Monday, July 20, 2009

Julia Brumfield Diaries

The second major family history project I'm working on is the Julia Brumfield Diaries.

For most of her later years, Julia Craddock Brumfield kept a diary every day -- we're pretty sure that she started in 1915, and know that she continued into the 1930s. After she died, her daughter-in-law distributed the diaries to Henry and Julia's grandchildren. These have since been distributed to their children, and reside in filing cabinets and on bookshelves across the country.

In 1992, my father typed and printed her 1918 diary, which he had inherited. This turned out to be quite a success. The book circulated far outside the few printings he'd made through a sort of samizdat network of photocopies. I remember meeting one man who told me he'd found out through the diary that the date on his grandmother's tombstone was wrong, since Julia mentioned hearing of her death on one date, and her tombstone was dated later. Another quite frail woman told me about the comfort she took from reading what a 72-year-old woman was able to do in a day.

Since then he's been given or been loaned a few other diaries (1918, 1919, 1921, 1927, 1928, and 1932). I got interested in the project, and have developed software that allows us to transcribe, annotate, and share the diaries via the web. A few other relatives have joined the project, and we've completed most of the 1919 and 1921 diaries, as well as locating and scanning the 1920 and 1922 diaries. The next step is enhancing the software to allow printed and bound copies of the diaries to be made, a feature I hope to complete before the end of the year.

The most difficult part of this project is locating other diaries. If you possess or know of diaries of Julia Craddock Brumfield, please contact me via email, or comment on this post.

Bright Leaf

Some cousins and I are producing a new edition of Bright Leaf: An Account of a Virginia Farm. If you're not familiar with the book, it's a portrait of Henry Anderson Brumfield and Julia Craddock and their life in the Brumfield home place at Renan. It includes some material that's strictly genealogical, like information about Henry and Julia's ancestors, and a chart of their children and descendants. Mainly, however it describes their life: the rooms and furniture in the Brumfield house, the work and joy of farm life, and how they raised their children. It was written in 1971 by Mary Brumfield Garnett, daughter of Dr. Will Brumfield (William Andrew Brumfield, Sr.) and grand-daughter of Henry and Julia.

We've contacted Mary Brumfield Garnett's daughter (Ellen Wyttenbach of Kansas) and gotten permission to issue a new edition of the book. We hope to reproduce the original text exactly, but to update the chart of Henry and Julia's descendants in the back, and add some appendices with related information.

To gather information for this new edition, we are trying to contact
members of the families of:
  • Denia Brumfield Blair and George Blair
  • Molly Brumfield Reynolds and Johnson Reynolds
  • Lizzie Brumfield Bennett and Tim Bennett
  • Kate Brumfield Harvey and Walter Harvey
  • John Brumfield and Christine Mease Brumfield
  • Charles Brumfield and Margaret Kelly Brumfield
  • Henry Lee Brumfield and Lillian Grace Booker Brumfield
  • William Andrew Brumfield and Effie Thornton Brumfield
  • James Anderson "Jim" Brumfield and Laura Ellen Walker Brumfield
  • Carrie Brumfield Smith and Marvin Smith
  • Sarah Brumfield Emerson and John Emerson
  • Henry Anderson Brumfield (b 1878)
The original Bright Leaf included a chart of Henry and Julia's children, grand children, great-grand-children, and their spouses. It may have contained some inaccuracies, and certainly is out of date. We currently only have been able to get updates from two branches of the family, and are trying to make contact with the remaining twelve.

We'd also like to add appendices with short writings related to Bright Leaf's contents. So far what we have in mind includes:
  • A brief memoir written Ben Brumfield about his life.
  • An updated genealogy of Henry and Julia's ancestors.
  • An account of Thomas Keeling Brumfield and Sarah Crider Towler's marriage told from the Towler side (extracted from Juby Toler's From the Fruit of the Garden.
  • A story about Henry Anderson Brumfield's experience with shoe-making in the Civil War.
  • A bibliography of other writings on the family.
  • A photo gallery of the Brumfield children and their families.
  • A gallery of the furniture from their house (though this requires tracking this furniture down.)
If you have material to contribute, corrections to make, or would like to participate in any other way, please contact me by leaving a comment on this post, or via email.