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Brady Family History

William James Brady [b. 1820] has been heavily researched by many genealogists including me.  The identity of his father has not been discovered.  The records in 1700’s backcountry Pennsylvania/Virginia are pretty sparse.

However, I think the many pieces of circumstantial evidence I have recently uncovered are enough to draw a conclusion that Samuel Brady b. 1750 is the patriarch.  Somebody still needs to find the documentation to identify William James father.  

Neal Ekengren - 2018

Brady Surname Project

The Irish name Brady is derived from the Gaelic name MacBradaigh, which means "spirited."  MacBradaigh were a powerful sept [family group] located in East Breifne, County Cavan, Ireland.   The first use of the name MacBradaigh occurred in the Annals of the Four Masters in 1256 in reference to the death of Tighearan MacBradaigh in a battle against the neighboring O'Rourkes.

Hugh and Hannah Brady were probably the first Bradys in America, arriving in 1732 and settling in the Cumberland valley.  The old Brady homestead there has survived.  Many of their descendants fought in the Revolutionary War.  Hugh Brady was a Brigadier General in the War of 1812 and Captain Sam Brady was a well-known Indian scout.  

yDNA testing [direct male lineage] shows that the large Irish Brady sept of County Cavan has a slowly mutating DYS 439 marker value of 11, not the usual value 12.   Hugh Brady and all descendents have this DNA mutation.  Many other American Colonial Brady do NOT have this DNA mutation and are not directly related to Hugh Brady or the Cavan Brady sept.

I need to find a direct male descendent of my William James Brady that has tested for this yDNA 439 marker.

Bradys in Pennsylvania



1750 – Samuel Brady is born about 1750 in Pennsylvania.

Samuel’s father MAY have been Dennis Brady.  He arrived in Philadelphia, April 1746, on the ship Dublin’s Prize.  Dennis was indentured for 4 years to Jacob Vernon of Chester County [next to Berks County], Pennsylvania.  In 1756 Dennis paid taxes in Cumru Township, Berks, PA.

Samuel’s father COULD be related to the famous Hugh Brady.  However no connections have ever been found.

1740 - 1741 - Irish Famine

The Irish Famine was a period of mass starvation and disease killing 25% of the island's population.  This is considered by scholars to be the last serious cold period at the end of the Little Ice Age of about 1400–1800.

The primary food crop was oats and this failed.  The later famous Irish Potato Famine [1845-1849] was equally serious when the primary food crop potatoes failed.

1771 - 1780 - Samuel marries Lisa Margareth [Lerch].  They have 4 children including our John Isaac Brady Sr. ancestor.

My suspicion is that Samuel married into the Lerch family.  Nicholas Lerch was from Germany and indentured 1741 in Berks County, Pennsylvania.  Nicholas family remained in the Berks County German area of Heidelberg Township for generations.  Margareth was a common name in the Lerch family.  Samuel Brady’s son William married Juliana Lerch.

Berks County, Pennsylvania

1787 - Samuel dies in Berks County.  He is buried in
Boyertown Union Church Cemetery.

Boyertown Union Church Cemetery

No other Brady are buried here and his date of death is listed as unknown.

John Isaac Brady Sr.


1773 - John Isaac Brady Sr. is born.

1779 - 1806 - John marries Anna Christena Michel.  They have 4 children including John Brady Jr.

Bradys in Virginia

1803 - John moves with family to Pendleton County, Virginia.  He pays taxes here 1803-1806.  He lives somewhere between Pendleton and Kline, which is about 6 miles south.

Pendleton County, Virginia

Pendleton County was created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1786.  In 1800 there are about 4,000 people in the county and growth was slow after this.

Brady is listed as pioneers in Pendleton County.

1807 - Anna Christena dies.  No burial location is known.  

1808 - John moves to neighboring Randolph County, Virginia.  

Randolph County, Virginia

Randolph County had a complicated birth.  Using government records in this area requires the exact year and exact location and luck that no fires in wooden courthouses have destroyed records.

