Uncle Barto was the first child born to Joseph Marion and Emiline Bracewell ill Coffeevlle, Alabama, on Sept. 22, 1861.
His father was enlisted into the Confederate Army at Opelika. Ala., when Barto was eight months old.
Joseph Marion did not rejoin the family permanently until after the end of the war In May 1865 when Barto was four. The family moved to Skipperville, Ala., and worked an 80 acre farm during the Reconstruction period until 1872 when they moved to Grime's County, Texas. This should have been a memorable adventure for Barto who was by then eleven.
Bart and the other children pitched in to make a home in the "new lands." People who knew him
recall that he was strong, energetic and intelligent. It was said of him that “as a boy he did the work of a man, and as a man he did the work of two men.”
Barto married Fannie Shanks at Bedias Dec. 19, 1882. This union produced nine children:
Ruby Estella (Dooley), Oct. 13, 1883--Dec. 10, 1967.
Corrie Ola (Tew), April 25, 1885-April 25, 1924
William Byron, May 14, 1887-June 7, 1945.
Marha Anna (Peavy), Feb. 20, 1890.
Winnie Elvira, May 15, 1893 (died at one year of age).
Pearl, June 19, 1896 (died at age 10).
Winnie Lee (Steed), April 4, 1898.
Jessie Irene (Stone), Aug. 14, 1900.
Asbury Barto, June 16, 1903.
After Aunt Fannie passed away, Barto married Arah Redding in 1910. Their marriage produced seven children:
Twins: William Travis and Trannie Beatrice (Hearn), Dec. 11, 1911.
Lorene (Young), July 31, 1913.
Joseph Marion III, Jan. 14, 1917.
James Ardell, Sept. 19, 1918.
(Unnamed infant daughter, Sept. 9, 1922)
Robbie Merle, Dec. 9, 1924 (died at one year of age).
Barto produced children over a 41 year period from his first when he was 22 until he was 63. He had Joseph Marion's first three grandchildren and the last grandchild to be born. At the time of Joseph Marion's passing in 1910 Barto had produced seven grandchildren for him.
Barto worked as a blacksmith and farmer. As a blacksmith he was called on to repair tools and implements and to make new tools and parts when necessary. Always inventive, he held a patent on a plow he built.
His work did not keep him from enjoying hunting and fishing often. He is probably one of the few persons ever to have killed a bear in Grimes County.
His son Travis tells of his trip with his father back to the old Bracewell homestead in Alabama in 1935 (at the age of 74!) and locating several of his old schoolmates from the 1860s.
Uncle Barto passed away on Jan. 30, 1936. It was perhaps the recognition of his great character, representative of his parents and brothers and sisters which prompted the surviving Bracewells to start holding their annual reunion in remembrance of him and the other beloved kinsmen in June of that year.
Travis recalls trip to Alabama
When Daddy and I went there in 1936, we left Troy or Banks and went to Skipperville, which was a very small place, and found out from the postmaster just where the Bracewell place was.
When we got there Daddy said when we drove up--and it was on a fairly large sand hill: "This is Grandfather's place," and said to the people there that he and his dad lived little further down the road. A lady told us that the house had been torn down.
Daddy said, "Well, a few years before we left to go to Texas I went with my Daddy and someone else, and they put a hollow log that had been split open and they made a trough and put one end under a waterfall. I guess you would call it that, as this water was pouring out from the hill."
She told him that it was still there, so he wanted to see it.
So we went down and as soon as he saw it, he said it looked Just like it did when they placed it there except that it was covered with green moss, and that the water was almost as cold as ice.
At the time we went there we only found two of his schoolmates. One was bedridden and the other man lived by himself. It was a sight to see them grab each other. They were so proud to see each other. The man was by himself and just begged Dad to stay a few days. But we couldn't as one of the Tew boys had taken off work to carry us down.
It was so sad when they said goodbye, knowing that it was to be for the last time.
Why we come to the Reunion
(Following is the Devotional thought delivered by Joseph Searcy Bracewell III at the Bracewell Reunion, June 5, 1977. Ed.)
It is always a pleasure to come to the Reunion and see old friends whom I haven't seen in a long time. I always find it interesting as well to see the large and growing group of people at the Reunion whom I don't know. The fact that common ancestry brings together each year a group of people from different parts of the state and different walks of life is a credit not only to the original common ancestors, but to those family members who over the years have worked hard to keep the Reunion a viable event.
A question that intrigues me, however, is this: Why do we come to the Reunion? What do we get out of it? What are we seeking that draws us like a magnet to Bedias each year on the first Sunday of June?
I believe there are several things about the Reunion which cause us to come, not the least of which is the fine lunch which is always served. I also believe that much of (Continued on Page 4)
Bracewell Homestead Located
I can take you to 80 acres of land and an old homesite known as the Bracewell Place. Dr. Robert Davis Reynolds gained possession of the place about 1888. It was in the Reynolds family until about 1930 at which time the Watson family became owners and are still in possession at this time. Some of our other residents can remember hearing their fathers and grandfathers speak of the Bracewell family that once lived there prior to 1888.
Skipperville is in Dale County, 10 miles N.E. of Ozark, Alabama, and Ft. Rucker. Ozark is on Highway 231 90 miles south of Montgomery and 28 miles north of Dathan. Skipperville is a small community of about 200 on Highway 105.
Come see us--be happy to have you.
Jessie T. Snell
*** Map of Skipperville ***
Impressions of Barto’s nature
(Travis gives us three examples of the nature of Uncle Barto, illustrations of his compassion, courage and sternness or steadfastness in maintaining discipline. Editor).
Bark in the Depression days every one had a hard time with very little money, as you know. One Christmas, Joe Ballard came by the blacksmith shop to see Dad, and Daddy asked him, “How’s Christmas?"
