In the early '90s, using addresses from "Brakes in America," I wrote letters to several Brakes offering to share family history information. A couple years later, I got a letter from a Sherri Brake-Recco of Canal Fulton, Ohio. Little did I know at the time that the letter was the beginning of a friendship that goes far beyond sharing common ancestors. Sherri and her family have added a warmth to my life that evades adequate description. Our nearest common grandfather is Cyrus B. Brake, my great great grandfather, making us third cousins, but to me, "kindred spirits" or "soul mates" are better descriptors.
Sherri is shown at left above with her father, Larry, mother, Suzi, sister and November 2003 bride, Shawni, and sister, Terri. All but Terri live in the Canton area of Ohio while Terri is lucky enough to remain in Webster County, West Virginia, the ancestral grounds of both her parents. That's also Sherri in the photo at the left. Does she always dress that way? If she had her way, she might. She is captivated by the Civil War era...or the "War of Northern Agression" as she calls it...and in this photo, she is a beautiful Civil War period bride.
It isn't just Sherri in the family who has been touched by the Civil War bug...the whole bunch is deeply engrossed. Above, Sherri is standing beside daughter, Sage, at a monument dedicated to Rebel soldiers who lost their lives at Johnson's Island Prison in Sandusky, Ohio. Sherri is webmaster of the Johnson's Island web site, and through that site, she convinced me I could manage a web site of my own. As I have told her many times, I figured if she could design and manage a web site, ANYBODY could! Thanks, Sherri! She manages several other sites including a United Daughters of the Confederacy site. In the above right photo, Sherri's black-coated son, Mason, stands his ground in a Rebel picket line. Below, husband Frank Recco strikes a menacing pose in front of his own picket line. And it goes beyond Sherri's immediate household. Below right is sister Terri with Rodger Ware, who in Terri's eyes is the Best Supporting Actor in "Gods and Generals."
And so you get a better look at Sage and Mason, here is a pair of photos taken in 2003. A couple of fine looking cousins I have there!
Cousin, Sherri...bless her heart...has so many talents I can only scratch the surface here. One talent that absolutely blew my mind at first was the ability to locate buried human remains with metal dowsing rods. I was less amazed by that skill when I found that I, too, was able to do it. But Sher goes beyond that...she is able to determine gender of the remains with a single dowsing rod. I was dubious there, too, until she demonstrated it at the Brake Cemetery south of Moorefield, West Virginia. She determined a male was buried here...and sure
enough, it was our cousin, Leonard Brake (1804 - 1891). Way to go,Sher! You can find more information about the Brake Cemetery at the Brake Family Web Site.
My siblings and I have shared many inspiring and thoughful moments with Sherri's family exploring what remains of the town of Brake on the South Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River in Hardy County, West Virginia. In addition to the cemetery, a log cabin which , according to an inscription on the base of the fireplace, was built in 1762, still stands within feet of the modern county highway. A short walk from the log cabin, Brake Falls on Dumpling Run provided water power for the grist- and saw-mills operated by the Brake family in the 18th and 19th centuries.
During one of our visits to Brake in the fall of 2002, Mason and Sage enjoyed a dip in Dumpling Run which, according to the expression on their faces, must have been ice cold despite the warm weather at the time. We easily envision our foregoers doing the same thing many years past.
Brake Falls, Hardy County, West Virginia
Read Linnie Brake Cunningham's manuscript about life at "Brake's Run" (now Brake, WV)