is now Buckhannon. His son John lived a few miles north of Clarksburg on the banks of the West Fork River. His son Abraham lived about three miles east of there at the mouth of Brushy Fork, at what is now the Stonewood/Nutter Fort exit of I-79 at Quiet Dell. This son Abraham had a son William, and his murder at Jacksonville, Lewis County in 1861 set off a statewide controversy, that raged in the state newspapers for several months.
Isaac Brake, son of Jacob Brake and Elizabeth Cooper, was the ancestor of the Gordon Batell Brake family, he being Gordon's great-grandfather. The history of Isaac Brake's life has been stitched together from bits and peices, and while we have what we believe to be a valid picture of the life and times of Isaac Brake, many questions remain and much of our inform- ation is founded on theory and conjecture. I will give the details of Isaac Brake's life as I believe they happened, and leave it to others to decide if my account is to be considered accurate.
It is probable that Isaac Brake was born about 1760. The earliest direct evidence we have of Isaac is in the fall of 1781, when his father was in trouble with the revolutionary authorities for his participation in the Claypole uprising. Isaac Brake was the fourth signature on the formal petition for pardon. I believe that by this time Isaac had married and had a son named Abraham, however this is at this point unproven.
Abraham Brake of Licking County, Ohio has to fit somewhere. Like my ancestor, ELizabeth, and your ancestor James Brake, this Abraham has given family historians a run for their money in trying to place him on the proper branch of the family tree. One thing is known, however: The families of Isaac Brake and this Abraham Brake maintained ties in Ohio long after the deaths of both men, and this among other things is the reason I feel that Abraham is a son of Isaac.
Isaac Brake was a purchaser at the estate sale of a member of the Kurkendall family on the South Fork in 1782. At some point after this something seems to have happened to the family of Isaac Brake. It would appear that his wife died, and perhaps Isaac Brake himself was ill as in 1787 his taxes were charged to his father in the Hardy County tax list, showing that at the time Isaac was not responsible for his own affairs, although he must have been nearly 30 years old.
In June of 1789 the overseers of the poor of Hardy County,, the early day counterpart of our present day child welfare agencies, acted in behalf of the Brake family. In a court order at that time Abraham Brake, "aged 3 last January", was bound to Jacob Brake. As I have indicated there is no known proof of exactly who this Abraham Brake was, but a good look at the evidence and a lengthy process of consideration and elimination would suggest that this is a son of Isaac Brake, since we have shown that Isaac Brake was not responsible for his own affairs for some reason. I am also quite convinced that this is the Abraham Brake who later turns up in Licking County, Ohio, although some students of the Brake family History may not agree with this assumption.
It is known that Isaac Brake did marry one Roseanna Almon about 1790. By her he is known to have had several children. A girl named Sarah or Sally was born about 1790 or 92 in Hardy County, and a son named Adam was born there about 1794. The identities and births of these children are I believe generally accepted as founded on solid evidence, but as in the case of Abraham the next child is founded to some extent on conjecture. The next child I feel was James Brake, the grandfather of Gordon Batell Brake.
As I have said James Brake has frustrated many researchers who have attempted to find his connection to the Brake family. The authors of the Brake family History have been content to place him as a son of Isaac Brake, but in my researches I first exhaust all sources of documentive evidence and then read the published histories to see how they fit with the hard documentation. My research on James Brake has led me to the conclusion that the authors of the Brake history are right, and that James Brake was a son of Isaac Brake, but I can cite no document to prove my conclusion.
As with Abraham Brake of Licking County, Ohio, James Brake has to fit somewhere. It is a similar long process of research and elimination that places James Brake as a son of Isaac. Besides the elimination of the other Brake males as James' father, probably the strongest evidence that James belongs with Isaac is the fact that his son Cyrus named a daughter Roseanna, perhaps after Isaac Brake's wife, and the fact that the only place in the Brake family where the name James appears with any frequency is among the descendants of Isaac Brake. So it appears that the third child of Isaac Brake was James Brake, and James was probably born about 1795.
Isaac and Roseanna Brake had a son Michael Brake born in Hardy County about 1797, and a daughter Elizabeth born there about 1802. There may have been yet another girl named Susan, but research is incomplete as to her connection.
About the time of the 1812 war the family of Isaac Brake began to migrate to Ohio. Abraham went to Ross County, in South Central Ohio on present day Rt 23 between Huntington and Columbus. Isaac followed him about 1818. By 1820 Isaac was in Union County near Columbus, and he lived out his life there. James Brake, the grandfather of Gordon Batell Brake, appears to have stayed behind in Hardy County.
