The materials for today’s post come courtesy of John Boles of Dublin, whose grandfather Rev. William Armstrong Bracken (b. 1853) was the younger brother of Anna (Bracken) Nixon (b. 1847). She was the mother of sweet-spirited Jennie (Jane) and Louise Nixon, who have already appeared on the pages of this blog. Anna married Edward Nixon on July 11, 1883, in Blacklion Methodist Church, County Cavan, Ireland, with her brother, Rev. William Armstrong Bracken, presiding.
William and Anna Bracken were two of the children of William Copeland Bracken of Toam, County Cavan, and Jane Armstrong of Inishmore, County Fermanagh, who were married on November 6, 1846, in the Old Church of Derryvullan, County Fermanagh. A description of what remains of that church appears in the 1979 book by Alistair Rowan, North West Ulster: The Counties of London Derry, Donegal, Fermanagh and Tyrone (Yale University Press): DERYVULLAN OLD CHURCH: 1 km SW of Tamlaght Bridge. The ruins of a big hall, 28 ft wide, rebuilt in 1776. The E gable with its round-headed window and some 30 ft of the N wall still stand. In the gable a carved head taken from the medieval church on the same site.
The other children of William C. and Jane Bracken were Mary Jane Bracken (b. 1849), Hugh Bracken (b. 1851), James Bracken (b. 1855), and Dr. George Bracken (b. 1858). The Bible pages John sent me show that they were all born in Tuam, townland in County Cavan that includes the border village of Blacklion. It was here in an inn that the founder of Methodism John Wesley purportedly found shelter one stormy night in the 1770s. And, according to John, “the Brackens were devoted Methodists right back to the time of John Wesley.”
The family’s devotion as Methodists is on display in a wonderful book by Reverend Alexander Fullerton, a traveling preacher who documented his decades of travel in Fifty Years an Itinerant Preacher : Being Reminiscences of Fifty Years in the Irish Methodist Ministry (Belfast; Irish Methodist Publishing Company, Ltd., 1912). I am grateful to John for alerting me to this book’s existence and providing me with the pages mentioning Anna Bracken Nixon.
Interestingly the preacher met Anna both in Blacklion, when she was a young girl (1861) and a young woman (1872), and when she was living in the US (1896). She had moved there after she married Edward. He had emigrated to the US with some of his other siblings in 1868. (As an aside, Edward Nixon was my great-grandmother Sarah (Nixon) Boles’ oldest brother; thus Anna was my mother’s great aunt. My mother met her several times and remembers her with great affection.) The Reverend also mentioned meeting up with Robert Nixon, another brother of Sarah Nixon Boles who had ended up in the US and eventually sponsored my grandfather when he emigrated in 1912.
Below are the pages John sent me as well as a bare-bones family tree just so you can follow who’s who. These are some wonderful slices of life that have been preserved, thanks to the Reverend’s diligence in recording all of his travels in such amazing detail. Unfortunately the book is not available online, but Google books allows you to search for snippets, so if you are interested in seeing if other family members are mentioned, you can at least satisfy your curiosity by using their search box.