"Well Barto," He said, "I haven't had one as bad as this. As you know, I have a house full of children and don’t have a dime to get even a little candy for them."
At that point, Dad pulled out his purse and gave him a $5 bill, which was a lot of money in those days.
I would have never known about this incident if Joe Ballard hadn't come by my barber shop, soon after Dad passed away, and told me.
I told him I didn't see how I could carry on without Dad. Among other things, he had always given such good advice. He allowed that not many people knew the big heart that Dad had for everyone.
Years ago during the wagon and buggy days, Dad lived four or five miles east of Bedias. There were some troublesome bunches in those days known as the "Regulators" and the "Moderators." Also out that way lived the Shannon family, maybe distant cousins of ours, at least they were good friends.
One day one bunch surrounded the Shannon home and I guess intended to kill all of them. I think there was about four of the Shannon boys and their mother and dad. Well, the bunch from Bedias had some Winchesters and rifles whereas the Shannons had only pistols. During the gun fight one of the Shannon boys made a run from the house to a closer position behind a bail of cotton. They killed the boy. People were afraid to go there for fear of getting into trouble. But Dad took his wagon and went and hauled the body to his home so it could be taken care of. Dad didn't take part in the dispute but felt he had to help his neighbors in this way.
The last whipping Dad gave me lasted for a long time, and I deserved it. He was a good man, but he knew how to straighten out kids. He and Mother had driven into Madison County to see some of Mom's people one Sunday. I noticed an old lazy tom cat laying around. I went to the pantry and found a can of hilife that had been put there to keep out weavels. I took some and poured it on the cat and
set the dog on him. About that time Dad drove up and seeing what was happening, grabbed me by the arm and carried me to the barn. He pulled a rope off a harness and really layed into me. I will always remember that, but he gave me what I needed.
JMB’s Confederate service documented
By Charles Heath
I obtained Joseph Marion Bracewell's military service record from the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
Lawrenceville, Alabama, where he enlisted, is in Henry County which adjoins Dale County on the east, where the family lived before coming to Texas.
The way was a year old when he enlisted. He served three years. I'll try to obtain a history of the 39th Regiment, Alabama Infantry, and also the 22nd Regiment.
The General W. T. Sherman mentioned is old William Tecumseh Sherman, who laid waste to Georgia and South Carolina and caused so much bitterness in the South that a Republican stood no chance to be elected until 1952. When U.S. Grant became president, he made Sherman his chief of staff.
*** JMB’s Muster Roll ***
Value of a nickel – two examples
"My father was a kind, generous man and was devoted to his large family of children. He was a strict Disciplinarian and believed if you spared the rod you would spoil the child.
"I remember when I was in the 8th grade I went by the shop and asked my Dad for a nickle to buy a scratch tablet. In place of him giving me the money to buy my tablet, he went up the street with me to get it himself. On the way he said to me, 'It is not what you make that counts, it is what you save.” There was a group of boys standing there hearing what he said to me. One of them was my future husband. Needless to say, I was embarrassed, never looking up to see who was in the group."
Jessie Irene Bracewell Stone
"An incident I remember clearly was when I was a small boy of about five, and we were visiting Barto. I was a very active, inquisitive child constantly moving about. Barto said to me, 'Son, if you will sit still for five minutes, I'll give you a nickel.' Being poor, I was happy to comply, and five minutes later I was five cents richer."
William S. Peavy
WHY WE COME TO REUNION, Cont’d:
What we learn and feel by coming to the Reunion has a direct application to our daily lives in a word of people who do not happen to be members of the Bracewell family.
One obvious and important purpose of the Reunion is the opportunity for fellowship with relatives and good friends. The sharing of a few hours, a meal, a few prayers, and a few songs, makes us feel closer to people we love, and reminds us that there are others in our lives with whom we should be sharing similar moments.
In remembering the generations which have gone before us, and in welcoming the newborn into the family, the Reunion gives us a sense of continuity, an understanding that we are both products of the past and creators of the future. In our larger family of mankind itself, we occupy similar role positions, and our family experience provides us with a sense of personal perspective as we think about our place and mission in the world.
By gathering on Sunday and worshipping together, we affirm a common belief in God. While we rejoice in the fact that a strong Christian faith has been a source of strength for our family, let us not forget that all creatures of the world are children of God, all mankind created in his image, and endowed with His love. This knowledge should be a source of strength and a cause for rejoicing.
In these years of the American Bicentennial, we are reminded of the national heritage which we share, and of the long history of the Bracewell family in the settlement of this country since its very inception. The Reunion kindles in us our sense of patriotism, our desire to preserve and to improve our nation, its resources, its people, and its government, for our own and future generations.
Although our lives lead us in different directions, the Reunion reminds us of family pride and family honor. What glorifies one of us in some measure glorifies us all. What saddens one of us, saddens us all. Our sharing of these feelings with one another presupposes mutual respect and a belief in the inherent dignity of other family members. To show respect for and to see dignity in every human being is what Christ demands of us when He says: "Inasmuch as ye have done Jt unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matt. 25:40)
Finally, I believe we seek in the Reunion a sense of our own immortality. An ancient Greek proverb declares that: "It is not possible to step twice into the same river." We continually made aware of the transitory nature of our lives and the fact that, once past, time can never be relived. We seek, as man has done throughout the ages, for a that we share in a life that is greater than ourselves, that a part of us lives on. By focusing on thoughts and beliefs which are shared by each of us here, which were shared by members of our family who have passed away, and which we hope will be shared by descendants yet unborn, the Reunion gives us that reassurance. By sensing that we share certain values and beliefs which are eternal, we begin to understand that only those parts of us which we share with others will extend beyond our lifetime.
***Barto family tree ***