Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Miller Photo Company, Klamath Falls, OR
Street Scene, East Rochester, Nevada, No. 293

This is one of very few pieces in the puzzle that was the original Uncle Ernie.  The back story on that is that a lot of people, especially people that worked for him, called my dad Uncle Ernie.  That always made me think of Uncle Ernie in The Who's Tommy.  This is the story of his Uncle Ernie, my grandfather's older brother that kind of just falls off the map.  He was a miner who seems to have left home when he was 13 or 14 years old.  Most of what I know about my grandfather's family I had to research.  I don't remember him talking about them at all.  Even though I lived with him for a while when I was in college, he didn't seem to want to talk about his parents or siblings.  There was a lot of pain I wasn't going to intrude.  It wasn't until 2002 that I finally found out who my great grandfather was.  I'm just about at that same place with great Uncle Ernie.  He was the eldest of my grandfather's half siblings.  My first introduction to his existence was when my dad gave me  a very nice set of prospector's magnifying glasses and a Smith and Wesson Revolver and told me they had belonged to his namesake.  I'll add photos of those when I have access to them.

I had tried to research him.  Once I knew who my great grandfather was I had a little better idea of where to start looking.  My great grandmother, Rosa Goerke, had come over from Austria in 1876 to live with her brother Paul in Rosita, Colorado.  The family story was that she was kind of an arranged marriage for Frederick Braun.  I'd probably still think that, but by the strangest coincidence, looking for something else entirely, I found an article in a Pueblo, Colorado paper about Frederick Braun leaving to go back home to Germany for a two year trip and, his ship sailed out of New York the very week that Rosa, Paul and his wife Ida arrived.  So, I feel fairly safe in saying it wasn't an arranged marriage.  I guess people just thought that because Mr. Braun was 20 years older and she was quite an attractive woman.  Later, doing some other research, I found them all in a census and Frederick Braun and Paul Goerke were next door neighbors.  So, I assume this is how they met when he came back from his extended trip.

This is where Ernie comes into the picture.   However the courtship happened, it happened quickly because, between 1878 and 1882 they married and had Ernest, Helen and Anna.  Braun just disappears in 1882.  I am still looking, but am surprised at how much I have looked without results for the details of the death of such a prominent man.  The family seems to have gone through some very hard times and Rosa somehow met and married my great grandfather, Ory T. Davis.  They were married just about long enough to have him and learn to truly hate one another and divorce.  This is the most puzzling part of my family history to me.  I grew up hearing that Ory was a horrible man.  But, when I did find him in 2002, I found the biggest prize this kind of research can bring a person.  My cousin...Debbie.  She was such a gift in so many ways.  Not only did I discover that Ory was a truly great man from her.  It is almost surreal to me because when I was young and thought about my great grandfather, I imagined Debbie.  I can't explain it.  I just knew she was out there.  I pictured her, even down to what she looks like.  Then, 
in 2002, Gail and I were on a trip and found a historical society in Colorado that was putting on a display of Ory's photographs.  They also put us in touch with Debbie.  It was just so weird.  

Well, I didn't mean to put so much in this post about Ernie, all this has other places to go,  I guess it's because Ernie is still such a mystery to me.  I have no idea how close he and my grandfather were.  I was thrilled to find this post card because it is the only thing I have of his that gives any insight at all to him as a personality.  It is a frontier, typical boom town post card of East Rochester, Nevada, dated April 1, 1913.  It is addressed to Edmond Braun, Barstow California.

On it Ernie said: Hello Ed Old Kid,  It has been a long time since I wrote to you so I'll drop you a card.  I have been doing the carpenter stunt but not having any tools or being an expert at the business, russling has been tuff.  I am playing the mining game, trying to peddle some claims or commission.  Maybe into the money later.  With best regards, Ernest

Ernest never won any of those games.  As of right now, all I know is that my grandfather made a trip to Nevada to bury him not long after this post card.  I believe he died in a mining accident, but I'm not even certain of that.  A Smith & Wesson break-top, a set of magnifiers and a post card.  I do hope this isn't all I will ever know of him.

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