The early years of James Brake's life are sketchy. He got married about 1817 or 1818 to a lady named Anna. Her maiden name is given in some sources as Mumford, but I have not seen any proof of this. There was, however, a family by that name on the South Branch, but more research is needed on her side of the family. The first child of this marriage was Cyrus Benjamin Brake, the father of Gordon Batell Brake, born in 1818.
In that year James Brake was a witness to the will of John Rohrbaugh in Hardy County. It is not known where James Brake was in 1820 when the census was taken, but he may have been living with Michael Brake, son of old Jacob, at Brake's mill. The 1820 census does not give the names of individuals in the households beyond listing the name of the head of the house, but the numbers in the listing for Michael Brake would seem to indicate there were other adults in the house, and some have suggested that James was living there at that time helping out with the mill. The numbers in the census, however, do not seem to accomodate Anna, so at this time it is not known with certainty where James Brake was living when the 1820 census was taken, although I think he must have been living on the South Branch somewhere in Hardy County.
The idea that James Brake was closely associated with Michael Brake is further indicated by the fact that in 1822 James and Anna Brake had their second child, and they named this son Nimrod See Brake. Nimrod See, the namesake of this son, was a resident of the South Branch, and in fact married Michael Brake's daughter in 1827. The third child of James and Anna Brake, Jacob James Brake, was born in 1824.
James Brake crossed the mountains into what is now Upshur County in 1822. This is proven by the fact that he was in Hardy County in November of 1821 and testified to the will of John Rohrbaugh which he had witnessed previously, and then shows up in the tax list of Lewis County in 1822. He lived at what is now the community of Peck's Run, about six miles north of Buckhannon. At the time James Brake crossed the mountains Jacob Brake, son of John Brake of near Clarksburg, was manager of the Salt Works at Clarksburg, working for John G. Jackson. Jacob Brake had advanced some of his own money to finance the operation and Jackson instead of cash had reimbursed him with a tract of land at Peck's Run. Jacob Brake, however, was living at the Salt Works and rented the Peck's Run place to James Brake.
A tree fell on James Brake and killed him in 1825. This set off a litigation in court in Harrison County over the title to the property and it is in this court file that we find solid proof of a blood relationship between James Brake and the Hardy County Brakes, for in testimony in that file Jacob Brake called James "my kinsman". Anna Brake, widow of James, rented the farm to Jonas Crites and said in the testimony that she intended to "return to my people on the Branch" refering to the Potomac River area. She did not return there, however, as she shows up in several Lewis County tax lists as a head of household and then in 1833 she remarried to Anson Young, and moved to the opposite end of Upshur County near French Creek.
James Brake historically is something of a mystery. While I have been able to considerably improve the available documentation of his life, some unusual questions remain. Where was this individual between 1818 when he married and 1822 when he shows up in the Lewis County tax list? He appears in no census and in no other tax list, even though he was head of household with children. Why did he manage to avoid being in the Lewis County tax lists between 1822 and 1825? Every male over the age of 16 was taxable, unless disabled. If James was indeed a son of Isaac Brake as seems likely, why did he not go to Ohio with the rest of the family? Maybe these questions will some day be answered. I hope to some day check the legislative petitions for Hardy County in the records at Richmond to see if James signed anything, thereby placing him in a given location in a new source.
James Brake was the grandfather of Gordon B. Brake.
Hampshire County Court Records envelope 5, settlement of Peter Reed estate, paid to Moses Striker 1762. (Striker was witness to will of John Jacob Brake in Frederick County)
Hampshire County Court Records envelope 6, 1775: RE Jacob Break, administrator of John House, decd.
Hampshire County Deed Book 3 page 23 19 June 1771: James and Susanna Jones of New Castle County, PA deed to Jacob Brake for five shillings, 43 pounds at a place called the little springs in a fork of the South Branch 200 acres by survey made by David Vance on the King's line.
Virginia Gazette 25 Mar 1775: John Young, English servant of Jacob Brake of Hampshire County ran away. From GENEALOGICAL ABSTRACTS FROM 18th CENTURY VIRGINIA NEWSPAPERS by Robert Headley Jr, Baltimore. GPC, 1987
Hampshire County Deed Book 4 page 102 8 May 1775 Jacob Brake to John Wolf on Mountain betrween South Fork and South Branch adjoining the King's line. Page 103 says Jacob and CATHERINE.
Augusta County Will Book 6 page 10 15 Sep 1778 Jacob Brack, Anthony Regar and others purchasers at sale of Mark Swadley estate.
Frederick County Will Book 5, page 1: January 1784 sale of Benjamin Keckley's estate, Michael White, David Collins, George Snapp, Jacob Brake, Peter Snapp, David Neshwanger, purchasers.
Compiled by David Armstrong
Comments regarding this page to: Deborah Johnson.