Durham Saga #2 – Jeremiah Brisco

Jeremiah Brisco Durham popped into this world in Mercer County, Kentucky on 27 June 1806 to John J. and Celia Bonham Durham, their second son and third child. He joined sister Phoebe but the other son, Richard passed away in January, and Jeremiah Brisco was born six months later. More children to come to the family of John J. and Celia were John Harrison; James Harland; Harriet (died age one); Samuel; Elizabeth Brisco; Jesse Younce and Cassandra Walker Durham. It was January 18th in 1833 that JB married Minerva Payne Walker, daughter of Harrison and Ruth Ruby, she having been born 19 Nov 1807. Soon after their wedding, JB and Minerva moved to Montgomery County as their first child, John Harrison was born here in late November. Jeremiah quickly erected a log cabin where the family lived most of the MoCo time of about 35 years. Another son, Thomas Wise and seven daughters were all born here. As far as I know, only one, Ophelia Holman, died young – age three.

Not long after their arrival, JB was registered by Caleb Conner, JP as living in Brown Township and taking up a yellow bay horse, about 15 hands, one inch and a half high, probably 6 or 7 years old with the left hind foot white and a scar on the right hind pastern (upper leg) joint. A black mane and tail some gray hair on his forehead and a curl of it around his neck. Shod all around with steel-toed shoes; appraised at $50 by Thomas Ellis and William Clark. If the taken-up animals were not claimed in a certain amount of time, then they could be kept by the ones who had found ‘em (not sure if they had to pay the appraisement or just court cost) but don’t know if JB got the interesting horse!

Jeremiah Brisco had a large farm in Brown Township and was active in promoting agriculture, having been the first VP (later in 1854 president) of Montgomery County’s Agricultural Society in the early 1850s. Both Jeremiah and Minerva were active in setting up, judging and entering not only Montgomery County but area county Agricultural Fairs as well. He was particularly astute with sheep plus horses (oh and his mules won a time or two) and she with jams and jellies!

Especially when the Durhams got here he was frequently found as having letters at the C’ville post office waiting for him and he began working in the Republican Party in the county as quickly as it began. In Oct 1861, he was seriously injured (CWJ 17 Oct) when his horses veered in Waveland as he was bringing in a wagon load of wheat and his kneecap was completely shattered. Not many years thereafter, in early December 1867, he moved to Topeka, Kansas where he took capital, purchased property in what became the fairly large city and made quite a profit later selling them.

The Durham home was always open to ministers, here and there, JB having been good friends of many in the Methodist denomination which he had been a member of for 49 years. His earnest, outspoken advocacy in the temperance field was well known, purporting to all that “Christianity and Temperance were twin sisters and went hand in hand!” (obit).

It is only assumed here that his farm would sell well (advertised as 240 acres in the best quality, all under fence, with 160 for cultivation and timber unsurpassed along with a good orchard, comfortable and commodious dwelling, large barn and other outhouses – 17 Oct 1867 CWJ) and that he had the plan to do the Topeka developing when they took off in 1868 but they sure missed home as they would come back home to visit quite often. In the CWJ 31 Oct 1872, they had to head home quickly as “Uncle Jere had to get there in time to vote for Grant!”

First child (John Harrison) of JB and Minerva was born here in MoCo on 28 Nov 1833. At age 34, he married Mary Ellen Imes and they moved to Woodinville, Washington where they owned and operated a hotel, most of their kids (Merritt; Lillian; Albert; Celia; Mary; John Wyatt and Sarah Brisco – others were Dora, Thomas, Eva and Ethel died age two) aided their business.

Second child, Mahala Jane again born here in 28 July 1835 married (7 Jan 1856) Leroy Downing Stone and lived and died in West Baden, Indiana. They parented at least six children (maybe more) – Charles, Mary, Clarence, Joseph Henry, Cora, Kate, Joe, Frank, Albert and Harry.

Mahala’s sister, Minerva Caroline was born the last day of 1837 and married William O. Stone. I quickly tried to find if the Stone men were relation but didn’t find it but you’d think so. She and her husband moved to Bloomington, Indiana where they are buried. They spent some time in Terre Haute as well where I believe son Edgar Brisco and daughter Hattie were born. William was a physician.

Thomas Wise Durham born 29 Feb 1840 died in a Disabled Vet Home in Sawtell, Los Angeles County, California. He was in the Civil War (11th Ind, he was described as 5’9” ruddy complexion; gray hair; could read/write; Protestant; Farmer) and a book War Memoirs of Thomas W. Durham is quite popular. He married Amanda Montgomery and they were parents of: Claude and Fred neither living long. They adopted a daughter and named her Dorothy.

Very sadly, daughter Elizabeth Catherine passed away at age 25. Her sister, Ruth Cornelia was born in April of 1844 and died in Los Angeles 7 Jan 1933. She and her husband Joseph Hanna were married here on Valentine’s Day in 1865. They lived and farmed in Williamsport, Shawnee County, Kansas. They had no children and he passed in 1912, having been the deputy sheriff there.

Celia, too was born in Brown Twp, Montgomery 20 April 1846 and was fairly young when she passed in Topeka (22 Feb 1885). Although a Durham history in North America Families 1500-2000 says she was not married she is in the 1880 Cloud Co KS census record as 34 and married to William H. White, she a housewife and he clerking in a Dry Goods Store. No children. She is listed as Celia A. White in the Topeka Cemetery and is linked on FindAGrave to JB and Minerva. Her tombstone tells that history and she’s the wife of W. H. White.

The youngest child is Martha Craig born May 16, 1849 and married Charles Welch in March before her 20th birthday. They went to Topeka, Kansas as well. Charles was a brick mason and was in the Civil War (Co M 11th Kan Cavalry). He passed in Colorado in 1892 at the young age of 45 but is buried in Topeka. Martha passed in Sept 1934 in Los Angeles and is buried in Whittier, California. They were parents to three: Clifford Durham Welsh, Charles and Myrtle.

Quite an interesting family of movers and shakers the children moving and passing in Kansas, Washington, and California. The family was all around their father at the time of his death (photo from FindAGrave added by CDD) 25 Feb 1882 buried Topeka Cemetery, in Kansas. Minerva passed in June seven years later. Bless these folks and read about John Harrison Durham next week in Durham Saga #3.

Karen Zach is the editor of Montgomery Memories, our monthly magazine all about Montgomery County. Her column, Around the County, appears each Thursday in The Paper of Montgomery County. You can reach her at [email protected].