I found a letter that I scanned into my computer a few years ago that I got through a cousin on my Brown side of the family. No one knew the history of it and today I took more time to read it. It is dated February 5, 1887 and written on stationery for a P. Dogger’s tin shop located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The letter opens dear brother and refers to his brother as Isaac. The letter shares that ‘Father died’ in 1884 and is buried at Holland (I’m sure Michigan) and that he never forgot about Isaac. We learn that ‘Mother is almost 79’ and she lives a block away from him. Mr. Dogger also says that Mother has written to John several times but has never received a reply. The writer shares that he had 2 daughters but they died when they were very young and just last week he had to take his wife to an asylum. The letter is not signed but ends with a sentence in a foreign language that I’ll try to transcribe later.
My great, great grandfather was Isaac Brown who was born in 1838 in Holland. The family tradition is that he came to America as a baby and his name was Isaac Lennox then. He lived in Michigan, married and had a son who later became a bishop for the Catholic Church in Michigan. Isaac served in the Civil War and soon after he changed his last name to Brown who, family tradition says, raised him. By 1878 he had married Mary DeVries in Iowa, started another family and later moved with his family to Oklahoma where he died in 1902.
Isaac Brown is the person I thought that P. Dogger was referring to as his brother. My question was who is P. Dogger and why do we have another last name? I spent time searching through the census and discovered that Peter Dogger born about 1848 lived with the Lennox family: Abram born about 1813; Mary, born about 1808; and John Lennox, born about 1812. They were living in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1860 and all of them were born in Holland. I followed Peter in the census and researched him and learned that he immigrated to the US in 1850, was a tin smith, married Nellie Van Driel and they had a daughter Amelia who died when she was only 25 days old. Nellie died sometime before 1900 and Peter married Anna. By 1920 Anna was a widow with no children.
Perhaps Mary Lennox, who Peter was living with in 1860 was his mother who had him before marrying Abram Lennox. I have not had any success in locating Abram or Mary past 1860. Peter says in his letter that Mother was almost 79 and that matches up with the woman that Peter was living with in 1860. Questions that I still have:
- Who were Peter and Isaac’s parents?
- Their father was buried ‘at Holland’ and there is a city by that name in Michigan, so is that where Peter was referring?
- Who was Isaac’s first wife?
- Who are Isaac’s children with his first wife and what became of them?
All of this from one letter that my ancestor kept presumably because it was meaningful to him. I hope to discover more of that meaning. Maybe someone reading this will have information or an idea to share and help fill in the blanks. Can you help?