Boston Brahmin Blood
I had never met my paternal grandparents, which is what sparked my interest in genealogy. My dad had told me that “grandpa” had done a lot of research, mostly on his side of the family but also did some on his wife’s side, who is my paternal grandmother. My dad had then realized how interested I was showed my “The Ancestral Charts of Frederick Josiah Bradlee, Jr.” I have always been asking my father about my grandfather in particular, because he and my dad were particularly closer and my dad even told me that he was much closer to him than to his mother. In my fathers autobiography “A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures,” he describes his mother as someone “…who had great teeth;” though he goes on and praises his father much more.
I have always wondered why I have become sickly obsessed, as I say, about researching my families history. One day I was talking to my mom about it and we both realized that it was because of my learning differences that I have or learning disabilities as they are more commonly known; I am however trying to change the term to learning differences because we just learn differently, we are not disabled in anyway. When you come from a family of over achievers, and as you are researching you families history and find out that there are just more and more over achievers, it doesn’t really help. However at the same time I wanted find as many over achievers as I possibly could, because in a weird way it actually made me feel better about myself; and I find researching my families history very therapeutic for me. I never graduated from college although I had three years, two years at one school then one year at another so genealogy has become a great history cores for me and a great teacher; I know consider myself not only a family historian but a history buff. And it is all because I never met my grandparents, at least for most of the part.
One day my decided that he wanted to write a book about the Crowninshield family, which is my middle name and my dad’s middle name. Crowninshield by the way is pronounced Crown-in-shield and the immigrant, Johannes Casper Richter von Kronenscheldt came from Germany to Salem, Massachusetts in 1680. Before Johannes left Germany, his family had left from the south of Denmark. The Crowninshield family left Denmark during the Thirty Years War and settled in a town in Germany called Kronensheldt adopted the name. Normally von at the end of a name means that you are descended of noble or royal blood of some type, which is the case on my paternal grandmother’s side of the family. Her name was Josephine de Gersdorff and became Chevaliere Josephine de Gersdorff. My grandmother was knighted by the French government for creating an orphanage for kids during WWII. Parents in Nazi occupied Germany would send their kids to my grandmother’s orphanage to keep them protected, and the French government knighted her for it. The mescaline way of using the title, Chevalier is as it is, but the feminine way is Chevaliere, with an “e” at the end of it. The best place to start finding out who your ancestors were is by asking your parents or the closest family member that you have; it is genealogy 101. My father had told me this just after he was knighted by the French government, which was a few years ago.
I have always been fascinated with my maternal grandfather’s military career and have always been mesmerized by his medals. I was looking at them one day and noticed something… one of the medals looked exactly the same as my father’s and my father’s mother’s Legion d’honneur or in English, the National Order of the Legion of Honor. So my father, his mother and my mother’s father all received one, my maternal grandfather also received an Officer Cross of the order. My mom’s father was born in Easton, Crisfield, Somerset, Maryland on November 1, 1907 and died at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC on September 11, 2001, the year before 9/11. He was born William Wilson Quinn and died Chevalier Lt. Gen. Wiliam Wilson “Buffalo Bill” Quinn. I read on Wikipedia that the wife of a Chevalier has the right to use the title Chevaliress, however my mom does not chose to do that, because she does not feel a need to.
Getting back to my grandmother Chevaliere Josephine, she was not exactly an heiress, but I remember reading in my uncle Freddy’s book, A Lady In My Life, describes and talks about how one day his grandmother, Helen Suszette Crowninshield, had to move out of her New York mansion because it was becoming to stressful for her in her older years so she and her husband, Carl August de Gersdorff, moved into a smaller ten room apartment. During the move, Helen and Carl were escorted in his limo, which they traveled in. My uncle Freddy, who was borne Frederick Josiah Bradlee III, but decided to drop the “k,” the “Josiah” and the “III” at the end of his name, also talked about and described my great grandfather Carls life as a lawyer. Carl often went to Germany and every time he was in Germany his last name would be von Gersdorff, which is what the name originally was, though when he was in America his last name would always be de Gersdorff to make it sound more French.
