My maternal grandfather’s eldest brother, Daniel was born in Pennsylvania, USA. His parents, while originally from Scotland, married in Scranton and the three lived there for a few years before returning to Scotland. Daniel had an American accent which caused him to be teased by the local children. Well, that was the story that was passed down the family. Being born in America was a good story and would probably have made him a bit more “interesting” than the children he grew up with in the small village of Newmains, Lanarkshire. Not just the neighbours, but his own siblings of whom there were many. His parents, Daniel and Ellen had 12 children in total.
I certainly found the story of my great grandparents being married in America quite interesting especially after discovering they both grew up in Newmains. So what was the story? Well, it is certainly true that Daniel and Ellen were married in Pennsylvania. I have the record to prove it.
So the assumption would be that Daniel junior would be born maybe in 1889. I tried to find records in Pennsylvania but couldn’t find anything. I also tried to find the Brawleys on passenger lists travelling to and from America but with no success.
Daniel and Ellen’s second child was born in 1892 in Scotland so I know they were back then. Maybe they’d returned straight after the wedding and Daniel was born when they got back. No births for a Daniel Brawley in that time period. I tried a load of different spellings. It’s amazing how many different spellings of Brawley I’ve found on official records. Nothing.
I got to thinking about Ellen and Daniel and their marriage. Why did they get married in America? It didn’t really make sense. If they planned to emigrate together why didn’t they get married first?
Turned out they didn’t plan to emigrate together. Daniel had plans for a new life in America but Ellen didn’t feature in those plans. She was just a wee fling he had before he left and baby Daniel was the result of that fling. He was born in 30 October 1887 in Ellen’s family home. You can see from his birth record that he was illegitimate with no father recorded. His surname was recorded as Keenan which explains why I couldn’t find him.
It’s a bit sad to discover your ancestors did not have the big romance and it was possibly a one night stand. But of course, it didn’t end there. I know that Ellen went to America and she and Daniel got married and I discovered that in 1888 Ellen Keenan and her son travelled to America. Hugh Brawley, Daniel’s brother, is on the previous page of the passenger list and no doubt would have been told to keep a close eye on Ellen and her baby on the journey. You can read more about Hugh’s experience in America by clicking here.
Daniel must have met them off this ship and the marriage took place the following day!
So, like many family stories there is some truth there. Daniel definitely spent time in America although it’s unlikely he had an American accent. The family story was that he got a bit of a hard time in Scotland on his return because of the accent. It’s most likely that in America he would have been with family the whole time and he wasn’t old enough to go to school to be mixing with American children. But the story had to be told that way to hide the fact he was illegitimate.
I don’t know why the family returned to Scotland. I can only be glad they did or I wouldn’t be here! Daniel spent the rest of his childhood in Newmains. When he finished school he went to work in the iron works. He married sewing machinist Mary Berry in 1911 in St Ignatius parish in Wishaw. Their daughter Margaret was born the following year. Daniel and Mary had 12 children between 1912 and 1929. Tragically 5 of their children died in infancy – twins Daniel and John and triplets Hugh, John and Joseph.
Daniel did eventually leave the village by moving to the city and settling in Glasgow around 1915. Mary died in 1944 and in 1952 he married another Mary; Mary Grant. He died in 1971 having outlived 7 of his siblings, including my grandfather with whom he was close. He has many grandchildren who remember him fondly.