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Ancestors’ Given Names Become History Lesson for Modern-Day Family January 23, 2013

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared for Julie’s Fresh Air in 2009


By Pennee Murphree, Guest Blogger for Julie’s Fresh Air

Every time I look through the 10,966 people I have in my “All My Family” file on my Family Tree program, I get a history lesson. Since Julie has asked me to occasionally write for her blog I am searching though my data for interesting people. I came across a great-great uncle of mine named Elisha Vance Briley. He is a brother to James W. Briley a great-great grandfather whom I have previously blogged about.

What is fascinating about Elisha and his wife Mary Magdalene is the fact that they named every one of their sons after a notable person. It has taken me a long time to realize this but because I knew that one of the sons was named after “Boston Corbett”  who was the person who shot John Wilkes Booth (who was the man who shot Abraham Lincoln) I checked out the other sons who were named “Joseph Warren” Briley, “Elmer Ellsworth” Briley, “Albert Gallatin” Briley, “Franklin Pierce” Briley, “Algernon Satortius” Briley, and “John Alexander Logan” Briley.

What a great history lesson these brothers are and I encourage you to read more about them.Joseph Warren (June 11, 1741 – June 17, 1775) was an American doctor and soldier, remembered for playing a leading role in American Patriot organizations in Boston and for his death as a volunteer private soldier while also serving as chief executive of the revolutionary Massachusetts government.

Boston Corbett. Library of Congress descriptio...

Boston Corbett. Library of Congress description: "Sgt. Boston Corbett, U.S.A." (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth (April 11, 1837 – May 24, 1861) was a lawyer and soldier, best known as the first conspicuous casualty of the American Civil War. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elmer_E._Ellsworth

Abraham Alfonse Albert Gallatin (January 29, 1761 – August 12, 1849) was a Swiss-American ethnologist, linguist, politician, diplomat, Congressman, and the longest-serving United States Secretary of the Treasury. He was also a founder of New York University. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Gallatin
Franklin Pierce (November 23, 1804 – October 8, 1869) was an American politician and the fourteenth President of the United States, serving from 1853 to 1857. To date, he is the only president from New Hampshire. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_Pierce

Algernon Satorius I could not identify this person.

John Alexander Logan (February 8, 1826 – December 26, 1886) was an American soldier and political leader. He served in the Mexican-American War and was a General in the Union Army in the American Civil War. He served the state of Illinois as a Senator and was an unsuccessful candidate for Vice President of the United States. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_A._Logan

Thomas P. “Boston” Corbett (1832 – presumed dead 1894) was the Union Army soldier who shot and killed Abraham Lincoln‘s assassin, John Wilkes Booth. He disappeared after 1888 and is believed to have died in Minnesota in 1894, but this is unproven. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Corbett
Corbett was born in London, England. His family emigrated to New York City in 1839. He eventually took on the trade of a hatter in Troy, New York. There has been speculation that Corbett was exposed to the fumes of mercury that were used in the hatter’s trade causing Corbett’s later mental problems. My last post was “Mad Hatter”. Read it to learn about the mad hatter disease.Not to be out done by his brother Elisha, my great-great grandfather, James Briley and his wife Laurana named one of their sons Isaac Newton Briley.
Sir Isaac Newton, FRS (4 January 1643  – 31 March 1727 [OS: 25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726])[1] was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian and one of the most influential men[4] in human history. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton
To read more about each one of the men the “Briley Boys” were named after follow the links.




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1. Shelley Frazier - January 23, 2010

I also come from Elisha Vance Briley family thru Gene or Jeanie B Briley–You mentioned that you did not know where they came uop with the name algernon satorius “Uncle Algie”—following with your theory of famous names–we beleave that Uncle Algie–was named after Ulysses S Grants daughters english husband Algernon satorius also whoms father had the same name—Ulyssses s Grant did not want his daughter algernon satius–I have to do further research to see what positive or negative attributes he had