Symphony Orchestra First
Designer House - 1992
Welcome to the Bragg House,
the first Designer House sponsored by the Women's
Committee of the Petersburg Symphony Orchestra in
1992. The Bragg House is located in the
historical High Street area of Petersburg and was
open to the public, following its restoration, from
April 11 until May 10, 1992. The Designer
House was a collaborative effort of interior and
landscape designers, businesses, and individuals who
generously donated their ideas, resources, time,
services, and talents.
The Bragg House
The 1992 Petersburg
Symphony Designer House was built in 1823 and was
known as the Bysett House. William Bragg
purchased the house and altered it to resemble a
fashionable Greek Revival House. Daniel Bragg,
his brother, modernized the house in the mid-1860's.
The house has been restored to its original splendor
by Jamie E Caudle, who was at that time the present
owner. Today this house is considered a
3/story Federal Style home with Doric Columns.
It has been
Brent D Bragg's pleasure to work on this
project and help complete a research effort
which is quite literally decades in the
making. Based on data collected by George
Bertram Jones (Bert), Brent D Bragg began to
piece together the Bragg family tree which
included Bert’s collection of photographs,
obituaries, and his research notes. Bert
possessed an encyclopedic memory about the
family and had a great mind for detail. Fortunately for Brent D Bragg, he wrote down much of
the information in a family tree he was
Sadly, Bert died in 1991 with his
compilation of the family history incomplete
and his research notes went into storage.
Since the information Bert left was largely
photographic, Brent D Bragg's family inherited a great
number of pictures of the Bragg and Jones
families from the 1850’s forward.
The images on many of the photographs had
begun to fade and in some cases the
cardboard itself was deteriorating. It was time
to do something to preserve the images and
organize the information. Brent D Bragg decided to compile
the pictures in an electronic format so that
they could be shared among the family and
preserved for the future.
Brent D Bragg is grateful he had the opportunity to go through
a large number of the photographs with Bert
before he died and write the identity and
context of the photographs on the back of the
pictures. Without Bert’s knowledge, almost all
of the individuals in the Richmond Bragg family
photographs would have become unknown “ghosts”
since anyone remembering any of the subjects
would have also passed.
Quite by accident, in April of 1992,
Brent D Bragg came
across the notice in the Richmond Times-Dispatch
about the Bragg house in Petersburg being the
Symphony Designer house. Since among the
information that Bert had left were two pictures
of William A. Bragg, Brent was convinced that there
was a direct family connection between the
Petersburg Bragg family and Brent D Bragg's family. Many of
the Richmond side of the Brent D Bragg family went
to the Bragg house in 1992. The photographs
contained on this website record that visit to
Not much else was known about the Petersburg
family history except at some point there had
been a printed reference about William Jr. as
the “Meanest man in Petersburg”. Brent D
Bragg has not
found it in the boxes of Bert’s research, but in
Bert’s defense, he is sure this is how the
pictures were described to him.
Based on this information
Brent believed there was a
rock solid connection to the Petersburg Bragg
family and unable at the time to identify James
Edward’s parents (which would have quickly
disproved the relationship); He started his
research of William in Petersburg in February
his (Brent's) father’s assistance, the trips to
Petersburg to research produced a wealth of
information. Coupled with the internet research
and the information from the Library of
Virginia, a fascinating story emerged. The
information about the family was golden, for
example, there were other professional
genealogies that had been done that traced
William Jr.’s wife, Eliza Madison Lee’s family
back to Richard Lee, the father of Robert E. Lee
and to Robert Madison, the brother of James
Madison. And it got even better, other
genealogies traced Eliza’s lineage back the 1608
relief mission to Jamestown, and even further
back to Edward III. This was heady stuff - true
first family of Virginia connections.
Sadly, and somewhat late during
Brent's research, he
discovered that his side of the Bragg family was
a completely different line than that of the
Petersburg Bragg family.
It was when
Brent D Bragg tried to connect William and
Edward as brothers that the alleged connection
broke down and he found it was quite impossible.
