The first person I ever wrote about on this blog was my 2x Great Uncle Hugh Brawley. You can read it here. Hugh left Scotland in 1888 and I now know that he travelled to America with my great grandmother, Ellen Keenan. The previous year she had given birth to a baby boy, Daniel. The baby’s father was my great grandfather, Daniel Brawley who left Scotland and his pregnant girlfriend behind to seek a new life in Pennsylvania. I suspect that he didn’t know she was pregnant and when Ellen managed to get to America with her baby in December 1888 Daniel married her straight away.
So I wonder if Hugh had really wanted to go to America or was encouraged to do so to accompany Ellen. In any case he remained in Pennsylvania and met a girl, Alice Shannon, got married and had two children, Sarah and Ellen.
At just 26 years old Hugh was killed in an accident at work and since my first post I’ve found two small newspaper articles.
I like hearing that he was a respected member of the town. He was born and raised in Scotland but was of strong Irish roots and I imagine at that time the Brawleys considered themselves more Irish than Scottish. The town of Avoca was named after Avoca in County Wicklow so I imagine St Mary’s had a big Irish congregation.
It’s also nice to see that his funeral was well attended. It would have perhaps been of some comfort to his young widow to be surrounded by friends at such a difficult time. His twin daughters were just a year old.
There was a band and how moving it must have been to hear the choir, of which Hugh had been a member, sing in his honour.
As well as the newspaper reports I have also been lucky enough to have made contact with descendants of Hugh. He wasn’t always a “choir boy”. The Brawleys were known to enjoy a drink and a fight. I also discovered that he definitely kept in touch with his family back in Newmains. One of his descendants even has a letter sent by his little brother Patrick in 1894! What a find!
I will always add to my family stories when I can. Newspapers can really help with that as, of course, can family members. If you think we might be connected please do get in touch!