The following appeared in the Weekly Guinett Herald of Lawrenceville, Ga. October 8th, 1879:
James Bracewell, who was one of the first settlers of Guinett County, decended from a long line of ancestors who immigrated from Ireland some time in the early part of the 18th century.
The name of the immigrant father is unknown. He settled on Tar river near Tarborough, and raised only two children, both sons, namely, Richard and Robert. Richard was the great grandfather of James. He raised eight children, all sons, one of whom was Richard, the grand father of James. He had two wives. By the first he had one child, a son, Robert, who served all through the Revolutionary war, and during the war made a powder horn and cut his initials upon it, and that horn is still in the family.
Richard in the year 1764 or 65, married Agnes Proctor, and raised a large family of children, all boys except one, and her name was Elizabeth. She was said to be the first daughter ever born into the Bracewell family in this County. His family were all born and raised to be nearly grown in North Carolina. Soon after the war, he sold out there and moved to Georgia and settle on Briar creek, Burke County.
The climate there proved to be very deliterious to the health of the family and several died. He then came to Washington, now Lawrence County, and settled upon the Oconee river when that was the line between the whites and Indians. In a few years all his children died by three, namely, Richard, Sampson, and Elizabeth.
Richard, the father of James, sometime in the year 1793 or 94, married Charity Scarborough and their first child (James) was born on the 5th day of June 1794, in Allen’s fort—for the people had almost to live in forts to protect themselves from the Indians. Richard by his first wife had four sons, namely, Richard, Wiley and William. His wife died in the year 1804. After many years he married a Miss Carlile by whom he had two sons. Kendred and Allen. He died in the year 1816, at about fifty years of age, leaving his son, James, as his executor. James after winding up his trust came to Morgan County, which was some time in the year 1817, and on a visit to see some of his relatives, and determined to make it his home. He commenced merchandizing in that country in the year 1818.
He did well in that business for a time, and his credit was perfectly good. He endorsed for a neighbor by the name of Richardson, in the Darien Bank for a large amount and had to pay same, which broke him up financially, and in the year 1821, the Sheriff of Morgan County sold all the property he had to satisfy said security which left him penniless with a wife and two children looking to him for support. He married Elizabeth Butler, daughter of Jesse and Mary Butler on the 10th day of May 1820, in Morgan County. Soon after his financial trouble, he determined to return to the County of his birth, which he did in the early part of 1822, and settled at the mouth of little Rocky creek on the Oconee river. There his wife and children soon took chills and remained sick until the latter part of the summer of 1823, when he determined to carry them up to his mother-in-law’s in Morgan County, to see if they would not improve in health. While up there he heard of Gwinnett County, which was then beginning to be settled, highly spoken, and he determined to go up and see it, so he and his brother-in-law Wm. B. Butler came up and looked at the lands on Yellow river, and were well pleased, and Butler bought the half lot upon which Affanicions Massey now lives. One of his old Morgan County friends, Thomas Robinson, the old wagoner, had already moved and was living on Yellow river. He returned to Morgan County and wound up his little business and return to Morgan County and got his wife and two children, and in a one horse wagon landed upon the said lot of land bought by Butler in the early part of the month of December, 1823. He remained there some three or four years when he and Butler divided the land he built and settled on his part in the year 1827 or 28 where Mr. Massy now resides. He embraced religion at Boring’s camp ground, now Bethesda, in the year 1824 or 25. He remained upon that half lot of land until 1835, when he sold out and bought out Joseph Boney and moved to that place and remained there until 1859, when he sold that place and bought land one mile south of Lawrenceville and moved there in August, 1862. Soon after this his wife died and he broke up housekeeping and moved to his son’s J. R. Bracewell, four miles north of Stone Mountain. After the death of his wife, he lost his energy and in a few years showed signs of failing health. In the year 1876 he complained of shortness of breath and was soon found he had dropsy of the chest which gradually grew worse until death ended his sufferings on the 12th day of December, 1875. His mind was good to the last. He straightened himself out and closed his own eyes. The fact of his having a strong memory is universally admitted by all. He was politically a Henry Clay Whig and lived and died opposed to the Democratic party. He never had any political aspirations but always voted for his many friends. He was very much opposed to secession and the Southern Confederacy. In religion he was Methodist to the core. From the best information that we have of his ancestors, they were members of the Episcopal church but joined the Methodist Episcopal soon after its organization in this country. The family were almost all universally Methodist by instinct.