1721 - Spotsylvania County

1734 - Orange County from division of Spotsylvania

1744 - Augusta County from division of Orange

1776 - Monongalia County from division of Augusta

1784 - Harrison County from division of Monongalia

1787 - Randolph from division of Harrison

1806 - Harrison from pieces of Randolph

1851 - Upshur from pieces of Randolph

1808 - 1824 John marries next Susannah Ware.  They have 7 children.

1828 - John buys 100 acres of land on Elkwater Run.

1840 - John has moved to nearby Lewis County, Virginia.

Lewis County, Virginia

1851 - John dies after the 1850 census.  No burial location is known.

John Brady Jr.


1806 - John Brady Jr. is born in Virginia.

1828 - 1853 John marries Elizabeth Barker and they have 10 children.  They live in Braxton County the entire time.

1845 - John was granted 75 acres on Steer Creek by the State of Virginia.

The Brady families must have dreaded the many guerilla actions of the civil war in their Allegheny Mountain counties.

1861 - 1865 - American Civil War

In 1861, Union troops drove off Confederate troops. This freed Unionists in the northwestern counties of Virginia to form a functioning government of their own as the new state of West Virginia.  Guerrilla warfare gripped the new state, especially in the Allegheny Mountain counties  where loyalties were much more divided.

1874 - John dies of yellow fever.

William James Brady


1820 - William James Brady is born in Virginia.

My William James Brady is almost certainly related to the John Brady Jr. and John Brady Sr. above.

I have no definitive proof.  I have lots of circumstantial evidence as noted below with this text.

Circumstantial evidence connecting William James Brady with John Isaac Brady.

I placed William James in my family tree database as son to John Brady Sr. since I have no perfect placement at the moment.  

John Brady Sr. is NOT the father of my William James.  John Brady Sr. married Anna Christena Michel in 1797 but the first child [males] is recorded in 1803.  This is unusual during this time period and suggests other female children may have been born.  William is possibly John Isaacs grandson.

There were two Brady clans living in the Braxton County area.  This has made research quite complicated.  Several researchers have spent decades trying to clear up who the father of William James Brady is.  I say it is nearly certain now, reflecting lots of circumstantial evidence I have uncovered, that John Isaac Brady is the patriarch for William James Brady.

The “other” clan are descendents of some quite famous Brady’s of revolutionary war fame.  The patriarch Hugh Brady is probably NOT one of our Brady.  There are lots of great stories here but I can’t claim anything for my family.

1838 - 1856 - William marries Nancy Barnett in Nicholas County.  They have 9 children including our Elizabeth Brady ancestor.  They appear to have lived in Braxton County the entire marriage.

1849 - 1850 - William pays taxes in Braxton County these years.  Unknown why none were paid other years.

40 people are taxed these years and the tax roll always has the column "white males over 16 years of age"  populated with a number.  Except……...William has this column blank.  

Is the tax role perhaps an indication he is not white?

There are various oral histories of Indian heritage here but nothing I have researched checks out.  Also, my DNA analysis shows no Indian DNA!!

1856 - William dies shortly after the birth of their last son James Scott McDonald Brady.  Nancy remarries twice after this.

Elizabeth Brady


1842 - Elizabeth Brady is born in Sutton, Braxton, Virginia.  Her twin sister is Mary Ann Brady.  

Strangely, Elizabeth is not listed in the 1850 census at 8 years old but her sister is.  However the bible of her brother James Scott McDonald Brady lists both Elizabeth and Mary Ann as twins.  Oral history also describes her visit to brother James Scott McDonald when she is older.

1860 - Elizabeth migrates to Kansas with an extended family to Kansas City. An excellent version of this migration story from Elizabeth Brady’s perspective is told by Naomi Ayres Lightfoot.

History of Johnson County Kansas

On the seventeenth day of May, 1860, eight persons, all "kinfolks," landed in Olathe, direct from Western Virginia.  They were relatives of B.L. Roberts, and some of them still live in Johnson county.  The Duffields, Fishers, Roberts and Davises and among them, Mrs. Eckengreen, who has since resided in Olathe, and Joseph Hutchinson and family.

