Brawner Family

Brawner family researchers, in the quest to find their roots, have undoubtably located information submitted to the Kentucky Historical Society Library in January 1930 by J. E. Brawner of San Antonio, Texas.  In his article, J. E. Brawner states.  "My grandparents:  John Brawner of Maryland, Anna Brawner, nee Magruder, Virginia.  He took up land at Hill Spring, Henry County, Kentucky prior to 1816 on Revolutionary War land warrants.  He cleared, fenced and cultivated land up to the time the title was lost."  (Account of Virginia Grant litigation, Smith and Roland, attorneys for grantees).

San Antonio, Texas
January 11, 1930
Kentucky Historical Society
Gentlemen:
Am presenting herewith statement regarding the designing and building of the "Circular Stairway" in the Old Capitol Building at Frankfort, Ky.  If this statement can be investigated and the old files produced, think it will be found correct.  As this work was completed in 1828, 101 years ago, these files have probably been destroyed.  A picture of Benjamin Franklin could well be taken for my grandfather and as his mother was a Franklin of Maryland, the resemblance may be accounted for.  My grandfather was a civil engineer, practical stone mason, stone cutter and contractor and was in every way competent to design and construct the work.  My father followed my grandfather in each line name.  Both were well educated men.  I was born January 15, 1854.  My father 1816.  I remember my grandfather well and the story was told me first, I think, during my grandfather's lifetime by my father.  If, so it be, that the papers cannot be located, will you kindly allow the statement to be filed so that the papers will show the succeeding generation may compare with the other claims and form their own conclusions.
Yours very truly,
(Signed) J. E. Brawner

John Brawner, my grandfather, was a civil engineer and draftsman, stone mason and stone cutter, contractor in stone work, grading and paving. He owned considerable real estate, slaves and live stock prior to litigation, which left him in reduced circumstances.  He died during the Civil War at his home at Forks of Flat Creek and Frankfort roads.  His farm adjoined that of William Brewer on west and north sides at the time of his death.

My father, John Mitchell Brawner, was the youngest son by his first wife.  My father had three brothers, Franklin, Henry and Thomas, all of whom are dead (1930).  Franklin and Henry moved to Missouri and died there.  Thomas moved to Louisville, lived and died there in 1864.  My father was a civil engineer and contractor, lived most of his life in Louisville.  In 1860 he met a business reverse, bought a small farm from my grandfather on the Frankfort road and lived there until 1865, then returned to Louisville and resumed his contracting.  In 1868 he took contracts on Stone Mill building, Mill Dam and Race at Grahamton, Meade County.  Also surveyed and built half mill of turnpike between Grahamton and Rock Haven. The building of a Railway from Louisville to Paducah.  He bought a small farm near Grahamton in Meade County, where he lived until 1890, when he and my mother came to my home in Marion, Crittenden County, Kentucky, where he died in 1892.  I was born January 15th, 1854 and am now in my 76th year.

The subject to which this is introductory is the "Circular Stairway" in the Old Capitol Building at Frankfort.  The design and building of this stairway is credited, I understand, to a  man named "Schrock" at present. Another story is that a man in the penitentiary designed it.  My father's story is as follows:

My father was doing the stone work at the Capitol and as the building progressed, the question of the stairway arose and was discussed as to how, in the limited space, a stairway of sufficient size could be built. No design submitted being satisfactory and stone being the material required.  Mr. father, being called into conference by the architect, was asked to consider plans for the stairway and to present draft for same. Procuring plans of the building, he returned home, worked at the draft all night and took the draft of the stairway to the architect and he was instructed build it and did so.

During the Civil War, I think in 1862, my father and I were visiting Robert Brawner of Frankfort, my grandfather's half brother, and the three of us visited the Old Capitol and my father repeated the story and told me: "Never forget the fact that your grandfather designed and built this stairway".  Such work as this was not out of the ordinary and no record of the fact, to my knowledge, was kept except in family tradition.  Now that the stairway is famous, the proper credit should be given.  No one except a practical workman trained in its' proper handling could have solved the problem.  The idea of a young man 26 years old conceiving and executing this design is, to my mind, doubtful to say the least and of the inmate of the penitentiary story, it seem fabulous.  The story of my grandfather is backed up by the fact my father was qualified theoretically, technically and practically to do this work.  My attention was called to this matter by an item on page 54 in the Kentucky Progress Magazine, October 1929, Volume 2, Number 2.  If there be stories, let them be produced in evidence.

My father reiterated this story many times during his life and as he was a strict member of the Methodist Church, a Free Mason and a man of strict veracity. I have every reason to believe it.  Kindly consider this for your file and allow it to pass to the public and future generations as part of the history of this unique work of art.  The Brawners in and around Frankfort are all cousins of mine. Mrs. Wiard, is my father's cousin and knew him well.  Murray Brawner, Bob Franklin, Mr. Wiard, James Brawner's daughter, Mary Louise and Margaret and many others there know me and you may refer to any of them.  I am a retired Railroad man, having 44 years service to my credit before retirement.  I belong to Anchor Lodge #424, A.F. and A.M.; San Antonio, Texas.  If any of you are Mason, you know that I, in making this statement, consider myself in proper position, before the Altar and assert its truth as told to me".