The removal of the grandfather from North Carolina, to Briar Creek, gave the family a shock from which it never recovered.
I am indebted to Mr. Wm. B. Bracewell, the eldest living son for the elaborate history of the ancestors of James Bracewell. The subject of my sketch is complimentary to them as they have kept a history of their family and can trace it back for nearly two centuries. In the task of trying to chronicle the “Early Settlers of Gwinnett”, I have found that their decendants were lamentable ignorant of their Genealogy.
Mr. Bracewell raised eleven cildren, five sons and six daughters. The oldest moved and died in Texas at _______ years of age. Samuel T. enlisted in the war and was __________________. Wm. B. and the others are surviving and are worthy and respected citizens of this county. ***(Not so, says Joe Taylor. Joseph Marion was in Alabama or Texas by now and the 1860 census in Dale County, Alabama, was taken by William B.) I would speak of the daughters, but all of them except four are gone from the history. I recall the wife of Mr. E. Harris and the wife of Mr. S. Harris; Mr. H. O. M of Lawrenceville and a Mr. Matthews of this County.
Mr. Bracewell was a politician in his day and was well informed on political subjects and the history of the political parties from the foundation of the government, and of the foundation of the Federalist and Republican parties; also of the Troupe and Clarke parties of Georgia; of the Union and State Rights parties of 1833-35; the Whig and Democratic parties, and all other parties, which since have divided the people. He had a retentive memory and never forgot what he read or heard, and he could quote from history with great precision and correctness.
In his politics he was steadfast—immovable as the hill, and was ready to defend his party principles with argument and facts. His wonderful memory of public men and political events gave him an advantage over most men of his co-peers that might encounter him. I give an anecdote of one that is in point.
He had a neighbor who was as valid a Democrat as he was a Whig. The neighbor was J. W. S. (I suppress the name for personal reasons) was a talking man, full of gas, and with him it was “fuss and feathers” mostly. The gauge of battle had been thrown down by one of them, and it was promptly taken up by the other and by agreement they were to discuss the question in issue on a certain day at a certain place, and the public were invited. The day came and so did the crowd.
Mr. S. opened the discussion, lauded General Jackson, the “father of the Democratic Party”, told of his great deeds as a warrior, of his great battle at New Orleans, of the British coming up the Alabama river under “Cornwallis” to sack the city and how he was repulsed by “Old Hickory”, and with a flourish of trumpets closed, assured of victory.
Mr. Bracewell rejoined and opened his speech by saying: “The Honorable Gentleman had given him some information he had never heard of with reference to the battle of New Orleans, and of the British coming up the ALABAMA river to sack that city.” Before proceeding to discuss the politics of the two parties, he would submit this proposition to the Gentleman: “If he could tell him correctly where New Orleans was and who commanded the British at the battle referred to, he would yield the point, quit the discussion and vote the Democratic ticket.
Mr. S. in answer said “He was not much of a grammarian, but that he thought New Orleans was on the Alabama river, and he had always heard that Lord Cornwallis commanded the force.
This was a triumph for Mr. Bracewell, and he replied by saying: “The Gentleman is at fault in this as he is in all his politics. I will endeavor to enlighten him by telling him that New Orleans is at the mouth of the Mississippi river, and that Packenham commanded the British forces and not Cornwallis who was a general in the Revolutionary war.
Opposition to the Democratic party had so engrafted itself into his nature, that after the war, like thousands of the old Whigs of the South, he could not allign himself with that party. All his lifelong traditions and prejudices forbade it. Had the name been otherwise, he could, as it was the same old name, he could not. No one can make allowance in his case better than the writer. He found it difficult to make the transition, but did, others who had grown grayer in their opposition could not.
Mr. Bracewell was as ardent a Methodist as he was a Whig; as unyielding in one as the other. He was a member of the church at Bethesda and at his death was a communicant at her alter.
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