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Monday, May 11, 2015

Purnell Bradford - Is There A Link?

There is a Purnell Bradford that I have run across in my research, but I have never found a link between our Rebecca Bradford and him.  Yet, there are intriguing similarities in their respective geographies.

Map showing Worcestor County and next-door Somerset County, Maryland
This Purnell Bradford is from Worcestor County, Maryland (born about 1770) and is listed in the white section of the Bradford DNA project chart (see following link) does not seem to be related to our William Bradford (son of our "Red Lion Sam" Bradford) who listed in the blue area, at least according to my very limited understanding of this DNA chart (I assume that the different colors indicate completely different lines, but please correct me if I am wrong!). Here is the link (sorry it's not a hot'll have to cut and paste it into your browser):

And yet it is interesting to note that the Purnell Bradford family came from Worcestor County, Maryland,which is right next to Somerset County, Maryland where our Miller's first settled when they came to America.  Is this when the Miller and Braford families became acquainted?

Also, as you can see from the handwritten letter at the end of this post, the Purnell Bradford family eventually moved to Adams County, Ohio, and finally settled in the Maysville, Kentucky area.

It so happens that our Rebecca Bradford Miller's brother, William Bradford, and his wife, Margaret nee Parkinson, moved to Adams County, Ohio, and then to Maysville, Kentucky according to the paragraph in blue below which was shared with me by another Bradford family researcher.

That these two Bradford families (and possibly our Millers) wound up living so close to each other in three different locales seems almost beyond coincidence . 

Thoughts? Opinions? Any DNA experts out there??

William BRADFORD (son of Samuel BRADFORD & Sarah BRADFORD) was born on 8 Jan 1770 in Cecil Co., MD.  He died on 19 Oct 1862 in Maysville, Mason Co., KY.  He was buried in Bradford Cemetery, Sprigg Twp, Adams Co., OH.  William Bradford was a native of Cecil County, Maryland, but lived in Washington County for a number of years.  A few years after their 1799 marriage, William Bradford (1770-1862) and Margaret Parkinson Bradford (1780-1852) moved to Brooke County, West Virginia.  They built a flat boat in 1816 and moved down river to an area now known as Manchester, Adams Co., Ohio, and purchased a farm about four miles up river from Aberdeen, Brown County, Ohio, where they built a brick house in 1822.  Sometime in the 1840's they moved to Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky, which is across the river from Aberdeen, Brown Co., Ohio. William Bradford owned two slaves, both of whom were freed when the Civil War began.  Both he and his wife are said to have been buried in the family plot on their farm located on Lick Skillet Road between Aberdeen and Manchester, Ohio.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Abner Bradford - Any Relation??

Plymouth Colony
In researching our Bradford ancestors in Delaware, I have often come across an Abner Bradford for whom there is quite a bit of online information. He is, apparently, a direct descendant of the famous Governor Bradford of Plymouth Colony fame. However, I can find no tie-in to Abner via any of our Bradford relations ...yet!

Of course we know that the father and maternal grandfather of our Rebecca Bradford were both named Samuel Bradford. Her father has been ruled out as being related to Governor Bradford, this Samuel (and his brother James) being Scots-Irish, having come from Northern Ireland in the 1700's.

Of Rebecca's maternal grandfather, whom we affectionately refer to as Red Lion Sam in this blog, we know nothing of his origins. We only know that he was born around 1690 (place unknown), married "Margret" around 1710, and we learn from his will that he died on April 20, 1767, in Red Lyon/Lion, New Castle County, Delaware. The only children mentioned in the will were William, Sara (Rebecca's future mother), and Martha.  From land records, we know that Samuel owned a piece of land called “Dragon Swamp” located in Red Lion Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware.  And that is it.

We know nothing of this Samuel's parents or where he came from. However, if we ever do find a connection with the famous Governor Bradford of the Plymouth Colony, it would have to be through this Samuel Bradford.

Can we glean any clues about Samuel's life by studying the history of Abner Bradford?

Here is an interesting description of  young Abner, a Revolutionary War patriot, who enlisted soon after the Declaration of Independence:

Taken From A Delaware Military War Record
In addition to the above information, I have learned the following from other researchers:
  • Abner Bradford was born 1758 in Brandywine Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware. Brandywine Hundred is right next door to Christiana Hundred where he enlisted (see above), and both are only about 10 miles north of Red Lion Hundred, where our Samuel lived.
  • Abner died March 2, 2841, in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania
  • His first wife was Rachel Baldwin.  She died and he had a second wife named Elizabeth (surname unknown to me).  He and Elizabeth lived for awhile in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania.
  • He is thought to be the son of Abner Bradford (b. 1707 Kingston, Massachusetts) and Sarah Porter.
  • That would make him grandson of Israel Bradford and Sarah Bartlett) whose father was Deputy Governor William Bradford, son of the famous Governor William Bradford.
While I have been unable to find a link to Abner, there are some interesting coincidences, the first being proximity.  Many of our Bradford's and Miller's lived in this region of Delaware, including our Abraham Miller (Rebecca's father-in-law) who owned property in Christiana Hundred (he is noted on a 1777 tax list of Christiana Hundred as having owned 13 acres there).

