Category Archives: Brodhagen Lineage

In memory of Ty Brodhagen.

Ty Warren Brodhagen (1960 – 1989)

This is an active entry and will be revised.   Unlike 100 years ago, many fewer relatives die at a young age.

In part, this website is a response to the passing of Ty Warren Brodhagen at 29 years old.  Ty was born in Kalamazoo, MI in 1960 to James Brodhagen and Sandra Lee Needham.  Ty died November 28, 1989 while playing pick-up basketball with childhood friends and co-workers at the high school gymnasium.  This year (2014) is the 25th anniversary of this event.

Unknown to everybody, Ty had a congenital heart condition that left him vulnerable to viruses and environmental stress.  A multi-sport athlete Ty was in excellent condition.  But he had a latent health issue.  Prior to the basketball game Ty felt fatigued and had cold symptoms, during the game he couldn’t quite get his breath.  He collapsed.  His passing was sudden and frightening for all his friends who rushed to get help and administer care.  This was before cell phones so calling for help required breaking into a locked school office.

Ty’s grandfather Leonard Brodhagen (1911 – 1989) had just died the previous month so Ty’s sudden passing was a double trauma for the family.  After these events much of his family lost touch with each other.  This is also an effort to remember and rediscover the past.

James Brodhagen Phone Interview 2014

Spoke to James Brodhagen (b.1940) by phone about Brodhagen family history. James moved from Michigan and now lives in Oklahoma. James Brodhagen is the son of Leonard Brodhagen (1911-1989) and father of Ty Brodhagen (1960 -1989).

Neither Leonard Brodhagen, nor his brother Kenneth Brodhagen (1915 – 1971), had any lasting memory of their parents.  So neither Kenneth’s daughter Phyllis Knittel nor James heard much about their grandparents.  In 1921, the boys were orphaned, as small boys they were only told their father Albert Brodhagen and mother Ethel May Brown had an accident, and so, at ages 5 and 9, the boys had to leave Vermillion, Alberta, Canada and go live with their paternal aunts in Michigan.

Leonard and Kenneth Brodhagen come to Michigan from Canada
1921, Leonard and Kenneth Brodhagen come to Michigan from Canada

James did not know his dad had a half-brother, Donald (b.1902-d.1961), from his grandpa Albert’s first marriage. When Albert’s wife Emma Fowle died in 1910, Albert moved to Canada and almost immediately married Ethel May Brown.  Albert’s son Donald remained with aunt Bertha Hammond.

After 1921, Kenneth and Leonard also lived with aunt Bertha who was still raising Donald.  But while Kenneth remained in Traverse City after arriving from Canada, older Leonard soon after moved to Grand Rapids to live with aunt Augusta “Gussie” Brodhagen.   He went to school in Grand Rapids. The family slowly lost touch.  Phyllis, Kenneth’s daughter, says the family does not stay in touch well. James agreed.

1930 United States Federal Census for Donald Broadhagen
1930 Census, Donald and Kenneth Brodhagen live with Finley and Bertha Hammond.

For the longest time I could only find that Leonard’s wife was “Edna G.”  But James said her full name was Gertrude Edna Edgerton. Gertrude was also her mom’s name so young Gertrude probably went by Edna. Edna was her grandmother’s name (her dad’s mom).

Edna’s dad was Avon Edgar Edgerton but Edna’s parent’s divorced before 1930 and her dad later remarried. Edna had a brother James Edgerton. Leonard and Edna named their son James. Probably after her brother.  He went to Japan in WWII.

Edna’s parent’s lived in Grand Rapids but post-divorce her dad and brother James moved to Kalamazoo.  Edna stayed in Grand Rapids and married Leonard. My guess is they went to school together. By 1947, Edgar was an Optometrist working at the Hanselman Building at 103 N. Burdick. He was now re-married to Wilma Klosterman Bogema. Bogema was her name from her 1st marriage. No relation to the Brodhagens.

James said his parents moved to Kalamazoo about 1944, at first his dad drove trucks until he hurt his back. James married Sandra Lee Needham.  Her mother is Pearl Anna Sheppard. Pearl never married so Sandra never got to know her father. When James met Sandra she was already living in her own place.  James and Sandra had a son, Ty Warren Brodhagen in 1960.  They would later divorce,  Sandra Lee Needham is still living around Kalamazoo.

1. Albert Brodhagen married Ethel Brown. Both of their 2nd marriages.
2. Leonard Brodhagen married Gertrude Edna Edgerton (father: Avon E Edgerton/mother: Gertrude) .
3. James Brodhagen married and divorced Sandra Needham
4. Ty Brodhagen married Kim

A Brodhagen Obituary – Jack

PORTAGE – Jack D. Brodhagen, 61, of Portage, died Sunday morning in Kalamazoo.  Died December 19, 1999.  Born July 14, 1938, in Vermilion, Alberta, Canada, he was the son of Kenneth and Lenna (Day) Brodhagen and had lived in Portage for the past 29 years.

Jack retired from the City of Portage where he worked as a civil engineer. He was a personal Santa Claus for many people and touched many lives with his gifts. He also loved to run statistics for AAU and Gus Macker Basketball and enjoyed baking cakes for many special people in his life.

He is survived by three children, Donna Largent of Portage, Susan Little of Battle Creek and Mike (Vicki) Largent of Mesa, Ariz.; four grandchildren, Dustin Largent, Gregory Little, Shawn Little and Taylor Largent; two sisters, Phyllis (Roy) Knittel of South Haven and Sandra Weideman of Elkhart, Ind.; one brother, Richard (Gail) Brodhagen of South Haven; and several nieces and nephews.

Jack was preceded in death by his parents; and one brother, Robert Brodhagen.  A private inurnment in Oakwood Cemetery in Traverse City will take place at a later date.  Reported on-line by the Traverse City Record Eagle.

Henry Brodhagens’ Neighbors

Henry A Brodhagen and his son Henry Brodhagen maintained land in Garfield Township, Grand Traverse Co., MI.   Parcel numbers 227 and 232 on the eastern edge of the township.  The land lies just south of the property held by Nelson Hammond (parcel 220) and just east of John Fowle Jr.’s land (parcel 233, 80 acres).  Zoom to middle of eastern border of map image for detail.

Albert Brodhagen married Emma Fowle daughter of John Fowle.   Bertha Brodhagen married Finley Hammond son of Nelson Hammond.  Literally, they married the boy, and girl, next door.  Neighbors aren’t real close on an 80 acre farm.

U.S. Indexed County Land Ownership Maps 1860-1918 for Henry Brodhagen




Norman and Edward Todd Brown

Long unknown relatives found.   Albert Brodhagen (1872-1921) and Ethel May Brown (1876-1921) are the parents of Leonard Brodhagen and Kenneth Brodhagen.   

But Ethel May had two children from a previous marriage to Benjamin Franklin “Frank” Todd (1860-1907), boys named Norman Todd (b.1900) and George Todd (b.1899)(See Featured Picture.)  After nearly 100 years, the Todd and Brodhagen descendants found about each other.  The Todd descendants live in Canada and they found out about Albert Brodhagen, who originally moved from Michigan, during a genealogy search. 

Norman and Edward Todd

From Michigan, Albert was also previously married to Miss Emma Fowle from England. When Emma died in 1910, Albert moved to Canada and remarried. After tragedy struck in 1921, the children were orphaned, and Ethel May’s four children were separated between the U.S. and Canada.  Kenneth and Leonard were sent to Michigan to live with their Brodhagen aunts.  The Todd boys, who were adults in 1921, remained in Canada.