Friday, January 6, 2012

A Tale of Families: The Braxtons

It is hardly without question that the roots of at least three branches of this family reach back to Colonial America; a time when the events that shape families where recorded in Bibles and legal contracts recorded the matters of the affluent. It is also evident that the family history becomes much clearer at the turn of the 19th century. A search of the census records verify the expanding tree.

One such branch is of the surname "Braxton," most certainly Scot-Irish in origin and derived from the old English words of "bracken," a fern hedge, and the suffix, "ton," or "tan," meaning an enclosed place or town in the more modern sense.

Thomas Braxtan I and his wife, Hannah Lindley became pioneer settlers of Indiana migrating from Orange County, North Carolina around 1811. It is believed that at least two generations of Braxtons lived in North Carolina before Thomas migrated north.

Hannah Lindley is the daughter of Jonathan Lindley an American Revolutionary War veteran, and prominent Quaker leader who organized a movement from Orange County North Carolina to the "new" Orange County Indiana. The Ordinance of 1787 banned slavery from the newly formed Northwest Territory. Upon arrival in Indiana the Quakers established settlements in French Lick, (Lick Creek), and Paoli the future Seat of Orange County. This group also brought with them several freed slaves, deeding them property. The reputation of this area grew and in time became a safe haven for escaped salves en route to Canada in what is now known as the infamous "underground railroad."

North Carolina circa 1800
Orange County highlighted
Undoubtedly Thomas and Hannah travelled with Johnathan Lindley's group into the Northwest Territory. Upon arrival Thomas changed the spelling of his surname from "BRAXTON" to "BRAXTAN" as a ratification of his severance from the slave state.  This is the essence of the family legend explaining the variations of spelling in the last names. Eventually the historically correct spelling of the name was restored to "BRAXTON" and so it remains to this day. (Note: the cemetery listing for Lick Creek  lists many of the LINDLEY family and BRAXTON family included are Thomas and Hannah mentioned above.) 

There was another Braxton family in Colonial America, the family from which Carter Braxton hailed. Carter was a signer on the Declaration of Independence. His Virgina family roots are well documented and it does not appear that he is in this family tree but the origins of the Braxtons in North Carolina is a worthy of further research.

Thomas Braxton I (1774-1865) married Hannah Lindley (1780-1859) both are buried in Paoli, Indiana. To this couple where born Jonathan, Hiram (1802-1864, Paoli, IN), William, Marjorie, and John Lindley.
Mary Amanda Braxtan

Hiram Braxtan married Martha White (1796-1853, Paoli, IN), the daughter of Francis White and Mary Moore Newby in the year 1823 in Salem, Indiana. To this union where born eight children with the second, and only surviving daughter, Mary Amanda Braxtan in the year 1847. Mary was reared in a family with close Quaker ties, guided into her relationship with her "blessed Savior" from her early years. A relationship that she would rely on with a assurance in the raising of her own children. 

The Braxton, or alternatively, Braxtan family was active in their new found communities. Hiram was a patriarch of Paoli, his son Hiram Francis Braxtan a civil war hero, another son Thomas Newby, a successful business man and manufacturer of Hindostan oil and sand stone, (his home still stands today as an historical landmark.) Mary herself was founding member of the newly formed Christian Church in Bedford, IN along with her soon-to-be brother-in-law, Thomas Volney Thornton.
References and further reading:

Annals of a Family, JF Thornton, 1940

HISTORY: of Lawrence, Orange and Washington Counties, Indiana From the Earliest Time to the Present; Together with Interesting Biographical Sketches, Reminiscences, Notes, Etc. Chicago, Goodspeed Bros., & Co., Publishers, 1884. Weston A. Goodspeed, Leroy C. Goodspeed, Charles L. Goodspeed. Bourbon County, KY   pages; 272-273, 532, 548, 580-581, etc
(searchable text link)

Jonathan Lindley the Paoli Pioneer

Quakers in Indiana

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