[By Naomi Ayres Lightfoot]
The year was 1860 and it was time for the twin girls to say goodbye. One girl was going with a family who lived in West Virginia, the other girl was to live with the William Fisher family who was heading west. The Fisher family had six boys but no girls, and Mrs. Fisher looked forward to caring for the girl. The family started their western trek by boat, down the Ohio river from Sutton County, Ohio, then on the Mississippi River as far as St. Louis, then up the Missouri River to Westport Landing. Their cattle and household belongings went by separate barge along the same route.

When the Fishers arrived in Johnson County, Kansas they were unable to get property with a dwelling on it, which necessitated their living in a dug-out. Since this was no proper place for a young girl of 12 years (life was rough even for boys, mother, and father in those days) a place must be found for the girl in town.

Elizabeth was placed with a retired Army Colonel and his wife by the name of Burris in Olathe. The girl was to work for her room and board. The Burris's were not unkind, but kept their association with their "help" on an impersonal basis. The young girl did the household chores; laundry, carrying coal for the stove, then carrying out the ashes. She did the housework which in summer included beating heavy carpets with a carpet-beater, to remove the accumulated dirt and grime of winter, which daily sweeping with a broom would not remove! For these services she was given her room, board and bare necessities of clothing.

Even though Colonel and Mrs. Burris like the girl, she was never permitted to sit with the family for meals but ate alone, later. It was not an easy life, yet much better than she would have had living with here "adopted" family in the dug-out exposed to the hot Kansas sun of summer and the cold, windy blasts of winter.

One day a young man, wearing the uniform of the Union Army, came to visit his former officer, Colonel Burris. As the young housemaid served him and the Burris family the evening repast, the young man took notice of the lass. Hist visits to the Burris household became more frequent, as as time went by, he asked permission to court the young lady, Lizzie. One cold early-winter day when he came, he noticed that Lizzie was wearing very lightweight clothing - not at all appropriate for the time of year. He, in a gentlemanly way, asked her if she owned long-underwear. She told him, "No". The young ex-military man, Charles Ekengren, gave Elizabeth new, warm, underwear for a Christmas gifts. They were married the following spring.

The young husband was of Swedish descent with blue eyes and blonde hair. Lizzie was fair skinned and had long, dark hair. Charles was an accomplished craftsman and provided his family with many hand made articles of furniture, etc. Lizzie was a good cook and made delicious breads and often took prizes at the county fairs. The couple had four sons. All the boys had musical talents and were skilled in the crafts. One of these sons, the third boy, was Frank D. Ekengren - and from now on, you know the family history.

1860 - B. L. Roberts, and kinfolk, arrived with Elizabeth Brady in Kansas.  This is our same Benjamin Roberts who lived adjacent to our Ware family in Virginia.  Susanna Ware was the wife of our John Isaac Brady.

Circumstantial evidence connecting William James Brady with John Isaac Brady.

1869 - William Fisher Rogers moves from Braxton County, West Virginia to Jackson County, Missouri [adjacent to Johnson County Kansas]  William Fisher Rogers is married to Cicelia Brady, the granddaughter of our John Isaac Brady.  

Circumstantial evidence connecting William James Brady with John Isaac Brady.

William Fisher Rogers given name is exactly the same as the man who led our Elizabeth Brady party in 1860 to Kansas City, William Fisher.  Presumably the given name was a tribute to William Fisher.

Circumstantial evidence connecting William James Brady with John Isaac Brady.

1870 - Samuel Hoover and Margaret Brady move from Upshur County [near Braxton] to Illinois and then Wichita, Kansas.  Margaret Brady is the daughter of our John Isaac Brady.  Their migration route is nearly identical to Elizabeth Brady.

Circumstantial evidence connecting William James Brady with John Isaac Brady.

Samuel and Margaret have the first white baby born in Wichita, KS in 1870.

The remainder of Elizabeth story in Kansas is told here with the Ekengren Family History.