Bert Herrick and Grace Brand Finding Marriage and Family Later in Life

Bert Herrick (1874-ABT 1948) and Grace Mae Brand (1879-1972)

A Quiet, Unassuming Man

Bert Herrick was born on 19 Oct 1874 in Caton, Steuben County, New York. He was the youngest child of Augustus C. Herrick and Josephine Niver.

Bert remained a bachelor for many years. In the 1900 Census, he is 26 years old and living with his parents in Caton, New York.

Nine years later, he met Grace Brand, who was caring for his elderly Aunt Electra who had broken her hip and needed assistance around the house. (Electra was the oldest daughter of Pierce Herrick and Ann Miller, born in 1832.) She would have been 77 years old in 1909. Bert was apparently smitten and started taking Grace out for buggy rides. Grace was happy to spend time with him, apparently, because her fiancé back in Kansas City had recently broken off their engagement. According to Grace’s daughter, Hazel, Grace threw her engagement ring down the outhouse hole when Bert asked her to marry him.

Bert Herrick and Grace Brand married on 8 Dec 1909 in Ottawa, Ontario. Bert was 35; Grace was 30. Why Bert and Grace decided to go to Canada to get married is unknown. Perhaps it was just a way to go on a trip, and Grace had lived in Montreal for a while. They are listed in Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1857-1922. Grace gives her name as Grace Culia Brand, which lends authenticity to the story that she was told to change her middle name when she went to live with her Aunt Julia in Kansas City. This may have been some reference to her real father’s name. “Culia” may also be a mistake, as the family story is that she changed her middle name to “Cuba.”

A Quiet, Unassuming Wife

Grace Mae Brand was born on 15 Aug 1879 in Waseca, Minnesota. She believed she was the daughter of Samuel Perkins Brand and Martha E. Hatch, and despite uncertainties throughout her life, she never sought answers to her questions. In about 1890, when Grace was 11 years old, she was sent to Kansas City to live with her Aunt Julia (an older sister of her father’s). She never did return to her home in Caton to live with the people she considered to be her parents and her siblings.

There is a strong possibility that Grace was actually the daughter of Samuel’s sister, Etta, who lived in Kansas City with her unmarried sister, Julia. When Etta died tragically in a carriage accident, she left a great many things to her “niece,” Grace. It was then that Grace left Caton and went to live with her Aunt Julia in Kansas City. (For more details of this family mystery, see Samuel Perkins Brand and Martha E. Hatch.)

While living with her Aunt Julia, Grace finished her high school education and became a practical nurse. For nearly ten years, she worked as a nurse, first in Kansas City, and then traveling to South Dakota, Missouri, Colorado, and Montreal, Quebec. By 1909, she was caring for an elderly woman in Caton, New York, and that woman turned out to be Bert Herrick’s aunt.

A Quiet, Unassuming Life in Caton, New York

Above is one of the few photographs of Bert and Grace Herrick together. It was taken in the early 1940‘s, not long before Bert’s death. Bert is seated in the chair with Grace standing beside them. To their right is their daughter, Hazel, and their granddaughter, Helen.

After their marriage in Canada, Grace and Bert settled down in Caton, New York, where Bert was a farmer and machinery salesman. Their daughter, Hazel, said of her father: “He was not a farmer. It was not in his blood. He was a natural-born salesman and he sold insurance and lightning rods. Houses and barns everywhere had them. He’d be gone for a few days at a time. He was also the Town Supervisor and involved in politics. He had a county job, too. It had a long name and I was so impressed with it. The county seat was Bath. He would travel to Bath to attend county meetings. He kept his temper contained a lot of the time. I knew when he was mad about something but he’d keep it under his hat. We were not affectionate to each other. My dad was a social person, more so than his family. He never talked about any other girl/lady in his life besides my mom, but he sure fell for my mother when he saw her. He was on the Steuben County Board of Supervisors. He wore high-button shoes and posed in 1921 in front of the Bath courthouse.”

Hazel went on to say about her father: “My dad had the first car in Steuben County. People from all over came to see our car. It was an Overland. Four doors with a back and front seat. We had a Ford that had to be cranked up to get it started with isinglass curtains. My dad would get very mad trying to crank up that car. When we went to church in the wintertime, we’d take one horse and the sleigh and cover up with a bearskin rug to keep warm. The church was about a mile away.”

Bert Travels and Grace Runs the Household

While Bert had spent his life living in and around Caton, New York, Grace had travelled a great deal. Her daughter, Hazel, said: “Mom was always at home, taking care of her chickens and flowers and garden. Every spring she got busy and ordered her chickens which, as I recall, were about 500 White Leghorns. She wasn’t used to an outdoor toilet until she got married, but was used to city life. She was a person who assumed she should be quiet — she was very self-contained. I can’t believe she was happy being a farm wife. She would have preferred to be out more.”

Bert and Grace had three children:

Helen, the oldest daughter, died tragically while mowing the lawn one day. She was just 18 years old, and the cause of death was never determined, though it was assumed she had a faulty heart valve.

After Bert’s Death, Grace Moves On

Bert, Grace, and their children are in the censuses for 1910, 1920, and 1930. In 1918, at the age of 44, Bert completed his World War I Draft Registration card. From 1921 to 1929, he was a supervisor of a company in Caton, but he always continued to work the farm. His daughter, Hazel, remembers: “There was a time when I was an early teenager that my dad would be upset when the mail came. He’d always be looking for the egg cheque or the milk cheque. We had a few cows. He’d be in a bad mood if he didn’t get a cheque. I was aware that money was a little on the tight side, but it was never discussed. I never got an allowance — that was unheard of.”

Bert Herrick died at the age of 74, in about 1948, according to his daughter, Hazel. He died while he was in New Jersey, apparently still working. He was buried in Savona, New York.

Grace Herrick lived for nearly twenty-five years as a widow, but she went back to work as a companion and nurse, living in California for a while. She eventually moved to Silver City, New Mexico, where her daughter, Hazel, lived. She lived on her own in a small apartment and then moved in with her daughter and son-in-law. She died in September of 1972 in Silver City, Grant County, New Mexico. She was 93 years old.

This page written and researched by Susan Overturf Ingraham, wife of Robert Philip Ingraham, a descendant of Bert Herrick and Grace Mae Brand. This page last updated on December 19, 2011.

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