Tuesday, January 7, 2014

52 Ancestors: #1 William Brackley, Jr. (1788-1873)

Over at No Story Too Small, Amy Crow issued a challenge that I could not possibly pass up, to write about one of my ancestors during each of the 52 weeks of the year.

Having recently calculated that I have an enviable family tree score (see "Down East" Stock Yields High Family Tree Dividend"), I realize I am more fortunate than most in the area of Found People. So, it is time for me to write about what I know about their lives (as well as about what I don't know).

I should have a birthday for each of the 52 weeks, so will pick one lucky ancestor each week, on the anniversary of their birth, unless I hit on one whom I have written about before (where's the fun in that?).  I printed out the calendar report from Family Tree Maker, highlighted just birthdays and came up with the assortment for each month.

William Brackley, Jr., my 4th great grandfather, was born on this date in 1788, in Dedham, Massachusetts, the oldest child of William Brackley and Sarah Everett. William Jr.'s father had fought in the Revolutionary War under British General Burgoyne. Following the war, the senior Brackley moved his young family first to Pownalborough, Maine (more or less present-day Wiscasset), then to Farmington, and finally to Freeman, Maine, as a founding settler of that new town.

In 1808, at the age of 20, William took Anna Clayton as his bride. They were married in Farmington on April 23rd. Their marriage was perhaps preordained, since Anna's father, John Clayton, was a former British Dragoon, and an old comrade of William Brackley, Sr. William and Anna's marriage officially marked the merging of the Brackley and Clayton families.

William and Anna lived in Freeman their whole lives, raising 6 children, including one daughter, Betsey, a set of twins, Elias and Eli, and my 3d great grandfather, Howard Winslow Brackley, who fought with the 28th Maine during the Civil War.

A farmer his whole life, William died of "old age" in Freeman, November 13th, 1869. He is buried, along with Anna and other members of his family in the North Freeman Cemetery.

You can bet I'll be visiting his grave during my next trip to Maine in 2014.

This is the first in a series, "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks," coordinated by Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small.


Find A Grave. Find A Grave Memorial # 121565540 http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=121565540.Grave of William Brackley (1788-1869).

Maine State Archives; Augusta, Maine; U.S. Census Mortality Schedules, Maine, 1850-1880; Archive Collection: 3; Census Year: 1869; Census Place: Freeman, Franklin, Maine; Page: 1.

Thompson, George A. and F. Janet Thompson. A Genealogical history of Freeman, Maine, 1796-1938, in three volumes. 3 vols. (Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, 1996), 1:339.

View Freeman Township, ME 04983 in a larger map


  1. Birthdays - what a fun way to choose the ancestor to feature!

  2. I love the birthday idea...and I love the information about the 'joining of the 'clans''.

  3. Great story, Pam! As someone with only a few New England ancestors, I envy your calendar full of birthdays to choose from. Looking forward to the coming weeks!

  4. Did you create your calendar from a genealogy software or from "scratch"? Really like it & a wonderful way to pick an ancestor!

    1. Wendy, it's one of the reports you can print with Family Tree Maker.