I’ve just finished the page on Hugh Braly Bigham, my great-great-great-grandfather. With 19 or so kids to keep track of, it was a real challenge (as I’m sure it was for him and their mothers) but also very interesting. He lived during a fascinating era of American history, part of the western pioneer movement that expanded the borders of our nation. I could picture him traveling in wagons with his family from the half-settled state of Tennessee to the true “wilderness” of the brand new state of Arkansas, using a raft to carry the wagon and all his belongings — including his prize rosewood piano — over the river.
Still, despite the information we DO have about Hugh Braly and his family, he remains a somewhat shadowy figure since very little is known about him personally. I’ve delved into as many family histories as I could find, and received a wealth of information from many generous “cousins” online, but what we know about Hugh Braly is mostly dry dates and places: where he lived, the names of his children, what land he bought.
I envy those people who clean out their attic and come across an old diary from their great granny, or a stack of letters from some almost-forgotten ancestor, or even some dusty daguerreotypes.
Until we discover more personal facts about Hugh, we have to do a lot of “supposing” … but that can be part of the fun. Based on what we know of the times in which he lived, we can make some interesting guesses about his life, and then take wild leaps of imagination to fill in the blanks.
I think my theories as to why the 1860 census is so filled with errors … and my speculation about the cause of his death … are both within the realm of possibility. But we may never know the truth!
If you see any errors or have any info to add, PLEASE leave a comment or e-mail me. I’d love to hear from you.