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Brigham Family
Contributed by Barbara
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Brigham, William B.
The Brighams : compiled from tradition and the Brigham family history, published in 1907 : with special interest in Benajah of the eighth generation

Bloomington, Ill.: unknown, 1949, 16 pgs.


(George Brigham Emigrates to Illinois)

George, the seventh child of Benajah and Sarah Lancaster Brigham was born in Boston September 20, 1815. His father was born at Westboro, Mass. June 7, 1774, a son of Benajah and Abigail Bent Brigham. George was the seventh generation from Thomas Brigham the Puritan who was born in England in 1603 and sailed for America in 1635. He lived in Cambridge to the time of his death December 8, 1653.

Benajah, the father of George, was a wealthy grocer in Boston. When George became of age in 1836, he felt it might be well to get away from the aristocratic and Puritanic surroundings and try his fortune in the new settlements of the West. Traveling by stage and flat-boat he landed at Cincinnati in early winter. On February 5, 1837 he married Lydia Shinn, born August 20, 1819, daughter of Jacob Shinn. In the spring he and his bride accompanied the Shinn family on a trip by boat to Pike County, Illinois. There he purchased a small timber tract and built a cabin. The Shinns lived with them for a few years and aided in making a clearing and planting, also, working for the neighbors.

Trip to Boston

The parents of George were very anxious to see the young lady whom their son had married, and sent funds to pay her way for a trip to Boston. In the summer of 1842 Lydia started on the long journey, leaving Joab 5 and Mary 3 in the care of her parents and her husband, George. She traveled by stage to Buffalo. She then obtained passage on the Erie Canal to Albany, then from Albany to Boston by stage. The trip required more than a month. After a very pleasant visit, she returned by the same route. She had taken Benajah, almost two, as a sample of the children. He recalled one day when he was restless and fretful the mother threatened to duck him in the cool water of the canal to quiet him.

Mr. Shinn finally located a farm several miles to the north of Brown County. Jacob Shinn had spent his early life on the sea and was a very resourceful man. In building his cabin he selected the good logs and used the culls and brush in making a lime kiln. Limestone was hauled from the creek and placed among the logs. Then a fire was started. After several days burning he had some excellent lime to be used in mortar to chink the cracks and build the chimney of his new home.

When little Benajah was ten years old he w as permitted to spend several weeks with his grandpa. Starting early one morning with some of his belongings and a lunch n a sack, bare-footed and happy he started on the ten mile hike to McGee’s Creek over in Brown County. He knew his grandpa would take him on his knee and tell of his interesting experiences with storms and pirates of his seafaring days. The little fellow ran much of the way and arrived at his destination in a surprisingly short time all tired out. Well, he had a great time. Grandpa let him ride the old grey horse which was lots of fun. On one occasion after a heavy rain he rode down to the creek to see how deep it was. He rode right in. The horse went under but swam around and came out down stream and returned with the boy unharmed. The old sailor told his little grandson in no uncertain terms that there would be no more feats of that kind. All went well for some time. But one day the boy was experimenting with a sharp ax and severely cut his foot. His visit at his grandpa’s ended the next day.

On the twenty acre timber farm they shared the hardships of that time with their pioneer neighbors. The woods provided fuel, wild game, nuts, berries and other foods, while roots, barks and herbs were used as medicine. When the clearings were enlarged more grain was raised. The children attended a nearby subscription school, while their father spent much time chopping wood. At the age of twelve, Benajah was provided with a light shot gun to aid in killing game for the meat supply. The older brother Joab was rather delicate and took no interest in hunting. George Brigham was very kind and generous to a fault. A man by the name of Whitten had no place to live so George told him to build a cabin on his farm. In doing so the resources were reduced but they were all happy. The Whittens had a boy the same age as Benajah. He has a gun and the boys hunted together. One day they went after the ground hogs in the corn shocks. A man by the name of McHard, who had married a Whitten girl, was living and loafing with them. He decided to assist in taking the corn shocks down and also to help carry the game. When the first ground hog ran out Josh in his excitement shot the brother-in-law instead of the ground hog. The neighbors split some walnut slabs for a coffin and he was then laid to rest in the grave-yard back of the log church on a nearby hill. They often trapped wild turkeys and snared rabbits. The wild pigeons were plentiful. There was a roost quite near. Limbs of the trees were often heard breaking from the weight of the birds. The neighbors would kill them with long poles and sell them by the barrelful. One day a neighbor borrowed Benajah’s gun to shoot pigeons and on returning it said it was empty. Benajah pointed it at a cloud of pigeons flying over then pointed it at the dog, Cap, and snapped the flint lock. It was loaded and Cap spent the remainder of his life on three legs.