Secondly, descendants of Abner Bradford wound up in Adams County and Fayette County, Pennsylvania, just like many of our Bradford's did.

Still, I have found no direction connection between Abner Bradford and our Bradford's.

Additionally, because researching Bradford's is never straightforward or without confusion, a Rootsweb entry lists an Abner Bradford as being born in 1758 (a match), married to Rachel Baldwin (another match), having parents named Abner Bradford and Susannah Porter (close, but not quite a match), and that he was born in 1758 in Kingston, Plymouth County, Massachusetts (not even close to the Brandywine Hundred, Delaware as noted above)!
Brandywine Valley, Delaware

So as always, the mystery continues! Are we, as descendants of Rebecca Bradford Miller, or are we not, related to the famous Governor?? Only time and lots more research will tell.

NOTE:  If any descendants of Abner Bradford can throw any light on this question, we would love to hear from you!

Also, if any of you men can trace your surname line directly back to Red Lion Sam, a Bradford DNA test would be invaluable in solving this mystery (please see immediately preceding post).

Sunday, March 15, 2015


Great news for all my fellow Bradford researchers!

It looks like the Bradford Surname DNA Project ( is still alive and well, and is now reaching out through  [**Note:  It appears that the delmarvabradfords site is actually not working right now. I have emailed the creator to see if there is another way to access his information.  But the MyHeritage link is good].

Below is a screen shot of the main page and if you look under the "Goals" section, they are looking for "...representatives from every distinct Bradford lineage...who may share a common descent."  Ultimately the goal is to work backwards and find the origins of each of these lines.

Since there are so few records available for our Bradfords, this opens up exciting possibilities!  It is so important that as many descendants of Samuel as possible join this website and also that Bradford surname male descendants take this particular DNA test.  You can sign up for the test and also join MyHeritage at this link (sorry it didn't come over as a hot link, so you will have to copy and paste it):

There is a free trial going on right now to join and after that it's incredibly cheap, under $10.00 per year. The DNA test is only $99.

I'm joining MyHeritage and hope you will do the same!


Add caption

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Rachel Dawson Miller - William and Rebecca's Daughter-In-Law

Mahoning County, Ohil
Below is the Mahoning County, Ohio, 1850 Census showing the wife of William and Rebecca's son, *Samuel, Rachel (Dawson) Miller. Rachel and Samuel were married in this area on 6 June 1810 (though  1846 this area was still Columbiana County), and their children were all born here.  Samuel had passed away 1850, probably before this census, as he does not appear in it.

At the time of the census, Rachel was 60 years old and living next door to her son, Silas and his family. Children Lovinia, Maria (also seen as Mariah in other records), Allen and Amy (my great grandmother and future wife of Zadok Charpier) were teenagers and still living at home.

We are lucky to have such records readily available online nowadays to help us learn more about our ancestors. We've not been able to find a picture of Rachel or Samuel. If any of you have one, please write to me at the email address listed near the top of this blog so we can share a copy. Thanks!

*Samuel was born to William and Rebecca on 1 May 1783 in Fayette County, Pennsylvania.

Mahoning County 1850 Census

Friday, November 7, 2014


Just some miscellaneous items of interest for you while I'm working on the 3rd Somerset County, MD, article: 
Donegal in Autumn
1.  From The Ulster Foundation’s early November newsletter:

For anyone interested in Scots-Irish families and DNA analysis,
check out Barry McCain's blog
and the Scots-Irish DNA Project website: 
Over 500 families are currently participating in the project.
Those of you whose ancestors were Highland Scots or Redshanks
will find it particularly interesting.

2.  I also now own (thanks to my brother!) the following book: Researching Scots-Irish Ancestors: The Essential Genealogical Guide to Early Modern Ulster, 1600-1800 by William Roulston.  As you know, researching Scots-Irish records is quite a challenge because there are very few records and most are only available through PRONI (see below), but this book promises to make great strides in aiding our research (thanks Bill!).

3.  Of course, what we really need is for the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) to allow the microfilmers in to copy their voluminous archives!  Very few records are available online, but at least the electronic "card catalogue" is now available and will hopefully make searching out our Scots-Irish ancestors just a little easier:

  •  (name search)
  • (search catalogue)
  • (browse catalogue)

Except for the name search, I can't say that it looks super user-friendly (, but if any of you have luck with a search, let me know!

If any of the online addresses in this article don’t come across as "hot links,” you will have to cut and paste them into your search engine’s Search Box.