Frederic Bradlee had written about how the de Gersdorff family could be traiced all the back to Markgraf Gero who faught with Otto I the Great, Holy Roman Empire in 980 A.D. However I have actually found about six von Gersdorff cousins of mine through Facebook, and they have shown me their record which only goes back to about 1316. My dad had told me that the de Gersdorffs were a descendant from a Count von Tschirschky, though I have found no evididence of this I have found using Gary Boyd Robert’s “600 Immigrants to the Colonies or the United States” that the de Gersdorffs were direct descendants of Mary of Burgundy, who became Mary, Duchess of Cleves. She married Adolf, 1st Duke of Cleves, 2nd Count of Cleves, 4th Count of Mark in 1406 and second child of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy and Margarent of Bavaria. John’s father was Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, who’s parents were John II of France Bonne of Bohemia.
The immigrant of the de Gersdorff family Dr. Johann Casper Richter von Gersdorff and then he changed the last name to de Gersdorff when he came immigrated to Salem, Massachusetss. Dr. Johann, was my great grandfather who married Caroline Choate in 1849 and a child named Carl August de Gersdorff, who was born in Salem, Mass. Carl moved to Manhattan, New York and then married my great grandmother, Josephine’s mother, Helen Suszette Crowninshield, who was the first Vice President of the Garden Club of America. Their child Josephine married Frederick Bradlee and had three children; Frederick Josiah Bradlee III, Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee, and Constance “Connie” Bradlee. The father of Frederick Josiah Bradlee, Jr. (20 Dec 1892 – 28 Apr 1970) was Frederick Josiah Bradlee (28 Mar 1866 – 13 Feb 1951), who’s father was Josiah Bradlee III (17 Dec 1837 – 10 Sep 1902, who married Alice Crowninshield (22 Nov 1839 – 26 Apr 1926). Josiah’s father was Frederick Hall Bradlee (18 Sep 1807 – 6 Se 1888), who’s father was Josiah Bradlee, Jr. (7 Mar 1778 – 6 Jan 1860). His father was Josiah Bradlee I (24 Mar 1754 – 2 Oct 1798) who married Hannah Putnam (3 Jul 1758 – 4 Mar 1793) of the Putnam Boston Brahmin family.
Josiah Bradlee I was one of eleven children of Constable Samuel Bradlee (5 Oct 1707 – 7 Jul 1768) and Mary Andrus (1705 – 20 May 1796), and one of six brothers. He and four of his participated in the Boston Tea Party and dumped some of the tea over board. Josiah’s brothers who also participated were Daniel, David, Thomas and Nathaniel Bradlee; David would go on and become a Capt. in the American Revolution. Josiah’s sister Sarah, who married John Fulton, who also participated in the Tea Party, was named “The Mother of the Boston Tea Party.” I found this information in “The History of the Bradlee family: with Particular References to Nathan Bradley of Dorchester,” and a person from NEHGS helped with the dates of Frederick Hall and Alice Crowninhield. We had always known about Sarah (Bradlee) Fulton, because there is a description of her actions in The History of the Bradlee Family, but I found the information on the four Bradlee brothers at the Boston Tea Party Historical Society underneath “Participants.”
On my father’s side I am a lineal descent of the Crowninshield family two times; my father’s father and mother shared the same Crowninshield ancestor who was Benjamin Williams Crowninshield, 5th United States Secretary of Navy, who is by far the most prominent member of the family. Benjamin’s parents were Capt. George Crowninshield and Mary Derby, who’s brother was Elias Hasket “King” Derby, who was “The Father of the East India Trading Company,” and this can be found in Genealogical Record of the Hodges Family of New England.
It is very hard for one not to get bitten by the genealogy bug and when one does, one usually comes across the American Hereditary Society and these are the ones that I have joined so far: the Society of the Cincinnati, the Military Society of the War of 1812, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, the Naval Order of the United States, the Order of the Crown of Charlemagne in the United States, the Order of Lafayette, the Order of the Second World War, the Noble Society of Celts, Blood Lines of Salem and the Descendants of Sheriffs and Constables.