Brent D Bragg cross referenced transatlantic ship passenger
manifests and several 19th century
Federal Census records. He found that James
Edward Bragg was born in Ireland in 1828 and
entered this country in 1832 through New York
City on the ship “Tallahassee”. William Sr.’s
family was already well established in this
country and was here at least by 1780 with
William’s father Joseph Bragg in Chesterfield
Also, the situation was confounded by several
family members with the same names. There were
at least three “William Albert Bragg" in the
Petersburg family. William Sr. (1809-1863), his
son, William Jr. (1840-1901), and William Sr.’s
grandson by his son Daniel who isn’t technically
a third, so I reference him as “Son of Daniel”.
William Sr. also had a brother named “Daniel”
and as previously mentioned, named his son
“Daniel” (but he went by Willson). Even the
Bragg’s slave, Peter Bragg, named his two sons
“William Albert Bragg” and “Daniel Willson
Bragg”. And on the wives’ side, the name
“Eliza” was rampant as well as variations of
“Rosa Belle”, “Rosabelle”, and “Belle”.
After identifying all the “William”s and gaining
their birth and death dates as well as their
obituaries where possible, Brent D Bragg could not find a
reference or connection from James to William,
or from William to James. Additionally, the
birth date for James (1828) was not a close fit
with William Jr. (1840) or William Sr. (1809).
However, the mystery of the photographs
referencing William as James’ brother remained.
What is known is that James had a dry goods
store in the 200 block of East Broad Street in
Richmond in the late 1800’s. James’ father,
Thomas, had also owned a furniture store in the
same location before him.
About 1875, William Jr. and his family moved to
Richmond in the 300 block of Franklin Street
(which is parallel to Broad St.) so their homes
and businesses were in the same area.
Brent D Bragg is sure
at some point the two families must have run
into each other.
Brent D Bragg does not know when James’ father died, but it
must have been before William moved to Richmond
or this would not have gotten confused. James
ran a furniture store on Broad Street during the
time that William came to Richmond. As
mentioned, they must have met and been on
friendly enough terms to exchange photographs.
They also must have tried to puzzle the families
together to create the connection.
Obviously, the correct relationship was lost to
time. The handwriting on the back of the
photographs is Bert’s so the reference was recorded
about 100 years after the families actually met.
Well, to say the least,
Brent D Bragg was disappointed. Not
because of the time researching, but because he lost
kinship with a group of individuals that he had felt
he had come to know. He is open to being wrong about
this, but right now the evidence points to an 1832
arrival to America for his side of the family and no
connection to the Petersburg Braggs.
At any rate,
Brent D Bragg is pleased that this research has
provided an opportunity to bring together the
information on the Bragg family and the Bragg house
as well as identify other important Bragg homes.
Notably, the Bragg home on the corner of Second and
Lombard Street, and the home on Bragg’s Hill.
very gratified that the research has helped
re-identify (with the help of Dulaney Ward and Dr.
Philip Ryan) the location of Bragg’s Hill which he
believes was mostly forgotten.
The information that follows was collected from
public sources such as property deeds, tax records,
census and military records. Without the internet
and the electronic catalog of the Library of
Virginia, this research would not have been
possible. One website in particular,
is very focused on the Petersburg Bragg family and
is a great resource.
Since internet page references change over time and
the references may fail, Brent D Bragg has added a copy of the
source material or a screen shot of the actual data
reference for documentation in the appendices.
listed his research sources for this information to
make it as accurate and referenceable as possible.
His hope is that this information may be useful to
other researchers in the future.
The filenames for the pictures are included with the
pictures so that the individual pictures can be
copied and printed. In fact, all of the pictures
and data sheets are included on the CD in a standard
JPEG format so that they can be easily used and
preserved. There is also a section of additional
research threads concerning the Bragg family that
current family members may also want to pursue.
It’s at this time that Brent D Bragg would like to thank Dulaney
Ward and Dr. Jim Ryan for their patience with
questions and their generous support for this
research. He would also like to thank his
brother, Mark Bragg, for his technical
assistance with the tombstone rubbings and
library research. Finally, he would especially like to thank
his father, Richard A. Bragg, who has helped him
on every trip to Petersburg and the Library of
Virginia to research. It would have been
impossible for him to navigate through the
deed books and newspapers to research this project
without his direction and assistance.
George Bertram Jones
William A Bragg, Jr., 1840-1901
These are the photographs that started it all