Hope you are all having a lovely Autumn, wherever you are! - donna

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Colonial Somerset County, Maryland - 2

Somerset County, Maryland
Most of Somerset County is flat, tidal plain. Its rich soil, sparse population and comparative religious tolerance lured many immigrants, including the ancestors of our William Miller. For an interesting history of this area, look up "Somerset County, Maryland; A Brief History."

In the previous post we learned a little about what life was like in the 1600s and early 1700s in Maryland in relation to tobacco farming. Prompted by a suggestion from one of our wonderful members, Chalmers Williams, I have done more research on this topic which has helped answer a question I have had: Why did our Miller’s leave Somerset County and move northward to Newcastle County, Delaware and eventually right next door into Cecil County, Maryland. The excerpt below may hold the answer [emphasis added].

 “One problem with growing tobacco is that it rapidly depletes soil fertility and as a result, a piece of land could only be used for four or five years. Colonists lacked the means to fertilize the soil, and the few attempts to do so with animal manure reportedly produced a harsh, foul tasting tobacco. Instead, they adopted an approach from the Chesapeake Indians and abandoned the old fields for about 20 years. During that interval, nature restored soil fertility and tobacco could again be grown there. With this approach, new crop land had to be regularly prepared to keep a plantation operating. Historians estimate that about 50 acres were needed to keep one worker continually raising tobacco. As a result, plantations tended to be large, averaging about 250 acres. This created a settlement pattern of farms widely dispersed over the landscape. Because most colonists lived along or near the water and the Chesapeake provided excellent water highways for ships, the planters had little need for markets or towns, since they could buy goods directly from ships… Minimal town development is a highly distinctive feature of the colonial Chesapeake, a feature closely related to the focus on growing tobacco… While medical science has revealed the serious health problems associated with tobacco, there is no doubt that this crop built Maryland, greatly influenced the society that developed here, and is an undeniable part of the state’s rich cultural heritage. It is also a cultural legacy that forms the very roots of Southern Maryland’s extraordinary human traditions.” 

Our Millers are mentioned in several Somerset County, MD, lands records, including the one mentioned in the letter below which Chalmers Williams graciously shared with me. Remember, David and Jane Miller are the parents of Abraham Miller and grandparents of our William Miller:

"On 25 Nov 1693David Miller and his wife Jane (or perhaps Janet) of Somerset Co. sell by receipt of an indenture land to John Steel. This land is 100 acres out of a 600 acres tract called “Spalding” that David Miller acquired from Edmund Howard. Howard acquired Spalding in 1682, and though it is difficult to read, it appears that David Miller entered into an indenture with Howard in May 1688.  David Miller paid him 18,000 pounds of tobacco for Spalding, completing his required payments in 9 Jan 1692. (Somerset Co. Deeds, Liber L 1, p.78, and Liber L 1, p144.).  *Spalding is located “between Bogerternorton and Assateague  Bay...Cypress Ridge." 

It is pretty likely that the Miller's grew their own tobacco and, as was common in that day, used it for bartering as in the above example. Then, as time passed and the soil gave out, some of the Miller's moved northward. This is corroborated by the Wiki article from last month's post which mentions that towards the end of the 1600s, settlers in southern Maryland starting moving north and west to find better soil (some turning to growing wheat, which did not deplete the soil as radically as tobacco).

This could very well be the reason why some of our Miller’s eventually left Somerset County, MD, and moved to northern Maryland.

In the next post, we will move backwards in time and ask the question:  Why did the Miller's come to such a remote location as Somerset County, Maryland in the first place?

*This entry is somewhat puzzling as Assateague Bay is in the far eastern portion of Worcester County, Maryland.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Colonial Somerset County, Maryland - 1

Our Scots-Irish Miller’s arrived in Somerset County, Maryland in the latter part of the 1600s. The following description could be very similar to what they experienced:
“In the 17th century, most Marylanders lived in rough conditions on small family farms. While they raised a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and livestock, the cash crop was tobacco, which soon came to dominate the provincial economy. Tobacco was used as money, and the colonial legislature was obliged to pass a law requiring tobacco planters to raise a certain amount of corn as well, in order to ensure that the colonists would not go hungry. By 1730 there were public tobacco warehouses every fourteen miles. Bonded at £1,000 sterling, each inspector received from £25 to £60 as annual salary. Four hogsheads of 950 pounds were considered a ton for London shipment. Ships from English ports did not need port cities; they called at the wharves of warehouses or plantations along the rivers for tobacco and the next year returned with goods the planters had ordered from the shops of London.

Outside the plantations, much land was operated by independent farmers who rented from the proprietors, or owned it outright. They emphasized subsistence farming to grow food for their large families. Many of the Irish and Scottish immigrants specialized in rye-whiskey making, which they sold to obtain cash.” (