All in the Family
A couple years ago, I was hunting around for genealogy stuff, trying to find a link between my Bradley ancestors and my friend Linda’s.*
My branch of the Bradley clan lived in King Ferry, New York. When I was Googling things like “Jabez Bradley King Ferry,” I stumbled across these photos:
That’s my grandmother on the swing with a brother-in-law (one sister and another brother-in-law are behind them).
That’s my grandparents in front, again, and apparently my mother’s cousin.
This is the staunch Bradley clan at the First Presbyterian Church of King Ferry (circa 1880s).
This was kind of astonishing for me. I’ve been to that church. My ancestors donated the land, and then one of them handcrafted its stained-glass windows. It opened in 1798. My grandmother and grandfather are buried in its cemetery (along with my relatives going back to the 1700s).
I contacted the person who posted the photos of my family, and it turned out it was my mom’s cousin’s son. Quickly doing the math, I immediately realized…that I don’t know what degree of relative he is. But some kind of cousinish person.
My maternal grandmother, Lucile Bradley Goessling, was a remarkable person. I was terrified of her teasing when I was little. She was clever and sarcastic. A librarian, as you might have deduced by the frightening cleverness and sarcasm. She was hilarious, I can now appreciate better.
Bart’s grandmother and mine were sisters (his grandmother is the one in the swing photo), and it’s been wonderful getting to talk with him on Facebook and hear stories that sound so much like my own clever, sarcastic grandmother. We make Bradley jokes pretty regularly–and we are proof of the strength/doggone orneriness of the Bradley genes, because somehow we have a lot in common. Mostly sarcastic cleverness.
Cousinish Bart told me this tale about my grandmother: when he went to visit her in Syracuse with his grandmother, his mom, and his nephew, she served a marvelous jambalaya rice dish, which seemed exotic, given the family’s New England roots. Being interested in cooking, he asked for the recipe, and she said she would send it.
When Grammy mailed him a package, he opened it, only to discover an empty packet of Rice-a-Roni.
I can’t stop laughing about this, because it just feels so…familiar to me. I can just picture the glee she must have felt when she was preparing the box for mailing. Cousin Kerry, this also sounds like something your dad would do. Uncle Kenny shocked us when we were kids by telling my rambling cousin Pat, “Here’s a quarter. Go call someone who cares.”
We also discovered that our sister-grandmothers both hated normal animals, like cats, while having a passion for ducks (his) and geese (mine). Anyone who has been chased by a goose in Monterey may not quite understand this passion. I have been chased by geese in Monterey. They are a$$holes (see Death Geese). I am willing to believe, though, because I love Grammy, that the Canada geese she liked best are nice, like Canadian people.
I miss Grammy, but these stories make me feel connected to this hysterically funny, sometimes terrible, group of people whom I love. I hope that someday my grandchildren tell stories about all the times I shocked and/or mortified them, and then laugh.
*I succeeded, by the way. I’m related to some of the very nicest people at my church. Our Bradley (originally Broadlea) family split in New Haven, CT, in the 1700s.
Also, for family or just history buffs, I just found the most fascinating collection of old King Ferry photos here: http://genoahistorical.smugmug.com/HistoricalImages/Location/King-Ferry-NY/21567675_RdB3fH#!i=1721045519&k=KRmSgBn
Bart is your second cousin. Maybe this chart could help? http://www.slideshowandicecream.com/who-do-you-think-you-are-to-me/