When Benajah was fourteen he worked for Tete Barnes at twenty-five cents per day. They planted the corn in every third furrow. When Saturday evening came, with a dollar and a half tied in a handkerchief, he waited for the company of a young married couple living hear his home, because a panther had been seen in Worrick’s Ruff.

George Brigham with Mr. Abe Whitten, who had his cabin on the Brigham farm, and the older boys of the neighborhood went down to Calhoun County to cut wood for steamboats. Mr. Brigham bought a cow while there. A young fellow they met came back with them and married the Whitten girl whose husband was killed while helping the boys get the groundhogs. Benajah attended the wedding which was held at the cabin. It seems that the cow had gotten away and gone back home. So Benajah and Josh went with the newlyweds to their new home in Calhoun County to get the cow and return the extra horse which they rode. Benajah riding behind the young man and Josh behind his sister. They stopped at a grocery store and bought a sack of crackers, some dried herring and a bottle of whiskey. The young man footed the bill, drank the whiskey and divided the crackers and herring among the party. The boys found the cow, stayed all night with a farmer, but left before breakfast as they were “bankrupt”. Breakfast would have cost something. They delivered the cow in good condition. Tobacco was then the principal crop in Calhoun County.

As years passed on, a man by the name of Green also had no place for his family. He too was permitted to build on the little timber tract. This soon was too much for even a good-natured person to endure. The best trees were being cut and their chickens too frequently disappeared. George and Lydia talked it over and decided to sell out and go to some other place. The family had now increased to eight children. The homestead was sold to Bill Dunham. A team of horses was also sold. Three yoke of oxen with a heavy covered wagon was then purchased. They had heard that in McLean County there was yet some timber land that had not been entered. Early in September 1855, everything was loaded. The family said good-bye to friends and neighbors in Pike County and started on their journey. The next day they arrived at the ferry at Beardstown. Then came the crossing. There was just room on the ferry boat for the old cow and Benajah to hold the rope. When they landed on the other side of the river the oxen seeing the cow began to bawl. The old cow became restless and in the struggle broke away from her attendant and swam back across the river for another ride on the boat. After a few days the family arrived at Springfield. They had found traveling in the wagon very tiresome and decided to load everything on two flat cars for the trip to Bloomington.

On arriving there the oxen and cow were unloaded and put in the stock-yards while the wagon was left on a car for the night. In looking for a place to stay a kind-hearted man told them of a vacant furnished house. With the exception of Benajah who slept in the wagon, the family spent the night at the house. When Benajah awoke in the morning he discovered that the oxen and cow had broken out of the enclosure and had gotten away. He tracked them to the northwest and found them resting and contented in what was later known as “The Forty Acres”. After recovering the livestock he joined the family for breakfast. They had spent a comfortable night but learned from a neighbor that the recent occupants of the house had all died with the cholera. The next night they slept in or under the wagon. The Brigham family then organized for the last lap of the trip. It was to the Mackinaw timber near Kappa. A twenty acre timber lot was in some manner being held for them. Starting early one morning they headed northward. The present site of Normal was then open prairie. Soon they saw hundreds of cattle grazing. Cap, the dog, barked at them causing some commotion. The herders became very angry and threatening. Soon everything was quieted and they moved on unmolested. That evening they camped on the main street of Hudson. The boys and dog watching the cattle as they grazed up and down the highway. The next evening they reached the place they had hoped would be their home. Some boards were obtained to make a temporary shelter, but after a few days they realized it would be very difficult to try to make a living in this lonely location. They felt it would be better to return to Bloomington and look for some opening. Another two days travel brought the family there.

The next morning after returning from Kappa, the dog, Cap, had disappeared. Joab and Benajah were sent back for a wood stove they had intended to discard. When they arrived at the shelter two days later, old Cap was found sleeping by the stove. He had evidently become confused and had returned to Kappa expecting to find the family there.

A house was rented at the southeast corner of Gridley and Mill Streets where they spent the winter. The landlord, an Irishman, was having trouble with his wife. In order to get even with him she set fire to a hay stack a few rods south of the house, which was saved only after a hard fight as water was obtained only from the creek a block or more to the south. Soon after they returned from near Kanna, George Brigham sold two yoke of oxen to W. F. Coolidge who had recently settled northwest of Bloomington on the prairie. Mr. Coolidge gave his note for $120 for the oxen including the yokes and chains. He broke a large area of prairie in the fall. While the first crop was almost a failure in the following years he was well rewarded. In the spring of 1856 Mr. Brigham bought a ten acre timber lot one and quarter miles west of Six Points where the family lived through the years.

