Finding Your Folks: The Brandenburgs of Meriwether County

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

One of the families mentioned in conjunction with the recent Kempson reunion at Mt. Carmel Methodist Church in Meriwether County was the Brandenburg family. Two sons of Lewis and Ann Hatton Brandenburg married daughters of Peter and Mary Ursula Long Kempson, thereby making their children descendants of Harmon Kempson and members of the reunion family.

Rufus King Brandenburg married Regina Wilhelmina Kempson and Olin Brandenburg married Lydia J. Kempson. Rufus and Olin were sons of Lewis and his first wife, Ann Hatton, and had two sisters, Mary E. Brandenburg (Brittain) and Lavinia Brandenburg (Herndon). Lewis married second Mary D. Banks and had four more children, Lewis, Martin Luther, Sarah L. and Lewis R. Brandenburg.

Lewis Brandenburg was said to be the son of John Martin Brandenburg, according to a story in the Pike County History Book written by Wallace Brandenburg. Another source says his mother's name was Catherine. I have not verified any of Wallace's information. Wallace also stated that John Martin Brandenburg was the son of Another John Martin Brandenburg who arrived from Germany in 1750 and settled in Spartanburg, S.C. John Martin Brandenburg Sr. was said to have had three sons and one daughter: John Martin, Conrad, James and Magdaline Brandenburg. All died young except John Martin (Jr.), who married and had children: John, Lewis, Matthew, Adam, James, Conrad, David, Elizabeth, Margaret, Magdaline, Roseanna and Catherine.

It was a little difficult to find much accurate or verifiable historical information on this Brandenburg family. This was made even more difficult by the various spellings of the name, including Brandenberg, Brandenburgh, Blandenburg and Blandenberg. This doesn't count the misspellings of Bladenburg, Bladeburg, etc. Finding census records was a nightmare. Their stories do not appear in either the Meriwether or Coweta history/heritage books, nor are they found among's family histories.

However, at the Coweta Genealogy Library in Grantville, I found church records of Christenings from St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in Orangeburg County, S.C. They seemed to match up with this family. Lewis, however, is still a mystery.

According to his gravestone at Greenville Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Meriwether County, Lewis was born 25 March 1807. In the records of St. Matthew's there is no Lewis Brandenburg christened anywhere near that date, although other children of Martin and Catherine Brandenburg match those given by Wallace Brandenburg as being Lewis's siblings. Actually, there is no christening for a Lewis Brandenburg at all. Some say he was the same as "Ludwig" Brandenburg, son of Martin and Catherine, christened 24 April 1808, but that is more than a year after his birth.

Other children of Martin and Catherine Brandenburg christened at St. Matthew's were Jacob, christened 11 March 1801; Conrad, christened 21 Jan. 1804; Barbara, christened 4 March 1804; Rosina, christened 18 Aug, 1806; John, christened 3 April 1806; David, christened 8 Jan. 1809; Rebecca, christened 15 Nov. 1809; and clexander, christened 29 Sept. 1811. Other Brandenburg parents whose children were christened at St. Matthew's were Adam and Sophia Brandenburg and John and Rosina Brandenburg.

Lewis Brandenburg came to Meriwether County by 1840 and probably lived in the vicinity of Rocky Mount, judging by his neighbors who were known to have lived in that area - Brice M. Owen, John and Alexander Boyd from Abbeville, and John Moncrief - and he and his wife had one young daughter. That would be Mary E., born in 1837. By 1850, they had added Rufus and Lavinia, and Olin would be born in 1853.

Ann died the following year and Lewis remarried Mary D. Banks 19 Oct. 1854 in Meriwether County. They had four children: John Lewis, Martin Luther, Sarah L. and Lewis R. Brandenburg. Lewis died in 1864 and Mary moved in with her mother in Monroe County.

The children grew up and married, some remaining in Meriwether and others moving to other counties. The only one I had studied in any detail was Lavinia who married James Matthews Herndon. Lavinia's name appears on many deeds in Meriwether County, most in the Upper Ninth District which encompasses Alvaton. She died in 1919 and her estate was administered in Meriwether County by her son, Lewis E. Herndon. She and James are both buried at Alvaton Baptist Church cemetery.

An Alexander Brandenburg is mentioned in "Pioneers of Meriwether County," a series of articles which ran in The Meriwether Vindicator (newspaper). This Alexander was born about 1812, lived in the Upper Ninth District, apparently married shortly after 1850 to a woman named Mary, had several children, and remained in the area the rest of his life. The article described him as a "thrifty farmer who accumulated a fine estate." The article also said Alexander joined the Baptist church late in life and took a great interest in religious matters. This is probably Lewis's brother, Alexander, christened at St. Matthew's in 1811.

Another item of historic interest to this family is an article in the New York Times in 1889 about a Col. Brooker of Charleston who started proceedings to recover a $10 million fortune left behind in Germany by John Martin Brandenburg. The article stated that Brandenburg had been accused of treason and had fled Germany to escape conviction. His heirs had discovered evidence which cleared their ancestor and were seeking to claim the fortune he left behind.

It was learned that the fortune was not monetary but was actually Friedrichsfelde Palace in Berlin and the heirs would have to renounce their U.S. citizenship and occupy the residence to claim it. The case continued into the early 20th century and, by that time, there were thousands of descendants who decided that claiming the inheritance would be impossible. The palace and gardens are now occupied by the Berlin Zoo.

Stories about your families who lived on Atlanta's south side are always welcome. Send stories to or Mail to The Citizen, P.O. Drawer 1719, Fayetteville, GA 30214. All letters and e-mails I receive are subject to being used in the column.

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