Friday, May 04, 2018

Emily Anne Braden's immigrant trunk

We've pulled a few items together at the museum this spring to highlight Lucas County's immigrant past --- and all of us who live here have one, including those who unpacked their U-Hauls last week.

I wrote earlier about Axel Westling's immigrant trunk, constructed in Sweden to hold all of his possessions when he made the journey from Göteborg to Chariton during 1887. It is very heavy and two people are needed to move it.

Emily Braden's trunk, now parked on top of it, is on the other hand very light, very fragile and considerably older. That's Emily as a young woman, left, and if you look carefully at the lid you'll see her initials executed in brass studs on the lid.

Emily was born on Jan. 26, 1856, in Islington, greater London. We know that her father's name was George Braden, but haven't been able to come up with the name of her mother.

Five years before Emily's birth --- in 1851 --- her uncle, Joseph Braden, had arrived in the United States, alighting in Dubuque. He arrived in Chariton at age 22 in 1853 as an employee of the U.S. Land Office, moved that year to Chariton from Fairfield. He launched his career as clerk and by 1858, when land offices were consolidated in Des Moines, he was registrar.

During 1854, Joseph returned to Dubuque to marry Emily Waterhouse, also a native of London. The Bradens remained in Chariton for the remainder of their lives --- Joseph became a very successful businessman and entrepreneur. Braden Avenue continues to bear his surname.

Joseph and Emily had no children of their own, however --- and when circumstances changed in London (we're not sure exactly what happened) and their niece, Emily Anne, needed a new home, they brought her to America and raised her as their daughter. This little trunk held her belongings during the journey from England to Iowa.

During 1877, Emily Anne married a successful young Chariton businessman named Howard Culbertson, they became the parents of four children and lived here --- on North Grand Street --- until his death during 1935 at the age of 82.

By 1935, their two surviving children both were living in Denver, Colorado, and Emily Anne moved west to join them there. We know that she celebrated her 90th birthday during 1946 while living in Denver with her daughter, but don't know when she died. Nor does it appear that her remains were returned to Chariton for burial beside Howard.

But we do have her trunk, her photograph and a few other items related to the Bradens in the collection at the museum.

We're now open officially for the season --- from 1-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday --- trying to finish up projects that we thought would be completed by now. And getting ready to host 100 second-graders next week. So these are busy days.

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