I reunite identified family photos that I find in antique shops and second hand stores with genealogists and family historians. If you see one of your ancestors here and would like to obtain the original, feel free to contact me at familyphotoreunion [ at ] yahoo [ dot ] com. I also accept donations of pre-1927 images to be reunited. I hope you enjoy your visit!
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Monday, May 18, 2020

Yours Truly, C. Branshaw, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, 1860s

C. Branshaw

This carte de visite portrait was taken at the O. E. Wilkins studio in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin in the 1860s. It is signed on the reverse, "Yours truly C. Branshaw." Mr. Branshaw is wearing a long overcoat and stands with feet crossed, leaning into the balustrade. You can see the iron base of the photographer's head clamp clearly in the photograph, just behind Mr. Branshaw's support leg. Head clamps were used in early photographs to ensure the subject did not change position or sway during the exposure time, which in some cases could take over a minute. Note that the photographer includes his name on the base of the railing to ensure there is no question who created the photograph.

Reverse of Cdv

O. E. (Orsell E.) Wilkins was a shinglemaker in the late 1850s. Around 1860, while in his early twenties, he started work as a Daguerreian artist.

I believe C. Branshaw might be Cornelius Branshaw, born in Quebec and baptized "Eugène Branchaud" in 1824, son of Albert Branchaud and Genevieve Loizel. The Branchaud family immigrated to the US when Eugene was only six months old, and settled in Vermont. I don't know at what point the surname switched to Branshaw. I have spent a little time trying to find Albert Branchaud in Vermont records, but didn't come up with anything more than his grave and death information. The surname appears in those (transcribed) records as "Bransho." Perhaps it was Eugene who anglicized his name to Cornelius Branshaw. Eugene apprenticed as a blacksmith in Troy, NY then headed west, setting up his blacksmith business in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin around 1855. He married Mary Desotell in 1844.

The couple had four children for sure and there may have been a fifth. The couple's first child, Albert, died as an infant and their second child was also named Albert. The 1860 federal census shows three minors living in the household of Cornelius Branshaw: Albert (b. abt 1847, NY), Ellen (b. abt 1849, NY), and Louisa (b. abt 1853). Another son, Edwin (b. abt 1852) shows up in the 1870 census, while Ellen does not. I find it strange that the History of Fond du Lac County doesn't mention Ellen in Cornelius' biography, especially considering the mention of his deceased son. I suspect there might have been a mix-up with the 1860 census and the recording of names and genders.

Cornelius Branshaw died in 1891 and is buried in Saint Charles Cemetery, Fond du Lac.


"United States Census, 1860", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MWMB-MYL : 18 March 2020), C Branshaw, 1860. 

"United States Census, 1860", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MWMY-YP1 : 18 March 2020), Orsell Wilkins, 1860.

"United States Census, 1870", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MN9D-5Y9 : 18 March 2020), C Bradshaw, 1870.

1900 U.S. census, Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 0025, p. 3 (stamped),  dwelling 36, family 36, Mary Branshaw household; digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 10 May 2020); citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 1854.

"U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995", indexed database and digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 May 2020), page 46, C. Branshaw entry; citing "Hollands´ Fond Du Lac City Directory for 1872-73 (Boston, Ill.:n.p., 1968)."

Raether, Scott W. Wisconsin Family Albums & Photographers' Imprints and Biographies 1800s to early 1900s. Xlibris Corporation, 2013, p.432

Wisconsin Western Historical Co. The History of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin. 1880. Page 785, Entry for Cornelius Branshaw.

 "Vermont Vital Records, 1760-1954", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XFNV-22H : 14 April 2020), Albert Bransho, 1847.

Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 13 May 2020), memorial page for Cornelius Bransahw (26 Feb 1824-20 Sep 1892), Find A Grave Memorial no. 67258171, citing Saint Charles Cemetery, Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave (Steve Seim).

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