Yours very truly,
Signed, J. E. Brawner (1930)

The above story has been posted here in order to lend some credence to the history of the John Brawner family. Whether the above story is fact or an exaggeration of family tradition, most likely will never be proven.  However, it was very strongly ingrained in the memory of J. E. Brawner. Although, if you read the story closely there are several contradictions. J. E. Brawner, starts by saying his grandfather, John Brawner was a civil engineer.  He then speaks of his father, also a civil engineer and sites various projects he contracted. This leads to the discussion of his fathers work during the construction of the Old Capitol, which Mr. Brawner states was completed in 1828.  In this article J. E. gives his birth January 15, 1854 and his father 1816.  If indeed, his father was born in 1816, and the work on the Old Capitol was completed in 1828, it is very unlikely that an adolescent of 12 years of age could have designed the circular stairway.  Brawner may have made a mistake and meant to say his grandfather.  Later in the article, he speaks of a trip in 1862 (J. E. would have been about 7 years of age) he and his father made to visit his grandfathers half-brother, Robert Brawner.  During this visit they made a trip to the Old Capitol and his father repeated the story of the stairway and told J. E.: "Never forget the fact that your grandfather designed and built this stairway".


John Brawner

John Brawner, son of Edward Brawner and his first wife Ann Franklin, was born on February 8, 1784, in Maryland. John married first Anna Magruder on December 29, 1810 in Fauquier County, Virginia. This marriage produced four known sons; Thomas, Henry, Franklin and John Mitchell Brawner as stated by J. E. Brawner as the youngest, born 1816.  John Brawner, his wife and four boys were living in Henry County, Kentucky and reported on the 1820 and 1830 federal census for that county. However, by 1840 John Brawner was living in Franklin County, Kentucky.  His wife and sons were not reported in his household; only 8 slaves.  Evidently, there was some trouble between John and Anna.  As the boys grew to manhood and married, Anna must have left John Brawner.  In 1848, Anna appears in a Louisville directory living with her son, Thomas Brawner.  Anna Magruder Brawner died probably in Louisville sometime prior to March 12, 1849.  She left a will in Jefferson County, Kentucky naming her four sons.  Apparently, this is the reason John Brawner did not marry Ann Warfield until 1849.

John Brawner married second, Ann Warfield, daughter of Vachel Warfield, in Franklin County, Kentucky. His marriage bond, with Simon Hopper, as bondsman, is dated  April 13, 1849  John and Ann were married on April 16, 1849, by G D. Stucker. John Brawner left a will in Franklin County, KY, Bk 3, page 96, dated August 26, 1851 and proven April 7, 1863.  Review this will closely.  It is believed John Brawner and Ann Warfield were the parents of nine children. However, John's will names only two of his children by Ann Warfield.  He also makes reference to, Henry Warfield, a son of his wife Ann. Research indicates William Henry Brawner, born December 30, 1840, as son of John Brawner and Ann Warfield, although this may not be the case.  The John Brawner family is listed on the 1850 census for Franklin County, Kentucky. John Brawner list his age as 67, born Maryland and Ann Brawner, age 30, born Kentucky. Children listed to date were; Henry, age 10, Peter, age 5, James, age 3 and Nancy, age 5 months, all born Kentucky.

Children of John Brawner and Anna Magruder

Thomas Magruder Brawner, was born about 1811 in Virginia.  On December 29, 1835 in Bullitt County,
Kentucky Thomas married Sarah R. Stephens.  By 1840, Thomas had moved to Louisville where he
appeared on the federal census for the City of Louisville.  His household included: one female and three
males, all 20 - 30 years of age. Thomas and wife, Sarah, and possibly two of his brothers. The 1850
census for the City of Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky  page 127 list the family of a Thomas Browner,
age 39, S. Mason, born Virginia; Sarah Browner, age 34, born Virginia; Virginia Browner, age 9, born
Kentucky; William  Browner, age 8, born Kentucky; Mary Browner, age 4, born Kentucky; and Sarah
Browner, age 2, born Kentucky. Thomas died in Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky and was buried
February 20, 1866 in Cave Hill Cemetery.  Also buried there are his wife Sarah and son William S.
Henry Brawner, birth unknown.  Moved to Missouri.
Franklin Brawner, birth unknown.  Moved to Missouri.
John Mitchell Brawner, born about 1816 in Kentucky, probably in Henry County, Kentucky. Married
Permelia Danby in Henry County, Kentucky on May 3, 1843. The 1850 census for the City of Louisville,
District 1,  Jefferson County, Kentucky page 91 list the family of John M. Barnner, age 35, S. Mason,
born Kentucky; Permelia Branner, age 31, born Kentucky; Nancy Daniel, age 63, born Kentucky and
Luey Gardner, age 25, born Kentucky. J. E. Brawner, born January 15, 1854, of San Antonio, Texas
states his father, John Mitchell spent most of his life in Louisville, Kentucky. He purchased a farm in
Meade County, Kentucky were he lived until 1890. Later moving to the home of J. E. Brawner in Marion,
Crittenden County, Kentucky, were he died in 1892.

