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




Joseph Kerr Biography

LINEAGE CONNECTION:  Joseph Kerr (b.1843, Ontario- d.1912, Sanilac Co, MI) was orphaned at age 4, and according to his biography, he was raised by an uncle.  Joseph would marry Mary Jane Woolner and father George Kerr (1869- 1942) and many other children.

His son George would have many children including daughter Ethel Reen Kerr (1900 – 1996).   Ethel would later marry Olin Lyle Banghart (1898 – 1954) and they would have seven children, five boys and two girls. Three sons and one daughter are now deceased: Erskane (1920-2007), Orlin Verne(1928-2003), Joel Dale(1934-2013), and Verna Jean(1924-2002). (Representing the author’s connection)  

Around the end of the 19th century, communities would support the publication of local histories.  These histories were typically focused around the male land owners in the area.   The link is to Joseph’s 1884 profile.

Joseph Kerr Biography 1884

The biography says Joseph’s wife is Mary Jane Woolner and that her parents are Isaac Woolner and Ann.   My other research suggested Mary Jane’s mother’s name was Bridget Connor of Ireland.  Bridget and Isaac married after they were both widowed.   Ann could be a her middle name and Connor may, or may not, be her maiden name.  This requires further research in Canada.

Joseph Kerr Death Certificate

The State Of Michigan has made all death certificates from 1897 – 1920 available on a public website.

Seeking Michigan

In genealogical research, when you hit a spot where you are unable to extend your research, it is said you’ve “hit a brick wall.”

Joseph’s parents are a wall. Joseph’s death certificate says his parents were Robert Kerr and Mary Robison from Ireland.  Joseph was born in April 1843 but he didn’t know the day.  If data is accurate, we can deduce both died about 1847 in Canada (Joseph was 4 yrs. old.) Since the parents were born in Ireland, they must have an immigration.  Joseph was born in Canada so he might have been christened.  A Kerr or Robison uncle was involved for many years, importantly, this uncle could have been a head of household during the 1851 Canada Census.  But more history is needed to trace his roots back to the Old World.  No suggestion Joseph Kerr’s line was ever Irish Catholic.

HISTORICAL NOTE:  In 1843, when Joseph was born, Canada was not yet independent from Great Britain.    His 1867 arrival from the Dominion reflects Canada’s rise to a self-governing colony of Great Britain.

Origin of Scottish Clan name Kerr:  From the Old Norse kjrr meaning marsh dweller, in western Scotland, from Gaelic ciar meaning dusky. Sometimes spelled as Kerr, Carr, Kere, Carre, Keer.   A clan from the 96 miles “Border” region between England and Scotland.  Scottish moving to Ireland brought the name with them,  but the Irish also Anglicized O’Carra to Kerr. 


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.

Discovering A Family's Roots