Monday, February 20, 2012

Surname Change from Bray to Braye

The earliest evidence I have yet to locate which demonstrates the change in my mother's surname from Bray to Braye begins with the 1910 U.S. Census (USC) for Syracuse, Otoe County, Nebraska (enumerated 01 Jun 1910) wherein my maternal great grandfather Byron Allison Braye is identified.  Reflected therein (1910 USC, p. 15 of 32) is "Buron [(Byron)] A. Braye" (Age: 22, Born About: 1888/NE) who was then married to "Stella [(or Estella L. (Payne)] Braye" (24, 1886/IA).  

Separate research revealed that almost one year earlier, on 15 Jun 1909, a marriage license had been applied for and issued to "Byron A. Bray" and "Estella Payne" who were married the next day, 16 Jun 1909, by Rev. M. E. Gilbert in Otoe County, NE.  The groom's parents were identified as "Zehman" (Zalmon) and Ida (Barber) Bray, the bride's parents as Scott and Anna (Ericson) Payne.  Shortly thereafter, Byron and Stella Braye both resided in Syracuse at 203 Fifth Street along with Stella's Aunt, Chloe Payne (88, 1822/KY), and a single white servant identified as Dora Kramer (25, 1885/WI).

Nearly 7 years earlier, according to "Minutes of the Reports of Presiding Elders" associated with the 42nd Session of the Methodist Episcopal Church Nebraska Conference held 17-21 Sep 1902 at Wymore, NE (see NEGenWeb Project), the Lincoln District reported most favorably regarding the services of Rev. Gilbert and his wife at Mead, NE (due west of Omaha and about 50 miles northwest of Syracuse): "M. E. Gilbert has greatly endeared himself to the people both at Mead and Otoe Creek.  The charge has made rapid advances on all lines during his two years here.  The parsonage has been enlarged and improved.  The pastor's new wife is a splendid worker." (p. 45).  [Add Research: How did Rev. Gilbert come to cover Syracuse then to western NE?  What church were they married in - Methodist Episcopal and at Syracuse?]  By Dec 1920, then District Superintendent Dr. M. E. Gilbert helped Bishop Homer C. Stuntz and Rev. Henry F. Martens dedicate the new church building at Lodgepole, NE (see Shumway's (1921) History of Western Nebraska..., p. 195).  

Further review of the 1910 USC for Syracuse shows Byron's then divorced mother, 56 year old Ida Braye (1854/IL), living at 162 Eighth Street along with the following children: divorced son Harry Braye (23, 1887/NE), single son Earl Braye (20, 1890/NE), and single boarders Fay Emens (20, 1890/NE) and Harriet Emens (17, 1893/NE) (p. 12 of 32).  Also residing at what was then likely 218 Thome Street in Syracuse was Byron's brother George Bray (38, 1872/NE) and his wife of 18 years, Thurse (Maiden Name Unknown (MNU)) Bray (39, 1871/KY), who were the parents of 5 children identified as Stella (18, 1892/NE), Hattie (16, 1894/NE), Mamie (13, 1897/NE), Birdie (10, 1900/NE), and Helen (7, 1903/NE) Bray (p. 17 of 32).  Of particular note, though, is differing identifying information for George Bray; according to the 1880 USC for Syracuse (p. 9 of 24) George was then said to be 7 months old (1879/NE), which amounts to a 7 year difference in age approximation.  Finally, Byron's Uncle Charles Bray (49, 1861/NY), a farmer, resided at Syracuse with his wife of 27 years (Abt. 1883), Cyntha E. (MNU) Bray (47, 1863/NY), to whom were born two unidentified children (p. 23 of 32).  

Collectively speaking, then, when contrasting the Syracuse 1910 USC against that of the 1880 USC (p. 9 of 24) missing are Byron's older siblings Howard (6, 1874/NE), Harvey (4, 1876/NE), and Emma (2, 1878/NE) Bray.  What about William (1879, twin to George?), Daisy (1881?), Fred (1883?), Harry (1885?), Earl (1890?) and Ida (1892?) Bray?

What is clear is that right after his marriage to Stella, Byron's surname was first recorded as Braye as appears in the 1910 USC.  Seven years later, on 05 Jun 1917, he again appears as Byron Braye who provided information in support of a World War I (WWI) Draft Registration Card.  Byron told W. N. Hunter, Registrar for Draft Board O, that he was born on 07 Jan 1887, making him 30 years old.  However, we now know that 17 years earlier, in the 1900 USC for Syracuse, Byron's age was calculated to be 12 based upon the declared birth month-year of Jun 1888.  Thus, Byron was actually 29 years old at the time the registration card was completed for the WWI draft.  

In response to WWI, there were a total of 3 draft registrations held by the U.S. government.  The 1st being held on 5 Jun 1917, for men 21-31 (born between 6 Jun 1886 and 5 Jun 1896); the 2nd on 5 Jun 1918, for men who had since turned 21 (born between 6 Jun 1896 and 5 June 1897); and the 3rd on 12 Sep 1918, for men 18-21 and 31-45 (born between 11 Sep 1872 and 12 Sep 1900).  

In 1917, Byron then worked as a Salesman for Hitchcock, Hill and Co., Chicago, IL, and stated that he had a wife and one child (under the age of 12 in 1917) who were both dependent upon him for their support.  He did not report any prior military service and, by this WWI registration, he did not claim exemption from potential military service.  The document is depicted below and bears Byron's signature (bottom left).  Note that the letter "e" in the Braye surname appears to be spaced at an irregular distance, almost as if added as a hurried afterthought.  Registrar Hunter's report describes Byron as having been of a tall but medium build, brown hair and blue gray eyes. 

1917 WWI Draft Registration Card of Byron Allison Braye
The 1920 USC for Syracuse ...

The 1930 USC for Syracuse ...

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