The two older oxen, Broad and Bald, were kept for some time. George and his son, Joab, chopped stove wood. Benajah with the trusty oxen delivered and sold it in Bloomington during the winters of 1856 and 57. He received $1.50 to $2.00 per load. He would sell one to two loads every day. One day a local character, Jim Gibson, bought a load and gave the young “stove-wood merchant” a wild cat $10.00 bill, then watched him try to get it changed. He got nothing for that load of wood.

One day a very heavy rain came up. Benajah has sold out and was returning on Morris Avenue, when west of the present lake at Miller Park, the valley was filled with water. It was impossible to cross with the wagon. The driver unhooked the oxen and they swam across and went home. Benajah crossed on the railroad track and arrived a short time later. He should have unyoked the steers as they could have become entangled in the trees or floating brush.

In 1857 Benajah and Joab hauled the brick for the Funk home (S. W. Cor. Gridley and Grove St.). In clearing the ten acre farm the best timber was cut and made into ties for the C. and A. R. R. They then sold garden produce in the vicinity of Bloomington for many years.

From 1858 to 1860 Benajah worked for Jeff Karr and lived with Matthew Richardson a tenant. (He later moved to Ellsworth). In the winter of 1859 Mr. Karr had 102 steers to fatten. Benajah hauled the shock corn with three yoke of oxen and one big wagon. They had two tongue steers. When one was yoked the other would come when called. The lead steers were then called and yoked in order. Two large rail pens were used on alternate days for the cattle and hogs. When the cattle were sold, Benajah drove the three yoke of oxen to the wagon, the 102 steers followed. Mr. Karr and the buyers rode horses at the rear. Benajah was then given a half day off with pay.

The children attended the No. 7 school, nor Sunny Point. Dr. Rex, a member of the State Normal School Board, had treated an eye for Mary at Perry, and through him she obtained a scholarship to the University. Joab was an extensive reader and was soon teaching. Elizabeth and Nannie also received some training beyond the rural school and taught Joab and Mary taught for many years and were rated among the best teachers in the county. A barrel of books which had been sent from Boston and meant much to these young people. In the order of their birth dates we have the following list of the eighth generation.

1. Joab, born Nov. 22, 1837 m. Narcissa Quinn, Shirley, Ill. 1866 Mrs. Mildred McDonald 1872 Sarah Stranger 19—
2. Mary, b. Feb. 2, 1839 m. 1866 Milton Weed Union Springs, N. Y.
3. Benajah, b. Nov. 3, 1840 (See account below)*
4. Elizabeth, b. Dec. 20, 1843 m. 1879 James Poindexter, Bloomington
5. Fletcher, b. Jan. 13, 1845 m. 1872 Charlotte Pray, LeRoy, Ill.
6. John, b. April 16, 1847 m. 1871 Louisa Fossett Blue Mound Township
7. Nancy, b. April 26, 1849 m. 1876 Theodore Freeman
8. Charlotte, b. Dec. 1, 1851 d. Aug. 28, 1852
9. Asa, b. May 30, 1853 m. 1887 Sophia Hoffman Edith Smith 19—
10. Eliza, b. Aug. 12, 1856 d. Dec. 27, 1856
11. Annie b. Aug. 17, 1861 m. 1887 Louis Roebuck, Dayton, Ohio

* Benajah Brigham, son of George and Lydia (Shinn) born in Pike County, November 3, 1840, married Aug. 25, 1868 Elizabeth Sharer of Griggsville, Illinois.


Benajah Brigham b. Nov. 3, 1840 d. Aug 4, 1940

Wife Elizabeth Sharer b. June 25, 1843 Pike County, Ill. D. June 24, 1922

Children, grand children and great grandchildren

(the 9th., 10th., and 11th. Generation respectively)