I was researching the Sargent family and eventually came across “Epes Sargent of Gloucester and His Descendents,” and found Col. Paul Dudley Sargent, whom I used to join the Society of the Cincinnati. “Though not chosen by a duly authorized body,” Sargent was chosen to be commander of the Southern Continental Armies; Col. Sargent was arrived at the Battle of Bunker Hill just too late, however he still received a wound. This can all be found in “Colonel Paul Dudley Sargent of Sullivan, Maine – Concerning Col. Paul Dudley Sargent and his daughter, Mrs. Julia Sargent Johnson – Sanders Ancestry,” by Winthrop Sargent. Winthrop was the son of Col. Paul’s half brother who also Winthrop Sargent; Winthrop Sargent, the author was a Maj. in the Continental Army and won of the Originall founders and members of the Society of Cincinnati. Major Winthrop Sargent was also one of the original founders of the Seven Ranges and then founded the Ohio Company of Associates. Maj. Sargent was also elected by the Congress of Confederation to be the first Secretary of the Northwest Territory, which was second in position of the Governor, who was Aruthur St. Clair. As well fighting in the American Revolution he also fought in the Indian Wars and was made adjutant general. He would later become the first governor the Mississippi Territory and was also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Science along with Nathan Bradlee. Maj. Winthrop sergeant was my half first cousin.
Family bibles have been my main sources of information and I have recently found the Chandler family bible which is titled “The Descendants of William and Annis Chandler, who settled in Roxbury, Mas., 1637.” I discovered that a seventh great grandfather of mine was the Honorable Colonel John Chandler, Jr., Esq., who married Hannah Gardiner who was a lineal descent of Lion Gardienr, Lord of Gardiner Island. A great grand daughter of the Honorable Colonel John Chandler, Jr., was Lucretia Greene, who was a lineal descent of Gov. John Haynes who was the 5th governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the 1st Governor of the Colony of Connecticut. Gov. Haynes almost invested all of his family fortune in founding the colony and “to the ruine of his famylye in England.”
As I was researching the Greene family that I am a lineal descendent from I also found that I am a lineal descendent of the Hubbard family of Massachusetts. I find in “A Historical Sketch of Hon. William Hubbard: and his descendants, since 1630 (1859)” mentions a twelfth great grandfather of mine, the Rev. Hon. William Hubbard is appointed an early President of Harvard College after graduating in 1642 with the first class. As well in The Harvard Law School, by Eliot Norton on pg. 69 states “Is descended from Rev. William Hubbard, one of the early presidents of Harvard.”
Joining the American Hereditary Societies in the United States, I have gotten to know a genealogist, the same one of helped me join The Order of the Crown of Charlemagne in the United States. I asked him if he could help prove or disprove my lineal decent from Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor he actually proved it; I was obviously rivided with excitement. I first used my uncle’s research, who was Frederick Josiah Bradlee IIII, but then just became Frederic Bradlee, to start with. My uncle had found out that we were third cousins to Her Royal Majesty Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. As I was doing research on that to prove it, I ran in to an article done by Gary Boyd Roberts who also proved my connection to Her Majesty. I then found a website called www.faabpedigree.com and typed in my fourth great grandmother’s name, Princess Johannah Dorothea von Reuss-Ebersdorff or in German, Johannah Dorothea Furstin von Reuss-Ebersdorff. I found a line that connected her to Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor through the family of Zinzendorff-Pottendorf, because they were a lineal descent from Maximilian as well. The genealogist who proved my lineage to Charlemagne also took a look at the site and found the hard evidence and proved my descent to Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor.
My lineage to King John II of France was proven by Gary Boyd Roberts, which he published in a article for the New England Historical Society titled, “Surprising Connections #6 and 7: Boston Cousins of Queen Victoria and Yankee Ancestors of Mrs. Thomas Philip “Tip” O’Niell, Jr.” My lineage to to Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor was proven by genealogist, Tracy Ashley Crocker, who works the Order of the Crown of Charlemagne in the United States, which I am a member of. Crocker has also helped me prove my lineage to join the Military Society of the War of 1812, which I was able to join through the Crowninshield family, since they were privateers in the war. I myself have proved lineage to Col. Paul Dudley Sargent, who was a fifth-half great uncle of mine and through him I was able to join the Society of the Cincinnati. Sargent was elected by a group of town’s people to be Commander of the Continental Southern Armies, during the American Revolution. Tracy Ashley Crocker has also helped me prove lineal descent from Lord Lion Gardiner of Gardiners Island, New York.
If you have Boston Brahmin blood then most likely you are descendant of somebody famous. On my paternal grandmother’s side, my 2nd great grandmother was Caroline Choate, who’s father was the famed Dr. George Choate. Caroline had two famed brothers. One of them was Joseph Hodges Choate, who was ao United States Ambassador to Great Britain, and William Gardner Choate, who started Choate School; both of them went to Harvard.