Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Michael Brantner - Illinois Pioneer

(Click for larger image)

For the cousins in my generation, Michael Brantner is our gggrandfather; our grandmother's grandfather. He was born in Boonsboro, MD and came to Ogle County in 1839. Returned to Ogle County in 1840--settled in Pine Creek Township. Then removed to Lincoln Township (formerly Haldane Township) in 1846.

He was born August 24, 1816 in Washington Co., MD, son of Michael Brantner (Sr.) Vocation--cooper. German descent and Revolutionary War soldier. (Note: I could not find Michael Brantner, Sr. in any of my Revolutionary listings, but that doesn't mean anything--I have only looked at a few reference books.)

Michael Brantner (Sr.) married Mary B. (Polly) Weast . They had about 19 children! Two of the children died as very small children, and John F. died at age 12. There is confusion about the number of children because the Census before 1850 did not list names, only age categories such as "males 0-5". If there are 3 sons in that category and I can only account for 1 then the other 2 are assumed to have died young. However, that is not always accurate. Some may be grandchildren or nephews. I have names for 17 children for Michael and Polly which is staggering to me!

Michael Brantner, Jr. married Mary Ann Phillips on 18 Sept 1845. She was the daughter of William and Susan Hufford Phillips from Washington Co., MD. Mary Ann was born 12 November 1826 in Washington Co., MD. Michael and Mary Ann had 14 children--six deceased as infants, and one, Martha Ellen died at the age of 12. He was listed as Republican and a member of the United Brethren Church.

Another Brantner researcher, Rebecca Harman Burns, gave me this information:

In 1839 Michael at age 23 left Washington Co., MD with his friend John Coffman for Illinois. Illinois had only been a state since 1818. In 1673 French missionaries changed the Indian name for the area, Illiniwek, meaning 'the men' to Illinois. Michael spent this first winter in St. Charles, IL. In the spring of the next year, 1840, he moved to Ogle Co where his friend John had settled. He worked as a farm assistant until 1844 when he purchased 120 acres of land in the township of Pine Creek, south of the village of Mt. Morris. Originally Mt. Morris had been known as Maryland Colony because of the large number of people from Maryland who had settled there.

Early in the formation of Ogle Co there was a gang of bandits who resided in the area. Our ancestor, Michael Brantner, was one who took part in ridding the county of these bandits. I would like to tell the story of these bandits because it gives us a feeling for the frontier our ancestors lived in. John Driscoll, a native of Ohio, settled in Monroe Township with his sons in 1835. Also members of this gang were John Brodie and sons, William K. Bridge, Norton B. Royce, and James Aikens. There were doubtless others living in this county who were connected with the gang, but these were the leaders. The operations of the gang extended over many states and their numbers were so great that stolen property could easily be transferred from one station to another by members of the gang.

This state of affairs continued until April 1841 when a meeting was held in a log school house in White Rock Township by a number of persons who had suffered from the hands of the outlaws. After discussing the matter thoroughly they entered into a compact with each other to rid the country of these bandits. They called themselves the 'Regulators'. Was our Michael a Regulator? The first commander was John Campbell who was subsequently killed by the Driscolls on 26 June 1841. John Driscoll and son William were taken into custody, but a group of 100 men came and took them to Washington Grove. About 500 persons were present, including farmers, lawyers, preachers, doctors, justices of the peace and constables. The Regulators were ordered to form in a circle around a large black oak tree. A form of trial was then gone through with witnesses sworn and examined and sufficient proof found against John and William Driscoll to warrant their condemnation. On the conclusion of the examination, the question was asked of the jury of 111 men: 'What say you, gentlemen, guilty or not guilty?' 'Guilty' was the unanimous response. They were then sentenced to be hung. The men begged that the sentence might be changed, asking that they might be shot, and not 'hanged like dogs.' Two ministers who were present prayed for the condemned men. William was quite penitent and prayed for forgiveness. The old man was determined and obstinate to the last. One half of the 111 guns were loaded with powder and ball, while the rest had only a blank charge. None of the executioners knew which of the guns were loaded and which were not. John Driscoll was shot first and then his son William. Were any of our ancestors - Brantners, Beebes, Harmans - present for this frontier justice?

Of the eleven children born to Michael and Mary Ann, four (William, Emma, Abner, and Martha) died in infancy. Michael worked hard on his farm which was reflected in his estate values taken in the Federal Census:
Real Estate Personal Estate
1850 $ 1500
1860 $ 3500 $8000
1870 $12000

Michael was a Republican and a trustee in the Church of United Brethren. Mary Ann died in 1899 at the age of 75. By 1900 Charles age 32, the baby of the family, had taken over the farm. Michael lived with Charles and his family until his death in 1907. He was 91 years old

This plat map shows Michael's land

(Click for larger image. All names in yellow are family.)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Who are these two charmers?

These two little girls, one a charming young lady and the other a little ragmuffin. Do you know who they are?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A boy with his grandmother

Loyal Leroy Hawn and Mary Ann Munn Hawn in front of an Overland about 1917-1918,

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The famous "bobbed-hair" photo!

Della May Brantner Hawn with daughter, Dorothy and Lois and baby, Victor. I think this was taken about 1928. Grandmother and the girls are in short sleeves and Uncle Vic is still an infant, so it is probably taken about July, 1928.