Geneablogy: An occasional Journal about our experiences exploring our heritage

Sunday, October 22, 2000

The Brandis of Grand Rapids

Pretty early on, when I was looking through the Census Soundexes, I found an entry for Joseph Brandi and family out in Grand Rapids. I didn't know at that point that Ralph Sr. had a brother, but I figured there might be a connection, so I wrote down the information on the off chance that I might need it later. As my research progressed, of course, I found that Joseph was indeed Ralph's brother.

I sent away to the Western Michigan Genealogical Society in Grand Rapids to get obituaries for the Brandis who were listed in their online obit database. In the meantime, when I was in Michigan I decided to go to the Library of Michigan and State Archives in Lansing, since they were the most likely location to find much of the stuff I had hoped to find at the Detroit Public Library's Burton Historical Collection, which was closed due to a flood, and in fact appears to still be closed (they were saying in August that they would reopen October 15, but I guess that didn't happen).

Anyway, the Library of Michigan and State Archives has quite an extensive collection of materials for genealogists, including a huge collection of Michigan newspapers on microfilm. So while I was there, one of the things I did was to look up the obits from Grand Rapids. They didn't have the Grand Rapids Herald, which is where two of the four obits that the WMGS had listed were from, but they did have the Grand Rapids Press, which turned out to be suitable enough. I found obituaries for all four Brandis listed in the WMGS database.

Joseph's first wife, Amelia Goodboo, died on Tuesday evening, January 26, 1937, at the family home outside Marne, Michigan. Her obit says she was survived by one daughter, Mrs. Marie Zukor. I haven't found any other records for Marie yet; it appears that she was perhaps born after Joseph, Amelia, and their first son Raymond left Saginaw around the turn of the century (Raymond appears in the 1900 Census in Saginaw as a three year old living with his grandmother, Zoa Goodboo). The WMGS database of school records lists a Marie Brandi at the Huff School in Grand Rapids in 1925; that may be worth searching out. Amelia also had a sister, Mrs. J. McCarthy of Dearborn, and a brother, George Goodboo of Saginaw. An obituary found in the Saginaw News shows her daughter's name as Mrs. Albert Zuckor. So now we know who Marie married, Albert Zukor (there's a third spelling of the name below). Amelia's sister in Dearborn is listed as Mrs. James McCary. The Saginaw obit goes on to say that Amelia was born in Saginaw on June 16, 1878, and was married to Joseph in 1896. I didn't find that record, but the Saginaw microfilms are still at the local Family History Center, so I'll have to go look through them again and see if I can find this. It also says that the Brandis moved to Marne "25 years ago", so that probably happened some time in 1921.

Joseph himself passed away on Tuesday, December 10, 1946, at Blodgett Memorial Hospital in Saginaw. He left a widow, Clara, and his daughter is listed as Mrs. Albert Zuker. Also surviving his was his brother, Ralph Brandi of Detroit, who is, of course, li'l Grandpa.

Clara T. (Applebach) Brandi, Joseph's second wife, died Tuesday, August 27, 1963, at the age on 90 in Grand Rapids.

[ Lieutenant Raymond J. Brandi ]

And the most interesting of the four obits was for Raymond, Joseph and Amelia's son. An article about his death appeared on page 1 of the Grand Rapids Press of Thursday, January 6, 1921. It was headlined "Aviator Brandi Killed in South -- Local Flyer Meets Death in accident in Floriday Thursday -- Will Be Buried Here". The article goes on to say:

Arcadia, Fla., Jan 6 -- Lieut. Raymond Brandi of Grand Rapids, Mich., and Cadet A. C. Pool of Richmond Center, Wis., were instantly killed at Carlstrom aviation field here this morning when an airplane in which they were doing "stunt" flying crashed to the ground and burned.

The article goes on to mention that Joseph and Amelia live at R.F.D. #4 in Grand Rapids Township, and that Raymond started flying when he was in the Army during World War I, although he was never stationed overseas.

He later was stationed at the Indianapolis speedway as aviation instructor. While stationed there Lieut. Brandi made a spectacular flight to Grand Rapids. He thrilled downtown crowds by descending dangerously low over Munroe av., narrowly missing street wires. He also gave flying exhibitions at Ramona. The trip here was made for recruiting in the air service.

So it seems that young Mr. Brandi was something of a daredevil, and it's not surprising that he died the way he did.

Further details in the obit include the fact that he graduated from Central High School in Grand Rapids in 1914, and was employed as a car salesman before the war. The article also includes a photograph of the young Lieutenant. The obit doesn't say how old he was when he died, but given that I've found his birth record in Saginaw on April 17, 1897, simple math shows that he was 23 years old when he died.

One other item I found about the Brandis of Grand Rapids was their Census listing for 1920. It shows Joseph and Amelia living with Amelia's mother Zoa Goodboo out on a farm, with Joseph working as a farmer. That's a bit of a change from some of the early Saginaw city directories I saw that had him listed as a street-car conductor.

Posted at 12:59:08 PM