Children of John Brawner and Ann Warfield
William Henry Brawner, born December 30, 1840 in Franklin County, Kentucky.  May not have been
a son of John Brawner, but son of Ann Warfield.  (see John Brawner will).
Peter Brawner, born about 1846 in Franklin County, Kentucky, died about 1899.  Peter married
Matilda E. Semones on December 24, 1864 in Franklin County. Peter and Matilda had children: John

Robert, Mary Ann, Sarah T., Rose, Charles F., and James Dudley. Matilda Semones Brawner died
in 1913 and is buried at Mr. Carmel Baptist Church Cemetery in Franklin County. Peter Brawner
married second to Sara Cletha Gee. Sara had children; William and Ella.  Peter Brawner was named
as son in the will of John Brawner.
James Brawner, born about 1847 as indicated by the 1850 Franklin County, Kentucky census. James
was named as son in the will of John Brawner.  Nothing further is known at this time.

Some Brawner researchers have confused this James Brawner with James Galbraith Brawner, born
February 25, 1846, and died March 18, 1918, son of Robert A. and Katherine Murray Brawner, who
married to Elizabeth "Bettie" Bybee Graham on October 29, 1872 in Franklin County, Kentucky.

They are not the same person, see death certificate of Jas. G. Brawner.
Nancy F. Brawner, born April 10, 1850 in Franklin County, Kentucky and died on January 24, 1898.
Nancy married John W. Buford, son of Simeon C. Buford and his wife Louiza Elizabeth Riner, in
Franklin County, Kentucky on December 5, 1870 in Franklin County. They had children:  Thomas J.,
Lou Ann and Charles.  Nancy is buried beside her husband at the Lebanon Baptist Church Cemetery,
in Franklin County. Nancy Brawner Buford was not named in the will of her father, however, on
April 2, 1864, James Hulett was appointed guardian to Nancy Brawner, daughter of John Brawner,
deceased.  Signed by James Hulett and Archibald Moore.
Benjamin Franklin Brawner, born November 27, 1852 in Franklin County, Kentucky and died on February
26, 1926.  Ben married Mariah Leona Botkins and had children; Emma Elizabeth, Louis Manley, Mary
Ellen, Ida Mae, John Henry, Lency Thomas and Sarah Ann. Benjamin Franklin Brawner, his wife, Mariah
and several of their young children are buried at the Lebanon Baptist Church Cemetery, Franklin County,
Kentucky. Benjamin was not named in the will of John Brawner, however, on April 2, 1864, Archibald
Moore was appointed guardian to Benjamin F. and William Brawner, sons of John Brawner, deceased.
Signed by Archibald Moore and James Hulett.
Charles M. Brawner, born August 1, 1853 in Franklin County, Kentucky. He married Louisa Ellen Buford,
daughter of Simeon C. Buford and his wife, Louiza Elizabeth Riner, on May 27, 1876 in Franklin County,
Kentucky.  Charles and Ellen had children; Alice, Sarah Elizabeth, Lulie M., Archie and Charles.
Charles M. Brawner died on February 17, 1934 and is buried in the Frankfort Cemetery beside his wife
Louisa Ellen.  Charles was not named in the will of John Brawner.
Martha Brawner, (twin) born March 4, 1855, in Franklin County, Kentucky and died in 1946.  Not much
is known of Martha. She was not named in the will of John Brawner, however, on April 18, 1864, Benjamin
Stivers was appointed as guardian to twins, Martha and Elizabeth Brawner, daughters of John Brawner,
deceased.  Signed by John M. Brawner and Benjamin Stivers.
Mary Elizabeth Brawner, (twin) born March 4, 1855, in Franklin County, Kentucky.  Mary married
James R. Fleming and had children; John, Anna Frances, Martha Jane, Hattie, Julia, Georgia Anna,

Charles and Willie Allen.  Mary was not named in the will of John Brawner, however, on April 18, 1864,
Benjamin Stivers was appointed as guardian to twins, Martha and Elizabeth Brawner, daughters of
John Brawner, deceased.  Signed by John M. Brawner and Benjamin Stivers.
William "Billy" Marian Brawner, born September 9, 1857 in Franklin County, Kentucky. William was
not named in the will of John Brawner, however, on April 2, 1864, Archibald Moore was appointed
guardian to Benjamin F. and William Brawner, sons of John Brawner, deceased. Signed by Archibald
Moore and James Hulett.


Sources:
Franklin County, Kentucky 1850 census records
Franklin County, Kentucky Marriage bond 1849
Franklin County, Kentucky Will Book 3
Franklin County, Kentucky Guardian Bonds (1864)
Bullitt County, Kentucky Marriage bond (1835)
Henry County, Kentucky Marriage bond (1843)
Jefferson County, Kentucky 1850 census

Information submitted by:
Anne H. Lee
Sue Rhody


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