1. Edna M. born Feb. 5, 1871 m. April 15, 1890 to Marion Parr of Cooksville, Ill. Marion Parr d. Nov. 6, 1910
a. Leland W. Parr, b. Nov. 2, 1892 m. Grace Gormley June 1915
(1) Patricia (Bash)
(2) Robert Gormley Parr
b. Arthur Elden, b. Feb. 5, 1895 m. Maurine Pound Aug. 1920
c. Edith Lenora (Santis), b. July 28, 1901 Harristown, Ill.
(1) Jack, b. July 5, 1919 d. auto accident July 3, 1937
2. William B. born Blue Mound Twp. Aug. 11, 1874 m. Nov. 26, 1902 to Emma C. Wissmiller of Cooksville.
a. Mildred L. (Dodds) b. Bloomington, Dec. 23, 1905 m. Glenn Dodds of White Plains, N. Y. June 29, 1934
3. Alice G. born Nov. 2, 1876, Blue Mound Twp. M. Wm. Pickering of Cooksville April 19, 1894. Wm. Pickering d. Feb. 14, ‘48
a. Ethel G. born April 19, 1895 Cooksville. D. Feb. 1925
b. Esther Elizabeth (Bartlett) b. Aug. 28, 1897
(1) Anna Belle (Brown)
(2) Frances Bartlett
(3) Clyde Junior Bartlett
(4) Edward Bartlett
(5) Patricia Bartlett
c. Margaret Edna, (Reeve) b. Jan. 31, 1900
(1) Alice Lee (Shannon)
(2) Ernest Junior Reeve
d. Wilbur Lawrence, b. Sept. 29, 1903 m. A. Kendall June 1925
(1) Wilbur Melvin, d. June 13, 1948 auto accident
(2) William Emmerson Pickering
e. Marvin Emerson, b. Oct. 19, 1905 m. A. Stiles 1940
f. Alice Lucile, b. April 13, 1914 d. April 19, 1915
4. Carrie H. born Oct. 5, 1878 in Blue Mound Twp. M. John W. Stipp of Arrowsmith Jan. 23, 1901. John W. Stipp d. Nov. 26 1944
a. Muriel (Vinton) born Dec. 18, 1901
(1) Dorothy Jean (Mercer)
(2) Helen (Stanley)
(3) Walter Vinton Jr.
(4) Marion Kaye Vinton
b. Winifield Stipp born Aug. 22, 1903
(1) Wanda (Waters)
c. Ruby E. (Parker) born June 10, 1905
(1) Richard Parker
(2) John Robert Parker
(3) Jerry Lee Parker
d. Fern B. (Eide) born Feb. 26, 1907
(1) Burton Eide
(2) Evelyn Eide
(3) Shirley E. (Adkins)
(4) Betty Joan Eide
(5) Beberly Eide
e. Lois H. born June 11, 1911
f. Josephine L. born Mar. 30, 1915
g. Robert LeRoy, born July 9, 1917
5. Mary Bessie and Myra Ruby (twins) born Sept. 22, 1882

Benajah in the Civil War

Benajah* enlisted at Bloomington August 15, 1861 in Company C. 33rd regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry (known of the Normal Regiment) and served until December 6, 1865. He arrived at Camp Butler, Springfield, August 20. On Sept. 21st the company arrived at Pilot Knob, Mo. And received flint lock rifles. They were engaged in the battle of Fredericktown on October 21. During the winter the company occupied the Seminary buildings at Arcadia. Early in March 1862 they moved into Arkansas and participated in the battle of Cache Bayou on July 7th. Then returning to Missouri they wintered at Irontown and campaigned in that vicinity. On March 10, the regiment began the march to Vicksburg. Embarking on the steamboat Illinois to St. Genevieve March 16, they sailed down the Mississippi River and landed at Millikens Bend for the campaign against Vicksburg.

In the charge on the forts May 22, Benajah was wounded in the right wrist. Crawling to a nearby ravine, he bandaged the wound with his handkerchief and waited for night fall. He then walked to the rear and met comrades who helped him to the field hospital. After some time he was sent to a hospital at Memphis. When on the road to recovery, he was sent home on a furlough. He again joined his company in Louisiana and sailed from New Orleans November 16 on an expedition to Matagorda Island, Texas. They encountered a severe storm on the Gulf of Mexico. On Jan. 1, 1864 having captured Ft. Esperanza the company went to Indianola, Texas where they reenlisted. They were then given a veteran’s furlough and returned home reaching Bloomington March 14th.

They assembled at Camp Butler about the middle of April. They went by rail to St. Louis and then embarked on a river steamboat to arrive at Brashear City, La. May 18th. There was some enemy activity in this region but no serious conflicts. Benajah was detailed as chief orderly (with rank of sergeant) at General Cameron’s headquarters.

The regiment was ordered to proceed to Mobile, Alabama. On March 2, 1865 a train carrying this group was wrecked. Nine men were killed and seventy were injured among them was Fletcher Brigham who was badly shocked. (Fletcher had enlisted in Co. C. Sept. 27, 1864.) He was discharged Aug. 10, 1865. The engine ran over a horse that had outrun the train and was crossing the track when hit. Dr. Rex the surgeon handed Benajah a set of surgical instruments and told him to assist. While at Mobile, Benajah acted as hospital steward. After the fighting ceased, the 33d regiment was sent to Mississippi where they did patrol duty. Late in November while at Yazoo City the order came to be mustered out. Proceeding to Camp Butler they were discharged and received their final pay. In the winter of 1865 and ’66 Benajah returned to Selma, Alabama to act as foreman on a plantation, that had been taken over by Dr. Rex and three other “Carpet Baggers”. For some reason they moved out. Benajah then took charge of a store owned by a Jew names Myers. The clansmen were getting more active. A clerk sleeping in an adjoining store was found with his throat cut. Benajah wasted no time in getting out of town. He then bought a store at Clayton, Illinois, but soon decided to be a farmer. In the fall of 1867 he purchased a farm in Blue Mound Township and married Elizabeth Sharer of Griggsville, Illinois. He retired from the farm and moved to Bloomington in 1896.

