Few West Virginia families hold as many mysteries for the researcher as the family named Brake. Their name is heard among the earliest border history of the region, but in many cases various family members defy definite placement on the family tree.

The history of the Harrison County Brakes begins in 1786 when John Brake bought John Davisson's old land grant on the east side of the West Fork, below the mouth of Brown's Run, three miles south of Clarksburg. In 1796 George Jackson bought a tract of land at the mouth of Brushy Fork near Quiet Dell from Hezekiah Stout. Jackson's wife was John Brake's sister. In 1799 Jackson sold the Brushy Fork property to Abraham Brake, brother of John. Although they did not actually live on them until after 1800, these tracts would become the homeplaces of John and Abraham Brake for many years.

In the 1820s John G Jackson had a salt works near Clarksburg, and Jacob B. Brake, son of John, was employed as manager there. As partial payment for his services Jacob received a farm from Jackson at Peck's Run, Upshur County. In 1823 James Brake shows up in area tax lists, renting the Peck's Run farm from Jacob B. Brake. James was killed by a falling tree in 1825.

James' parents remain unproven, although depositions by Jacob B. Brake at Clarksburg call him "kinsman". James married about 1817, and his descendants say that his wife was Anna Mumford. It is known that in 1817 Anna Mumford married James DAVIS in Pendleton County. Are Davis and Brake related?

Another mystery of the West Fork is the unknown origin of Elizabeth Brake. Born about 1804, she was in Lewis County when she had sons named Jesse and William Brown. At the time of the 1830 census Elizabeth and sons apparently were living with John Brake south of Clarksburg. Elizabeth had another child, Matilda Nicholas in 1831, married Edward Moneypenny in 1832, and had several more children.

In 1835 the Harrison County court acted and bound Elizabeth Brake's two sons to Thomas Neely of West Union. The boys' father, John Brown, had a grandmother married to Reverend John Davis who lived next door to Abraham Brake on Brushy Fork. Like James Brake's, Elizabeth Brake's parents are not known.

The Brakes above have numerous descendants in Harrison County and else where. Anyone who can shed light on the unknowns is invited to contact this writer at this address: David Armstrong,201 Graham Street, Elkins, WV, 26241. Despite persistent research by a number of different relatives the origins of James and Elizabeth Brake are still unproven, but the search continues and it is hoped that something can eventually be learned. Submitted by Linda Brake Meyers, 9682 Woodgate Lane, Byron,Ill., 61010

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