The Brighams in Other Wars

It is known that Brighams fought against the Indians in the early colonial wars. In the records of the French and Indian War there are thirty-nine names of Brighams. The Revolutionary War shows a list of one-hundred-two by that name. The lists are not complete. It is interesting to note that the “minute” men of 1775 had a remarkable percentage of Brighams, who not only marched to Lexington and Concord but also to other points which were threatened by English troops. On the immortal day of Concord and Lexington April 19, 1775 upon which day marched out from old Marlboro Captain William Brigham and Company, including 2nd Lieut. Ithamar B. Sergts, Henry and Joseph Brigham, Corp. Lewis Brigham and privates Lovewell, George, Gershom, and Alexander Brigham. In other companies marched 2nd Lieut. Paul Brigham, Corp. Antipas Brigham and private Jonathan, Henry, George, Uriah and Joel Brigham. The alarm having come about midnight. These minute men arrived with others in the early dawn to participate in the fight that resulted in our independence.

American Brigham Places

Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston Robert B. Brigham Hospital for Incurables, Boston

Brigham Cemetery, Marlboro, Mass. and many landmarks in that vicinity

Brigham Hill and Brigham School, Grafton, Mass. Brigham Hill, a delightful viewpoint near Burlington, Vt.

Brigham Prairie, a hamlet in Dunn county Wisconsin, P. O. Menomonie.

Brigham City, in Apache Co Arizona, P. O. Winslow

Brigham, a hamlet in Kansas P. O. is Flint Ridge

Brigham, a hamlet in Chautauqua Co. N. Y. P. O. Fredonia

Brigham, a hamlet in Clinton Co. N. Y. O. O. Black Brook

Brigham City, Capital of Boxelder Co., Utah

Benajah, The Grocer of Boston

Benajah Brigham was a very successful business man. However, he found time outside his grocery store for various investments and was always anxious to get suggestions from his friends as to what would make him some money. As time went on it began to look like everything he purchased netted him a big profit. Some of his friends felt it would be a good idea to play a joke on him. They told him there were no roasting pans in Cuba and the demand was great for them. Without delay he loaded a ship and personally accompanied the cargo. On arriving he soon discovered that the people there had but little use for roasting pans, but they were very much in need on skimmers for use in making molasses. By punching holes in the pans he was soon producing an excellent skimmer and made a big profit on the consignment.

The Brighams in England

The genealogists have not been able to locate the direct ancestors of Thomas Brigham, the Puritan.

There appear to have been several early Brigham localities some of the names have since been changed. There was Brigham, Norfolk Co. said to have been named for the bridge on the road from Suffolk. The ancient settlement of Cumberland with many interesting records which tell of the church of Brigham and Brigham Parish on the River Derwent. There was also a Brigham settlement in Berwickshire, Scotland, where the Treaty of Brigham was consummated July 18, 1290. At Brigham in Yorkshire was found the most persistent line. Records there show Brigham dwellers from the Norman Conquest to 1606. Here we have the Brigham Township of 1470A at one time the Brigham Estate. Near Driffield is Old Brigham. We find “Brigham Hill”, “Brigham Lane” and a farm called “Little Brigham”. Then the “Manor House” and a public house known for generations as “The Brigham Arms”. On this building up to about 1870 when it was sold was the Brigham family coat-of-arms. A record of 1585 shows 17 families of gentlemen residing in Holderness. Among them is William Brigham of Brigham and Wyton, Esq. aged 52.

Brigham Young

Was Brigham Young related to the Brighams? No. This is the explanation for his Christian name. He was a son of John Young once of Hopkinton, Mass. who married Abigail Howe, daughter of Phineas Howe of Hopkinton. Said Abigail has a sister Susanna Howe who married Phineas Brigham of Southboro, Mass., and Eaton, N. Y. Susanna and her race were such estimable people that Brigham Young was honored by being christened after his Brigham aunt. Thus, it rather shows up to our credit that otherwise.

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Submitted: 04/18/09 (Edited 04/18/09)

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